Dear old… what was his name?
I was in the kitchen with mum,
probably whining, or eating
between pops and flares
when the screams began, hard
to disentangle from the screech of rockets
and thud of smokey trucks on the main road,
but sounding clear
at last, I heard
as a wonderful thing
(how amazing that at ten
i’d hardly heard a noise
so real that whatever
and whoever it was
broke through my self-
absorbing shell)
the human voice let loose
from its conventional restraint,
from its well-behaved plod
from its advertising patter,
this pain-born aria
made me worry that mum
might faint again.
It was as if a new angel
had thrust through the dark door
straight into this world to drum
up interest in the other side
of our getting through each day.
Leo, that’s his name, my mate,
Leo, who’d carried his bangers
in the back pocket that night
into the street to join in the celebrations,
and, turning away from the bonfire,
a spark had caught the lot
and boom his back exploded
in an instant conflagration.
Took them weeks to get the rags
of clothes out of his ex-skin.
I’m running down the street,
knowing that this is the wildest
music I would ever hear,
a voice from beyond,
in a burning body.