Babies shoes never worn

Left by a mother

for her daughter

in the rubble in Raqqa

Where there used to be a school

till some bloody minded fool

decided to bomb Syria


It was the only epitaph

for her dead and pregnant daughter

No time to mourn between the slaughter

which is being inflicted on us

who have done nothing

by those who have done everything

but admit nothing


And a thousand maniacs inhabit our world

Some wear uniforms

Some some wear suits

Some wear black

But none of them mourn

They want to pile up the dead

like chips in a casino




Des Mannay

“Focused on hard-hitting social issues… poems which made a statement”’ (Sabotage Reviews). “One can almost hear the words thumping aloud on the page. One can only imagine the rapturous response of an audience listening” (Menna Elfyn)


Des Mannay is the winner of the ‘rethinkyourmind’ poetry competition (2015). Placed 2nd and highly commended in the Disability Arts Cymru poetry Competition (2015). ‘Gold Award’ winner in the Creative Futures Literary Awards (2015), shortlisted for the erbacce-prize for poetry (2015, and 2016), Welsh Poetry Competition (2015), The John Tripp and Idris Davies poetry competition; part of Rhymney Valley Literature and Arts Festival 2016, and the Disability Arts Cymru poetry Competition (2016)


Des has performed at numerous venues, including the ‘Unity’ Festival, ‘Maindee’ Festival, ‘Hub’ Festival, ‘Stoke Newington Literature Festival’, KAYA Festival of World Music & Arts, Merthyr Rising, The Seed Festival and Walls:Muriau – Welsh mental health arts festival. He has poems published in ‘I Am Not A Silent Poet’ online journal, ‘The Angry Manifesto’, ‘Proletarian Poetry’, ‘Yellow Chair Review’, ‘Indiana Voice Journal’, ‘Stand Up And Spit’, ‘Red Poets’, ‘The Scum Gentry’ ‘The Round Up’, ‘Poetry24’, ‘Winning Writers’ and work in a number of poetry anthologies. Des is on facebook as “The stuff wot I wrote’ Des Mannay – hooligan Poet” and Twitter as @hooliganpoet

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3 Responses to Shoes

    1. Oh what a dire and heartbreakingly true image of the minds of those who choose weapons and war.

      Stunning last two lines

      ‘They want to pile up the dead
      Like chips in a casino.’

      I am wondering what the baby’s name would have been
      And why can’t they play peace and provisions instead of Roulette and Monopoly.

      Excellent vision of such sad truths.

      Comment by Francess on 4 June, 2018 at 7:49 am
    2. Thank you Des. I really mean that.

      The opening image is so powerful.

      The middle stanza develops it.

      The third stanza tells me what you think about the first two. But the image of the shoes doesn’t reoccur to encapsulate, or conclude your wrath and anguish.

      I’ve read it a few times with just the first two stanzas excluding the third and I think it might, might, just might, be stronger without the third as it currently stands.

      The image of clothes carries on from shoes. But I wondered if it might be more cohesive if you described the shoes the alienated wear rather than suits etc. It might tie the three stanzas together and give the poem a three act progressive development springing from your devastating opening image.

      I loved the image of the gamblers chips. It’s really strong, but again it steps outside of your original ‘scheme of ideas’. It’s seemed to be a brilliant image with which to begin another poem. It’s so rich that it warrants exploration on its own. I’d love to see what you could do with that image if you ran with it. It’s drips with cynicism. The way people toss, or stack chips when placing bets and how they are swept away once lost is very sensual.

      You punch the page.

      I love that.

      Comment by Greg Cullen on 4 June, 2018 at 12:13 pm
    3. Thank you so much for your comments. I will certainly take note of the idea of recycling the gamblers chips imagery for future work, (have something in mind already), and the other suggestions. They are a cogent reminder that there is no such thing as a finished poem….

      Comment by Des Mannay on 25 June, 2018 at 3:01 am

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