Week 17 – entries and results

Week 17 – Photograph by Taz Baldwin

Thank you all once again for submitting so many thoughtful and thought provoking poems in response to a difficult subject. The winner is Poem 10, And Cross, by Andy Scotson. Congratulations to Andy. An unusually presented poem which attracted much comment from the readers, form reflecting subject matter.

In joint second place were In the Sanctuary of Silence by Janice Windle and At this very moment by Eileen Carney Hulme. Well done to Janice and Eileen.

Poem 1

Wall of Silence


Hamlet would have had a field day

Yorick and all his mates

watching the play

giving Gertrude the proper shivers.


Or a Lady M. moment

Banquo and all his mates

silently waiting for apologies.

Not a chance.


Just the long white nightie

looking ghostly on the battlements

while Hamlet goes on and on and on

in his bone-headed way.


Daphne Milne


Poem 2

The Undying


Old bones,

Stone cold bones,

forged together in grisly fortress.


Sharp split skulls that tell a story,

Hollow eyes replete with rage,

Disparate limbs that cling together

Blood and dust cement their fate.


Morbid trophies of ancient feud

In purgatory find no peace,

Mother, father, sister, brother,

Immortalised by bloody means.


Old souls,

Stone cold souls,

Pouring through macabre walls.

 Sarah Miles


Poem 3


Severed Heads


The silence of our words,

the stillness of our faces,

cursed never to be heard

by the senses death erases.


Our one time priest,  Coifi, set us here

because he did not love us and preferred half-hearted ways.

He threw his sword aside and burned our shelter, shivering with fear,

at replacing  the gods of man with the man of Christian praise.


Yet   our bones survived the conflagration

and  we were placed within this arch, admired by every congregation.

So all who pass this door relive our past and make our present

breathing life into our still cold eyes until our gods relent.


Clint Wastling


Poem 4

Heads Together


They’re all there

they laugh and they chatter.

The voices of the past.

Nudging their old bones

and putting they’re heads together

plotting my future and

watching over me.


Sometimes I can hear them

feel them, smell them

on a seaweed covered beach

in the morning,

in the leaves of the bonfire smoke

on an  Autumn day

and in the flurry of a warm

Summer breeze.


The echoes of mirth on the wind.

Planning my next move, like it or not !


Angie Butler


Poem 5

Memento mori


Now I don’t know what you call a memento mori,

But I can say it’s a sorry state of affairs

when your heirs

keep a bit of you back

from the stack.


Disjointed voices seek bits of themselves ‘Hey, you down there!’

Or more politely ‘Can anyone put their hand

on my left proximal phalange?’

Literally, ‘He gets

so upset’.


One ponders ‘I would rather have been a mummy,

All those tight, neat dressings

stop folk from messing

you about;

nothing drops out’.


You think? Pity those souls who thought they’de made it

to immortality and instead got a ride

to a glass case inside

a museum

where folk see ’em.


It might be eternal life,

but ‘Rest in Peace’?

I don’t think so.

It’s not much better

than resting in pieces.


Stephanie Haxton


Poem 6

In the Sanctuary of Silence


Who stacked these relics?

Who, concerned to do a good job,

calculated, balanced, judged,

piled meticulously

the femurs, the scapulas, the tibias,

crowned the edifice with the round skulls,

filled the interstices

with vertebrae and metatarsals?


Who prepared the bones,

stripped away the minds, the lives,

the inert flesh?

Who removed their history,

cancelled their humanity?


Overhead, the builders’ own naked skulls

grin down at their handiwork.


Janice Windle


Poem 7

In the Great Wall of Life and Death 


In the walls they built skulls, shrouded in rock,

a quiet parade of what was to come.

The tourists turned back, crying macabre,

locals left smiling to breath in the day.

This walkway of death reminding of life,

celebration, not fear, cut like a knife

across faces of tourists denying

the ticking of time carved in their own walls.


Stephanie Arsoska


Poem 8

Free Verse Ossuary


An idea: formal verse is like a wall made of bricks,

Regular, patterned, neat and expected,

Free verse is like a dry stone wall –

Still following rules, still recognisably a wall,

Still fit for purpose, but irregular, varied,



This wall?

Look at how the varied stones

Lie close; each one holding another

To a promise; each one locked

To another’s pitted purpose.

Look at how neat it is.


While away where the yellow light begins,

Like mustard tanging our naïve tongues,

They cast around in fields to find what will fit

The spaces in this dry stone wall,

What will suit its irregular, unexpected purpose.


Villagers watch the burning

In the killing fields;

Soldiers go about their purpose –

The ancient, regular pattern, as expected.


Look at the bones, each one holding another

To a promise, still recognisable but dry,

Free, now, like rules made to be broken.

Look at the skulls.


Michael Docker


Poem 9

At This Very Moment


No-one can confirm

the colour of the eyes

if the skin was pale

or the hair dark,

are they murderers

or the murdered,

voices silenced


of revenge

or a grim


All we can see

is death.

If they screamed

in terror

or helplessness

no-one saved them,

ageless, unrecognised,

with no resting place.


Eileen Carney Hulme


 Poem 10

And Cross




Andy Scotson