2017 Poetry Competition Winning Poems (Local Section)

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

Return to 2017 Competition Winners


The Hug by Peter Wright

Looking back,
it's the small things;
the small things that stick, that haunt your past.
Standing on that station,
ticket in hand; to Birmingham,
Birmingham, I'd never been north of the Thames
and now I was on my way there, to join up.

He hadn't wanted me to join up; not really
I think he wanted me to stay in the motor trade, like him.
But now I had, he seemed proud.
He gave me a lift to the station,
didn't say much, but he never did.
We stood there, waiting,
together but somehow alone.

I heard the train coming
that rhythmic metallic rattle of old trains
We said our goodbyes
He wished me well;
"good luck boy"
he always called me boy.
Then added "don't forget to write to your mum"

We shook hands,
and that was that.
I got on the train, he turned and left,
back to the car.
We missed our chance
I wanted that hug
Too late now



A Tale of Two Chairs by Robert Breach

A fine chair, that one, with arms
It watches the other,
Nothing there except the light
Shines and shadows, seat and cushion

Once upon a time there were conversations:
Shares rising, shares falling
Those sonwdrops in the west hedge
Preening politicians in the day's cartoon

New the first aubrietia, tough those violets

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

How silent now,
Watching each the other
Sharing the shaft of sun
Cerebrations hanging invisible
Unspoken, abstract, awaiting a beginning that does not happen.

I understand
The chair I sit in is empty too



The Shell by Joanne Durham-Matthews

Among the dusty debris of my life
I came upon a small translucent shell
Which hurled me headlong down the shaft of years
To where I stand – a five-year-old again
In wide-eyed wonder on a wind-swept beach.

The sand was smooth and plump as babies’ skin,
And dimpled here and there with random stones;
Some washed as white as winter by the tide,
And others chafed into fantastic shapes
Which drew my eye and called me to explore.

I found it in a magic rocky pool
Where mermaids used to sit and comb their hair,
And cradled it with careful fingers home
In case my clumsiness should let it fall,
Or, in my zeal, I marred its fragile form.

I kept it as a treasured talisman
A comfort to my wounded, guilty heart.
When shouts and anger filled my childhood home
I felt the fault was mine, and crept away
To seek redemption in my perfect shell.

It travelled with me through the march of time.
I learnt to laugh, and knew the pride of love,
Then showed it to appreciative young eyes
Who marvelled, in their turn, as I had done,
And gazed on it with reverence and awe.

But now I’m old and there is no-one left;
I’m lonely as that child upon the shore.
I hold my shell within my hand again,
Find solace in its whorls, just as before;
With whispered ‘thanks’ I close the attic door.