Lucy Vickery

Poetry in motion | 16 July 2015

In Competition No. 2906 you were invited to write a poem about an encounter in an airport.

Craig Raine’s poem ‘Gatwick’ caused a right old kerfuffle when it was published recently in the London Review of Books. The Twitter bullies came out in force to broadcast their disgust at an elderly poet sharing his lustful thoughts about young women.

I liked Fiona Pitt-Kethley’s entry, which had a warning for lecherous poets in airports: ‘We’ll see whose arse is large next time he comes/ To my desk in the airport. I’ve got chums/ With latex gloves and penetrating ways,/ Prepared to hold and search for many days.’ Honourable mentions also go to Roger Rengold, Brian Allgar and Jayne Osborn. The prizewinners, printed below, are rewarded with £25 each. The bonus fiver is Chris O’Carroll’s.

I slide my belt free from its final loop
And feel my unmoored trousers start to slip,
Untie my shoes and hand them over, stoop
Again to roll my cuffs so I won’t trip.
A uniformed blonde tells me what to do —
Stand here with arms raised, hold still to be scanned.
My doubled cuffs obstruct the scanner’s view;
Her dark-haired colleague pats me down by hand.
I didn’t think to fancy her while she
Was peering through my clothes with her device,
And his touch isn’t stimulating me.
Craig Raine’s Gatwick encounter had more spice.
Have I dodged brickbats from the Twitterati
By not undressing her with my male gaze?
Played homophobe by rating him no hottie?
Air travel’s hazardous so many ways.
Chris O’Carroll
At Charles de Gaulle you might expect to meet
An ex or three, it’s such a busy hub
(The odds will narrow if you’re flying Club),
But at Bilbao, modest and petite?
We both were with our spouses, as we’d been
Ambivalently twenty years before.

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