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(22.11.1944 / Nottingham, England/live in Australia)

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Death is Stalking...

I had a friend when I was four
We played upon his rocking horse,
His father said: ‘Be kind to him, ’
And so I was, so gentle then.
He had bright red and rosy cheeks
And eyes that sparkled, only weeks
Before his father said: ‘He’s ill!
Come back again when he is well.’
But then I found, his father lied -
For shortly then, his son had died.

I had no concept then, of death,
That he was gone just took my breath,
I only saw his father’s pain,
His only child, a coffin came,
So small, and carried out with flowers
His mother wept, it seemed for hours
And silence settled on that place,
The rocking horse stood still, in grace,
While thoughts of darkness would impinge
That Death was stalking, at the fringe.

The mother died of cancer then,
A broken heart had brought it on,
The father stood out in the street
To watch us play, but most discreet,
He missed his son, his little pal
So took me walks by the canal,
We rambled through the countryside
And every now and then, he cried,
But turned his back, his private hell,
For Death was stalking him, as well.

Then I got sick and nearly died
Some thing went wrong with me, inside,
They put me in the old men’s ward
And prayed a lot, and mentioned ‘lord’,
I came back slowly from the brink
And then got out of bed, I think,
To feed an old man with a spoon
Whose eyes were dim that afternoon.
For years I thought I’d helped, they lied,
The day I left, the old man died.

I’ve seen so many come and go
In life, that one great picture show,
When sickness strikes from out the blue
Good people, as alive as you,
From cars they wrap round stobie poles,
From war, filled full of bullet holes,
One day they’re here, and then they’re gone,
The eyes are closed that once had shone
While I sit quiet here, and cringe
For Death is stalking, at the fringe!

10 May 2013

Submitted: Thursday, May 09, 2013
Edited: Friday, May 10, 2013


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Poet's Notes about The Poem

In memory of Roger Neilson, hole-in-heart baby, died aged 5,1949.

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