1st, Open Category 2010 - Patricia Ace

Papa Joe

2nd, Open Category 2010 - Marcus Smith

The Anonymous Guest

The search called off, the furniture
luminously in place, the pot luck
of welcoming neighbours, fall fires
and bright dinner parties to follow,
the kids playing with kids on the block,
the new school a spire of smiles,
this time more laughter in the sky,
this time this life shining through
that black mist now gathering inside
and out as the anonymous guest,
a perfect look-alike, arrives again,
heavy bags empty, eyes packed.

This house now made of straw,
the framed photos of someone else
impersonating her, this time the days
forget to remind this life to dance
and night leaves no trace of dreams,
life without spring and this view
all year of the same withering oak.
It's time - yes, again - for a new guest,
someone with familiar eyes watching
her reflection in bare windows,
watching a greening tree discard
the last of its shrivelled leaves.

Judge's comment:

This powerfully moody poem hovers somewhere between the domestic evocation of loss and the mythic or biblically inspired creation of vague hoped-for returns of our loved ones. The lyric uses repetition to moving effect as the poet conjures cyclical patterns of order being restored by the literal or metaphorical rerun of the lost one. The poem is effectively vague and keeps the reader at a distance about the Guest. The strong regular rhythms create an insistent and hypnotic feel which is very affecting.

Daljit Nagra

3rd, Open Category 2010 - Rebecca Perry


All of us crammed in there like buffalo standing before water
           at nightfall, looking ahead.
All of us quietly shifting shadows and shapes.
             That day being your face, and the constant threat of rain -
the air seeming thick as the ground. Your face
                      being the saddest thing I have ever seen.
The weight of our footsteps
                               outside the church.
The soft tread of us, our press into the grass;
            temporary craters on soft earth and proof of us being alive -
a dissatisfied herd breathing quietly, waiting to act as one.

Judge's comment:

A lovely voice is created for the cattle and the poem seems to have been inspired by Les Murray’s Cows on Killing Day. The long lines are curtailed by the shorter indented ones and give relief to the limited shifting movements of cattle in a small space. The ending which is subtle and full of pathos and threat. The rich internal rhymes help to create the cramped crushed feel, and the simple diction reminds us of the natural rights of animals in this very moving poem.

Daljit Nagra

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