STAR POems: On the Success or Otherwise of Disposable Barbecues

Not like that time at West Wittering,
a gaggle of teenage girls,
enough matches to model a battleship.
Each sparked a flicker of yellow
soon extinguished;
a barbecue that wouldn’t burn.

Eventually we got it going,
huddled bags and boxes around
damp coal and spent splints of wood.
The wind dropped enough
for smoke to just about take hold,
too fast the flames were done.

This time we were promised instant light;
for once the marketing spiel was true,
and as the sky began to turn
a mellower shade of gold,
the last of the kite-surfers
packed up and drove home.

On the other side of the Solent,
streetlamps from Ryde to Bembridge
were necklaces of  precious jewels.
As charcoal embers glowed,
we sank fingers into the shingle,
took every breath as if it was our first.

Richard Williams