Competition Winners – August

IMG_8684HUGE thanks to all 65 entrants to our August competition. Carrie Etter was judging and we are finally able to announce the winners:


Commendations to Kathleen Bell and Aisling Tempany, but the winner is Valerie Morton. Congratulations to Valerie – her poem, Hiding Place, will be made into a poetry postcard and distributed at literary events.

Flash Fiction:

Commended were Alison Lock and Sonya Oldwin, but we offer our congratulations to Joanne Stead with ‘Sinkhole’. Again, her writing will be published in postcard-form and distributed at festivals and the like.



so, you arrive
and you think you knew this place
where trees have a voice,
and there must be a door –
it opens before you knock.
You enter.
Everything’s changed.
Now hands are reaching through dusk.
Air thickens,
you choke –
and turn to the door
which was closing behind you.

Kathleen Bell


A Roof

Just a roof, a little one,
to keep me dry.
Perhaps with a lovely trim.
A door, too, to get in and out.
That, maybe, is all i need
to get by and just not die.
I would like to have more
Perhaps a window someday,
and walls, they’d be nice too.
A space for someone else.
But I’ll settle for a roof,
a little one, perhaps with a lovely trim.

Aisling Tempany


Dancing Free

A music box. A model of a Swiss chalet, on a market stall. I lift the roof. Music tinkles as a ballerina twirls. I am transfixed. Her silk dress is grubby and stained. Her hair; once in a neat pleat, is loose, dishevelled. I cup my hand around her, feel the dwindling spin, fatigue.

I snap the dancer off her plinth. Walk away. Passing the other stalls. A twinge, a niggle of guilt. I have stolen a ballerina, imprisoned her in the pocket of my coat.

A stall displays wooden bird boxes. Like real houses. Painted-on windows, chimney-pots. I linger.

Unobserved. I slip the dancer into the doorway of a nesting box. There will be no music to make her spin on her points, no hair flying in her face. No longer will she turn to the same old tune.

Alison Lock


Away With the Faeries

‘I think we’re lost.’

‘I’m not lost.’

‘You’ve been saying that for fifteen minutes.’

I keep walking.

‘Please, Steph. Let’s retrace our steps, have a cuppa.’

Thom wanted to go straight to the café. But when I said I’d show him my childhood home, I didn’t mean the manor house.

‘Stephenie. I want to go back. The trees have gone a bit threatening.’

‘I know. I can’t believe how much they’ve grown.’

I told Thom about the entrance to the faerie hill and how I used to dance the nights away there only when he began to remind me of my father. I asked him to stop it. He hasn’t. So here we are.

‘Found it.’

The leather cloth I used to pick up the iron key has gone. I ask Thom to unlock the door – his hands are shaky.

‘Smile, silly. You want to make a good impression on my father. They’ll lock you up with him.’

Sonya Oldwin



Hiding Place

She craved for winter,
to squeeze into its darkness,
brace herself in its branching

arms and weep. She longed
for its coal-tarred space,
preservation from prying eyes,

a splint against the cold –
where tears could freeze
on her cheeks, until Spring

let them thaw, refreshing
the shriveled leaves
that conceal the forest floor.

Valerie Morton



An earthworm burrowed slowly past Earnest and Maisie’s kitchen window where they huddled, opening the latest mail from the Mine Subsidence Board.

Earnest’s eyes skimmed forward to the punchline.  ‘Your appeal’ … ‘damage not substantiated’ … ‘We regret’…

He tut-tutted as he read.

Maisie held her breath.

“No good news, my angel.”

The latest shifts had been dramatic, sucking their wee cottage into the old sinkhole with a slurp and a snort and a crack.

They stood for a moment, regarding each other.  Maisie holding her heart and searching Earnest’s face: Feeling his burden, his anger, his grief and quiet resignation.

“Ah, there’s nought for it,” he sighed. “Help me here, my darling.”

Maisie followed him as he pushed their old ladder over to where the front door had once stood and, as was their way, held steady while foot over foot Earnest ascended to hitch it up another inch.

Joanne Stead



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