Prize-winning poems and stories

Today, with the spirit of a brand new year still around, I’m going to begin a series of blogs containing some of my award-winning poems and stories from the last twenty years of my published work. To check on the full list of my poetry and fiction awards, please visit my site at www.bruceleonardharris.com.

I’m beginning with a poem on the rather sombre subject of unemployment and how it can affect people’s lives, including not only the person made unemployed, but also their relations and loved ones. Daniel’s Shore describes the devastating effect that suddenly being put out of work can have, and finishes with a hint that such situations can perhaps be best handled by people coming together and co-operating against the worst effects, which can be separation and isolation. It was published in my 2018 Kaleidosope collection (see the Poetry section of my site for details) and I dedicate it to all those men and women who start the year up against it with issues of employment

Daniel’s Shore

 

His boss’s face had the last lip smack

of a well-fed tiger. His job was no more,

sacrificed to apparent rationalisation.

Man and desk were one shape for Daniel,

a cartoon Python foot clamping down.

 

It somehow matured his wife’s frustration,

touching it off like a long-fused bomb,

the fear of life cut back to survival.

She left with the kids; his entire existence

drove briskly back in a Vectra to Mother.

 

Two days self-haunting his shell of a house;

two nights to salt the wound on the streets

among the city’s shambling demons,

the freshly opened scars still smarting,

walking a discovered emptiness of Hell.

 

And then a quiet rebellion of pride

bred a desire to reject the rejection.

A tent on the back; trudging bootsteps

leaving London its fester of noise,

for ever speaking and never hearing.

 

Now, on the beach, hours to squander,

infinity days for sitting and seeing.

Starfish and ammonites, brown weed and shells,

occasional inexplicable refuse,

and the black prison doors clanking on open.

 

On moonless nights, the tent is a tomb,

but still the place can whisper escape

in unconfined landscape and immediate air.

Here and now, the meek inheritance

is releasing a life spent in impotent rage.

 

But not before an evening arrives

when he finds himself standing, trembling and naked,

staring down at the edge of the tide

while the chuntering sea kisses his feet

and beckons him in as if going home.

 

He wakes to the sun like a kind of redemption,

embryo-wrapped in his bag like a child

and heads right back for his own High Noon.

Two weeks of Mother have been more than enough

and she misses his gentle hands in the darkness.