Gunshot in manchester


Another brother falls
another mother calls
another family wants to break down the walls
and cry for their son that died.
Some live and try to live a lie.
Cold mornings and preachers bow heads
in respect of a dead youth.
The truth crouches behind the hearse
between the lines of a poets verse.
Someone lost a son or a daughter caught
by the peacock chest of an angry man with red eye.
Live by the sword and die.
Politicians condemn them, police swell
and follow the funeral parade, too afraid
to walk they send helicopters and SWAT teams
The are not south africas but Moss Side's screams.
Those who know those who live hide,
one man dies to another tide of revenge
and so the chain reacts with no end.

Everyone knows someone who has died
'cos everyone knows everyone,
it's village mentality with grenades,
who's afraid of the big bad wolf
The air is calm but the people in it frenetic
paradoid, nervous and itching for a fight ,
setting the world alight
An endless tide of processions
dark against the grey skies.
A black shroud throngs the street,
someone has died.
The press's hound dogs pelt through the estates
mugging stories and selling them like coke.

They steam in with crow bars,
opening up lives better closed,
scaffolding black mouths
crawling into the coffin
to get an interview with the dead man.
The police bust the wrong homes
as the preacher throws the soil,
bring in the wrong folks
as a sister lays a wreath.
it's a chicken run over here.
As a group of children cross the road to church
helicopter blades slice the air above.
Police wagons curl on the corner
and heads turn to them.

Lemn Sissay  1992

5 thoughts on “Gunshot in manchester

  1. great poem Lemn-
    and thanks 4 your comments on my myspace pages-
    coming from you i am flattered-
    have you got a myspage page?
    i done a search couldnt find you
    if you have please let me know

  2. hey its all good man. i put up a web page on myspace and then took it down cause i didn't do anything creative with it. it was just a page with my name on it. Then i kept attracting friends and it was a bit embarressing cause mine was so crap and there's so good. So I shut it down. lemn

  3. I have just “found” you from an article on the internet. Your poem on going home touched an emotional synapse in my heart and brain. Then I read a column about adopting a child of another race, and I was moved by your writing style, your honesty, emotion and pain. I learned I was adopted at age 32. I relate in a non-linear way to your thoughts. I am anxious to read more. Thank you for giving your expressions of self to me.

  4. hi, i am doing a speaking presentation on your peom, please could you give me some details on the poem, would be most grateful
    Thanks Rammy

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