what can you say?

his old ma fell in love with yet another man
who wasn’t even his pa or secondhand dad
just a third party guy way down the line
who should have known better
who should have stayed the visiting friend
not the constant companion

but hey, what can you say?
what can you say?

and now he finds he is losing out on love
he cannot find the empathy she demands
he wants it all to be over so quickly
he doesn’t even need the inheritance money
only the peace of not having to worry
about what may or might not happen

but hey, what can you say?
what can you say?

he should phone and say hello but he knows
the call will be tainted with negativity
and that’s not what he needs on this sunny day
when one life should not feel trapped by another’s
or feelings of anger welled up to the surface
but hey, what can you say?

what can you say?
what can you say?

life is what you make of it and maybe tomorrow
he will make that call and her spirits will have lifted
as if she has no more cares in the world
which of course will leave him feeling much worse
guilty as charged for being the unloving son
with the uncaring and callous heart

but hey, what can you say?
what can you say?

what can you say?
what can you say?

 

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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

north (sons and daughters)

we travelled south
east and west
each taking a bone
to plant and tend
we grew great forests
gave them names
like laughter, love
tundra, teal

there were swans and lakes
hills and streams
swallows flew
dreams took place

and then one summer
years from then
I caught my breath
inhaled again
and there before me
on the shore
a skiff, a whale boat
nothing more

north (father)

we went north
where the whaling ships
once hunted – found them
rotting like beached leviathans
and on the shore
rocks and caribou antlers
great spikes seaweed draped
the blue grey background
inviting only to the brave
who would venture out
between the droplet islands
your wake watched
by black eyed monsters
and banshee winds in
howling caves

I never knew my father
his soul was cast adrift
when I was a child
but out there
and up here
I can still feel the roughness
of his hand
in mine
when I close my own
black eyes

some stories are meant to be written . . .

in a darkened room I caress my skull
a weight of words is bound in books there
some unread, some read, some read twice
some lost, some rediscovered, some . . .
my thoughts lie hidden upon these shelves
drifting between ancients and moderns
not knowing the origins of their species . . .
am I to disturb them in their sleep?
or should I leave sleeping letters lie?
some stories are meant to be written
like the one about the cat in the cemetery
the cat that appears only once a year
but goes unnoticed when the sisters come
to pray for the father they never loved . . .

Daddy, I’m all grown up now

I am these bricks, potted flowers
cars, bikes, petrol mowers
my kids have bandaged needs
big trees and little weeds
favourite books upon the shelves
photos of our former selves
furniture in browns and reds
inherited from the family dead

I am this filing cabinet grey
of deeds, doubts, things to pay
carpet, laminate, papered walls
highs and lows, occasional falls
the view is mine, I’ve earned that too
it’s good enough to see me through
a bed, a wife, an attic space
lines now etched upon my face

I am these thoughts, written words
however crazy or absurd
a desk of pens and scattered notes
a lump inside this tired throat
the memory of when you were here
before you went and disappeared
I’m all grown up, nowhere to run
watching others have their fun

Go Daddy Go!

daddy do
what daddy must
and daddy must do
what daddy must
because if daddy doesn’t do
what daddy must do
there’s a chance that daddy
will never do what daddy must do
and daddy doesn’t want to be
a bad daddy that doesn’t do
what’s right for his son
and for his family
so go daddy go!
do what you must

(someone go wake daddy up . . .)

our fathers

give the boy a toy soldier
some tanks and battle cries
dress him up in cowboy clothes
the only good Injuns are dead ones

bang bang you’re dead son
give us a chance dad
you gotta learn quick son
yeah but give us a chance dad

give the boy a placard
hold it in the air boy
tell the boy what to shout about
doesn’t matter he looks bemused

what do we want son?
I haven’t got a clue dad
when do we want it son?
I don’t know I’m just a boy dad

give the boy a slap dad
slap him across the thigh
tell the boy there’s more where that came from
threaten with your hand held high

want another one like that son?
what did I do wrong dad?
shut your mouth and do as you’re told son
I’m really sorry dad

give the boy a rifle
tell him how to clean it
cherish this more than your mother’s life boy
because by god you’re gonna need it

point it and pull the trigger son
but it feels so heavy dad
kill the fucking deer son
but it’s got a young one to feed dad

give the boy a uniform
make him feel like he’s a god
feed him whores to steal his childhood
take it away for good

if she doesn’t want it slap her son
is that the way it’s done dad?
you gotta tell ’em who’s the boss son
I’ll tell ’em like you said dad

give the boy some power
a gang of drooling men to lead
vote for him for he’s the one
yes he’s the one we all agree

take this power and use it well son
there’s hatred in my blood dad
remember all I taught you son
yes your will it will be done dad

 

NB: this one follows on from the last and hopefully continues a thread of thoughts on a particular theme – one which is admittedly a rather odd take on Father’s Day:

https://slideaways.wordpress.com/2018/06/17/the-good-soldier/

 

the good soldier

there’s no such thing
as a good soldier
said the girl with the bloody doll
you come and rape my mother
then you want to marry me

there’s no such thing
as a good soldier
said the boy with the wooden gun
you come and kill my father
then you want to enlist me

there’s no such thing
as a good soldier
said the old woman in the black shawl
you come and burn my family home
then you pity me

there’s no such thing
as a good soldier
said the good soldier to himself
I don’t know what I’m fighting for
then I fight some more

Elaine

My father was thirty eight when he died

I was barely seven

Mother took me to Spain to ease the pain

Help the healing and never forget

His death had crushed her heart

Part of mine too at the time

The soft white sand slipped through our toes

The cloudy night covered the stars

Transformed them into lost diamonds in the dark

My sunburnt skin itchy beneath my souvenir shirt

 

And then the rain came straight from the heavens

Her sad face and wet hair a sight I would never forget

I found a tiny shell and she held my hand

The castaway clasped between our palms

A momento mori of what was to come

For mother and son

 

For years after she would take me walking in the rain

Walking in the rain with Elaine we would sing

Just like the song

The tiny shiny shell always came too

Clutched between our dripping hands

Sometimes warm

Sometimes frozen

 

One day she tried to wake me from my teenage dreams

But I was growing tired of walking with Elaine in the rain

So she went on her own

And never returned

 

After searching for several days they found her body

She was bloated and floating face down in the local river

Partly wedged under a fallen tree

Somewhat hidden from public view

There was rumour it was murder

But I knew just how much her life had been blighted by grief

Since Dad had passed away exactly ten years before

 

We drove to the Chapel of Rest in Uncle Don’s white van

And there she was

All peaceful looking in her long wooden box

Her hands folded neatly across her chest

Like a sleeping martyr I guessed

I reached into my pocket and found the tiny shiny shell

I kissed it gently for a lingering moment and lovingly

 

Leaning over the coffin pushed it under her cold fingers

Safely wedged in the palm of her right hand

The hand that held mine when we went walking in the rain together

 

Here

Take this Mum, I whispered

And when you meet with Dad

Wherever that might be

Take a walk in the sunshine

And maybe think of me