Deceptively simple, emotionally intense
In a shortlist of poems revolving around conflict, it was Konstandinos Mahoney’s ‘Peace Pipe’ that voters reached for, with many commenting on its powerful and emotional depiction of the relationship between estranged father and daughter but also on the poem’s wit and subtlety, “the room for imagination that the writer has left to the readers.”
Konstandinos Mahoney is a London based poet of Greek-Irish-English heritage. He won publication of his collection, Tutti Frutti, in the Sentinel Poetry Book Competition 2017, and is winner of the Poetry Society’s 2017 Stanza Competition. dinomahoney.co.uk
Now! she goes. He sucks hard, the bowl seethes, smoke shoots up the stem, down his throat, fills his lungs. He tries hard to hold it in, coughs, chokes it out in racking spasms. She laughs. What’s he like?
He hopes this will bring them together, sharing a smoke, having a laugh. Out the window he sees people queuing at a bus stop in the rain. He counts them – five, six, seven – the years they’ve been apart.
He asks what she remembers. A film you made me watch when I was six, a man gets eaten by ants, everything except his glasses.
Other voters’ comments included:
It’s like a piece of perfectly framed flash fiction. In its brevity is a whole world of lost and found relationships; of trying and not trying; of failure – in so few lines we have the voices. I love its precision- like a surgeon’s knife.
It’s a pleasing nugget of a poem; I like its immediacy, its colloquial style. And that the title tells you something that isn’t quite in the poem.
Dino is a master of subtle humour and perception and this gentle poem shows his skill in this. The poem evokes a situation with which we can all identify.
[I voted] For its brutal honesty, and its universality.
So much of a relationship implied.
Subtle, a reaching out of father to daughter, too late to recapture an intimacy list
This poem makes me laugh and cry – moving and the sentiment is very relatable
I love the psychedelic 60s vibe of this poem, when life could be a dream.
It’s a subject matter that rarely gets air time – estrangement between fathers and children – poignant and succinct
Simply stated but hugely powerful. The poignancy of the ‘peace pipe’ gesture and the never knowing whether it is taken. The subtext of the man eaten by ants.
I’m in awe of the story it tells in so few words. Fabulous.
The rapprochement in this poem just feels so..bittersweet ya know? It’s like my own daughter is gonna estrange me then reconnect with through a shared love of bong smoke one day. I just know it. And she’s going to harass me about some misguided parental mistake. This poem will stay with me. I am now prepared for this eventually.
A vivid and surprising poem with a poignant feeling to it.
Love the melancholic, dark vibe
I was struck by the powerful contrast between the arresting drama and anticipation of the opening scene (reunion pipe smoking) and the hopelessness conveyed by the final scene (her reminiscence).
The dryness of its wit and the dose of intimacy in this tense relation
What a scene – a father hopes so badly he could get close to his girl, at all cost. His desire, regret, and disappointment so intensely shown in three stanzas. Great piece.
A superb prose poem compact and powerful affecting and sadly funny
A perfect evocation of an attempted reconciliation which, as suggested by the word “made” in the last sentence, seems doomed to fail.
The absolute brilliance of time frames overlapping anchored on the astonishments of (that opening yet hard to grasp) “Now!”
The sense of wistfulness
Because coming together after being apart has a particular resonance in our post lockdown world
it’s clear – a scene and characters are painted deftly – it’s intriguing, oblique – awakens your thinking and feeling
A bonding ritual goes awry with ‘bong virgin’ dad making peace over a pipe with estranged daughter… A beautifully tender & off-the- wall poem; distilled to perfection. Love it. Gets my vote! Good luck! 🍀
“people queuing at a bus stop in the rain” vs the devouring ants subtly prompts the larger question about memory and our relationship to nature, natural resources and one another through the intimate frame of a father-daughter relationship.
Peace is uppermost in my thoughts and this is a brilliant poem.
The incisive trenchant way the poem captures the disparate nature of relationships involving an older and younger relative. For me, the poem shows how the younger person can so easily set aside all the love and kindness of the older person and focus solely on one foolish albeit unpleasant act. It also captures the clash of perspectives in inter-generational relationships where something trivial for the older person can be so traumatic for the younger person. The poem seems so slight but has so many deep rich resonances.
For the crazy connections between two different acts, and how we can relate to imaginary context through real life
The cadence and the detail and the internal voice
THE REST OF THE AUGUST 2021 SHORTLIST
Life Skills Module 3 by Louisa Campbell
1.1. Often misunderstood:
- Stem cell research
Choose two. Compare and contrast.
1.2. In autumn, trees weep their leaves, ready to bud again in spring. Does this make you sad, or happy?
1.3. Your favourite clothes are old blue jeans and a saggy, chunky-knit sweater. You wore them when you fell in love. The next time you wear them, will something good or bad happen?
1.4. Metaphorically speaking, is London Bridge falling down?
1.5. There is a certain poise to loneliness. Discuss.
1.6. You are designing merchandise to market worry. You may design:
- a worry t-shirt
- a worry plushie
- worry Monopoly
Which will you choose, and why? Describe it.
