Passing Off

[F.F.S. NOTE: In memory of a part played by J.K. This was written after an actress had passed away – but really in memory of the character she played in LOTSW – so an extension of that character into death – after the actress playing her had died: An exercise in stretching thoughts on a dull and lonely day made slower by reading of others’ misfortunes. The character I am ‘grieving’ for was a hen-pecking (Northern) wife chasing down her feckless husband – god only knows what effect it all had on her fictional family (never seen). No more misdirected anger if it gets misappropriated, again, please.]

 

Being a matriarch
was propounded as her

Greatest-ever-role

in their first draft
of an online obituary

Mourners hovered
and affixed false posts

marking up an ever-altering
wiki

Her kids had been suckled
under a tarnished scent

and they never lost their
fear of men

Again – Another Fall

Again
it is that time of year
of carcasses picked apart
by visits of daggered beaks

of leavings
of black stains
of crushed-to berry juice
of later felt stomach aches
spread like buckshot pellets

A stag is stretched –
set upturned –
laid out of the way –
dead parallel to passing traffic
with its legs rigid
in its last-struck gallop

Road kill –
it is that time of year
of car strikes
between Uckfield
and Halland
in Sussex
Again – another Fall

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

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

Blown

Throw them ever higher
into blue skies
to become black smoke
and blown particles

and do not care
about age – infirmity
or status of anyone –
just soaring margins

She turned into flight
as sooty confetti
A working lift?
Is this Heaven?

She saw London’s
sawtooth lower jaw
How cold she felt
dropping as ash

In her new lightness –
before wet dousings –
was a brief release
from profit seekers

but it wasn’t on her list
of urgent repairs and fixes
Those in high places
never read her misgivings


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?

The Colour of Spring

There a flash – yellow –
clowning in mid-February –
our foolish
fault – a false overwintering
for spring-tricked innocents –

bringing slow recalls
of others’ tales of good luck
indicated by such arrivals –
or was it about good times

or was it about
a sure proximity of death?
Leviticus found leprosy
in yellow and thin hairs

The inopinate-insect dared
loops of dead brambles
as an unexpected daytime
show of colour in London –
before a fatal frost by night


E170219

Mind The Gap

They’ve got a Dead Cupboard
in this Underground station –
hid from swilled passengers –
a Central route to Heaven

Behind those locked doors –
they hide the fresh body –
where the platform-removed
is stored temporarily

There the dropped dead
waits for the official –
to pronounce upon
this stiffened individual

The zipped-up fallen
is bagged – airtight –
he will not be required
to tap his ticket tonight

Not Dead Yet

(For Clive James)

Old Chiacking Larrikin
dropped eight foot –
his fall rope-halted –
then he jiggery-choked

They hang the committed –
but won’t kill the watching –
who steal from the swung
at the public hanging

Clive laughs with death –
as he eyes the loose noose –
his readers misled
by his maple-red truth

Old Larrikin waits
for the swing of the bard –
He’s stood Mr. James
a beer at God’s bar

Cold

Believe in your child’s ghost –
but then let her spectre run
from the road-kill shock –
from the flare of the
body-struck headlights –

those halogen matches
will ignite her terrified flight
into the woods –
But don’t eye that place
where she first learns to haunt

in the permanent night
of tightly weaved birches –
where Nan Tuck flies afeard
of her burning death throws –

where the recently
spilt spirit runs
from the quick-kill road –
Who let the trees take the young
from our arms?

The wounding country lanes
kill our flightless birds
with too much winding speed –
She will be cold tonight

This Parish

We stick to the leaf-kicked route –
a parting of the dry sea of leaves
cleared by dog-following boots –

We tack down its meandered drop
to the time-softened abyss –
plugged not by God – but drains –

where a watercourse once hollowed
the hillside into this shallow dean –
before the slugs of tarmac upstream –

Here the irregular plots of silver birches
ignore the fallen old lady in lime green –
this is the parish of ineffectual giants –

these natives – a copse within the woods –
are a finger-daubed fearful tribe in white –
chary – waiting – as if standing ready –

listening for the infected invaders
from other places – for intruders
who will bring other such followers

to spread the canker and pestilence –
which was not the way things changed –
not until we changed the weather

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