Cosmo Davenport-Hines Poetry Prize: 2020 winners

 
 

Alice Oldacre

 

    On Being Here When you Ought to be There

 

When bent under absent weight
you tend to wander, walking on the
telephone, wise balancing act,
mind on a window glossed fog,
with bulbous groaning ache for
an owed not owned place, sore throat in the
morning, boredom, the loss of it.

 


 

Richelle Sushil

 

    4 O’Clock Chai, Jakarta Time

 

On the phone, she says my grandfather
Sits in front of the TV all day,
Sweater vest over moon-blue pyjamas in tropical weather.
His yearnings are simpler now.

Quieter. He only ever asks for the remote
He can’t reach. Or his slippers.
She says the window is closed but he’s cold anyway.
Always cold. She worries it might be something

But she doesn’t know what.
I can hear her rustling inside the kitchen.
Something is missing. She can’t find the right strainer.
The one with the small enough holes. Dimana ya?*

I don’t know. Me,
Here, but only for a second.
With her now but my here is untruthful. Far
From hers. His. My here, their

There. She’s found it. She says it’s like
A maze in this house. Nothing is ever where
You leave it. How was your day?
The milk is boiling.

She’s straining the tea leaves now.
I can almost taste the bubbles.
The way they cling to the lip of the hot
Steel glass on top of the cold white tray.

She says I love you. I say it back.
She says she should go now. I say
Okay. I’m going to bed soon.
I picture the loaf of him, asleep on the sofa.

She’ll wake him quietly. Walk him to the dining table,
An invisible weight holding him back
The same way you’d wade through water.
I don’t remember the details of it but she told me once

That he took me swimming when I was little.
She said he held me so gently.
I hang up.
The bread I had for dinner was so soft,

He probably could’ve chewed it on its own. The rest of it
Will be too hard tomorrow. There are certain things time
Should hold still for. The love of the next thing
Is so casually cruel.

 

* dimana ya (Indonesian): where is it?

 


 

Joshua Klarica

 

    amidst the flowers I tell the hours

 

the sunrise lies in the far distance on
a fifty-yard string, cola colour all
coming off it in the sticky morning
like a womb. onward now and see the red-
light blight, specious plight and it’s all hollow
and it’s all bright, spinning discs buoyed but
the suns not up yet. on the trenchant trudge.
cosmos cluster in tea-rooms, a million
million hemispheres collide and slide,
breath pours from one to the other. beneath
festoon lights like blurry rain on swaying
partygoers just a kiss away, soon
colliding all clattering going on. they’re still
just a gaggle of schoolkids, punch line comes
and they go away blossoming. they
are hazel-haired and slogan-shirted, arms
interlinked and future-skirted, by
more than spotify’s most intimate
algorithm seen.
                               we think it
a testament to telescopes that can
put us on the moon while we stand here, draw
the eye to the moment. Do not go on
but if you must go loudly laughing through
empty dreams: cherry-cheeked daguerreotypes
adorn halls nobody sees while their imp
progeny issue warrants for notice,
post-script dribble on a postage stamp. we
ordered years dialling the sun but now its
ancient knick-knack, the secret in secret
pockets on secret notes, inside lips, it
goes on and on and in that order on.

 


 

Nimah Haran

 

    whilst eating weetabix at noon

 

text thread a deceit
love you darling tick box brain
netting flammable
to the prickling of
mother father guilt slurps of
spaghetti hoop letters
forge the eye spy out
the car window memory
with wax closest thing
to salt spray i got
given in that blizzard they
call a god wrapped gift
ginger to gastric
behind a yellow line shouts
the finger gagging
goose bump to the sound
of a mannikin mantra
like love you darling

 


 

Tara Xianfu Clatterbuck

 

    Snowglobed

 

It is hard to believe my mother when she says
            things are changing.
Home as it sits on my windowsill
            is a permanent golden hour.
The harbor, a shade
            of pool water blue,
the sun so bright it splits
            the sea as it sinks,
glitter flurried around skyscrapers
            like snowfall.
Forever that way.

She talks about a photograph in the study,
            remember? of her and dad and the city,
twenty years before me, by the seaside
            soaking up sun.
In that same spot they’re burrowing into the harbor.
            The land’s all new.
She sends a picture of the water looking like coke gone flat,
            the new earth even flatter.
People need houses, ma.
            I know, I know.

Before I tell her that things are always changing,
            she says I speak with my eyes shut.
Springtime bauhinia’s are gasping in the cold,
5pm and the city is moon sunk.
A shaken piece of a plastic by the window’s ledge
                glitter       more
                       like      ash
        they've halved       the delta
with fifty-five kilometers       of concrete.

 

Cosmo Davenport-Hines Poetry Prize

About Cosmo Davenport-Hines Poetry Prize

The prize - open to all students at King’s College London - honours Cosmo, who died in June 2008 while still a student in the English Department at KCL. It seeks to remember his creativity and his love of words. Details on how to enter the 2021 competition can be found here.