The Milky Really

Marbles One

I was a poor marbles player and always lost. Freddie had a Milky Really worth a bob and he gave it to me so that I could play ‘Reallies Up’. Each boy competing placed a Really in the ring but only the best players would risk such valuable marbles.

— Alan Marshall, I Can Jump Puddles

Here in this playground
I sit much like Saturn, ringed
with boys itching for treasure.
I feed on admiration
in eager faces blinded by prowess,
acquisitiveness, competition,
single-mindedness, sport.

(Once! Twice! Away!)

Peewees, cat’s eyes, sparklers
and Jupiter tombolas lie forgotten
for the moment, while popeye patches,
spiral corkscrews, green slags,
red comets and wasp rainbows
are leached of both glamour
and pocket-warmth.
They can’t take their eyes off me.
What these children don’t know is that,
before they are old enough to listen
with themselves, I teach them
the poetry you can never ever win —

(Once! Twice! Away!)

greater than shooter shipwrecks,
than latticinio core swirls,
than oxblood transitionals,
the only truly out of this world:
their own unsuspecting
steep diamond present.

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