1st, Open Category 2007 - Jamie Crichton

The Genius of Capa

I forget the month (January), the day (Thursday) and the time (3.03pm).

I park on Health Centre Road and walk in torrential happiness
through a series of push pull automatic doors.
The daily special is Honey and Ginger Pork with Noodles
and Murray Walker is enthusing about Villeneuve's thirty second,
forty-five second gap (was it him they had on This is Your Life last week?).
Happy to see me? I ask and your
very is very quiet very
cold.

The Naked and the Dead is reluctantly shut
and I try in my mind to blame Mailer for your mood
and I'm listening to the couple behind you
they're talking over each other and
neither seems able to finish their sentence.

It's at 3.07 that I notice my nearest fire extinguisher is located at the foot of the stairs
(adjacent to the office), and when we kiss
I can taste syrup sponge and can that be tequila?
then through the market place in Union South,
you resist the lure of stolen Kickers and Fred Perry clothing
and I see Laura Valentine
and I swear she's mouthing something
yes she's mouthing
Serve Yourself
or something similar.

At 3.12 we stand in front of "Loyalist soldier killed whilst stringing
telephone lines, Teruel (Aragon front) December 1937"
You insist that Robert Capa is the greatest photographer that ever lived
and almost in the same breath you destroy me utterly.

2nd, Open Category 2007 - Alex Porter

 

Still Life

One night I asked him again.
He had the bed at the window,
I was over by the wall.
Between us a reading lamp discharged
a mustard light that we camped in
each and every night until sleep
pulled us down and away.

That night - and only once - his
sandbagged defences gave.
He sat up and held out an open hand
as if preparing to salute -
'Got me here' he said, pointing to the
fleshy mound beneath the root
of his thumb. Nothing more.
He lay back down and read.

I closed my eyes -
tried to imagine the screams and blood,
the whining shells; his comrades
scrambling through the sucking mud.
But I only got comic strip carnage -
speech-bubble zeppelins floating above
a scene with no real damage.

One night, ignoring orders, Grandad left
the line for good and faded into the fog.
I kept the light on just in case.
For months I held him as a still life -
a finger absently poised at his lips
preparing to turn the page; glasses at a tilt;
lamplight staining his face.

3rd, Open Category 2007 - Alex McRae

 

The Road to Bwindi

Our jeep jerks like a tin boat
down the mass of mud
that was the road.

The driver works the pedals,
curses wipers that won't work
as the low sky sucks up bruised light.

Rain assaults the valley like shells.
Locals run along the verge
with slick bare feet and plastic sheeting.

The ground spits, simmers.
One woman hurls a raffia basket
at the jeep. Green bananas

waggle past, the truck painted with
a rear-view blessing: In God We Trust.
An arm slung from its window

motions to a flat tyre. We stop,
step out, wait. Rain slows.
Scent respires from creases

in the valley. A teenage girl
comes close and studies
my face, hair, legs, as if

she must memorise them
then says I love you.
I stand very still.