Christopher James's 'Farewell to Earth' won 1st prize in the National Poetry Competition 2008.

Farewell to Earth

by Christopher James

We buried him with a potato in each hand
on New Year’s Day when the ground was hard as luck,
wearing just cotton, his dancing shoes plus
a half bottle of pear cider to stave off the thirst.

In his breast pocket we left a taxi number
and a packet of sunflower seeds; at his feet was
the cricket bat he used to notch up a century
against the Fenstanton eleven.

We dropped in his trowel and a shower of rosettes
then let the lid fall on his willow casket.
The sky was hard as enamel; there was
a callus of frost on the face of the fields.

Dust to dust; but this was no ordinary muck.
The burial plot was by his allotment, where
the water butt filled up with algae and the shed door
swung and slammed as we shook back the soil.

During the service, my mother asked
the funeral director to leave; take away some hair
and the resemblance was too close; and yet
my father never looked so smart.

I kept expecting him to walk in, his brow
steaming with rain, soil under his fingernails
smelling of hot ashes and compost;
looking for fresh tea in the pot.

The Poetry Society was founded in 1909 to promote “a more general recognition and appreciation of poetry”.  Since then, it has grown into one of Britain’s most dynamic arts organisations, representing British poetry both nationally and internationally.  Today it has more than 4000 members worldwide and publishes The Poetry Review.

With innovative education and commissioning programmes and a packed calendar of performances, readings and competitions, The Poetry Society champions poetry for all ages.

More about the Poetry Society…

Tweets @PoetrySociety

I love to visit the ⁦@trafalgartree⁩ sent so kindly by #Norway each year and read the poem commissioned by ⁦@PoetrySociety⁩ this year by ⁦@Poetryjoe⁩ with the help of London school children. This was my fave line!🌲 Retweeted by The Poetry Society

All a-quiver to be reading with luminaries Ian Duhig, Jo Shapcott, Sinéad Morrissey, Liz Berry, Mary Jean Chan, Fran Lock, Stephen Sexton, Mark Pajak & Caleb Parkin at Kings Place in March for 40th anniversary of National Poetry Competition! @PoetrySociety… Retweeted by The Poetry Society

"mum will you pack me up / in your stomach again. and tape shut / the slit in your middle: / the bit that opened like a door." Day 14 of our #Advent Calendar and we've a stunning poem, 'small print' by #FoyleYoungPoet Suzanne Antelme illustrated by @chrisriddell50. Retweeted by The Poetry Society

Thanks Carole, Hannah, Nick, Phil, Patrick, Rob, Nairn, Andy, Stuart, Richard and Mary for tonight’s fabulous readings at Finding the Words. Merry Christmas! #York #Stanza @PoetrySociety Retweeted by The Poetry Society

Meet Woody. In the @PoetrySociety office just for today and very, very, very, well behaved. Goooooood boy!

test Twitter Media - Meet Woody. In the @PoetrySociety office just for today and very, very, very, well behaved. Goooooood boy!

For those of you interested in #ecopoetry, 'I Am The Universe' is a collaboration between @PoetrySociety and Leeds University, to get young poets writing about climate change. The anthology can be read here. #climatechange #poetry Retweeted by The Poetry Society

A great opportunity on Monday to hear our quite exceptional poets read their work - why not join us for a 'Proper Hedgehog Christmas' 17th December 7.30pm Poetry Society Cafe, Covent Garden @PoetrySociety @natpoetrylib @RaineGeoghegan5 @kent_nj @suekburge @davidmarkwilliams Retweeted by The Poetry Society