Tom Barlow: ‘Confession’


I have looked evil in the eye
and sat by, like a bronze sculpture
or the equable sun on high.

I have felt the world’s fat thumbs press,
and like a nerveless worm, have squirmed,
then turned to line up with the rest.

I have observed a snaking tongue,
making honey for hollowed ears,
while my own tongue, holstered, lay dumb.

O, am I really such a one:
dry straw before villainy’s fire;
it comes from wanting to belong.

Tom Barlow

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