Poetry Happening Near You

Off

Off

Imagine the pent-up energy,
the violence, of a single electron
spinning madly around its nucleus,
unable to break free.
Think millions of them, going nowhere
in the red-hot cauldron of their universe.

Until some outside force charges in
and scatters them,
                              or marches them in lines
directing them to travel North or South.
Imagine their excitement at the thought
of travelling, of having somewhere to go.

There are such moments,
                                    when the world shifts.
Imagine Einstein pushing off his little boat
at midnight across a sea of relativity –
  all those ricocheting atoms.
Or Rutherford as he fired his first alpha particles.
All those electrons suddenly weighing up
the possibilities, high-fiving, punching the air.

Bert Flitcroft

Bert Flitcroft

Bert Flitcroft

About this poem

Every year, Poetry on Loan runs a poetry competition, free to enter for anyone who lives, works or studies in the West Midlands. This year we had 118 entries, and Bert's poem Off  was chosen as the winner in the adult category.

The competition was judged by a panel of 10 library staff and people closely associated with libraries, who were looking for well-written poems that wold be accessible to most readers. Bert faced stiff competiton from the others in the shortlist - congratulations, Bert! His prize is a paid event with Poetry on Loan.