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2nd prize - 2017

Photograph of Christopher M James

Christopher M James started writing poetry in late 2016 after retiring from a career in Human Resources. He has been a prize winner in three competitions (Sentinel, Poets meets Politics, Bailieborough) and been published in a selection of anthologies and magazines (The North, Canterbury, Earlyworks)

A dual British and French national, he has lived for forty years in France, Italy and Thailand.

Fear of spiders by Christopher M James

… outstays drumming ghost trains
                                cutthroats under beds
                                those old creaking stairs
instinct's coquetry
more dread for impossible enemies
                               than ever for likely prey
the anchorite in them
           in lost wood or inky corner stash
a calling without ministry
testament without end
                    construction is perfect though
                    according to rite:
root attachments in limbo, diagonals
taut with grip, totality of edges
to the air                 then inner crochets
                              drain of a tiny heart
a surrogate prayer
the syntax blazing in the beauty of dew
           all's a hunch still
                     a greyish ontological off-chance
                     heads or tails in space's
                     flawed trapeze act
its utterly-alert nerve to resonance
exploding in a whisper
           a hint of loss
                               a hair's breadth from pity
                               but not pity
not the pity of                     our own dark corners
                                         and tangled webs
deploring the million deaths
along any way to where
                     we shirk to go, as
at the ultimate arabesque shudder
its whole body turns —
                                a positioning tank
                                for the pre-emptying —
scrambles over the rigging
           to wrap a squall into
           a packed mummy
                                           will later hark back
to its one prime synapse bringing everything
           into the centre.

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