Poem By James Mills

Conscript stain of ash
glowing bruise-black,
ingrained by broad-thumbed priest.
Head stamped passport
to a Catholic redoubt,
leaving no room for doubt
which foot I kick with.
In oily paste I almost taste
this tribal scar branding me,
handing me
for one more year a clear
notion of what I am.

Who I am seems unimportant
so long as I stay congregated.
Hourly the scab of ash encrusts,
sloughing from my skin the thin
sins I have acquired and I am
mired in penitence for what
I did - and failed to do.
It leaves the holy ghost
of a mark,
pulsing as it cools
and healing begins
on that boyhood brow fevered by
this hot assault
on skin too thin.
Too thin
to bear this scorching faith.

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Other poems of MILLS

War Torn

Some remnant living in muscle memory
is pressed, dressed and polished each time
he marches, slowly now and with tired bones,
to the Legion for his Friday bingo.

Terminal Leave. France 1917

I spent last night in my valley.
Green and peaceful, it is.
Slow wagons of unburdened past
creak slow down berry-bright lanes.

Little Star

A zillion miles of night
caress the little star.
One amongst countless
it shines, knowing only itself,


Out of what has gone before
We hang by threads of destiny;
Too late to change or to restore?

A Few Degrees Of Heat

A slope of rising road
gains on the pair of us -
forcing silence.
Dusty birds and drunken bees

The Wish

Tethered to a stump of memory
a Wish lies bleaching in white isolation.
Dream winds worry its fading outline,
cracked lights shine on it - sometimes.