Winners 2001

Charlotte Dickens (Commended)

East Norfolk Sixth Form College

Fever-Headed on Ninety-Fourth Street.

We toyed with our ninth lives, Jackson and I,
Drummed them on the wet, warm sill.
The pearly-toothed sky slept on the shoulders of the
September passers-by.
We humbled in through the open door
Like curious witches’ cats now strayed and
superstitiously overlooked.

The universe perceived us in her eye,
She trapped the charismatic African-skinned night
behind her blink.
Most men were lidded in lonely dream
And I can soundly say that is almost what it was.

Blue-blooded King Cole wept onto his piano,
His fingers and nails grew black and white into the
keyboard.
Drumming heartbeat, wise man bodied bass
And sailing trumpet soul
Were stirred into his dizzy liquor concoction
And he swallowed and sweated the Haitian voodoo.
His body drained like an empty glass.

Out of the distilled, half-sober silence
Fled a feverish long slow moan.
Old blue was as ancient as the night and twice as dark.
I knew when morning came he would be gone
And as his rainforest face stopped burning
All I wanted to do was die.

I felt myself drowning in his deep blue sadness
Only such maddened contagious men were so happy
at being sad.
The pacemaker ceased his fitting
I heard his head thump a dozen times a second.
Skin and floor and bits of sad old wood
Stopped.

The comrade trumpet’s hollow golden soul
Wailed one last time
Remembering how the drummer-boy’s rich brown
instrumental skin
Was beaten by his drunken father.

You could smell foreign hope and weathered
children;
As we hung him up like a wet rag,
I suggested he needed a good wringing out
too.
Jackson shrugged the sweet damp air
Off his back and sunk into the grass
As low and exhausted as any bass note.

I saw him a month or two later
Clutching his hungry, devastated chest in
frenzied memory
And blowing like a storm.

Project Details

  • Date January 21, 2015
  • Tags 2001 Blue - Winning Poems