The Ipswich Poetry Feast Awards Ceremony was held last night
I was lucky enough to pick up first prize in the Open Age Local Poets' category with this one.
THE LAST SUMMER ROSE
He walks down the street he knew well as a boy and all left unchanged is the name.
The buntings droop down like deflated balloons - a party where nobody came.
The wrecking balls all have been loaded away. The flyers are out in the mail.
The real estate agents are busy as bees spruiking apartments for sale.
Neglected old houses on half-acre blocks are only a memory now
like the old dairy farm at the end of the road which for decades has not seen a cow.
The old picture show where he once used to queue for the Saturday morn matinee
has been levelled as well, leaving just a facade. He'll not go to 'the pictures' today.
He thinks of the gang that had once gathered here, how they fractured and scattered afar
like the carrot-topped boy with the razor-sharp wit, who became quite the radio star.
And what of the boy with the Hollywood looks and the girl with the voice of a lark?
Did they follow their dreams, that theatrical pair, or did life simply snuff out the spark?
The old railway tracks where he flattened a coin, overgrown, and in parts rusted through,
are now firmly it seems, in the bulldozer's sights in the race to create something new.
He remembers a girl 'neath the old railway bridge and the freckles that sun-kissed her nose,
and the scolding he took from his mother because he had pilfered her prize-winning rose.
He had picked the red rose for the freckled-faced girl and he wonders where she is today.
Did she miss the old gang, and that red-headed boy, when her family moved far away?
But the roses are gone and the houses gone too. It's unlikely they'll even be missed,
except by a man who remembers a girl - the very first girl that he kissed.
But time marches on and it leaves us behind. Father Time is a memory thief
and the last summer rose always graciously cedes to the fall of the first autumn leaf.
So an old man moves on like he's done many times but a memory, bitter and sweet,
lingers on in his wake like the scent of a rose crushed by carelessly hurrying feet.
In a town far away there's a cute bungalow with a rose bush that blooms near the door.
On a table inside there's a fully blown rose and a petal drifts down to the floor.
An old lady sits in a comfortable chair, a newspaper always nearby.
The real estate ad on the TV guide page is small but it catches her eye.
A memory stirs from a lifetime ago, softly faded like freckles in shade.
An old railway bridge and a red summer rose, and promises childishly made.
She's watching a show titled 'Where are they now?' She's forgotten who most of them are
but remembers the sharp-witted white-haired old man who was once quite the radio star.