Entry - MAG Poetry Prize 2011

MAN ON A MOBILE BY KINDERTRANSPORT STATUE IN LIVERPOOL STREET STATION.

by alan price

Five children of copper coloured stone,
moulded in exile, with all the flight
of anxiety sculptured out of their faces.
Representatives for those who crossed Germany,
to the Hook of Holland, and sailed to the ports
of Harwich and Southampton,
where London Quakers applauded,
housed and silently bed the last Jews down.
 
Like a cat the businessman claws mobile from ear.
Free to scan his caught day of dazzling web pages.
His copper patterned, zipped up, leisure bag
confidently wedged on the children’s plinth.
 
These statues’ suitcases are older and heavier affairs.
Unlike thirties leather, they bear no plastered hotel
stickers of exotic locations with captive sunspots.
(Celebrity toffs once flashed that kind of bulk
luggage, in a decade of hate and Semitic stars.)
Today, stone children with number tags.
Designer label on flexible bag.
 
What if they chose other times and destinations?
That the man travelled back to Buchenwald, in 1940,
minus his pages and business plan.
Whilst the group’s little girl, holding her teddy bear,
and waving at him, was turned into skin and bone,
for a daytrip to Southampton in 2011.
 
Yet the mischief of history is crueller, less fanciful;
planting itself in the rough here and now.
Transportation for a statue, inside its crate,
or businessman, in his car,
is a short journey, computerised
through a careful peace.

Added: 29.04.2011

Judges' comments on this poem

04.05.2011

Absolutely love this. Love the line drawn between two times. Maybe the bit in brackets not essential (if it can be bracketed to begin with)?

05.05.2011

Thoughtful, complex, good sustained and linking imagery.

18.05.2011

Thought this a powerful juxtaposition of images; but a little more editing and shaping would get key images working more strongly.

22.05.2011

Reminiscent of Lowell. Complex yet plucks the heart strings. Really enjoyed this piece.

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