Decade Measures

RIP Chris Bell d.24.08.87

A decade mislaid since his
lingering disappearance
then Latin’s alphabet surfaced
across a white stone – struck
below a dusty Israeli suburb

Ness Ziona stands over him
He had jumped his rusting ship
another twenty years before
leaving a trail for investigation

How he ever got to Tel Aviv
ending up an eager volunteer
only him and God now know
sharing – as they do a bench
slumped – stalbet – in a cemetery
under high apartment shadows

 

 

Like Bookends

In another waking moment –
with five AM forcing light outside –
my conscious breath found
an angel’s littered question

How many of my earliest
friends are – still – alive?

Coruscating queries – lit fears
address us slightly older men –
of loss of crowning thick hair
oh – and recent deaths of muckers

Bill baulked at Paul Simon’s song
of ‘old friends sat on a park bench like..’

I had one pal hang himself
and another fall from a height
whilst others have taken to tumours
and less humorous routes off

My hairline is still a low-set feature –
light verse on such matters suits me

Ageing is that earthing and digging
forcing us all to bend under groans
as we push on equal spade widths
on that same cost of soil to everyone

No dead human kept his riches for long
They will clear your grave of treasure

A wise Israeli once advised me
Do not make it your precious métier
to outlive everyone in your world
No one will be left
to be impressed – לילה טוב*


*Goodnight

Pension Planning

When this gets real bad
and we will not see that –
not for quite some time yet

ten years was said to be
a good guide
Now half my path
left to that X-marked place

then it will be time to book
a Swiss or Dutch room
and neck a small glass

if my mouth still works

and find my best sleep
Do not live a whole life
less – that will kill me

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

No Eyes

It was not a pup seal
rolling at slow play
but a shingle-ripped
medium-sized dog
without legs or face –
its muzzle stripped
to uncooked meat –
a loose hanging jaw

Each short wave
was enough to turn
its sodden carcass
for further observation
by my macabre eye
to guessed-at details
and a whole back story –
lost at sea – a drowning

A Thankless Task

Here fifty-six lichen-dipped
granite bodies sunbathe –
some lean – some almost swoon
in April’s upset of unexpected weather

Here clippings
and rolled stripes of grass
mark long-sunk slopes
under headstones

A cartographer
had taken up mowing
and looked back
upon his day’s work

as a map folded open –
to be figured out
For him
that thought was wasted

There are no travellers here –
all trips are done
Quarter bells
serve no purpose

except to drown out
tinkling-bloody-wind-chimes
and
always ignored car alarms –

no one moves far
from these landmarks –
we are all within earshot
of cuttings of blades and spades

between those engravings
dead endings expose our half-thoughts
about stuff like
Crematorium or lawn cemetery?

Thrown

Dare yourself to approach the Whispering Gallery’s
too-low balustrade and look down

Here his words
have been heard
by others
In my gut Dad’s
rum gift of vertigo
turns

It was first witnessed
by us all as we stood
before his loosened grip
up Leith Hill Tower

Now this cathedral’s
wall of death dome
kisses my ear
with a cold command
to drop

Tip yourself over to feel
that marble crack your struck head

In earlier years flying
was my dreamt gift
Sleep wasn’t a picked pit
of itches on my skin
with waking stiffness
in useless places

Throw yourself down – Michael

Now his vertigo is mine
taking my lost voice
It is not-quite heard
by my fearless children
when I see them high
on other parapets

Kids – I have my father’s old condition
and it urges me to leap from here