Heat 1 Entries

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Heat 1 Entries

Heat 1 Entries

Appended below are the Entries for Heat 1 of the 2012 Poetry Pentathlon, numbered 1 to 26.

Please read them all carefully and decide your top 3 poems.

Place them in order of merit, awarding them Gold, Silver and Bronze.

Submit your votes directly to the Editor via his contact page:


Emails are to be headed: Heat 1 Votes.

The body of the email should consist solely of the identifying numbers and titles of the poems in the order Gold, Silver, Bronze.

Entrants are reminded that they may not vote, or solicit votes, for their own poem.

Deadline for receiving votes is Midnight BST Saturday 13th October 2012.

Failure to vote may result in disqualification from this Heat.

* 1: Lonely As A Rose I have seen no moons in alleys, lonely though they were. I felt the love of many thousands and rode the sheets alone. Every song felt like my story: me as one or other lover. You believed my buttery words, though they cut like knives, and now you do not remember me, nor the smallest piece of my heart. *   2: Selective Memory There are some events that I remember vividly like the day JFK was shot, the “I Have A Dream” speech of Martin Luther King and Neil Armstrong’s ‘giant leap’ on the moon, but there are other things that I simply forgot. I have tended to suppress from my consciousness the transitory flings devoid of meanings, the fleeting relationships that lasted mere seconds and ended far too soon, the unfulfilled promises of eternal happiness, whose memory gradually waned and vanished into nothingness. *   3: Leave Me Alone The day after they split up I decided to sell my memory at a sidewalk sale. A man ran a hand over my skull ‘Why do you want to get rid of it?’ I couldn’t tell him it had been stolen and smashed. ‘It’s served its purpose,’ was about right. ‘Memory can be very useful if it’s looked after,’ came the reply. ‘I was always careful with it, but they weren’t.’ His eyebrows did a dance with a schadenfreude smirk and then he pressed a note into my hand. ‘Take it or leave it.’ I was sure I recognised him from somewhere a bit player in a soap or a toothpaste commercial and asked if he was an actor. ‘How would you know, son? You just lost your memory.’ ‘I just thought..’ but he’d gone. I bought something strong with the money and sat dazed with a siren of foggy hunting horns as elastic elephants made out across an orange sky. Obviously I couldn’t remember my way home so I found a spot in the park and made it mine but then my face started appearing in newspapers And people fought over me like I was their son. A woman rushed at me in the police department ‘Are you out of your mind? I’ve been worried sick.’ ‘I don’t know who you are,’ I replied, ‘but would you please LEAVE ME ALONE!’ In the end she took me to a nice apartment and on the fridge was a picture of a man making a face. ‘Who’s this?’ ‘No one you need to know.’ Instinct’s far more powerful than memory so I took the picture and ran from the apartment, spent years washing up and cleaning floors asking people if they knew the man in the picture. I met a girl and we had kids bought a place together and made it look nice and then she found the picture. ‘You never make faces like this anymore.’ I left the next day. * 4: Hero A hero has to keep you in the comfort zone, but he’s busy: wrapping me in forgotten moments, then leaving me for another lonely soul. So, no one can tell this ol' heart of mine that up is up, because of the fireworks. They don’t go off all the time, do they? It always comes to an end. Onstage , I make love to twenty-five thousand people, then I go home, alone. I’d take you to the north of my summertime, if only you would go with me and not just take pieces, like all good heroes do; they only want the good stuff; for you to be strong. Well, I cry and I ache, I bleed and I break. *   5: Memories She sits quietly in an armchair, in her usual place Unseeing; hearing nothing but the beating of her heart. Fine lines like dainty cracks in a porcelain cup Adorn her thin and frail, unmoving face; Aged voices all around, some hoarse, some shrill - But she seems uncomprehending, worlds apart. Then suddenly her head tilts back; A sweet smile lights her face and pale blue eyes; She seems not ninety now, but sweet nineteen - Then struggles painfully to rise; gets up, Limps to the window across the room and stands Pressing her nose to the cold, dark pane. She waves; her lips move but she does not speak; Head nods to answer questioners unseen. But soon she stops, and wrings her hands, Sobs: ‘Don’t leave me all alone again: Please, stay!’ The sparkle in her watery eyes has gone; A rivulet of tears runs down her arid cheek. Kind nurses lead her back to her armchair. Once more she sits in quiet solitude, While memories like a silent film flicker in her brain; As she tries to hold on to each long gone day, With its hopes of heaven and fears of hell; Remembers the birth and death of her firstborn As she strains to pull back each dear ghost – But soon they all have quietly slipped away. Her grey head droops again, once more an empty shell Yet her anguished cry still lingers in the air And slowly fades until a silent breath remains And is carried away on the gentle wind, Like the final plaintive note of a bugler’s horn Trying to recall our yesterdays with The Last Post. *   6: A Rubbing Of The Sun A rubbing of the sun appears in gold and deep etched clouds in blue Crayola sky and myself, as I looked at six years old, with bright, new copper pennies for my eyes. There seemed so much to know and to be seen. I couldn’t see the coin behind it all; just lions and portcullises and queens, imagining a Cinderella ball. I still recall the wonder that I felt, seeing the smiling queen come shining through but now she scowls and dreams begin to melt. It’s rubbed away, the innocence I knew. Now my sheet is the surface of my life. Rubbing, with words, I feel I’m slowly gleaning something of worth beneath the grief and strife; bright smiles, like glimpses of some higher meaning. *   7: Ah! Guillaume, Guillaume! Where are you Apollinaire? Yes, I suspect you were flying high and low. Was it with Verlaine or was it Beaudelaire? My memory of that night is still so fuzzy I don’t remember which of the two if not both. All I recall are cheeks and wings soft as butter and metaphors smoother than oil and I sharp-eyed and bold as a hawk saw the moon and must say the mooning wasn’t that pretty and despite making love to twenty-five thousand and one poets I sauntered home and pulled over me a blanket of spleen. *   8: Blasting Cap From microscope to telescope, the subatomic is universal. Fold, stretch and snap the space, like braces on a fat cat’s chest. From naked eyeball to sky-born Hubble, the scattered photons focus. We connect, concentrate, catalyse and detonate. From fractured barrel to silvery mile-wide slick. Was the water in trouble before the oil? From the love in my voice to all your listening ears. Audience and performer, we are one. We are the 25,000. My song is the blasting cap for your big bang. Take a part of me. Don’t take me apart. I sleep at home, alone, with you, my family, ringing in my ears. *   9: Sonnet For Mia When I first heard Mia Zapata rhyme, The fist that clenched my soul began to shake This sleeper, startled, suddenly awake; A drumbeat dancing up and down my spine. Like Janis, twenty years out of her time: Some spirit cast in fire, a tongue to break Your heart in two, then mend it new, to make Mad love to thousands on the borderline. But now I hear Mia Zapata weep– For there are times when we are all afraid– Seattle stalks her while her lovers sleep, Seattle breaks her beauty with a blade; A ballad of divine profanity, She sings a soft unfinished symphony… *   10: Morals Of An Alley Cat It seems a little excessive, To say the very least, To work your way through an audience, In a wanton Dionysian feast. You may not have asked for it, But I’ll offer you my advice, Because, frankly, what you’re doing, Can’t be classed as very nice. Scale down your operations, Quell your sexual voracity, And NEVER perform at Wembley, Which has a 90,000 seat capacity. Have you thought of the O2 Arena, When you’re consumed by sexual heats, It has a lovely ambience, And only 20,000 seats. Perhaps you could take up knitting, Crochet, quilting or macramé, Fell walking, Gospel singing, Or a spot of origami? You must be completely knackered, It’s no wonder you go home alone, But I’m always here to help you, If you get the urge, please phone. Be selective with your favours, And when the evening ends, You’ll have someone to take you home, In their Mercedes Benz. My bedtime ritual is much healthier, I’ll share it, if I may, All I need is a mug of Horlicks, And Fifty Shades of Grey. *   11: Fox Shade Forsaking the trashcan, I sought company with the ostler, doggedly following the scent of his boot heels across fields of ragwort and bramble until we reached the shadowed oak, litten with quark-flamed crow wing and glinting raven eye; dank home of grim squirrels, endlessly digging acorns from leafy mulch. Eloquently, the ostler spoke of equine economics and the rising cost of beer, lighting