M-16 Assault by Anthony Baker

31st October 1997 at 00:00

I am cold and black.

When I am full I take life easily.

I feel nothing.

I don't think, I just react.

I don't judge, I kill all good or evil.

I am powerful and feared by all, All except those who hold me.

To them I give power,

I give them the choice between life

or death.

They become part of me,

They are my eyes.

They point my open mouth and my children come screaming from my body.

They cut through the air, swiftly and violently.

Ploughing down anything in their path.

But soon I am empty.

I am useless,

I am useless, but still feared.

Anthony Baker, aged 14, receives Slattern by Kate Clanchy (Chatto Windus). Submitted by Allyander Southwell of Hemsworth High School, Pontefract, who receives a set of Poetry Society posters with teacher's notes. For Poetry Society events, ring 0171 240 2133.

An excellent example of achieved, assured personification. I wonder if Anthony has been reading Sylvia Plath's "Mirror". His poem has a similarly haunting, determined quality. The relationship between the man and the gun is done very well here - the gun absorbs the soldier instead of vice versa. The "my children come screaming from my body" powerfully continues this idea: the gun is mother, or some terrifying god, the bullets both are screaming children and make children scream.

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