Far Away Polite

by Rosie McCrossin, Sandgate State High School, Sandgate

God, Mary, Jesus you beautiful.  Tall pretty smart.

You sit in front of me and you smile at Sir and I smile too because your smile so nice.
I see you at the bus stop rain and hair flat across face and you talking to friends and you laugh and you smile.
You polite smile, far away polite.
And I think of you at night, naked bare tall pretty funny smart here with me.
But it’s just pillow, just bunched up sheets pretend your body.
And I think you so much what I was missing.  What I am missing.
And conjugating in classroom smells like sweat and you through messy window laughing talking running to be to have to want.
And I laugh with everyone else at your joke whisper to myself far later in bed looking raining outside family portraits on table crying too.
And I want you to know what I think.  Because what I say not what I think what I think can never say to you.
Words not in dictionary.
And when you run legs you play sport netball?
I ask thousand questions with mouth closed.
I want to run to you I want to see you smile at me not Caitlin not Mr Helton not David Sallinger in study class.
I want to read you.
Lines in cheeks where tears river crying winter flat belly white and fingers thin long hot sweet like end of summer.
You remind me of world.
I not from here and you know because laughing at my name so hard to say strange awkward twisting on Australia tongue.
And I go home, pretend you can say it pretend you can call me tell me you were dreaming last night waking up sweat on back of neck gripping bed but it’s just pillow, just bunched up sheets.
God, Mary, Jesus you beautiful.
 

Judge's report

Pam Schindler


It was an honour to serve as judge for Section A Poetry this year.  The standard was high, and many of the poems deserved to be commended.  There were about 25% more entries than last year, so 2014 was a very good year for poetry.  Congratulations to all the poets who entered their work.

In this year of the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I, there were a number of poems on the experiences of young men in war, and honouring those who died for their country.  Some of these were the longest poems submitted, sustained feats of imagining.

There were several poems on the theme of finding your way from darkness to light and freedom.  Another cluster of poems dealt with identity, the inside self and the self the world sees, some imprisoned by loneliness, others casting aside the world’s expectations with spirit and humour.

There was a great variety of forms used, long lines and short, some with regular stanzas and some free-form.  There were rhymed quatrains and couplets, some very well done, and some with a rap-like beat and use of internal rhyme.  And many without rhyme, which leaves the writer the most freedom, but then needs the poem to find its own form and rhythm.  I think of Margaret Atwood’s early poems, whose sentences, it seems to me, quite fearlessly shape her stanzas.  My own view is that if rhyme starts to pull your lines out of shape, it’s much better to work without it.

As well as the effective use of language, and the music of words, I think what I look for is the surprising thing, which may have surprised the person writing it too, when something new breaks through.  The mystery that lives in the craft.  A great many of the poems have this touch of magic, which tells me there are true poets among us.
 

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