2 New Poems by Janice Dempsey


The art of lying is a gentle one –

truth’s so often hard to give or take.

Lying can be kind, when all’s said and done.

Your smallest lies you can tell on your phone –

sincerity is not so hard to fake –

the art of lying is a gentle one.

Go further, lie bare-faced in even tones,

look people in the eye, refuse to break

bad news – perhaps, when all is said and done,

when truth’s unwelcome, a cocked gun

that must be turned aside for pity’s sake –

the art of lying is a gentle one.

Lie cleverly, sustain lies once begun –

with reputation, wealth and fame at stake

are those lies kind, when all is said and done?

I said I’ll love you always to someone,

made promises I later had to break.

Is the art of lying a gentle one?

Lying’s seldom kind, when all’s said and done.


The diagnosis was undisputed.

I took to London’s streets, not homeless

but at home only with strangers.

Addicted, I queued hours for theatres

that I feared to enter,

rode the Circle Line all night.

I boarded a train at Euston:

the Highlands’ silence soothed me.

The eighteenth century had cleared

a space for sufferers like me.

I pressed on further north

where flotillas of cruise-ships

jostled in melted ice-fields

carrying populations away

from the shrinking land.

In Berlin, Washington, Moscow,

I roamed ruined streets alone.

Cleansed by authoritarian laws,

teeming cities were scoured of crowds,

California, Brazil, Australia, Africa

already lost in flames, Antarctica

now a dwindling suburb of the Equator.

I long for the final clearance.

I’ll find Nirvana in the huge horizons

of this barren planet.

About the contributor

Janice Dempsey is from Guildford. She began writing poetry seriously after retiring from teaching art. In 2013 she published a collection, How to Make a Dress out of Silence, and has had poems published online and in print journals. Janice placed third in the Segora Prize in 2014.

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  1. I just have to say what wonderful, clear concise and inspiring poetry these two represent. They are obviously intensely personal delivering the full weight of truth with such a light touch. Unbelievable, and highly illustrative of what we should all aim to achieve. Subtle yet direct and persuasive.
    Oh and congratulation, so pleased for you!

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