In Crematorium

these strange buildings
we infrequently frequent
built for one purpose
the seeing off of the dead
and after the coming together
the handshakes and the nods
we disperse and leave
the dearly departed to rest

panes of glass

I divide my long day between
the panes of glass that make up
the French doors that open onto
the patio and walled garden
where once I walked
without a care in the world
for the number of years
left unknown to me

each pane measures 9 x 7
or thereabouts, wooden framed
I give each one equal time
for each one holds a different view
of sky here and tree over there
buildings, roofs, windows
lawn and plants and washing line
colours changing by the hour

which is why I repeat the process
over and over morning till night
seven days a week over and over
only taking time off for surreptitious dozing
my pillows are fluffed up by someone
my body is propped up like a subsiding home
oh look – another story unveiling itself
a raven has landed in pane number 5 . . .

 

a death in a zen garden

she found him next to Buddha and his two attendants
arms and legs outstretched like a beached starfish

the gravel had been freshly raked to outline his body
an unlikely death scene in a serene zen garden

some say his master had orchestrated his funeral
others that the truth was known only to the willows

but next day his body was gone and the gravel raked
in patterns resembling waves and rippling water

only the words of his poetry and songs were echoed
the meaning of it all concentrated in the ensuing silence

she that had meant everything and nothing to him
taking her own last breath and reaching for his hand

isn’t this the way death dreams our eternal slumber?
on the point of everlasting meditation, of no return?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

in death

i.

in death we shit only soil
it’s our daily diet of darkness
the hours and minutes are meaningless
light is but a distant memory
we feel the tickle of worms
wending their way between our bones
the weight of the world pressing down on our silence
a grave and lonely eternity

ii.

after that it’s everlasting
and you can never come back
not even on the tail of a comet
as a once in a millennium visitor
your memory will just keep on travelling
fading and fading and fading
until perhaps you reach the end of everything
or the beginning of something else

What if God has already died?

clinging to life
despite unquestioning faith
trying every treatment and trick
in the good book

taking medicine and praying for miracles
noting that neither appear to be working
money can only buy a little more time
a precious commodity

already borrowed more than half a fair share
and to be afraid of dying or admitting failings
unable to reason with creation’s end
sand through fingers run

I would be happy to go if I believed in something
I’ve always thought life is harder if you have no beliefs
Is God answerable to His own God?
What if God has already died?

nothing matters
we bounce along life’s potholed highway
avoiding oncoming traffic and unexpected
t-bone collisions

clinging to the wheel
we hope and love and cherish whatever we find
the best adventures are the ones in which we forget
the beginnings of poems about death

Johnny F

on mist in the night
from a dark corner
he brought with him
a damp lonely light
a crumpled pack
of Major cigarettes
and a constant thirst
for tea and company

the chair by the door
was his alone
reserved for his visits
with unwashed hands
the Sisters of Mercy
bought black welly boots
kept him in clothes
and partially fed

he lived on his own
in his council shed
the ghost of his brother
ten years dead
the family house ruined
land gone to bracken
a few barren cows
just him and the rats

the last of the village
old bachelor boys
abandoned to rot in his
four fucking fields
growing older gets harder
like a peat bog man
sphagnum soaked
with years of rain

a chance meeting
two weeks before
his body was found
on the road out of town
he’d bought me a pint
to the locals’ surprise
Sláinte he spoke
quiet trust in his eyes

there is a saying
that some would believe
if you see in the dawn
a hare taking leave
that death has come knocking
a spirit set free
an old friend is waving
farewell to thee

johnny f

addendum

when I was born
my mother wasn’t there
the clouds parted
I tasted my first air

when I was a child
my father chose to die
the country widened
beneath an open sky

when I was a man
my love abandoned me
the birds began to sing
setting my soul free

when I was old
my heart declined to beat
the setting sun burned
consuming me in heat

when I was reborn
my life began once more
mistakes and lessons learnt
repeating like before

total release

lying limpid
dissolving into the dust
the sun failing to persuade me
back into life

I can feel the tendrils of her curls
the hot breath from her lips
she leans over my departing spirit
and whispers . . .

. . . here is where you wanted to be
the mountain eerie away from noise
in sight of angels spiralling down
to collect your soul

and all the memories you ever held
will be gathered for eternity
shared amongst the stars
to forever float free . . .

. . . this then
is the finality of my life
the pending obsolescence of flesh
total release

it’s fate that takes us in the end

i’ve locked the door
afraid the wind will find me
push autumn litter through the letter box
howling like a fox on heat at midnight
when the streetlamps highlight her red hair
and scent fills the town with trepidation

i’m afraid of stalkers
ghosts from the past who whistle down the decades
finding cracks in the plaster of my flaking memories
shaking fists and hurling furies at my windows
that i whitewash over and hide behind
like shops that have gone belly-up and bankrupt

i discourage the postman
allow the garden to overgrow
the nettles and brambles build a barricade
the rooks stand guard in their watchtowers
they warn me when the rusty gate talks to them
wrens gather in chimes

i am but a shadow
a smudge of wood ash fingerprinted on the paintwork
a rent in a moth-eaten tapestry on which
faded stags rear in the face of sudden death
the hunters’ arrows drawing blood from their necks
it’s fate that takes us in the end