Body on a beach


There’s a body on a mid-winter beach
Bloated by sea water, battered by waves,
The skin an indeterminate grey but the DNA
Gives it away: stomach distended, flesh declined,
Soul departed, a package of flesh left behind,
With seaweed dancing from her open mouth
That once kissed another, a mother, a lover.
Spoke words of comfort to the dying, bereaved:
Religion indeterminate, nationality left behind.
Look at the legs that carried the body
Over rugged mountains, across freezing tundra,
Over deserts thirsty, prickly with heat, across borders.
Look at the eyes which read the newspapers, scanned the phones. 
Read holy books, consumed erotic poetry and letters from home.
While a heart that was broken by war, death and disease
gathered the strength to begin life all over again.
That grey mush was a brain that loved to tussle,
Think and debate. Those bloated fingers wrote elegies
That were gateways to all the planets and stars.
In classical Arabic she argued it was never too late
To begin life again, soon, in beautiful Aleppo.

◄ Stormy weather

29 May 1453 - 11 September 2001 ►


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John Marks

Sun 17th Jan 2021 01:23

Thank you Stephen A. I am humbled by your generosity of spirit. If I had half your generosity I'd be a better man.

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Stephen Atkinson

Sun 17th Jan 2021 00:40

John, you may not get the 'likes' you deserve on this site. But, I, for one, appreciate how brilliant your poetry is & can only hope I could be half as good! Just keep doin' what u do, an' I'll be happy 😊

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John Marks

Sat 16th Jan 2021 23:29

Thank you to Stephen A and to Stephen G for noticing my poen and, thanks also to my dear friend Keith for your wise comment. This is a poem that I worked hard at and I hope that it doesn't show for, like everything else, really good poetry should appear effortless.

Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.

Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī,

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Stephen Gospage

Sat 16th Jan 2021 18:04

I love this extraordinary poem, John. Sad and thought-provoking but also beautifully written. Many thanks.

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keith jeffries

Fri 15th Jan 2021 23:40


This moving poem of such sadness reminds me of the body of a four year old Syrian boy washed up on a beach. He must have been a refugee who drowned when the dinghy he was in sank in the Med. It was a heartbreaking scene which has remained fixed in my mind. We cannot imagine the trauma these people have faced and the courage needed to leave their homeland to search for a better more peaceful life. You describe the person in your poem so well that the reader is taken into her predicament and witnesses the final horror.

Terribly sad. Those to blame are well known to us and the world.
Thank you for this

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