The Perpetual Curate

Here lies the poor
perpetual curate –
he lived a low life
on the stipend they paid —

The beneficiary of
a lost monastery lease –
he was appointed to
this chapel-of-ease —

He could not marry
on the wages of God –
with such low standing
he chose to shun love —

Queen Anne’s Bounty
was no saving grace —
He died malnourished –
inhumed in this place


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The Corpse Gate

I called it a tithe gate
but it is a lychgate
I confused it with barns –
my first mistake –

Here are the lost bones
of dead English words –
and here a brutal joinery
hewn by blunt saws –

Here the just-deceased
were propped overnight –
Here guarded ‘gainst theft
by snatchers on the sly –

Laid still – after carriage
on the rough corpse road –
under this shelter
for one night’s repose –

Wood knots – whales watching –
here the whorled grain –
This was not God’s work –
but of man’s own domain

Repose

The granite markers have tipped forward –
angled over the settling of in-filled earth
where the boxes and bones collapsed –
the stones remain whilst other things fall –

The once beloved’s burial is long forgotten –
but not the slab’s patience over centuries
of bearing – the carved words mumble
a worn-down remembrance of years lived –

The mason’s refined font is rubbing thin –
almost erased by the wear of the world
which has re-touched the carved surface –
even death cannot claim shelter from time

Shortcut

Dream holes and desire paths –
those spire views and bared routes –
those modern urban lay lines –
guiding light and human shifts –

letting sound and choice drift
until the unbuilt gets put down
and our tracks are lost to tarmac –
when our reveries are blocked up –

once the empty churches are sold
and the open parks are enclosed
by signs halting walking on grass –
we will lose the ways we made

Digging

It was never about being held
until it stopped
and then my redrafted scenes
were all that remained

The unbalanced intimacies
of being in love
were ours to upset –
to greedily grab and pull at

until their weight combined
and collapsed
without a bed or shelter –
under the spire we stood naked

and blushed at foolishness –
or so it appeared –
because the mass of it all
was too much for us to bear

I pass through the graveyard
where our bench was set
and still cannot read
those upright names.

Under the Flight Path

I am hemmed in
by rhododendrons
and poor-fruit
rusty brambles,

here part-hidden,
with lost headstones,
by bleached grasses,
I am waiting for you

(sat on Sarah Newlyn’s
berry-stained bench,
with my cooled coffee
and folded ‘paper),

under a flight path,
itself dubbed over
by the bubbled
squabble of birds

in the thickets
and tremoring hedges,
as loud crows plot
the distances in air

with their deep caws
and dark eyes,
their navigation
is fixed by sight.

And you set down
beside me, beautiful,
with your return,
into our hidden hold.