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.

Lazuline

A renewed sadness befalls,
Unconditional as dawn
As she yawns across
Her blue waterfall-hair,
Her languorous manner
No longer enthralled,
Nor so equally
A source of despair.

I slowly drank a cup of tea
As time unminded his hours
And I sensed the ghost of myself.
Your last school photograph
Landed on my doormat this morning –
A smudged inky crest betrayed
What rested inside.
Your blue tie
Looser than it should be,
For which I would have gently
Chided and addressed
With a father’s careful hands;
Your pursed smile
Undeniably self-conscious
Not for your natural and
Certainly unfamiliar
If also not filial
Grace and intelligence,
But instead I knew
Instinctively,
Wordlessly,
You felt it necessary
To disguise
Your dental braces, yet still
Despite that withholding
Your humour could not be denied,
For it would always be belied
By an unmistakable
Iridescence
Traced like soul rainbows
Within your eyes of lazuline.

How many years have you been gone now?
How many more occasions will pass by?
Your photographs stopped arriving
After that last one,
Along with birthday cards
And the moon’s innumerable markers.
Sometimes it is better to lose count
Than have painful memories revived
Of how we survived.

The dewiest morning remembered –
I dreamt then in photographs,
In portraits and still life,
Some salvaged moments of you
Ascend into a fleeting
Feeling of pride,
Soon dissipated by
That appalling dawn;
For what good is the use
Of a smile and a song,
When all’s been gone
For far too long.

Washing Up

This strange, unusual place,
How will I ever reconcile
Or indeed escape
From stories they have painted
On the walls of my four caves.
Great tales of sabotage,
I trace a sodden lineage along
Dark ribs in the cobwebby palace
Of a bloated, long-dead whale.

I miss any such season
I am not within;
Endless losses to ego,
I can wage war on myself
Yet hide from my own shadows.
I thought about you briefly
As I washed up clean plates again.
Not so much a memory now,
More electrolytes and impulses,
I slalom life’s whitening streams
And dream of reaching a pool
Or a lake of immeasurable peace.

I know that you want me to be like you.
It would satisfy you, to see me fail again.
You pushed me from your soul-belfry,
Then pealed the burnishing bells
In something akin to horror.

When I have finally conquered my self
Belatedly, too late a Pyrrhic victory,
Will my body arraigned be laid to rest
On that old man’s dusty shelf,
Just until the next unknowable rain.

Inheritances

This interminable year
Of dustbowl polemics,
They argue in circles
Over single drops
While townspeople drowned
And totems they found
Amongst unwatered crops
Brought nothing profound,
Only their gain for
Our grateful loss.

Consistency in frailties,
A raffled upbringing
Under bunting days
And tattled nights;
Remembering fallibility,
I was brought up to respect
And venerate
Without algorithms
Or forecasts for
The awful days ahead –
My irritable and
Complacent elders.
Now they have mostly died
Or fallen asleep
Or disappeared,
A bleak retreating tide,
An impoverished bequest,
The flags in their sandcastles
Of my childhood
Have washed away,
Only black lugworm blasts
Prove they did exist,
In damp grooves and piles
They flew through
And grew the scratchy
Source of itches and smears
Seeping through
The unending seams
Of my dreams in tesserae.

Why do we settle for anything less
Than our future would bless?
O how our past instead
Will steal, and profiteer
For their own cheer
And compromise,
Obviate, obliterate
And deviate from
A delicate and infinite line,
An alchemy smelting
The radiant and the poised
Into prosaic rearrangements
For our everyday demise.

Blues

In youthful days
I could not know
These ways of you
Would change and grow;
Not for better,
Always worse,
Yet if abeyant
Fate
Is versed,
Who will wear
In blue
This curse.

Considering
These tired enquiries
Distractedly,
Quietly,
Little more than frayed
Boot laces left in a shed,
I trod upon my anguish,
Barefoot, pierced through my soles
By rotten and forgotten branches
Underneath a rosebriar bush
Where foxes were thwarted
And ladybirds courted
A flagless border imparted,
These remains are still
Too sharp to handle
Ungloved, though many years
Have waned in truth
Since numbers were pruned
Beneath a single glass eye of
A newly shot moon,
Long before
The dark in the dew
Of my tears would pour
On the eglantine proof.

I found a long-dead mistle-thrush
Beyond my unwaxed gate,
He brought to me a message,
His gassy eyeballs glazed;
Lividity, a beaten breast,
Downy pall for his heart,
Stiffly pointed scaly legs,
No more worms for the beak.
Absurdly straight, those legs,
A spindly, wiry
Duet of prayers
Offered to our blithely
Tergiversate universe
On my starless
Tarmacadam path;
One last breath
With flames as blue
As the one true host,
One last herald
Too late to restart.

