The Poll

That drab civic room,
where we had voted,
here the Parkinson’s
support group met:

a chesty (badged) lady
offered us coffee,
pamphlets were handed,
flicked, to be kept.

A clipboard was passed,
to take names and numbers,
and to indicate interest
in meeting again:

My wife bent down,
plundering her handbag,
pulling out a tissue,
here the ending begins.

Walking on Water

Arlington Reservoir vibrated,
that low bowl of gust-cut waves,
the quantity now the difference
to my previous walk here,

that and my end-of-day inability
to route march any more:
as a kid, returning from school
they called me ‘Bell-fast’.

A stared sparrowhawk, high,
worked miracles to remain in place:
I am the opposite of that bird,
landlocked, working to move.

The gravel scuffs, my soles wear,
it hurts, even in these boots,
and because I have sent myself
back before the rest, I must

sit at the car park and wait.
My youngest is the first to return,
and to hide my accelerated pain
I ask to be taught to skateboard,

and as I stand, held by him, unsure,
the wind drops, and I balance 
as on a small boat, not quite Galilee,
but hoping he still believes in me.

St. Anne’s Hill

My father died
aged fifty-five,
I was aged
twenty-three,
he slipped away
at St. Peter’s:

My mourned dusk
then came back,
as I was buried
in the haunted dark,
under the canopy
in Buxted Park,

back to his story,
as we three ducked
through the woods
on St Anne’s Hill,
our fears fostered
by his ghost story.

Dad’s Cooking

I love you hope meeting going well x
A text from his phone, pecked, auto-spelt.

Beyond the window, hinges bared to the heat,
he heard his boys’ repeat beseech:

Another game on the moss-marched lawn,
another day gone, a fatherhood mourned.

He fumbled with dinner, poured from a can,
which wrestled and spat in the unstirred pan.

Kids don’t eat salad, his menu approved,
he returned to his fill of exterior views,

of summer stretching, there below,
of the day reeling in, of longing shadows.

He called them to wash, hollered from the house,
the garden relaid by their boots on the mat.

As a fight broke out in the downstairs bog,
he travelled, returned, to his brother’s love,

that punch of youth, tested again and again,
of everything around them, a smaller world then,

no internet, no screens, no loose connections.
He put food on their plates, and matched expectations.

The Ritual

The extravagant white bathrobe,
bagged from a boutique hotel,
her remains of a left-behind weekend,
just the two of them, her and him,
sunk in love, a deeper love than now.

That thick gown hung guiltily
on the back of the bathroom door.
She took it down and wrapped it around
her shoulders, careful not to knock
the tall knotted towel, her damp crown.

The application of creams was next,
and then, only then, she was ready
to be a wife again. And a mother.
Always a mother, no matter what.
She then saw herself in the mirror.


 

The Back Door

For AM, an apology

Again door-stepped, and you, a good man,
guide my regrets, which I wept
(unlike like my foul-flat egress)
onto your quick-stained shoulders.

As my carrier you guided me up
to the sunlit seat where my shame was
burnt off. All quite unexpected,
as was my recall of the tossed

unfair words which I had spat at you.
And after, to lighten those weights,
I delivered, by tremors’ hand,
a small token towards better taste:

a simple gift to aid forgiveness,
which may settle, for us, eventually,
to be re-lifted, swallowed back,
as tears are, then wiped to avoid hate.


Marriage Texts

no prob x
she looked off earlier xx
will be out for short time x
think she needs attention xxx
shes getting screwed
**she’s**
in head!! 😉 x
she comes home to it x
this me piecing it together xx
then heckles up 😦 x
not in good place at m`o xx
HER!x
sorry best can do xxx
how did it go? x
She is worrying about u x
She is a good person xx
ah insecurity shows xx
testing again x
quite rightly x
u don’t want A to b an arse xx
you need to let her know xxx
do u have to ask? x
she is loved xx
we are all idiots x
we are all foolishly in love xx
stupidity steadfast x
love is also constant x

The Inheritor

I let my grey hair over-grow,
wear out dead man donated clothes,

I occasionally tap paths with my worn-down stick,
missing the beat of my off-time limp.

I’ve been re-set by a strangle, unseen,
I am less of a man, a reduction in mien,

offended by nature not playing it straight?
I eye the barrel of pain’s aimed complaints.

‘Life’s unfair,’ she spat out the words,
a line which I’ll refuse to rehearse.

But forty years later my recall has grown
of my mother’s bile rising, I swallow my own..

Life is fair, it is in agreement,
until we are held up by our parents,

then their bias, that family axiom:
We make our own lives by not repeating them.

I let my grey hairs over-grow,
wearing out dead man donated clothes.

The Piano

I lifted the hinged lid
of our upright piano
to find the centrifugal
of her studied song,

to listen to the hammers’
strikes, soft and loud,
in her found piece
on well-rehearsed keys:

but all I could sense
was what I breathed in,
back with the same smell
of my grandfather’s home,

sat again in his foreign fug
of deep wax and old wood,
back to a lost performance
sent by the piano’s opened belly:

There I slipped the cloy of voices,
to explore his own orchestra
of orderly outdoor plantings,
to escape the staining odours.


Practice 

She plays her scales
on our upright piano,
her late hour practice
is appassionato.

Her traveling completed,
enough notes pressed,
the white keys gleam
in this switched darkness.

I revel in the room’s
serene composure,
I am left alone
in our echo chamber.

I hammer this review
into lowly verse,
my midnight rehearsals
are never heard.