Ways to be Wilder Poetry Competition: Dandelion Clock by Ella Standage

This is the second in a series of pages publishing the winning and highly commended poems in the People Need Nature/Young Poets Network “Ways to be Wilder” poetry competition, hosted by the Young Poets Network. We’re also publishing the Judge Jen Hadfield’s comments for each poem.


dandelion clock

Ella Standage (16) (Winner)


held between forefinger and thumb: the stem

like a green vein, and balanced above—time

as an exploded diagram.


see the hours stellated, the minutes

anatomised as spokes of a wheel

that does not turn, struts to hold up

this whispered globe of wishes.


between fingernails you pluck one from its earth

the way you’d dissect a wristwatch, disassembling

chronology to examine like a gear beneath the light.


it’s 3:53 PM. time


flutters and pulses atop its vein and you

stop holding your breath and watch the seconds

carried off like a flood of stars, to lodge


in minds or throats or cracked pavements

like promises unspoken.



Judge Jen Hadfield says:

You’ve constructed this poem with a horologist’s delicacy and precision. You’ve felt your way to a flexible form and music for your poem intuitively. Each stanza is structured differently, with never a redundant or heavily-placed word, and each true to the stretchy nature of time. We all know how a minute can pass in a blink, or seem to drag on for hours. But you also stop time, and make your reader hold their breath, before you dismantle the fragile dandelion clock with a puff of your own. I love that your consideration of time, and the present tense demands that your reader cherish every second.