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Boneyard Song by Mark Penny

by Patricia | 4.16.12

Down to the boneyard went the child to play
Rake-a-long snake-a-long
Laughing all the day
Laughing in the ashes
Leaping on the stones
Hiding in the graveholes, building with the bones

Down to the stickyard came the sun to play
Break-a-long ache-a-long
Shining all the day
Shining on the ashes
Shouting on the stones
Peeking in the graveholes, waking up the bones


Mark Penny lives in a world of people, books and guitars seasoned with a laptop and a bodhran. He first came to light on March 9, 1964 in the mill and market town of Ashton-under-Lyne, Lancashire, England, and led a nomadic existence between British Columbia, Orem (Utah), Haiti, Alberta (Canada), and Ukraine before settling in Kaohsiung City, Taiwan, where he teaches English and raises feral children. In addition to sporadic pulses of poetry, he writes songs (music and lyrics), fiction (short, long and serial) and carefully graded TESOL materials, examples of all of which are available here.

*Competition entry*

9 Responses to Boneyard Song by Mark Penny

  1. Mary Belardi Erickson

    Wow! This poem sings. Memorable rhythm. You have effectively merged children’s play and the bone-dry landscape. Love it. Mary

  2. Jonathon Penny

    One wonders “Why Spring,” and then we hit the sunshine and the Christology and the resurrection and we say, “Ah!”

  3. Sarah Dunster

    I want to drum to this one. The rhythm is so much a rhythm that a child would make up/dance to, also. I love the tye-in with resurrection, too. Spring and resurrection go together like peanut butter and chocolate ;)

  4. Mark

    Resurrection peanut butter cups. There’s quite a market.

    This is one of the most heavily crafted pieces of anything I’ve ever written. It started with an idea suggested by a CNN interview with Stephen Forbes (of Forbes magazine and the list of rich guys). Behind him was some park, which was gray and leafless, like parks everywhere in Fall. It reminded me of parks I used to sit in in Ukraine, and that, in tandem with news items about Homs, Syria and burials in parks led to thoughts of Babii Yar, a park in Kiev where the Nazis massacred a large number of Jews, of Kosovo and other places where people have fought and died and where bones lie. The Eden and Resurrection ideas came along later.

    Anyway, I’m y’all are enjoying the little ditty. Feel free to dance to it, but remember to leap.

  5. Mark

    I’m glad y’all…

  6. Merrijane

    It reminds me of the old nursery rhymes–jaunty yet grim at the same time.

  7. Merrijane

    By the way, I only just discovered the comments on these things. I really have loved all of the poetry so far, even though I didn’t say so!

  8. Will Reger

    This poem reminds me of the nursery rhymes rooted in the horror of plague. Also, I live not far from a small creek called Boneyard Creek because of the bones found there by the first settlers. It was the site of an Indian burial ground. I like the joining of the playful rhythm with the macabre images of bones, ashes, breaking, aching, and so on.

  9. Mark

    One way or other, a child must play. That’s for sure.

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