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- 1st Free Verse

Poetry Competition



First Prize


OLD GOODS SHED by Janeen Samuel

I am old, leave me alone,
a century has passed over me —
empty and old — the men are gone.
Let me alone with your questioning,
your asking for names.
I do not remember;
my thoughts whirr like pigeons.
I have forgotten them —
all the names and faces,
though I am haunted by voices;
they rumble in my belly,
linger like cobwebs in my rafters:
the daily counterpoint
of greeting and chaffing,
bass continuo of the accounting,
staccato to and fro
of men labouring together, and ever
and always the murmur
and coo of the pigeons.

Do not disturb me.
I do not desire to go back
to the bustling past, to the clang
and shudder of shunted trucks,
thud of boxes on boards,
thumping of humped sacks;
to the sharp hiss of steam
and sharper smell of the cinders
... though I remember
more fondly the warm odours
of hessian and grain,
canvas and candles
and pigeons,
the good sweat of men
and — far gone now, fading,
fading — the ripeness of horses.

Let me alone.
I am old, my bones
crumble and sag. My legs splay.
They are all gone now, the machines
and men and the horses.
Only the pigeons remain,
and my dreams
tumbling and whirring like pigeons
and fading. Always fading.

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