Poem

ABR is pleased to present the shortlist for the 2021 Peter Porter Poetry Prize, which this year received a record field of 1,329 entries from thirty-three different countries. Congratulations to those who reached the shortlist: Danielle Blau, Sara M. Saleh, Jazz Money, Raisa Tolchinsky, and Y.S. Lee.

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Conveniently located next to Perrache
railway station, the Hôtel Terminus,
Lyon, is distinguished by its extensive ...

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I see you then: long and veined with red like the closed
pod of an asphodel bud: if you opened now it would be
with the strangeness of a lily its scent edging between sweat,
and the musk that marks a territory: I have not forgotten you ...

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You’ll be lost in the headlong city, turning your oar, older
Her house needs to stay open for another October ...

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The blue painted wall and the blue painted pipe
with its throat jagged out
is the first thing I photograph ...

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While women scanned the horizon, fishers
and hunters tended their nets, someone
etched the Lapwing crown-plumes in clay ...

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I went where she reigned
far underground, deeper
than roots, in rooms hollowed
by hand and bone, where curved walls
contained my breath like lungs.

              Passageways opened onto chambers
              honeycombed in stone
      ...

While women scanned the horizon, fishers
and hunters tended their nets, someone
etched the Lapwing crown-plumes in clay.

Abandoning hunger and
its frozen ground, they soar
South with the Grigale wind

Middle Sea harbingers of the
Lampuki-fish moon, its halo
a herald of autumn rains.

Outlines, incisions quicken those
plo ...

We met at the Neolithic display. I was staring
at the loom-weights, suspended in a glass case.
Handcarved stones, smaller than seashells

a tell-tale hole bored through their middle. That’s when
I noticed you, uncanny yet not out of place
holding a loom-weight. You seemed at home with fibre

your fingers felt its tensions, slack or taut,
sensitive to tex ...

Alabaster: such a beautiful word for silence.
Neolithic Venus, was translucence eloquent
enough when stone was our mother tongue?

Yellow-throated crocus were strewn
at your feet, they fed you honey
and broad beans. Worship swelled

your breasts and fertile belly, men lived
without weapons, women were weavers
and potters crowned in cowrie shells

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