1st Place: Mike Lansdown 'The Dealer'
2nd Place: Louise Welland 'The Voyage'
3rd Place: Jo Hopkinson 'The Choice'
Far far away
In time and space
There was a land
For the human race
They called it earth
I don’t know why
All you could see
Was sea and sky
There used to be flowers
And animals too
But the people there
Caught some kind of flu
Some deadly virus
It was on the ground
And in the air
That virus killed
Billions of lives
And now it’s the planet
Where no one survives
I visited once
But never again
I didn’t like
The cold and rain
High among the diamond stars
A great ship is moving across the heavens
To my untutored eye its shape and purpose do not easily relate
And yet it is – a laboratory
a life-support system
It gives shelter to men who are – scientists, explorers
As they float along its corridors in their weightless dance
They measure and monitor
They record and relay
They prepare and predict
What they discover may benefit generations to come
What they are doing inspires us today
As I watch them from this small planet questions come
Do they still wonder at the beauty of the earth
As they gaze upon it by day and by night?
Do they miss its colour and light in their dark and silent surroundings?
Do they wonder if they will breathe sweet earthly air again?
And which is the greater – their knowledge or their courage?
For both are key to their success
Their very survival depends on their work as a team
A lesson for us, if we would only learn.
Ah, this one! said the dealer
Is a favourite of mine
A pearl of extreme rarity
Its beauty, quite sublime.
As he held it in two fingers
And raised it to the light
I allowed my gaze to linger
Transfix’ed by the sight.
Come, don these magic spectacles
Made specially for you
They’ll bring this tiny planet
More clearly into view.
And so, I came to understand
My ignorance turned wise
The seas, the fields, the deserts
Spread out before my eyes.
The sum of life’s ingredients
A weave of earth and soul
A tapestry, a work of art
More valuable than gold.
How much? I asked the dealer
I’ll take it, name your price
Or maybe we can play for it
With cards or coins or dice.
Alas, this beauty
I’m keeping for myself.
Then he closed the lid,
Turned the key
And returned it to the shelf.
It is all relative, because, we know that we’re related,
And I was born so long ago, but still I am not dated.
Close on five billion years it was, the day that I was made,
But all the grey that is on me, are just small clouds. They’ll fade!
Five billion years ago, that’s true; you know I’m just a nipper,
Old Universe, he’s much more stale, so go and shut your zipper!
Now, I have got more years than Eve, few thousand, that’s the truth,
And, yeah, a bit of grey, I know, but I’m still in my youth.
Oh sorry, big mistake, I made, when saying I’m not dated,
My passion for the other globes, it never has been sated.
Venus, I’m dating her you see, I love that orange planet,
I know that Mars he likes her too, which makes me swear, so Dammit!
That Pluto tried to muscle in and claimed he was exotic,
I said, ‘You just clear out of here, or else you know you’ll cop it!’
The problem is, my friends, you see, that planet is a dwarf,
But I am posh, and not like him, so go and please ‘Shove orf!’
Saturn, now she is quite a babe, but rings she has already,
I’m pretty sure she’s taken for, with Jupiter, she’s steady.
Then Uranus, I think you know, he’s not her sort of guy,
A name like that, I know it’s rude, he doesn’t catch her eye.
Mercury, the messenger, you know, he’s by The Sun,
He keeps well in, the little creep, he’s Daddy’s favoured one!
‘Yes sir, No Sir. You are so bright, my very favourite star,
You’re so intelligent, My Lord, they see you from afar’.
No. I’m the planet Beauty Boy, but you can call me Earth.
I’m handsome, modest, that is true, but one day I gave birth,
To humans, huge, great hairy things, that wandered round with clubs,
They frightened me, and that’s a fact, and then they opened pubs.
But now they’ve all been closed, you know, because they’ve got the virus,
Those ape-like creatures have calmed down, so now they can admire us.
Look at the beauty that is I, a really handsome fella,
So stop pollutin’ me, my friends, yeah, I know I am not stella.
But really cool, at both my poles, of that there is no doubt,
And come and tickle me, my friend, and lava I will spout.
So, now you know I am the one, the guy who’s really spinnin’
Get Venus on the dance floor man, her heart, I will be winnin.’
There’s one thing though, I do not like, those humans are so hairy,
(Because, of course, the barber’s closed), they really are quite scary,
But still they wander round and say, yes she’s the Earth, our Mother,
Look guys, let’s get it straight this time, I am a Dude, a Brother!
Just let me spin, and take good care, and please stop those infections,
‘Cos I’ve got Venus by my side, and want to make connections.
And do you think she’ll fancy me, all clouded up with smog?
Of course not, cos our love’s just born; this is our love prologue.
Before the day when we shall wed, and spin around together,
When happiness we both shall find, whatever is the weather,
‘Cos this, my friend, a message is, to keep us free from danger,
‘Stay home, don’t move, and just be good, and do not hug a stranger’.