his pipe and puffing clouded wisdom over the grave of his long departed bay mare. And as the moon shone silver through the leaves, I scrabbled grove snails from musty roots; cracking the brightly whorled shells to hunt for ferried insect souls, but revealing only remnants of memories, mimicking the blind waving of soft-fleshed horns. *   12: Memory My deep something hath something my something. My deep something hath humanised my something. My deep despair hath something my something. Dorothy's deep despair hath humanised my something. Dorothy's something hath humanised my something. My deep something hath something my soul. "My deep despair hath humanised my soul." *   13: Random-Access Memory RAM collects behind her almond eyes crucial memories are rescued by a flash drive, a silver shell constructed by walls of digital bytes. Excess data is re-filed via defragmentation, so Friday is stapled to Monday evening, names of college peers are now forgotten, phone numbers are scrambled into patterns, she calls a whore instead of her boyfriend orders Chinese when she wants Italian. 2 1 night stands are welded together, a contracted orgasm is mislaid forever following the edge of a sheer rocky cliff, and a view of a brusque remote beach, she studies the shape of a man ahead. He’s recently defragged and déjà vu strains her mind, downloading him cracks a partition. Microchip implants melt into liquid, till each sentence starts with a stop. An overgrown garden circuits the end, twisting binary vine on all letters. Virus roses and magnolia worms cause serious speech disruption. Her amnesiac words mimic troll hunters. When she also pursues a flaming campaign, each phonetic wrestles the other. She stares at Google, speakers on mute, searching for something she can barely remember. *   14: Today, As In The Days Of David... (Psalm 55 ever relevant) Destructive forces still at work – threats lurk, and lies creep in disguise, around our towns prowl malice, strife, destroying reputations, wounding life … But all seems worse when those I thought as friends and likeable, betray: hypocrisy exposed, and flattery disclosed, their words like butter, smooth as oil, (from hidden bitterness, recoil!). By use of charismatic charm they aim to twist, and trap or harm: their swords wrapped in pretentious balm – but in the heart are schemes of war, and rottenness pervades the core. He, and/or she, by wiles insidiously beguiles, and slander spreads and flies like dust, – can’t be recalled, though so unjust, and rumour opportunity denies of trial fair. Beware! but don’t despair: Disturbed and overwhelmed, no way to change the situation. If I had wings I’d fly away to find some peace, salvation – a hermit in a desert place where I’d no longer have to face and hear those warmongers who feed on righteousness with smirking greed; but God their words will yet confuse, and those who pray he’ll not refuse protection, and the day will come – bloodthirsty people will be gone. How precious is a word that’s true, an honest heart, kind through and through, which tries to heal, and not to stir up latent anger, enmity incur. *   15: Solo Onstage, I make love to twenty-five thousand people, then I go home alone To a cave of wood, chrome, steel and stone One cup. one plate, a TV meal It's hard to explain how I feel Freedom, peace of mind but sad Thinking what we could have had But vodka, gin and strong, strong beer Ensured our life would disappear Hidden bottles here and there Half or full ones everywhere Promises of sobriety, blatant lies Accusations, "All your fault" he cries Losing my mind, so down and low Time to pack my things and go Drastic measures but you might find One has to be cruel to be kind It may halt the liquid flow I don't know. *   16: Stand Up In darkness I stand; heart pounding, mouth dry, Awaiting my fate. To live or to die? The moment is near, of failure and shame The summoner calls: announces my name. I’m there on the stage, impaled by the light Caught in a cage; no fight and no flight. I can sense but not see them, out there in the gloom. The cold silence filling this cavernous room. Transfixed by the glare, my mouth all agape, Then out of nowhere, some words taking shape. With no clue what I’m saying, I speak into the light Then wait, simply hoping… some laughter; polite. But I’m up now, and running, I’ve clicked into gear The laughter is coming, so loud and so clear. It fills me with power, I step up the pace This now is my hour, I own this damn place. It’s over, I’ve done it; I’m cheered off the stage I fly to the exit, soar free from the cage. Back home I am buzzing, then