The Writers Bureau Short Story Competition 2019
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Poetry Competition 2021 - Second Place


Alan Coombe

Out of season

The season’s ended. It’s easy to stand
on the path. There’s no need to step aside,
and let the hike-clad strangers safe ground.
There is a place to wonder where deep sea ends,
and moist sky starts, and not need an answer.
Below sits the resort, once fishing port,
a waymark-tamed cliff enfolding its cove.
Here, out of season, beached boats, rest on thrift,
hold fast to sand’s scrape, shift and shock of shale,
await repair, till pubs serve food again.

Shops, shuffled by, are shuttered, storing stock
till absent traders return in the Spring.
Sharp winds press dunes hard to a workshop wall.
Cobwebbed windows dance the strand’s only light,
azure, from salt cast to clay, fire, and chance.
Nearby, a stream brings white spoil from the moor,
kaolin’s waste, flowing like celadon
from inshore wave break to sea’s mazarine.
Clear lines, of a constant cobalt blue,
dress workshop shelves with the season’s last pots.

Only out of season, is salt glaze risked.


Alan has lived in London for most of his adult life, working first as a social Alan has lived in London for most of his adult life, working first as a social worker writing court reports promoting the wellbeing and safety of children and young people, then in more senior roles in children’s services.  After this he held principal policy and advocacy roles in two major children’s charities, providing advice to government, parliamentarians and other influencers on children’s welfare and protection.
Much earlier in his life, Alan worked on Par docks, splicing rope, and as a potter in Chelsea and in his native Cornwall, to where he returns in this poem.


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