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Oh lover

Your love letter gift
Red ribbon loosely tied
That past lipstick lips
Blessed with a sudden kiss
And blew right back to me
On rose scented clouds
Of delicately wreathed petals

Oh lover

Your scroll of love letters
Wrought in waxy words
Candle melted and drip sealed
Carved with our initials
There on the side of the casket
By brass handle glistenings
And curtain closing hymns

Oh lover

Embering flames will leap
To imprison now in this long sleep
Your sweet voice that once sang
Your bright eyes that sparkled light
Departing in a puff of smoke
To be gone forever
To be gone my lover

Oh lover


Grainy Memory

Grainy memory
Kodachrome slide boxes in boxes
Envelopes bulging with black and whites
Albums of slipped photographs askew
Letters bundled and elastic banded
Locked in a black metal box in the wardrobe
Disguised by the wedding suit that’s too small
That your son or daughter will one day dispose of
After your coffin has been lowered into the ground
And memories turned to grain


An Amble Through An Afternoon

Today I attended the funeral of a friend. By friend I mean he was someone I knew a little. I guess you might call him an acquaintance. And by funeral I mean the wake, or after service send-off. I didn’t feel connected enough to join family and close friends at the main event but I am sure I would have been made welcome. So it was to the pub that I went and an hour late I arrived, not wishing to be seen devouring the sandwiches that others deserved more than me. Hungry work burying the dead. The quiet solemnity of the formal proceedings inevitably gives way to a sense of relief and a desire to speak loudly once more. And eat. It’s okay to eat now. And talk.

For this was no ordinary send-off. This was a farewell to a much loved local poet whose involvement with spoken word open mic events was well known and it was now the turn of his friends and family to toast with words his memory and our loss. For he will be greatly missed. There’s no doubt about that. I stood amongst the crowds and watched and listened as one after another his friends and family took turns at the mic to read something by him or something by themselves or something by someone who couldn’t be there in person.

Every once in a while a special person will enter our lives and spark a connection and we wonder how on earth that was possible. But when we begin to look around us we see the number of people that individual had touched and always in such a positive way. Such enthusiasm and encouragement also. On June 1st I had messaged him simply to say how much I had enjoyed his readings that night. Always courteous, his reply: ‘I assure you the feeling is mutual. I await your novel with interest’. If that novel ever reaches a printing press then his name will be in the list of acknowledgements at the end.

A few hours after the news of his sudden death reached me via social media I was compelled to write down some lines. The way bad news travels and creeps up on us unexpectedly, unawares and unwelcome can be unnerving too. I had been staring at the one centimetre gap between the door and the floor as if that was the route it had taken to find me. It also led me to think about the mental issues our friend had suffered with for so long and how difficult it must have been at times to have left open that one centimetre gap in which to communicate with the outside world when all inside was in such turmoil and disarray.

After the initial round of recitals an interval was called by our host. I found a seat and waited for the second half for I had come to hear the tributes, my own poem tucked in my back pocket. I had no plan to read it and I was not on the list of readers. My intention before ducking away was to pass it to the host and close friend of the deceased to read in private some time later. But as the last on the list had been up and spoken their words our host asked if anyone else, those who had arrived a little later, would like to come and say something. He looked at me and I couldn’t refuse that look. He is an exemplary host and compère and it felt an honour to be asked by name.

So here is the poem I wrote the day our friend died and which I read today amongst the good company of his family and friends. In some ways it is meant to be a celebration of all the good things that can be achieved when we share a common love of words. Rest in peace and know that you touched the hearts of so many, in big ways and in little ways. And thank you, gentle man.

A Cold Breath of Wind

A cold breath of wind blew down the street
Turned the corner, found its way below your door
That one centimetre gap was just enough
For scraps of paper with poetry and notes
To be let in, to be let out, to be I know not what

For although I knew you not at all that well, that is
Not much beyond a few polite conversations, nods
Of getting past the getting to know you awkwardness
When those around you knew you so much better than me
Past histories shared but the future not, turns out

You were, it seems, a masker of darkness, a fidget
A smoker, a kindly soul much loved and now much missed
I will rue the chance of getting to know you better
Slowly, through your eyes and mine and others
And the strange, uncommon bonds that often attract

When, when the news of your death came suddenly
It came blowing in on cold blasts of condolence wishes
As if your notebooks had been torn to shreds and tossed
Upon the gentle breath of your once spoken words, those
Which now, are merely echoes of your soft, fragile voice

Fun in a Fiat 500

Two blonde girls in a pink Fiat 500

How we love you dashing through
texting – talking
laughing – driving

Too short skirts you little flirts
snapchat – chitchat
facetime – online

Two blonde girls in a pink Fiat 500

Speeding by with painted eyes
boyfriends – girlfriends
bartends - weekends

Fresh from the gym all fit and thin
skinny ribs – tiny tits
lovely bum – bubble gum

Two blonde girls in a pink Fiat 500

Phone distracts her, misses corner
wreckage – young age
big mess – hopeless

No more invites, floral tributes
sign of cross – what a big loss
parents mourn – both firstborn

Two blonde girls in a pink Fiat 500

Having fun and dying young
such short lives – never made wives
what a pity – life's so shitty

(picture courtesy Mail Online)