To James Bulger, aged 2, murdered February 1993
by two boys aged 10 in Liverpool, England

by Christopher T. George
Second Place, December 2020
Judged by Jim McGarrah

Everybody’s little boy
— the mounds of bouquets
near the railway embankment say so.
The surprised little face
Ninja turtle tee shirt
“Take my hand, I’m your friend.”

The blurred images on the video:
child’s hand holding child’s hand
The New Strand Shopping Centre
Liverpool . . . Walton . . . Bootle.
There are places I remember
Take my hand: I wanna hold your hand.

When I was younger
so much younger than today
I remember time
when eyes were knee high
when everything seemed beautiful.
His mother in the butcher’s shop.
Come together, “Hold my hand.”

The mound of bouquets
by the railway embankment
for everybody’s little boy.
There are places I’ll remember
all my life, though some have changed
some forever but not for better.

The photograph among the flowers
of the surprised little face
Ninja turtle tee shirt
— a sadness so deep,
its tears leave us spectator
to a video image, an unlived life.

Like “the blurred image on this video” what constitutes an elegy is ambiguous even though it is a time-honored type of poem in the English language. This poem can certainly be called an elegy as it laments the death of a child, which is always a somber and tragic affair. But the poem does more than that. It reminds us of the fact that cruelty has no age limits. It shows us the power of visual imagery—being taken secondhand from a video. It reminds us how we remember and reflect by incorporating lyrics from old Beatles songs that can help connect us vicariously to the scene. Mostly, beyond the horror, it helps us accept the value of the time we have left to live. --Jim McGarrah