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Editorial

18th September 2018

Deciding on a theme for Hour of Writes is a tricky business. It must be precise enough to inspire writers to create pieces with clear connections to the theme, but broad enough that each entry will be unique. Of all things Attack And Receive could have been inspired by, it came from a playing card in the franchise that dominated my childhood: Yu-Gi-Oh. With such an aggressive phrase, I was hoping for war, embittered couples, and intrigue. I was delighted to find all this, alongside some whimsy.

I was immediately drawn to Entry 3155, which explores a situation too many of us will be familiar with. It reminds us that those who suffer from violence often turn to violence, that this cycle is not easily broken. Entry 3155 also shows that there can be a lot of power in simple language.

Entry 3160, Red Poppy Boy (gets what’s coming to him), has a lovely rhythm that drives the reader through a story of addiction and consequence. This can be seen especially in the second stanza, with: ‘an A1 stealer / all state receiver / a total syringe believer’. Successfully employing rhythm always makes a poem more compelling.

With Entry 3163, we see a regular structure and rhythm used to great effect. The images were very vivid, essential for communicating a story with such a degree of movement and as many changes in scene. I particularly enjoyed the shift in scale in: 

‘Zipping through the midges and the dragonflies / We crest the spikes and fall into a murderous scrum’,

making the poem more dynamic and cinematic. 

For me, Entry 3159 was the obvious winner. Gentle and concise, the piece takes us ‘inch by inch’ through a race. The poem is dense with imagery, and it is a credit to the author that they evoked such a strength of feeling in me with so few lines. I keep returning to: 

‘The last water gone / Like legs / with nothing left / except blisters, cramp, / tiredness beyond enduring’

drawn by its subtlety of rhythm and simplicity of language.

Thank you to everyone who entered. Judging this competition was a wonderful excuse to sit down, have a cup of tea, and immerse myself in varied poetry and prose. You each responded to the prompt differently, making this process an absolute pleasure. I hope you all continue to write great work for Hour of Writes, and for yourselves.


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About The Judge

Jack Cooper works at the University of Oxford, in a laboratory that uses the sexual courtship of fruitflies as a model to understand core features of development and behaviour. His poetry has been longlisted for the National Poetry Competition, and shortlisted for The New Poets Prize and Segora Poetry Competition amongst others. Stephen King, Final Fantasy, and K-Pop are the great loves of his life.

You can find him on Twitter at @JackCooper666, and on Instagram at @JackCooper0696


Ephemera

Osprey Love

Out there on their own
Isolated on the English savannah
Fresh back from Africa
Feathers shiver in the wind
Haughty beaks and fierce eyes
The ospreys suffer their proud
alliance to feed their young.

Majestic we watch them on camera
Like celebrities
Male and female aligned in mission.
Do they love? What do they love?
If someone brought them fish each day
What would they do?


Recent ShowNotes


Mark… My… Words

Last week's competition

Featured Entry

by Mr Golightly
Testing the Server

“Try pinging it again.”

“Same response. It’s quick, but it’s only sending back one packet.”

Lucas sank his head into his hands in resignation. It had been 32 hours since he had been able to grab a power nap and still they were getting nowhere. He forced a swig of his cold brew.

“Did anyone know it was even possible to hack a ping response? Has anybody ever seen that before?”

Pinging a server to test the response time should be as straightforward as it gets, as simple as shouting in a cave and waiting for the echo.

“I’m seriously asking, has anybody ever seen that before because...”

Finishing the sentence required more effort than Lucas had left in him.
Across the room, a nervous looking intern raised his hand. Once the scale of the crisis had become apparent, the situation had changed to all hands on deck. Every qualified member of staff, regardless of experience, was asked to sign a non-disclosure agreement and pitch in. These were desperate times. Lucas gestured weakly for him to speak.

“It looks like the packet it’s sending back is larger than the ping sir.”

Lucas rubbed his eyes and squinted at his monitor. He could barely make it out:

pinging yangtze.shop with 32 bytes of data:

reply from 66.218.72.299: bytes=38 time<1ms TTL=127

ping statistics for 66.218.72.299:
Packets: Sent = 4, Received = 1, Lost = 3 (75% loss)

The echo was longer than the shout.

