1974 -1980

survivors  (for Billy)

in the aftermath of the explosion

as the dust settled upon

the debris of a shattered life

we picked ourselves up and

coming slowly to our battered senses

stumbling over past and present tenses

we side-stepped your name

as we avoided each others’ eyes


then sifting through the ruins

of what once had been

seeking solace in memories

we found anguish… broken dreams

we are refugees of happier times

the shell-shocked survivors

of the night death blew your mind

for whom life will never be the same


I could build a monument to you

place your name on a plaque

and all the people would stare at it

wonder at it and ask, who is that?

I would tell them, my brother

and they’d be none the wiser


I could write a song about you

sing your praises aloud

and all the people would listen to it

wonder at it and ask, who’s that about?

I would tell them, my brother

but they’d be none the wiser


I could paint a portait of you

hang it in a gallery

and all the people would gaze at it

wonder at it and ask, who is he?

and though I’d tell them, my brother

still they would be none the wiser


for I cannot tell them what it meant

to be your friend

still, someday should they chance to meet

a gentle young man with justice in mind

his heart heavy with love

for all humankind

who gives always his best

never slacking behind

they might just catch a glimpse of you

and some sense of the loss that is mine

by love divided

lying here listening to Ciaron breathing

waiting till I’m quite sure he is sleeping

before quietly creeping from the room

I feel like an unfaithful lover

stealing from one bed to another

and wonder if he will remember

the nights he fell asleep with his mother

but woke up alone


so to bed

and my lover sleeping

warm and soft

from my body’s chill

he should withdraw

but with unconscious pity

pulls me close

thus encompassed

by the one

with whom I chose

to bear life’s burdens

and share the ever

compensating ecstasies

I know myself well-loved

and am ashamed that

I should ever doubt

indulge my weaknesses

forget to give

I press my body next to his

attune my breath and rest

a life-long friend

Death’s at my shoulder

keeping me aware that I am alive

he’s a quiet companion

without whom I’d merely survive

so quiet in fact, I sometimes forget

he’s there, which won’t do at all

then he’ll give me a friendly nudge

a reminder of how easily I might fall

down a flight of stairs or

under some poor devil’s car

I ought not to neglect him

for he is never far

and is after all a life-long friend

whom I trust will stay by me

right to the end

whenever that may come

thus I’ll share my life with Death

till Death and I are one


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