Poems

‘The May-Tree’ by Yvonne Reddick – Primers Shortlist 2017

Your embrace was the Shelter Stone when the ferns began ____________________to unscroll their questions. You planted a may-tree, and said the whitethorn could not match the bloom in my cheeks. By summer, you swore you’d carry me from Edale to Kielder, to show me the dens of lynx. My vows were the Ring of Steall….

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‘Second-hand’ by L Kiew – Primers Shortlist 2017

___(Penang, 1932) _________(i) Lao ma believes the dead cling to their possessions. My dress is red shantung; its last occupant is heart-broken and tugging on my hem as I step onto the polished floor. My partner is her ex- husband. He holds me out at arms’ length, cold and stiff. I waltz around, around. When…

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‘Limpet’ by Anna Bindoff – Resurgence Prize, Highly Commended

You told me after all these years, in one Of those sweet, unexpected, piercing lines That we’ve become like limpet and a stone Whose borders can be nowhere else aligned. I wondered if you knew the home’s a scar, Abraded by rotation at the brim And strange exchanges keep them there, shell stars In constellation,…

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‘So’ by Roy Woolley – Resurgence Prize, Highly Commended

On the dirt road that night, a broken thing with the new patterns leached from its wings – but no clearer signs, hence no way of knowing the destination this rough road might become if I followed the scents these greyish flowers had already lost guiding me. Scanning the thorn-fields and with hours before reset,…

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‘The flaw in the pattern’ by Rachael Mead – Resurgence Prize, Highly Commended

13 thoughts on wilderness 1. It is a word for something imaginary. 2. The deep blue bowl of sky, the microbial cities in the folds of my skin. 3. Web, palimpsest, machine – nothing can capture it. All we can say is what it is not. 4. Warping the laws of physics, time drifts with…

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‘What the trees do’ by Laura Scott – Resurgence Prize, Highly Commended

They play with us they want to be us they once were us a long time ago one of them caught the heel of a girl in the crook of its branch, snagged it like a bird caught in a bush flicked her up into its leaves. She cried and the birds scattered so no-one…

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‘Walking with Rilke’ by Linda France – Resurgence Prize, Highly Commended

When, after a day of rain, evening light plucks us out of the four-square house to rinse our screen-bleached faces and it takes a while to adjust then notice grass heads leaning into each other like our shadows far off to the south intent on their own attenuated adventure woven between sheep, recently shorn and…

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‘River, post-spate’ by Joanna Guthrie – Resurgence Prize, Highly Commended

………..‘…one broad presence that proceeds by craft and gratitude’ – John Burnside The river reassembles after being in spate. It is small water moving in shining self-interrupting wrinkled glyphs and dimples, a body of thought in movement. It flows severally in adjacent clear layers and overlays takes circular spinning journeys within itself. Having got itself…

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‘Dawn of a New Age’ by Sue Norton – Resurgence Prize, Highly Commended

Of ten green bottles, two are glass and make music, ringing the bell of the bottle bank. Eight are plastic: two are scrunched, recycled by the council; one floats in the canal, one rolls in a ditch tossed from a car; one embarks on a sea voyage. Three truck to landfill. It’s a new beginning,…

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‘Fractures’ by David Clarke – Resurgence Prize, Highly Commended

i This house just moved ………..and all the bodies in it. Our finger-pointed grip on earth dislodged another fraction. Floodlit rigs ………..assault the ground and sky, scarred trucks idle at stop-lights. Now we are tutored to open – ………..this spell of force that conjures each fissure apart, its pitching release. Whatever holds us here, together,…

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‘Windward’ by Paul Stephenson – Resurgence Prize, Highly Commended

The sea all water, yet receives rain still And in abundance addeth to his store… ……………………………………..Sonnet 135 Could be thirteen, asleep on a beach, the sand palms still, the sea uncertain. No announcement: just the heavens in a sudden rush, but even this much water is never enough. I run for shelter, quick sink my…

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‘Dhanakosa, Scotland’ by Cath Drake – Resurgence Prize, Second Place

The mist came through the glen, past the waterfall ………..roaring vertical, sweeping through trees, the sturdy quivering stems of wildflowers and vines, ………..and uncurled itself across the loch. A heron appeared from the grass, craned its neck, ………..lifted its legs and steered its insect-like body to pierce the mist, disappearing into it ………..with flashes of…

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‘Bomb’ by Emily Diamond – Resurgence Prize, Third Place.

Our ancestors didn’t leave us words for this. Rain, downpour, deluge Do not describe cars and central heating Become invisible, argued-over carbon – Heated air that holds the weight of oceans And, drop by millions of drop, Returns it to us, Filling fields with the fish-coloured back and forth of sudden lakes, Reversing gravity to…

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‘Ilex’ by Seán Hewitt – Resurgence Prize Winner

Distracting myself, waiting for news, I walked until I saw this white cluster of holly growing at the base of a tree, the stems yellowed, the angled clutch of leaves like a bleached coral, a pale antler, almost medieval, like a relic unearthing in the gloom of the wood. Later, still the baby would not…

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Half-Ghazal (for Reneé)

“The word [Ghazal] is of Arabic origin and means ‘talking to women’ (women in purdah, with all that that implies)” – Mimi Khalvati in her Notes to The Meanest Flower   I flinch inside as you corroborate my name, which is your name now. You spell it out over the phone to a call centre…

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‘His Bottom Lip’

Clitoral, like finding a small, hidden part of myself in someone else. Nerve-wet, fleshy – for a white guy, and stained between life-lines with red wine gone black. Only this I point with sharpest teeth. He weighs this up. Eyes roll over what this means, how and where it can lead, all the things it limits. …

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‘Ellengæst’

It’s karaoke in The Globe on Morning Lane: throatfuls of song   of heady beer & beery heads   pushing the pubglow — this hallowed circumference of yellowed light — out to its furthest limits ………………………………… into the beyondwhich where boys with blades and orcish grins kick cans down streets   where daughters of Cain text naked anxieties  …

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‘Three Things Transported Together’

He loves me, he loves me not. The me part of this 8.5 million dollar flower industry. Me all gerber- a-faced and eau de toilette – crushed – Betha plucking Ecuadorian Rose or dainty-nosed Sierra dipping into Bucket Orchid – it’s all for me. Flowers, corpses and sushi in the belly of a plane. Big…

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‘Gaia – Entangled’

She has the grit-heart for her kind – the drive of a plant, ant or virus to rule earth, the place a flood, a famine have in time, the dirt a forest sucks to live forever, the treasure of floating mitochondria, centrioles, basal bodies, spirochete bacteria, each in its own small history, swimming to fill…

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‘In which Piers the Plowman appears to the Dreamer’

In a somur Saturday, wery of swonken ful harde, Y lay in a meadow, swollen river rushing past, fair folk werkynge in feld afar, flokkes belles tolling al the losses of the world. And a black humour gripped me. River, quod Y, from what hidden source springe yow? Fair folk, wherefore toil yow to harvest…

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‘Grenfell’

The average salary in the Borough of Kensington and Chelsea is £123,000, the highest in the country. The median salary is £32,700. You are burning £50 notes and swigging champagne. No other area in the country has a larger disparity between median and mean incomes, suggesting a large gap between rich and poor. You are…

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‘Henry Harclay’s Ordinary Questions’

It was known that Alexander had fixed gates across the chasm east of the Caspian sea that enclosed those almost people who performed abominations: foetus-eaters, dog-men and the rest. And it was known if even one got through those gates (made by the welding of two mountains) it would be a signal of end times…

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‘Pretty Fish’

The bad sister is lured by gelatinous scales – she slops the good sister’s carp into a pail, but the August sun warms the water, turns it stale. . The bad sister gathers the withered bits: a pelvic fin, a vertebral segment, the delicate inner skin, displays them on her vanity: their bones gleam like…

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‘An Erotic Novel Was My Bible’

I consulted it for details on how to handle pain, learned to wear skirts, to shave my skin as surgeons do before pressing their scalpels in. Thus I was a doctor salving wounds, though I used lotions, perfumes that bore the scent of roses. Less and less did I note the world for I heard…

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‘Where Light Lives’

the revolving doors have slowed down long enough for the dark side to be revisited. I learn to find a glimmer in a house where barns are filled with grain pantries with preserves where rooms release their scent of wellknown words while wanderlust grows from all the windows I learn to write.

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