Heat 2 Entries

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Heat 2 Entries

Heat 2 Entries

Appended below are the Entries for Heat 2 of the 2012 Poetry Pentathlon, numbered 1 to 25.

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 2 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 20th October 2012.

Failure to vote may result in disqualification from this Heat.

1: Out Of The Dust We know the tale of John Henry who took on the old steam drill, worked and died with his hammer in his hand and left the machine standing still. We've all heard about Casey Jones, dead in a locomotive wreck, horribly scalded to death by steam when his runaway train jumped the track. Now you might think that's history but you couldn't be more wrong. Too many a good man die from work and never get into a song; men who have worked with asbestos to protect other men from fire, dying slow deaths from the fibre they breathed in as part of their hire; the mining men who dug for coal, farmers who gathered grain for flour, whose every breath is a torture as they measure their final hour. Oh, we are dust and unto dust the bible says we must go but some, are closer to the dust, and gone before we even know. *   2: You Know It I can’t do rhyme But that isn’t a crime I’d rather spend time Bathing in slime. There’s nothing inside I’d like to confide So I’m sending this in cos I know I won’t win. My head feels like shit And feel like a tit I’m not a great poet And now you know it. *   3: A Suburban Medley The lawn sprinklers rotate and a medley of suburban tunes floats over each picket gate. Local magistrates sing of real estate pain. The unemployed are lazy is the housewife’s frequent refrain. The wealthy retired lament lost morals spend the hot afternoons drinking themselves into quarrels. While a sizzling a cappella of BBQ steak is eaten by overweight managers cursing how little they make. A teenager and his stay at home mother perform a sorrowful duet about understanding each other. See the weeds, the weeds are winning And the wasps, the wasps are stinging The official coffee morning meet song derides the clothes and taste of the neighbours who don’t belong. In her bedroom plays loud punk rock. She plans to run away after passing her A’ level mock. The second car revs up ready for the school run. A martyr to the cause unless there’s shopping to be done. A soprano of kitchen sobs escapes suddenly. When the Sunday roast burns, her husband pours a whiskey. For the days, the days are all the same Each tiny failure increasing their shame *   4: Patty’s New Job “It was this or the dole.” I made it real clear. They still gave me the job: “You’ll fit in well here.” They were wrong. It was awful. Packing curries in plastic. Runcett’s Ready Meals’ lies: “Looks great, tastes fantastic!” The boss, Mr Runcett, finds eye contact tricky, Stares at my chest and leers, “Call me Dickie,” It really ain’t easy making chicken madras With the boss’s hands all over your ass. My production line neighbours: Big Pete, a fat bastard, And wee Suzy Bradshaw, reads Heat and gets plastered. Over our heads some pigeons have nested, The floor crawls with mice; this place is infested. We each have a target: fifty units a day. I’m so bored I can’t take it, my brain’s melting away. For the sake of my sanity, I pick up the pace. I aim for a hundred; the thrill of the chase. That brings Pete with a posse, his hands on my throat - a Warning - to slow down and not break the quota. “You’re making us look bad.” “That’s not all that hard,” I think (but don’t say), “You fat tub of lard.” I’ve totally had it, I just have to quit. Get someone else to pack up this shit. Farewell, Big Pete, so long, Mr Runcett. This girl is leaving - off into the sunset. No more will I pack your dry chicken and rice (I filled my last twenty with bits of dead mice). *   5: Audition You sent me singers I was to choose brilliance that lingers a chromatic muse. But frontmen are showmen and sirens declaim so this poem’s unwritten ‘til there’s silence again. *   6: Taste Of Sugar You took off that night in the silver moon, Disappeared in chilly Deptford air, Cut the chains of that six-by-eight room, Scrounged cigarettes and travelling fare. In a hot train station bathroom he Said you were the beat Liz Taylor, You scoffed and claimed that he was high, And that you’d be in your trailer. New York was beckoning you near, Lord knows you’d ached for stages; As a ball of fire you