Commended Poems 2012
The following poems were commended by the judges.
Talking to Myself - by Jo Bell
When he comes back from the bathroom in ten minutes
buttoning his old black Levi's, and sits
like a tired grace in your half-sprung chair:
When he touches his dark and silver curls
bemused, and looks at you full-on
as if you were the answer to the question:
when he laughs, so that the pleasure of his laugh
is like a whetstone for your needs
his skin a scent that you'll remember like a dog
for twenty years: when you notice the spot
of blood on his sleeve: when the penny drops
like a bomb into the loading bay
do me a favour:
Jo Bell is a professional poet, currently working on a collaborative book-length sequence with Martin Malone from her narrowboat in Wiltshire. Their new poetry press Small Lightnings will be launched in 2013. Jo is the Director of National Poetry Day. More information and poems at www.jobell.org.uk
When a Voice Moved Upon the Waters - by Jennifer Copley
all the drowned, knowing it was their time,
kicked up from the ocean floor through mermaids
and shoals of fish, till they reached forgotten air.
Gathering themselves into clumps
they struck out for dry land:
the blind towed by the un-blind, the limbless
clinging with their teeth to the ones in front,
bones being pushed ahead by bones.
It was dawn when they reached the shore,
shook salt from their hair, made fires,
dried those who could not help themselves.
And I saw my cousin and my aunt,
and I saw Icarus, heat steaming from his feathers,
and I saw my lover, still young, flicking water from her lashes
but I turned away so she would not find me.
Jennifer Copley lives in Cumbria. She has had 5 poetry collections published including a prize- winning pamphlet, 'Ice' (Smith/Doorstop 2001), 'Unsafe Monuments' (Arrowhead 2005) and 'Beans in Snow' (Smokestack 2009). Her latest collection is 'Living Daylights' (Happenstance 2011). She has won prizes in national competitions including 3rd prize in the Bridport (2010) and 2nd prize in the Cardiff Academi (2007) and has been included in the Forward Prize Anthology (2007). Her work has been used in GCSE Poetry Unseen revision papers.
The Antihero - by Megan Fernandes
By accident, I carried around a sweet potato
in my purse for a week. Scurrying for my wallet,
I would toss the hairy rock, pink and bulbous,
a little alien that my cat would pounce on
when it rolled out onto the wooden floor,
before I scooped it, too quickly, back into its
satchel. Cat thought, perhaps, that it was some shelled
sea animal, embryonic and elbowish,
concentrated like a bullet, big enough to cradle.
I felt like Leopold Bloom, secretly caressing
the potato, saying to myself, "Ah, there it is... po-taa-to"
over and over until it became too clear that Bloom
clutched the little spud to keep
the earth close, so close that when Dublin bloomed bright
with its mass electric trees, he could think,
here is the thing that grew in the ground. At the end
of Naussica, there are sweet mulvey lumps, senoritas
and blood flow, bread vans and Rip Van Winkle.
This is my favourite paragraph of six hundred pages.
Half-sleep. Brain fog. The world was mapped in 1904,
it was the end of the frontier. It was the end of boy
adventure novels. It was the beginning of wires.
Here is the thing that grew in the ground.
Here is the thing growing in my purse,
here it is, here.
- For Enda
Megan Fernandes is currently a PhD candidate in English Literature at the University of California, Santa Barbara and holds an MFA in poetry from Boston University. She is the poetry editor of the anthology Strangers in Paris and the author of two chapbooks, Organ Speech (Corrupt Press) and Some Citrus Makes me Blue (Dancing Girl Press). Fernandes was recently named the recipient of the 2012 "Writer's Room in Boston" Fellowship in Poetry, the Robert Pinksy Global Fellowship in Poetry, and the Dzanc Books Luso-American Descent Writer Award. Her poems have been published or are forthcoming in Memorious, RATTLE, Upstairs at Duroc, and Media Fields: Science and Scale.
