The Last Shot


He finds it at last,

fallen among the tangled grasses,

green feathers gleaming,

an elderberry eye

casting up at him its dying light.

He breathes the wet, organic smell

of roots and earth, growth and decay,

sending him back to boyhood camps

and memories of the river bank.


Now, his dog gone on some puppy chase,

distant yelps setting crows to flight,

he tracked the fallen bird alone

to this quiet, damp place

in the slowly fading light.

He kneels, joints a little rusty,

to stroke crisp feathers

folded tight against the blooded breast,

smooth to his rough fingers,

cool against his work worn hands.


As the sea breeze chills his bones

and small, grey waves clip ashore

he hears the mallard call - harsh,

harsh music from the lead shot sky.


Holding the bird, he looks up

suddenly aware of his hot, brief life,

the boy he was,

the man he is,

the still bird lying soft in his hand,

blood spots blotting on his boot,

his gun broken on his arm,

the last shot ringing out,

echoing through the turning years

and the cold, salt taste of his tears.

Highly Commended:

Charlie Bell, Toad of Toad Rock

Stephanie Lawrence, March Hares

James Miller, A Structural Inspection of 9 Vicar's Close

Nick Pallot, British Powerlifting Championships: Qualifying Round, Macclesfield, May 2016

Val Pargeter, A way of Understanding

Second Prize Sara Davis

Roundel Poetry Competition 2016

Copyright of individual poems rests with the poets.

Judge: Lynne Rees - Poet and Author - aka The Hungry Writer

Late Turner


Sometimes what he's set down on canvas

is so foreign you must see it as a new language

and put away all things simplistic or commonplace

because this is a soul speaking to itself

and beyond his brush is something more liquid,

fluent and wild that streams direct from one of those

dislocated frontiers where to live is always

to be at hazard of never understanding or

returning; so to be native you must feel as he feels,

let his fire enter you and suddenly you will be

no longer separate but running with him

to where he takes you, shaken by his tempest.

Copyright of individual poems rests with the poets.


1st Prize

North Sydney Studio of Dancing

by Roger James


Spanish tutor, speciality Flamenco,

stands you erect in front of mirrored walls,

spine arched back so you stare at yourself

in your black shoes, brilliant crimson shawl,

thumb on finger, arrogant, and swerve back,

bend down then up again, banging your heels

across the parquet floor, your trainer

attending to what you do, whispering to herself.


How, when, did Cordoba and Granada

migrate here across oceans to a Spring

morning of Pacific surf, of eight foot waves

of air full of indigo Jacarandas, orange Flame Trees,

and this one girl, eleven years old, who strikes

her bull's-eye heel down straight to the centre

of things, once, twice, three times, sealing

her two worlds together with, 'Yes, yes, yes.'


1st Prize: Roger James

North Sydney Studio of Dancing

2nd Prize: Wisty Thomas

Finding You i.m. J.H.

Joint 3rd Prize:

Alison Moncrieff-Kelly: Struck

Pippa Little: Hen Party Mexico City


Highly Commended:

Suzanna Fitzpatrick: Moonscape

Greenwich Planetarium

Lynda How: Casting Off

Helen Overell: Holding On

Dilys Wood: Six Days of the Creation of Snow

Roundel Poetry Competition 2015

Judge: Susan Wicks



Roundel is a poetry society stanza

Prizewinners:


1st Prize     Margaret Beston      Shape-Shifter

2nd Prize   Sara Davis              The Last Shot

3rd Prize    Roger James             Late Turner


Shape-Shifter

after the Haida legend of the Raven

Third Prize Roger James

First Prize     Margaret Beston

Joint 3rd Prize: Struck

by Alison Moncrieff-Kelly


On the desk, still breathing from your fingers

Mozart: pencil aspirations, exclamations, animations.

When? That volcano, the rupture of coherence

sudden in stealth, vicious in violence.

Fall? Did you?

Or was it slow, an andante to the exit

the jumbled notes crashing to the floor?


When I saw you, shrouded but still breathing,

your hand could not feel mine.

Claw, paw, cold.


Still warm, the music was.

Looking back, it was hard to remember

how it happened - the unexpected knock

on the door in the darkness, how he charmed

them both with his smiles, his stories,

flattered the father,

flirted with the daughter.


And as days turned to weeks, to months,

they never questioned where he'd come from,

why he remained in this isolated spot, never

wondered why some mornings he crashed

through the door, the musk of fox about him,

traces of rabbit fur on his clothes; never noticed

how his amber eyes darted, flashed glances

at the cedarwood box where the old man hid

the mysterious globe, his precious secret.


Until the night they woke to a battering of feathers,

soot filtering through the gloom -

an empty box

an empty room -

while out in the blackness,

the world fragmented into unbearable light.


