Entry - MAG Poetry Prize 2011


by Tom Riordan

My parents are moving, and though they're moving much closer to my house,
it feels like they're moving farther off. They won't be “there,” and the new place
isn't on my mental map but on that plane where fearless mariners
and optimistic suicides sail.
                                         They called me last night. Their buyers
are moving fast, closing in three days. A big truck like a caravel
will come, take cargo on, and go, probably to someplace the movers
don't know either, but will follow their astrolabe to.
                                                                                 I didn't know
my parents had this kind of spunk.
                                                      Once I have visited their new home
a few times, the strangeness will end. When ships steer for dark shores, odd spaces
open up that will gradually become familiar, like a tossed coin
taking an awful lot of time in the air....but certainly will land
and close that space back up.
                                               All this by way of preface: it is my wife
who's weighing on me, running deeper, flying wider in our marriage
as middle age quiets the chop, something that ought to be a good thing
but doesn't feel good yet. I'm used to the flat-earth paradigm we've done
so well with all these years. I'm scared of sea serpents, slippery horizons.

Added: 08.12.2010

Judges' comments on this poem


I liked the beginning of this, but the last stanza seems to come out of nowhere and I'm not sure it works all that well. Enjoyable though.