This is my daughter Emma's poem that she wrote for Hopkins Summer School and which no doubt contributed to her winning the overall award.
One Giant Fuck-Up is Mankind
It was midnight and I lay reeling
Painting myself red.
Wondering why the world felt, suddenly
Like a cage and not a castle.
I have practiced dying all my life
Like a dancer, the poetic pirouette.
I’ll cut so you can’t stitch me up
Horizontal – like the line I crossed
Were puppets meant to cut their own strings?
These razor-bites are questions
I’ve sewn my shaking lips shut
This is my mustered eloquence
Wet stains on toilet paper
Humankind: A Question, posed out of rhyme
When did the light behind our eyes
Morph, meticulously into black and white?
Our morals like soldiers, lined
Neatly, streets stacked with
-Corpses, like hedgegrows
When did it become polite to look away?
When did warzones come back into fashion?
Diplomacy the excuse you cite, credentials
Who said it was neat to build towers on corpses?
Because those are some shaky foundations
When did happiness become a privilege?
When did constellations become stars?
When did it become all we could do
not to slit our life open – little fish?
A kiss would push your breath back in you
But today it is a crime to love
A sin to steal a kiss
Today who we love is a label.
We are the martyrs
We are the clowns
These are our screams
This is our blood
Can you feel it?
Sticky on your hands.
It was midnight
It was morning
I was mourning
For the children with severed hands
For the lovers with electrodes and shaved heads
For the girls with blood on their thighs
For Jesus, who thought we might learn to love
For the ghosts of Mai Lai
For the starved with numbers on their arms
For the healers burned in fear
For the mothers tied to beds
For the victims of justice
For whiskey’s favourite punching bag
For the people who were owned
For those who fell off the buck
When it stopped here
These cuts are questions
This blood, the reply.
Copyright: Emma Tobin 2014