Paul Merchant (Third prizewinner)
Tonbridge School, Kent
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.
- Date February 8, 2015
- Tags 2009 Doubt - Winning Poems