2020 YPN/PNN Poetry Competition Commended Poems.

In Praise of Desolation

by William Snelling

A sunlight-mottled river shunts its weight

Towards the sea, having nowhere else to go;

Even the evening’s syrupy light can’t glaze it

Into something pretty. The days are slow,

So I come back often to this crease in the city’s palm,

Where you might see a rabbit stare from the gorse

Then vanish as quick to its deep, unseeable home,

Like a coin you’ve slipped between the floorboards.

My sadness is small amongst the river’s slithering moods

Where nothing means except the thought-clean flow

Of browns and greens and occasional newspaper shreds

And dragonflies ruffling the water where they flew.

Hollow redbrick warehouses discuss themselves,

Towering and useless, lit up by the low-hanging sun, 

The windows shimmering pockets of gold like scales.

They used to make leather, or seatbelts, or chewing gum.

Above me, the cars glide quietly across a bridge.

They’re small enough to hold, up there near the moon.

Here at the river’s slow, unglistening edge

Where nobody knows me at all, I’m clean as a bone.

watching the match at the field on berkeley road

by Natalie Perman 

next to the vineyard tree pub extra

ordinaire free gravy on the side

with all chips and running down

the carvery yellow walls as brown

shadow coats rusted telephone poles

in something pretty home of the famous

hooke team their sweaty shins and boys

crying after hours behind the mccoll’s

dogs pissing up the side like a height chart

mark their land on the Leading Neighbour

hood Retailer of fizzedup stella-

green glass and exploding instant

barbecue sets

the boys chug lucozade spiked

with their fathers’ eyes wide whites

screaming go on, son! from the side

lines as a boy with flush fresh head


ing cheeks thrusts a knee into son’s

groin twisting to the others’ cheers

he holds victory arms straight

out like the parked audi’s dang

ling crucifix wooden jesus grinning

after the game of his life.

myopic man

by chenrui

man heaves up stairs

man pauses on step seventy-two

man spits a prayer 

man ascends

man gropes doorway 

man forgets keys

man forgets keys in back pocket

man pushes through 

man finds air

man plunges onto rails

man seeks the bars

man has cold cheeks

man catches a cloud

man lets it go 

man plucks a green daisy 

man counts his loves

man runs out of petals

man coughs and sits 

man gets wet arse 

man almost laughs 

man makes tiny receipt plane

man won’t let it fly 

man looks at his petals

man looks at plane

man drops plane

man opens eyes man finds world staring back

At The Farm

by Max Dixon

Leaves falling through my open window,

I hear thorn bushes rustling in the wind.

I see trees dropping apples,

Birds rustling their way through the thick branches

To reach their nests.

Eagles swooping down on my house,

Searching for rats.

Horses running from the barn.

I hear the sudden noises of the cows mooing,

Ants marching through the muddy ground.

I hear the pigs rolling in the mud.

I see the grass swaying in the wind.

I hear the cars zooming past.


by Grace Q. Song

walking down the side

of my house, i count

the number of steps

it takes to cross

this white field of pebbles.

for months, i could not

touch the world. i only knew it

through the window

in my room. now

the wind bounds past me

like a dog. someone 

has overturned a stone 

in the backyard.

the vines are crawling

over the summer-

tanned fence again,

and every day I feel

less romantic. 


by Jack Cooper

They were here when I arrived;

decadent strata of spots 

in rich orange, red, and green, 

a pointillist Zhangye Danxia 

on the ceiling of my student en-suite.

I tried to kill them, but they came back, 

appearing out of nowhere 

like an absurd flash mob

so I shower each morning 

under a hundred spiteful sunrises,

a firework display 

exploding in slow motion.