Rag and Bone Man

by Anne Hamlett
The Write Idea
Third Place, March 2015
Judged by Ned Balbo


We’d hear him every week, his call
would echo round the streets, a clatter
of horses hooves on cobbles.

‘ragbone – anyoldrags – ragbone’

And the old brass bell would clang
as children gathered and women
scurried to find a rag or two

of this and that, a torn lace curtain,
a shredded apron, worn thin from years
of wringing hands. His pickings were thin

from our crowded houses of hand- me- downs.
Though we were poor, there was pride
in freshly ‘stoned’ doorsteps.

The rags were exchanged for a block
of ‘donkey stone,’ orange-gold
or pale cream, like the top of the milk.

She remembered the putrid smell;
rotten bones, the sweat of the horse
with bony shoulders – like those of the man

whose skeletal hands gripped the reins
so many years ago; yet his call still echo’s
along the crumbled red brick walls….

‘ragbone – anyoldrags – ragbone.’


Tatters of memory saved like tatters of cloth survive in a second-hand legacy that the poet rescues and recreates. A vivid picture of the ever-receding past. --Ned Balbo

  • July 2018 Winners

    • First Place

      The First Time I Drank With My Father
      by Ken Ashworth
      The Waters

      Second Place

      My Bicycle
      by Andrew Dufresne
      Wild Poetry Forum

      Third Place

      J. Alfred Prufrock Searches for Mrs. Right
      by Laurie Byro
      Babilu

  • June 2018 Winners

    • First Place

      Poem in Exile in the Style of Neruda
      by Ken Ashworth
      The Writer's Block

      Second Place

      Either February or March
      by Brenda Morisse
      Wild Poetry Forum

      Third Place

      Accidental Writer
      by Bernard Hamel
      Wild Poetry Forum

      Honorable Mention

      Mouse in April’s Winter
      by Alison Armstrong-Webber
      The Waters

      Honorable Mention

      Sister Valeria
      by Siva Ramanathan
      The Writer's Block

      Honorable Mention

      My Trip: The Last Siona Dream
      by Don Schaeffer
      Babilu