collapse in a heap So tired but so happy, I float into sleep. Awake in the darkness, the triumph has flown Crippling sadness, just me, on my own. I’m stupid, I’m useless, it’s all clear in the night Until I can next step into that light. *   17: Five Instances of Water and Memory (i) Mnemosyne in her chariot driving hard through autumn's wet forest her willow hair knotted with pearls her hunting dogs yelping at the wheels her crows and eagles flying low at her shoulder the hooves of her stallions shod with gold. (ii) The clouds are pregnant with rain. Professor Tarnasus strokes his beard. It is too warm in here - too warm for a waistcoat, bow tie and mac. He stands and begins to undress in full view of the nursing home's staff. "Do not fear" he says in his best lecturing voice. "I am warm and require nourishment before I expire!" His mother looks up as he goes into the unfamiliar kitchen. She covers her ears, startled by the clatter of spoons, cups, the emptying of drawers. (iii) I remember, she treated us to an afternoon at the cinema, a Jacques Tati double bill - Hulot the postman, Hulot at play in his collapsible boat - films she had last seen as a schoolgirl in Lucerne. The cinema was mostly deserted; our laughter filled the empty seats. That afternoon she laughed with joy and briefly forgot the disease that had taken hold. (iv) Professor Tarnasus enters carrying a tray. "Be careful dear residents" he says and sets down a steaming tea pot before his mother. He pours for them all, stirring the boiling water, straining the pungent leaves. The old woman lifts a cup to her lips and takes a sip - remembers who he is. (v) Mnemosyne leads her stallions to the great river that bears her name. Her acolytes and dogs swim and drink their fill. Sunlight breaks through the clouds, scatters light across the water. The goddess' green robes are heavy with liquid. The sacred river sparkles, glistens in its own way. * 18: Walking I am often seen prowling this promenade, Staring out at the changing tempers of the sea By the many lights of days and nights. Time and the waves overlap here in the tides; Their past and futures to collide in endless rhythm. I step over the criss-cross patterns of timeless footprints caught In wet, strewn shingle and salt on stone; paths To the various moods and thoughts that drove me on or home. Turning now, I catch the shadows of myself in motion; lit By sunlight sent ages past through space and I see a kaleidoscope face; Shaved, unshaved and set in all emotion. I stop to wonder at the scene and stoop to light the usual cigarette, Looking up to find the visions gone; instead a solitary seagull hovering On the constant breeze and the thrashing sea ahead. I set my shoulders and ease my passage on, happy to leave these things behind As those times passed and yet to find. *   19: Surrounded But Alone. Bright lights, unseen faces Just the beat of a drum And the scream of the crowd. Alone, but surrounded By unpaid guests Gathered for their fix. High for an hour Like a drug that Flows throw her veins. Then the mad applause Chaos ensues as she Takes her last bow. Doors open wide The smell of sweat Beer and perfume fades. Now she sits alone Ears ringing aloud No one answers the bell. *   20: Dickinsonesque The day I fell out of love with poetry was a Thursday. Daytime deity David Dickinson astride the television, his vivid tangerine hide, speckled and ill-fitting. Sloe-gin jelly hands caressing the Lalique lovelies. Brown eyes David Dickinson, I see your brown eyes. It is Summer. It is 1980 and you are taking a turn along the promenade, The Golden Mile - the air heavy with salt and donkey. The first time she sees you she remembers Liberace and wonders. You are her apricot beacon among the plastic bowlers and pink rock. That evening you will slide across the tower ballroom and soak her in your oily love. Let her sear your skin with almond oil and sand, touch hands under the shadow of the gabion. Swim out into the Irish Sea you leather god. Swim out in 1980 and nestle into the folds of ocean like a luminescent float. Warn the others with your slow-glow demise. I will not pen your over-long obituary David Dickinson, but I will miss you, and Ted Hughes. *   21: Performance Beyond the glare of the footlights lies an angry, shadowed sea, storm tossed, echoing seagull screams, where murder may go unpunished And virtue has no reward. Here I am hidden in plain sight, invisible, alone. I am the girl on the tightrope. I step from the big top’s shadows into the light, defy your fears, cloak myself in darkness again, leaving you doubting what you see as I crawl back