his floorboarded bones are rusty nailed jointed
unoiled and wrapped in stiff wads of coiled rags
arms incorrectly angled end with scuffed knuckles
woodsmoked fingers and pipe tar bittendown nails
he is racked with medieval torture pains
a brickly arched back is nauseously slime coated
mortared graveyard teeth set in crooked abandonments
behind methylated breath-fumes his misty arcane eyes dwell
one legged he shuffles with a fossilised slum dweller ambiguity
his inner tinnitus voices weep through welted tunnelled scars
the castellated storms that rage around his corridors of power
stalk death with every eerie echoed clack of his knotted stick
and the castle children taunt:
ya! ya! Barquentine!”
I rescued a wasp from near certain death at my own hands
– an arbitrary spur of the moment act of compassion
which changed nothing other than my own perception of life
– saved me dealing with the murderous taste of contrition.
Henry Alberto was the eldest son of a family from El Salvador
– determined to finish school he refused to join the local gangs
but they came for him after his graduation and 18th birthday
– shot him dead in retribution all within the same ghastly week.
I could have swatted the wasp and left its body to whither
– annoying buzzing unpredictable stinging nuisance that it was
and besides, there will always be another to take its place
– this random act of killing is disturbingly too easy.
Luis Padillo was a Navy chaplain caught up in rebellious carnage
– as sniper bullets flew in Venezuela he tended to the dying
selflessly risking his own life to offer soldiers the last rites
– death is the choice of the devil in our subconscious.
I took a soft cloth and trapped the wasp against the window
– the power of the executioner, finger on the trigger,
resisting the urge to squeeze the living juices from its body
– hostage released on the whim of the freedom giver.
Henry Alberto’s mother cradles the photo of her dead son
– overwhelming grief consumes her troubled refugee existence.
Father Luis Padillo may or may not have ended his days in Florida
– I have no idea how we should end this deathly poetic dichotomy.
(two images that came my way this week – The iconic Priest and the Dying Soldier by Héctor Rondón Lovera from 1962 / Henry Alberto photographed on his graduation day and held by his mother Juana, taken by Patrick Tombola for a Sunday Times magazine article about Central American migrants fleeing poverty and gang violence to Mexico and, with luck, America).