Saturday 1 August 2020

Almond Syiem, Poetry 2020 First Prize

The Fag End of A Seamill Autumn

Seagulls skim the surface of a Gaelic sky
one cold and solitary morning on a deserted beach
where I decided to have a conversation with God
and failed, returning to a castle of generous hearts,
hiding in between quiet bookshelves where I discover
your politics is neither left nor right.

This silent village has a secondhand store with jackets
too large for me, a cluttered bookshop without much poetry,
a glen too muddy from pre-winter rain. It is here I discover
new friends with desperate watercolour dreams, sunset
waves crashing against abandoned castles and caffeinated
stories of Cambodian sex-slaves barely making it to safety.

Your fingerprints are everywhere. From twilight fields
of blissful sheep to famished deer eating out of my hands,
from spaces between two mountains overlooking blue lowland
to oxblood wine dripping in country road taverns, I almost forget
the pain I brought with me when I came here, the skyscraper
of excuses I had constructed to conceal my refusal
to become who I was meant to be.

The whistling guitarist who appears out of nowhere
drives my companions into a spiritual state but I cannot
trace the footsteps of his uncomplicated rhythm, fumbling
through the obscure trails of a self-imposed melancholy,
perfecting indifference, when all I really want is to furiously
crash into your unreserved arms and never rise again.

Submerged in midnight monologues and pursued
by an unsubstantiated fear of the sky falling on my head,
I imagined this is where my epilogue begins. But Igor,
bleeding love from head to toe, allows me to soak
his jacket with tears I thought no longer existed,
silent as I empty what I cannot explain with words
that have no language. For the moment, I am safe
from my self-sabotaging ways. 

I came here fleeing futile wars and tireless assailants,
folded the unwashed laundry of complaints I will tend to later,
leaving my tribal footprints on these damp sidewalks, uncertain
about where I want my next destination to be. But Jaye, casting
aside her own dilemma of incessant pills and stonewalling Turks,
ambushes me with a shameless prayer, leaves me defenseless,
dumbfounded once more by a grace that cannot be earned.

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