Entry - MAG Poetry Prize 2011

The Last Remains of Summer

by Thomas Gatley

Contoured faces breach the morning breezes,
The sun now preparing its midday push.
People basking in the hot air of confidence,
As killing machines roll along the tarmac cracks
Of roads, sun-dried like elderly skin.
‘The city and its people know me too well’, ponders the salesman.
But the homeless and druggies don’t care anymore.
To them it is both a pleasure and a pain
To lie weakened under the strengthening sun.
At midday, far from the forgotten freedoms of the morning
People lie, baking below the scent of tar
With red-hot, strained faces, as the staring sun glares back at them,
Forcing thirsty plants and wild thoughts to run amok:
Thoughts that made the mistake of wearing too much,
Like stuffed animals. Or bare the shame of wearing too little.
But the indifferent sun stares on,
To raised eyebrows, smart eyes and smarties melting.
Now the old glare longingly at the young,
Imagining they are more free,
As the young gaze enviously back at the old
With dreams of unfulfilled ambition.
Both sexes lie in their summer clothes as tensions boil over.
And cars now froth on the inner-city roads like frogspawn,
As somebody with pretensions of philosophy exclaims that
‘The men are becoming the women and the women becoming the men.’
And a familiar sound echoes across town,
Impossible to ignore, reminding everyone that the sun is good.
That they have no time to spare, as somebody reels
On a hot metal trolley in a clinical white van,
The last remains of summer.
But the red-backed eavesdropper has already forgotten the freedoms of the morning.
Forgotten, like so many, that he knows himself better than the city ever will.
And the sun now, deified and sane, sets soothingly over these civilians,
And hearts sink, but some rise, awaiting the night, with imaginations of tomorrow.

Added: 21.04.2011