This revelation prompted Lucas’s body to finally surrender its last shot of adrenaline.

“Fresh eyes eh? That’s a really good spot kid. Way too small to be malware, any chance we can take a look at the contents of that packet?”

Without a word, the room buzzed to life with the sound of keystrokes. Each coder and engineer driven by their curiosity, striving to restore some pride by completing this simple task first. Lucas pondered what they would find. 38 bytes was just enough for a line of text. It could be a signature, maybe a ransomware demand. It could also be nonsense. Lucas needed it to be a clue. They had inspected countless lines of code looking for an explanation, scoured the architecture of the entire site and found nothing. It defied all logic.

“It’s a URL sir. For a YouTube video.”

Lucas was impressed to note that the same intern had beaten his senior staff to the punch. He was about to respond when he was interrupted by a quiet, familiar voice.

“Cheer up Brian! You know what they say…”

He had heard this before, he was sure of it. His brain went into overdrive searching for the reference. He got there just before the video did. He couldn’t help but laugh as Eric Idol sang.

“Always look on the bright side of life.”

Some of the staff whistled along.

_________________________________

Macallum - 18 year old Triple cask whisky

Reviewer: BFindlay79
1/5 stars

Unacceptable Service

Three times I’ve placed this order and three times you’ve sent a kid’s bike. I returned it once (at great inconvenience), refused to accept delivery on the second attempt, and on the third time of asking it was left behind my shed. I’m not sure how you mistake a bottle of whisky for a bike once, never mind three times! The incompetence is genuinely staggering. I will not be returning this again and I want a full refund. At least my son is happy.

_________________________________

Teagan & Co. - Milk Chocolate Brazil Nuts

Reviewer: DogsBooty
4/5 stars

Unbelievable

Ordered these as a present for my GF. Sent a box of truffles instead. Turns out she is allergic to brazil nuts and the truffles were nice so thanks lol

_________________________________

A4 Lined Notebook, Wirebound

Reviewer: AlexisM
5/5 stars

Thank You! (Whoever You Are)

I don’t know who was responsible for adding the textbook to my order but I owe you big time. It’s never in the library and I could never afford it. I don’t know how you did this but you’ve taken a huge weight off of my shoulders, thank you so much.
_________________________________

2011 Chateau Del Mar Bordeaux

Reviewer: RoseTruro
4/5 stars

Good Celebration

I bought this (rather expensive) bottle of wine as a wedding gift for my daughter to make up for Covid. Sent the wrong bottle (1982!) but too late to do anything about it. Daughter says it’s the nicest bottle of wine she’s ever had. Really appreciate the free corkscrew (she couldn’t find hers!)

_________________________________

LM38624 LaserJet Toner Cartridge

Reviewer: MillionDollarBeBe
5/5 stars

A Miracle

I ordered this for my home office and it was delivered right on time. I thought the box was very heavy for toner so I opened it on my kitchen counter. Imagine my surprise when I found that I’d been sent a fire extinguisher instead.

I headed back to the office to type a sternly worded email, only to discover that my computer was on fire, and not a small one either! I ran back to the kitchen for the fire extinguisher and managed to put out the blaze.

My daughter’s room is above that office, I dread to think what might have happened. I’m not a religious person, but I’m not sure how else to explain that.

I know you probably won’t believe me but I swear to you it’s true.

_________________________________

Derby - Double Edge Razor Blades x 10

Reviewer: CrowFlies2
1/5 stars

Never Arrived

Dont want them now anyway

Last Week's Winner!

Winning entry by Castalia
Osprey Love

Out there on their own
Isolated on the English savannah
Fresh back from Africa
Feathers shiver in the wind
Haughty beaks and fierce eyes
The ospreys suffer their proud
alliance to feed their young.

Majestic we watch them on camera
Like celebrities
Male and female aligned in mission.
Do they love? What do they love?
If someone brought them fish each day
What would they do?
My Notes