I’m Not Here
I’m no longer here –
I’ve been in the papers, a “tragedy”, of sorts – when there is no other word
no longer able to breathe, the crash, others thrown clear –
words that mean nothing, the prayers and the thoughts – it all sounds so absurd
words from people who care just enough, trying to do their bit –
between their God, my Father, my Mother, picking up the threads
roles are reversed, their child, their child, their child is dead, there are no answers fit –
just remember, my parents, crying in their beds.
I was only four years old –
if you call that old, killed by disease
the doctors didn’t pick it, thought it was flu, or a cold –
turned, like the Atlantic, to fatal cough and wheeze
I don’t get to grow up, have a boyfriend, bake a cake –
or have friends who come around
play together, go to school, or to argue what’s at stake –
please do not forget me because they put me in the ground.
Fire breath in my throat as my father tried in vain –
him too, with me, buttressed for the fight
waiting, no longer now, the coming of the rain –
trying to hold it off, to try to make it through the night.
The men with their reports, with their advice designed to seize –
the day or just the moment, the instant thought, to run
or stay, to fight, to sleep, to rage against, or freeze –
please do not forget us, my father and his son.
I got caught, like a lot of us still do –
by a single bullet from the same authority’s gun
I was walking home, with a friend, just us two –
He’s white, I’m black so I decided I should run
Maybe if I’d stood still or put my hands into the air –
maybe if I’d just laid flat on the ground
maybe if they’d known what is right, or even what is fair –
if only they’d known that, there’s a chance I’d be around.
At three days old, I am not passed away, I’m dead –
So easy to count my days and insult my too short life
My mother who bore me, who no longer dreams, or forms a thought inside her head –
for the guilt, the shame by another name, the curses of a wife
the hole in my heart, the hole, the words not spoken –
or the brothers to come, who will never get to know me
my Father, my Mother and the family that is broken –
just remember I have lived and please find some love to show me.
You know me, from the news, I died in my cell –
I could take no more deprivation, bashings, hunger, loneliness, false claims, abuse
you seemed happy, someone did, for me to continue in this hell –
you can argue over my rights, as if it’s now of any use
the policies of the myopic, the righteous, with their shopworn, tired displays –
formulated on your television, as your leader, hmmm, explains
try not to forget me as you live out all your days –
I hope that someone remembers this when you lock the others up in chains.
Nowhere here is safe, especially at night but also during the day –
I was outside with my friends when a bomb came overhead
So, you will never know me, someone blew me up, as I went outside to play –
it first blew off my arms and then my legs, I’m twelve years old, I’m dead.
I wanted to go into medicine, to heal the sick and lame –
because I read about it, my teachers taught me, that it’s a good thing to grow up to do
but I’m the victim now, of ideals, someone’s strange political game –
so keep this in mind, when you hear people speak these things, who do not have a clue.
I’m twenty four years old, or was, I’m much younger than that now –
My friends say a better place, they say it such a lot, I’m kind of sick of hearing it
I couldn’t take it, or so I thought, the voices, I’d like to have stayed around for longer but I didn’t know how –
I couldn’t work out the difference between loving it and fearing it.
I’d like to say that love, such that it was, and is, was never far away from me –
I just couldn’t reach out and hold it, embrace it, or understand your simplistic far off theory
I’d like to think that you’d remember me and understand what it was that I could do, or be –
I didn’t leave because I didn’t love you, or need you, I just grew tired and weary.
I was ripped apart by lust, anger, by violent rage and hatred –
I was walking home, you know my name but now it’s far too late
walking home, nothing more, stumbling into something putrid –
society’s indifference, inconvenience, whistling a blind eye to my fate.
Remember, for the others, do not forget me, now just a photo in a locket –
And still you do nothing, leaving others to bring flowers and ideologies that sprout
but for the Grace of God, that moralising grace you carry in your pocket –
create a life now lost to me, as you casually go about.
I was riding my bike to buy ice cream, when a car took my breath from me –
it came from out of space and crushed my lungs, smashed my brain, in an instant, bloody death
blood seeped from my body, as he mumbled and stumbled free –
a passer by came running, to try and save me with his breath.
The driver wasn’t looking, in his alcoholic haze, thinking only of himself –
he won’t remember anything, I’m sure, when, if, he’s dragged away to jail
and if you let him drive again, show him my picture on your shelf –
I’m only twelve years old, I’m gone – yet again we fail.
Our parents used to love each other but then it turned to hate –
not for us, their children, for each other, anger, our family no more as one
my Father took us one day, dragged us out the gate –
he killed our Mother and then he took us from our home, at the barrel of his gun
We are no more, my sister, me and neither is my Father, I’d like to ask him why –
He turned it on himself when he realised we were dead
If he didn’t love his life, our Mother, why shoot us so we’d die –
why didn’t someone stop him, what was so wrong in his head?
We die, and then we are gone, to a long and quiet repose –
or a place to placate our longings, or yours, to make meaning of this end
in patronising soliloquy, in the words that you compose –
and by the way, who are they for, these flowers that you send?
Look out your window, will you, for this brotherhood of man –
Is there a scene you’re trying to catch, a face, a memory, a voice
can you remember who I was, in this grand heroic plan –
We are gone – we are gone – we did not have a choice.
© copyright – Stephen Newman 2020