All of the following poems appear in my new collection Home ( June 2020: Graffiti Books)

Lost

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

of chemistry

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 –

everywhere,

eternally.

Leavetaking

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.

Duty

When love’s

run out of road,

daunted by rocks ahead,

and turning reveals the way back

ablaze.

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!