The Winner of the 2010 Web Poetry Competition is... 

 Keith Shaw

He receives £75 prize money for his poem 'Squaring the Magic Circle' and a place in our next poetry anthology. The authors listed below were short-listed in the competition and will receive £5 for their poems, a chance to submit work for the next anthology, and a temporary membership of the Earlyworks Press Writers and Reviewers Club.  


Craig Aitchison

Catherine Edmunds

Anna-May Laugher

Phil Powley

Anthony Watts

The anthology, 'Sky Breakers' is due to be published on 5th November. Details here

The Shortlisted Poems



Squaring the Magic Circle

by Keith Shaw


When he winks at me and whispers, "It's just

a smooth curve with neither a beginning

nor an end," I say to myself: "There must

be more to this than meets the eye. Nothing

is what it seems in the world of magic."

At first I think his props aren't real: the white

dove - a battery bird, the knives - plastic,

and the bearded lady - a trick of the light.


And when he produces things from nowhere,

I guess they were up his sleeve: that armful

of pink carnations, the big teddy bear,

a string of colourful gags. Not until

the lady he's locked in the lion's cage 

begins to lose her head, no one can find

the key, and blood starts dripping on the stage,

am I convinced that it's all in the mind.


© Keith Shaw 2010






In praise of

by Anna-May Laugher


the way flies settle on the sugar,

spit, suck, couple and fuck mid-air

so versatile and clever.


Glorious winged ones, angels of the dung,

stream-lined in casings of blue and green

built for flight, what a delight


to watch them siphon shit

then come to fret or sit

persistently at tea with us.


Batted or swatted they return

choreograph the germs minutely

clinging to their dancing feet,


produce with every step a ballet of disease'

then lay their lines in carrion to hatch

and maggot plumply in the rot.


© Anna-May Laugher  2010







Killing Fields

by Phil Powley


I parked in sun some miles beyond the town,

to dire reports of massacres and bombs

in war-torn Muslim lands, of raids at dawn 

on pushers, smugglers, dealers in Hong Kong.

And then a spreading shadow dulled the day:

a huge, dark bird had tumbled from the sky

to settle on a fence-post yards away:

a buzzard, billhook-beaked and amber-eyed.

It steadied, swooped, snatched up a writhing vole

and drifted off, majestic, powerful:

a killer playing out its natural role,

unversed in hatred, faith or principle.


The radio droned on: more racist crimes

in Leeds, more body-bombs in Palestine.


© Phil Powley 2010











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by Catherine Edmunds


the stone angel looked down on the cobbles below

through the water of tears or rivers - he couldn't tell

his senses were dulled by eons of lichen and crumbling stone

the woman walked past and shivered
looked up
saw grotesques, monsters, hideous gargoyles 

a tree cast reflections onto the puddles
which shivered and shook

                                 as the woman clip-clopped through
with never a care that she’d sullied the blue

a man cycled past with a swish in the water
creating a trail of bubbles that opened 
for just one moment
like the red sea parting
then closed again before any could follow

except for the eyes of the angel
which wept with joy at the vision


© Catherine Edmunds 2010




Landscape with Hands

by Anthony Watts


Something unknown collided with a world,

Seeding its surface with fragments, which in time

Grew. Five suckers apiece like blind white worms,

They wriggled and thrust until the crumbling dark disgorged


Arizonas of spineless cacti, horizons

of panpipes, mute signals of supplication.

The place was silent, deserted

But there was plenty of litter. They began to feel around

Each in its hundred-and-eighty degrees of freedom.

They latched onto anything: cigarettes, guns, rattles,

Breasts, microphones, money. It was not enough.

They wanted to be doves, uproot themselves,

Fly home. They fluttered, flexed and clenched

But hadn't the strength.


So they sought each other out, swivelling this way, that

In their appointed area

Like bean shoots after the light and when they met

Within a common segment

The small ones grasped the big ones by a finger

as though it were a lifeline;

The big ones wrapped themselves around the small

As though they were the last of the gold dust. Some

Felt each other's textures in a trance of wonder

Then interlocked

And held each other captive. It was no use.


Anchored in the bedrock of their separateness

They could never reconstitute what each could only 

dimly remember. One by one

They wilted, withered

                                                like the wind-stirred leaves

That scratch faint signals on a paving stone


In some grey suburb, under a blighted tree.


© Anthony Watts  2010




That Room

by Craig Aitchison


Soon I will return to that room,
with off-white walls, and the indeterminate stain
in the corner of the ceiling. I will grasp your hand; 
smooth your hair and talk of work and friends,
in a steady voice. Now and again I will laugh.
At half-hour intervals I will stretch up to change
the television channel. There is no remote,
control has been lost.

But now I stand in this field of frost and gorse, 
and rest for a moment. It is hard to climb the hill 
today. My feet keep slipping: the grass 
and the fallen leaves are slick with damp. 
The dog nudges softly, encouraging me on
but I will wait a moment longer, looking across the valley
at the afternoon moon, faint in the blue sky
like a thumb-print on a glass.


© Craig Aitchison 2010