All of the following poems appear in my new collection Home ( June 2020: Graffiti Books)
Wide glass Springlight walls, pale new stone and wood.
Somewhere so fresh makes death seem nothing much
To worry us, adds sweetness to the words
We’ve shaped and honed for this, your last despatch –
Words to patch your wreckage back together
Into a plausibly seagoing craft,
Though not one ever sailed by you, brother,
Snared by storms, dismasted, smashed and adrift.
But now isn’t the time, nor here the place
For laying bare. Later, and on my own,
I’ll scour the crags and coves for any trace
Of sailcloth, timber, nets or rigging blown
Ashore; gather up each piece, clutch it tight,
And mourn for you, lost and alone at night.
We believed ourselves the centre once
We believed ourselves the centre once,
made in the images of gods,
the only reason that the stars revolved,
rains fell and rivers ran.
But then we looked too far,
and far too near,
and found we’re not the centre,
just the edge
of nowhere in particular –
likely some unlikely freak
left listening in vain
for faintest hints of company in a night
that has no end.
And, just maybe, we are all there is,
that ever was or will be,
until, at last, the lights go out,
one by one by one,
on every hidden world we’d found
but couldn’t quite escape to
before the end:
whilst all the best we had to say
and sing about ourselves
pulses outwards in perfect spheres,
further and further
from our pin-prick home –
leaving not a stone untouched –
She waved you off to school each day,
would always stay
until your last
look back had passed
from Tanners into Bramley Road.
She merely slowed
her waving then;
stopped only when
the powers implored to shelter you
beyond her view
seemed satisfied …
then stepped inside.
run out of road,
daunted by rocks ahead,
and turning reveals the way back
For everything a season
Our young monsieur and his madame,
they came again today –
both so smitten with the place
they just can’t stay away.
They love it just the way it is,
not messed about with, nothing new
ersatz or out of kilter,
not buggered up by parvenus:
our escritoires with leather tops,
mahogany chests of drawers,
dressers, bureaux, old armoires,
rich rugs on stone slab floors,
the carefully chosen pastel shades
in kitchen, study, hall;
the hours and hours I’d toiled away
papering wall on wall
with lavish period designs
in duck egg blue and gold,
even to the smallest room
where lately I’d unrolled
a wood of birds and butterflies
in ochres and vermilion,
a touch we felt might justify
a tag of half a million.
All this our gallic friend
had taken, rightly, to his heart,
and so I showed him all he’d need
for husbanding my art –
a cupboard stacked with half-used tins,
paper off-cuts, stains and dyes,
all carefully preserved years long
for chips and tears that need disguise.
That’s when he looked at me, eyes wide
with disbelief, and yet contrite –
Mais non! I thought you realized.
I’ll paint the whole place white!