poetrypulse poetry competitions uk
placesetter 1st Prize Winner 2nd Prize Winner 3rd Prize Winner Back

1st prize - 2015

Photograph of Roger Elkin

Roger Elkin has won 48 First Prizes in (inter)national Poetry Competitionms and several awards, including the Sylvia Plath Award for Poems about Women, and the Howard Sergeant Memorial Award for Services to Poetry (1987). His 11 collections include Fixing Things (2011); Bird in the Hand (2012); Marking Time (2013); Chance Meetings (2014). Editor of Envoi (1991-2006).

Me, My Mum and the Great Crested Newt by Roger Elkin

Plucked clear of his wet-quick element,
what fascinated me was his landlubber
slowness, that bland foetus smile, and
his silences - save that zizzing kiss
become wet squelch when I'd held him
between finger and thumb. And pressed.
Just once - for fun - while Mum winced.

But all this was second best to that crested
crenellation which wouldn't/couldn't cut
yet looked dragonish as if to scare off folks,
declaring Don't you dare touch, don't dare.
Yet did, zipping my fingers down his spine.

Even Mum couldn’t resist that underbelly
ruddiness the colour of meat-rinsed blood,
the olive-black atolls blotching down his
back, and the babypink of spreading hands
and toes plotting out the slow progress
of this toy dinosaur I’d trophied home

Recalling she’d warned Isn’t yours for keeps,
I reckoned that no matter how I rigged out
her backyard tub, topping it up with liquorice hose,
plopping pondweed in and teasing out its flagging
fronds, she’d known all along that he’d go sad
and stiff on us: left hanging, dulled, rubbery,
colours drained away, and floating, belly down,
still smiling till I’d flushed him right away,
another stillborn child. How then she cried.

Valid XHTML 1.0 Transitional