I’m very proud to announce the winners and runners-up in the 2013 One Night Stanzas poetry contest!
Grab a cup of tea, get comfy and have a read…
by Joshua Seigal
Have you heard of Branson’s Brother?
He lives on an estate in Southgate, London,
owns no car nor hint of a career,
and scratches a living from a part-time job
in the grounds of a local school.
Branson’s Brother doesn’t have a wife
and, whilst not quite a virgin, enjoys
no intimacy with any other living soul.
He lingers awhile reading books at night,
quoting Kafka to the kids
in the playground the next day,
and stops to tie his brown suede shoes
on the steps of the local kebab shop.
From the window opposite his bed he sees
pigeons in the morning trees.
Branson’s Brother considers these:
flight means nothing and everything to him.
Village of the Mermaids
by Penny Shutt
They come in droves, flopping
out of fearful waters;
smooth bellies against the shore
of the village.
In lustrous gowns, their salty tresses
combed out, they wait
their boats guided inland
by the eternal flames of the chimaera
ablaze against the darkening mountainside.
They sit, uniformly lining
The village’s only street,
hands primly folded
on gowns that hide the glint of scales.
Enfolding their fish-flesh
as they stare ahead,
hoping to be chosen
by sailors made uneasy
by the scaly replications
of their lustre.
Not knowing which mermaid to take
to the room behind, to be lain
like a pike on a slab;
globular eyes pointed at blank ceilings.
Except they will not flounder or thrash,
or bare jagged teeth.
But will lie disquietingly still
in silent pursuit of a soul,
to later return to the glistening waves,
as silvery water rises to immerse
whilst unreturned souls
burn bright on the hillside.
My Bike Squeaks Like an Old Bridge
by Dan Dowe
My bike squeaks like an old bridge,
some wooden planked arch,
that drivers must pray while driving over.
And the clack when I shift gears,
just like the old typewriters when the keys,
tired from years of striking,
would bind up together in a metallic jam.
But it’s red and shiny, a Schwinn,
like the one my brother ditched in the cellar,
only this one is new, from L.L. Bean.
I have difficulty riding it slowly.
My legs always want to pump faster.
I want wind and yards passing by,
like I’m always late for supper,
and I’m still blocks from my mother’s voice.
My hands leave the steady handlebars,
With a teenage casualness or summer confidence.
With arms like a crucifix, I’m balanced,
a graceful cowboy or skier,
Leaping off a jump into blazing whiteness.
by Tracey S Rosenberg
When the dog ran past
we were in my front yard –
Jimmy, Lizbeth-Ann, Ketchum and me.
Jimmy was standing on his head, forcing
the world upside-down with ground for a sky.
Lizbeth-Ann’s skirt hiked up as she bent over
to plant blades of grass in a dirt garden.
I kicked and kicked the porch steps
wondering if you could make a road stretch forever
by making your feet never stop.
The dog loped by, tongue flapping,
a stinky happy goldeny kind of dog.
It never looked at us, just swung its matted tail
like it was running to be someone’s dog
and if it was one minute late they’d know it was a deep down bad dog
and beat it with a wooden spoon
so hard they’d splinter
the spoon across its back.
Ketchum started to cry.
Jimmy flipped himself up, grabbed his hunting knife.
Was that Old Man Graham’s dog?
Naw, I lied. Old Man Graham’s got a mean old dog with three teeth.
Two more teeth than Old Man Graham’s got.
I never saw that dog before.
Lizbeth-Ann stumbled out to the road – a little slow, like her mother.
She stared like she stares when she thinks
maybe her daddy’s coming home.
Someone make that dog get back here right now.
Jimmy pointed his knife.
It’s my dog.
I’ll kill anyone who hurts it.
We all squinted till the shadows down the road
stopped looking like a dog.
Lizbeth-Ann decorated her garden with stones.
Jimmy stabbed his knife into the dirt.
Ketchum dropped down on all fours and howled.
I watched the road,
praying that dog would never turn around,
wondering how it ever got away from Old Man Graham
and when it would ever stop running.
We Find A Severed Thumb In The Woods
by Michael Conley
The thumb nestles
in a pile of wet leaves,
real as a joke thumb.
Lying either side of it,
who dares get their tongue closest.
Interesting, this cleanly carved flesh,
this pea sized dot
of crosssectioned bone.
It mightn’t be a thumb after all;
could be a stubby finger.
It’s hard to tell
without the context of a hand.
You are winning; your tongue
is practically touching it. Why
do we always end up
competing like this?
We are grown men.
Like shiny things? Check out Edinburgh Vintage, a totally unrelated ’sister site’ full of jewels, treasures and trinkets. If you want to get in touch you can follow OneNightStanzas on Twitter, or email claire[at]onenightstanzas.com. I reply as swiftly as I can!