2018 Winning Poems
The Fisher of Ham Common
Jacobite Amen glass, England, 1740-50. Ashmolean Museum, Oxford.
The sunlight was different now, it swayed
In bright vertical stalks. He knew the sound,
The wet sound of the world closing round
Him. When the last of the light had played
On the tangled edges of the marshlands
He knew that dark moved softly like a sigh.
He knew the sorry truth of it would tie
Satin knots around his heavy hands.
Every certainty becomes unbearable
With time; the wind would always comb
His hair back, the moon would be like milk
In the water, again again, terrible terrible.
He knew he would again move quietly home,
Under sky like a darkness shovelled into silk.
by Dominic Leonard, Christ Church, Oxford.
Stella to her Violent Lover
Oh, every woman loves a shoed-in face, a
hammered-scalp, a spanner-through-the-gut.
So, when you sighed me to your side to glut
my wealth of misplaced pain in lurid ace-of-
spades rooms, salvation lisped my name.
Because I loved you, still I think I do love
dead perfection, goddess-worship, you. I love
lacunae, intrigue, venus-fame.
But, travelling to you under spangled sky last
night the vaulted black wept goddess-tears
That soaked me so my bones let flow a thirst
for mother’s milk, and family crypts, and I by
old embracing headstones lost all fears, and
fears, Love, bound me to you like a curse.
by Shimali de Silva, Peterhouse, Cambridge