Alan Burke Hooligan Trees

I came across this excerpt by Muhammad Ali, which reminded me of a book of poetry I have by the late Alan Burke.

I done wrassled with and alligator.
I done tussled with a whale,
Handcuffed lightning, thrown thunder in jail.
Only last week I murdered a rock,
injured a stone, hopitalized a brick.
I’m so mean I make medicine sick.
Muhammad Ali 1974

I wonder how much if any, this had an influence on Alan Burkes”Pieta”. It certainly has a very similar rhythm and swagger. Actually poetry is the one form of art I find most challenging but Alan Burke’s Hooligan trees struck a nerve with me immediately. It is a small but extremely strong collection of poems by a young man who died of a brain tumour. He was aware that this was terminal when writing Hooligan Trees which makes it all the more poignant and powerful. This is the last poem in the book.

Carving a Pieta from an Atom

Throw heaven and earth into a sack
And carry it always on your back.
Go up to Gods black eye, spit in his face, say goodbye,
Take the devil by his balls and bounce him off hells slimy walls!
Roll death on your palm, touch it, stroke it, without alarm.
Ride your life the buckshot horse,
Whipping it always to stay on course.
Do in a second an hours job-
From time you must begin to rob.
Stand on stacked up years to touch eternity.
Your home in all certainty.
Scale Everest with a smile,
Scaling mountains is no great trial!
Carve a pieta from an atom…
Alan Burke

About Mark Hodgson

Designer and creative professional based in Jutland, Denmark


  1. Anonymous

    He is my grandfather

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