Headington Poetry
Competition 2005:
Other entries by adults


The Story Tree

Look what has happened to the Lightning Tree
That grew in our park swaying gracefully.
Now beautifully chiselled by sculptor Matt Cave;
He brought the trunk back from a timber yard grave.

This inspiring sculpture of lion, dragon and horse
Reminds us of Tolkien and Lewis of course.
By bringing to life their stories in part
He shows Smaug and Aslan through his sculptor’s art.

Visit Bury Knowle and survey the sight
Of Aslan and Smaug perched on the horse so upright,
Our tree was not wasted so view it some time.
Despite the storm that once split it, it’s now looking fine.

Headington Heritage

Much has been written about Headington,
Since Domesday times we can read and learn,
Of how this place developed and grew –
Some tales are false and some are true.

We read of lords and noble deeds –
Of generous souls who met people’s needs.
The saga goes on – who knows what’s in store? –
Progress or not, we want to know more.

Our deeds will go down in history –
The good and the bad for all to see.
Now I want to say (I hope you’ll agree),
When it comes to recording history,
The greatest achievement that we can name,
Making everything else look pallid and tame,
Must be this creation of awe and of might –
I give you the headington web site!!

With just a flip of the finger and key
There you will find all you’re wanting to see.
The world is your oyster, delights are in store.
Once you’ve been bitten you’ll come back for more.
The info is awesome, compiled with such care.
Web master fantastic, a creature so rare.
So raise now your glasses and give her a toast –
“To Stephanie Jenkins – we think you’re the most!”

Autumn in the park

Autumn this year has been wonderful, a multi-coloured carpet
of leaves decorating lanes, pathways and fields.
Glorious trees with majestic branches bending in the breeze.
Wagtails scratching in the ground, squirrels scamper all around
Hiding nuts for their winter store.

Summer flowers to a compost grave have gone.
Their empty spaces now filled with primulas and daises
soon will show Spring’s cheerful floral faces.

No mushrooms this Autumn graced our park:
The Summer sun destroyed their damp and shaded home.

Firs have grown countless cones up on high
Just like candles in the sky.

Again we see the constant change in Headington’s beloved face,
But only the seasons change Bury Knowle … … … …
Our peaceful place.

Food for thought

An understanding is needed for the lives we are leading,
That “we” being everyone who eats, sleeps or breathes
Living in an environment “that nothing will happen, no, not here”;
But now we have a real fear of a war that will affect us all,
A war to care about with a passion greater than our daily bread.

Oh! How will we feel for the starving of the world
When wars are filling all with dread
And our thoughts, living in this beautiful country
Being polluted by countless dirty hands.

Respect for a land, heaven sent, which we are only here to rent
Any war that could destroy should make us pause and think about
Our whingeing and discontent.
If everyone started thinking us, not “I” or “me”,
What a wonderful world this would be.

Old Soldiers …

(Outside St Michael-at-the-North-Gate where the remaining members of the Oxfordshire branch of the Italy Star Association gathered for the last time to remember those who died in World War II)

Moving achingly, several of them out of step,
And bearing fading standards which hung limp
In the damp mid-winter afternoon,
The sparse platoon marched in slow motion through
A wave of Sunday shoppers in full flow.

A ragged burst of clapping rose and died,
Young people paused, grinned and hurried on
While strangers passed by on the other side.

“Left – left – left” a dull voice droned,
Surely a sergeant major, habit-bound,
Helping his wan comrades to mark time
As they filed into the church, flags lowered,
Prisoners of their memories and war.

Dreams by the Old River

Peaceful, idyllic days by the flowing stream
Where one can sit in solitude and think, and dream
‘Mid ducks, geese, wren, coot and kingfisher blue,
Moorhens, swans and blackbirds and of course the sparrow too.
All living together blissfully in harmonious seclusion,
Bothered not a bit by any occasional intrusion.

