Entry - MAG Poetry Prize 2009


by Rebecca Shore

We are the prisoners of robots,
Who patrol white corridors in long white coats,
Their shoes tap out the minutes and seconds,
Clipboards mark the hours.
They float like swans around our caged world,
We are their ugly-duck cousins, the black sheep of the family.
They are humans, with laboratories, and voices;
we are only chimpanzees.

Our sanity relies on small pleasures;
We are never lonely, with thirty-nine neighbours,
Our cages lined up, ten along, four deep
A compact apartment, with an excellent view
Of fading paint on the wall.
When the door snaps shut at the end of the day-
All is made bearable, as my dream opens on a different scene:

The cacophony of our voices and the mellow hiss of steam,
The clicks and chitters of unseen creatures, the fairies of the rainforest-
Wings flash over head, a hint of a presence that is missed with a blink.
The soothing voice of the river underpins the momentary songs and sighs
of our lives-
And feeds a multitude of plants: leaves arching over our heads
Flowers bright enough to make you blink;
Plants with tendrils and spikes, plants with leaves and fruit.
The shelter of the undergrowth replaces the cage;
the birds in the canopies are our only observers,
Imagine then, the feeling in my gut, every day
When I feel the tropical sunlight on my face
My eyes linger closed, reluctant, yet hoping-
I hope every day.
But open my eyes to a fluorescent light bulb, a regiment of steel bars.

Added: 26.04.2009