2nd Prize: Finding You i.m. J.H.

by Wisty Thomas


I wait for the phone to ring,

wonder when to call you,

to plan a trip to the Surrey Hills

or Cornwall

or a month in Ecuador

when we can lie side by side again

in a tatty room in a cheap hotel,

and you can wake me

by gently stroking my hand.


You are not in your study

at the top of the house

sitting exasperated at your computer.

Perhaps you are in the garden,

planting deep purple delphiniums

and draping your pots with lobelia.

Or maybe you are in the park sipping a latte,

in the blue smudge of a summer morning.


Glasses, keys, bus passes, books,

I drop down lift shafts, under the bed,

leave on trains. I am used to losing things,

used to searching.

But where can I have left you?

Will I wake soon and you'll be there?

Will the phone ring?


Deep beneath my rib cage

in the rise and fall of the diaphragm

in the pulsating of ventricles,

the enduring beat of the heart,

warm as blood,

I find you.


Joint 3rd Prize: Hen Party Mexico City

by Pippa Little


I'm given paper cocks and pink chorizo

to hang on a line over a small girl dozing,

school shoes dangling from her toes.


Someone turns the music up,

flips on all the lights. Every window

instantly goes black. We play pin-the-prick


on a cardboard hunk, dizzy with being twirled

in a satin blindfold. He ends up studded,

fantastical. I think of the yard dogs outside,


their noisy longing. Everything is sugar, brittle,

I am drinking too much strong liquor.

Mute stranger in the middle


I wonder how these women desire

and are desired, in their quiet,

in their secret bodies.


Someone screams: everyone leaps back.

I can't follow the yelling then I'm shown

a mother scorpion and the wet black


tangle of her babies discovered in a corner,

too slow-moving to escape the furies who smash

each tiny head in turn with their kicked-off shoes,


heels turning grey with spatter, then wildly

shoot hissing arcs of fly-spray so we choke

and weep till all that's left, borne away to the dogs

on the flat of a shovel, is a dark mush of nothing.





PRIZE WINNING POEMS from 2014 Competition

1st Prize: William Bedford


Then

for Alison Brackenbury (North Lincolnshire: 1959-1963)


I had to kill them when it was time to go,

take my leave and catch the stopping train.

Rhode Island Reds they were,

kept for the eggs and kitchen table.

We tarred the wounds of the flock's victim,

locked the hutch at night with twined wire.

If we left the gate open, two followed us

up the garden. One dared the kitchen,

sitting for a photograph on my shoulder.

I had to kill them when it was time to leave.

The one sitting on my knee was the tamest,

used to pecking seed from warm hands.

She seemed surprised, finding no seed,

not worrying  I was going to break her neck.

My father had to fetch the farmer. I cried.

All twelve were gone in a heaven's blink,

a grubby fiver, then biscuits and a cup of tea.

We sold them for the table. Our own stood empty.

Too poor a food for us in pheasant season.




2nd Prize: Geraldine Paine


The Flint Waller


Each morning, he opens his door onto aspens

whispering, the call of wood pigeons, the slow-

surfacing flint; crosses shorn fields, breathing

their starkness, the uncovered silence of stone.


His pockets fill. On a bench he spills churt,

releases Neolithic voices chattering.


Voices he'd heard before he left grey, biting air,

the scattered rocks, seas with no horizon.

Before the day he'd travelled south towards

farmlands of chalk and clay, the trees

splintering dark against the sky.


He hears them again as he works,

knapping each stone, trusting sharp edges,

smoothness held in his palm, creating patterns

from the rust reds, greys, whites, rare greens,

to rival borders of flowers.


He listens for echoes,

for cries of battle, for the millennia of lifetimes.

He takes his time, listening.



3rd Prize: John Arnold


A Significant Missed Rendezvous

(Victor Segalen, naval doctor and ethnologist, arrives in French Polynesia

in 1903, shortly after the death of the artist Paul Gauguin).


I arrive in Hiva-Oa

three months too late:

There's no more man, Tioka says.


In starched white uniform,

standing on the beach

outside your House of Pleasure,

my mere presence despoils

another piece of Eden,

an ancient wisdom recedes

still further from my grasp.


I glean all I can of your journey,

buy canvases at auction

for two francs apiece:

of dusky Maori who sing

to greet their goddess queens

-- the evening-star, Tahiti,

the morning-star, Tauroua ...


A century out of time,

you tried to deceive yourself back

to a primal age, but Europe's poison

-- like steamship smoke mooching

over Papeete -- crept in the frame:


frumpish smocks forced

on girls by prudish Jesuits,

the shadow of a mission cross

that looms above pandanus trees,

Poe's raven crowing Nevermore,


the ravages of syphilis

that finally defeated you ...


Perhaps it's for the best we never met,

that I consign you to art legend,

to the grand Maori firmament,


leaving just sea, sand, cantilevered palms,

a vast capricious sky.


John Arnold





Copyright of individual poems rests with the poets.