That we might taste justice and emerge cleansed from the lies of vipers

Twelve Poems
Eight lines in each
Ninety-six lines

  Dawn of the Day
Suck You In
And Spit You Out
Wrath of the Dead
Lament of the Living
Cold Hearth, Cold Bedroom
Seek and Ye Shall be Ignored
Perversion of the Truth
Lingering Lies
Cry Justice and be Heard
Brave New Report
The Call of Time

Copyright – Ric Johnson


Audio performance version:


Dawn of the Day

Dreams the size of footy pitches fragment into heady, new born day
As trousers, shoes, tops and socks spring together in flurried rush
Gearing Anfield’s army towards its shuddering date with destiny, alas
Sweet dreams persist, fuelled by love, hope and expectation, oh hurray!

Mothers, sons, fathers, brothers, sisters, daughters, cousins, friends
Meet, leave, shout farewell, see you later alligator, and hitch those dreams
To a Sheffield hell, there, crushed by nightmares mushrooming to the sky.

How can a day be this? A jewel squeezed and pulped into endless night.


Suck You In

Leppings Lane peoplefall, trippingfall, surging, pushing, crushing, squeezing
Tidal powers of flesh-energy scour and whoosh our darlings to despair
Sweaty, gasping, grasping, hoping, praying, swaying, fraying, flailing, and
Learning to be crushed and hushed and bushed and trashed and mashed.

While over there, just over there, lie empty concrete, empty spaces, empty
While the fools look on and on and on, while the heat-steam rises from our roses
As lucky leg jerkers are pulled like willing, desperate frogs to the upper stand.

Bright buttoned fools see not the coming nightmare, playing at ignorant gods.


And Spit You Out

And flat against the barrier as the distant crowd began to sing
The boiling mass of people screamed,  “You cannot see a thing
You cannot see us dying and succumbing as you drone
You cannot see and will not see that life is fleeing, fleeing, flown”.

And strolling policemen, scant concerned as pleas spill out like rain
As “Save us, Brucie, help us, save us”, makes a terrible refrain
Until dawning understanding broke and panic tore down the cage.

Spat out its broken, crushed, unconscious fans and left the others lying, dying, one injustice of the age.


Wrath of the Dead

We lie and float on a swelling, darkening sea
Nipped by untruthful fish, clutching us, flinching us.
Wrathful, vengeful, we fisticuff these chattering fish
Greedy for retribution against the fish-eyed masters of the press

Who peddle insinuation, meddling, and sullying the scales
Of justice, aloft and blindfold, hearing not our watery cry
Ours to be scored with lies as sharp as butchers’ hooks.

When, O Lord, shall thy mercy heal us here in the darkened sea?


Lament of the Living

As the news crashed back to Liverpool and those countless ways beyond
That a chasm of darkness opened where once many a living person stood
With darling daughters and darling sons and many a darling father conned
Out of life itself, their future years, some lost to the promise of parenthood.

The shuddering shock of death’s precipice and the never-ending fall
Laid waste the countless loving hearts dismantled by it all
As silence displaced laughter, laughter, in the kitchen and the hall.

The ones bereaved lie shrivelled, shrunk, feeling the agony of it all.


Cold Hearth; Cold Bedroom

I remember now the emptiness and silence crushing my heart
Unspeaking chairs not listening and the table not taking my part
Making me an empty jug with an empty soul, turning me to stone
I cried to the Lord that I should not be, O God, I would not be alone.

I remember now that bedroom expecting him home to his unmade bed
And what remained of Friday night should be left just where it was, he said
That he’d return from the match to fix it and get rid of the mess just fine.

But he never came home and all I could do was to set up a sort of a shrine.


Seek and Ye Shall be Ignored

Blood-writers damn only themselves, printing all those despicable lies
While we shall forever denounce them, those fish-eyed ghouls of the Press
Who have flattened our voices and scorned us, despite our truthful replies
The battle lines are settled and fierce tears scald souls needing redress.

Just as waves surge over their seascape, the longer we’ll push our campaign
Our duty is clear, stand firm by our love, as we know our lost ones command
That as day follows night the truth must be told so fling back our heads once again.

We stand fast at our point in history, seeking redemption in truth’s distant land.


