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Young poet

* Mist

At the windows

Seeps into my mind,

Chills me,

Fills my thoughts with fear.

* Rain,

Taps at the door

Like birds scampering,

Bringing sadness

Suffocating my hope.

* Endless emotion

Locks my spirit.

Jonathan Roberts, 10, Forden C in W primary school, Welshpool, Powys

This is a poem about hopelessness - a subject all too easy to write about badly but very difficult to write about well. Jonathan has succeeded by taking it at a nice steady pace - careful and controlled but not too slow - shaping it into two symmetrical five-line stanzas plus a tight couplet, like a lock, to finish.

The "mist at the windows", the "rain at the doorlike birds scampering" are presented clearly and confidently, the whispered and shivery "e" and "i" sounds of the first stanza moving into the anxious repeated "a's" of "tap", "at", "sadness" and the long "a's" of "rain" and "suffocating". The aching "o" of "suffocating" and "hope" then lead into the "o" of "emotion" in the couplet, which tightens into the "o" of "locks", and a final return, in "spirit", to the "i" of the misty beginning.

The effortless sense of timing and musicality indicate to me a writer with natural talent. Well done, Jonathan.

PS. Jackdaws love my big sphinx of quartz is, of course, the shortest English sentence containing all 26 letters of the alphabet. And here is another sentence, as humble as last week's was exotic; Norma is as senseless as I am, Ron. Surely every reader will recognise why I'm so fond of this one, whether or not they're called RonI Selima Hill Jonathan Roberts receives The Oldest Girl in the World by Carol Ann Duffy (Faber). His poem was submitted by Christine Robinson. Selima Hill, TESguest poet for this term, won this year's Whitbread poetry prize for Bunny. She is a tutor for the Poetry School and the South Bank Centre, and is currently working on her eighth collection, Portrait of my Lover as a Horse. Please send poems, no longer than 20 lines, to Friday magazine, Admiral House, 66-68 East Smithfield, London E1W 1BX. Include the poet's name, age and address, the name of the submitting teacher and the school address. Or email:

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