Stone walls do not a prison make… – Richard Lovelace d. 1658
I sense your weight in the gym.
I push you up and pull you in.
In the pew at chapel
you stretch and flutter my lapel.
Sometimes I work the library
and feel your patient breath
at each turn of page.
I feel you flicker at lights out.
I catch your blush at wake-up,
your tut tut as dinners clear,
your giggle among the role-call,
your hug all the way
on the supervised walk;
we’ve outgrown small talk.
I don’t exist to win parole
or yearn for prison visitors
nor half-absorb a shallow trade.
I’m not a base head or binger;
the bag man wonders
whose bhang I’m on
but I’m not blocked; there’s you.
Fobs and padlocks are your curves,
rattle of keys in corridor
the music of your jewels;
window bars are where we drink
a slow cocktail or two
before making hay in full glare –
naked, playful, wanton stars.
STIR won the £500 Teignmouth poetry festival poetry competition 2015.
The judge was Penelope Shuttle.