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Valentine's Day Competition

Rebecca Saire (Juliet) and Patrick Ryecart as Romeo
Win Roses for your Beloved

To celebrate Valentine’s Day, Ian McMillan asked you to write a poem dedicated to the one you love.

He picked the best ones and read them out on air in the company of Sean Rafferty on 14 February.

The winning entry and the nine runners-up appear below.


The Winner: Two Mugs, by Allison McVety

Corned beef chunks and tinned spaghetti heated
over a primus stove on the concrete floor
of our new home. The cistern's blocked, there's no power
and someone's filched the door handles. We have a mattress,
a toothbrush, the two mugs we fetched south with us
in a banged-up wreck. Tomorrow the removals van
will bring the rest, but tonight, you say it'll never be better
than this, your breath, a white noise fuzzing the sharp air.



Runner Up: Rob Clack

The slipper comfort
Of pensioner passion
Still needs the teetering lunacy
Of bright pink heels.
And magically, you're both,
Valentine!



Runner Up: First Day in the Rehab Centre
(Valentine for E.)
by John MacInerney


As we walk round the rehab centre to work out
The lie of the land you've come to sojouurn in, you pause
(To give your Zimmer frame a rest), and through the wide
Window that runs the corridor's length survey the oddly
Sloping quadrangle brick and glass enclose. Out there,
Two birches, leafless under cold grey skies, lean sideways,
For all the world as if one wooed the other to
Turn and join boughs in a perpetual rooted dance.



Runner Up: Tail Lights by Claire Best

Driving behind you in fog, not quite day, I'd have imagined you up ahead
if I didn't know you were there. My right foot pulls me forward -
the lights come brighter, haloed, red - so I fall back
leaving distance, cat's eyes, broken lines between us,
focus on whiteness, rime-frosted kerb and grass, no sight now
of your lights in freezing air - and I tell myself to tell you later
I've not known grey so beautiful, half-light so open, raw, winter so radical
and tender, I've not followed lights through fog like this before.



Runner Up: Larder for Mr E. by Gill Learner

In case this cornucopia runs out, I'll set something by:
fire a drum of applewood to smoke split kisses;
seal your voice in shiny tins; string private jokes
and dry them; press a bunch of your best anecdotes.

I'll hoard memories of Cornwall layered in salt;
whispers distilled in tiny bottles; vacuum packs
of secret looks; nights simmered in honeydew, poured
into jars and stored where the sun shines through.



Runner Up: My Wedding Ring by Jo Bartholomew

This golden shackle, this bright band
Symbol of endless love and allegiance
Dimmed by time, worn down by daily chores
Bright romance dulled by darkling nights listening to grunting snores.

Yet slide it back over roughened knuckle
Turn to reveal the hidden inner gleam of gold
Burnished bright, skin to skin, soul to soul
Shining with kind thoughts, sweet words and caresses.



Runner Up: To Pat by John Holland

I remember the rain
and the smell of the rain
on your skin and your hair
as we kissed in the fur
of the cinema's dark
and forty years later
as we kiss once again
I remember the rain.




Runner Up: That Day by Kathleen Kummer

A kind of delousing: hours later,
I'm still finding rice and confetti in your hair,
but no trace of the cobalt-blue, vermillion
and burnt umber which dappled your face
and your dark, hired suit, as the sun streamed on us
through the stained glass windows. And that cascade of notes -
'Handel', you whispered, I was proud of you
for knowing and didn't let on I knew.



Runner Up: Valentine Flowers by Marion Glasscoe

Because they increase year on year
I planted snowdrops for you where
they clump in thickets of green
February spears. Now you have gone,
but your returning flowers are here -
a complete white-out, sweeping clean
through winter's mulch of dead leaves. The air
is sharp; their beauty the more clear.



Runner Up: On Waking First by Sandy Newlands

Don't wake just yet, my darling, you look so
radiant in the morning's gentle glow.
Me and my big mouth and the bottle said
far too much as usual before bed,
So yet another day was laid to waste.
Last night's mistakes cannot now be erased,
teach me just to cherish you once more.
Don't wake just yet, love, let me just adore.



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