! Death Visits In The Garden, In The Night

‘The dead man was a six-foot ex-heavyweight,
funding his unpaid youth club work
by working as security in a night-club;
shot for gently warning
a smoker in the garden; no witnesses
have come forward… the dead man’s brother
was a probation officer; now, from despair,
a crime prevention officer…’

Committees meet, look serious, nod…
are the crime figures up or down this year?

but the ones who could enlighten us
just how it is, are the inarticulate…

‘I worshipped my Dad, always so sharp-dressed,
gold watch, rings, bracelet, all that stuff…
but we didn’t see enough of him…
he had several ladies.. he’d appear,
unannounced, every few weeks with
lots of presents for us, stay a night or two,
always on the phones… then he had business
out of town… and there’d be another baby bro or sis…
Mum said Dad said condoms
take the pleasure out of it…
she worked all hours, Mum, to keep us all together..
black women are so strong…

‘You got to carry a blade when young,
just for self-defence, know what I mean?
The first scum that I shot,
I was real scared, man, real scared…
but there weren’t no ‘witnesses’ –
know what I mean? ’

There’s ‘unprovoked attack’, and there’s defence,
and there’s that grim grey nomansland
of ‘respeck’ – where the fierce, bruised ego,
which looks always for status, is
challenged by a single silent glance…


‘Yeah, I got my posse and my patch,
like to dress sharp, gotta lady or two,
want my kids to make something of themselves…
but I got an anger burning inside of me…
life owes me, maan – knowhamean..? ’

The dead man was a six-foot heavyweight,
funding his unpaid youth club work
by working as security in a night-club;
shot for gently warning
a smoker in the garden; no witnesses
have come forward… the dead man’s brother
was a probation officer, now, from despair,
a crime prevention officer…

This poem is for both of you.

by Michael Shepherd

Comments (3)

Yes... what Fran said. Hell M - this is hard-hitting indeed. And also more realistic than is at first self-evident. One to read and be read and be touched by and wonder when the world will wake up. t x
There isn't enough room in this comments box to express what this poem said to me or how it made me feel. Suffice it to say that I have read it over a few times and it has left a deep impression. You have handled the wording in a way which is both harshly realistic and sensitively sad. Superb, Michael. Love, Fran xxx
sharp mix of wit and colloquial