Tell the furry and feathery things
I meant them no harm.
Inform them I never wanted
To live, and to expire,
Along their hedgerow,
In that previously pretty lane
Close to the farm.
For I was discarded,
Callously dropped,
Left to rot, to pass away;
Thus, it was thought.
Not without dignity
Did I meet my end;
No ceremony or headstone.
Yet, I am my own monument,
Left to disfigure,
To corrode, threaten,m scar
And to kill;
Those small creatures
Who, out of cold, hungry desperation
Might venture to lick
The remnants of the sweet
Sickly, arguably poisonous,
Chemical-filled liquid
That I once contained with pride
Within my glitzy, colourfully-designed shell.
Marketed to persuade children
To be addicted to its irresistible taste;
The popular accompaniment to junk food,
Advertised like mad,
Convenient, easy. Oh so bad!
To be chucked, uncaringly, down,
Now devoid of my make up and glamour,
So the throat of a chaffinch is ripped
As its head is captured, stuck,
Inside my jagged, pouring, hole.
And there are a hundred thousand
Like me, within every ten square miles
Of a place that was known to be rural
That has lost its broader smile.
A yard or so beside me
Is a sticky, once clear,
Dirty, battered, plastic bottle;
Sepulchre to a deceased shrew,
Suffocated, actually, thoroughly throttled.
Human beings, at first, adore us;
We are disposable comforts to cherish
But we could be in the hedgerows,
The un-dead,
Long after our owners have perished.

Contrite Can Cannot was awarded first prize at the Hastings 35th National Poetry Festival (2003)


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