The Dead Man In The Corner Of My Yellow Room: A Poem

You smelled like your dictionaries and poetry books,

Yellowed by romanticised cigarette smoke and a heavy

Conscience. Stained by a closet full of private letters,

Harbouring a past that you tried to bury, that you still

Let grow and collected, alongside a family that lived,

Butter and salt, you, the hard crust with a heart cramping

Beneath the war zone shimmering still in your body, the tongue

In the bottle, the hand on the balustrade, the thumping and falling.


The seventeen year old who wanted to join the war,

Dreaming of it at the kitchen table, his heart and mind,

Indoctrinated, vibrant with enchantments, the voice hollering

Across his skull, believing every single word. He had no idea

That his enthusiasm would turn into a lifelong guilt that he could

Never drown with his own two hands. The face under water,

Transparent, eyes wide open, mouth screaming into his memory,

Screeching, undying, forevermore, bubbles, bubbles, bursting in

His brain, this man, the gardener, waking up with his ghosts on his skin.


I idealised you, you were ever-present, engaging, strict yet caring.

I didn’t know what went on behind your face, in your body, there

Were times when I was kept away from you, maybe it had already been

Too late at that point, the togetherness, one running to the rescue of the

Other, in what world, around you, next to you, on top of you, squeezed,

Safe  and scarred. Exchanging one violence for another, you were there

In order to help and protect, you knew devils inside out, how could I

Have known, the blanket soft and stiff, the waves beneath, the pants wet.


The watch that kept ticking posthumously. The wailing mother.

Each and every letter of guilt and grief and impossible

Reconciliation on old pieces of paper, outlasting you,

Thrown into the trash, history, after it had been made, who

Wanted to read your life? Your part of the story?


How you walked amongst corpses? Your suffering seemed

Unmentionable in the face of the cruelties others endured.

Your grave is no more, the buried family tree, unmarked,

Garbage, with you came life and decay, everything collapsed,

The values and backbone made out of dust and ashes, that would

Never last, the idea of reconstruction, new beginnings,

The blood on hands, the salt, the semen, the booze and wrinkles.

The heirloom unclaimed, wasted, the urn on the chest of drawers,

Checkmate. New earth, distilling the good, the anchor of the past,

Disrupted and unchained, lose, blanketed by seaweed.

close up photo of woman with make up
Photo by Engin Akyurt on



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