April 19, 2019 Poetry , POETRY / FICTION

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Mark Tarren




When We Had Faces



In the world before of bearskin

and tusk

we sang across this map

of water

the music of stone, rock

rib and bone.


Where we touched the world.


Hands placed with locked

fingers within paper

pen and typewriter,

burning before


the hand that


bludgeoned the skull

and blinded the eye


cut out the tongue

and swallowed the ink


slit the wrist

and chained the foot.


All kings will fall,

their statues of

carved head, chest and

fist will sink before the sea.


We without sight

still have tears.


We without ears

will still sing.


Wolves have no howl

where there is no wind.


For there is violence in the silence


where our words will shake the world.









There were things he couldn’t talk about.


The day he took shelter in a church

from the rain

and silently watched the blood

drip from his hands

to the pew,

then to the floor.


This small intimacy was

his own sacrament

provided to him by

the death of another.


The terrible grace of war.


The night spent in a burnt out village

under the gun metal sky.

In what once was somebody’s home,

outside lay the torso of a small child.


And he cannot wash his hands.


On the train home at dusk

as the shadows fall across

the beautiful face of a small boy,

this small sacred icon

he was spared to view.


And his hands won’t stop trembling.


As he places the cold metal

inside his mouth

and rests it against his lips,

he thinks of that beautiful face

of the small boy

and the gentle rocking of the train,

and that country church long ago.


His own sacrament,

provided to him by

the death of another.


The terrible grace of war.






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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