the crooked biography written in jail (commended poem: 2015 competition)

the line in the sonnet that moved you to tears

the line beyond which you can damage your ears

the mutable tones of the red-white-and-blue

the changeable stomach of Thunderbird 2

the SS Titanic’s impeccable stern

the ice that you slap on the frying-pan burn

the lyrics to fear of the dark in reverse

the childhood ambition to ride in a hearse

the hideous version of stuck-in-the-mud

the still-unforgettable volume of blood

the wax on the walnuts of Christmasses past

the limp radiation that follows the blast

the goodness you felt in your soul as a child

the devil who looked on that goodness and smiled

the squirrel that doubleyous over the tree

the scoundrel that doubles you over his knee

the seagull that orgasms over the sky

the things that you pass off as dust in your eye

the part of the bookshop where travelogues are

the book that you grip like the wheel of a car

the delicate boyfriend you won in a fight

the leathery neck of the gearstick at night

the heated discussions each summer in France

the horrible insults you script in advance

the bar in Wisconsin you saw in a dream

the fly that ignites in the ribbon of steam

the early pornography carved on a tusk

the strange disappearance of palpable dusk

the gospel of John which begins with the word

the joke which apparently nobody heard

the loathing you bear for the literary scene

the grudging respect that you hold for the Queen

the twinge in the shin of His Majesty’s horse

the crime for which so far you’ve shown no remorse

the elegant monster who cares for your wife

the illness that dogs you the rest of your life

the flair you imagine for dealing with tribes

the deftness you hope for when handling bribes

the dawning awareness of somebody’s face

the abject suspicion you feel for his race

the hesitant cough as you look for the words

the timely alliance you made with the Kurds

the televised Muslim whose fervour you crave

the terrible prophecy carved on your grave

the treacherous pavement in Manchester square

the villainous mountebanks gathering there

the place in the sticks where you’re planning to live

the piece of your mind you are planning to give

the verdict that’s coming on armistice day

the numerous judgements you’ve made on the way

the song that they’ll sing as they put you to death

the ballad of blasphemous Dougal MacBeth

the crimson lagoons that await you in hell

the apricot bath in the distant hotel

the lesser of numerous evils at best

the head of the governing body at rest

the knowing tomorrows are anyone’s guess

the question I’m hoping to answer is this

the chance being given you, would you dismiss

the mocking, affirmative yesterdays? Yes.