Entry - MAG Poetry Prize 2011


by Guy Arnold

Muddy hands, and soil on his trousers
from a hard day’s rummaging in flower beds, my son
waddles into the kitchen with a bucket.
He’s always had an interest in insects, ladybirds
particularly, and asks me if
Mum would mind him keeping some
in jars and cardboard boxes.
He pulls soggy blades of grass from his pockets, feeds
the scurrying  bugs,
or insectapodes as he calls them,
watches them scatter in the raining
green needles, sweaty strands of garden lawn
stick to the palms of his hands,
like bloodless leeches; he wipes away
the last remaining stragglers.
His older brother’s upstairs, firing missiles
in full blown battlefields, a village in Iraq.
Plastic combatants.
The youngest is different, he loves
the wideness of wilderness, watching
colonies of life in corners by the fence,
burying stones in the sandpit. He puts his wellies on
to inspect the freshly watered garden,
time to give the worms the once over,
maybe he’ll be an entomologist? On the kitchen floor
the bucket teems with wriggling legs and shelled bodies
all climbing over each other, fighting for air.

Added: 09.12.2010

Judges' comments on this poem


Deftly controlled; this reveals a parent's observations, honestly. The ultimate lines forge a thoughtful dialogue between the two brothers.


Great poem.The link words between stanzas 4-5 and the final 2 stanzas feels out of place. Otherwise, well done.


I loved this poem. It stood out for me - really stong sense of a father's love and fascinated pride in the private magic world of his son.


I really enjoyed this poem. Very accessible, especially to mothers of sons!