By the rushing, rattling train or lunchtime dweller in his car,
Feeling always secure, safe and settled, happy where they are,
Basking in the sunshine, relishing the welcome rain,
Caring nothing for the motorist, oblivious of the noisy train;
Openly cavorting, courting, not bothering to hide,
Prancing and playing in the bare bushes by the babbling waterside.

Both the wren and river robin,
Bowing, curtseying and bobbin’
As though preparing for a dance,
A sprightly two-step maybe by chance?
And their sweet music too enthrals
Resounding through the brambled halls;
Such pleasures as these never stop
At this bankside ‘birdie hop’.

Grey-green water swiftly gliding, gurgling on its time-worn way
Rippling and tripping over the rubbish cluttering its bed
Thoughtlessly tossed by ‘travellers,’ desecration bent everywhere they stay,
Caring for nothing and no one, self-first and self-last instead.

Lilac-topped teasels, thistles, nettles and brambles abound,
The much-maligned cow parsley flourishes where no cattle can be found,
But for how many more years will this paradise survive,
For how much longer will this delightful desolation be left alive?
Many books have been written on this, and clever folks have said
Much of this natural beauty, how long before it is all dead!

The Old original Thames stream by the railway line
and allotments by Port Meadow

An Ode-ious Canvasser


He dusted off the clip-board,
Pinned on his rosette,
And rehearsed his patter word-for-word.
(Until the mirror crack’d.)


He strode up to the first door,
Ready to demand
To know: “Who are you voting for?”
(Answer came there none.)


At the fifteenth house he finally found
Someone who was in:
“You’ll vote for me, I’ll be bound!”
(Alas, his luck was out.)


An hour gone, he paused for breath,
And counted both his pledges:
“That’s not so bad, I must keep the faith.”
(Though God had given him up.)


The rain set in, and darkness fell:
An obvious metaphor.
“My luck is turning, I can tell”
(It wasn’t, and he couldn’t.)


At last, the night was over:
Time to reflect, perchance?
“It’ll be a landslide, no doubts whatsoever.”
(He told his broken mirror.)


On election day, he toured the town
Shouting his instructions.
“Vote for me, you ignorami, not that other clown.”
(Their faces said it all.)


The result, of course, was on the cards,
And, to nobody’s surprise:
“The people have spoken. The bastards!”
(It’s all over ’til next year.)

Cycling up Headington Hill

I’ve never had such a sweaty back as the day I cycled up
Headington Hill.
It seemed silly not to,
what with my shiny new bike and all.

The receptionist kindly suggested I wore my jumper around my
aching shoulders.
It covered the wet patch.
I cursed the machine and perspired.

Next time I caught the bus and belched past the cyclists on their green path,
Pink cheeks glistening;
I felt a bit jealous
of their wonderful pedalling progress.

Tomorrow I’ll resurrect the bike and join the steady pilgrimage up
Headington Hill.
Watch out for me on my
Shiny new steed. Damp, yes, but triumphant.

Music at the Black Boy (Headington Festival 2005)

A salmagundi of sounds
seep from the speakers.
Some people have come to drown
in the deep waters
of rock and roll rivers.
Others to float on the flotsam
of folk music.
There is a big difference
between the two;
A rock singer believes what he sings.
A folk singer sings what he believes.
The audience are entranced
in the ecstasy
of this magic moving music,
pulsating with reverberating rhythm.
A guitar calls them forward
and then throws them back,
only to call them forward once more
to be blasted
with brisk breaks of blatant bedlam.
A saxophone sighs,
a bass booms,
a drum rolls.
Whiplash lyrics
whirl into the ears
of the impressionable listener,
imprinting words upon his brain.
I sit there and wonder,
does he hear what he believes?
Or does he believe what he hears?

Headington: My new-found home

This year I came to Headington
To settle down once and for all …
I traversed the great horizon
Many miles did my feet roam.

To settle here in Oxfordshire;
In this little town called Headington
Is but a dream I’d never thought would transpire

Intrepidly flying beyond the Pond
My husband and I took flight
Embracing our future which lay beyond.

