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Poem from:

The Book of Water by John Murphy

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Cain and Abel

Murphy, John

He’s beaten him for the umpteenth time, 
delighting in his frustration right up 
to the moment he drops a scab-capped 

knee on the six-yard box capsizing 
the teams and ripping the baize, 
leaving Steve Heighway, his finger-flicked 

man-of-the-match, spark out, legs smashed,  
under a coracle of plastic turf. 
Five tense minutes of tit-for-tat and one 

by one the players vacate the simian slouch 
they were molded to and only the late 
intervention of their mother prevents 

a massacre as she backs them out
through the scullery door, her anger 
as long-lived as the floury imprint 

of the wooden spoon on their shoulders.
Minutes later she’s back on the step,
more wiry sex-change Atlas than sizzling 

Medusa, a world of scrunched-up baize 
above her loosely rollered hair. She says
they must stay out until the lesson’s learnt.

They cavil about the cold and the rain  
but when she spins her arms 
and chucks the little planet they rise 

against each other into the unraveling, 
head to head in unexpected extra time, 
skull to skull with the broken dead.

Copyright © John Murphy 2012

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