Nioclas Beanon of Ross Mhic Thrium and the Wire Immaterial - by Nuala Keating
Unguent of miracules. Nioclas of merchants, travellers, children. Purveyor of gifts. Like his namesake, three pots of generosity advocacy. Characteristic virtue charity. Mortified and abstemious from infancy. Irish chieftain’s Son. Beanon Coadjutor followed master Patrick up the river on missionary erudition. Senchus Mor. Benignus now.
Dogs fond of. Hard man Father. Put to work in salt; for other’s education. Escape to sporting sticks and rackets, hunting and dancing. Then, where shall we go darling - Our Golconda?
Canada bound but identity stolen. Cousin benefactor. “More fool him”. Far south land. Lifetime changed. Victim ever. The argosy docked. Five pounders he travelled with alone
Little town; far away west; Plantagenet Shire. Bourke Street and Ormond Road too. Three churches competed with Mason. Farmers. Hospitals. Figures. Alone. Pledged. Loquacious
Waiting one, two, three and more years for betrothed. Heat, flies, alcohol and accents. His; not theirs. Theirs; not his. Left behind short journeys. Movement to Trinity of silos. Long roads. Flat wheat. Shimmering pretence of water
She came four years on. Trailing from London ‘53. They married. No Mass bush here. But chocolates of Quality. Duck shooting. Priests for dinner guests. He dedicated to public service. Hospitals, then adding up. Building other’s infrastructure. Services. Roaring out alongside graded culverts, inspecting. Movement north. Proselytising for saving Aboriginals. Employment. Fighting for those reserved. Infra dignitatem. Changes wrought. Sight dying
Salt and butter. Pledge. Monastery. Chocolate Lenten dessert penance for sins uncommitted. Maybe. Just in case. Mortifying to discipline. Self imposed; affected
Encyclopaedias, not one but two, or more. Succumbed to pyramid and shame of no degree. Trapped by Gaelic’s curse. Conned knowledge absorbed. More; Aquinas read. Paul II and Canon Sheehan too. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Confession to Augustine. Repository
Undetected illness masking unseen forgotten unrewarded generosity, empowerment, compassion, initiative. Knights of Cross hands tied helpless. No insurance salesman here. Adding up; degreeless, old, sorry, at 51. Bringing out the dead failed speeding. Prescient of next life. Recession burner. Money earned, saved for house, jobless spent on food and clothes and indulgences and education. Burnt. Debts and blindness. Landlords and tenants. Times five. Handyman now. Lift wells falling latent saviour bought roof. Tenants’ success
Underlining books reinforcing intent. Typing out sayings. A fool uttereth all his mind. Praying. Sts Anthony, Jude. Holy Marys Gloriously, Sorrowfully, Joyfully in Benediction Luminously. Thank you. A line of poetry, play or Bible. Golconda of wisdom
Acquiring. Hoarding. Just in case needing. Retreating. One man's junk another man's cache. Saved a mother lode of bell wire discarded by Telecom. Not immaterial. Twisting holding things together connecting. Carefully folded paper bags, merchant past. Cornucopia of stationery; a wellspring used generations down. Recipes collected. Typed out. Underlined. Ripped out. Vicariously ate world through food. Keys to unlock the Kingdom of Heaven. He saved history that was always to his lips. Herodotus remembering philosophy teaching by examples. Reflective watching guardian angel over. Of course he saved himself for God. Repository of knowledge; wood bits; trunks; staples. Prayers
Surrounded by women past and future lives, bar one. His favourite, betrothed stolen (he died broken), praying dying stubborn alone infected. One shyly retreating. Another going young; avoiding hardship imposed. Favourite daughter surviving him. No inheritance here as only son, unloved. Stubbornly compliant victim used. No return to home country. Hearts unstuck. No boat, plane or Western Union back or forth. Some bits of gold and silver inherited left of continental travellers cursed by salt and war. Education dissolved in care with care.
Loins produced not four but more brought forth revolution ways. Proudly educated in public consciousness. Not afford. And grandchildren known unknown and protected. Loved wife.
