Poetry 2021 Winning Poems

The Awakening

By Pauline Hawksworth

The size of the bee scouting

outside the kitchen window

is a pear-drop, baby mouse

or full-sized vole; something

the earth rolled and gave wings;

pinned graciously so that it

could float the air on this fresh

spring morning, a Thursday,

its awakening promenade;

a day of glinting sunlight.

The colour, a small black sun-

edged thunderous cloud poised

over the top of a far mountain,

an impossible collision of honeyed

rain and rigid acceptance.

The bee, released from its nest

wearing wedding-rings around

its fluffy body, slowly emerged

from dreams of dancing and flirting

insider the necks of flowers.

wished the kitchen window stretched

as wide as an ocean so that I could

find out where it travelled in this

half-sprung state of waking.

Snarl up at the cemetery

by Christine Buxton

There’s a snarl up at the cemetery,

all the cars are stationary –

blue Ford Focus going nowhere;

white Sierra saloon at a standstill;

black Passat estate

with a lab and a corgi cross,

noses fogging up the glass

and tails wagging in the boot,

stopped dead

in front of a little red mini

with a go-faster stripe idling behind

a handy-man-van with a white-van-man and his wife

and a girl hidden by a pink bouquet in the front.

The Mercedes with the wreath of red roses

taking up the whole of the passenger seat,

that’s causing the jam,

can’t turn around, it’s a narrow path,

and can’t go back,

being unable to see out

because of all the tears.

The Merc came the wrong way round

the one way system

as grief takes you in not so

unexpected ways on Mothers’ Day.

But none of the cars is beeping

and white-van-man’s wife

and Passat-estate-man are out

offering to help

and the 30-something-singleton (no ring)

from the mini

has her arm round Mercedes lady,

so I carry on to visit Dad because Mum’s still going strong.


By Jacqueline Woods

At 4am I stand outside

My mother’s bedroom

And listen to her talking.

These are not the disjointed

Ramblings of befuddled sleep,

There is eloquence,

Purity in performance,

Confidence in every syllable she speaks.

Continuous as the stars that shine

And twinkle on the Milky Way

They stretched in never-ending line

For a moment the heavy blanket

Of dementia lifts from weary bones,

Frustrations and fatigue dispelled

By the rhythmic pulse of her verse,

Language learnt to the beat of a ruler

In the classroom of lost childhood

Is born again, giving respite and light

To a mind that wrestles with the dark.

I do not cross the threshold of her door

But wait in awed humility

Until the final flourish of her poetry.

For oft, when on my couch I lie

In vacant or in pensive mood,

They flash upon that inward eye

In the morning her voice is crumped,

Her body stooped.

Carers coax her to swallow medication,

Plug hearing aids into reluctant ears,

Start this Groundhog Day again.

I wear my smile as I greet her

At the bottom of the stair lift.

Congratulate her on her night time recitation

Knowing that she will have forgotten

How just a few hours ago

Our hearts with pleasure filled

As we danced with golden daffodils…

Pack It In                             March 2021 during the third lockdown in the Isle of Man.

by Hazel Teare

My mind has packed up.

In one box

Childhood memories

Neatly stowed.

In another, family snaps

Full of love

And laughter.

Romance, carefully bound

By ribbon ties,

Awaits a new home.

Regrets sealed tight

Their taint restrained

From touching truth.

Pain nailed down

In a strongbox,

Safely imprisoned.

I open the final box

Fold myself into it And close the lid.

Second Husband

By Duncan Fraser

Of course you knew, deep down, that the way

she talked about that man would one day

be the way she would talk about you.

She had great skill as a raconteur.

Yet, though you were rapt, it did occur

to your dull brain that her aperçu

was more than a comical insight

into the butt of her jokes – it might

be a revelation of her too.

Disloyalty to her ex-husband,

selling the secrets of their heartland

for belly laughs from her retinue –

was there not in your mouth some distaste

for this treachery, for this barefaced

derision for the chap’s billets-doux?

Her mimicry was entertaining

and you laughed rather than refraining

from the merriment that would ensue.

Right now she will be doing your voice

and some other fool will have no choice

but to suppress what he always knew.