Thursday, 1 November 2007


One of my winning poems from the Warwick Laureateship Poetry Competition 2007:


Another one goes higher, climbing up that ladder
like a monkey: screwdriver, hammer, wrench
tucked neatly in his belt. His mates follow,
leaving their cloudy fingerprints
on plate-glass. This is their world,
high above our ant-eye level.
We scuttle underneath with cups of tea,
leave them steaming on planks
or pass them through open windows.

They lean against the scaffolding
at half past ten, unhurried, rolling smokes.
Later, the backs of their necks will redden
as they pull the flashing from the roof
(the youngest often stripping to the waist).
The sun is in my eyes; refracting light
into a fleet of curving poles,
this structure almost seems to bend,
a tree-house circumnavigating stone.

I watch them come first thing, unload their van
and swing up into clouds.
Each day we hear them through our walls
like mice in the skirting-boards
or scratching at the roof, bird claws
hooking onto lead. Their voices rumble
in the chimney-breast, hammer us
a slant of sky through glass
until we’re living under occupation.

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