‘Cos I will marry my true babe, just her, with you and I,
And I know that you’ll see us both, so happy in the sky.
Transparent sky of a warm summer’s evening,
Gaze and admire the colours of the stars.
The Milky Way stretching from east to west,
Parting like a pitchfork toward its setting horizon.
Constellations dance merrily among the cosmos,
With their dazzling beacons such as Deneb, Vega and Altair.
They create their summer triangle of wonder,
An invite the Planets to join heaven’s harmony.
The Swan holds the hand of the Eagle,
Chasing the Charioteer in the direction of the Herdsman,
Emerald Uranus and Ocean spray Neptune,
Move almost as one, hugging the southern ecliptic.
Early summer’s crescent Moon holds Venus to account
As our Sun remains a twilight glow,
Fiery red to the canvas,
I spot a noctilucent cloud strangely ghosting ice white.
The Virgin’s offer descends west,
As the Great Bear’s family dominate overhead,
I send a kiss into the night sky,
And realise that Van Gogh was right.
We have no need of planetary exploration
With one blink of our inner eye another world is near
One more blink brings a whole universe into play
We can soar into the cosmos of our own imagination
Halting at will the hamster wheel of daily life
No call for cryogenics or warp speed star ships
The only space we need is found between our ears
To transport ourselves to other times, to other places
To fantasise our future and delve into our past
To conjure images of love and hate, of joy and fear
To invent new ways of thinking and doing
To celebrate our uniqueness in the kingdom of animals
The naysayers see a bleak future for our world
But they disown what is abundantly plain
The legendary resilience of evolving humankind
The grit to try and try again until we win through
The brainpower of the multitude of scientists now alive
Will surely fashion a fine tomorrow for us on Earth
The foul fossil fuel polluters will be no more
‘Sunlit uplands’ will emerge as the miasma blows away
(An attempt at a parody of Stevie Wonder's 'Saturn')
Packed my satchel, going home today,
To a place where the air is grey,
We just like our lovely green ice cream,
Beyond Saturn, trip of nine years,
Cape blast off and, oh those tears
We can sleep for years and have super dreams.
Go about our day, helping all,
There are no wars to be told,
It's the truth that will always unfold.
I'm, going back to Uranus,
Where the rings don't glow,
All far below,
My people are so good and so live.
We live forever,
Just us, as one,
this is our time
With dim-lit Sun,
Our Moons are our holiday high.
I held a spider in my hand
I pondered make a fist
Instead the window open wide
I freed it, flicked my wrist
I held five pounds in my hand
Browsed chocolates on the shelf
Instead the charity box on counter
Put in folded, shared my wealth
I hold your photo in my hand
For days I will sit and cry
As now I cannot make a choice
And time will pass me by
We hold this planet in our hands
And choices come at cost
And sometimes there just is no choice
For freedom long gone, lost
I hold a spider in my hand
And ponder make a fist
As now that window is firmly closed
But I will spare you, let’s exist
Let me take you on a voyage
through the planes of time
We’ll float by stars and planets
As we leave the past behind
Close your eyes and take a breath
Exhale, hear what I say
My voice will guide and lead you
As you gently drift away
Your muscles soften and relax
Breathe deeper than before
You see those shadows, sparks of light
That slightly open door?
Let's journey through that doorway
That window into space
There is no rush, take time, relax
Go slowly, there’s no race
Focus on that point of light
You see it getting nearer?
Begin the count from 90 down
The image becomes clearer
As we journey faster than
the speed of light or sound
Your body wakes to new sensations
Heart begins to pound
To feel yourself more grounded
Stroke your hair or touch your face
The let go to experience
another time, another place
My name is Captain James T Kirk
Of one thing I am sure
I’m boldly taking you to where
No man has been before
I quite like the idea of living on Mars if that’s quite alright with you
Maybe win the lottery to afford an interstellar flight for two
Imagine the view from Mars – oh what a sight!
Glimpsing our blue planet Earth but knowing its deadly plight
Climate change is no longer a gloomy subtle hue
The fish eat plastic food – it’s been proven to be true!
For Mars, your gene pool will be fully checked
Embryos taken to modify or dissect
Euthanised when you are no longer of use
With bodily remains for robotic abuse
Are we God’s own laboratory project?
Surely the Devil created the ‘must have’ internet
The powers on Earth know the final score
They’ll be rich entrepreneurs and scientists galore
Making Mars ready for the chosen few to flee
How many generations to hug a forced Martian tree?
Alas, no hope of any room for the untrained poor
Not even a dog or cat curled up on the floor
Would you go to an Eden Centre on Mars?
Hexagon pods filled with oxygenating plants
But one false error and radiation will slay
Underground frozen water I hear you say
Well maybe that could be ultimately true
Honestly, the journey alone may kill all of you!
What is my universal existence I hear you ask?
Will they see the very good and not only the bad in our past?
Celestial beings despairing over our immoral atrocities
I hope they can rejoice in our somewhat heralded justice
Will some winged messenger warrant us a reprieve in our final terror?
