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2015 MELITA HUME POETRY PRIZE SHORTLIST FOCUS: MICHAEL NAGHTEN SHANKS


EDITOR OF THE BOHEMYTH
Michael Naghten Shanks is a poet and the editor of The Bohemyth. His writing has featured in various journals and anthologies, including gorse, The Quietus and elsewhere. In May 2015 he will read as part of the Poetry Ireland Introductions Series during the International Literature Festival Dublin.    

I AM YOUR REFRIGERATOR AT 3 A.M. WHEN YOU ARE HUNGRY

I could not consume the stars above the beach in Enniscrone
or stop the soot of London mixing with Camden coke.
In different seasons, love is ice-cream: we want to lick
our favourite flavour all year, even if it makes us sick.
I give you a call and you come over. We watch
a Werner Herzog documentary, Cave of Forgotten Dreams,
about simple drawings of extinct animals. One of us says:
Do you think the artist ate the art or the art ate the artist?
We know the beginning and the end before we press play.
We consume designer drugs not designed for us; our bodies
separated by a punnet of mixed berries the colour of our bruises.
You sprinkle sugar over everything; the clumps of sugar on my sheets
remind me of the stars above the beach. We both have our flaws
to share. We eat the air’s empathy-flavoured existence.
In the morning, you’ll say: I just ate a special K cereal breakfast bar
when what I really wanted to eat was pepperoni pizza. I’ll say:
I want to be ten years older eating dauphinoise potatoes for dinner
and apple pie with cream for dessert. In a month, you’ll confess
your sins over Sunday lunch, across the table in a café,
croissant crumbs will stick to our forearms. Tonight, you stroke
the scar on my thigh inscribed by a firework. You touch my scar
to touch my past. You comfort my past when you fear you cannot
comfort my present. You comfort me to comfort yourself.
When we wake, you say: I spilled the sugar.
I say: I know, I could taste it on your elbows.


POEM COPYRIGHT OF THE AUTHOR 2015
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Wheeler Light currently lives in Boulder, Colorado.



Life Jacket

summer camp shirtsI couldn’t fit in then
are half my size nowI wanted to wear
smaller and smallerarticles of clothing
I shrunk to the sizethat disappeared

of an afterthoughtin a sinking ship body
too buoyant to sinktoo waterlogged for land
I becamea dot of sand