Abandoned knowledge consumed by silvery hungry mould craving education. Sight going; brain too. Success. What success? For others then. And now His unacknowledged; so deserving. Immaterial. In the plastic sheeted bed, ten percent with Strangers. Not know. Unknown. Known. Escape from daily boredom. Life lived. Life unlived. God’s will be done. Penance for a life part lived. Sacrifice for others more deserving. Saintly mortification. Outliving in the urine to protect her aloneness. Infra her beautiful dignitatem. Loquacious
Praying Lifetimes. Adding change. Typing out. Writing. Reading. Kneeling. Sitting. Lying. Mass. Keeping Things just in case. As nothing now. As nothing new. Own world. Just in case. Engines. Cases. What was inside? Maybe wire; a key; recipe; or God. Born Sagittarian. Fire and brimstone. Lived two centuries. Philosophical. Metaphysical. Spiritual. Motivated light and grace of His God. The reward. So many years desired; to go to that other place. Rewarded. Sinte Klaas for them. Benignus martyred for him. Cum grano salis.
Nuala Keating was born to Irish parents in Three Springs, in inland rural Western Australia. She studied law and arts at the University of Western Australia and arts at Edith Cowan University in Perth. Nuala is a mother, lawyer and has considerable professional writing experience as a policy maker. In 2010 she resigned her job as a policy maker to focus on her literary writing. She has written plays, monologues, short stories and essays, which make for a small output, indeed, compared with her policy writings! Nuala is currently editing a play and working on a volume of poetry.
Antony Gormley in the Water of Leith - by Nick McKinnon
Fàilte gu Alba: one had found himself
sunk to his metal chuckies in a pool,
his bawbag scrumpled up like microwaved
cling film; one enjoyed a willow-shaded
standing threesome, leaving his rusty stains
smeared on the tie-side skimpies of two girls
from Pilrig Heights; and one had drunk a pint
in every pub down Junction Street the day
a fortnight's rain poured on the Old Town slate
in half an hour, burbled along the rones
of colonies, flashed off peripheral schemes
and basalt crags into the rifled gorge,
greeting the iron men like a Dundee train
ramming the Waverley buffers. Gormley's
doppelgangers didn't have a prayer: one
toppled sideways at Bells Mills and felt
the crush of driftwood clinging to his thighs
ease like a bladder sphincter that's been held
right through the second half at Easter Road
and into extra time; another knelt
above the caramel spate near Bonnington
and parting the muscled torrent expertly
went down on the alluvium; the third,
reclined by Powderhall, smoked cigarettes
while Venus sidled up to Jupiter,
counted the Ryanairs and Easyjets
hauling their pallid Fifers out of Turnhouse,
and witnessed helplessly a tawdry show
of northern lights tarnish the tramless city's
sodium dome with shimmering verdigris.
Nick MacKinnon is a teacher of Maths and English. He has been
runner-up in the 2009 Bridport and 2010 Edwin Morgan; in 2012 Claybury
won the Hippocrates prize and The Surrey Tiger won Poetry on the
Valentine - by Derek Mcluckie
The Fuckin homeless hostel stinks o' vomit
n bleach, the room they gave us, sparse n cold
n dirty walled - decrepit bed's an awld
junky, the quilt's got spunk n blood stains on it
a start tae moan n curse n you stay stop it
because you've had it, you've heard enough –I told
ye not tae fuckin start me right – ye hold
yer head, ma bitter verbal migraine bombs it
n we're a pair o'stranded queens who stuck
together out of fear, n how do we
get out of here – aw see ma fuckin luck
you take my hand, I stroke your head n tuck
you in the come stained bed, I bring your tea
n we can bear the homeless hostel's muck.
Derek McLuckie, Paisley born actor, poet and prose writer, regularly performs his own work. He has written one play which was performed at the Arches. His latest one man show Glue Boy Blues was performed at the Tron and is being published by the Drouth, who have published some of his poems. He is currently working on poems and illustrations for a collection.
Slow - by Wayne Price
I was a kid, curled sick
in the wet snout of a pitching
boat, on a black lake
over some drowned village in Wales
when Jim Ward, fishing
with my father said
he'd dreamed the while we camped
the night before of being followed by
a stumbling lamb,
harmless, jelly-legged, but somehow
impossible to outrun, so that
desperate at last
he'd crushed its bleating
head with a stone
'the way you'd smack a trout'.
