Adult Poetry Competition Winning Poems 2019

The standard of entries to the Competition in 2019 was so even and high that five joint winners were selected:

A January Walk on Exmoor

It wasn’t a particularly great walk,
I said when I got home – despite the surprise
when the path climbs a field and the view opens
out to the Bristol Channel and South Wales.

And it was in that field that I picked up
a small feather – I think a hawk’s breast feather:
a smoky grey with bars of deeper grey,
an even darker, shiny, central shaft,
and at the base some soft, white, downy fluff.
I put it carefully away inside my wallet.

A little further on I saw the blocks
that house the nuclear plant at Hinkley Point –
those scaled-up cardboard boxes louring over
Bridgwater Bay. Grey concrete, all fenced off.
Withycombe Hill was bright yellow – I murmured
gorse, like love, is never out of season.
I looked across to Croydon Hill’s plantation
and took a sloshy downward path through pines
to reach a river with a Nat Trust mill,
then skirted Dunster Castle to my car.

I take the feather out and marvel at
the great finesse of nature’s engineering,
the vane with all its tinted barbs tight packed.
How strange that birds descend from dinosaurs-
this sheer, intricate thing shares DNA
with feathered beings who would have lived a hundred,
even two hundred, million years ago.
These timelines make me feel quite weird, switch off –
and yet, imagine all the force required
to power across those aeons and to land

with such perfection in my open hand.

                                                               Mark Haworth-Booth



Down Milham lane, where fragrant thyme grows
beyond suburbia’s hectic bustle
I mingle with wild and delicate rose.

While summer breeze over cool water blows –
whispers through trees, with distinctive rustle
down Milham lane where fragrant thyme grows.

Following hedgerow where everyone knows
relentlessly sings each cheerful throstle
I mingle with wild and delicate rose.

Past ruminant voices, disdainful lows,
over the stile that requires muscle
down Milham lane,where fragrant thyme grows.

Through field and furrow where butterflies pose
on yellow cowslip and purple thistle-
I mingle with wild and delicate rose.

Foraging berries, specifically sloes:
surprised at places where ducklings nestle
down Milham lane where fragrant thyme grows
I mingle with wild and delicate rose.

                                                                      Audrey Coldrick


At Some Point on the Coastal Path out of Lynton

where the body stops itself on stunned
the eyes – ever the obsequious agents
of the boundless mind – career onwards
and here is vertigo swooning love-struck

at the edges; at the afront of leering relief;
at the inability to fly where flying
is the only option, the sea so far below
it’s somewhere else, minutely blinking,

when a gull eases into position
a slow shunt into the breeze slotting
perfectly into neither here nor there
despite rocking and shuddering slightly

it’s visibly unmoved and this happens
to be the exact distance of beckoning;
of the just beyond and above to which
your mind blows a mind kiss and you

are falling

like a rocket

as if



Aah, yes, your hand is clamped to this bench,
Your feet flat pressed to this asphalt,

with only your breath expelled out, then out, and out

                                                                    Paul Ings


Dulverton Moor

Dulverton’s the kinda place where a black and white cat
Sits and scratches herself lazily in March sun
And the 398 bus to Minehead pauses while the driver ruminates.

A passenger gets on
Laden with chrysanthemums, no food,
The priorities of life.

A washing line carries
Green overalls, pegged upside down
By the legs, a scarecrow man, waving.
Dog and farmer cross high field working,
Dog joyous in his work freedom.

We cross the Exe again,
Stone-walled bridge
To warnings of height at Watchet
To empty bus, sunny reading.

‘Caution there are pheasants on the road’
Indeed there are pheasants
In the fields, stunned by the beauty of their valley.

Snowdrops blink in the hedgerows
And the river dwindles to stream meander,
Cavernous valleys yawn and glide,
More warning road signs
And a lanky stranger, bandana and sunglasses
Boards the quiet bus at Wheddon Cross.

We wait, no one comes and no one leaves.
The moors loom blue and grey behind us
As locals smoke cigarettes
Early Saturday morning.

Large houses
Cling to valley sides,
Breathing air for a king.
Hairpin bends with cascading trees
And bunches of daffodils
In fields where they have no business.

A starling swarm of women
Singing in the front of the #55 double decker from Tiverton
‘There’s a lovely song we used to sing’,
Five with white curls,
Laughing at nothing much except the Saturday afternoon,
Green catkin time, in gentle rain.

                                                                                   Lynne Pearl

To grow a hill …

out of the flatland, you will need to climb
another hill. With every step, it rises
slowly behind you, like Leviathan
coming up for air. When you reach the top,
turn and admire your breathless conjuration,
the great dumb-beast-back with its crest of trees,
or bare, maybe. Observe its parasites –
the tiny sheep and cows, placidly busy,
working the sunlit corners of its pelt.

                                                                             Anthony Watts