Longlisted Poem 2013

Liam Burns

Bishop Challoner Catholic College, Birmingham


Half-buried in Earth beneath the flooded skies,
Nought but misery drowning his eyes
And the bugs strangle tighter till they claw at his head,
Yet to notice the stench of the dead.
Friend or foe, boy or beast he failed to tell,
His mind reverberating the heavy death knell.

Lines on his face sang a song of a half-forgotten life
Now consumed by bitter struggle and strife.
The green of his dress rested boldly on black
Whilst fingers searched blindly over every crack
And crevice in the bog where he lay,
To huddle and whimper till breaking of day.

Back in the world he’d sing happier songs
Of the half of his life he’d loved for so long
Full of wonder too immense to measure,
A world and time so gracious in pleasures.
But he was cast from the door not too soon after,
To take refuge on an island so devoid of laughter.

Dropped in a chasm to shield a light,
Forever informed his acts should be right
And just, but why should he and all others,
Stripped of face, name and labelled as ‘brothers’,
Have to act in said manner when robbed of all choice?
But approaching storms overwhelmed their voice.

He wakes to the rotting odour and starts to think,
‘Is it Mike who’s making this deathly stink?
Or the gook Johnny nailed while our backs were all turned,
Or the flesh of those kids that dumb flyboy burned?’
No use in griping or losing your head,
When what’s done is done, all rivers run red.

He forgets the reason for his squatting in the hole,
No one was granted a specific role.
There was no Will Holden, and no John Wayne.
Are they the tools used for others to gain?
Maybe it’s for the Omniscient to sit up there and mither….
Forget it.  He’s probably got no idea either.
© Liam Burns

Project Details

  • Date January 29, 2015
  • Tags 2013 The Details - Longlisted Poems