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© Alan John Ward

Negative

October 23, 2017

The stars look down on a spatter of smart phones,

a palm-chained system

tracing paths and alleyways

with white string – joining yellow streetlights

dot-to-dot. Of an evening, headlights

and stairwells strike out,

puff the air with white fog.

Buses whinny and whistle, ferry chunks of day.

We light trees and castles,

and, almost unintentionally,

paving slab cracks and streetlamp necks.

Between them, we are negative.

A woman with a pram slipping into nothing

between yellow pools, swelling into existence

with the next gush of light.

A dog, fox, exists for a few beats

and then is taken, nullified by the dark.

The light has power:

cars pass and pull houses and rooms into being,

never more than a wall or two at a time.

This poem, commended in the Yeovil Literary Prize poetry category 2013, was first published in the Anthology of the Yeovil Literary Prize 2012 and 2013. It has its origins in a course I did with The Poetry School on writing about light.

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