Monday, 3 November 2014


They spread across the bench; akimboed knees
Allow the beast between its wide degrees.
Like lagged sails about thin legs jeans low-slung
And of course the Attitude as if grouch
And lipcurl and vanity’s slovenslouch
Were strangest sight in Carthage, say, or Babylon.

The young: most vital creatures of the earth.
We’re old, my dog and I. They know their worth.
All around the forgotten do not stir.
A tickle of fear upsets my poise.
To take it back I bid, well-met, “Hi boys” -
Acquaintance providing protective fur.

One or two return my salutation.
Waving at my shameless affectation.
Now I like them there, rolling up their gear,
Swearing, laughing, loudly filling death’s space,
Though no wolf-whistles, no leering faces:
Women strolling here show no sign of fear.

Yet surely the coils of adolescence
Simmer within. I fear obsolescence
Might beckon one or two: there are boys whose core
Yearns for fight, in which to show their beef,
Who do not see tears, who do not hear grief
Who do not smell the faecal glut of war.

I hope their weed is the old mellow stuff
That used to dim anxiety, enough
To make young men’s ennui easier.
The war memorial’s kept pristine
White as innocence, but it isn’t mean
To wish these boys forgotten quietly, in peace.

My commendation winning poem 

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