Friday, 24 January 2014

A Poem About Disgrace

This poem was written over the course of two hours in a toilet cubicle at college. After shamefully putting my priorities before helping another, I went to lessons, done my homework and got on with the day as if it was like any other. Yet my actions plagued me and I had to express myself somehow. Throughout the day, people asked if I was ok and I felt sickened because this is not about me. I'm sharing this because I was cowardly and took a different bus route home because I was too scared to pass that same spot. I'm sharing this because I hope next time I can get off the bus and show the compassion my friend deserved.

"Honour the dead" they said
As the bus slid past your broken body
Their voices chimed
like the notes of a funeral bell
ringing so clearly - shrill -
against the canvas of your death.
"Honour the dead" as your body lay
splattered against a concrete earth,
your limbs thrown apart haphazardly,
your head twisted back.
We couldn't see the details as we sped
by on our frantic bus-ride, only gawp at the
blood that washed the road like rainwater,
or shudder and cast our sight away.
We couldn't see the details as we swerved
to avoid you. Couldn't see the lines upon
your face, the tears that hadn't yet dried,
leaking softly from your vacant, glassy eyes.
We couldn't see how your mouth hung as
if jawless, your lips resting upon the tarmac
as crimson trickled between broken teeth.
We couldn't see ourselves in you... too distant to glance our own
reflections in your deep fragile gaze.
Instead conveniently shifting by you. I pressed
my face to the glass as the bus carried
me away, ashamed to say that
I didn't get off at the next stop,
just watched like a puppet as my own breath steamed the window,
whilst you would never breath again.
I didn't get off at the next stop.
I didn't go to see you, lie with you. I wasn't the only one to
act, just anther thinkless, thoughtless spectator
in your merciless death trap.
"Honour the dead" they said as the cars weaved on by, two friends ordered from McDonald's, egg McMuffins, apple pie. Suited workers rushed to work, a woman shoved her headphones in, a jogger swept into the park, waiting for the day to begin. A couple friends they sipped their coffees, dustbin-men emptied the bins, the postman's on his rounds, school kids joking and they grin. And we sped past on our bus, commuting as we do, work school college, or wherever we go to.
A mother turned her children's faces away from you
as if your corpse reeked of monstrous shame. She turned
her children's faces as your body lay gaping
like a torn open pass-the-parcel, your insides
thrown out like splattered ice-cream, your ribcage
shattered like a kinder egg, scattered like confetti
on the road in red.
As if your corpse was offensive, she hid their vision away,
As if your corpse was offensive, we hung our heads in shame,
As if your corpse was offensive, we carried on our days
Ignoring you, trying to cover up, as your guts decorated the pavement
with humanity's corrupt. WE are offensive - You and I and We -
Crushing your beautiful life with our filthy machines,
then disregarding your dead body as it lay
twisted on the street.

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