Coroner’s Report

They call you


Then list the quantities of

Heroin, crack and alcohol


Head injuries


(Heh, no wonder you were depressed)

The groin abscess

Injected just the day before


Nicotine on your fingers

Dirt under your nails

(No lipstick on your collar)



‘Keep that cat off his bed’ Mum said



 Unwashed feet

Time of death


Lungs congested,

Kidneys disintegrated

But sorry mate your

Intestines were unremarkable.

 Sue Johns


(On visiting Lab’s grave)

Pink ‘Awakening’ persistent in its climbing,

white ‘Echo’ needy for sun,

red and resistant ‘Blaze’ and

in my teeth a ‘Dog Rose’

wild and needle sharp-

Torn from the oasis

of a collective conscience.

I refuse to underwrite

the estimable silence

from which your soundtrack seeps.

My tongue held by

a scold’s bridle

as ancient songs extinguish

the man you became.

I bundle secrets from off a page,

Take my dry semantics

to the rough stone and

barren sod that mark you.

A mute fire-starter

bearing flammable ink and flowers.

Iron Age Burial

On the death of Margaret Thatcher

The crows bring coal,

(community’s shadow)

draw a shield

around the masses-

a black-winged picket line.


scour ancient sites of work,

for weeds and window glass,

to deck the dirt

of prejudice and pound.

As maggots

make bold in a bouffant,

dark eyes U-turn with worms

and slugs trudge

over neck and ruff.

They come – coughing up

the phlegm of street-sleeping.

And pissing out the system’s poison,

since they imbibed a final,

living draught.

Not soft-shoed in silence,

but booted-big and laughing-brave.

In place of rest, their pledge,

a mud memorial

for the soiling of the land.

Sue Johns

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