Poetry Competition 2019 - Primary

Poetry Competition 2019 - Secondary

Primary Winner

Goodbye By Milly Hall

As the sun sets on the horizon,
My destiny in the stars written
The world spinning around me,
The ice on my heart thawed
By your love. I try not to cry
Memories of you trapped in my mind
For the last time I say goodbye.

Primary Highly Commended

Gloopy Glooper By Declan Prophet

Slimey slurping,
Giant burping,
Speedy, long,
Stinky pong,
See-through blue,
Yelling "boo",
Twenty eyes,
Munches pies,
Spikey hair,
Wears underwear,
Crooked mouth,
Lives down South,
Tiny brain,
What his name?
Don't you know?
It's Gloopy Glooper,
Champion Monster Hula Hooper

Secondary Winner

Mother By Luca Goaten

My mother painted my first bedroom
and turned it into a jungle:
the paint splayed out, twisting, opening
the walls up like flower-bloom;
a deep, monsoon gloom
like looking into the centre of an emerald.

She pulled up trees from the floor
and pulled light through their leaves.
She planted ferns in the skirting boards.
She made a hemisphere of daytime
then sunset-cut the room in two
and made another out of dark,
and in those embryonic shadows
she grew her animals -

a leopard with white-hot eyes
slicked high on a tree branch,
all covered in spots
like kisses on a baby's forehead,
a panther gearing its way
through the grasses, feeling its way
across the ground,
the touch of a palm-reader,
a hunt of musculature,
a magnetism of teeth,
and then a tiger in a clearing,
a reflection in a pool of water,
a fixed, horizon stare.

In her palette she made everything.
Mapped my first words,
prepared a lock of hair,
drew down vines like umbilical cords,
unfurled stars read at birth -
my constellations pinpointed.

She herded galaxies onto the ceiling above
and let eternity gaze out of the black.

She crafted her creation more carefully than any God.

A mother's love enclosed in brushstrokes.
An ecosystem threaded together like a necklace.

She pulled a treetop canopy together
and made it into a cradle.

Secondary Highly Commended

The Turtle's Long Voyage By Django Bennett-Clarke

I hear the guillemot's cry,
hear the whale's song
deepening, slow and low.
The ocean in calling me home.

I swim through strange seas,
a million bottles holding
the ocean's plea.
Out of time, the blue world
sinks into grey.

I swim and swim and swim,
mourning my lost kin:
          never back.

Larkin Prize Winner

Fencing Project - 1975 By Chris Sewart

Home movies record that fence.
The sucking of sand, cement, water,
a ripe mixture,
shovelled around a cohort of cedar posts.
Caught on brittle celluloid
is a larchlap panel,
pitched into place,
galvanised nails punched home
with showy claw hammer.

Flapping from one sawn post
is you lumberjack shirt, you next to it,
grinning like Tenzing on Everest.
A faded National Service tattoo winks at the sky
from your greasy bicep.
You fancied yourself with a cine camera.

Home movies don't record
my failure to master the practical skills
of fencing,
of filming,
of breathing.
There are no close-up
of your mocking face and failing forearm,
of red hand on awkward blue skin,
of raw eyes.
You fancied yourself with your fists,

I own the equipment now:
camera, tripod, projector,
gunmetal canisters labelled
with your precise calligraphy;
Camping - 1970, Birthday Picnic - 1972, Fencing Project - 1975.
The ageing metal icy against my flagging skin.

Later, on a backyard bonfire,
spools of liberated super-8 film
spill and spew bitter smoke.
I force my head over the comforting black,
capture fumes on my tongue,
let them coat my mouth
and penetrate my lungs with unedited memory.

Adult 2nd Place

Coasting By Abigail Flint

As a child I flew
from my window

across the Holderness plain.
I spretched my girl-skin like an egg.

Bent arms downed
fingers splayed

to flight feathers
the edge of my nightie

fanned to tail. I bathed
in the wilderness of wind.

Coasting an easterly

I flew above all fields.
My sightline unbroken

save for hamlets that cluster
on closed lines and disused stations

lone farms linked
by ditches and drains

the leylandii hiding the slurry pit
that drowned a boy from school.

Unsteepled churches
understand this godless space

between sod and sky
is just for us birds to lose ourselves in.


Once, the wind carried sails with skins
and knives to Ravensor.

Frismersk, Dimlington, Orwithfleet -
all lost their bargain with the sea

but their tongues live
in every beck, brigg and carr,

in every thorpe, thwaite and foss.
There is beauty in time stitched slow.

Taste it, sweet as raw milk,
let it warm on your tongue.

Smell sea's breath, skimmed
and pooled in frets to cool summers.

Hear the chatter of spuggies
in hedgerows licked with may.

See the wind lift fields of lapwings,
folding and falling like loosed pages.

Land here

is not flat but subtle
as rollers on a slight sea.

Adult 3rd Place

The Talking Crow of Knaresborough By Penny Boxall

She's not like the rest. That white
yoke of feathers for a start. That disappointed
inflection to her voice - y'alright love? - where
did she learn that? See,
she stands rustling her untidy wings
for titbits, side-eyeing the ground. We flip a scrap.
I'm alright she intones, beak set
like the sprung jaws of a man-trap. No lips, see,
the voice hauled up from somewhere deep.
We chuck a crumb. I'm alright
she insists again. She's habit-forming, so we conform.
a morsel of a crisp. Are you all right, love?
Knowing what's expected, we tip the bag,
scattering the broken flakes. I'm alright,
she confirms, equipped with just this response,
which she must bend to all eventualities.
she's standing on blank ground, there's nothing left.
Hold out an empty hand -
look, all gone - nothing left to say,

but she's rooted to the place, still replying
I'm alright, I'm alright, I'm alright
to the question we're not asking anymore.
Eventually, we go away.

