Paragon Station 1960
PRINT YOUR OWN
N A M E P L A T E
22 letters for 1d
His dad gives him the penny
to put in the slot, he moves the hand
to ten-past-twelve to point at M,
pulls hard on the lever – a clonk
as the letter is stamped into metal –
then back to I back to C to H
and over to ten-to-twelve for the A
before the E (the moment he knows
how to spell it) and round again to L,
a final heave on the guillotine lever
severs it, the little strip of aluminum
dropping into the delivery box
and all day long the feel of the tag
in his pocket as he rubs his thumb
over the bumps of his name.
Paragon Station 1960 won first prize in the Brittle Star competition judged by George Szirtes.
Stalks thicker than a wrist catch in the flail
crack and clatter into the cutting chamber.
All morning the machine moans
crashing back and forth along the lane
spitting sticks and crisp packets.
The shocked hedge lies in its wreckage.
Cans and plastic bottles litter the ditch.
Celandines yellow the bank. The hawthorn blears:
greenness springs from splintered stems.