Bereavements are eternal,
Curdled in blood;
Bereft by time’s flood.
Each one is complex,
As sure and unique
As rings we keep hidden
In petrified trees,
Felled through our forests
Of fossilised dreams.
And when bereft,
The grief is unending;
Truth’s sinking incisors
Deride all impressions,
Like scars from a moth
Made marks from her teeth;
The moth is a moment
Where your love in exile
My fate made complete.
Although these events
Have long since deceased,
Like an arrowhead
Buried in muscle
Or abscessed knee
Conditions our gait,
Makes hobbled hopes weak.
Mine is the kind
You’ll seldom see,
The grief for my child
Alive without me.
Therefore we are haunted
And also the ghosts,
For life left us daunted
And tied to our posts.
Grief, do not disparage me,
Do not diminish my yearning
To observe the rites I will learn
In turn, by rote, just as oceans
Spurn the lode in mackerel bones
And whiting dreams and cod,
Fulfilling the needs in fishermen’s
Ganseys and hand-made
Tablecloths their wives
Once ironed, having washed,
On kitchen benches draped across,
Though sometimes a trawler
Or two were lost and the sea,
With blind unfeeling disbelieving
Reasons breeding in their peaks
And troughs, duplicitous sea,
Brought home only grief and loss,
Those I have known and those
I have not, as I cried on my own
At midnight in a parking lot.
You would be 41 now.
We arrived at similar times
On a similar watch.
You would be married,
Three children, three
Boys. Brown fronds,
Your brown eyes
Instilled in them like
Virtues, like topaz,
Your voice as molten
And sweet as caramel.
How quickly they grow
Your grandparents who died
And who no one knows
Or attends to their
Would have said,
As everyone does say,
From time to time
As they gave the boys sweets
And ruffled their hair.
To where did your pride go?
You died on your own
In a flat far from home
In May 2000 or so.
Few remember, but I do,
Although I cannot know
How your mother
Outlived her pain, or
How bright comets
Even as their fiery tails
Within our charts had grown.
So much happens of course
In twenty unlived years.
All the times we could hold dear,
All the good that went wrong.
I’d have gently, soothingly,
Removed syringes from
Your arms while I sang a
Song from our childhoods
And stroked your matted hair,
Unpicked you from
Your foetal position
Before the rigor took hold,
And longed for the bruises
Before they became lines
To go. Intravenous,
You and me, yes,
Cradled in a room in a town
No one knows, where my
Penitence is life, and the
Possibilities of you
No one here will now rejoice,
Standing at your place of rest,
Mellifluous music lost its voice
With secrets in your chest.
Your breath had softly pressed
A flower for love to linger;
In my dreams you’re still caressed,
A ring’s still on your finger.
This may be my one last visit,
Horror’s living longer;
Torrid, turbulent, once exquisite,
What kills me makes me stronger.
There is a Preacher waiting
Beyond the seventh lodge,
These words prepared are gravitating
If goodness leaves its watch.
A Gravedigger from the village
Gave birth, to a Perpetrator’s wires,
We cannot restore the image
From before you wandered the mires;
For they excavate an oblong hole
And with a Carpenter conspire,
As single-minded as the mole,
The mole with a mind of fire.
Earthworms hoarded in his tunnels,
Thoughts down there we cannot absolve.
The criminal-in-waiting constructing funnels,
Humanity stirring sanity, when mixed dissolve,
Paid to lathe a cedar box
He slipped into the void,
The space and filling where a fox
Had life’s spiders all destroyed.
The woodland will witness silently
How soil’s disturbed so easily,
The muted lake’s complicity,
The backhoe rested queasily,
His bed a spade, his mind now trapped.
And yet these three men are moving still,
We hear the sounds of Time elapsed,
While you are stones on the furthest hill.
We remember your joyfulness and laughter,
Mellifluous more than spring-tide streams;
We love you all forever after,
In waking grief and grieving dreams.
We’ll cloak your permanent youth in gold
And resurrect your beauty;
Something happened which can’t be untold,
Conforming to spinsterly duty.
We are faster in our failing,
We carry your bones in our cages,
We are stronger when we are ailing,
We have suffered the fourteen stages.
The ingenuity is endless
Of mens’ cruelty so defenceless;
Our daughters all now friendless
For those nights loom long and senseless.
Guard the path beside the lake,
Daughters home before seven,
May you never read this at the wake,
For there are no rules in heaven.
[For S. and For U., in my thoughts and prayers when I wrote this].
At Glasson Dock I lost my love,
Succumbed to the frozen canal.
We tested the ice, once or twice;
Afar a snow-bound fell.
Beneath the sheet his body bloated
With nowhere left to yell;
They found him, awful thaw far-floated;
Poetry shatters a spell.
There is to be no writing, nor catharsis,
When an elephantine memory for detail
Is imprinted into the meta-tarsus
Where you put your future up for sale.
As a real estate broker the devil was dressed,
For the part he kept his everyday clothes;
The boards went up, buyers impressed,
There was some mention in industry prose
Of the hall which housed your missing soul.
Death by broken heart has a ring of poetry,
Outweighs misadventure or suicide’s hole,
Or takotsubo cardiomyopathy.
I placed a thorn behind my eye,
Beetroot blessed for routing the devil,
But the thorn took seed in a leftover stye,
And there he shaped his revel.
Passed a parcel of illusion
Through life’s spiralling petal,
Semi-conducted an earthly confusion
Using pieces of eight-pound metal.
If all I see is a construct,
Then death is the engineer’s basket;
The fable-stuffed hepatic duct,
I am removing this house from the market.