I’ve recently started entering competitions again. Well – I entered two. And because of the year it was (2016 of course), I forgot to keep notes, so I entered the same poem into both of them.
Kids! Don’t do this!
So I effectively paid two fees and entered one competition, and probably pissed off the people at the other. However, I have got a commendation in the one I did effectively enter, and it was judged by Andrew McMillan, which makes me happy. All the winners are on the Café Writers website, but the commendations are not, so I’m putting mine here. Do go and read the others.
Love Poem to the Great Houdini
Cassandra sits and thinks of the great Houdini.
We’ve seen her doing this, shut in her glass box.
He could get her out, she knows he could free her from this –
this stasis – this bending air that never goes anywhere.
Houdini can escape from anything. He bites through chains,
Houdini wrestles with gravity itself.
Houdini has the biggest laugh in the neighbourhood;
in his one-piece swimming costume like a stripy barrel
he throws his head back and the stripes splosh like waves,
and everybody in the restaurant also laughs.
Houdini has thick black hair and deep dark eyes and although
he is all business his cheeks were made for laughing.
When he tells a joke it’s as if he just escaped from something,
and he laughs inside while he’s busy doing escaping.
Houdini has the strength of nine men – no, of one.
But what a man that one is. Go on – punch him.
His stomach goes so hard you’ll break your hand
and he won’t feel a thing – though why would you want
To break your hand. Or your heart. Houdini’s only human.
He needs to escape himself sometimes,
he needs to escape these bonds of death,
you could even say he needs to escape into love.
He’s only human. Into the light, the candles, the warmth,
the shining eyes of his fellow humans as alive as he is.
Cassandra imagines he needs to escape into her.
Because when Houdini goes home to bed, and he’s warm,
and his heart is quiet and his brain isn’t pounding,
he slips under the duvet with an animal smell,
warm skin and breath and sleepy-lidded eyes,
it will be as if he were a barrel she could curl up in
and hide from death with his big arm around her.
She climbs into bed and escapes. She loves Houdini.
She’s never known a man like him before.
I don’t really know how these things happen; it wasn’t till after I’d written it that I remembered I already have a poem about Houdini. Well, there you go.