Conflict by Patrick Williamson

It crunches as it enters the roof, cooling.
its shrapnel penetrates legs, chests

its dust smoke palls, quietens
the coughing, destroys any sense left

days hammered into days, decide
your breath is cordite, your tongue fire

how can you bear the stench?
the theatres that never stop, the screams

hands sprout through concrete dust,
they race frantically to extract the living,

they are trying to dig out the boy, and you
scrape your hands raw or scrub them sore?


Patrick Williamson is an English poet who also works with music and filmpoems (Afterwords, set to music by Mauro Coceano). Editor and translator of The Parley Tree, Poets from French-speaking Africa and the Arab World (Arc Publications, 2012). Most recent poetry collections: Beneficato (English-Italian, Samuele Editore, 2015), Tiens ta langue/Hold your tongue (Harmattan, Paris 2014), Nel Santuario (Samuele Editore, 2013; Special Jury Prize in the XV Concorso Guido Gozzano, 2014).

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