Like Noah’s Ark but travelling above the brutish weather
Telepathy in alien life cannot be abruptly dismissed
Now that’s a whole green box of mad frogs not to be kissed
Transmissions into our subconscious thoughts at night
Some to be caught, like a dreamcatcher, or as a tree with a kite
Is Mars our dawn of a new future or was it our last sunset past?
Are there alien experiments on other planets like perhaps ours and Mars
As my half-conscious ethereal dream slowly dispels
This Planetarium presenter says his final starry farewell
The galactical projection has ceased – joining the invisible outer ether
My body is longing for its well-earned retirement breather
To the babies born this day on our tortured planet Earth
You may be able to say - in your lifetime you witnessed a Mars rebirth
As Richard Of York
Gave Battle In Vain,
My Very Easy Method
Just Speeds Up Naming Planets.
Astronomers now don’t count them all
But every one still matter to me,
Not Kuiper Belt Objects or Plutinos
Vibrant planets loud and bold.
Mercury rising from the East
Wrinkled babe of our solar-system,
Closest yet not hottest
Named for love and beauty
Hottest through greenhouse effect,
Controversially rotates the wrong way
Evening star, tormented by hurricane winds
Third rock from the sun
Once a cow jumped over our moon,
Seven point five billion people
Screaming blue murder.
Men are from Mars
Red planet – god of war,
Olympus Mons thrice Everest
A million to one – yet they still come.
Jupiter the fattest Gas Giant
Is greedy with seventy-five moons,
It’s red spot superstorm
Rages twice the size of the earth.
Cassini probe crashes
After weaving through icy rings,
Its nine, not five-year mission
Returning data from where I would live.
Butt of schoolboy jokes
Titania’s shivery Ice Giant,
Spinning sideways to chill blast
Rip Van Winkle length days and nights.
Supersonic windy Neptune
Predicted - not discernible to the eye,
Elliptical orbit carries it closer
Than Earth, sometimes gets to the Sun.
Red snow falls on mountains
As cold as crossing the Styx,
Whose boatman Charon dances a dainty tango
with Pluto perfectly matched
Let’s go for a walk on the moon,
Said Mum on the 1st day of June.
She packed up some lunch,
Some Twiglets to munch,
Dad whistled a happy tune.
We all clambered into the van
Dad came up with a cunning plan,
He got out the map
Put on his red cap,
Shouting to the dog, ‘Come on Stan!’
The van jolts and we are flying,
My sister Ella starts loudly sighing.
‘Be quiet,’ I say,
‘We’re on our way!’
Then Joe, the baby, starts crying!
Earth is below, the van’s soaring,
The engine is loud and roaring.
‘Here we go!’ shouts mum
‘Who wants chewing gum?’
Stan, the dog, is loudly snoring.
Now we come to a grinding halt
On the moon’s surface, made of salt.
I am excited
Dad is delighted,
We made it here without a fault!
Donning wellies we start to play,
Tied to van, lest we drift away.
I don’t want to gloat,
But it’s great to float!
This is just the perfect day.
Buckets and spades, castles and forts,
A wide selection of ball sports.
Crisps and fizz pop,
Eat until we drop.
Salt is creeping into my shorts!
The time comes to head homeward bound.
Leaving big craters we have found.
We can come back soon,
To lunch on the moon.
Time now to hurtle back to ground.
We get home in time for dinner,
Sausages are always a winner.
But Dad starts hissing
That someone’s missing
Stan cannot be found in Pinner.
Dad’s travelling back to the moon,
We won’t forget the 1st of June!
An untimely race,
Left the dog in space.
He’ll be safe at home again soon!
A worm slithers slowly across the muddy ground
The Black bird dives and takes its meal without a sound
The Ducks feed and drink from the murky river
Willing to take whatever nature can deliver
A squirrel forages for food on the forest floor below the tree
It's pleading eyes look directly up at me
In shame the Daffodils slouch, their heads bowed down
It would seem they were losing their golden crown
The haughty Bluebells stand tall and proud
Their bells ringing as they enjoy the droplets from the angry crowd
The wild Rose Bush flaunting shamelessly as far as the eye can
The Blooming Dyer offers Nectar to the hungry Bee
The yellow Whin stands on guard, surrounding the park
Fungi grows on the trees imperial bark
Speckles of white and yellow show through the green
The little Daisy definitely wants to be seen
The Cherry Blossom towers above them all in her bright pink gown
However it is the Lebonease Cedar that wears the golden crown
The gushing white rapids creates artistic patterns on the river below
The tears of the angry clouds cause the river to grow
As I watch this amazing scene by the rapid white waterfall
In these uncertain times it's almost like I wasn't here at all
So little blue flower, I say “forget me not” for I was here”
Forget me not for my memory of you is very clear
Please download one of the judging sheets that is compatible with your computer; score the above entries; and Email to Helen and Ian by NOON on Thursday 4 June. Results will be released on Friday 5 June. Many thanks.