memory

Pain’s sweet tooth, remembered

Back in this place again

This place of doom and gloom

Bloated stomach passing for womb

Once I was well and pain

Was something felt from a

Prick of thorn or cut of steel

Not as now when it grows

From a live seed

Planted deep, sown down

In furrows, virulent its saplings writhe

For supremacy, squealing for

Sugar and coffee and tea

Cake and wine and syrup and cream,

Drops will not do, bring

Buckets for bowls, Life must

Be strained and stretched to

Feed Pain’s sweet tooth.

Notes on the poem

I wrote this 14 years ago, when I was struggling with a pituitary tumour and acromegaly.

I’m starting to include poems from this period of my life, from my first site : creativecoping.wordpress.com.

I think the past, in all its forms, memory, history, monument, is useful to the present.

By resurfacing these poems, I hope to remember the lessons life gave me then.

Remembrance

Death and life can float up
In a second or less and fill the
Rest of Time. Rest on Time

Therefore, let hate weight
Nothing and noone, drifting off
On a tide of Peace.

Epitaph for Grandpa Pete

Stanley
Peter Merer,
Architect, sailor, spitfire
Survivor.

Zoom up –
SWERVE, the tropics
And dales, war to peace:
Air to sea.

He ruled
New colours and     
Shapes that could tame breezing light
Like the best
Sails and wings.          

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.

“Hey, sister, can you tell me where a man might find a bed?”

Those times when we would

Walk across plains  to see

A place whose face was home

For a time; a nose and mouth

In addition to our own,

A pulse whose tick was echoed

Through the day, however far.

 

Our wrists are severed now but

The rhythm still goes on even though

No tie but nostalgia links our veins,

Our roots are intertwined by

The strengths we shared and

Weaknesses we endured together.

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.

To treat and illness

Will you treat

me to tea

and cake or

champagne or an

icecream sundae?

When I was ill treats

came bitter, through

a needle to the bum

or the radiographer’s

hum.

A Man Trapped, Now, Outside

Dew drops came

Thick, sticky

Things in the mist,

Gone as soon as

Seen, washed

In the morning rain.

Inside,

His sorrow bled his

Soul and gauged

The pupils deeper

Through his eyes,

Bored through brain.

Pain pools welled

Round these holes,

And bounced

The light back, blue,

Ungrateful at the

Interrupted shade.

Thoughts welled up

Inside his head,

Of loved ones

Crudely detached,

Cords severed,

Mid-flight.

The restaurant

Dimmed, she,

Opposite, receded

Into Silence, as

The Past caved

In, confining him

To Memory’s passages,

Flickering, beckoning,

Grim.

Occasionally, sounds,

From above,

Outside the cave,

Her voice, something

Trivial, no guidance

Through these tunnels,

Only proof of Present

Beyond his prison,

Past.

 

3 Thoughts

 

Save me a tune when the light

 Is gone

Make my mind sweet with

That thick sound,

A compliment, well sent,

Swelling up from the tender

Root of a heart entwined

With mine

In knots, the wynd and bind,

Again and again.

Cut me a rope I can use

To climb down, down to

A place where I can sit

And eat lunch in peace, thoughtful

For the morning, eager for the

Afternoon, but happy on the bench, whatever’s in

The box.

Still, sitting by his side,

The sage who knew all

And spoke it freely

With tea and rich tea,

One leg here, the other

In Italy, 1945.

 (23rd August 2009)

A house on a London terrace

The house was built in 1864 or thereabouts

With bricks and mortar

In the usual way,

Set down on the street

‘Tween two just the

Same.

No, I lie. Next

Door was a shop,

Greyed out now, modern

Style, frosted windows, the works.

Behind doors to the house of

A family, bent by

Chance into odd-

Shaped rooms, tombs

For the spirits of eras

Passed, mingling now and

Then with the plates on

The rack or a glass in the

Cupboard, no harm meant.

After twenty five years

No surprise at a flying saucepan.

A family lived in the house,

Part of it, kin to it,

Whatever its freight.

Besides, after twenty five years, they

Had their own ghosts as guests,

Those former selves in former

Times living on,

Resonating in overlapping lines.

The cello practice, the barking

Dog, the sleeping dog,

The trampoline, the one that

Broke, the roller blades,

The skipping rope.

The time when budgies tweeted

In the kitchen

And Ma cooked at 6 for me

And 8 for him, again.

The time when garden’s shade

Was less and next door neighbour

Had a cat called…called….

Times gone but still present

In the ether, round the stairs, up the blocked chimney,

Or the skylight, then

Down, over mossy steps

And at the back door, again,

With a ratataptap, like a

Ghost..

No, it must be Jack

The new next door neighbour’s

Cat.

Published in Balladof Magazine, October 2009