The topic of trees provoked a variety of approaches from competitors, some transfixed by the Trunk of the title and others roaming free in the forest of the mind, and even some cats slipping in. D.A. Prince referred ominously to ‘the chain-saw’s whining heard across the land’ while ‘the chippers work full stretch’, Stuart Blair’s entry came up with a tree that was afraid of heights and had to be felled, and John Cooper provided a cycle of instructions for being one.
With thanks to all who took part, commiserations to the near-missers and congratulations to the survivors of the judicial lopping and pruning, below, in no particular order, are the results of Competition 42.
Alanna Blake: Mondrian: Apple Tree in Flower
He keeps you guessing, does Piet Mondrian
As if to say 'Well, any painter can,
Who knows his oils, do you an apple tree
With lifelike shapes and greens and pinks, but me
I like to give you leaves black-edged and strange,
And colours that are not in Nature's range.
I want to make you think, and for a start
To ask: what is reality, what art?'
Out of my window every May I see
How springtime paints a perfect apple tree;
But all year long this print upon my wall
Draws in my eyes to ovals, large and small,
To interlocking curves of blues and greys,
A puzzle or an arborescent maze.
And though my orchard's fruit grows red and real
This picture brings another sort of meal.
Margaret Silvester: The Price One Pays.
Cats love the trunks of trees to trim their claws
The trouble is most cats now live indoors
And have to use settee, bed, chairs – none matches
Those perfect trunks. You can tell this by their scratches.
Brian Allgar: Hidden in the woods
A poem about trees? I’ve paced around
In vain; I’m in a hole, and erring
From book to book, as pen and ink are found
Unfruitful. Aye, what thoughts are faintly stirring?
Where’s Shakespeare when you need him? Will, o when,
If ever, did you write a knotty list
Of trees? Did fancy press you once to pen
Arboreal derivatives I’ve missed?
The Bard’s no use. I need some karma, please.
I’d gladly rob any anthology;
If I retrieve by theft some lines on trees,
I’ll feel my crime needs no apology.
Housman, perhaps; has he some fruit or berry?
Oh, what a fool - I’ve left no room for ‘cherry’!
Liza McAlister Williams: “From the Little Acorn, A Mighty Oak Tree Grows”
Under every shrub and vine, a seedling of a mighty oak.
Although your shape is very fine, you must leave room for simple folk.
A peony or aconite requires a dose of daily light;
if oaks take hold in every nook, the oak tree will have writ the book,
and we’ll be forested for sure. But I submit I have a cure:
I gently tug the bifold leaf, so innocent it looks asleep,
and when that acorn surfaces – I throw it on the compost heap!
D.A. Prince: Arboreal Ambition
If you are the sort of bloke
who yearns to tower above the oak
then go to Iceland, where the trees
only reach to peoples’ knees.
L. A. Mereoie: Ash Grove To Ash Grave
For every tree there is an ill
Like beetles, blights or wilts that kill
And now the ash of many keys
Is also threatened by disease,
Since recently has blown among us
Arboricidal strains of fungus.
Who'll reap reward in pounds and praise
As first to find effective ways
To leave our. F. excelsiors
Impervious to fatal spores
So migrant birds in future fly back
To woods not doomed by deadly die-back?
Peggy Verrall: Trunk Lines
Tall and mostly upright, growing
Restless leaves in breezes blowing
Underneath splintered sunlight showing
Nearby cattle, shaded, lowing,
Kept cool , away from midday’ s glowing
Sun by their guardians , unknowing.
Mae Scanlan: Good Thing I Moved
I think that I shall never see
The very large mimosa tree
That, in a storm, went crashing hard
Straight into what was once my yard.
Two months ago I said farewell
To where I'd lived since Carthage fell,
And so I missed the grand event
When earthward that mimosa went.
I'm glad I didn't see that smash
That whacked my neighbor's mountain ash,
And broke my wrought-iron railing. Well,
I've seen the pix, and what they tell.
No one was hurt, no house was harmed,
But many persons were alarmed;
And from my new digs, I declare
I'm very glad I wasn't there.