Staying Human: new poems for Staying Alive #4



As a Human Being

There is the happiness you have

And the happiness you deserve.

They sit apart from one another

The way you and your mother

Sat on opposite ends of the sofa

After an ambulance came to take

Your father away. Some good

Doctor will stitch him up, and

Soon an aunt will arrive to drive

Your mother to the hospital

Where she will settle next to him

Forever, as promised. She holds

The arm of her seat as if she could

Fall, as if it is the only sturdy thing,

And it is since you've done what

You always wanted. You fought

Your father and won, marred him.

He'll have a scar he can see all

Because of you. And your mother,

The only woman you ever cried for,

Must tend to it as a bride tends

To her vows, forsaking all others

No matter how sore the injury.

No matter how sore the injury

Has left you, you sit understanding

Yourself as a human being finally

Free now that nobody's got to love you.

Jericho Brown



Staying Human is the fourth in Neil Astley’s Staying Alive series of world poetry anthologies from Bloodaxe Books, due out on National Poetry Day, 1st October. Bloodaxe have joined forces with Unbound to offer readers an advance subscription with exclusive extras (offer closes 31st August). For more details, see: https://unbound.com/books/staying-human.


Staying Human includes 500 thoughtful and powerful poems about living in the modern world, with a strong focus on the human side of living in the 21st century. Bloodaxe would like to thank One Hand Clapping for offering this space to share these poems from Staying Human with readers.