Ode To My Son

Do not count our losses
Like loose blue beads that save;
Though bruisewort and wild mosses
Overwrought my daily grave,
In your deeds I only see
Hope devoid of hegemony,
And how a heart embosses.

Those fathers who fulfil their duty
Know the mark of every day;
Self-assured, and inner beauty,
You are both the prayer and way.
In your deeds I only see
That I made you and you made me,
Undismayed by aged mutiny.

If I revived myself to life undone,
Though they recant such powers,
I’d expunge the knife and shun,
Take rain from May-time showers.
In your future we will find
Solutions for my weaker mind;
Happy Father’s Day, my son.

Unencumbered

I have no misgivings
That Life is for the Living;
Go forth with your luminous

Lustrous and flourishing
Heart! You are the beginning
For so much cherished and loved.

There is nothing so urgent
As the higher sirens unencumbered
Proclaiming emergencies above.

You are the dock leaf
To my meadow-nettle sting,
Salve urticarial rashes;

You are cotton-light soul
To fill such holes
Within my spirit-dwelling;

You are in my tested toll
And heavy eyes at nine o’clock,
Drifting asleep in the old armchair

Where once you sat and sang to me
Until the next alarm. Know this:
Just because I am gone

Does not mean you are lesser loved –
Do not believe all you are told,
Do not descend a buried half;

Do not be deceived
By pre-constructed episcopies,
Do not settle for their losses;

If something is free
Then you may be the product

Of consumerist albatrosses;

And when the expurgating racists
Run our ruinous parliament
It’s time to move abroad.

Life’s a little better unscripted,
A little less choreographed
For the garlands in your heart;

Regardless, I cannot yet
Apologise for the pieces in our
Backwards path those others broke

So long ago, a squandering,
Anonymous in their parts
And we are stranded, poles apart.

Another ending is a start;
For eternity you will be
The finest creation I could conceive,

Yet Death again is stalking me,
And though I called numbers
Their manual did not include

My quicksand thoughts, and I
Become his maddening habit,
He takes comfort in my residency,

The rest is just formalities.
I cannot forestall the inevitable,
I cannot distract tomorrow

From chasing the tail of
Its sadness in gardens of
Summer sun-drowned lambs;

All I can do is remind you of truths
Ever preserved in this poem,
For how proud of you, my son, I am.

Mirror Image

This is me
In the mirror,
Unless
It is not;
Who can say
One way
Or another?
So I walked through
Shimmers of smooth
Glazed glass
To find out, departed,
Whether I would last,
Assessed my self
And was no better off.

Then you strolled by the mirror
And inside I was trapped.
I rapped against its surfaces
As unmoved you moved by.
I had to bear witness
As you lived
And you died;
I slumped behind that dreary
Veneer
And for several years
Here and there
Cried.

I found a way,
To step around that mortal frame,
And could see myself there,
I appeared just the same
As I watched myself say
“This is me
In the mirror,
Unless
It is not;
One way
Or another,
Who can say
And who cannot?”

Poem In Blue

You had your blue days,
Confused days when you
Didn’t know one week
From another, or the flames

Of your remaining brothers.
I understood the emptiness
You felt in your liver.
It’s the same for all abused.

We say we don’t want to,
But then we have to,
And then we do.
We should have told you

Instead of just practicing
In front of mirrors
To ourselves. Hopeless
Thought loop, new shoes,

Temazepam in blue foil.
An age of recoiling
Into my self; Time is a
Double-headed snake.

This day is the same day
As twenty blue years ago
When I first parked
In a lay-by to avoid going home.

Do you remember mix-tapes
Where we wrote down love songs?
I drove over the bridge
Into the harmful arms of the past.

Father’s Day

It’s been so long
Since I’ve seen you,
And since he
Has seen me,
I completely forgot
The day of the week.

No cards with a joke,
No hugs for a bloke;
I lost contact with
Kindness, ever since a
Moment of madness when
My best friend would seek

Approval for Life’s tough
Terms and conditions
To be revoked, and
Succeeded, whether
He meant to
Or not.

The closest friend
For sons growing up,
A teacher, confidante,
Learner and leader
Standing up for you
When no one else would.

There at his first
Mistaken application
Of shaving foam,
And advice for a date
Which makes sons groan,
And I didn’t go on.

This was exchanged
For a place with no
Coastlines, no cosy fires,
But that which consumes
And turns truth into food
For clowns and for liars.

The high street in this
Sorry town is dead.
Days felt the same
For so long, a numbness,
A means of just getting by
Without really coping,

Because there are no
Hugs, from me or your
Diaspora of daughters and
Brothers, across from
One universe
And into another.

Dreams Of My Father

Two excessively-sized
Ketchup bottles stood
On a lounge floor,
Tangible labels
With a maker’s name
Imprinted, a brand
I did not recognise.
Before disappearing,
A dog knocked over
A shiraz-gladdening glass
On to a green sofa,
We watched that wine
As thick as bloodlines
Slowly fall on to a
Sofa I now owned
And you did not.
Slow motion too,
The substance absorbed.
I implored my mother
Who had just appeared
From nowhere at all
To rush through the hall
To the kitchen, for salt
Would reduce the opportunity
Taken by that liquid’s blot,
But you have to be quick
In these situations
And, sadly, she was not.
I did not think it
Implausible
That the one time
She stood in the same room
As you through forty years
Of stubborn lamentations was
At your cremation and wake,
Yet here she was in a space
Fetching salt for a wound
In the universe’s clockface,
Where through me these days
Flow all such forms
I’ll ever deserve.
You took down a door
From its hinges with
A gentle, deliberate force
Just to shout to the boys
Upstairs in their rooms
Presumably, those friends
Who had not aged at all,
Turn your music down,
Although we heard no
Sounds penetrating
Floorboards,
And no-one gave the
Implications of that door
And excessive force
A second thought.

Interchangeable scenes
Between life and a screen
Where inside we see
A film, and next, a magician
Who walked on night-waters
Where I have floundered,
Who made toothpaste appear
In a celebrated
Mathematician’s
White shirt pocket.
A window in that lounge
Morphed into a doorway
Which opened on to a street,
I mean literally on to
The central reservation
Of a busy urban arterial way
In to a city I recognised
In some respects and not
In others, for it existed
And at the same time it did not.
We were to meet in a restaurant
And had separated to browse
In different shops. An album
Landed in my hand, two discs
Of music I did not buy
And did not want.
Inside a store,
Miscellaneous goods and
Purple fonts, lewd record sleeves
And no DVD of the one I wanted
To buy you left in stock.
Some of the residents dressed
In Fenland ways I had not seen
For decades. I passed by bars
Filled with unreal people
Returning to you,
A cathedral, restorations,
A palace with three children
And I thought the extent
Of a garden
As extensive as theirs
Is a privilege in this city.
I carefully parked a car
In a nearby parking lot.
A game in a programme,
Or a programme in a game
To entertain the citizens,
I refused to play and they
Wanted me to place my hands
In two see-through bags filled
With red ants and foliage
Before I departed.
A disappointed bag-handler
Shifted again in to
An actress who held me close,
We kissed as though our
Lives were martyred,
And her single kiss
Flew me back to you,
Where you walked on
City walls at pace,
Talking passionately
To nobody else
About the psychopathy
Of Roman emperors.

I can’t remember how we
Ended these scenes, nor how
I awoke in to blue mornings,
To a world where imaginations
From children are stolen,
If indeed
I ever did.