sang, my dear, Dot Hook was damned in bar room rages, And people like Dot fled your life, Those wings were made for spreading, Burned with passion like a star in flight, No piece work, save for telling The ignorant or far too proud, Those treading on your kin, That brothers, sisters will stand up And portray their souls within. *   7: Single Woman In Bed With A Metaphysician Oh! Oh! Unruly leg hair. Now is not the time for beach wear. Ah me! Ah me! Arm me with a sub-machine gun. Strap grenades to my waist and call me John Donne. Flea, betwixt you, and him, and me, our blood will be as one. Jealous sun. *   8: Running Running, we're running, unsure of how long; Or why or where to and never what from. We know only this rushing, forever anon. Upward, onward and endless it seems; Dashing through distance, time and our dreams And though hearts are feigning the will to go on Whatever pursues us spurs them along. Yet now and again this perpetual motion Can cause the creep of a worrying notion And realisation that we should fear, instead, That the mystery behind us is actually ahead. *   9: Notes On The Demise Of An Industrial Scale Puppet Factory get the Puppet God out, swing him about on his little blue string time for harvest fortune empire capital Kalashnikov bling Puppet God's dance dancing, clackety click tap tapping the boards, slick Vaudeville kick bring 'em in, string 'em in, give our words weight village dog infidel dissenters will rot to hate-fate billion trillion fine dining armaments and sanctions build factions build glittering carnival elections get Cocktail Jesus out on his cute little stick up with the lights, with the tinsel, quick roll in the aisles, all hilarity and glee yes, the land of the free yes, the land of the brave yes, allegiance to the Puppet God saves oh the spectacular soaring! Soar Puppet Spirit, soar dazzle us with your stringed shock and awe little wooden lips lick lick, cluster bombs tick tick Cocktail Jesus, stickin it to the commies, flick flick vengeance is mine and what's mine is my own neo-constantinian emporer, CEO drone go flag waving go soul saving go desert braving nuclear epiphany, stamp out the least free economy, starve out the beast home coming queen auto cue violence come, let us gather the Puppets in silence share token communion with prostitute wine prime time dime a time, you better pick our side of the line share penitentary bakery bonemeal bread wrath heathen head, wrath heathen dead, 'cos our Puppet God said but quiet grit of Puppet dissenters, dangerous peacemakers the blessed homegrown Puppet Bible-belt breakers small and weak fools and gunned-down beat-freak-niks still seek after hearts like Mary's and bright treasure meek crying songs full of quandary, and a mighty mighty thirst for the new cast new script: the proud scattered, and the last and least first. * 10: The Circus Behold, The Greatest Show on Earth. Live entertainment for the hoards. Each candidate reveals their worth; hustling for the House of Lords. The biggest circus of them all rolls into town with much aplomb. Making the rounds, we try to call on every Harry, Dick and Tom. Jump on our hyped up carousel; enjoy the spin as we go round. Oh join with us — you might as well — our policies are somewhat sound. Each candidate has his own sign — for vanity is never shy. No need for any weed or wine, pure narcissism gets us high. The gullible and uninformed are swept up in the ballyhoo. Their nominee has out performed the other monkeys in the zoo. Well known for subterfuge and lies, for promises that ride the breeze. When caught, we simply improvise, and beg you to forgive us… please. At least until your vote’s assured, and we have won the seats we need. Then, when our power is secured our real agenda shall proceed. Don’t sit there with your hat in hand, expecting us to give a damn. This never was, The Promised Land. Get up and earn yourself a dram. * 11: American Fairground In between the calliope's notes, Bradbury whispers Stephen's name and the barkers shout roll up, roll up while something wicked always comes. In the cheap glamour of the neon lights, each small town's fields host the games of coin toss and shoot out the star with the bent barrels of BB guns. Wistful girls look at unsuitable boys with tattoos – maybe even crooked teeth - and dream of carny-following days when one mistake begins a fatal, foetal growth. In the patched tents and gaudy trailers of this so-called satanic