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Adult

 

The overall winner of the 2019 prize was Rebekah Miron for her poem The red moon

 

The red moon

For the autumn equinox

In the smoky half-light, a red moon is rising high above the

peached canopy of cloud that drops gold across the sun dusk.

 

She is round and halved as a pomegranate, suspended on the cusp

of spilling her seeds, a tingle of moths, fluttering soft and strange

 

through the evening. The red moon beams, drunk on her own

blood wine, she floods the bonfire night, the fox and russet leaves,

a twitch of mice who hurry the dirt

 

and quiver beneath dandelion stars. As the trees catch fire and

the season shifts, the night is spilt with heleniums.

 

The red moon turns over the sky, she breathes, then moves a purple

dark bruise to gather and mute the horizon.

 

 

 

Shortlisted Entries

  

Bittersweet by Sue Marlow

(A poem about the coffee berry)

 

Your smooth skin slides easily

On the palm of my hand

As I rotate your deep blood red flesh

Will you stain my hand

As you have the world’s?

You, the source of wealth, of poverty

Of pleasure and exploitation

Unconscious victim and perpetrator

I, the sentient being seeking sense in a bean

 

 

Hastings Sojourn by Charlie Bell

I went to be alone, but you were everywhere.

In the very pebbles where we often walk,

in the fishing boats, and net shacks,

in Love Café and the Kino,

in the crying gulls and the whispering wash.

You were in the multi-coloured underground car park

and the smugglers’ caves and castle.

I found you at the Jerwood and in George Street

and at the crazy golf.

The kids and grandkids were there too,

their memories threaded with ours.

Wherever I went you were imprinted there,

countless years of pleasure and escape

wrapped in chip paper, marked by endless cups of coffee.

I walked and walked, and the more solitary I became,

the more you kept me company and eased my pain.

 

 

What the Goldfinch Knows about Nigella by Peppy Scott

Love blossomed in a mist for one steamy season,

softening the summer light.

Kissed with ragged modesty,

it swayed with a delicacy

belying its endurance.

 

Its appearance was short-lived.

 

Cool beauty soon matured, 

no longer waved to be admired,

she let herself go.

Slow, swellings began to grow

within the droops of faded heads

as Love attended to the task

of making her untidy bed.

 

Life burgeoned out of view through the next season

in drab parchment parcels

hung among the fog,

a dreary disappointment to the eyes.

But the goldfinches knew the secrets concealed,

seeing beyond the dull disguise,

recognised the hidden force

which drew them flocking in.

They feasted on the source

of Life’s black peppered energy

and warmth of the sunlight they missed.

 

Scarlet-flushed faces lit the grey days,

flashes of gold lifting the cold light

as they fed on the fire of last summer’s Love,

leaving just enough

to flare in this year’s mist.

 

 

Smoke by David Smith

Dad plays piano,

ripples dancing across the surface of his G&T

in time with his flying fingers.

Notes swirl in the air like wind-blown autumn leaves

falling on deaf ears...

We'd rather watch A Christmas Carol on the tiny black and white TV

or play with the toys we haven't broken yet

that we found gift-wrapped at the foot of our beds

in that magic hour between five and six

that belongs to children alone on Christmas morning.

 

Smoke spirals from the ashes of his thin cigar,

resting in the ashtray on the upright's polished lid,

stirred by the breeze from the open kitchen door

where mum labours over turkey and trimmings.

It curls through clouds of paper-chains and bright balloons,

a Will-o’-the-Wisp dancing towards heaven,

staining the white sky of polystyrene tiles

with his presence.

 

He left that summer, his departure unforeseen.

I woke to the sound of my mother's pain

And crept downstairs to find her weeping in the kitchen,

tears staining the single sheet of paper she clutched in her hand

while my sister hugged her close and stroked her hair,

whispering words of comfort.

 

Two decades pass. Uncertain glances on an evening train:

'Excuse me, but are you my father?'

'I think I might be,' he says,

and we smile as he steps to the platform below,

puffing on his inhaler.

We’re still smiling when the train pulls away.

he is smaller than I remember.

 

Ten more years: my own sleeping child stirs in my arms

As a ringing telephone cuts the morning silence.

Later, in a garden peopled with strangers,

I hold my weeping sister close and stroke her hair,

whispering words of comfort.

We stand aside as the strangers melt away

our eyes lifted to heaven,

tracing the trail of spiralling smoke

that stains the sky with his presence.

 

Children

 

The winning childrens entry was Blackberry Plunder by Evie Williams (aged 10)

 

I stumble past a mushroom fairy village clustered on a soft stump

Splashes of clear bright light break through the trees

Sun soaked leaves gleam golden with remnants of summer green

A hollow log is decorated with sparkly green velvet

White patches of my dogs fur flash brightly as she leaps in and out of the light

I crouch down to spy my prize

Cautiously reaching through the nettles

Avoiding the peril of the brambles guarding their treasure

I steal a blackberry from where it huddles

Bursting in purple explosions of sharp flavour on my tongue

My loot softly lands in my basket leaving blue stains of evidence on my fingers

I look up through the canopy of glowing leaves; dark where they overlap

The whispering of my feet through the undergrowth

Gives me away as I retreat with my bounty

 

 

Shortlisted Entries

 

Recipe for Harvest by Lucy Harper (aged 8)

Grow, grow big and strong

Seeds from earth big and strong

Bake some hefty potatoes

Cut some bright red tomatoes

Grind some golden wheat

Let the potion give off some beetroot pink sparks

Sprinkle some black soil

Grill some yellow hay

Boil some plump corn

Let the potion give off a few hay yellow sparks

Sizzle some kindness and happiness

Scramble some love and community

Grow, grow big and strong

Cool it with some fresh water

That is harvest just for you.

 

 

Amazing fun in the night by Annabelle Marcham (aged 6)

 

Amazing fun in the night.

Unusual sounds of birds.

Traffic light of the shimmering stars.

Umbrella-tastic in the wet rain.

Magnificent time in the soggy leaves.

Night shines with the moon.