Last year’s winning poem by Helen Ramoutsaki, Prole Laureate 2011-2012.
The up side
Inside your small world
you carve your daily bread sideways
with only one side up
to butter it on.
Year after year,
showing stern fingers shaking,
thou shalt nibble at the crumbs
and never be greedy.
Inside your hatch
hides a tin of caring, cariad,
all mouth-melting, griddle-cooked
for children to gobble at.
Grasping your basket,
sensible shopping, pension-eking,
penny by penny in a co-op book
stuck with stamps in line for a bingo.
Over a sloe gin,
sipped sour and surprising,
I hear you careering, black-out illicit,
down contrabanded country lanes.
Out in the avenue,
the children play tin-tan-topper
past the pigeons homing home
all in a line, counting polished doorsteps.
Choking on a woodbine
in adult-bar city-life amazement,
I’m offered lovers, fags and sports cars
and a single, faded photo.
I’ve been told now,
take your cake, eat it up,
relish it, each buttery currant,
before you’re left with only bread.
where to come home to roost,
trained to their place, compelled by duty
and a battered tray of grain.
Now I see the side you hide
and why you carefully cut,
buttering first so you’re not tempted
to choose which one it’s on.
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