This year the guy caught early: one
cold tickle of a flame lifting
along a length of bolt upright
post; provoking a boot-sole
that did not take at first but smoked
tartly, blackly; then the stuffed jeans
punking, nurturing a Class A
fire; the perfectly ironed shirt
touched, touching off a blush-red whoosh
of the guy and all his trappings.
One slow moment, while the whole world
looked into the simple working:
a traffic cone, set upside-down,
housing a football for a head.
One slow moment, and the lit mess
consumed and was finished: a gaunt
hurting reach of fire within fire
giving off the cold warmth of ice.
It burned like a saint, in haunted
silence. And though I knelt to pray –
Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done –
you led the children home, away.
The Guy by Sean Boustead received a special mention in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (February 2019) judged by Mandy Pannett.