Lighting Candles


Mr Popov, mad as a water rat, lives
in a tent in the woods. 
At night he listens to voices
on a radio inside his head.
His mother survived the siege of Stalingrad
and he learned not to complain:
love, an old corpse you snuggle up in bed.
On Sundays he lights his candle
and prays for her;
weekdays he walks the neighbourhood
clutching bags of newsprint -
his paperwork, all in order-
When they come for him, he will
bite, then sprint.

His auntie wears a woolly hat
over her crown of thorns.  When she was small
the Germans marched her class mates out -
shot them as she sat home with a cold.
Since then the bread she puts in her mouth is soil,
her dress a shroud.
Look how she ties her jaw up with that scarf –the sun can’t warm up her white flesh at all.     

Poetry