death

Grandparents, Reunited.

She had bright
Red papier mâché,
He, a thick oak.  

Between funerals,
The years, brittle,
Wan, now mingled
With the best ones –  

Dusty joy,
Shared; striding, touching,
Swimming through the wind.

Untitled

There is no way out, the
Present is everywhere I go;
In every state I stop or start
The only EXIT is sleep;
Unless death is a dream.

Remembrance Sunday peace and sound

 

We ring the bells for

Babies, we ring them

Then for brides and

Grooms, we ring them

Every Sunday, in politeness

To our Father, his Son and

Of course, the Holy Ghost.

 

Today’s bells ring and ring

And clash with the drums

And brass blowing down

The street to the pound

Of feet remembering flesh

That was blown to sand

Or mud or stone, depending

On the time, the place and

The type of luck or

 Bravery that graced

The soldier who didn’t know

The shortcut was It.

 

 

Arpeggios, majors, no

Minors – Don’t dwell

On pain, keep calm

Carry on – Don’t clock

The fuss civilians

Make about bombs.

 

Drums for triumph

Beating out a time of

Red and gold and

Sabre mounted on the

Field, blast through the murmur

Of stealth or chocolate bars

Mingling with Kalashnikovs

In the long-distance lorry’s bowels.

 

Drumming stops and the

Ducks go quack quack as

They paddle in the

Lake and the leaves

Break out in chatter

Now that they can hear

Each other better without

The dreadful stacks

Of beats that back

The boots that crack

The streets to remind

Them that another year

Has passed and more

Bodies are piled on

The old ones who died

Young. God rest their souls.

Snow Globe

A person and a  penguin , in conversation

 

Person:

 ‘Accessories are what it’s all about –

Hats, scarves, bangles worn over gloves,

Keeping warm  in the snow,  nothing

Else counts  when you’re cold and wet too –

Suddenly life contracts to a quick pulse

In the chest, trying to beat Frost and reach

Hands and feet first.

Penguin: 

Keep the shuffle going, to and fro,

Across the glacier, here

And there a slide and skate

Punctuated with the odd skid

And backwards swirl, churning

The blood through warm wings or,

As we call them, waistcoat fins.

Person:

‘Where are we going in all

This white, what paths shall

 We black when all previous

Tracks are under four metres of

Soft silence and the only clues

 are foxing paths deviating on

a scent we’ll never crack?

 Penguin:

Why ask where we are going?

 There is no direction

To go in because we are

Home, our feet make it

Newly, every step

into top snow .

Person:

‘Don’t you ever ponder,

One day, ice gone,

you’ll be swimming Through

to Death or simply,

wait for Life to

Pass, from the last

Raft of rock?

Penguin:

‘And what does it matter?

I feel my egg between our

 Feet and know to protect

And honour –

Our pact – we three:

Her, egg and me.’

 

 

 

 

 

Another conversation, same person, same penguin

 

Person:

What use is breeding? One

More penguin when there

Are thousands

Picking fights to 

Get to the inside.’

Penguin:

Who are you to ask why?

You have over engineered

Your brain so that

No fuel is compatible and it

Eats itself for food.’

Person:

‘Still, must be more to Life than

Eggs that may

Never survive and hatched,

What will it do? Make more

Eggs like you?

Penguin:

Better that than

Unhappy with what

I have, thirsty for what

I haven’t need, hungry

For what I’ve just gorged on.

The ice is melting

And we’re all on it –

Melting it more

In the warmth of shared space – nothing

More, nothing less.

Reality abides with us,

Quietly, no fuss at the fading snow. 

 

Killing time, over a nice cuppa

Sitting cold next to Arthur,

Tea brewing strongly.

Tied the knot in 1952, now

Tightened too flat to tell knot

From rope, you pop out to shops,

You pop back to tea, he pops

Upstairs to find his crossword. You pop

Out again for more tea from Maggie’s cups –

Same bags but the milk’s not

Not gold topped. Still, there are plenty of biscuits

Arthur couldn’t eat.

Mown Down

There once was a girl with blue-tits

Standing on the corner

Of a dirty street

Letting them sing in the lamplight

At half past five on a wet autumn eve.

 

Lucky to have them

Printed on nylon, somewhere

In China in colours to match hers.

Lucky to be there, at the dirty

Street corner, no care but getting

Wet through the wet autumn eve.

 

Moving into the twilight

She breathes holes in

The air, past the day’s paninis

Left out by Cafes for tramps to eat

On loose-knit streets

Paved over fields, gradually, down

Decades, first cobbles then tarmac,

Bits of both, interweaved, gum daisies

Sprouting pink and yellow and green

 Through each kink-

 

 

About to cross the road

The blue-tits stop singing but

She ignores their hiatus and makes

For the van, white, common type

And BANG

The blue-tits go red and

 Death fills the street.

 

Leighton Cemetery

Left there the corpses,

then the skeletons,

first alone, then to-

gether, their beloved

wives newly carved on

the head –

stone.

Left there the flowers

fade, made of nylon,

or decay, if alive once,

foil and cellophane

are blown away and

vase is

cracked.

The ground is pinned down,

there is nowhere to

be, only thin waves

lap each grave where we

wade to reach that door,

key-hole

free.

Let’s go down to the sea, like you used to, with Grandpa

We stretch for blackberries
In the sun, walking slowly
Along the bay, here to commemorate
But bereft of memory
The chilhood talks, the driftwood fire,
The sausages and sticks
Were too light to sink and
Be saved for deep sea divers
To find.

One lone tanker
Heaves past as we
Leave. Do its crew
Marvel at the sunset?
Probably not. Do we?
Yes, in our minds eye,
But our hearts are
Elsewhere, trawling,
Water and memories
But the catch
Is empty, the
Hoped-for treasure,
Through it slipped,
If it was ever there.

Lifelong

Life’s too short

For rushing

And ruing.

Let it run

Thick and slow

And rich and

Deep and velvet

Smooth over

Boulders and

Into cracks deep

To the bottom

And long down

The valley,

Silent and soft

And warmed

In the sun

And black

Through the

Night yet

Teeming

With song

Lifelong,

No rush

To rue.

8:30 am, Heart Attack Road

Death stopped his

Clock at 49 years, 38

Days and 54 seconds.

Enough? No sense in

Asking nonsense

Questions, his measure

Weighed no more

Nor less than 49

Years, 38 days and

54 seconds. No

Use holding

A bicycle, a

Cigarette, a

Curt phone-call,

Suspect , no murder

Here, only Life

Then Death.

Rerouted

So abruptly,

Where does he stamp-stomp now –

Swear or

Hack a laugh

And scratch

His ear to

Chase a thought?

What’s that sound

We hear on the

Stairs? Silence and the

Flaccid patter of

Other people’s feet,

Not his firm

Tread.

Who’s that voice

That Northern

Lurch? – No, not

Him, too mincing,

Not his whirr from

A tar-blacked pipe.

His last weekend,

His last of

Life, what

Passed, passed

Clear and

Flat, as if

To expose,

Not far ahead,

A fork in the road.

Off he veered,

Yet visible in

The morning glare, but

Shrinking,

Slowly, steps

Grow softer

As his edges

Fizz their last,

And crackle warmly

Into Horizon.

In memory of a man, a salesman from Nottingham, fond of sailing and his 3 children.