David Kessel


Ruby Courage

Elegy for Patricia Walters and Tony O'Donnel -

Hackney schizophrenics who died 2007


Long before and after mankind

The wooded hillsides echo

With the call of the wood-pigeon at dusk.


Grey are the streets wherein my heart lies

And blacker the clouds heavy with rain.


(Earth-shank-hunger blocked in my backbone).


The sweet surge of heroin in a cold back room,

The smell of nuclear wind in the morning,

And the aftermath, alone as never before.


Addicted to life, all life, we may withstand.


Huge-hearted Pat Walters in a Hackney street,

Arguing and singing her black gospel,

Martyred by our indifference.


Wry humour of Turkish voices from an alleyway.


A trendy genocidal English gent in a fight with

ECT–racked O’Donnel with his ruby courage.


Being hard to survive,

Tender to live.


And Copernicus, who transposed his lust

Into such a wonder for a few naked years.


The pain of the pavements

And the sleet across a fell.



David Kessel © 2008; revised © 2009