Entry - MAG Poetry Prize 2011

Keeping a Diary

by Nicholas Gibson

What is a diary? Sometimes, it is nothing more
than a collection of dates or reminders:
“call Luce again at five, catch train at six”
that sort of thing.

Other times, it is nothing less
than a complete, unabridged, unabashed
exposition and explanation of everything
ever thought, felt or done

each flutter as she walks past
or doesn't walk past, stops
to tie a shoe, perhaps,
perhaps – No. She floats on by.

The diary exhales

breathing a ramble on your self-esteem
congealing in a consciousness,
like a smudge on a page,
that you don't deserve her.

Sometimes, however, a diary is nothing, except
a series of shimmering images, glimpsed in reflection:

the fruits of a flood, seen from a taxi;
a boy swims through his own front yard

a curly-haired Dutchman leant on a tree
as fireworks burst over a clock tower

a girl at an airport, with the wrong bag
clutched under her smile.

Movies and pictures light up the walls
of a metro system –

Flicking by before you even grasp what they are

but still leaving, perhaps, ghost impressions

in the darkroom of your memory.

Added: 30.04.2011

Judges' comments on this poem


This was really good, so close to my top four. Some really great phrases and craft. Comparative it lacked a little depth. Personal prefer...