Open Poetry Competition 2013
Clare Kirwan - "The Bone Gardener"
Patrick Yarker - "Maori Came To Our Coast"
Josie Turner - "You Know"
John Gallas - "Chaplin Fillum Show at Inch"
Pamela Johnson - "Sisters"
Nicola Warwick - "Offering"
Patrick Yarker - "My Grandmother's Table"
Josh Ekroy - "Icarus Departs Abu Ghraib"
E.K. Wall - "Arranging Calcium Stems"
Peter Wallis - "And When Did You Last See Your Father?"
Our warmest congratulations to all of the above
and a thank you to everyone who entered
The Bone Gardener
Beneath this patina of earth
are vertebrae, patellas, carpals,
ulnas cushioned in the loam.
Loved things: long-lost hand-fed creatures
canine gifts from wishbone dinners
saliva-washed, buried and lost;
or the casualties of cats.
At first she barely noticed
how they loved a hint of light,
pulled towards the sun
that sucked and succoured them,
how they grew, these
rooted bones - licked clean
by obscene kiss of worm and slug,
brittle as broken china -
seemed to flinch at the underworld tickle
of insect traffic, and stretch,
creaking in the soil, until
a jaw punched like a fist
through crust of frost on empty plot
and a bird's rib carved up through the earth
with a scimitar's length and sweep.
Like knotted wood a sternum tower emerged
as scapulas shrugged off the mud,
a pelvic thrust of hips arose, scented with soil,
a brace of boulder-shifting clavicles
and beneath her feet,
the slow mound of a skull.
she waits for fruit.
Maori Came to Our Coast
For a day they listened to the wind and sea,
then built a house out of what was to hand:
crab-shells crimped like pie-crusts,
cones of fossil squid,
the plaited wire handle of a lost keepnet,
They glazed their house with panes of opaque plastic
painted with ocean gods.
On the wall chalked a poem.
On the mirror, in acrylic red and white: See yourself.
They sunk three posts in the mud, and strung twine
between each post, and between
each post and the lintel, back and forth.
I looked through the diamonds of warp and weft.
They could have been fish, or stars.
On the skin of their wrists and calves,
their faces, the backs of their hands,
they wore who they were and where they came from,
a blue map for anyone to read.
They dressed the gateway with a lure of feathers.
They salvaged a ten-gallon
cube of polystyrene, fog-coloured,
a float for lobster-pots,
gave it a pony-tail of rope
and the face of Ko Tangaroa.
Call someone. Call 999. Tell them then –
‘I can’t, I can’t.’ Stand there by the back gate
in old togs, baffled by the how and when,
legs shaking, your life on fire. You’ll be late
for work today; you’ll think of a reason –
add it to un-payable bills, the state
of the garden, that paint blistering on
your old wooden porch and the window sills.
You’ll cry through screens of un-brushed hair. Odds-on
you’re always in the wrong now. You’re a spill
spreading and sinking in; you’re trespassing;
you’re the uninvited guest who falls ill,
everyone pursing their lips – ‘It’s nothing,’
they say, ‘just fill in these forms – we’re
insured against your sort. We’re thriving.’
Settle for not getting used to it – queer
camera angles, extreme weather, hangdog
looks. You’re screwed. Those faraway things are near
to you now – certificates, catalogues,
engravings. Preparations for a show.
A voice on the ‘phone intones names for plague,
ague, seizure, curse. Wherever you go
those words get rattled up from their junk shop
of terms. ‘I’m sorry.’ Click. And now you know.