Back To Competition Winners

2015 Overall Winner & recipient of the Babies of Walloon bronze statuette

Chairperson’s School Award

Edwards Property Mentorship Award

Ipswich Theme Awards

Chair’s Encouragement Awards

Rosewood Green Award – Open Age Local Poets

Joy Chambers & Reg Grundy Award – Open Age Other Poetry

Metro Hotel Ipswich International Award – Open Age Bush Poetry

The Pact by Kay Gorring (First Prize)

Empty Beds and Broken Hearts by David Campbell (Second Prize)

No Glory Here by Shelley Hansen (Third Prize)

I went to war in Vietnam – just twenty years of age.
I didn’t have a say. They picked my birth date off a page.
We thought that we were fortunate to have the chance to go –
felt sorry for the ones not chosen. Little did we know!

I left behind a sweetheart – Jennifer. We planned to wed
when we turned twenty-one, but I was sent away instead.
“It’s just an interruption,” Jenny said through mists of tears.
“You’ll come back safe and we’ll grow old together through the years.”

They blessed our deadly weapons and they sent us out to fight
an enemy we did not know – their snipers out of sight.
They gave us absolution just in case we fell and died.
I used to ask the chaplain, “Are you sure God’s on our side?”

Don’t wait for “hero” tales from me. They simply will not come.
I went to war and I survived. I’m luckier than some.
When conflict rages you just act. No time to stop and think.
It’s what you bring back home with you that takes you to the brink.

No physical deformity – just tinea and itch
from jungle dampness permeating clothes through every stitch,
and nerves that can’t stand “cracker” night, a lonely croaking frog,
that get the shakes when thunder rumbles – like some frightened dog.

They put me on a pension. I was too “mixed up” to work
(they said). The last indignity. I know they think I shirk.
“A welfare bludger – look at him! We’re paying him to graze
on handouts from the government.” How could I meet their gaze?

I didn’t marry Jen. No happy ending like we’d planned.
I would have ruined her life as well. She didn’t understand.
I couldn’t share the images that come to me at night
and play upon my shuttered eyes to torture me with light.

The nausea that rises when some small abrasion bleeds.
The whiff of Agent Orange when my neighbour sprays his weeds.
And when they shove a steak upon the barbie out the back
I smell the stench of burning flesh from NapaIm’s swift attack.

This Asian girl who works the checkout aisle – I seem to think
I’ve seen her in some back-street bar in Saigon – with a drink.
I watch her through a smoke-filled haze. Her body seems to sway.
Remembering, I drop my eyes and quickly turn away.

Most people think forgetting is an easy thing to do.
The men you killed. Their families who grieve because of you.
Were we so right? Were they so wrong? Or were we all to blame?
Can we just go on like it never happened, with no shame?

It’s worse as I’ve got older. You would think time might have healed.
I still watch out for landmines when I’m walking in a field.
A breeze through summer grasses when the heat of day has fled
can take me back to Nui Dat with choppers overhead.

They sent me to a specialist. He put me through a test,
prescribing me a small blue pill to help me get some rest.
“It calibrates the brain,” he said, “l hope it gives you ease.
There’s just one side effect – it brings on Parkinson’s disease.”

So here I sit with shaking hands, in stiff and rigid pain.
They point at me and say, “That old bloke’s dribbling again!”
So when you celebrate the war while swilling down your beer,
don’t talk to me of “glory”   for there is no glory here.

Murray Moon by Brenda Joy (Highly Commended)

“Thy Will be Done…” by Brenda Joy (Highly Commended)

Mine on Koolan Island by Hugh Allan (Highly Commended)

Jack, My Friend by Shelley Hansen (Highly Commended)

Ipswich City Council Award – 16-17 Years

Queensland Times Award- 14-15 Years

Broderick Family Award – 11-13 Years

Ipswich District Teacher Librarian Network Award – 8-10 Years

River 94.9 Award – 5-7 Years