Entry - MAG Poetry Prize 2011

Adventure Playground

by Guy Arnold

The chair was cheap, muddy brown and thinly
stuffed with tea-coloured padding. He’d sit there
all day with a leg crossed over a knee
motionless, except for the rise and fall of
his blue-jumpered stomach. I used to sit on his lap
and face him while he watched snooker,
rugby or golf, and style what was left of his hair.
I’d wish I could turn his hair around so the back
became the top. Sometimes I’d sit on the floor
by his side and run fingers through the chair’s thick shag,
sketching tramlines in different directions,
then rubbing them out with a swift backstroke.
We’d play draughts (and one time chess). He’d
never get up from the chair so I stayed at his feet
watching him play with half his attention
on our game but more of it focused on
Jimmy’s, Billy’s or Nick’s. I didn’t mind. I taught him
some lessons. I showed him the consequence of
split concentration by jumping his chequers. King me,
I’d say. He’d tell me that he was the king and
I was just the prince. One day I crept up on him
and clambered all
over his gigantic frame (like a limpet, he’d tell me).
He strummed my ribs with the ends of his thumbs
making me laugh until I’d lose my breath and nearly fall
to the floor; he’d always pull me back up.
He was the climbing frame I’d wanted for Christmas like the one
in our next door neighbour’s garden.

Added: 16.12.2010

Judges' comments on this poem


Good use of language and momentum; not sure 2 line stanzas gives the best read.


nice idea


This is such an insightful portrayal of a loved family member.


nice childhood memorys xxx


evokes memories of early childhood and innocence


Good strong character depiction, we really see this relationship.Loved 'King me, I'd say.' & 'he strummed my ribs..'Ending lacked something?