Over the Deck

Twelve feet above the deck,
The smell can make you gag,
Five hundred salt water soaked,
Unwashed humans in forty degrees,

Make a few bad jokes to cover up your shame,
That your stomach churned at scabies riddled teenager,
Sunglasses will hide guilty eyes,
To mask your revulsion,

Overcompensate later by giving an extra ration,
To a brown-eyed child,
Draped from shoulder to knee,
In a ragged adults jumper,

More than palms get calloused,
When dealing with the wretched,
Hardening hearts and sharpening tones,
Sharper still the baton strike,

Lightning dancing on the curve of the world,
Polystyrene cups doled out thrice a day,
Teddy bears and crayons for the children,
Plasticuffs for the shamed along the guardrail,

The smell lingers beneath the canopy,
Seeps through the filter paper,
Stains the rolls of cardboard,
Saltwater, piss, and fear.

by Ruairí de Barra

This poem was kindly published in Live Encounters Magazine in their Special 11th Anniversary Edition, Volume II, December 2020. You can read the four poems in this special volume on the Live Encounters website or download a free .pdf copy just by clicking here. I have made a number of small adjustments to the poem to arrive at the version posted above.

Live Encounters is a wonderful publication and all of its issues, as well as special editions, may be found on its website at https://liveencounters.net/

I would like to thank Mark Ulyseas for seeing fit to include my work again in the same pages of some truly talented people

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