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TITLE
'A Memory of Old Men Grieving' 2nd prize, Neil Gunn Writing Competition 2009
EXTERNAL ID
NG_2009_ADULT_POETRY_02
DATE OF RECORDING
2009
PERIOD
2000s
CREATOR
Jim Bradbury
SOURCE
Highland Libraries
ASSET ID
41290
KEYWORDS
poem
poems
literature
competition
competitions
writing competition
writing competitions
story
stories
audio

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'A Memory of Old Men Grieving' won second prize in the adult poetry section of the Neil Gunn Writing Competition, 2009. It was written by Jim Bradbury, from Eastbourne, East Sussex.

To celebrate Homecoming Scotland 2009 the theme was 'Living with one another' part of a longer quote taken from Neil Gunn's novel 'The Serpent'.

Judges for the adult poetry section were Jon Miller, poet and principal teacher of English at Ullapool High School and James Robertson who writes both poetry and prose.

The Neil Gunn Writing Competition is organised by library staff from The Highland Council Education, Culture & Sport Service with support from the Neil Gunn Trust. It was first established in 1988.

A memory of old men grieving

They gathered under slabs of slate grey sky
to bury their friend in the pitted ground.

I stood knuckle high amongst them,
their scarred hands hanging motionless
like stilled pendulums.

Later at our house, awkward in their Sunday suits,
they politely harvested the meagre spread,
the dainty plates dwarfed in those same big hands.

Then crated ale replaced the tea
and a whiskey bottle appeared,
pulled like a rabbit from a hat,
and I was ushered up with ruffled hair.

With prayerful hands between cold thighs
I lay listening to their lilting voices
drifting up the narrow stair,
the shared memories, tall tales and songs
loosening the grief.

In the early hours a knocking broom
and a woman's shouted warning
filtered through my hungry dreams.
Chairs dragged on the bare boards below,
voices lowered, then slowly drifted away.
The alley gate banged, a dog barked,
and I fell back into the last thin scrape of night.

In the morning watching my grandfather shave,
his great escarpment of a head dipped towards the sink,
he looked to me like God breathing life upon the waters,
and for a boyish moment I thought the thick leather braces
hanging loose by his sides might be big enough to swing on.

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'A Memory of Old Men Grieving' 2nd prize, Neil Gunn Writing Competition 2009

2000s

poem; poems; literature; competition; competitions; writing competition; writing competitions; story; stories; audio

Highland Libraries

Neil Gunn Writing Competition (audios)

'A Memory of Old Men Grieving' won second prize in the adult poetry section of the Neil Gunn Writing Competition, 2009. It was written by Jim Bradbury, from Eastbourne, East Sussex.<br /> <br /> To celebrate Homecoming Scotland 2009 the theme was 'Living with one another' part of a longer quote taken from Neil Gunn's novel 'The Serpent'. <br /> <br /> Judges for the adult poetry section were Jon Miller, poet and principal teacher of English at Ullapool High School and James Robertson who writes both poetry and prose.<br /> <br /> The Neil Gunn Writing Competition is organised by library staff from The Highland Council Education, Culture & Sport Service with support from the Neil Gunn Trust. It was first established in 1988.<br /> <br /> A memory of old men grieving<br /> <br /> They gathered under slabs of slate grey sky<br /> to bury their friend in the pitted ground. <br /> <br /> I stood knuckle high amongst them,<br /> their scarred hands hanging motionless<br /> like stilled pendulums. <br /> <br /> Later at our house, awkward in their Sunday suits,<br /> they politely harvested the meagre spread,<br /> the dainty plates dwarfed in those same big hands.<br /> <br /> Then crated ale replaced the tea<br /> and a whiskey bottle appeared,<br /> pulled like a rabbit from a hat,<br /> and I was ushered up with ruffled hair. <br /> <br /> With prayerful hands between cold thighs<br /> I lay listening to their lilting voices<br /> drifting up the narrow stair,<br /> the shared memories, tall tales and songs<br /> loosening the grief. <br /> <br /> In the early hours a knocking broom<br /> and a woman's shouted warning<br /> filtered through my hungry dreams. <br /> Chairs dragged on the bare boards below,<br /> voices lowered, then slowly drifted away. <br /> The alley gate banged, a dog barked,<br /> and I fell back into the last thin scrape of night. <br /> <br /> In the morning watching my grandfather shave,<br /> his great escarpment of a head dipped towards the sink,<br /> he looked to me like God breathing life upon the waters,<br /> and for a boyish moment I thought the thick leather braces<br /> hanging loose by his sides might be big enough to swing on.