Entry - MAG Poetry Prize 2011


by Lindsay Fursland

Now the guns and grenades are gobsmacked with victory,
conflict concluded, the combatants sleep…
and only the lifeless lie open-eyed.
Kites eye up those sun-starers, upon whose faces
the Helmand dust looks like icing sugar;
the birds squabble and squawk berserk for possession,
tantrum over territory, for the juiciest titbit
delivered by improvised roadside devices.
And here they come swarming: the slain-scenting creatures,
Valkyries flocking like heavenly vultures,
not to claw cruelly or gormandize flesh,
but to balm men’s bodies and bring them to healing,
to bedeck them with catheters and crimson bloodbags
and stitch their gashes and care for their fractures.
They pluck from oblivion the pick of the dying,
choosing fresh champions for Odin’s immortals,
kickstarting these corpses to rekindle their slaughtering:
in their next world, dawn dazzles uncannily
as godawful klaxons howl them to consciousness,
they’re gasmasked and fighting-geared in a fistful of seconds;
for endless tomorrows these indomitable heroes
must renew their frazzle and frenzy ad nauseum.

Added: 22.04.2011

Judges' comments on this poem


I like the fact that the "vultures" weren't


1st read - thought it was too wordy.2nd- thought maybe if it was separated into Stanza's it would make easier reading. 3rd Brilliant !


A difficult subject but incredibly powerful and well written. I love this poem.


Too many unnecessarily big words: "klaxon," "bedeck," "gormandize," "indomitable," etc. C'mon, I feel more like I'm taking a vocabulary quiz


Some powerful imagery here - and the heavily consonantal lines add to this delivery.


really like the words in this poem xxx


Very powerful images - an original take on war. I especially like the section following the swoop of the Valkyries