caravan, the bearded lady dreams of soldiers, siblings contrive at siamese twins and the tarot speaks of forgotten things. The dupe, the customer, the rube, the fool, the stranger in the strangest land, makes connection with the other soul, the carny people, the travelling kind, 'til they understand why the seal-boy sings. In the gleam of the calliope's notes, the junkyard orchestra echoes Tom's growl, the voice of the carny's cousin, the boardwalk boy, the song of a broken, rusted penny nail. The sound of the sucker's even break is that of one hand clap-clapping in applause at the carny's joke, as his hand is in your empty pocket. For this is America; the tenderloin and the potter's field; this is the West, the East and the flat in-between; the head and the tail of the dollar sold for a thin dime and a spin of the keno balls again. *   12: Don’t Take Away My Sadness. Don’t take away my sadness, I want to be alone I’m like a dog that’s gnawing, I need to chew this bone. Don’t take away my sadness, I’m spoiling for a fight I’ll scream and shout and growl at you, might even take a bite. Don’t take away my sadness, I like to feel this way No smiles or grins are coming, so turn and walk away. Don’t take away my sadness, just leave me to this mood Don’t try and talk me out of it, how can you be so rude. Don’t take away my sadness, I won’t tell you again It’s mine, not yours, you’re having none, no sharing my sweet pain. Don’t take away my sadness, there’s nothing you can do I like the way it makes me feel, I love this shade of blue. Don’t take away my sadness, don’t give me that expression It’s not a form of madness, just reliable depression. Don’t take away my sadness, I haven’t lost the plot My world is full of nothing, it’s the only thing I’ve got. *   13: Years Ago Tiger, tiger in your cage- a time when politicians hadn’t come of age. Years ago ,looking for what was jarred we let them know about being scarred. Alleviating misguidance on a scale, with perfect timing we hit the nail. Fissures and veins and a sad-eyed cockerel left valves hissing, missing the doggerel- so laughing and praying and beating the fest we juveniles wandered: we were at our best. Years ago before young became old Mister Sawdust prophesised eras untold- they were hidden; we were told to beware. They played with our toys without a care. We banged and hammered and kept up the pace, we talked and we wrote about the human race. Years ago, I was a little boy and you were ageless, messing with joy- the carousel turned, on horses astride, we realised the few were bona fide. *   14: Home Thoughts To Abroad Though far away, my dearest one, you are in my thoughts tonight and I pray to God he’ll keep you safe and, in dreams, our hearts unite. Though cannons thrum like thunder, though the sullen clouds bode rain, I shall hear your footsteps on the path, as April turns to May. Though mud shall fill the trenches – deep, though it freezes – ten below, in Spring we’ll walk these fields of green in a kingdom free to roam. Though blood shall stain the brackish ground, though the hillside’s steeped in snow, hope will rise with zephyr’s wings and a warm, west wind will blow. Though far away, my dearest one, though the air grows thick with smoke, tomorrow, when the battle’s won, it shall carry you back home. *   15: Don’t Interrupt My Sorrow Will you stop telling me to pull myself together, to forget the past and think only of tomorrow? I was getting nowhere and at the end of my tether but I regret leaving; so don’t interrupt my sorrow. All my pals were envious that I got the attention of such a fine specimen, so full of sensitivity. Was I overindulgent, too greedy for affection? I don’t think I was needy, yet wanted stability. I wished to be a wife, not merely a concubine, he thought the loss of freedom a huge sacrifice. If I had been flighty, all would have been fine but I was not prepared to lead a life of vice. There is no going back, I have realised that now. The love that we had has turned to acrimony; the parting wasn’t friendly, it followed a big row which ended any hope of achieving matrimony. *   16: Time For Love Love is ageless, it doesn't care About missing teeth and greying hair It may take longer to undress and lie back Bones may creak and joints may crack Teeth in a jar and wigs on the table Searching for tablets, reading the label Hearing aids disconnected, glass eyes taken out Words of love will be a shout Joint cream