Ballad Of The Lonely Ghost

She said she travelled
(In her eloquent way)
To see a Medium,
Frequented only yesterday,
Apropos of non-sequiturs
Over our morning tea.
Not the travelling kind,
She said, caravan-bound,
Deep brown eyes beneath
An unwashed shawl –
Beadily watching as one gold coin
Then two would fall, into
Her grisly and well-wizened palm;
No, not that kind you see, she said,
As she tapped her date-stamped
Hard-boiled egg –
Three, four, five times,
Nor the kind of folklore-hag
Whose ghastly attention would demand
Something greater and so much closer
To rapture, and which disarmed
Most ardent former lovers
And battle-hardened
Heavily moustached lieutenants.
No, this particular Haruspex of Time
Conducted her sight-seeing business
From an everyday house
Not far from my innards
On an everyday estate nearby;
An advertisement on the internet,
A card in the window,
And introductory laminated sets
Of terms and conditions,
Frayed at the edge, which she said
Stated very professionally
In legalese vernacular that
You can pay by direct debits,
And she tapped with a quite
Ordinary finger, no boils,
No snake-charm tattoos
At a text which succinctly read:
No refund for mistakes.
Life-affirming posters adorned
Her anaglypta office walls;
Pithy quotes, images in pastels
Of votive candles and petals,
Yoga practitioners
Posturing in lycra, all of which
When relayed to me
I mistook unintentionally
For reliably post-modern
Oracular irony.

I knew without being told
As to who she had enquired about;
It was, after all,
A significant anniversary.
I recalled a funeral,
A sister-in-law in tears,
Readings from a book
Nobody had leafed through
For many, many years.
Aptly black umbrellas,
Except – an aunt who
Refused to where black
Because she said she could not stand
Morbid traditions and so
Brought along a
Parasol in pink.
The vicar uttered appropriate words.
The family stood with patience
And thoughts elsewhere
About football results
And affairs of the heart
And pub opening times
And penitence.
A newspaper article later announced
That he had not meant
To do what he did,
Yet it happened, all the same,
And consequences remain
Instead of what he could have been.

A jolt, a rise in temperature;
Suddenly he was wheeled
Through an ether
Like the beret-wearing grandmother
Of that corner-shop owner
Who used to emerge from a storeroom
And berate their hesitant customers –
Not that corner shops exist these days –
He outlasted, in his own way,
So much, come to think of it.
Wheeled then, yes,
On his upright gurney
Designed for just such
Inter-dimensional bumpy journeys.
He was somewhat philosophical
Despite his condition, whereby
Without choice or say or any form
Of mortal pauses or tenures
Or even dereliction
He is moved from pasture
To pillar to post and
Back to pasture again.
He said that he no longer
Has any arteries or
Heart or veins.
He said the realm he’d entered
Has recently given him a cold,
Possibly influenza although
He is just about coping with
Shivering in his inherently
Discrete and indiscernible
Ghetto for the Soul.
It should be said, I rejoindered
As she slurped on molten yolk
That, in his previous actual life,
He was minded to many an illness;
A hypochondriac, I said.

He did not divulge any mysteries
Of the abundantly divine
To my wife on a Friday,
Nor differential margins
If only just above the earthly plain
Which may make a singular difference
Between the right and the just and the holy.
He said that he had been feeling shaky
A little lately, and he was not one
For sushi and sake from a
Lacquered masu-box,
Yet here he was resigned to
These formalities
And ceremonies
In places we could not tread
On boards or with any maps to plot.
He was worried for the future,
He was worried for what he had lost.
And then, as if to typify
All absolute control foregone,
He was manoeuvred silently,
Slowly, unbearably slowly,
Away from where moments ago
His unwieldy, unworldly form
Had briefly merged with ours.

And since that day
I feel a certain constancy,
Permanency, too,
In loss and life-long being abandoned.
Sometimes, I waywardly strive
To divert my waking mind from it,
Often unsuccessfully,
Sometimes I find
These bald and wailing perinatal
Conditions comforting,
Because I am used to it,
Because in the storm-tossed
Concussions and contusions
You confirmed for me
That I did once exist,

Even if for now
I knock at the glass windows
Just as he once did, and yet
Which showcase your successes
While I persist only
As a living ghost
Palms open,
No tokens,
You will never find
A camaraderie, a troupe of ghosts –
It is just not how we were made,
Drifting through all others’ hopes
And into our open graves.