The London Club sponsors the school’s ‘Prize For An English Poem’ at the annual prize-giving ceremony.
This Year’s Winner
Paulina Bysiak’s poem has won this year’s RHS Club (London) Prize for an English Poem. The school’s summer term ends this Friday (25th June) and I am sure everyone at the school is looking forward to their summer break. Paulina’s poem seems somehow very appropriate for 2020-21 because she takes us into a nightmarish world that we would all want to forget !
Coldness by Paulina Bysiak S6
Like a ray of light, the coldness went through the cracks in the doors. It filled the room once again, with the biting air and frost on the floor. I am inside of it, trying to gather anything that would give me warmth. But all of clothes and blankets were burned already, an evidence of my earlier weakness, that left me in the thin material that’s full of clothes, covering me but not protecting from the cold.
I wish for warmth to melt the snow and ice, to set me free from this never ending nightmare, but with each day it gets worse.
The cabin starts to breakdown, walls start to loosen and I cannot do anything to prevent it. Laying on the frost covered floor, that I did not move from for years, I lose all of my remaining brightness and warmth. Friends, where have you gone? You know I’m here, dying over and over again, yet none of you came for me Why would you leave me here, knowing the terror of this place, leaving me for some off place, that I could never reach?
The thoughts circle, heart freezes, mind fills with hate, just as the snow begins to melt.
As you may have seen in the You Tube video of the school’s virtual prize-giving the winner of the RHS London Club prize for an English poem for 2020 was Euan Coull with his poem The hesitant silence before ”I love you too” . Euan takes us into a world of coffee bars, late night phone calls and hand-rolled cigarettes so hang on to your hats ! Euan was one of the school vice-captains who attended the London dinner in March 2020 but he didn’t confide that he was a budding poet. Our thanks are due to Pauline Walker who forwarded-on the winning poem.
The Hesitant Silence Before “I Love You Too”
You grew flowers in my lungs and I
Can’t breathe, but darling, they’re so
Beautiful I can’t bring myself to care –
I’ll take the suffocation with a smile.
I know I’m just starry eyed from
The constellation of freckles on your shoulder
but couldn’t you let me stargaze for a while longer?
My phone sleeps beside me, the perfect accomplice in my crime.
It’s too easy to call you, ask you to drag me to slumber,
With your 3 a.m. drawl, or instead ask you to not let me sleep,
But to make moonlit promises that burn to ash in the sun.
Promises we make no mention of the next day,
Lost in the translation of sunset to sunrise.
We can chalk this up to a mistake over an Americano, no sugar,
And we’d be heartbreakingly correct,
But why don’t we do it anyway,
See how many we can make in one night.
Smoke me like your hand-rolled cigarettes.
And I’ll make myself believe it’s your love warming me, and not
Thanks to Pauline Walker, who has kindly sent us a copy of Jack Crummey’s poem ‘Making Raspberry Jam with Mum’ which was the winner of the London Club’s 2019 prize for an English Poem – we are sure you will enjoy reading it.
Making Raspberry Jam with Mum
I catch my mum taking sneaking bites of raspberries we’ve picked, carried home by car. Our dishwasher’s stacked with motley jars; mustard and mayonnaise (though no marmite).
Scales struggle, strain under mounds of sugar. My wooden spoon crushes fruit. Juices flow. Mum says, ‘keep stirring, Jack, don’t be so slow!’ I swirl berries in vats on the cooker.
She curls the ribbons; gold, silver and red, glues tartan tops to saved-up golden tops. I haul and heave the juice, don’t stop till Mum’s scald-proof hands take over instead.
Sugar spits and froths, we remove the scum. The jam’s poured, cooled, to be enjoyed with mum.
The 2018 winner, Tom Campbell’s poem ‘Roses’ is published below.
I often found my grandfather in his garden. Bent low, with bare arms and hands blackened by peat He turned the earth and planted seeds in straight rivets that sunk there.
I loved to watch as he wrenched up carrots and twisted cabbage heads and Sprung spring onions loose. Dusty potatoes he would snap and toss to me, ‘Take them in son, I’ll help you wash them for dinner.’
In the shade and evening breeze he shuffled through his greenhouse. I heard the easy sprinkle until his can ran empty and he could no longer see green in the dark.
He came back through the garden towards the house Stopped and rubbed his knees and squeezed stiff hands. But grinned when I opened the door.
At noon, He pruned and shaped his rose bushes. Snipped off stems and dead – headed rotting blooms To make room for new buds.
One day, work complete, he stood, roses strewn around his feet, on the red pavestones scorched by summer. When I ran to him, Barefoot, I thorned myself. His garden dripped The salty sweat of blood and tears.
Grandad set down his secateurs and twine And took me in. To clean dry my wound and tape it shut.
In the morning I saw He had clipped his roses back to stalks and dug them up.
His back has given in now He’ll plant no more, he says, Knees can only kneel at Mass. In the kitchen Hands, laced with thick veins like blue rope, Shake as they pour my tea.
We look out to his garden Where my cousins play games and chase the dog in Autumn’s leaves. Grandad shakes his head and Smiles.
Settled in his chair, He sits until a wind kicks up cold and the kids come in And the moon comes over the hedge As the last sunbeams tend to his garden.
The 2017 winner, Emma Sunter’s poem ‘I can’t think of not knowing you’ is published below.
Thanks to Val Peay for getting hold of Emma’s poem via the Rector Pauline Walker.
I can’t think of not knowing you
I thought you’d be a puppy,
But no, after nine months, a baby sister.
I called you Googs: you couldn’t speak.
Your hand wrapped round my little finger.
Driving home from Grandma’s house –
Close knit in popcorn seats with blanket knees
Twinkle, twinkle ombre sky –
You sang yourself to sleep.
We saw the world from treetops
Ran through icing sugar rain.
Raincoats, yellow mustard seed.
Our faith could move a mountain
Enough girls can do their hair
But you can run and leap and do hard sums.
You are constant finger tapping irritation
But music flows from you like rays of sun.
Bus tickets and sweet wrappers
You’re in those scraps of paper,
Ich kenne du wie meine Wesentasche,
I can’t move for you being there.
But this September, no more
Cereal in mutual weariness
I can’t bring your forgotten cello up the hill,
You can’t laugh when I’m too serious.
You’ll be sleeping in my raincoat pocket
Blanketed in my runny noses
Shielded by my loose change
I’ll tread lightly and not wake you.
I’ll need you more than pockets
I’ll stuff tissues up my sleeves
And coins in my shoes, to be
Close to you.