Winners 2012: First prize

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Sarah Fletcher (Winner)

The American School in London

Papa’s Epilogue

You crawl up from
oblivion; the rust of
your eyes glaring at the
silver dollar sun.

Doling words out like
cards, chewing your tongue
and tobacco beneath
a full sailor’s beard.

The ace of spades, king
of hearts, the matador.
Your bull heart tangled
in sangria sheets.

You were always an
ocean child, a Poseidon
of lyrics. Fishing for salmon
but bringing home trout.

You wanted to put a hook
into the emptiness and call it
your own. You dreamt of
lions on African beaches.

Your women were sirens;
Hawk lips stealing words and
kisses, singing off-key jazz.
You plucking them like worms.

The whisky was a poison;
Tu doble, tu Diablo, tu hermano.
It let the wasp of your hand and mouth
out of its cage, cage, cage.

And now, ripe with age, you
stroke the flounder blood off your
beard, and stroke the leg
of your whore.

©Sarah Fletcher, 2012