A sizzling humidity

Only the rainforest knows


A coverlet of brazen shadows

Though here and there

Scintillant chinks

Where razor sharp

Blades of sunlight

Cleave their way

Ever forward

Invading the canopy


A peacock hoots

Parakeets screech

A distant baboon too


The constant pitch

Cicada song, always


Together an ensemble

Staging a white noise concerto

In the ruins of

A broken temple

A makeshift infirmary

In a time of conflict


Skin and bone

Organs surrendering

Starvation and neglect

Scratches and incidental bruising

He was found naked

Knocking on heaven’s door

Left naked even now

Such is his fever


Age indeterminate



She sits at the end of

His make-do bed

Circumspect words of sympathy

Spoken through a veil of indifference

Drained of emotion

Talking to the unresponsive

Births a false compassion


She had tired of impending

And actual

Death all about her

Long, long ago

She could see it was his turn next

Just not quite yet

Tomorrow most likely

Who knows?



He stirs

Death rattle?

He wants his clothes

She leaves; then returns

Bestows her dressing gown

He bemoans the fact

It is pink and likely too short

She explains it is all there is

Take it or leave it

He almost secures it

In his fragile grasp


He spills his water

Tumbler detonates on landing

Trembling hands surprise

Thirst endures

He thinks ‘fiasco’

She, ‘accident to be expected’


As best he can

He inspects his scrawny legs

What happened to his soldiers legs?

Muscle wastage

Aborts mission

Declines the garb on offer

Too much effort


He tells her his story

Unique to him

Commonplace to her

Just another combatant

Bereft of dignity

Left to die

Not worth the waste

Of a precious bullet


She gathers he is a poet

Turned conscript

A man in abstract


She wipes his brow

He shuts listless eyes

And drifts away

For keeps

No fuss


She calls for a single teardrop

For him, the poet

Just one solitary tear

Nothing comes

Her soul, case hardened

No fire in her belly

She wants to be human once more

14 thoughts on “MAN IN ABSTRACT

    1. Now this is where my taking things literally gets me ever so confused – you’ll have to explain because of my insomnia. Just the other day someone said my attitude was lukewarm – I spent the next two days trying to find him (Luke Warm that is) in order to check and see if that was so!

    1. When I’d finished it The English Patient story line struck me although that wasn’t in my mind at the time. It is though one of my favourite books. What a writer Michael Ondaatje is! To be considered fit to tie his bootlaces (which I’m not – in part or at all) would be a proud moment indeed!

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