1st Place – Mistaken Identity – by Hannah Stephenson
“Daffodil!” you cry,
trotting, triumphant, kitchen-bound,
bright golden bloom clutched
tight in trembling fist.
I haven’t the heart to say.
So we trim the stem
of fragile green,
choose the best teacup
for windowsill display –
water dampening your sleeves,
pride dancing in your eyes.
The perfect gift.
It’s the wrong time of year
but seasons hold no power
over infant wonder.
Outside, the lawn glitters
with a hundred ‘daffodils’,
none as precious as the one
you’ve given me.
Soon, they will transform
into fluffy-headed timepieces,
scattering their seed
in the wind like sorrow.
Perhaps, too, your
imagination will be cast
adrift in the breeze,
short-lived and transient.
But I hope you stay so wise,
to see spring’s boisterous beauty
hidden in the promise
of a small yellow weed.
2nd Place – Finally – by Laurence Hughes
After summer yawns, curls up
Goes to sleep
And autumn has called for trees to shed their leaves,
Some to weep
When winter forests, icy halls
In silence keep
Then I do believe, it is the time
That we shall meet
3rd Place – The Space Between – by D.C.Tunstall
When we first met we agreed on everything,
thought the same thoughts, shared the same space.
We clung to each other as though our souls depended on it.
A little later our daughters arrived so we made new space.
We gave them all our love and then they left with it.
So we wept.
The space they left behind was neutral territory,
a deserted place.
Ground to be rediscovered.
It was the space between our hearts.
Over time we built bridges and held hands.
Now we are happy again as two.
Humour Prize – No, don’t tell me – by Dan Hicks
What did I come in here for, was it to make a drink?
A cup of tea or coffee? No, I’ve just had one – I think.
Perhaps to clear the dishes then and do the washing up.
No, it’s hardly worth it, there’s just one dirty cup.
What did I come in here for, was I looking for my phone?
No, I always use the landline if I make a call from home.
I wasn’t looking for my specs, though I’m always losing those.
But I found them half an hour ago (they were sitting on my nose).
What did I come in here for? It happens every day.
I’ll phone someone then can’t remember what I had to say.
I make notes in my diary so that I won’t forget,
But I mislaid that a month ago and I haven’t found it yet.
What did I come in here for? Every day’s the same;
I saw my lifelong friend last week, you know… wotsisname.
He said let’s meet up for a beer and do some recreating.
I think I should have gone last night – I hope he’s not still waiting.
What did I come in here for, was it to feed the cat?
No, I’ve fed her four or five times, no wonder she’s so fat.
Perhaps to fix my evening meal, prepare the spuds and cabbage.
No, that’s it, I remember now – I was heading for the garage.
Highly Commended –
Fingers for Eyes – by John Morris
Fingers for eyes,
Imaginings of things
That were there, and now pass unseen.
Suspended in time,
Trapped in the corners of dreams.
Shadow on shadow,
Dark upon dark,
In that place where once a light shone
Mem’ries are dragged
Into the abyss,
They flounder, and then they are gone.
As each picture fades
A treasure is lost,
The darkness has taken so much.
All that remains
Is the promise of things
Found in the caress of a touch.
No one can share
The dark solitude
Where the past now withers and dies.
New mem’ries are forged,
From images caught
And fashioned by fingers for eyes.
Grenfell Tower: The Day After – by Jacqueline Pemberton
Wearing pyjamas she turns the page over,
Reaches the end of the exam.
The smell of singed skin clings like disease,
Her bandaged hand stings sharper than sunburn.
She thinks about her revision notes,
How she had run from the burning building,
Waving them like a white flag of surrender.
At first she thought it was a party
On the floor below,
Felt annoyed that they had interrupted
Her final night of study
Until cries of terror split the air,
‘Stay still. Stay put!’
But flesh like wax melts in heat and instinct
Told her to flee down blackened stairways
And smoke blind corridors.
Hell raged behind closed doors.
She tripped over debris, staggered
Through acrid air,
Bird with a broken wing looking for a home.
They said she didn’t need to come today,
Everyone would understand,
But comfort can be found in the coolness
Of remembered words and the sanctuary
Still Water – by Michael Hobbs
An old man sits by the riverbank,
Bent in the supplication of prayer,
Houses and trees ripple
In the listless swell,
Floating like memories;
The imminence of the morning
Reaches out across the water,
Reminding him of someone.
Journey – by Helen Jeffery
I am ripping up the pages
Throwing them into the air
Casting off the shackles
Letting down my hair
I am pulling out the pin
Letting down my guard
Stripping off the armour
Opening my heart
I am stepping, I am striding
I am owning, I am honing
I am ready to look deep
Will you take my hand and guide me
as I guide you and we leap?
I am growing, I am unfurling
A flower turning my face to the sun
You have started on your journey
Mine has just begun.