to my trailer, Invisible, alone. As the snake charmer uses music to control his serpents, I beguile my audience, knowing well the risk of the fatal bite that lurks below the stage in the pit that might swallow me any day, invisible, alone. *   22: Where Is My Heathcliff? He came alive with each drop of ink from Emily’s pen. Through her words his image formed in my young mind. Wild, strong and fearless. Romantic in an anguished, cruel way. Possessed with his unbridled passion, the pages hummed in my hands. His was an all consuming love. A love that writhes and bleeds. Blood rushing, gushing highs. Gut churning, burning lows. It was all or nothing for Heathcliff, as it is all or nothing for me now. My fate sealed long ago… when this tortured hero stole my heart. I have known many kinds of love, but none made my soul ache with want as it did when I shared my bed with Heathcliff. His restless spirit alive in my head each night (Wuthering Heights held fast in my hands), even as I slept. He stepped inside my dreams, and haunted my reality… until he was the only man I wanted. Where is my Heathcliff? My truest love. I seek him still. The one meant to walk with me; realm to realm throughout eternity. *   23: Girl with a Silver Tongue “Time’s a great healer...don’t dwell on the past; move on. There’s a life to be lived out there,” they said, so pack away her comb, her brush, with its trace of ash-blond hair. Put the book back in the drawer – the one I was reading her, albeit on her ‘good days’; the last chapter – never finished. Bin a ‘to do’ list, in florid script buried deep in a pocket of her coat – smelt of snowball fights – the slow jazz of the River Café, on a lazy, Sunday afternoon. Stop beating myself up over a note she left, in its shell-pink envelope telling me goodbye; the one I can’t bring myself to open, even though it was four winters ago. Give up imagining her toes kiss mine in bed at night...that she’ll be here, when I get home from work...crack me up with a mudpack on her face, kidding me it’s quite the latest thing in fashion. Strike autumn from my diary...when we first made out beneath the turning trees and when I wrote her, from then on, she’d always reply with a fallen leaf pressed between the lines. Apollinaire, wasn’t it, who said, ‘Memories are hunting horns, whose sound dies on the wind’? Forgive me for saying he couldn’t have been more wrong; they are but she alone... and her cornet of the soprano kind; silver-tongued songs, stronger still, unwinding from my mind. * 24: She Takes Her Clothes Off On a plinth near a bar in a sweat-reek room Above heads and shoulders, emerge from the gloom A clutch of dainty little toes, Her daddy knows not where she goes. Porcelain skin, sticky finger caress, A twenty note slipped into her dress, Some hackneyed 90’s guitar track Plays loud as she writhes on her back. The lights reflect in perspiration A scene of hard faux masturbation, Folded arms resting on guts In the dark with all the other sluts Who dance for strangers’ notes of love, Some men play nice, but neglectful of The beating hearts inside their chests; None looking past their youthful breasts. And all the pains she owns are brushed Under the rugs and, cherry blushed, She lifts the hem of lacy skirt Like some precocious little flirt. Sometimes the men notice her scar As she reaches, turns, unclasps her bra, And later in some boozed up booth, A bloke might think he knows the truth, And whisper words of understanding Or promises of perfect endings. As she steps into the street-lit hue Of early morning, half past two, A misty sigh escapes her lungs; She stuffs her roll of dirty bungs Deep inside a shoulder bag, Buries demons, lights a fag. Inside her all the endless spaces Momentarily reveal the faces Contorted; of her violent father, Lovers who had said they’d rather Take someone home to meet their mother Than lie with her beneath the cover. The dawn breaks as she walks, alone, Through the doorway of her empty home. * 25: Memory Memory is without sound a dumb deceit a wingless beat seeking no permission getting none this airless haulage comes, repeats the faded conversation and what is passed goes on ‘til we are found amongst time’s wreckage its mute remains possess us like a sleep. *   26: An Over-used Metaphor As A Way Of Talking About Insecurity And The Craving For Affirmation a terrifying burning makes me alive a snatching lust crackling fuelling my exhausting dry heat smouldering and drawing consuming. Then the fading out the hollow flickering a dull flame a solitary coal in a cold grate *
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