applied to knees and hands Hair net secured with elastic bands Trusses stored for another day Back brace folded and put away Glasses are left near at hand by the light In case nature calls in the dead of night Before Hanky Panky prayers must be said You just never know when you might wake up dead Now the time is finally here "Let's make love, my doddering Dear!" "It has taken two hours to get ready for bed Let's just go to sleep instead!" *   17: Riding My Stallion Humming Along Eons ago I rode wild horses in the vast Steppes of Ukraine and by happenstance crossed paths with Taras Bulba disguised as Alice Cooper. Now imagine my surprise! It was not a dream and I didn’t know what to do until Hazel O’ Connor hummed into my ear, Freedom Freedom. I tell you it felt jolly foolish looking like a Brit cowboy in leather pants painted in a blatant Union Jack. And when Patti Smith joined in with Piss Factory I got hints it was time to stop peeing inside red phone booths. But then Daddio Clark topped it all. He sounded like himself which in itself was all natural but when Joni Mitchell hissed of summer lawns and begged me not to coitus interruptus her sorrow I mixed all the voices and made a supreme British bouillabaisse. *   18: Pissed Off! I spent my days on the factory floor Not on my back, but I still felt a whore. They said it’s a job and wouldn’t let me begrudge it, But I was barely in black on my slim household budget. I couldn’t let my life slip further away, With that toil, on that drudge, just day after day. I was filling my days with dreams of escape from that torturous time, that financial rape. I got home exhausted, with no show and tell For another shit shift in that squalid dead hell. I’m out of there. Gone. And I won’t reminisce About my grubbiest days in the factory of piss. So don’t ask why I fled. Don’t ask why I ran. Why I ‘borrowed’ the keys of the piss factory van. I now sleep in a car in a far distant town, But am building a life that won’t get me down. And I work for new clients who help my reflection On the meaning of life. Yeah, it’s good, introspection. It’s not just about pride. It can be about cash And having the bottle to make that mad dash. That bottle is harder than the ones full of booze Harder to open but so easy to lose. So I’m not going to spin you a tale of salvation, Of rags turned to riches, of a dream-built vocation. Just know that release, the flight to the void Can be a better life choice than remaining employed. *   19: Co-operative Bear On the Co-op’s shelf there sat a bear The saddest Ted you ever did see – Sitting crying Sadly sighing :- ‘I wish someone would play with me’. Such a sad bear; poor old teddy bear. A man came in the shop and stood there Looked all round, began to frown – Took his pen out Said: ‘There’s no doubt This shop will soon be closing down!’ What would become of this old teddy bear? The next two weeks were such a nightmare As SALE signs went up on the wall; The manager sighed – He’d really tried But shopsoiled bears don’t sell at all. Poor unwanted, faded teddy bear. Young lovers came, taking the air; Just been for coffee. (She had tea); Stopped to linger Pointed her finger And said ‘there’s not much here to see – Except that lovely teddy bear. He needs a little tender care. So sad, the poor thing’s all alone On a dusty shelf All by himself Oh, Darling, can we take him home? Such a nice old kindly teddy bear’. So now he has his own armchair! He watches over many toys Gets hugs galore Plays on the floor With two new little baby boys. Such a happy, treasured teddy bear! *   20: Pissing Up The Walls Of Dollar Hell She's spitting out some screwed-up villanelle to every Johnny looking for their luck, she’s pissing up the walls of dollar hell. And ninety cents an hour don’t cast no spell, that hot steel peels her cranium unstuck through spitting out some screwed-up villanelle. All dried-up bitches with no soul to sell, them lame floor ladies, they don’t give a fuck– done pissing up the walls of dollar hell. Forget it sister, there’s no kiss and tell, no Catholic girls, no fine young cock to suck, just spitting out some screwed-up villanelle. Those stallions won’t drink from this poisoned well, and Sally’s mustang’s too damn tired to buck– gone pissing up the walls of dollar hell. Still waiting for that final graveyard bell, a New York ticket flowering in the muck. She's spitting out some screwed-up villanelle, she’s pissing up the walls of