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‘On Cefalù Beach’ by Tom Benjamin – third prize winner in the 2021 TripFiction ‘Voyages by Verse’ Poetry Competition

25th July 2021

'On Cefalù Beach' by Tom Benjamin - third prize winner in the 2021 TripFiction 'Voyages by Verse' Writing Competition‘On Cefalù Beach’ by Tom Benjamin – third prize winner in the 2021 TripFiction ‘Voyages by Verse’ Writing Competition

Tom Benjamin is the author of the critically-acclaimed Bologna-set Daniel Leicester crime series, published by Constable in the UK. The series debuted with A Quiet Death In Italy in 2020 with its sequel, The Hunting Season, published this May. Requiem in La Rossa is due out next year. Tom now lives in Northern Italy.

He grew up, though, in the suburbs of north London and began his working life as a journalist before becoming a spokesman for Scotland Yard. He later moved into public health, where he developed Britain’s first national campaign against alcohol abuse, Know Your Limits, and led the drugs awareness programme FRANK.


On Cefalù Beach


On Cefalù beach,

Sandwiched between

Italian pop

And the sea,

It is the month of Caesar Augustus

In the era of the selfie.


Locals hawk

Coconut slices.

Gipsy girls offer

Stone-fingered massages.

A trireme is balanced

Beside a cruise liner.

While backpackers surf,

Byzantines lash Turks

With tongues of Greek Fire.


Caravaggio stumbles past

Sun dazed, the rusty tip

Of his scabbard

Stuttering in the sand.

An old fisherman, the strap

Of his icebox yawing across

His sinewy shoulder,

Calls in Sicilian, Greek,

Arabic, Phoenician:

Salty miracles,

Pistachio ice cream.

Cold Coca Cola,

Sighted land.


Follow Tom on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook

Click on the titles below to read the other two prizewinning poems

Tripoli Dreaming by Rebecca Stonehill

In Search of Baghdad by Karen Quevillon

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