Paul Farley


Griffin Poetry Prize 2007
International Shortlist

Book: Tramp in Flames

Poet: Paul Farley

Publisher: Picador

Click here to read and listen to an excerpt.

Paul Farley reads Tramp in Flames

Tramp in Flames, by Paul Farley

Tramp in Flames

Some similes act like heat shields for re-entry
to reality: a tramp in flames on the floor.
We can say Flame on! to invoke the Human Torch
from the Fantastic Four. We can switch to art
and imagine Dali at this latitude
doing CCTV surrealism.
We could compare him to a protest monk
sat up the way he is. We could force the lock
of memory: at the crematorium
my uncle said the burning bodies rose
like Draculas from their boxes.

         But his layers
burn brightly, and the salts locked in his hems
give off the colours of a Roman candle,
and the smell is like a foot-and-mouth pyre
in the middle of the city he was born in,
and the bin bags melt and fuse him to the pavement
and a pool forms like the way he wet himself
sat on the school floor forty years before,
and then the hand goes up. The hand goes up.

From Tramp in Flames, by Paul Farley
Copyright © Paul Farley 2006

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