Entry - MAG Poetry Prize 2011

Poem For Christmas 2010

by ian holt

What images flood in
On waking this cold Christmas day?
A clutch of starving children drift away
Their mother, belly swollen close to time
Bears witness to their hourly decline
As waters of the world inexorably rise
And fragile human infrastructures slide
Into the mud of obfuscating power
In Haiti, presidents and military and superstars appear
With all their rhetoric and bleeding hearts and power
A genocide of liberal good will
Paves this particular road to hell
Whose end maintaining privilege and place
At all costs keeps the slaves as slaves
Then ghosting from the past
Childhood’s chiaroscuro
Unveiling the pornography of power
Naked women through the gauntlet run
Past whips and snapping dogs and guns
As strutting sadists sporting death masks grin
As if to celebrate this mortal sin
Yet this scourge seems still with us from the longest night
Whose lengthening shadows seek to obscure every light
So what of future hope, hosannas, saviours and such?
Where the salvation from which they make so much?
For after all it’s Christmas in the west
Where is the heart in all this heartlessness?
For me it lies elsewhere still beating free
With power to stand value on its feet
Astride a world not ruled by commodities
But one that fully human, fully meets
All our desperately human, human needs

Added: 17.01.2011

Judges' comments on this poem


At times language feels a little self-conscious e.g. 'human, human needs' unecessary repetition gives air of melodrama which undermines poem