Heavy laden, my weary heart
Grew dim with sorrow at what I left behind
Bewildered by uncertainty, of what the future would impart.

Yet as the curtains of my soul did part
My eyes smiled at what my heart did find …
My soul was overtaken by such architectural works of art!

Gasping for breath my heart beheld that awesome town of golden spires
But my soul found its home in Headington
In the county of Oxfordshire

Oh, Headington, Headington! Thank you for your invitation!
My husband spent his youth at this park called Bury Knowle
Playing in your streets, Oh, Headington!

Headington, Oh, Headington
My destiny is concealed within your walls
How little did I know that you would become my haven!

The joys of Christmas

The joy of Christmas is in your heart
Each and every calendar day.
It is the loving art
Of finding nice things to say
To a weary soul a travelling

The joy of Christmas is in the laughter
Of children playing in the glistening snow
Of past times of mirth and leisure
That makes your eyes a-glow
It is the twinkle in a wee-one’s eyes and the joys of giving

Christmas is a time when family and friends together
Mingle in the cosiness of the hearth
Delighting in each other.
Christmas is a time to ponder once again upon the Blessed Birth
When Love came down from Heaven to cease all suffering;

Thus once again it’s Christmas,
A time to gather round
With families near and far to us
No matter where they’re bound
At Christmas we are all united, so let the joy begin!

My ephemeral moment in time

Sitting in peace with much tranquillity; pondering.

Caressed by a canopy of copious varicolour and garrulous leaves murmuring badinage to each other, and all who would listen.

Whispering malfeasant tongues plucked, a crashing descent cushioned by unseen hands, slowly, gracefully they arc and flutter to the ground where now laid to rest, so serene in quietness; an early kismet.

Hauteur birds flit among a haven of safety; squirrels regale, darting up and down the glittering tree bark; insects silently moving among fallen tongues; a spider merrily spins a shimmering web.

Rampant branches entwine, embrace, hold hands, creating images imagined; fleeting surreal shapes emerging within the sun’s, refulgent dancing shafts of twilight; Holy & unholy; seraphs and angels, gargoyles and beasts!

Multitudes of antiquated root jut and snake proud of carpeted ground, as though somehow in waiting; awaiting unwary travellers, so to waylay them, entangle them, devour them, whilst diving and skulking within the abyss below.

An unseen dog pees agin my stump; by his owner now chased, castigated loudly with expletives wide and varied; echoing and dulling now in the far distance.

Senses assaulted by violent impingement and sudden realisation of mainstream reality; so, lay broken, snapped, like the fallen branch ahead, my ephemeral moment in time.

Tits in the yew

The tits have started nesting in our yew
(I recognize them by their dipping flight),
And I suppose that’s where they spend the night.

(When first we planted it, we little knew
How dense the branches of a yew-tree grew.)

Blue-tits (if my identity is right)
Emerging, just as soon as it gets light,
From branches glistening with morning dew.

I saw a pair — I think there were but two.
They seemed to make a very pretty sight:
Just blurs, like iridescent opalite —
A tom-tit, and the bird he was to woo
And mate with (as such birds are wont to do)
Displaying in pure passerine delight.

I caught a fleeting glimpse of blue and white…

This year the tits are nesting in the yew.

Composed upon Headington ridge

(with apologies to William Wordsworth)

This sonnet was inspired by the fact that nearly every Headington pub and restaurant has applied for extended opening hours under the Licensing Act 2003 that comes into force on 24 November 2005

Earth has not anything to show less fair:
Dull would he be of soul who could stay by
A sight so noisome to the genteel eye:
This suburb now doth like a garment wear
The litter of the morning: thanks to Blair,
Cans, boxes, cups, chips, and curries lie
Open unto the rats, and to the sky
Mingling their odours with the fume-filled air.
Never did sun more sorrowfully steep
In his first splendour vomit, glass, or swill;
Ne’er saw I, never felt, a gloom so deep!
The traffic raceth at its own sweet will:
Dear God! The public houses never sleep;
And nothing seems to think of lying still.

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