Gifts from My Father – First Prize


This ancient rock is cool to touch

with indentations bearing grains of sand.


With wetted fingertip, I touch the grey. It deepens

into black but leaves a chalky powder on my hands


I touch it to my tongue. It has no taste.

I did expect to savour dust or brine


a musty tang perhaps, at least a sense

of something ancient in its flavour.


I hold it to my ear. Its denseness blocks

the song of ocean pounding on the shore.


This rock reminds me of my dad.

He was a boy when Halley’s comet


brought the English to their knees in fright.

I won’t be here when it returns, he said.


Promise me you’ll watch for it.

But when it came, it was too far away


Just a slightly brighter star with smeary tail.

I wished I’d seen what he had seen.


This rock connects me to my loneliness

I reach towards the stars, which gave it birth.


The blackness of the sky is huge, it eats me up.

I wonder if my father felt the same.


I wish this rock could speak. Perhaps it holds

within itself the imprint of my father’s mind


and thus I might begin to know him as I never did

when he was still alive and I was just a child.

Gill Goater


The Change-  Second prize

The Cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises) are thought to be the descendents of the wolf-like mammals Mesonychians.


Whales once walked the earth as wolves.

Those glistening bulbs, like ever growing pearls


pawed roots of trees and howled

when the moon passed


as if with premonition

they called their children home.


I imagine a moment on the shore:

paused before a wave, the wolves are heavy


with wind and sweat.

The wave breaks – the water is rushing in –


and it’s over in a moment.

The constant tug of time


is bounded at the centre by two wolves

newly flowing out to sea.

Francis Olive