June 26, 2018 Poetry , POETRY / FICTION

RCAB photo



Mark Tarren




The Engineer



He spent his life traveling the world

searching for parts for his final project.


His inventory of grace.


A yellow star from the belongings

of a Jewish girl in Nazi Germany.

The barrel of Oppenheimer’s fountain pen.

An exhaust from a WW1 Indian motorcycle.

A jar of sand from Aleppo.


To a refugee camp in Bangladesh,

for a thread of saffron.

The robe of T.E Lawrence found

in an old chest in Dorset.

A white feather from Morocco.

Shell casings from the beaches

of Normandy.

The toe of a soldier’s boot washed up

at Dunkirk.


In Nagasaki,

a singed photograph of a Japanese girl.

A piece of rope and bark from Georgia.

Some charcoal from Dresden.

A doorframe from a Romanian orphanage.

The canvas of a Bosnian medic’s stretcher.

Some helicopter blades discovered in Vietnam in 1970.

A wedding ring on the leg of an army hospital bed.

Some rubble from a monastery in France.

An empty water bottle from Nauru.

Blood stained pipes from Manus.

Three locks of baby’s hair from a photo album

in Rwanda.

The side of a wheelchair found in Warsaw in 1939.


In Berlin,

some love letters locked away in a sideboard

for seventy five years.

The roof of a home in Afghanistan.

The sands of Darfur revealed a child’s toy.

A book of poetry was recovered from the side of a road in Baghdad.


In Myanmar,

a homemade splint trussed together

with string.

Remnants of a bombed wedding tent unearthed in Yemen.


A small handgun found in a church.


These were the parts for his final project.

His inventory of grace.

Discovered beyond time and place.

The parts of his heart.

His arterial design for a new beginning.


He disappeared before he could find all the broken things to finish his life’s work.


To build a bridge,

at the end of the world.






The Toy Artisan



He lives in his quiet workshop

just near the Mexican border

and crafts traditional small toys

for the small children,

just near the Mexican border.


With ancient clay hands

he makes traditional marionettes

using brightly colored cloth for the body

and appendages,

but the hands, feet and head

are made of ceramic

so when the body of the toy

is pulled away from him

it is broken at the beautiful places

so the clay must fall back into his hands.


For the Feast of Anthony the Great

he used to craft small crepe paper birds

placed in small cages

to be sold outside the churches,

in his minds eye now

he can still see the small birds

trapped in their small cages

far away now,

from the Mexican border.


Long ago for Las Posadas

he made


The Judas Figure


when it is destroyed

the figure spills its entrails

of small sweets

for small hands to grab

the hands, feet and heads

of small children.


When he goes to bed

the old man sleeps and dreams,

dreams of his forefathers

and the ancient clay toys

small bones for small boys

found at many Zapotec sites

of the dolls that are called

Tonka or Tanga-Yu.


Some of these dolls

carry a small child on their shoulders.


Far away from the Mexican border.






Mark Tarren

Mark Tarren is a poet and writer based in Queensland, Australia.

His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in various literary journals including The Blue Nib, Poets Reading The News, Street Light Press, Spillwords Press and The New Verse News.

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