Winners 2009: First prize

Timothy Carson (Winner)

Sullivan Upper School, Holywood, Northern Ireland

Is Life Likely?

After Eugenio Montale


And some time make the time to drive out west
into Donegal, to the ‘Finn cottage.
In September, when last lights range blazing
North, over the Atlantic’s restless surf.
Driving droves of smooth polished pebbles over
with chanting wild, Norse thundering chorus
for our own epic. “Now is the winter
of our content…”, marauder of my heart.
Lying in sweats of fleshy grass, wheat-heads
goldening for plough in scarlet sunsets,
a raptured ripeness, like new pregnancy.
Northern cacophony beating about
to old peat-bog fires burning in the grate,
you pressed upon my chest drifting ‘til late.


Belfast, not quite midnight and last-call groans.
Rasped slobbers of consonants clogging up
the clenched clamour of accents, rough auld brogues
cumbering their pitch with resignation.
The art of forgetting’s a skilful one.
Billy Craig starts his twenty-five yard road,
heaving vomit, a monetary pool spent
keeled in the retching amber of streetlights.
Blindly feeling for a fallen couple
of tarred, bent cigarettes, he rolls his own,
treading the mutinous concrete flags home.
A chip off the old block, somewhere between
breadwinning hero and intimate rut.
Sheaves of them, men blowing themselves to chaff.