Adult Highly commended

The Unfinished Book By Deborah Harvey

She’s learnt how to halter-break the colt
train him on a lunge rein
get him used to saddle and bridle.
By Thanksgiving – whatever that is –
he’ll be big, and strong enough for them to ride.

When the red pony sickens she dozes on straw
her father’s snoring like the hinges
of a swinging stable door.
Morning comes
and she hurries with Jody over the ridge.

Thirty years later she’ll reread the story
see the shadows that were there all along,
the speck of blood on a fried egg yolk
massing rain clouds
choked foreboding filling Jody’s throat

but right now she’s seven and the pony’s
dead on page forty-three.
When the vulture lands and dips its beak
she slams the book shut
marches it, furious,

up the road, past concrete bike stands
in through the heavy library door
slides it across the Formica desk, mortified,
the smell of floor polish
in her nose.

She’ll check the next few books she borrows
for gymkhanas, shows, rosettes
not understanding it’s too late, that the weight
gripping her bony shoulder
is a patient bird of prey.

Adult Highly commended

The Last Stitch By Susan Szekely

I am sewing myself into a canvas sail again
with a firm round stitch.
I know how to tighten,
how to gather and draw.

I start at my feet (weighted):
pierce, pull through,
pierce, pull through.
A steady progression for this cocoon
this creeping, necessary numbness.

Already I can't feel my feet, my thighs.
Arms now pinioned I stitch over my ribs
from the inside.

The two rough halves draw closer to my face
like blinkers.
My lips kiss canvas.

And now it is the last stitch:
straight through the nose,
needling for a pulse.

Adult Highly commended

How are you? By Shona Johnson

You ask me to lie, when you ask, 'How are you?'
So I churn out the sing-song, 'Fine thank you.'
As my shoulders slump into aching bones
My hollow eyes scream a different tone.

We ping-pong pleasantries,
Waltz well-worn mediocrity.
You dribble about the drizzle,
I prattle about the potholes.
Neither listening,
Learning nothing,
Caring even less.

My mind's agony as I strive to be
Inoffensive, interesting, kind and witty.
But my brain buckles under the pressure
'You've put on weight' is all that I measure.

Don't stare at her mole,
Don't stare at her mole,
Don't stare,
Don't stare,
I'm staring at her mole.
Eyes lock.
Time to go.

As we depart the pointless scene,
'Let's catch up soon,' you smile at me.
I want to ask, if you don't mind,
Next time, do I have to lie?

Would my truth embarrass you?
My wretched sorrow discomfort you?
Does my honesty disgust or cause offence?
My depression make you shrivel in defence?

Or perhaps my confession would provoke you
To be open and honest about yourself too.
I dare you to finally divulge something real
You might discover that you start to heal.

So next time, friend, when you ask, 'How are you?'
And you don't hear the reply you're expecting to,
Will you scurry away and hope we never meet again?
That's if I'm still around by then.

Adult Special Mention

being okay By Lucy Crispin

But if the weed tin's full I'll be ok
enough. I can't be hurt when I'm in here.
I'll mute the night and pixelate the day.

Long bloated years since I first found the way
to bevel painful edges, disappear,
cease caring. Weed tin full? I'll be ok

if I can gorge on smoke and sweets, and play
the box sets back to back; if I can't hear
through muted nights and pixelated days

a heart's abandoned screaming, hold at bay
the rage and pain and terror (who'll come near
this sickened self?): the tin's full, I'm ok;

well, kinda. And I could still throw away
the wrappers, roaches-air the room-could clear
it all, could purge the night and see the day,

perhaps. But so much time has bled away
and self-disgust cohabits with the fear
so, if the weed tin's full, I'll stay ok.
I'll mute the night and pixelate the day.

Adult Special Mention

Reflections By Robert Rayner

My youth's unbroken by bombs that flattened
Malta, the gore of battlefields at the Somme,
in wars fought by my father and his before him.
They tuck you up your Mum and Dad, later proudly
wave you off to University. At eighteen you learn
to nurse a pounding hangover, the bluff of seminars.

A babyboomer, I'm on the well-lit second floor of Brynmor
Jones library as wind hurls hail against the window.
The outer world's in late afternoon December darkness.
My struggle with an essay on Sovereignty and the UK's accession to Europe, lapses into daydreams
of the future - what will I become?

It's then I catch a reflection in the window,
feel a shift of time and consciousness.
Through the glass, the face age has laid upon me
looks back - my older self - still unsure whether I spent
my days taking life too seriously,
or not seriously enough.

Adult Special Mention

Doing the School Run with Freud By Sarah James

Freud wafts his cigar in the air, then strokes
his beard pensively. "Such pent-up aggression
is interesting. Have you considered expressing
this more often?" I think about expressing
my hand across his shiny scalp or cheek.

Of course, I could tell my best friend
that her prized walnut coffee cake
tastes like burnt chicory and stale nuts,
my husband to shove his dirty plates
in his face, my kids to go live in a real pigsty,
their teacher to homework herself
into neater joined-up writing...or the great
Sigmund Freud that sometimes love
is the keeping quiet about the small things.

But he's tapping his stick now, impatiently.
I start the car; he asks, "What's the first thing
you see when you look in the rear-view mirror?"
"A psychoanalyst!" I reply as I jam my foot
on the pedal and zoom backwards.

"Don't worry," Freud says, picking himself up
from the tarmac and tacking back his shadow.
"It's all there, waiting in the subconscious."