Noel Williams

Kim Phuc: The Song of Yellow Skin

When you see the flame the bomb has already fallen.
Earth has shifted irrevocably. Every bright bird is
caught, singing the song of Yellow Skin.

Napalm eats history, hope, all that is gold and green,
snatches the sun down to melt in Kim’s nerves.
Now she can translate the unspeakable

each creak of her healing skin whispers of ash,
her cousins’ only eulogy.
Her home, now veined with weeds

traps a black bird in concrete
fluttering in its ruin. She is crying
with the door shut, ragging feathers on cement.

Noel co-edits Antiphon (at:, is Associate Editor of Orbis, writes reviews for several magazines, has published quite widely, won a dozen prizes and had three poems nominated for the Forward prize. More shameless self-promotion at:


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