Their name liveth for evermore

from Say Something Back  (Picador)
Forward Prizes for Poetry Best Collection shortlist 2016

Death’s tidied up in rows and lists.
The scratched are ‘Known to God’.
‘He is not missing: he is here’ –
Else in the awkward squad.

His name’s got weightier than him.
He’s been peeled off from it.
It didn’t much suit him in his life.
That went AWOL. Poor fit.

What is it for some name to ‘live’?
It’s lifeless. Set in stone.
Its bearer proved too slight for it.
He’d always been ‘Unknown’.

© Denise Riley