Living flame —or— How it feels to be on fire and Coronation by Roy Duffield

Living flame —or— How it feels to be on fire

I resemble you

             like one

  resembles one billion.

              We both move

                       and breathe


                       and eat


                       and feel

                       and excrete—


         Don’t act so surprised.

You say I’m not sensitive

when it comes to feeling

you say

                          I’m deprived.

Well, watch me close—

           watch how I writhe

                                     as I torch myself

                                             from my tongue

                                                   to my toes.

           watch how I reach


towards the things that I need

                                       and want

                                       and don’t know—

           watch me burn!

           watch me flicker

                      and flare

                      and light up

                              the room

                       that was dark

                      and the hearth

                      and the home

             that was bare—

           watch me blaze!

             through this world

              without care!

              As you used me

                            controlled me

                   and put me out

one day you’ll lose


                and I’ll

                       put you




All is calm out on the streets

While amputated at the knees

Wanderers who no more wander

Their children wonder what’s beyond the

City walls of peace and quiet

Dirty screens of sex and finance.

On windowsill balconies:

Weeds, not violets

They strain to hear who’s next to die. All

Hell is raging in their minds

“We’ll get engaged in due time,”

A voice echoes, over Skype.

The door is closed, from inside

Her loving husband’s narrow cell

“What’s the fuss, man? What the hell!”

But as the months pass in this way

They begin to fear their own decay

Like their neighbours, they are snipers

They get their neighbours in their sights and

Stockpile ammo, load their rifles

Take aim, and prepare to fire.

Those without a decent piece

Throw the fruit of stunted trees

Malnourished under iron leaves

Of airtight, light-tight canopies…

But as the years pass in this way

No-one, not one, thinks to say:

How easy the pacification

Of every free [read: passive] nation

And when they do decide to leave

Know that they can’t count on me.

They had their chance. The hour’s late.

Now it’s time they face their fate:

All is calm out on the streets

When amputated at the knees.

By Roy Duffield

Roy Duffield was honoured to be chosen to perform at Barcelona Beat Poetry Festival 2019 alongside some of Spain’s most successful contemporary performance poets. He has a first-class degree in creative writing from Bath Spa University, has travelled over 100 countries and his work has recently appeared (or soon will) in The Trouvaille Review, Night Bus to Speakers’ Corner, PoENtry Slam, Flashes of Brilliance, Strukturriss, Anti-Heroin Chic, Pure Slush, Half-baked and an as yet untitled anthology to raise money for Marie Curie nurses during the corona-virus pandemic.

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