Peripheries

There’s a sink that needs cleaning,
A festive wreath to pack away;
Death essentially demeaning,
I can’t see beyond what you did today.

Meanwhile,
The pure agony of existence
Is on the peripheries
Of oceanic ferries
Towards bliss, or heaven.

I can remember every moment,
Pernicious and horrible;
Impervious to me, terrible,
Memories in their tsunamis
And their oceans becalmed,
Crammed into the ecstasy
Of my every waking thought.

Apocryphal

You called me with a wish.
The line was broken, interrupted.
Your children were in the car
Behind you, concerns unspoken.
I knew you could not call again;
My mind is a radar for sadness.

An apocryphal fog followed,
Thick as a Polkovnik’s moustache,
A fog for causing shipwrecks,
Misunderstandings telegraphed.
In any event, I became mute
Until I met my nephews again.

Ballast

To all those I once held dearly;
To all those I did know sincerely;
I have not seen for many years,
My debt is your arrears.

Yes, you fill my dreaming night,
To move, to speak, without a light;
Rooted in my reaping river,
Supplanting dead who’ll have me shiver.

My body’s a blunt portcullis,
Designed for neither malice
Contrived nor brooding fears,
Raised to feed fore-mentioned peers.

My brain now ballast, deadened weight,
Sea-bedded hull will keep my fate,
Mid innocence of baleen whales
And uncles drowned, wrapped with sails,

One’s niece a starry, Parisian dancer,
Étoile, no less, so my sorry disaster,
Forgotten by a Victorian mind
For later archivists to find.

My briny lesson – do not be named
For dubious fathers, nor regents famed;
We all will have our future fight,
Though tunnelling moles have more insight

Than me, believer in dogs to see man’s soul,
Mine charred and black, with blighting hole;
Food unfit for a foulest ghoul –
Defend, my friends, from all that’s cruel.

A Birthday

I forgot about you today.
That is not true.
That is another oxymoron.
But I did not know what to say
And all my candles are blue.

I forget about you most days.
That is not true.
I reused a tealight this morning.
And yet, it does make for an easier way
To dismiss all that you did

And did not do.
There is sometimes no greater gift
Than memory. Deny it,
Not even to refine it,
And grown men panic

And split themselves in two.
There was a future form of you;
We did not meet, touch, or approve.
And yet, sometimes it is so much more
Helpful to forget a resemblance,

Where dreams become punishment,
And hope is meted in knots,
And comfort in blots of confusion,
And when there is more hindrance
By remembrance consumed.

South Of Somewhere

South of Somewhere, Fairburn Road Car Park.
Small town, off from the main route.
Or large village? The first two hours parking is free, but you still have to go to the ticket machine and press a button for a ticket. The information display has yellow print on a black background. The municipal Council crest includes two mythical beasts either side of a shield, also yellow and black. There is a whole language for heraldry. There is a misprint between two symbols for a disabled person, which reads ‘Dabled badge holders FREE’.

I wish it was colder, or raining, or cold and raining. I prefer the rain. People tend to stay indoors a bit more.

I haven’t been here before. It’s only 8 miles north west from my house, but the journey includes country lanes with tall hedgerows leading into hamlets.

A local transport intersection, freight trains and East Coast LNER trains rumble by. Commuter belt, I expect, for workforces in the not too distant cities and larger towns. Smaller Northern Rail pacer trains, liveries of purple and white.

You can draw a straight line almost, from the southernmost city the one furthest north. This is somewhere inbetween.

I feel supernaturally tired. I will be unable to drive again, post surgery, she said. I said I will make for a moaning chauffeur.

You video-called me yesterday evening. You were wearing a silver chain with a silver crucifix. You ask me if I like it and I lied and said yes.

Days merge. And then I feel bad for feeling envious of those who moved on.

People I have seen arrive here are now returning to their cars, laden with shopping and misplaced hopefulness. They seep out from corners and sidestreets, like waxy by-products of my inexhaustible life, like tears. As I drove away, I remember thinking, if there is anyone as hermetic as me, I would like to meet them.

My Family Is The Type

My family is the type
Who, while the Titanic
Of this life is sinking,
Stand westwardly and
Thinking how delightful,
How beautiful this view,
This nightly icy view,
Whilst whistling a tune
Of some long-forgotten
Ditty, and this view is
O so pretty, their words
A fuel to keep me down
Beneath a winter’s bloom.

With my bailing bucket
And my useless glue
Suppressed within that blue
They survived, it’s true,
And traveled on
To somewhere new.

Sometimes I Fail

You will move too, eventually,
To leave me alone with my grief.

Sometimes attempting to wash
Bruises away, I do succeed

With those internalised,
And sometimes too, I fail.

Ahead of me, as I thought
About you and patterns of

Dazzling sunlight, two
Overweight dog-walkers

Ambling and unaware
That their dogs had died

Some years ago, well,
As I overtook, in a hurry,

The nearest woman
Raised a flat hand

To just about underneath
Her chin, signifying

Silently that I am to remain afloat
With her only silent gesture.

Arriving home, I called my son –
The missing one sat opposite.

You said one word, repeatedly,
But the line was not so clear

And I failed to hear
What you needed the most.

Pallbearer’s Song

There is a light transcending,
I broached its dappled fall,
And though I neared the ending
Such light left me in thrall.

I carried him on my shoulders,
Flowers spelt my name,
Relatives somewhat older
Gave all hell to blame.

I lowered myself by an altar,
Hymnals in a hand,
And though they sang with gusto,
Silent was the land.

However low I travelled,
Misguided wrongs recalled,
Sunbeams on a glady gravel
Seek to be my pall.

Ever The Lake

A waterfall inside me
Cascading from my past
Floods a field around me,
My stern is rarely fast.

Fix a lantern to my soul,
See volumes on that shore;
Levels rose beyond the toll
While inner tears endure.

I feed the spring of my sorrows
Each time you disappear,
I’ve cried my many tomorrows,
Though dry the eyes that steer;
For passers-by I will deny,
Though ever the lake is near.