dollar hell. *   21: Intercity Synchronicity I’m riding on a train; on a train through the rain; through the rain falling down; falling down to the ground. And little silver drops fall again and again and again without stop upon my window pane. And, running through my brain as they race down the pane is the thought, not quite sane, that raindrops are like trains. Suddenly, the raindrops stop just as the train stops; I get out of the train and the Sun comes out again. *   22: Turning Years Before the days of carousel We touched the magic wishing well Danced on dreaming molehill spires Chased with flickering sunset fires And wove our wings from feather grass So we could play amidst the stars Before the days of carousel Touched madness to the wishing well *   23: Healing Lament They think I’m getting over this wrenching grief and shock, but my confidence, and calmness have taken such a knock. I hate to make a fuss, so I wear a happy mask, everyone seems nervous, too shy to dare to ask how I’m coping, and they’re hoping my tears won’t overflow. I just can’t get used to being alone, disorientated, comfort zone blown. I’d really like to help them know just what to say, but I’d also like to leave them all, and hide away. Will I ever get to living out another useful day? regain the concentration to trust and pray? So hard to rest, remember the best of the joys that are past; the hurt of my last times beside her, the trial and pain a constant refrain: but now it’s all gone. I wander along frozen and numb, lonely and dumb. Your quiet eyes show no surprise, – you look right through facade, confusion, no need for me to disillusion. For you travelled this same voyage, and came through more mature, no super strength or courage, and no pretence, for sure; and in time you faced the future, to help your son and daughter, and honour her who’d been your wife, you somehow found God’s help to carry on with life. You’re helping me to cope, by showing that you know and hope my tears can overflow. *   24: A Disused Engineering Factory In South Birmingham. This was my place of work from when I left school a fresh-faced temporary clerk wielding pencil and slide rule wary of the foundry's hot den and its thick coat of grime, the red-blooded talk of men on the assembly line. It was Uncle Leonard who got my foot in the door 30 years a dedicated steward supervising the shop floor, his office furnished in dark teak with a pipe rack and portrait of the queen. From the fag-end of the 3-day-week to George V's visit in 1915 he guided me through the traditions of this place, its sorrows and laughter showed me where they made munitions for the first war and the one after. "Twenty thousand women and youth fed bullets to the Allied front line. The ARPs laid grass on the roof so Goering's killers flew blind." All dust now, like the bitumen furnace where I snagged a crafty smoke, the ghostly phalanx of Angel-women who made cartridge clips and smote anti-tank devices from liquid metal cast, all disappeared to thin air the crumbling brickwork turned to ballast for unlaid roads that will lead to who knows where. I stand at this boarded-up place and reflect on what might have been had I accepted Leonard's grace, seen out my time from age 17. I chose a different path to roam: it led beyond factory gates and away from the stench of cordite, acetone that catches still ill-winds today. *   25: You Can’t Leave It was all going just dandy, We were getting on real fine, Until I dropped my cheesy nibbles, And half a vat of wine. Your expression turned to loathing, As they fell out of my clutch, Will our love ever recover, From the wine stain on your crutch? Sure, I’m kinda clumsy, It’s all been said before, But please don’t go now, go now, Take your digits off that door. Come and sit down beside me, Feel the passion rising up, No, that isn’t a fluffy cushion, It’s my Battersea rehomed pup. But please don’t go now, go now, Just stay here by my side, Once your tetanus jab is sorted, I will happily be your bride. I know my kisses and my ardour, Will finally make you stay, But kindly mind your language, Has your cat never missed its tray? Your love for me will resurface, Once I’ve got you a Dettol wipe, You can’t escape your destiny, I’ll keep up with you on Skype. Oh please don’t go now, go now, You have to stay for more, I’ve just qualified as a locksmith, And there’s a padlock on the door. *
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