This poem was first published in the summer 2016 issue of The Poetry Review, 106:2, and won the Geoffrey Dearmer Prize judged by Jane Yeh.

Judge's comments "Filled with continual surprises, ‘Short’ twists and turns as erratically as a car gone out of control, or perhaps as its speaker’s emotions have gone out of control. The irregular line lengths and lack of punctuation and capital letters reflect the disjunction of his or her thoughts, giving the poem a sense of improvisation and immediacy that draws the reader in. Such improvisation is, however, an illusion, as the poem’s artful construction, its patterns of repetition and anaphora, reveals."

Short

by Wayne Holloway-Smith

The whiskey in my dad’s bottle outlasts his body
I should be older than this by now
but the crushing simplicity of your hair
but I’m being played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt
in a movie about someone whose dad died
we could rob a bank here – I say in my American voice –
and he’d still be dead
but the wind is in our faces and yours looks
more masculine in this light
and mine has really quite white teeth and eyelashes
call me princess ask me something and laugh
stroke my cheek my dad is dead
but the upbeat pop soundtrack
and you catching glances at boys’ tanned legs
in slow-moving traffic
your body whistling through the streets now
anything about the shape of your face
with your feet naked on a dashboard
riding shotgun distracted
theorising bad TV
and armpits a couple of days unshaved
mine are as clean as a whistle oh god
crows do not line both sides of the road here
you are so definitely not at work
we’ve got ancient shotguns in the back
oh god for black comedy an urn and my dad’s ashes
a half-bottle of whiskey oh god
for black comedy you reach for a shotgun
spot a crow and kill it
then nothing happens
then nothing happens
then it did

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