I’m stuck in the bowels of the shortlist
shut out by Elysium’s door;
I’m lurking in poetry’s hallway
with the refusés pacing the floor.
We made it as far as the doormat
and the vestibule’s marble embrace,
but to enter the sancta sanctorum
requires a new level of grace.
They have pinned up the list on the lintel:
they are having a party inside;
the judge has selected his lambkins,
and I’m once more the maid, not the bride.
I tell all my friends it’s subjective –
the judge’s own personal taste –
then I fume and stick pins in his model,
till – lo and behold! I am placed! –
and the judge is expressing the zeitgeist
(expressing it terribly well),
and I walk through that door and I close it
on the doom-panelled hallway from hell.
(Till the next competition)