Poetry Winners 2018

Poetry Winners 2018


David Punter


We’ve got ‘em bang to rights, the noisy screamers
and harbingers of our oceanic discontent;
Jonathan Livingston, George Barker, Chekhov,
fish and chips, snatched sandwiches, a certain
stink of half-remembered, half-digested fish.

Forgetting how huge they are is one thing; worse
is forgetting how gull they are, how unlike
anything else in the many wild kingdoms we
pompously incline to regard as our home despite
the anarchy of mosquito, buzzard, lynx.

A white head endangered among rocks, scrabbling
claws spread to meet the gust, there is nothing
romantic about this unseasoned life, bare feed
and guano, profitless, enduring, cold
as midnight, we think, is cold; but always cold.

In moments we are gull, instances of dream,
flapping from the black precipice, swooning
in the down-draught, knowing no knowledge
except the squawking mouths, the endless need
revealed for a second in cowl of black and grey.

Mind the Gap

Christopher M James


At the market, a sudden opportunity
gazing at the dart-like silvery fish
you feel you want to shake his hand
ask him how he is doing
look him straight in the eyes.
Welcome to the club
of former something or other, now
he’s up the proverbial creek
of the final lost election. And you want
to see what was forbidden before
behind the running roughshod
like when you took a sabbatical
or a break from it all
as lights pearled along
the once-in-a-lifetime seafront
like a charm bracelet.

Unbalance of power?

You sense a seller’s market
that you have longed to corner
the market of being human …
balking before the golden delicious
because time is short
you intend to unzip an idea
by shaking his hand and telling
all the policy inquisitors, the spin doctors,
the procedural pillars, the budget swallowers,
the whipped waverers, the endless posturers,
the high elected potentates that
all their thought-out strategies
never provide for a mirror of regret.
Failing more … existing more, oddly,
the unhappy ones only
think they can go back.

I’ll try to be old on another day

Mary Gilonne


not now. I’m awash with greening shade, a soft thumb of warmth chaffing this wickered corner and hopeful tea-rose utopias climb pinkly flower-some, up to a full blue sky. Ants are milking aphids on my apple trees and a mottled

flock of fruit-fall grazes grass as if summer is too overripe for picking. How thighs, breasts, honey-drench with heat, an earthy lustfulness of light. Yes, I’ll try to be old on another day, if my body pares to core and peel, that thin

press of life, if my mind confuses sun with rain yet even then… not now. Later. When woods shawl with a coppery wooling and wefts of beech-nut hedge walk me out along cold village lanes like autumned suitors. I’ll footfall

soft down to my pub for snug-lit pints, words, words, and still the bar-lazing eyes of those greying men, to unrespectable rooms blindly kind, to afternoon smoulders of wishful bones, may my skin remember all that’s gone before.

 Stroud Book Festival 2018: Graphic representation of Stroud town: