Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Fine Scribes 5....

For the past five years now I have collaborated (sounds a bit sinister but I think that's the correct word) with John Dench of Green Arrow Publishing (GAP for short-clever eh!) on a very worthy project. Culminating in a poetry anthology called Fine Scribes (the title was John's idea) we have ran a poetry competition for the poetry lovers of Tonbridge and the surrounding area. It hasn't been a great money spinner for either of us but it has just about been self financing and the standard, we think, has been, on the whole, of a pretty high standard. Anyway, if you want to find out more about the competition and the results from previous years efforts then you can do so on the Mr. Books web site. For now though here are the entries which John and the panel of judges thought worthy of the glittering prize money of £100 for the winner and less for the runners up. All the commended poems and a few guest poems will be included in this years anthology which, almost certainly and inevitably will be called Fine Scribes 5 and almost certainly will be priced £4.95 and available from one good book shop:

First Prize Winner

Oh, Foolish Child...

Born in 1983
A rebel child she came to be
Defying parents, teachers and the law
Never one to tow the line
She ran away from home at nine
Freedom beckoned through an open door

Her name was Angela MacNeal
With a heart of stone and nerves of steel
Barefoot through the alleyways she ran
A search conducted far and wide
But Angela knew where to hide
No one would deter her from her plan

She fell in with an outlaw gang
Rebel songs at night they sang
They stole and cheated each day to survive
Fuelled by nectar from the jar
One night they stole a rich man’s car
Angela – the only one who could drive

Oh, foolish child how wayward was your way?
A rebel’s life lived each and every day

The Garda men went in pursuit
Angela took the hilltop route
Her foot down to the floor – speed off the dial
Then suddenly, she lost control
And down the hill the car did roll
To end up just a crushed and mangled pile

Five bodies were hauled from the wreck
Angela, dead with a broken neck
Her blue eyes closed forever, such a shame
Taken to the mortuary, cold
The fragile frame, sixteen years old
And nobody there even knew her name

Now, some might call it destiny
A high price paid just to be free
While others say she was just the Devil’s Friend
So, now her body’s laid to rest
In an unmarked grave – who would have guessed
That this is how her young life was to end

Oh, foolish child how wayward was your way?
A rebel’s life lived each and every day

by Edward Jones

Second Prize:

And Then The Shredding

I shredded the first 56 letters
Of explosive political content –
You had numbered them,
Could someone as controlled as myself have really let you keep them?

I kept every single photograph of you with my daughter,
I kept the best of your books,
Volume on volume, astrophysics and apartheid and Egypt,
How could you have been so concerned and conducted yourself so contemptibly?
I shredded all those legal statements,
The stuff that issued from your comradeship
When I struggled for a future with my daughter.

I shredded every scrap of paperwork,
For what reason did you keep so much?
Collected together it stank of the urine
In which you allowed yourself to sit and exist in these last years.

I shredded the Christmas cards, the Birthday cards,
The bears and puppies and robins, the daffodils, the roses.
I kept the ancient photographs, the faded documents,
The half-deciphered hints of your evasive secrets.
I kept all the accumulated trophies
Of my every success and of every success of my daughter.

I curse you over the shredding machine,
I curse you because I am still not rid of you.
I spin like some little kite of paper strung up in the sun and wind:
Somewhere between contempt, indifference, rage, admiration and desolate sadness.

Here, over the shredding machine, a life is dismembered
Far more definitely than at your cremation service,
Here I shed my tears onto scraps of paper.
In dismembering your life I dismember much of my own.
In condemning my mother’s life I also condemn my own.

by Anthony James

Third Prize


Surrounding us each moment of the day
And of the night, those silent radio waves,
Invisible and clothed in mystery –
But true!
Those other waves that dance beyond the spectrum,
Caress with soothing fingers to bring healing
With content
And relaxation if in gentle doses,
But full of menace if untamed by oceans
Of ozone.

The gentle lapping of the waves upon the beach
Seems more in tune to touch our understanding
And summon feelings of security
And blessed peace.
But violent walls of water summoned up
By cataclysms deep beneath the sea
And far away,
Can smash their way in devastating might
Through unaware communities. We fail
To understand.

Humanity's desire to circumvent
Disasters of this kind, will gladly take
The willing hand of science to protect
Its legacy.
That willing hand already has devised
The way to trap and harness those long rays
Of infra-red;
But why so long to overcome the snags
In mastering the force of wave and tide
For energy?

Let us then enjoy the tingling touch
Of morning sun as he so gently strokes
Those sensual receptors on the back
and shoulders.
Take time to listen to the patient pulse
Of wavelets as they happily seduce
The shingled shore.
Let us revel now in all the beauty
And the wonder of this vast creation
We fear to lose.

by Vaughan Stone

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