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Old 09-02-2010, 12:42 AM
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John Whitworth John Whitworth is offline
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Default Competition: In a Jam

Competition No. 2662: In a jam
Lucy Vickery
Saturday, 4th September 2010
Lucy Vickery presents the latest competition
In Competition No. 2662 you were invited to submit a poem composed in the midst of a travel hold-up. The entry, a magnificent collective letting-off-of-steam, was peppered with exasperated references to apoplectic rage, bursting bladders and bickering children but these were tempered by those who acknowledged that there are benefits in being forced to take things more slowly.
Basil Ransome-Davies was one of them, and he pockets the bonus fiver. The other winners, printed below, get £25 each. Honourable mentions go to D.A. Prince, Ray Kelley, Gail White, Bill Greenwell and Joan Harris.

When trains are late you wait. There is no choice.
At home you get the ranting Tannoy’s voice
forbidding this and that, the Coke machine,
the platform staff’s routine dyspeptic mien,
the sodden toilet and that sullen air —
so very Brit — of muttering despair...
The bats are out, a swooping crew. At noon,
chewing my trail mix by a salt lagoon,
I viewed a plankton-tinted chorus line —
those miracles of elegant design,
flamingos. Them, the quiet delta, me;
I savour the recalled epiphany
over a Fundador and a cigar,
the cheerful uproar of the station bar
my comfort zone. The Sitges train is late
by — ooh, at least an hour now. I can wait.
Basil Ransome-Davies

As dark descends on Ridgeway Hill,
On Ridgeway Hill,
Besunken in this cheerless chill,
Bereft of hide or hut,
With blanket strewn across my lap,
I rue the cruel and mean mishap
That lands me in my pony trap
With wheels stuck in a rut.

Afore and aft more carts are stuck,
Aye, more are stuck,
With wheels bogged down in mire and muck
While I, midst hold-up, rage!
Will hope of Budmouth’s bypass wane
Perchance a hundred years or twain
Till those, unborn, its comforts gain
In yon Olympic age?
Alan Millard

Though orphaned of its shading poplars now,
the route from Calais beckons like a trance,
delivering, with the sureness of a vow,
the heady synaesthesia of France.
The country’s striped by rivers. One by one
we cross the Seine, the Eure, the Loire, the Creuse,
pilgrims of pleasure, following the sun,
avid prospectors for la vie heureuse.
The relaxation deepens with the miles.
The South means warmth and colour, a rich spread
of sunflowers, melons, terracotta tiles,
the Littoral, the gently tidal Med.
What clear and present irritation jars
This vision of exotic joys galore?
The fumes of countless other static cars
In Merseyside, two miles from my front door.
G.M. Davis

Herded like stockyard cattle flank to flank,
We inch and snarl along the motorway
In four choked lanes of traffic, rank on rank
Of creeping, lurching, cussing scrum and fray.
Of what obstruction is this hold-up bred?
What road repair, police activity,
Or accident? Is anybody dead?
Will there be blood and body parts to see?
When progress slackened, we first had to tap
Our brakes, then idle, hemmed by other cars.
We hoped back then there’d been no cruel mishap,
Nothing involving pain or lasting scars.
But now, delay grown long and tempers shorter,
The milk of human kindness flows no more.
Our nature’s worser angels give no quarter:
Show us some twisted wreckage stained with gore!
Chris O’Carroll

The bus has jerked and stopped. We crane our necks.
The road runs straight ahead and straight ahead
Two lanes, both blocked. My neighbour groans: ‘Oh, heck!
I knew I should have got the train instead.’
All round, loud voices query, moan and swear:
‘More pointless roadworks. Did you see that sign?’
‘Maybe an accident; this spot is where
That lad of Dunns was killed; he crossed the line —
Just like that idiot is doing here.’
A biker lane-hops, shares opprobium.
We move — a good three yards. Ironic cheer!
I’ve no complaints, I’m happy to sit dumb,
Just look and listen. They may hate being late;
I have my notebook. This is grist for me,
With no one waiting, no important date.
Besides, an oldie now, I travel free.
Gillian Ewing

They’re worse than useless, I agree,
But what’s the point of telling me?
I feel your rage and partly share it,
But why am I the one to bear it?
The good mind that you say you’ve got
To get a gun and shoot the lot
Would be much better put to use
In redirecting your abuse.
I doubt the truth is what you think —
That they’re all out to make us drink
Their rip-off coffee, coke and tea,
And spend our guts on duty-free.
By now we would be there, you’re right,
And at this rate we’ll miss a night,
But what makes this more like hard labour
Is sitting trapped with you as neighbour.
W.J. Webster
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Old 09-02-2010, 04:30 AM
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Jayne Osborn Jayne Osborn is offline
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Another well-deserved win and bonus fiver, Bazza.
Congratulations, Gail and Bill. It gets tougher and tougher, so an HM is highly valued.
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Old 09-03-2010, 11:07 PM
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FOsen FOsen is offline
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Congratulations, Bazza, Bill, Chris, and Gail.

Frank
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