2016 Runners Up Continued

BEING WASPISH - by Roger Elkin

...our neighbour said right from the start,
No good will come of it.
By "it" she meant billeting the Yanks
in Stannard's shirt-mill, where they bunked up
between the greasy reek of stilled machines
and the cotton-bales piled high.

That was the third year of the war,
that year our railings went for the war effort
and like her son never came back.
The time of black-outs, with gas-lamps unlit
and the nightly Luftwaffe raids
droning overhead to Manchester and Liverpool,
one plane crash-landing on the Moor,
wing-bits and photographs of Billy Brown
with trophied goggles on show in the bobby's-shop.

It was that time, too, of weekly ARP dances,
and, for sure, those GIs were having the time
of their lives judging how the Methodists -
Primitives and Wesleyans - united in their chinwagging
as the Yanks be-bopped, jitterbugged and smooched
the night away with the mill-girls,
then traded favours for fags, gum and stockings;
our neighbour japing, Don't get owt for nowt.

And was right again.

Evidence:
that clutch of GI kids
filling prams next Spring,
their Afro-Carib faces so out-of-place -
the real sting in the tail -
in our waspy town.

FLOTSAM - by Richard Fleming
(noun: wreckage, remains,debris, detritus, waste, dross, refuse, scrap, trash, garbage, rubbish.)

The sea does not want her.
It takes the others:
her, it discards
half-dead on shingle sand,
the reek of salty fear
on her brown skin.

Gulls shriek
and quarrel overhead.
She lies face down
barely breathing,
a human starfish,
one black asterisk
referencing nothing.

Cruciform
on wet shingle,
she counts her stations:
hunger, terror, flight,
abuse,exploitation,
a merciless sea
crossed.

Land
that does not want her
spins like a mirage:
a half-moon cove,
gaunt trees
aligned like bars,
European houses.

She claws wet gravel,
draws herself
to her knees, kneels to vomit.
Along the beach,
relentlessly,
policemen come.

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