The Poetry Platform was held on 28 May At The Chapel. It was organised by Bryony Brook, compered by Liv Torc, and 18 entrants read some wonderful poems. All the work appears on Bryony’s FaceBook Page, Bruton Poetry Platform.
Main image: Left to right Bryony Brook, organiser; Liv Torc, compère; Debra Holmes (2nd prize), Megan O’Neill (1st prize), Patience Thom (3rd prize)
1st Prizewinner: Megan O’Neill, aged 17 – Cosmic Crumbs
Life is a bit like chocolate
The way space is a bit like toast –
And so limitless it makes me delirious
Cosmic crumbs spat across the sky
Pushing their pin prick heads
Through the static ceiling
Which holds us and hides from us
Where we came from and where we’re going
They, like us, are stuck, and settle within the crevices of the burning velvet of night
In the lattice of our daydreams, star-crossed
Behind the sofa cushions, lost
They will remain there until we find them, maybe forever
An adventure within those fathomless depths quite an ominous endeavour,
So even at three in the morning when I’m watching a rerun of Doctor Who from the noughties
Those crumbs will always be sparkling up ahead
Those marmite splinters of regret, will also be beneath my bed
Zeniths and nadirs
Peaks and pig troughs
Sometimes, like a satellite, we all get a bit lost
They are flicked out of the Earth,
A meteor in reverse
At the precise trajectory so that
Our circumference will not catch it
We slip away as it tries to return,
Nomadic, a perambulatory roam
A wayfaring wonderer
A silent, robotic ponderer;
Adrift and unreachable
Lost but not irretrievable
A pocket-sized ship in an infinite ocean
Always in motion
Chromosomes and oxytocin
Lack of sleep and strangerdom
I learned about astrophysics so I could put it in my poem, because
Lines like ‘Yeats, you don’t half know how to chop up some tasty lexical treats’
Didn’t quite make the cut.
You’ve got to be in it to win it but my whole life is last minute
Chaos doubled, always late and in trouble
My head up in the clouds
A nebula bubble
So grab hold of that lightning
So be it, strange and frightening
And pour a tall glass, tell a tall story
Suck through your straw
It’s milkshake gossip.
Exchange glances like a comet,
Car headlights in a time-lapse,
Morse code, illuminated, six million digits at
The crossroads of a synapse
Found, suddenly, on the ground, hurriedly,
Chaos is the only constant
How to make sense of it?
I could say love but love is the greatest puzzle of all of it
My rationale is this. And like old blue jeans it’s
Obscure in parts but it seems to fit.
According to panspermia we are all seeded from Mars
We’re aliens driving cars. We came from the stars,
We can tell David Bowie
That we are the Martians he was looking for
I mean, we don’t come in peace
We’re created so many refugees
But don’t let me get into that
I suppose that life is like chocolate the way that space is like toast because
The things we love the most
All melt away in the end
Which makes it easy to look back in longing
Nostalgia is the creep I can’t shake off
So close yet impossibly, mythically far
The past is visible to the naked eye in the flashing embers of dying stars
And what could be more beautiful
They regard me with mesmeric eyes
And I am electrified
And albeit naive, and somewhat of a mess
I hope we will make it into the end
Into the end
Godspeed my friends
© Megan O’Neill
2nd Prizewinner: Debra Holmes – That’s Life
We watched it religiously on Saturdays
If we were home, after tea,
Before Kojak and the football;
The first time I heard irony expressed
Through a long pause…
And a knowing look to camera.
I was in love with those smart young men in suits,
And wanted to be Victoria Wood
With Esther as my mother.
Look back and picture early days:
The day the big, red bus drove away
With my horrified mother still on it,
Leaving me, at two, howling on the pavement,
While she shouted uselessly at the driver.
And the day the pushchair fell from that self-same bus
And bounced along the road behind us,
One wheel detaching itself and veering away,
As the grumpy conductor made my mother run,
Dodging the traffic and a dog, to retrieve it,
Leaving me, at four, in charge of the baby.
