Young poet

23rd February 2001 at 00:00
Code numbers pushed quickly

And then drive slowly, red light on.

Rollers spin and thunder over the car,

Wax sprays white covering the windows.

A dryer starts up, a hot breeze blowing.

Suddenly it stops, all is quiet.

Hope your car is gleaming.

Daniel Greeney, eight, St James CE school, Bolton

The title of this poem caught my attention immediately, and once I'd read it I went back to it again and again. Daniel shows us that poetry can be written about any subject and I admired the way he offers us a glimpse into the world of everyday technology which we often take for granted.

The poem is an acrostic, but the poet hides his technique with particular skill. Its strength lies in its forthright simplicity and, rather than merely conforming to a pattern, the poem surprises us with its economical and vividly advancing statements. "Quickly" is balanced by "slowly" and the "thunder" of the rollers by the "quiet" of cessation.

There's an elemental quality to the poem , a privileged sense that once the code allows us inside the car wash, everything is both natural and wonderful. Thunder seems to bring forth the wax like a biblical miracle and then the hot breeze blows itself out to Saharan silence. The events are viewed from inside the car, tansporting us behind polished glass and steel.

This poem takes a daily event and succeeds in revealing the strange forces at work behind it, defamiliarising the familiar. The final line pops up like a "Have a nice day!" message, and offers a human touch to the mechanical vortex that we have been drawn through. For most of us, it reminds us that our car is far from gleaming and sends us out to the nearest car wash with heightened expectation. Not quite a moral, perhaps, but a gentle reminder that cleanliness is close to the divine.

Graham Mort

Daniel Greeney receives The Puffin Book of 20th Century Children's Verse, edited by Brian Patten. His poem was submitted by Mrs C Dobson. Graham Mort, a freelance writer and tutor, is TES guest poet for this term. His latest collection, Circular Breathing (Dangaroo Press), is a Poetry Book Society recommendation. Please send poems, no longer than 20 lines, to Friday magazine, The TES , Admiral House, 66-68 East Smithfield, London E1W 1BX. Include the poet's name, age and address, the name of the submitting teacher and the school address. Or email: The TES Book of Young Poets (pound;9.99), a selection of poems from this column, can be ordered by phoning 01454 617370. A set of posters is available for pound;3.99

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