Photograph of Sudanese child and vulture, by Kevin Carter
We await our moment.
on this pinched purse of sticks.
For me it won’t be long now.
I smell it coming closer.
Your business is less clear
hidden in the desert cloud
that shrouded your arrival here.
Is it a gun you carry on your back?
Which one will you shoot?
It makes no odds. There are no ends
to the queues of us.
I wear my funeral suit lightly.
Can you say the same of yours?
What will your gut
say to your brain at 4am
when your fingers itch and click
onto blackened air?
Will this moment hold its tongue then
or will it walk again
calling to all the others
as well you might.
Take a long hard look
with your one dark eye.
Then go home and consider our work here today
and keep a bullet close by.
Highly Commended, Portico Brotherton Poetry Prize 2014
We two girls together singing
Inspired by ‘A Young Lady’s Adventure’ by Paul Klee
After David Hockney and Walt Whitman
to your adventure;
its signature scent
of line-dried hope-white linen
cut with black coffee
and frosted city air,
velvet growl of French cigarettes
rising up from pumping bass notes
of undiluted girlblood;
the skin-tight harmony of our raw code
tripping off our tongues of gold lamé.
holding a bag of sky behind our backs,
laughing, stealing, slashing, burning,
catwalking the canyons of every next yearning,
our stormforce heartbeat scrawled across the night.
Me-you, winged and fluid,
doing the bump with each new moon,
wrapped in clouds of our own breath
and the ghosts we can’t see yet –
treading the dusk above our heads, offering
our hearts in their outstretched hands –
as a spiral staircase builds itself around our legs
and goat-eyed birds put their beaks to our necks
and the grinning lizard runs ahead,
its tiny crown flashing in the light
from our unquenchable momentary blaze.
Finalist, Aesthetica Creative Writing Award 2014
A boy of six thousand parts
He never lay against another’s spine,
dreaming in the slipstream of a mother tongue.
The offspring of astounding horologic flair,
he has never used the words je t’aime
or felt the bass note of betrayal
in the choir of human hearts.
He was made to automate the passions.
He works alone, pale as a lily in round-the-clock
twilight, finger and thumb fused to a quill
forming decorous texts that rarely change,
except to fete the great and the good –
most recently a dignitary from France,
who, without knowing why, wept at the sight
of the little writer’s naked metal spine.
Inspired by Pierre Jacquet Droz's writing automaton
Highly commended in the Five Words Poetry Competition 2013
Above & top: two postcard poems, Ignorance & Creature; text sourced from famous advertising slogans and David Bowie's 'Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars', respectively. Images © Janet Lees 2014