These are the top three winners, plus the top local poet entry, as judged by Martin Grey (see separate post).
First Place: “Observatory” by Julie Burke
Him, I watch; lashes laid low on the pale
landscape of his cheek, heavy now with the
gravity of sleep. Miniature nostrils
like flickering craters, each little breath
a new dawn. He is my sun, dazzling me.
Willingly, I am trapped in his orbit,
a steadfast satellite. I watch. His thoughts
a baffling universe, so with every
finger fidget and twitch of toe I try
to divine his infantile fantasy.
He is pure sensation: milk and fullness,
emptiness and despair. Omnipresent.
Supreme. Every murmur, I will answer.
I listen, I watch. This time I will know.
Second Place: “The Victory Spoils” by Trish Wilson
The victory spoils spoil in the splintered second
when unquiet peace finds its solace shattered
by the tear-stained stream - blood red.
As you pass beyond the edge of sight,
your body lies still, wearily at rest,
leaving others to shoulder your unresolved pain.
The necessary burden is tenderly claimed
by the collective memory of wounded men
obliged to witness the veneer of triumph.
But their remembrance must cease and the imprint vanish
when earth swallows up this fragile remnant,
and your cries will then find no familiar echo.
Third Place: “The Author Must Be Living (from Rules of Entry to a Poetry Competition)” by Ron Harper
Talk about living on the edge he thinks
as he slips his just finished poem
into an envelope from his deathbed,
wondering if it will arrive before
he dies. It might even get judged before
his own judgement day, he jokes to himself,
then he could leave with some hope in his heart,
not rejected just because he was dead.
But that started him worrying about
the exact meaning of the 'Living' rule.
Did it mean alive when it was finished,
or posted; or the judges received it,
or rejected it; or shortlisted it?
What if placed in a prize-winning slot -
would he have to be even more alive?
What if he won, and then departed,
before they received his biography
and his photograph and couldn't then take
active part in subsequent publicity?
He turned his head, switched the light out and quit.
Top Local Poet entry: “Nothing But Chanel” by Anne Howkins
See this skin,
memories secrete in the creases,
corvid feet pitapat on my face.
Let your eyes caress scrimshawed fingers,
bone-worn with the labour of love.
Gaze at my stretch banded belly - I was fruitful, a lifetime ago.
Hear this skin,
catch its crackles of expectant static,
the rasp as your calloused hands wander.
Witness my xylophone ribcage,
clattering love songs from eons ago.
Hear the bass of my pulse, my heart stutters whenever you're here.
Touch this skin,
skin your hands over crepey crevasses
and delve amongst deflated peaks.
Take your fingers to liverish age spots,
dusty moth wings to a candle's embrace.
Float your lips to each scar, the icebergs in this dermal sea.
Smell this skin,
musky witness to long past delights.
Inhale the scent of senescence,
do I stench of decline and decay?
Remember jasmine, and vanilla, and iris,
sweet notes over warm earthy amber.
I was always your number 5 girl.