The Last O’Clock





There will be no parades. No day of mourning,

No solemn, stolid marches, no young boys

Roped in to carrying a coloured banner for you.


In truth, when it happens, you will wonder

That the last time you see the clock, it will read

13:24, the precise second lost forever


Between a gasp and a stutter: you will mutter

No great last words, have no last laugh;

But inside, a gentle loss of blood


Will flood an inconspicuous organ until

It floods no more. You will find that it is

Just one Tuesday of many, only as strange


As the loss of sensation in your right arm.

It will be as ordinary as any breath, that

Last one: and you will be sat, or laying down,


Just like the majority of every hour thus far;

Holding a pen, or wishing that you were holding

A pen, at last, to make that final mark.



The picture is from Breughel’s Icarus, referenced in W. H. Auden’s tragicomic Musee Des Beaux Arts:


“…how everything turns away
Quite leisurely from the disaster; the ploughman may
Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry,
But for him it was not an important failure; the sun shone
As it had to on the white legs disappearing into the green
Water, and the expensive delicate ship that must have seen
Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky,
Had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on.”

Last Night’s Mistress



And though she wakes in skies of wide array,

Her beauty holds no candle to the dawn.

She breaks with clouds and folds the light away,

Yet still the night is done.


The dance she keeps, and sleeps in wild affray;

When night has passed, her light is shed and gone.

The last of her is lost by light of day,

And her beauty holds no candle to the dawn.




The mistress may have the night. But, alas, she never steals the day. 



Broken Marriage


broken red wine glass.jpg


In our marriage rites we took

From the common cup,

Seeped deep in wine

And drank love dry.


When the fists came blunt,

When the glass tore apart

It cried out once

Piercingly in pain;


But unlike a skull, a glass

When broken does not bleed.




Thankfully unrelated to my own marriage. But based, terribly, upon true tales. 


Delicious Dissatisfaction




I relish minor discomforts. Don’t you? The aching

Weight to your legs after a far-away walk,

The flavoured flatness of herbal tea,

The pip stuck longingly between molars.


I enjoy

The furtive uncertainty of turning out the lights

On an unwholesome staircase. The vague

But persistent traffic, distantly marring

A quiet night. Eyes watering

From basking in a huge, filthy, jubilant bonfire.


Nothing is perfect, after all. So surely,

All asymmetry reflects godliness.


Also, not quite being able to “Lady Macbeth” the

Tobacco-smell from my finger’s delicate

Underbelly, its reassuring scent.

There is another craving to be had

In incompleteness.

The unremembered name of a

Crossword clue, its taste on the tip of your… what is it?

Blank squares calling out

An unspoiled, because unfinished, memory;


Or the secret delight of knowing that

Because of your own idleness (it felt so good),

Today’s task is partially left over

For a smilingly imperfect, shruggable, tomorrow.



It’s nice when things go to plan, or are symmetrical and ordered, balanced, what have you. But also, nothing in life is ever truly ordered, no single day in life is the “that day” when all one’s troubles are finally over, for good. We learn not to avoid storms, but to dance when it rains. So enjoy imperfections. Remember: you are one.