We are delighted to be able to announce the winning entries of the 2020 Waltraud Field International Poetry Competition.
1st Place: Waiting/Outlook by Sara Jorl
2nd Place: Dream Times by Roger Elkin
3rd Place: There and Back by Paul Francis
Our hearty congratulations to all three winners!
Waiting/Outlook by Sara Jorl
All day I've warmed my bones
with tea that tastes of pale dawn
My book rests, unread, in my lap,
quiet pages fingered like prayer beads.
After lashings of rain, the listless trees still,
Their branches filled with sudden birdsong.
When the shock of the doctor's silence
hits me, it's a clench tighter than the eye
of a storm. Heart weighted
by the fog of November valleys,
I shout your name at the distant hills -
the skyline doesn't even flicker.
I sit beside you on the hospital bed; we talk
blood, lumps, symptoms. Your lack of pain.
Propped up by pillows, you call me to look
at your peaks; steep rock patched with green
It's a scene that tourists flock to, the vista's light
and landscape make for dramatic panorama
But all I see framed in today's window is cloud:
slow-moving masses of dark grey, clustering.
And the man who build me a world of tall trees
and wide horizons rests back on his white sheets
as small and still as a felled log disappearing
beneath year after year of falling snow.
Dream Times by Roger Elkin
Sun Street, where industry had resisted Victorian insistence
gridiron, back-to-back town planning, so shaped the street's progress
into dog-leg, its knee-joint cricking at unholy trinity
of bottle kilns - Brobdignagion skittles standing high
against skylines - and the shoe-box-build of pottery factors
their brick-and-shuttering sheds, their lean-tos, the crocks and tiles
piled high, and shoredrucks cluttering-up cobbled factory-yards -
no way could this glutted clutch of buildings be upped
and gone, so, broken-backed, the street was thrown off
Corporation schemes, their planning dream shelved
under "Pending". And yet, terraces were built, and quickly:
chains of them, two-up, two-down with scullery, and shared
privies down the Staffordshire blue brick yards.
Sun Street? Some joke: sunlight hardly ever visible.
For decades. Fifty weeks of the year, terraces, factories,
yards were smothered under palls of belching smoke
and veils of soot at stoking-times from pottery-kilns,
steel-works and mines until the no-pay Wakes holiday
and chimneys cooling off for days. Sun, then, a blessing.
More usually rain, till back to work again.
At right angles to Sun Street's straight run, Argyle and
Clyde Street laddered up-bank, like giant steps, to Rectory Road;
and below, Mrs Highton's corner shop - salling averythink -
and opposite, Perry's Shoulder of Mutton where saggar-makers
kiln placers, jiggerers, jolleyers, firers, miners, furnace-workers
slaked their clay-and-coal-dust thirst, coughing up guts on
sawdust floors, swigging bitter, singing music-hall songs, Roll
aht the ba-rel - at jangling pianos, and getting sentimental
on dreams of country-air Saventeen cum Sundee.
Feted on wasteland at Sun Street's hub
T' Dogs racing track, ovalled out in blackened ash
and dirt, the promiser of other dreams.
In open terraces under waving zinc, pay-packets
changed hands, and lives were broken, fortunes made and lost
most weekends as desperate men bet on skinny whippets -
Ger on, yer bute. Shift yer sen. Run ruunnn - thin and keen
as the wind - restless on velvet feet till chasing after
a bag o' fer that's nowt lark a 'are - the rising dust
shimmering like fine mist in the late summer dusk.
There and Back by Paul Francis
Covid 19's no picnic;
there's a load of gruesome stuff.
What Rachel Rymar's facing
is definitely tough.
One toddler to look after
and now another's due.
At times like these it's family
that helps to pull you through.
Her mother would be glad to help
- that's Yoshie 63,
The only snag? She's miles away
in Washington DC.
She checks up on the websites
for stuff she needs to know;
there's nothing in the rules that says
she's not allowed to go.
Her plane touched down at Heathrow
and it's virtual arrest:
"So, madam, have you taken a
When she said no they shook their heads.
It hit her like a smack.
"Your journey's non essential.
You'll take the next plane back".
They took her to the ticket desk,
they booked her on a flight
and she was back in Washington.
Thank you and goodnight.
She never spoke to Rachel;
the speed of it's absured.
No pause for thought, enquiry,
- just go, without a word.
Ok, there's social distancing,
families split apart
but who was it decided on
a lockdown of the heart?
Somebody thinks we wanted this.
They did it in our name.
What happened to Yoshie Rymar
should make us die of shame.