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.


a scream

instinctively strangers

move as one


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.


silence on site

after the ambulance



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 For details go to

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