‘…the world of Onions is an enclosed one; specifically, a valleys curry-house at a weekend, in which we witness the clash of several disparate cultures, all of which the writer powerfully evokes with the briefest of sketches. The epiphanic moment at the story’s close is expertly done: the headlights of a passing car beam into the restaurant, and ‘the people were lit up, momentarily, clear as diamonds [and] Mohammed could see for the first time in his life’. A remarkably controlled piece of work.’
Judges: Niall Griffiths & Stevie Davies
not the usual
not stolen, like glances
not abandoned, like puppies
not torched, like memories
not peeling, like marriage
not rusting, like opportunity
not dumped, like dreams
not burnt out, well…
his coat was left on a rock
overlooking the industrial estate
while drinkers and drivers
leave the Rose and Crown
and blissful sheep
his purple face
his bloated tongue
the hosepipe and
the kitchen knife and
the stomach wounds and
the shiny-red, blood
he stares like buzzards
catching hot air
from the engine
as the coppers
let the fumes out
they joke about it
concerned as cows
“What a waste
of leather seats, ha ha”
before they drive home
to tea with the wife
“Good day luv’?”
consider this forest closing her arms around you,
ejaculating dew-dawn soaked orchids, strangled by red and blue macaws
in their paradise plumage and kaolin soaked beaks, and squawks
in midnight glazed rainfall, spurting bat flocks to blue moon, citrus stains
henna-hard rock high above as a river rage passion fruit film plays on (call it water fall)
who longed for the forest to feel;
to reveal a brief clearing,
for jaguars and otters,
and a trillion lustrous insects,
a lost golden king – perhaps?
the forest could annually bloom; fresh monkeys, and lizards, and spiders,
and tapirs, and rats the size of wheelbarrows?
and the trees stay muffled with soft moss
and perfume – never slate bare
of environmental concerns
the forest will gestate with poison arrow frogs and haemorrhagic diseases
and be safe from dieticians and drug dealers and soldiers and miners and
loggers and prospectors and rapists…
and will consider closing her arms around herself,
Castles in the Sand
Jet-black. Writhing. Alive. Coiling heavy. Poison poised hood.
The sight of the cobra drew me in. I had to move closer. Closer to pain. Closer to death. As close as we could possibly be.
The ladder-thin Arab danced around us with a water snake dangling in his hand.
‘Will it hurt us daddy?’
The luminous yellow wristband shone in the February sun – a symbol of captivity. A sign for the others. Belonging. His hair was matted to his head, bubbly blisters burst out on his bald patch. Soaked with sweat, he still craved more of the ebbing rays. And more whisky, local stuff, rough as a sandstorm, cheap as chips. The waiter thought his wife was fat.
There was a stench of sweaty drum skins and people passing by. We were closer now. Drawn in. To the dry scales. Hard and heavy on the sandy floor. Music filled the air – a claustrophobic sound, jingle jangles everywhere. A buzzing white noise.
The piper sat silent, swaying slightly in cream linen, with red buttons on his cotton hat. Time was running out for us. In a few days it would be all over. All gone. Over.
The snow capped peaks, distant and magnificent, framed our final scene.
‘The snake is coming closer daddy?’