The Man and His Mother wins poetry competition

Dated: 6 December 2022

 1st place Winner Kieran
 
A huge thank you and congratulations to all of the students (and staff) who entered this year’s Woodhouse College Poetry Competition 2022. We had over thirty entries, with the standard being incredibly high, yet again.
 
English teacher Mr Dore, who organised the competition, said “It was extremely hard to choose between the range of elegant, searching and passionate work, which was often formally experimental, and which took the theme of environment to a number of strikingly original places, exploring issues of gender, class and ethnicity.”
 
The winners this year are:
 
1st Place – Kieran Syal, The Man and His Mother
 
2nd Place – Thora Harrison, ARROYO
 
3rd Place – Okan Sal, untitled
 
Staff – Mario Petrucci, A Poem on a Possible Future
 
An honourable mention goes to Ali Sezgin.
 
 
 
The Man and His Mother - Kieran Syal
 
The Mother bore a baby boy
Who squealed like a pig.
He chewed on bones
And struck at sticks
And gorged on wild-fig.
 
The Mother reared him quick,
And he was good as gold.
As a child he respected her,
Always doing as he’s told.
 
Yet as he grew into a Man,
He took an awful turn;
He marred, misused and maimed his mam
With newfound skills he’d learned.
 
Man had mastered her,
And wrenched out all her hair,
He drained her of her riches
And deprived her of her air.
 
Man grew fat on excess,
Greedy for her fruit.
Having mined and chopped and burned and ate
He’d become his Mother’s brute.
 
But the rolls of fat about his chin
Hid a suppurating sore,
Which leached blood all down his Mother’s frock
And sent him falling to the floor.
 
Like ripe fruit he fell,
To lie rotting on the earth,
His lungs and vital organs
Crushed beneath his girth.
 
‘Death to all and Death to Man;
Kill for all its worth!’
Cried the triumphant Mother
At Nature’s great rebirth.
 
 
 
ARROYO - Thora Harrison
 
Someplace where the sycamore’s wishbones weaken
in the epilogue of summer, we lie like callow young girls
in the shallows of the creek. Our bellies graze the stone bed,
sallow limbs trailing behind us like braids, soft-scoop
rock melon souls hollowed out by the hungry. Here
the frogs die in earnest, here we sleep as we swim - fading in and out
as a tide washes a beach clean, free from carved initials and remonstrations against God.
Dust settles like the aftermath of a buzzcut. We drink our cola flat.
Like good children, we don our long skirts and tie our hair high above our sweating necks.
Linen curtains eclipse the moon, their tender lungs filling with air, my sister
(the mean one) pulling my hair. All the while, everything changes us:
calendars abandoned to the wrong month. Suede shoes in the rain.
Dogs straining against their leads outside of the supermart
where we followed our fathers down the meat aisle as kids with crucifixes of popsicle sticks
and gospels of gingham and helplessness.
Like salamanders, our covenants regenerate. Like disco, we never die.
This carbon sky blinds us, divides like a clementine
into infinite segments, realigns our spines in time to the approach of celestial objects.
Life is so lovely and we are so moved. Chaos seems to perpetuate itself
like honey cauterising a wound.
 
The years flood the terrarium of our sorrow
as the guilt of October settles upon our shoulder blades.
The crossroads and church pews of our bodies speak the language of the aliens
we used to pray to. These are the streets through which we wade waist-deep into the dark
with our palms held to God, and as the nights freeze, we feel for heartbeats -
blood as smooth and dark as espresso, skin like layers of miracle fish,
the invisible umbilical cord through which the likes of men can never sever.
We drive past the poet’s grave
until we recognise the curve of his tombstone better than the shape of his body.
The leaves turn, the air stales, our knuckles pinken with cold.
And still we know his memory as clearly as we know ourselves.
The slope of his shoulders, the arch of his silhouette, the cupid’s bow of his neglected mouth -
all of these can call a person from across a crowded room, a swaying train carriage,
the classrooms lit only by the weak glow of a projector. The solar system illuminating strips of silent observers
with their bitten nails and cherry chapstick.
His ghost, obscure as Jude, holy as Mary, strains towards us as if drunk and tumbling.
Lost son is prodigal. Lost daughter is just
lost.
 
Watch us become good wives. Watch us slouch forever
towards the bed of the creek. Watch us sit at the kitchen table
boiling oleander leaves and wild fennel, stand in the snow and imagine dying in it.
Follow the motions until we lose each other
to vacuum decay, despair, breast cancer, hit and runs, finally free to
embrace the echoes of what we left behind
as girls mutilated by the sacrament of love.
In those plains to which we are forever bound,
we sing of life as an inexhaustible well;
that we need not resurface for air, amend our quietness,
cut our hair. Wish for our mothers to like us,
not just love us.
The arroyo feels like nothing else.
Not everything feels like something else.
 
 
Untitled - Okan Sal
 
My environment’s filled with knives and murder
Seen drugs
and lady related drama
Seen friends turn to fiends
Seen brothers try and scheme
But even with everything I’ve seen
I try and pursue my own dreams
And my own goals
But where I’m from they don’t want us having any of those
Racism and classism from every which direction
My environment has been a lesson
It’s the story about from where I’m from
You can come and judge me for it
Everybody has different sorts of stories from it
I just hope you can accept
That all our stories are important


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