10th to 26th July 2015

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Buxton Poetry Competition

Buxton Poetry Competition 2014 – Winners Announced

Open Category

1st Prize
Wendy Klein – Aunt Ruby’s Twisters

Child of the prairie, you’d called them twisters,
all of them: cyclones, whirlwinds, hurricanes,

tornados: timid girl in a gingham apron, sunbonnet
framing your sallow cheeks, so like the appliqué

on the patchwork quilt you left me, but you were
an expert on storms; mocked our small terrors,

our panics when the power failed – said you only ever
had oil lamps at home, or tallow candles that smelled

of rancid fat, but you remembered how the wind could
scoop up buildings, trucks, tractors, horses;

how one minute you’d be scattering grain for the chickens,
a dented bucket banging against your knees,

and the next minute the sky could rile up out of nowhere;
and you’d hear Ma call you to round up the chickens,

and you’d run – tripping and shivering, the dust dancing
under your bare feet, the ping of the first drops of rain

on your empty bucket, but most of all you remembered
the horses – Pa struggling to un-hitch them

from the bucking wagon, plying his wild-man whip,
bellowing their names – to steady them,

or so he said – Betsy, Blackie, Ned and old Sally – tangled
manes flying, flanks glossy with sweat and downpour,

Ma’s shouts as she herded everyone into the basement shelter.
Once when a storm was brewing, I found you

at the kitchen window, grown old before I’d noticed, your nightie
damp with your own sweat, your eyes child-wide,

still hearing the horses scream above the rumble of thunder,
the crack and whine of your Pa’s whip.

2nd Prize
Noel Connor – Dawros Bay

This is our landscape,
the headland bracing itself
and facing the brunt
of the Atlantic head on.
And we have clambered
to that bouldered cove again,
our sculpted hideaway,
where the big ocean
makes an exhibition of itself,
a gallery of toppled slabs
and half sunken monuments.

Here I found a fallen block
sheared off from the rock face,
re-shelved it intact on the broken ledge
and gently eased it back in place.
I closed the fracture to a hairline split,
made the pattern and the contours true
and all the jagged edges fit,
last winter’s storms defied for you.

3rd Prize
Heather Cook – After The Storm

The world is changed. The boundaries have gone
between the suburbs and the wild wet woods,
between the neighbours who never speak,
between the weeping earth and sky.
A net of branches traps the cricket green
and smaller twigs dam drains, dumped mischievously
by gurgling tides to cause more chaos.
The guttering overflows; there are no London trains;
the scheduled day has broken free, and floats,
shapeless and shining above the strangely altered earth.
The garden is not quite familiar now;
just like a much-loved face when illness alters
mocking those features known for years,
and even when recovery occurs,
reminders of the damage lurk in puckered scars.

Highly Commended
Andy Hickmott – Moonshot

As long as we stay on the earth’s surface
the moon remains within our grasp,
we the living could touch it if we tried.

Look how easily I cup it in my hand
as if to conjure it from the sky,
revealing an empty palm to no one’s surprise.

And when I sow this acorn at the cemetery’s edge
be sure to stand well back:
soon it will shoot heavenwards

exploding like a space shuttle across the sky,
fuelled on the nitrogen of decay,
and launching the dead into a higher orbit.

This is my mission:
to transport the dead to the moon.
For corpses make the best astronauts:

they have the patience of angels, no fear
of being crushed or vapourized during lift-off,
and they harbour no wish to return.

Now we need only wait until that night
when the branches of the oak, full grown,
cast moon-shadows over the sloping stones.

Youth Category
1st Prize

Katherine Marrow, aged 14


Dancing, chattering over smooth, weed draped rocks
It leaps, glittering down each small waterfall.
Leaves floating like small brown boats, slip past, tumbling
Dappled shadows, light, shade, light, shade, under the leafy arms of the trees.
Shafts of sun pierce the fluid curtain,
A flash of silver scales, flickering away through the emerald water weed
Moorhens squabble, bright beaks pointing with purpose.
In the bank, dark, secretive holes – a water vole’s haunt?
Trees slide past; willows bend their fingers down to the water.
A rock, standing sentinel in the current, parts the water like scissors through silk.
Atop it, smart in shiny dark brown coat,
With clean white bib like linen on a washing line,
Dipper dances, bobbing up and down to the music of the river.

Barnardos Category winner

Myra Lochun, aged 12

Our world, our home, with land and seas,
Oceans so blue and leafy green trees,
The sky so wide, the grass so green,
The wind will blow, the sun will shine,
It’s all a part of nature,
Volcanoes, mountains, crystal caves and more,
Natural fossils washing up on the shore,
Dark, deep mysterious forests, with strange insects and wild berries,
Animals run free, hedgehogs and bunnies,
But above all this, the best is fresh water,
And compared to everything else, Buxton’s is the mother.

Children’s Category
1st Prize

Beth Walker Mackay, aged 9

Through the dark the owl takes flight

Through the dark the owl takes flight,
He flies so gently through the night,
Sailing quickly through the sky,
He is free and flying high.

His face is feathered pearly white,
Through the dark the owls takes flight,
Though his back is only brown,
He’s a king and needs a crown.

He’s the king of catching mice,
His eyes and look are so precise,
Through the dark the owl takes flight,
An takes the mouse with one small bite.

When most birds come out, in day,
The great king owl has gone away,
But when the black replaces light,
Through the dark the owl takes flight.

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