Perversion of the Truth

It would not have taken long for sweating, haughty minds to chase around and panic
For silvered hats and embroidered epaulettes in dread, to set the slimy system manic
Fevered conversations dribbling poisoned whisperings in our believing public’s ear
Infamous, infectious, gross and lying slander from such imperious mouths we hear.

Perversions swiftly reaching those who spider-spin the need for self-protection
An old boys club of pious uniforms intent on sleight of hand to justify inspection
A day of shame besmirching those whose duty lay in honour, betraying us, of course.

This day of shame leaps years with its cape of infamy and laughs to show remorse.


Lingering Lies

The headlines told of malcontents awash with drink and foolish, boisterous for the game
Of hooligans and senseless yobs arriving late to charge those old and shuddering gates
Their snarling purpose just to burst upon the terraces and reinforce their singing mates
Ignoring calls of growing fear beyond, cramming other red supporters to a crying shame.

And later still, in the horrors of the hour, our very own defiled those lying there, they said
Unspeakable but yet quite printable, the fish-eyed pressmen brayed their shoddy lies at us
Their accusations fast fed a listening world, desperate for moral certainty, as others bled.

These lingering lies, lying on us with the weight of mountains, crushing us, exhausting us.


Cry Justice and be Heard

Throughout the years, such broken years, heroic souls called to the Risen Lord
Wounded by the furious roar of enemies, their unbent story we fervently applaud
But never once did the heartbeat fail or the flag of honour lie unseen, neglected
They persevered against a blind, uncaring world against a verdict not respected.

The battle hymns of Liverpool thunder long across the grounds of mighty foes
While all our chanting boys and girls with loud dissent sang of shameful woes
And when at long, long last, astounded by a wicked, cruel and monumental lie

Our country with unhindered gaze said justice must be theirs, before we too shall die.


Brave New Report

And thoughtful heroes of the age unravelling the multitude deceits of cockroach liars
Four Hundred Thousand grains of sand to build a Bishop’s castle that certainly inspires
A blooming confidence in the scented rose that peers beyond the sullen, murky curtain
As this masterly accusation, alive with grim revelation, is set before a fretful nation.

Liverpool Cathedral in all its majesty, consoling these poor souls in tatters, yet proud
Hears torn-apart people, plagued by the paralysis of never ending grief, still pray aloud
And witnesses the sad-eyed Panel cry havoc against the liars with a lusty sword of fire.

This sword of reason, sword of truth, has set the stage for what we most desire.


The Call of Time

Tick tock, tick tock, can you feel the call of time?
Tick tock, Brother, can you spare another dime?
Can you tell that justice beckons as you try to creep away?
Can you feel deception melt when the sun has reached mid-day?

Do you think you’ll ever find the grace to simply speak the truth aloud?
Do you think that time’s passing makes forgetting simple for the crowd?
Will you call for water hoarsely when nearly dead and in despair?

Will you turn and weep for people you have hurt beyond repair?


10 replies
  1. Kayleigh
    Kayleigh says:

    Absolutely beautifully written poem. Very emotional the whole way through. Thank you for recommending this to me today
    Justice for the 96 ❤️

  2. Trevor
    Trevor says:

    Superbly put…… we will never forget…… Red n blue will always stick together…. Liverpool United together ….. the emotions of that day will never go away jf96lfc4everynwa

  3. Helen Field
    Helen Field says:

    An extremely moving piece of work from start to finish. Encompassing every emotion from the initial lighthearted humour, excitement and anticipation, to fear, pain, anger, emptiness and bitterness. As somebody who has been trained to work within a casualty bureau, Cold Hearth; Cold Bedroom is particularly emotional for me. The sense of dread that must have been felt by so many families during those first few hours. When sketchy reports of the disaster have been released and individuals remain unaccounted for – and then the painful realisation that your worst fears have been confirmed. Powerfully and beautifully written.

    Let those poor victims, their families and their long hard fight for justice never be forgotten.

  4. Paul and Alex
    Paul and Alex says:

    Well done! We know how much energy and devotion you put into this. We are all very proud of you and are sure it will be read many times in the coming months. Paul and Alex.

  5. Nicola Ritchie
    Nicola Ritchie says:

    Just read lament of the years. Very well written and touching.
    Feel like I need to read all the poems over again to take it all in.


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