That redbrick school where the sun shone through high windows
Spangling patterns on the freezing, granite floors,
Where the pink soap smelled of cat-food
And, to the sound of sleigh-bells, Father Christmas mysteriously
Descended the stairs from the Staffroom
To the Hall, with presents for us all.
Where we wore a crown on our birthdays,
And the whole school sang.
Where, bizarrely, at ten, I was put on playground duty
Because the teacher was ill.
With its pond
Where we waded, wellied,
And slid, skated, or spoiling our school shoes,
And wandered, barefoot, on its clay-baked bottom
That year of the heatwave.
The fishmonger and the greengrocer and United Dairies
Where my mother sent us separately to shop
On the day of the new coins,
Each clutching a ten-shilling note, and returning with shining handfuls:
Half pee, one pee, two pee, five pee, ten.
The parish church where we paraded,
Brownies, Guides and later as teenage Rangers,
Stowing the furled flag and our badged and braided shirts in the porch
And sneaking to the pub.
And those sensible, but disappointing, boyfriends.
Eleven, green-uniformed and felt-hatted,
I won my place
At the town school,
Three bus journeys away,
Where the teachers were either ancient or modern,
And the work was too difficult.
Where I, village-tutored and unprepared,
Hid my homework
Rather than admit to not knowing French.
Village life, that ended…when?
With that change of school?
With a change of church?
With a change of perspective?
With losing my mother?
With losing my faith when God wouldn’t answer?
When the pond dried up?
When my father shouted?
When my boyfriend dumped me?
When I found I was pregnant?
When I took the train to Brighton and I didn’t look back?
A degree and a job,
Another job, another degree, cats and
A child and cancer, more cats and more cancer,
A wedding, divorce and my
Friends, and my garden,
The years roll regardless,
The fetes and the classes, and shows and prosecco,
And poetry, theatre
And books and more books and … sigh
At some point it ends…
We write: we were right.
3rd Prizewinner: Patience Thom, aged 90 – My Long Life – To the Children
I’ve lived 90 long years – just like our dear Queen –
And, oh, my goodness, what changes I’ve seen!
Out of the mist of memory’s haze
Spring people and places from childhood days.
Here’s the lamplighter coming our way
With his long stick to brighten the end of the day:
And there is the Muffin Man ringing his bell
At teatime on Sunday with Muffins to sell.
The tinker man shouts “Knives to Grind”,
Riding his trike with the grindstone behind.
Out of my window that’s what I see
For I’m often ill, poor little me!
Had measles and chicken-pox, whooping cough too,
German measles and mumps as well as the flu –
Then, “Out with those tonsils – they don’t look good!
But you can have ice-cream – no solid food.”
Off to the country for wartime I went,
Helping the farmers our summer was spent –
Following the binder, stooking the wheat,
Hoeing and lifting the sugar beet,
And bagging potatoes in bitter November –
Picked cherries on ladders up high, I remember.
We travelled by bike, the roads traffic-free,
No signposts to guide us, no lights to see.
But “What did you do for fun?” you say.
Well we read and read both night and day,
Knitted and sang by the radio
And went every week to the cinema show.
But what seems very strange to me
Is that our young lives are now History.
So, children, remember all that you’ve seen
For you’ll be the History of 2016.
Special recognition went to Amber Brook for a very moving, honest and well-structured poem.
My poem is very personal to me and possibly many others. It’s about the struggle that many people face in life when suffering from a mental illness. I wrote it initially for myself but also to raise awareness and break the stigma surrounding mental illness. Thank you for listening.
There’s a teenage girl who’s secretly dying. Each night going to sleep silently crying. She says she’s fine…. She’s clearly lying to her family, friends all desperately trying To save her.
She’s lonely, afraid, depressed. And all the little things make her stressed. She harms her body, putting it to the extreme test. Scarring, starving is her way of showing she’s distressed. Yet no one can help her.
A battle is fought, each and every day. She tries to keep the terrorising voices at bay. But they all tell her she has a price to pay. She listens to them for she has become prey to the horror inside her head.