Joint Runner-Up in The Poetry Society's Stanza Competition in 2016, judged by Ros Barber. Ros: Coffee Ring was one of several sonnets, and several poems about the silence left in the wake of a lost loved one; it was stand-out in both categories. Disarming in its approach, for we can imagine this is only about a coffee ring until we meet the final word. At which point we re-read, and the poem let's us in to its layers; we understand why the letters are labelled 'to be burnt' and the larger symbolism of the 'smaller partial coffee rings' 'fading logarithmically with time'. As with all good sonnets it is economical: the rhyme is unobtrusive, with the couplet buried in the middle of the final sestet just as the subject of the poem is buried, ensuring we could never have predicted that closing one-word key. Thom: Barbara Lloyd-Evans, my late grandmother and an inspiration on many levels, is the absent subject of Coffee Ring. The two main images - the pile of letters to be burnt and the coffee ring itself - are real but came from different places. A welcoming and encouraging call from Wendy at the Brixton stanza inspired me to try to weave them together with 'silence'. This was one of my first serious attempts at poetry and I would not have been capable were it not for the daily inspiration of my family.

Coffee Ring

by Thom Lloyd-Evans

I saw it on her desk, a blurry swirl
of darker brown exactly where I went
to place my mug, a forearm from the edge,
beside the letters labelled ‘to be burnt’.

What seemed a complete circle silhouette
was actually the endless sum combined
of smaller partial coffee rings, offset,
and fading logarithmically with time.

Why keep the same old cup for all those years,
the matching saucer long since chipped and cracked?
Or why at least not use a coaster, make
a sacrifice of just one paperback?
I ask the silence. Silence never hears.
I head back down the stairs, rejoin the wake.

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