1.7.a. You are running through a forest in the dark, wearing a white Victorian nightgown.
How will it end?
1.7.b. Would the ending have been different had you been wearing tartan pyjamas?
1.8. Which colour best describes joy?
- Emerald green
Explain with reference to fragrance.
1.9. Is shopping more enjoyable wearing a mad hat?
Present your answer as a diagram.
1.10. a. If joy were a creature, would it be
- A snurfle-nosed, wiggly puppy
- An iridescent damselfly
- An angel
- Something else (please specify)
1.10. b. Describe your answer using interpretative dance.
1.11. Compose your own question with reference to light.
1.12. A man holds out his hand and says, Show me worry; can you hold it in the palm of your hand?
Is his hand empty, or does it contain an invisible multicoloured butterfly?
Louisa Campbell’s first full collection of poems, Beautiful Nowhere, is a memoir about her experiences as both mental health nurse and patient, and was published in May 2021 by Boatwhistle Books. She lives in Kent, England. Website: www.louisacampbell.net
Dead-spit by Rebecca Gethin
My father kept what little he had of my mother
in a drawer. It branded his next wife as second.
She tipped the contents onto a fire she’d lit
in the garden – photos with deckled edges,
wedding pictures in card sleeves,
snaps of my mother with her sisters as children,
pages from the only album of their few years together –
thrusting them into the blazing tongues, smoke thick
with celluloid – my mother’s face blistering
and melting in the heat. Scraps
of burning paper flying off like singed bats.
Glorying in the new order must’ve been brief –
she still had to live with the brat
who resembled the woman she’d hoped to erase.
Rebecca Gethin has written 6 poetry publications. She was a Hawthornden Fellow and a Poetry School tutor. Vanishings was published by Palewell Press in 2020. Her poems appear in various magazines and anthologies. She blogs sporadically at www.rebeccagethin.wordpress.
Bone & Breathless by Safiya Kamaria Kinshasa
skin is missing
liberation & violation usually ends de same way
with your DNA lying on someone’s grass
de soil asked de sky if it could collect me
de sky shunted
its back peach & swollen
de soil made room for me inside its stomach
ants crawled up my legs hunting for a sky
i rolled over & told de ground not tonight
i became estranged with de sky
grew creases in my neck learning to haul my gender like a mouth
leaving a trail of fish-oil & seeds
when i did finally cut-eyes with clouds it was carnival 2019
i split my waist from de edge of a blunt
played patti-cake with de road for 10 hours
de air inhaled my punches
spirit engulfed by soca
blood enamoured with rampage
my cheap trainers cried at their massacre
my skin felt so much liberty some left
& de wind rolled tru to suck at my bone
as though she were a woman prying on a newly-divorced man
greeting my bone & breathless state with roasted breadfruit
i let her in
too happy on rum & bass
as i lay on de grass once again
panting with a soca monarch tickling my ears
de soil again asked de sky if it should take me
de sky again said nothing
i turned to de soil
i told it to stop requesting de sky’s permission to handle me
euphoria & man make de same wounds
but if i don’t get up for de next war
come collect me
Safiya Kamaria Kinshasa is an interdisciplinary poet who chiefly uses movement to write. Her first collection ‘The Inheritance’ is forthcoming with Out-Spoken Press. Website: www.safiyakamaria.com/
Ceasefire by David Ralph Lewis
We lounge in singed hotels
seeking salvation in burnt
pillowcases, mini bars filled
with bullet cases. We swig
gems down with vodka, rubies
cutting our throats to remind
us we are alive, somehow. So much
for not eating our gold horde.
Tomorrow is an illusion anyway.
The air ducts overflow with
shredded Gideons and cocktail
cherries. A toast to today!
We have been plucked out of time,
might as well enjoy ourselves.
Thirty year old whisky leaks
through the ceiling tiles,
like rain illuminated by fire.
David Ralph Lewis is a poet based in Bristol. He has two pamphlets out; Our Voices in the Chaos and Refraction. When not writing, he enjoys dancing badly at gigs and attempting to grow vegetables. www.davidralphlewis.co.uk
The House where Courage Lives by Maggie Sawkins
That night I spent every waking hour staring at my face in the mirror in the darkness. It was the first time I’d looked myself in the eye. In the morning I removed the guard from the fire of my heart, gave careful thought to the paths for my feet, sat at the table by the window and wrote you a letter. After owning my guilt, I asked you to join me on the ferris-wheel, while there’s still time. I carried the bottle of tequila to the sink, unscrewed the lid and tipped it up, witnessed the golden liquid flush away.
Maggie Sawkins is the recipient of the 2013 Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry for ‘Zones of Avoidance’, a sequence of poems inspired by her personal and professional involvement with people in recovery from addictions. Her fifth poetry collection, The House where Courage Lives, is to be published in 2021 by Waterloo Press. Website: https://hookedonwords.me/