15 Sep

2014 Runner Up – Anne K. Bowyer

Oh what a Perilous Nature

Do you see him over there?
In the grass,
By the tree,
Look, LOOK, do you see?
Watch him bounce,
Watch him run,
Sniffling, snuffling
White Cotton tail bum.
Do you see him over there?
Chewing grass,
He has no cares,
Look, LOOK, do you see?
Foot a thumping,
He’s started jumping,
Something’’s coming,
What’s THAT swooping?

Anne K. Bowyer,
Aldridge, West Midlands

15 Sep

2014 Winner! – Charles Evans


Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow
I said, lying back on the hard table,
and felt him slide in the needle.
Count down from ten, he’d said.
Could I recite something instead? I asked.
He paused, irritated, looking down at me.
What do you have in mind? He asked.
What about Macbeth’s speech? I said.
About daggers? He said. No, I said, tomorrow.

So I continued, creep in this pretty pace …
when suddenly a rush, and he was there,
sitting on the bank as swans drifted past,
doublet, small beard, pen in hand.
In hospital, I said, I had to recite something.
I chose Macbeth’s speech about tomorrow,
Dark lines, he said, Why not something lighter?
What made you choose a doomed man?
Well, I said, I think I feel the same way.

He looked round as I lay back on the grass.
It’s scarey, I said, but the more he says
Life’s meaningless, brief candle, told by
An idiot and so on, the easier it gets.
He tossed a pebble in the river, and smiled.
We all have hard times, he said, tell me some
other lines you like. I felt his eyes on mine.
Then things started to go fuzzy and odd, and
I realised I had to be quick before it was too late.

I was right. The surgeon was bending over me
in the Recovery Room, his face close to mine.
How do you feel? He was saying. Are you with us?
Did you get it out? I asked him blearily.
We’ll have a talk tomorrow, he said, and hurried off.
I tried to sit up, but a nurse eased me back.
Just before you came to, she said,
we saw you smile. What did that signify?
Nothing, I said.

Charles Evans
Blackheath, London

Charles Evans

29 Jul

2014 Runner Up – Lynn Roberts

Flying home

They start to rise. Below me, from the clay,
the pupa cracks and flexes sodden wings;
its presence is as fugitive as day –
only the shell has substance; earth still clings
to the shed husk, but it has birthed a frail
and evanescent thing, a cobweb sigh
of gauzy mist, a fine translucent veil,
crumpled as petals opening to dry
in the pale sun. But as it dries it blows,
a galleon billowing on cloudy air;
it takes the wind beneath its wings: it flows
and sings upon the current’s turning stair;
opaline, nebulous, it curls and goes
in a bright shower of sussurating prayer.

Lynn Roberts

29 Jul

2014 Runner Up – John Daniel

The Little Woman Round The Corner

I should like to write a poem for my mother
who made dresses in our small bedroom upstairs
where she banged steam out of pleats
and treadled her pedalboat with Singer written in gold,
listening to Mrs Dale’s Diary.

I never thought she was special
because she sometimes made dresses for ladies
with big bottoms who couldn’t buy clothes
in the shops. I don’t have to go out to work she explained
because women only went out

if their husbands didn’t earn very much,
It’s only pin-money she’d say, her mouth full of pins
like a hedgehog, kneeling down to take up a hem,
but I’d sooner make dresses than housework,
or look after babies. I wasn’t even a girl

she could make frocks for, only grey shorts
though she made me a stuffed Punch-and-Judy
and took me to tea at Swan and Edgar’s
and sometimes one of her ladies would bring her a picture
from Vogue to cut out the patterns from newspaper,

and said how clever she was
but I didn’t think she was clever,
not like dad who could make model aeroplanes
and brought home oolah each Friday.
So I grew up surrounded by words

like bishop and raglan and Dior and Hartnell.
I’m just the little woman round the corner she’d say
Although I knew she was not round the corner
but upstairs treadling her pedalboat downriver
each afternoon, out to the open sea.

John Daniel

29 Jul

2014 Runner Up – John Gallas

Seamus Heaney, I heard that you were gone…
I heard that you were gone in Gedney Stores.
Two mushroom pies sunbathed on their
paper towels ; a sale of yellow cider cans ; and
that old transistor radio that reads the news.

I crossed the road and took my pie amongst
the graves. The ruddy time was at its evening
best and I had done a dogged day. Mortality
was not my exercise. I sat with Robert Smith,

whose chosen words are few : 88, and missed.
Three leaves and five small flowers are writ above.
Like a penny paid the church clock clanked
once for five fifteen, and no bird sang.

Under oaks, the dry-docked ivy, weed and nettles
leant unto themselves. One poppy agitated
of its own concern. I lapped my falling crust,
and thought two things, and they were all I thought :

that the elderberries were a fullstop-store
for some long haw-studded clerkish copy ;
and that I had biked fifty miles about the cutten
field and dykes of Lincolnshire, while you had died.

John Gallas Markfield,

29 Jul

2014 Runner Up – Sharon Black

‘I have only this breath for my wings’
(David Whyte)

The heron’s body is awkward, an ancient
machine but in flight it has the grace
of breath itself, the slow full breath of deep sleep;
the blue sky opens to receive it,
the bird’s ash-grey belly almost skimming
aspen and beech as it makes its way upstream.

It has no interest in fish, no eye
on the glittering gibberish that filled its head
as it waded on arthritic legs through the shallows,
plunging its weapon with a twist
of head, a shivering arc of wings, the black trim
of its feathers like rank chevrons. Airborne

its span is languorous, hugging pillows of air
as we sit, knees to chest
round last night’s fire, wisps of smoke rising
from the charred stumps,
our attention soaring beyond sun-tipped pines
as our lungs fill, empty.

Sharon Black
St Andre de Valborgne, France