2017 Poetry Competition Winning Poems (Open Section)

Here are the winning poems (first three places) in the Open Section.

Return to 2017 Competition Winners


Knowing is Believing by Jocelyn Simms

Knows how to test a baguette for freshness
can weigh fruit and veg on the Supermarket
scale – sometimes remembers to stick on the label,

can park his trolley with panache, sometimes
avoids scraping ankles and jamming toes.

He and I know the sign for water, painted
white on the brisk tarmac road that leads to the river.

We believe flat stones are best for skimming,
we crouch and spin, then let fly
our ammunition.

I know his wavy hairline: crinkly curls
that won’t simmer down – his chuckle, even his whine,
even his temper -

most of all the way he squeezes my hand
to say, we are the only two who really know.

He believes hugs and kisses travel down the phone line,
cross the sea, skip down the road and enter the house
by the front door.

He believes we can lever the Accrington Pals
out from under the memorial stone in the municipal park,
if only we push hard enough.

He knows the Green Man is everywhere
and nowhere, like love and slices of cake.



The Ageing Mountain Climber Remembers How
by Gill McEvoy

The stairs rise before him,
each tread an imposing foothold
on a threatening rock-face.

Adrift in his own landscape
he gapes
and hesitates –

is this a mountain he has climbed before?
He does not recognise it.

He pauses, wondering how to start,
then grasps the bannister
as if it were a rope,

feeling with his toes
as he ascends.



Chapel of Rest by Michelle Diaz

Twin moons
under a snap of eyelid, you full
of that embalming muck

We eye our fallen past
as though gun-shot
had just split the air

The warm lick of your ghost
haloes behind our heads
absence of snort and raucous laugh
unpicks us

You are not this cold yellow nothingness
nor the red map spreading above
your furrowless brow

Are you loving this?
our three starched faces

No more heart-in-the-mouth phone calls
no stalk-eyed mirror gaze
for early signs of cancer

God’s promised relief
almost perfect