Mini-competition 10: Dark Interiors

Here are the winning entries (the full adjudication can be found on our blog):

Winning poem by Peter Branson:


Beguiling feral wilderness, red shift,
leaves rusting, chasing shadows, he appears
with feather duster, tangling parachute
plucked from its tower to bounce and tumble on
the sward, lie breathless, as though dead, fix friends.

Windfall, his hand-tame crow, proud on his wrist,
mends scalded minds - one of the gang, his neck
of melted plastic, cheddar, frayed ropes' end.

Matt black up close and vast, skittish from fist
to shoulder blade, death masque, the beak's a vice,
carved ebony, the eye inscrutable,
a power tool, the fortune teller's orb
of jet, blintered star-fade, the infinite
silk-water deep. Light drowning, I'm afraid.

Runners up:

David Olsen:

Applied Gemology
The Four Cs

The jewel is of good size,
but not ostentatious.

The gem is well-proportioned
and of shapely cut,
with external sparkle
and abundant inner fire.

Colour varies with ambient light,
often with a trace of blue.

Viewed with the naked eye,
this treasure possesses transparent
perfection, but close scrutiny
after long acquaintance reveals
a tiny heart-shaped inclusion
of unconverted graphitic carbon.

Carolyn Waudby:


No matter that the sky glowers.
And the sun – in its caravan, curtains drawn.
If I make for the river, I'll find Horehound —
stems silky as my rabbit's foot
tiny white flowers foretellings of snow.

With rocks by the water's edge, I'll grind it
cup the sap in my hands and wash.
My face will turn
as though ripened by long walks.

No-one will know it's been the darkest of summers.
Low pressure, cloudbursts - always mud underfoot
that brings worms to the path in the morning
as I huddle to piss

pyjamas, coat pulled over
sleep-drowned, shivering

the lank of my hair
the hedges, the mushrooms
the all-of-us.

Di Slaney:


No key for this lock, this
brassknobbed blackened
plate, this door behind a
door which once let out but
now lives in.  Handle slips
her fist, half turns to give
too soon, an empty twist,
no catch, no forwarding or
back, no leaving, no admitting.
This door behind a door stands
out of time, asks if she is sure,
if she accepts a thing that
shouldn't be but is, will only
open when her grip is tight
and dry, burning to let go.

Margo Myers

The Dark Room


a tender curve of stem and arm

her tulip fringe the flower bed

the crazy paving stones

the park composed to please

reflect the sun

like any other object

but like the moon she dreams


each printed piece of her

each glittering trace of

shadowed self unspooled

in interludes of black and white

across the park which lies

silver as a dish of salt