Poetry of the Hunger Games

by Sebastian Crook

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Poetry and music inspired by the Hunger Games novels by Suzanne Collins.


released February 7, 2014

Music on tracks 1 and 4 from compositions by Edward Underhill & Matt Bukaty (hungergamesmusic.bandcamp.com)
Music on tracks 3 and 9 from compositions by Sam Cushion (store.samcushion.com)
Music on track 6 from a composition by Adriel S. Brandt
Music on tracks 7 and 8 from compositions by Able Youth (ableyouth.bandcamp.com)
Music on track 10 from a composition by Corbad (corbad.bandcamp.com)



all rights reserved
Track Name: Burnt bread, new hope
From feeble fingers slip the rags—
and fall into the coal-dust mud.
A back too weak to bend moves on,
limbs shaking in the cold and rain.

I can’t go home with nothing gained,
those sunken cheeks and absent eyes—
I can’t go home with nothing gained.

A golden glow and scent of bread
reject the night—the grey and cold.
An empty bin, a yelling face,
an apple tree to lean against.

I’m going home with nothing gained
to sunken cheeks and absent eyes—
I’m going home with nothing gained.

A scuffle from inside, a blow—
“The pigs! To feed the pigs! The pigs!”—
a boy, a bruising cheek, burnt bread.
It lands under the apple tree.

Against a shrunken chest they burn
as little legs pump through the mud.
Burnt bread, good bread, new hope—new hope.

I’m going home with something gained.
Track Name: After the reaping
We were supposed to celebrate today.
Our neighbours did.
Of course, their celebrations were not loud,
they simply…were.
They simply were together, there, inside—
their children home—
their children safe—for one more precious year.
Just one more year.
What hell is this that you have left us in?
This coal-black hell,
of lonely homes and broken, dusty streets—
that you have left.
I cannot—please—I will not watch you die—
can’t I pretend?
Without my television telling me
that you are dead,
can’t I pretend you’ve made it somewhere good?
Can’t I pretend?
What hell is this, where even blank screens scream
“I have your child!”—
my baby girl, what hell is this—what hell?
Come back to me!
I need you here—please—please, come back to me!—
the blank screen screams
and I can’t look away—my girl! my girl!
My baby girl.
They say the sun will always come again,
when nighttime falls.
So call me blind, for sunshine will not come—
the screen is black,
the day is night,
the night is dark,
and you are gone.
Track Name: Lavinia
You speak to me of peace,
and of forgiveness.
Your words of comfort tuck
me in like warm sheets,
and carry me like song,
sung bright and softly.
You talk of gentle things:
your speech is beauty.
Your voice is calm and kind
and clear and present;
and is a lullaby,
a peaceful presence,
that gives me leave to rest
and fends off nightmares.

You do not have a tongue,
but speak to me.

I scream and cry and stare,
my words are empty:
my words are not my own;
my own are weeping.

I have a tongue, but I
have said nothing.
Track Name: Here is the place where I loved you
The bleeding earth’s a sorry bed,
where bodies rot before they’re dead—
my friend, I do not want to leave you here,
upon the unforgiving dirt,
with blood still creeping through your shirt—
my friend, I do not want to leave you here.

I tried to sing a lullaby,
to give you peace before you died,
but death—his coming was too quick and cold.
A choir arose within the trees,
I sang in whisper from my knees;
but death—his coming was too quick and cold.

I could not bear to watch you pass,
your body warm upon the grass—
but friend, I kept my vigil by your side:
I could not bear to move away,
my eyes were frozen on your face—
my friend, I kept my vigil by your side.

I could not bear to see you dead,
the bleeding earth’s a sorry bed—
could flowers show the love I have for you?
I wreathed your wound and wound your hair
with colours bright and heavy care—
could flowers show the love I have for you?

When silence fell, a single jay
took up the song that said you’re safe—
you’re good and safe, no need to worry now.
They sent your gift to me instead,
and in a tree I ate the bread.
You’re good and safe, no need to worry now.

Here is the place where I loved you,
my little bird, my precious Rue—
I see you in the mockingjays that sing.
I feel as though I did know you,
my nimble shadow, lovely Rue—
I see you in every beautiful thing.
Track Name: The forest used to be so warm
The forest used to be so warm:
its leaves a blanket of my rest;
that held me close and knew me best,
its branches soft embracing arms.
The silence was a shield for me,
when poverty wailed all around:
the forest hummed with quiet sounds—
the solitude a sanctuary.
But now a fire sweeps through the trees;
but now the peace is left behind;
but now the darkness leaves me blind;
and now a corpse looks up at me.
The branches reach with dead men’s arms—
the forest used to be so warm.
Track Name: And we two broken pieces
I see them in the night: the dirt, the blood,
the silver of your eyes in fevered dreams.
I taste the foul air and feel the mud
like drying paint upon my face. It seems

so close to me at night, like I am there,
afire with fear and screaming senses, cold
with panic, freezing in the nighttime air—
all memory of sense returns to hold

my dreaming mind in jagged, tearing claws.
For when I lived these horrors first, you were
the flour that held my flesh in place; because
of you I dreamt of silver eyes—was sure

to see, at least once more, the light of day.
But now I live this darkness once again
and you have never been so far away.
I cannot speak to you, and so I paint.

