Gorky Spat

“The mystery of human existence lies not in just staying alive, but in finding something to live for.” Dostoyevsky

Under my suburban childhood –
then my laesie apprenticeships –
and away at my vacant universities
I openly embraced an older man –
Maxim Gorky – that Soviet rouser –
within a series of bent secondhand
Penguin Modern Classics – they said –
not knowing – not then – how Alexei’s
rabid hatred of all homosexuality
reduced him to another party fool –
whining of despair (re: Dostoyevsky)
He lived a rich man’s lie in old books

Below Snatts Lane

Our spun dogs leapt
into a hidden swank*
only reappearing – only –
when cooled
by that glum – that cold –
woodland pond

Their wet coats stunk
Quick on spindle legs
they fast-darted in
and faster beneath
another clump of
undergrowth

Not late enough – not then –
for mist-above-dusk
over heat-sucked ditches
and almost rivers
Not late enough to rise
from dew weighted grass

We followed those routes –
those laid before
by others and left those
laid behind by us
We were those last two
travellers on earth

*swank – Sussex term for wetlands

Driving Lessons

A car ahead of me
clipped a pigeon
which spun upwards
in recoiled flight –
it exploded
showing pink flesh
where belly feathers
were plucked
and then blown by
confetti’s law of dispersion

My father instructed me
in his squeezed art
of sporting kindness
after his blasting –
often winging –
grain-gorged vermin
My air rifle’s muzzle
there – softly planted –
then – a lead pellet
for a quick death

There was time to turn
my steering wheel
and put my nearside tyres
correctly in line
with what remained –
what moved –
what was once a bird –
off my racing line
to feel a hard – then a soft
hump of tyres and death

Memory Fields

Behind Chiddingly’s
mouse-crept churchyard
a still minute’s silence
was being observed
by two dozen plus
quite brightly-dressed
stoolball players

A quarter-hour chimed
from high and behind me
as they rained
a polite light shower
of applause
and then took to field
for their ageless game

as a slumped family bent
beside a turned soil mound –
under helium love
for Her – recently lost
They also met silence
before that rung reminder
of time’s impatience

Into Candles and Soap

Inhale those odours within
la Ville Lumière – of corpse wax

found among her exhumed
Draw on le cimetière des Innocents

An old miasma off rotting flesh
lingers in time’s stillness

above French Empires of Death
atop her levelling grounds

Citizens sought
salubrious solutions

as well as judicial balance
by opening wide old books

by breaking cracking spines
glued by their learned dead writers

Thinkers took routes dug through
others – now equal – as bones

Inert citizens will never stop
troubling the living of Paris