Bonsai

Memories shrink in my wash,
So the leaves, once verdant,

Become delicate and almost
Imperceptible, sometimes lost,

Yet nonetheless loved,
Nurtured and now as fresh

As when you placed my hands
On your hips and your obi

Slipped – I can’t remember
The music but I do remember

Your kiss, fleeting,
From where I fall recurringly.

These thoughts are the size
Of bonsai, ornamental,

Propagated, wired
To my wabi-sabi sense;

I walk through the forest
Of their sorrows then,

Counting steps to my death,
Diminutive, less than I was

Back then, when your kiss
Felt like bliss briefly lent.

A Statistician’s Dream

I dreamt about you last night.
I made a joke to see you smile,
Because it is your smile
And a thousand other views of you
Which captivate, satisfy and beguile
Well-trained professorial thoughts.
I said, I am a statistical outlier,
I tend to sleep on the floor.

Then, I awoke on my own once more.
Why is it any surprise that all I loved Would someday abscond or die,
The daily abhorred, for I have a curse
In my arm or the knot of my knees
And I cannot drain the source.
So I dream of you instead,
And let life run its course.

Alicia Also

Twenty years slipped
Since I last stretched
These pavements,
Hairs are the same
With less width
In the aching.
Four families moved
Through a house over there,
Its neatly squared garden
Where a fair woman fainted
And needed a sutre;
She relocated to Lincoln
And give birth to the ancient
Ways of the future.

The ghost house is there
On Precariousness Corner,
Windows all boarded,
Hoardings corroded,
The grass as grown over
As dreams of the homeless.
The children are children
Of those I grew up with,
But a good local ghost story
Is peerless and opened.
Schools expanded,
Red squirrels survived,
Ethnographic adoptions
But pine trees are always
The same and how they thrive.
The old lady who played an oboe
All through one winter
Is buried in our municipal way
Over the river, yet the oboe
Still has tunes to deliver.
Branches quivering in the breeze
Have unseen opposable fingertips
On musicians six feet deep.

Everyone here has new extensions,
Smartly paved driveways
And alfresco dimensions
In wicker and rattan;
The future transfused,
Indifferent, oblivious,
Anxieties gifted and brewed
As traits for the atheists
Whose numbers are swelling,
And bruised the religious
Whose numbers are telling.
Everyone has a disease we
Cannot see, which is that
Everyone steadfastly
Refuses to talk
To each other.

And there is the window
Where every weekend I’d rush
To see my neighbour Alicia,
Schoolboy crush,
Heartbeat in crisis,
Sufficient hormones to fill
The silver Cup of Dionysus;
Alicia also relocated,
This time to Bristol
Or Bournemouth or Weymouth,
And so I never took that one chance
To say something teenage and
Wishful. Alicia got married
And her children are older
Than I was back then,
Shy and less bold,
More innocent, yes.

Tuesdays, you can still inhale
The scent of soup drifting
From the east side factory,
Tomato or beef or oxtail tides;
Thursdays, winds change
And fish trawler residues blow
Over the town far and wide.
We drove there once to lay flowers
Where a nameless prostitute died.

All fixtures and fittings remain
Of memories kept for twenty years
Inside my mind’s shallow grave,
Yet while the world flew through
The universe delightful and bright,
I was left here, two decades behind.

An Old Panoramic Photograph

Let’s drive the coast road longways
And park at scenic views,
Though no sight there’s more beautiful
Than margins holding you.

I cannot visit shores again
For there’s too many blues,
Returning from my armchair here,
In reveries renewed.

Children today don’t use cameras,
They wouldn’t know what to do;
I still have your scent and sunglasses,
Each day closer to a truth.

Your smile could light the vista,
Your hair could tame the dew,
And though I’m frail, it’s not so cold,
When memory’s kindled by you.

I Sometimes Feel Your Touch Still

A vacuum droned in the distance,
Unending summer pain,
You were bathing in sunlight,
I was the last to complain.

I wondered how we arrived here,
Eyes white as Siberian beaches;
Your painted toes playfully circled
My devotion, rhapsodies in peach.

You caught the sun in your shoulders,
A helping hand beneath straps;
I left my work in its folder,
Lawn mowers loud as thunder claps.

The water butt was empty,
Evaporated hearts there cried;
I sometimes feel your touch still,
Though many years have died.

Ode To R.

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
Weathered gravestones
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
Orbiting suns
Could sometimes
Simply disappear,
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
Remain unknown.