Cardiff International Poetry Competition
Runner Up - Karen McCarthy Woolf
Karen McCarthy Woolf was born in London to English and Jamaican parents. Her poetry has been exhibited on London Underground, broadcast on BBC radio and is published in magazines and anthologies, most recently in Poetry Review, Poetry London and Ten New Poets: Spread the Word (Bloodaxe, 2010). Her pamphlet The Worshipful Company of Pomegranate Slicers was a PBS recommendation and a New Statesman Book of the Year. Karen is also interested in exploring the creative process online in her blog www.opennotebooks.co.uk which was commissioned by literature development agency Spread the Word.
spreads its branches so twigs scratch
third floor windows, pushes through cracked
glass into front rooms cluttered with books.
Every time the wish is amended, cells disperse,
subdivide, multiply. Tomorrow the wish is a horse,
a knight with its two forward one across,
his mane a scythe razing cornfields to the ground.
The wish isn't supposed to do that. The wish is out
of control. The wish can be viewed from many angles;
today it's a crow looking for soft spots to stab.
Or a tricolore to wave at the toros who charge
with muscled heads down. The wish lives
in a little silver box with WISH written oil it.
The wish is big as America. The wish is totally irrelevant.
The wish is yappy as a tethered dog and industrial .
in its persistence: a rhesus monkey that bares its teeth.
On anniversaries the wish smiles like a chaise longue;
its death cry sonorous as a foghorn.
The wish is as monumentally unfinished
as Gaudi's dripping catedral
and needs you, always, to be absolutely specific.
The wish purrs behind an electrified fence where
it keeps company with deer. The wish is a murmur
barely overheard. The wish. Always the wish.