Here are the winning entries for the open poetry competition, judged by Maggie Harris.
To see a full list of the results, click here.
↑ First Prize: Small Fry by Roger Elkin
Remember Rob telling how, as a lad, his cupped hands worked the water, his angled palms pushing back towards the bankside and skirting around pebbles, little finger trailing the gravel in a silent glide – steady, steady – against the brook's lulling push downstream, its surface mirrored in glimmers of sunlight like fractured glass, the water feet-deep, gin-clear, and those splinters of minnows, darting this way, that or hanging still – tail, fin, pectorals on hold, gills pulsing – and, scoop, he swished them up, and out, time after time, their grey-green leanness flick-flacking in his hand, their pin-eyes a panic, head flapping, mouth gawping till he slipped them into that jamjar world of chickweed, their circling swirls transforming to an easing freedom of sorts – Remember this? He wouldn't have dreamt of making a meal of them. And yet no second questioning his request for whitebait: each piled fish a masterpiece of reticulated scale – such frail armature – lambent and shading through silver to white to grey, the dark targets of their eyes passively accusing in silent negations of all they had been, their life to come, their everything, taken away too soon. What a world to feast his wishes on, little thinking how within a month the morphine would kick in, his mouth turning to gawp, his eyes glaring that gone-away stare of panic and acceptance, his hands cupped to capture nothings, and letting everything slide away, freed at last.
↑ Second Prize: The Gardener by Alice O'Malley
I saw in a corner, something wild grow; a dandelion, a butter beauty in the fertile lawn. Nature takes its shape but serious gardens should be refined. I took his uncombed head in hand and cut his throat, knowing my neighbours would approve. It was important then, that they approve, though I don't remember why. All plants grow rough, wild, chaotic. Back then, mine were cut and my garden was praised for its beauty by those whose floral tastes were more refined: my neighbours, whose lawn was always in shape. My rose was coarse in her velvety shape so I bound her arms to wood. We approve said my neighbours, your rose is so refined. Together we watched her bloody heads grow, bursting red wounds, too dark in their beauty to ignore, and far too perfect to cut. I remembered, then, the moorland's un-cut wildness, dappled mustard; the lucid shape of cloud shadows on heather; the beauty of landscapes that do not seek to approve or to be approved of, that, unbound, grow like a breath, not self-conscious, not refined, alive in ways that escape my refined garden plants. The dandelion I'd cut, lay still in my palm. I'd wanted to grow more like him, to let wilder things take shape. I'd allowed, from fear they wouldn't approve, others to define how I see beauty. Schooled to the beauty of my rose, I cut her refined binds, freeing her velvet shape. Now I approve. I let the wild things grow.
↑ Third Prize: Those Days by Sam Payne
How easy it was then when she used to take you walking through fields of knee-high grass and past the farm with the watchful cows to the brook at the bottom of the hill. She would help you off with boots and socks, roll your trousers up, and let your toes graze in the waters below. And later, side by side, you'd spread out like wings, under the dappled shade, waiting for the aerial acrobatic display. Swallows swooped and swirled through the sky alive with the joy of life and throughout those days you never did think you'd be here now, rolling off her socks and washing her feet, because the nurses always forgot.
|Author:||Kevin Machin||Date:||January 29, 2016 3:57 pm|
|Responses:||0 – open||Article:||4350 – published|