Philip Berry

Carry On (After the Attack)

the man unfolds, foetal
inches from your cleated foot
under total cloud

darkening to black
the twist that rises
when plastic burns

but you carry on, through wood smoke
& rice-vapour

under the hot column
of an extractor
the dripping cook leans

into cigarettes
& updates

and oh how he bleeds
invisibly, within
where the shattered shaft
cuts deep into muscle

& people
look down
mobiles at their ears

hoping, wishing
for fast sirens
& trained hands
to take from them
the burden of decency

and yes, I sense what moves you
not the pain of others

not the bleeding nails
of those who claw
at up-turned hulls

nor the binary decision
to jump or wait

no, you carry on
you’ve every right
we must all carry on

but I watched you in the bookshop
the second-hand bookshop
looking at crooked towers
of second-hand emotion
dust on your fingertips
dust on your lips
the discarded clues

to another’s imagination
& for the first time

you found nothing
the appetite for fantasy

ah look now, how
the sun slides
into a silvered rent

the street is purified

the stains

will not remain                                            the bridges
will grow barriers                                        our lines
will be separated                                               we
will keep safe.

Philip Berry’s poems have appeared in Lucent Dreaming, Deracine, Lunate Fiction and The Healing Muse. He also write short fiction and CNF. His work can be explored at or @philaberry. He lives in London.

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