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Matchstick man

by John Miles © 2009

Suffering does not take away the soul,
Of the African surviving the dustbowl.
His mind is all alive and emotions stir
To his God he will, still pray a prayer.
He wallows in what might have been,
If he were not part of this 'Biblical scene'.

Anonymous bodies just skin and bone
Painfully depart their Earthly home.
The child is too far gone to save,
Its immediate future – a shallow grave.
Over that far horizon they say there's aid,
To reach it, many, with their lives have paid.

O God are you up there somewhere?
And can you even hear my prayer?
Was I so bad, this happened to me?
Let me die now and I will be free.
I'm sorry for the bad things I've done,
I didn't really honour Your Son.

Any step now and I'll bury my treasure,
His life was so short - without leisure.
I had such hopes for him to be great,
Tied to my back, I can't feel his weight.
Can't stop the flies crawling over his head,
Blessed release, he will soon be dead.

His mum, my young bride, died yesterday,
She just closed her eyes as if to pray.
She will not wake up to another dawn,
She has left no trace – as if never born.
Does God even know if we were alive?
And does He care if I ever survive?

Well-fed media sometimes come,
And shoot us with film instead of a gun.
Then in four by four, with a roar they drive,
Leaving us here - more dead than alive.
The vultures slow circle over my head,
Their patience rewarded with one soon dead.

My prayer is not answered, but I still pray,
And hope against hope for a better day.
O God have mercy on me undeserving,
But is this sad life even worth preserving?
My lips are cracked and my feet are bloody,
I don't know you God, but do you know me?

I may die from the gun or even the heat,
Or from lack of water or food to eat.
A remembered youth and happy village,
Before demons came to rape and pillage.
Even if I live and reach safer part,
I might still die of a broken heart.

This poem was a finalist in the July 2009 poetry contest

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