Grown wild, unclaimed and loose in lanes,
he peed higher, spat further, swore louder
than any other latchkey street weed.

Green acolytes, summoned with strangled
banshee howls, drawn to worship as he spoke
to us in bloodied tongues for a dare.

Envied for knowledge of hidden pathways
by the railway, and his dead bat in a matchbox,
which some could see for tuppence.

Pursuing the lost, always the first over fences,
through unknown undergrowth, into rank canals,
all consequences ignored in a rush for wheels.

Admired as risk taker, hands free on old bikes,
the world upsidedown in the canopies of trees,
a body confident in the friction of bare skin.

Solemnly, we’d gift him our bruised fruit,
liberated from the floor of the Saturday market,
consumed when the rhythms of real life paused.

No quarter sought or given, games played for keeps,
committed to blood and rain and wind and sun.
And though at twelve, his spark burned fierce,

it burned short from dying embers; snuffed out
in a consumptive breeze, warranting five perfunctory
lines of local news and a cheap cremation urn.

(Riggwelter/Blue Nib)



Picture Credit Vincenzo Gemito wikicommons

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Jonathan Humble

Mon 18th Mar 2019 20:52

Thanks for the comments KJ and Stu : )

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Stu Buck

Mon 18th Mar 2019 17:02

brilliant piece of writing jonathan.

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kJ Walker

Sun 17th Mar 2019 07:40

He reminds me of my best mate from my childhood. We virtually worshiped the lad.
Sorry that your friend's rule was cut so tragically short.

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Jonathan Humble

Sat 16th Mar 2019 15:51

Thank you for your kind words Dorothy, Greg, John and Cynthia.

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Dorothy Webb

Sat 16th Mar 2019 15:39



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Greg Freeman

Sat 16th Mar 2019 14:54

A marvellous poem, Jonathan!

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John Flowers

Sat 16th Mar 2019 14:39

I wish to join his merry band. He is a hero. Excellent piece.

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Cynthia Buell Thomas

Sat 16th Mar 2019 14:33

I think this is absolutely marvellous. One of the best works I've ever read, anywhere, anytime. Your words are on fire!

Good grief, I just returned to the top to remind myself of your title! Absolutely no intention to mimic that idea. IMO, these lines creating the character, the surrounds so drawn, are splendid.

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Jonathan Humble

Sat 16th Mar 2019 12:49

This boy was from my youth. A couple of years older than the rest of the back lane mafia, he had this amazing call which echoed around the terrace (to which, anyone within earshot would reply with their inferior versions and then gather to find out what excitement was on offer) … a sort of northern Peter Pan in tank top with scabs, a cold sore and head lice.

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keith jeffries

Sat 16th Mar 2019 12:34


This poem fascinates me as you describe a boy who stands apart from the others of his age. Has this boy been given a free spirit before his time whereas most of us can wait a lifetime to achieve such liberation? He is a one off, misunderstood but a survivor at odds yet also comfortable with himself and his surroundings. I need to read this again as there is more unsaid than said. I am intrigued.

Thank you for this


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