I paint the Games; the terror and the good,
and you; though in the night I cannot feel
your touch, I see your face—your scarlet blood,
your iron stance, and stare of burnished steel.

Your touch has left my dreams, but in the day
I feel your absence like a twisting blade.
And yet, was it not I who turned away,
who turned my back, who left a debt unpaid?

You owe me nothing; I owe you my life,
and more, and more than I could ever say.
But truth can cut much faster than a knife,
and when it opened me I turned away

from you to bleed, though I had not the right.
And still my lifeblood flows like water down
around my sorry skin, and in the night
it pools around my bed—in truth, I drown.

In truth I drown, for still it seems a lie—
ashamed am I: I cannot help but think
you lied to me. You lied to me. I lie
awake in dreams and drown; in truth I sink.

For I am jealousy, entitlement,
and pain; and wrong—so wrong, in everything;
but can I bring myself to not resent
your actions, can I bring myself to cling

a little less, step back, and let you live
your choice to just survive, apart, alone?
It is the very least that I could give
to simply understand, and then atone

for turning cold. But there is poison in
my heart: a blackness creeping day by day,
and it would take all that I am. But when
I feel it growing, it is kept at bay

by thoughts of you—my selfish love for you
is all that keeps the dark from binding; all
that keeps the sun up shining. Yet this, too
is poisonous, for how can I just call

you friend, and be with you, and look into
your steel grey eyes, without the hope that what
you said was truth was lies, and lies was truth.
I cannot rid myself of this, or shut

my heart to you. And yet, I must, or all
will crumble: night will burst within my soul,
and you will be alone, and I will fall
apart and never more will live as whole,

and we two broken pieces will become
the pawns in some perverted game between
the devil and the ignorant. The sum
of us will be the cogs in a machine,

our only purpose servitude without
a mind, without a heart. I cannot let
them win so easily. When they tear out
my lungs, a scream will rise from them: “Not yet!

I am not done, I have far more to say!”
For as they take my life, I want them all
to know that I am me, not some display
of someone else’s vision. I will fall,

but I will not allow my craven fear
to be the root. I will apologize,
and be your friend, your simple friend, and clear
my mind of pride that tells me truth was lies.

Perhaps I will begin by knowing you.
I know that you would give your life for me;
I know that you are independent; too,
I know that you are strong; but one can see

these things. I want to know what lies within:
your hopes and dreams and fears and loves and wit.
But that will come in time. I will begin
with this: what colour is your favourite?
Track Name: Hold me close
Please come to me tonight and hold me close—
like in the hidden cave, when sheathed within
the sleeping bag, your fever kept us warm.
Asleep or wide awake, my nightmares seem
to flee from you—in sleep, it is a balm,
allowing rest; awake, they fly like knives
at me from every little move you make.
But come to me tonight, and hold me close—
the torment of the morning is a pain
I’ll face in company; the torment felt
at night is one that I must face alone—
so hold me close and I will use your arm
in place of pillow; hold me close and I
will use your presence as a shield; tonight
I’ll trust to you my life, tomorrow I’ll
withdraw and hate myself for using you.
Yet you would still come, wouldn’t you, if I asked?
Track Name: From coal unto coal
From coal unto coal,
a meadow now of ash. There
is no District 12
Track Name: Of going numb, of going blind
I’ve seen rebellion—
the visceral, spontaneous;
the bloody and the violent;
the rising wave of anger thrown
against the cold cement of god
in regimental white—

and it terrified me;

and I’ve seen opulence—
the golden-garbed and gluttonous;
the fake, the clean, the ignorant;
the ever-growing ooze of wealth
emitting from the shrinking few
that chance and time have blessed—

and it terrified me;

I’ve felt the fires of hate—
the horrifying violence;
the burning and the frozen cold;
the seething vision of a god
who feels no pain, and sees it not,
of victim or of soul—

and it terrified me;

I’ve felt the longing, too—
the comfort of the blindly held;
the beating heart, the tender lips;
the closeness and the comfort of
a friend that fends off nightmares when
I call out in the night—

and it terrifies me;

I’ve seen the shade of death,
on enemy and friend—

and it terrified me;

I’ve felt the knife of fear,
and held the blade myself—

and it terrified me;

I’ve heard of duty’s call,
and heard it fade away—

and it terrified me;

but most of all, I’m terrified
of going numb, of going blind—
of never seeing, never feeling,
never hearing anything;

above all else,
it terrifies me.
Track Name: The Mockingjay
I’m just a pawn, a painted face,
a body cleaned and waxed and dressed
and stood in some decided place
to speak their calculated words.
I cannot run or be alone,
or wipe your face out of my mind,
or undo what I have seen done—
I cannot help but feel alone.
But in the ashes lay the bread,
beside the dandelion stem—
the bruise you took to keep me fed—
I cannot give up now.
No, I cannot give up now.
Track Name: The world is different now
The world is different now—
the blood a memory;
the darkness just a dream—
and now my children dance
on grass where once was ash.

The meadow has grown back,
but still I see the graves.