My father laughed and sent his line
licking across the wind. I don't remember his reply
but I remember that
stubborn lamb when,
sick again, I dream
of lions now: golden, silent, slow,
hunting me once
through an endless empty town
of tenements and blinding glass:
once along a norther forest path
that led back
half a lifetime south
to the green fields of the Waun
why they hunt me, or think
I know; but why lions when
in this quick world
of waking things
I've never feared them? And why
are they so slow?
The First Yins - by Sylvia Telfer
That awwhar blae blast o ice, that Hell's bane
cauld gane but yet a mort cauld laps wi its dug
tongue in a wun an spray frae a swell o a
heavin se. They haed cam, bird-alane, an mebbe
thare'd been naewan afore the ice an thae anelie'd been
grippit by this blae haun, stuid droukit, deid-dune in
snaw drifts oan this ice-shoggled danger grun in
flits o haar, in a wudden dream o wouf. Here oan
this grun tae be cried Skara Brae, a preggie yin pous
cockles frae tangle, peltin the partans in the spray.
Anither chowes banes that yin day'll be clark'd doon
alang wi his bracklie cheebanes and labelt 'eld-wurld'
but thare's but the nou an he's fu an the banes are
feenished wi an nearhaund the bonnie wumman an the
man wi the crooked back-bane-links baloo tae the first
babby born tae thaim. The wumman's breists hing doon,
purly in the licht o the muin, the teats lan an bricht
reid an he feels his tadger rise atween his thight
like the muin mountin the sky. He thinks he'll that
this wumman. Thare's nae hedisman an nae awmichtie
but in the nicht, whan the mune hings neist yoin onsonsie
star, a dreid of the deid yins.
Shaidae flit bogilly by a tourin boolder, mooth a
burded tongue aulder than the ice. Suin thare'll be ithers
in coves like whuds of flichtermice but richt noo thatre'
anelie thae yins in theis place o unca'd craturs, oorie
screichin the weir an aye the rain.
In Sauchiehall Street thare's a lum hat man, tap
dancin, twa-taed fit in mirk shoon. A din, skarrow
o a man wi a puggie oan yin shoulder. A hizzie geeles.
She's daizled, her breists kite uner her bloose, loose agin
the nylon that hauds a guff o oxters. The lum hat
man staps, taks an avocado frae his pooch, the Deil's
fruit, nae kenned. It's saft, skin pairts at the pap
o his fingers, radgie things that fix the hizzie.
A glisk o the gousty duns fu o air an whicht licht as
it sterts tae draw. Faither can see thaim frae the ward.
He's sae like yon crabbit eld baster, wha used tae stor
doon the Gallowgate playin flute in the Oarange Walk,
no deid ill in the bed neist tae his, saying cheep,
watchin the thunner-plump dreeple the windae, waitin
fur the end-day in an ashet fu o shach-ends an the loss
o a his Awmichties. Faither's noon gabbin aboot the 'grays',
fitba, an when he used tae eye a when o blethers lassies
a fairnytickl'd wi een pleadin "pree-ma-mou". He's yet a
yen fur the dimpl't dollyburd wi the carroty herr tho
she's yin o they Connolly papes the Proddy lad ca
"hure" an we Billy blethers she's duin a by-job wi the
Pape hissel. Faither's a cooncil hoose, nae Saunt Ives or
sum Tally haivers but seeven-B whaur he'd staun at
the door in his singlet an glazie breeks that war pairt
o a suit, the jaiket in faur better nick. He nevir wantit a
bungalow, "bindin yont's a posh deith. Ach, thay'll
niver see rabbits in the flesher's, naither bu herts".
The first yins arena saundit
an the tale canna be endit
becauz this grun's elfshot,
this grun's na for couarts.
Sylvia Telfer BA(Hons) English, University of London. Born in Glasgow, lived in Africa, Iraq, Hong Kong and Qatar. Worked as PA, Court Reporter, Publications Manager at The University of Hong Kong and various other jobs. Now in Rutherglen.