Our friend is seasoned on sloe gin tonight,
like a maple embering in autumn,
so at dusk by the fire the slightest shift and settle
of logs crumbles ever-so-slowly inside him,
and a thought, like a bird, like a blackbird even
will lift from the branches of his mind and rise
into the ragged tailwinds and entrails of sky
- with all that dragging behind of welts and torn-apart pasts -
to search for thermals rising off a hilltop,
lice under a half-rotten log, a place to meet its ghosts.
Look. Ivy braids up the scabbed bark,
ascends towards whichever heaven is foreclosed tonight
but present, we know, just over the horizon,
invisible in the ashy flakes; an abandoned cliff-top
night club defaced with war banners.
But now, here, in these embers, somewhere the pianist begins -
see her against the molten glow of plate glass,
intent on the particular, caught like wool in the notes.
(2nd Prize Wenlock Competition 2013)