Winners 2009

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Paul Merchant (Third prizewinner)

Tonbridge School, Kent

Three Guesses

It’s the one where those with goatees
and Gauloises sit in cafés, and agonise
and smoke.  The light shifts; a man sits
in the corner, in blue.  His mind is flying
on a plane to Japan, writing deep novels,
locked in embrace.  The pen on his table lies
bolted to the metal.  The last number he dialled
was one number too short – a digit lost
between cortex and fingers.


The one where fingers teeter on steel.
The bridge is suspended.  Feet in Converse
quiver.  Black jeans and nails.  Below: blue, fading.
Behind: nightmares.  Out front, light in javelins.
This time, earphones won’t slip him the answers.
No blocking, no late-night retreats to that room.
No ears for the thunder of thoughts
or raging.  Move now.  There’s no intermediate stage.


The time she pointed out through the door –
woodwork and carpet smelling of school,
sunset down behind walls slapped in blue.
She pointed – ‘Drink?’  It was nothing more,
perhaps, but you would have killed to be
with her.  This worming grey thing (got it?)
and its spongy barrier – the hole in your head,
the way you wander now along Frost’s lines,
head turned past your shoulders.

Project Details

  • Date February 8, 2015
  • Tags 2009 Doubt - Winning Poems