Longlisted Poem 2015

John Colley

Elizabeth College, St Peter Port, Guernsey


Each cell so small and thin and weak,
a prisoner sentenced to life —
one of millions — so meek,
so helpless, thoughtless, hopeless.
Each cell born cold and hollow —
the horror, the horror of birth
in limbs where darkness is solace,
where light is blocked by lifeless skin.
Each cell a spinning, whirring cog,
a tiny blot in the chain of life
which drives me past the clouds of smog,
which drives me to this tower’s edge

The fog is dark. My mind is crushed
by weights which pound and press, which do
not stop for any break, or such
respite from fissures in my resolve.
The clock has chimed. I have no time
to catch a fugitive breath, to rise
for air, to cleanse my blackened mind,
to flee the blackened ash of life.
My body quakes. Each cell keeps on
to keep my mind alive, to keep
my stomach sated, and to keep
me driven to this tower’s edge

Each cell now shivers, shudders, as
the wind blasts straight into my face
which twists in rage — past
and present are smelted into one.
Each cell will break. Each dainty shell,
the membranous tissue, will crack.
Each miserable memory will seep
down and merge with welcoming cobbles.
And when I, driven to the edge,
go over my edge, I shall fall,
a bundle of cells, and land on beds
of cells below

© John Colley

Project Details

  • Date May 26, 2015
  • Tags 2015 Cells - Longlisted Poems