[Trigger warning: this post references suicide]


Tattoo the dark morning,

tattoo evening skies.

My name once was May

Now death is my prize for the gift of your threats,

your abuses and lies.

See now, how quick death creeps under my skin.

Whose, then, the crime?

And whose now the sin?

As I’ve rinsed out my hair?

Being worthless, I’m nothing.

But why should you care,

since there’s no space for May – that is, me – anywhere?


Truth brims with tears.

It swells and overspills – all our intentions, wishes, wills and skills.

It fills up, empties, washes out, refills.

One teenager in absolute despair,

beyond statistics, medicine or prayer

How many more must take the same way there?

A life not worth a penny or a dime?

Or did she simply run out of her time?

She paid with all she was and all she had.

And was she right?

Society is mad. 

And life is senseless.

Is there more to add?


Well, no and yes.

Isn’t it right to task ourselves with tracking, testing  and unmasking

at least what are the questions we need ask? 

Why does one child, appearing faint and frail,

somehow achieve resilience to stress, familial break-up, poverty, duress,

abuse, confusion, murder, lovelessness?

And why should that one, seeming stronger, fail?

What weighs the balance? 

Tips the fragile scale?

Why does one stand, one stumble, and one crack?

What angel guards one heart, but breaks another’s back?

What gift does that child have, but this one lack?


No simple gift or skill

or debt of guilt

can once restore a life that has been spilt.

What use, then, for this superstructure built

on questioning without apparent ceiling?

Moulded in modesty and need for healing

by quietly asking, sounding,testing, telling,

this work proceeds, articulating, spelling.

What complex patterns cause and underlie

these children’s choices to decide to die.

By testing limits, clarifying scopes, 

Through and despite its errors,

this work gropes,

to foster understanding,

nurture Hopes.


From Rough Diamonds, Cambridge October 2019