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Paul Francis

This villanelle is from Poems for Ukraine



Moving Target


The hunter knows he has to hit the heart. 

So Putin stalks Ukraine, keen to erase

the history of hope, the love of art.


Curators race, as war’s about to start,

to store their treasures far from Russia’s gaze.

The hunter trains his sights upon the heart.


From Mariupol, his laden trucks depart;

two thousand pieces, but it’s early days. 

Hit at the hope, skewer the love of art.


Damage to architecture? Off the chart.

Here culture war is murder, not a phrase

as hunter Putin hammers at the heart.


Young artists see their studios blown apart 

but in their heads the magic tune still plays

the history of hope, the love of art.


They know that if they’re resolute and smart

their future work can move, inspire, amaze;

this history of hope, this love of art

baffles the hunter – did he miss the heart? 

Paul Francis is a retired teacher, living in Much Wenlock, who has been a member of Bridgnorth Writers’ Group since 1998.

He’s a versatile writer who’s written plays, an autobiography and a novel, but who now mainly concentrates on poetry. He writes in a variety of forms, some of them regular, and ranges widely in length, tone and subject matter – including political satire.


He’s won three national competitions, and was placed in the top three of the Guernsey On the Move competition in 2010, 2014 and 2015.  In 2020 his poem 'Short-term Investment' came second (out of 2,300 entries) in the Beyond the Storm poetry competition, in support of the NHS. 

Over the last twenty years he has published a range of occasional pamphlets at the rate of one a year, the most recent of which was Dreams of Brexit. He also has four full-length collections, including Sonnets with Notes (Liberty Books, 2019) and Rescue from the Dark (Fair Acre Press, 2021).

During the first full lockdown he published a sonnet a day on his website, In 2022 he published Poems for Ukraine, a booklet to raise money for UNHCR’s work in support of Ukrainian refugees. 


In January 2022 he was commended in the Wolverhampton Literary Festival competition, and came joint first in the Bishop’s Castle competition. On September 5th he won the TF postcode section of the Ironbridge Festival poetry competition, and had two further poems commended in the main competition. On the same day he also had poems commended (last eight) and longlisted (last fifteen) in the Shelley Memorial competition. In October he was highly commended (last five) in the Gloucestershire Poetry competition.   

Rescue from the Dark logo.jpg
Sonnets with Notes cover.jpg
Poems for the year 2020 cover.jpg
Poems for Ukraine.jpg
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