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3rd prize - 2016

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A K S Shaw(aka A K Scutter)(Keith Shaw) was born in 1941 and educated at Queen Mary's Grammar School, Basingstoke, and Hull University. He then qualified, first as a chartered accountant, and then as a solicitor. He joined the Civil Service in 1975 and spent twenty one years commuting to central London from the home counties. He now lives in retirement in rural Somerset and writes poetry as a form of therapy and relaxation.

A Spec of Dust by A K S Shaw

What will survive of us is love.
                                       Philip Larkin

Samuel, Samuel, are you there? O yes Lord,
yes Lord, I am here: in the flesh, the blood.
                             I'm here amid the spillage, waiting for
your stiff-lipped broom to sweep the kitchen floor.
I'm here among the scum, the crumbs of bread,
                                a twist of orange peel, a hub of egg.

This drool of silver spit from dust-dry lips
is me: this pus, this scratch of scarlet skin,
                 this smudge of soil from underneath the rim
of unclipped fingernails, this tiny flick
of mucoid wax, this worm-like bogey-string,
                             this little quill of eyelash — spider thin.

This clot of blood, this knobbly carapace
of crud: this hood of fiddling scab, as hard
                          as crusted lichen, levered from my chin,
is me; it's what I am: these bits of fluff,
these two long strands of thin grey hair, this puff
                of dandruff, scrap of scurf, this nub of slough.

No Lord, not in that dark sepulchre, not
the body bag, the big black wheelie-bin.
                     Shake me out into fresh air. Give me light,
freedom, flight, broadcast me across the world.
Let me show that from this dust, this grit, this
                             little bit of bone-dry wit, love survives.

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