Alice Allen Flambard Poetry Prize 2014 First Prize

Alice Allen

Flambard Poetry Prize 2014 First Prize


Two poems by the first-prize winner of the 2014 Flambard Poetry Prize, Alice Allen:



Sometimes in a dream


Sometimes in a dream I forget you are dead

and I think, in the dream, I haven’t phoned you

for ages, I’ll give you a call now, have a chat.


And I’m so excited, in the dream, about speaking

to you, picking up the old phone and dialling,

excited to hear you again, your voice


in my dream, close to my chest, holding

your voice, in my dream, in my breath

holding the grief in my chest because


it is not the heart that feels this love or loss

but the lungs inflamed, meanwhile

the heart is busy measuring, decanting


moving on, and I stand here and think of you

and hold my breath and feel the loss of you.




Conversations with my Grandmother


Sometimes an owl flies by the house at night

she says, circling the air in front of her

to indicate his size.

I think of him flying low and deep

as through a warp in the warm night

a gift of elsewhere in his wingspan.

He lands on the roof while we sleep.

Overlapping feathers pattern the dark –

I hold the thought of him

up to the broken scales of the house

like a benediction.


The roof is the lid and the lip

of the house. Bats, she tells me

hide by day in the corners of the attic

their sweet faces wouldn’t hurt you

and field mice break the seal under the eaves

their bodies fast as rain

and wasps in summer

working away at the roof’s rim

building their cone of paper.

The droppings and dust

hair balls and skin

bone-flakes and shreds

these creatures leave in their passing.

If an owl flies into your room at night

and sits dead still on your washstand

cover him with a towel

and help him out of the window.


Wind blows through the rooms

like an interrogation.

Yes, the house is old.

The path is receding.

The fields escape from their edges.


Unaware of Bede’s fleeting sparrow

she tells me of the time an owl

flew through the window of the long room

another window open at the end

thinking the room was just

a different part of his night

a passage between the trees.