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Perhaps because Hallowe’en has just come and gone, the topic this week, the workplace accident, is a little more macabre than those of the past. Our winning poem by Andrew Coleman is both “subtle and chilling”, says judge Jim Kacian.

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a scream

instinctively strangers

move as one

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As Mr Kacian notes: “A scream cuts directly to the limbic system [which controls our more primal instincts], and we move our hooves and form a circle from a directive hardwired into us long before we left the savannah. The poet, without overplaying his hand, notes this species drama, and helps us recognise it, and ourselves, in a mere seven words.

“That we are a herd animal is not in doubt, but we insist on our individuality, in dress, in manner, in personality. But – when given a signal that circumvents our thought processes – we access a deeper and more primitive set of responses.”

Also from the “darker end of the spectrum” is the runner up, by Andrew Shimield.

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silence on site

after the ambulance

goes

***

Says Mr Kacian: “It might seem an obvious observation, but that’s really the point: the poet notices the manifestation of an absence, the negative space created by this unexpected event.

“This is a telling moment, told economically, and with a nice formal touch in reserving the final line for the simple verb.”


Next week we will publish some lighter-hearted runners-up. Meanwhile, send your haiku and senryu to workplace.haiku@ft.com. For details go to ft.com/haiku

The next topic is work travel

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