Entry - MAG Poetry Prize 2011


by Richard van Spall

The Gap behind, my tongue reading a monograph
tracing the recent departure of my wisdom teeth
as I wait on a metal-rimmed island in the middle
of a road, the width of a street, with blood on my hands.
There are no pelicans or zebras, just wide-eyed sheep
with carrier bags waiting for the first to cross.
I look at my centimetres of allotted paving:
the shopping channel precious stones and kneaded gum,
the skid marks and cracked nipples on the non-slip mat;
the gentle camber to the calm grey sea,
the nicotine fish sheltering with elastoplasts 
in the shallows of the contents of a tree's pocket.
I stare into my paving stone until it speaks.
It says, ' You are not the first to pray at this site.' 
When I look up everyone has crossed the road.
There will be no native scouts sent on ahead,
no no-name extras to bite on the bullet
so the rest of us pilgrims can reach the hardware store;
it's all one way; no turning back for the new evangelical
seeking salvation in things just beyond our reach.
Then the poster-grey shutters come down early,
and God takes a snapshot of his creation
and weeps. The sea starts getting angry, the gondolas stall,
and everything in this chiaroscuro scene -
the majuscule shouts, small hands and hurr on crying glass,
black security guarding white goods - melts
and loses its value. I cross to the other side:
on my phone, Your watched ebay items are ending soon. 

Added: 30.04.2011