Tattooed Child

By Tony Graham

Many years ago I was interested in poetry. Having shelved that passion for some years I rekindled it and having read the book and seen the film adaptation of “A boy in striped pyjamas” and felt compelled to write this poem.

Please note, this poem contains some upsetting imagery.


Be still thy beating heart tattooed child,

Say hello to hell.


It is painful, but I remember,

When the strangers came to call.

They smashed the furniture, burnt our books,

And took paintings off the walls.


It is painful, but I still remember,

How the tears ran down my face.

How I watched my parents savagely beaten,

And told that they were an inferior race.


It is painful, but I will always remember,

How I saw the blackness in their eyes.

How unconscious people lay bleeding on the floor,

Urinated on, spat on, and despised.


It is painful, but I shall always remember,

The confusion I held within.

How human beings can treat each other so vile,

When they share the same coloured skin.


It is painful, but I do not want to remember,

The place that impounded us and treat us like pigs.

Were we where starved till the flesh fell off our bodies,

And our bones resembled autumnal twigs.


It is painful, but I have to remember,

Their smiles as they opened the doors.

Telling us it was a chance to cleanse ourselves,

Ordered us to throw our rags onto the floor.


It is painful, but the one day I want to remember,

Is when I saw fresh fallen snow on the ground?

The warmth of another child’s calloused fingers,

I saw white clouds so fluffy and round.


It is painful, but the last thing I remembered,

Were the cold steps that led to the showers?

At last we could wash the hate from our memories,

And enjoy our final solitary hour.


Be still thy beating heart tattooed child,

Say goodbye to hell.

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