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.

Back

I have to step back
from the offer you make,
remove myself, now,
from that covert place,

return to the house,
leave fields behind,
stand at the window,
and draw down the blind.

I will stoke the low fire,
which throws no heat,
and turn from the hearth,
my retreat complete.

Sleep Walking

It arrived in the night,
thickened, from within,
that sulking infection
of continental heat,
not the slimmest hint
of a breeze to relieve
us, laid out, moribund
on our double bed,
with kicked-off duvets
and a great distance,
because we are rolled
from each others’ heat.

Our Talk

I had to lie down,
having taken a bullet
from this sniper,
back flat on grass,

and you stood 
over me, in shadow,
as the dog came close,
her concern simple.

Strength taken,
I struggled to stand,
to no offered hand,
and so all was said.

Doubles

You were still on my fingers,
even then, a slow hour later,
as my whiskey rolled inside
that glass, two fingers deep,
that leftover mix of still-sweet,
of earth’s dark-barrelled cut,
of strong flavours above taste:
and my mouth rested, it did,
on the rim, as on your lips,
as we held that kiss over time:
you were my one-woman orgy.

Knots

I dropped into her
from this height,
into her eyes,
there fixed in size
from birth,
framed by lines,
burnt in recall
by now-evaporated
tears of flicked, blinked,
intimate enquiries,
here refocused on me
into an expectation,
of cross-stitched lashes,
re-knotted,
a tight press of eyelids
in each exploratory kiss,
and then untied
as she measured my heart.

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.

My Haunting

On that sprung branch,
she was lifted to my height

an easier examination,
I greeted my ghost,

I then figured her shape
with my touch, formed, real,

she offered me a scent
her sex, her appeal:

but my old man attentions
could scare her off –

my lightest of hauntings –
I must stay light myself.

The Witness

They are overshadowed by that evergreen giant,
the one thousand year witness to ceremonies,
to burials, and namings.

Coal was once hoarded where the hollowing
of the yew meets the earth. There, inside God’s tree,
they find a held shelter,

but the air is reduced, taxine within the yew’s
five propped branches, he is hallucinating
as he tastes her,

that passed mead of love, now drugged by her.
Add Odin’s ability to bind and unbind,
and a two millennia lie,

he has no defences left, hung, and crucified
by the centre of her which wets his fingers
in the yew’s compression.

The Red Bridge II

There, tonight, across the red bridge,
I captured my ghost, pulled her hard to me,

under wings folded, her talons curled tight,
her fix on mine, her heart in flight,

there tamed under oak, one guarantee –
this ghost ‘cross the bridge will always haunt me.