‘Off-Peak Single’ by Oz Hardwick is our first Pick of the Month for 2019

This, for me, is the perfect prose poem’ was the comment of one of our voters and we don’t think it too far from the truth as we declare Oz Hardwick’s ‘Off-Peak Single’ as our Pick of the Month for January 2019. Voters loved the contrast between the mundane and the ‘fantastical’, the poem’s many layers and the excellence of it’s rhythm, tone and pace.

Oz is a York-based poet, photographer, occasional musician, and reluctant academic. His latest publication is a prose poetry chapbook, Learning to Have Lost (Canberra: IPSI, 2018). His ambition is to play bass in a Belgian space-rock band. www.ozhardwick.co.uk


Off-Peak Single

The turnstile jammed, trapping me half way through, casting me in the role of inconvenience for the queue that gathered in Fibonacci curves, bristling with smartphones and resentment. I scanned and inserted my ticket at every possible angle, then the same angles again but in a different order, but the gate didn’t move and the crowd swelled, became unruly, pleading and threatening. On the other side, the hall had emptied, fallen to silence as the lights went out. My ticket wore thin, and when I lifted it to my eye I could see through it to the desperate, angry, Biblical mass who looked to me for the release of all their earthly cares, or at least for loaves and fishes. By the time the ticket had fallen to fine powder, the turnstile was thick with moss, with small shrubs chancing their tentative lives in this emerging world. Bees waggled their stories of new terrain, and a yellow songbird scored its eloquent truth. My hands throb with the primal power of mulch and loam, my fingers unfolding in the prestidigitation of new life. I regret to inform you of the cancellation of all services. Let there be light.


Voters’ comments included:

Oz’s beautiful use of language and imagery are simply stunning, resulting in a richly detailed vision of hell and heaven. Wonderful!

Felt and seen so clearly, the surging mumble of the rabble in the room with me.

Just because it struck a chord with me. Somewhere inside.

This is an amazing piece of work. Simple at first glance, until one uncovers its rich tapestry. An excellent read.

Great poem, unusual writing and arresting tone.

Tongue in cheek subtly erudite, heart not quite on sleeve


I like the idea of a ‘real’ world beneath the superimposition of civilisation.

Great imagery; surrealist yet full of meaning.

I really felt it. It matched my mood.

I love the way he uses prose so poetically. Plus the situation, such humour, being stuck in the turnstile – which becomes surreal.

It speaks about the little things that should be so simple.

We’ve all had problems with mindless ticket machines, some of which are human. It resonates. If only I could have a reserved seat next to the window of life, all would be well!

Instills humour, awkwardness and tension of biblical proportions into something so simple which we’ve all experienced Sublime

It is so evocative – it took me away, made me see and feel and lose track of time.

The poem is playful, but I also like Oz’s notion that an ordinary act can trigger the rolling of the years. It has satisfying echoes for me of Thoreau’s story in Walden of the woodcarver of Kuru: .. “He had made a new system in making a staff, a world with full and fair proportions; in which, though the old cities and dynasties had passed away, fairer and more glorious ones had taken their places. And now he saw by the heap of shavings still fresh at his feet, that, for him and his work, the former lapse of time had been an illusion, and that no more time had elapsed than is required for a single scintillation from the brain of Brahma to fall on and inflame the tinder of a mortal brain. The material was pure, and his art was pure; how could the result be other than wonderful?”

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