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Mick Imlah

Nobody knows what stuff we keep locked up

before the sentence starts. I thought to study

timeless things, as out of character

as crime for me, mosaics, wild flowers,


Bridge in the Telegraph. In fact, prison

still has its way with me, and getting out

was no escape, I found, patching myself

in the Gents at the desolate station, swearing


I’m never going back there again—when the train

slid off without me, from a side platform.

So I struggled across rails and broken weed,

ragwort, blagwort, across expanding wasteland,


just to yell at the vanishing guard, Hey, thanks,

sarcastically—but he’d no need to listen;

for when I turned to look right and left for witness,

what came next? It threatened to run me down.


From Oxford Poetry Vol 13 No 2 (Winter 2009)

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