Linger

 

tragic sunset pic
 

Through life, questioning it: to validate
The invalid position in which we eke.
Something’s got to give: and sometimes it’s you.
 

In its death-throes, the sun silently raging out,
Eyes half-closed, no distance left to go;
Furious with its own weakness, bleeding out.
 

Death is the authentic panacea:
but the stars, they too like Gods grow envious,
and by the evening, even Death grows weak.
 

There must be more: there must be more for me,
Or else why would I hunger for it, so?
 

1934

 

We never do learn to accept that we

Cannot have all we desire. But,

In time, we grow forgetful; forget that need,

No longer press our noses to the glass

And walk to nearby windows to inspect

Instead the wares in other shops.

 

This does not mean that we have outgrown want.

 

Just as, growing old together does not mean

Growing together. After the worst of winters

I’d hoped the hearth would keep; and it did,

But by June, as the children danced towards the river

To play, and I wrung out the laundry, and at last

We sat in peace, overhead the thought passed:

You inspire in me nothing but afternoons.

 

Clouds overheard us. As we sat, they overtook us:

Death is no different from weather, in that respect.

 
 

Inspired by faded photographs of an anonymous farming couple, in their forties. The man seemed stern, his wife likewise but with some other quality in her eyes. They seemed companionable, if not necessarily happy together. The writing at the back of the photograph simply read “1934.”

Sideline

 

I moan even now about it, sulking as I must,

Recalling still how you, laughingly, held

From my reach my ways of happiness.

One arm, outright, palm to stall my face;

The other held away in high contempt,

Keeping all from me. Not fazed in the least

 

By my death-throes, you held the hostage tight,

Such height my heart had never felt. Imperilled.

As lovers too you kept this prize from me.

So I clung to you for it, found strange delight in being

Your hummingbird, brief and inconsequential,

Whispering unheard, invisible at your side:

 

Incorporeal, a floating colour, fleeting

Only; adjacent, defeated and polite.

 

For the times when it just feels unequal. Half-rhymes and a fairly relaxed rhythm, but still suitably restricted in form. 

 

Death employs him

 

I have shuffled papers for Death for several years,

Tidying his escritoire. Certificates,

Affidavits, Wills, and evidences

Require certification and correct accounting:

If someone dies, their affairs don’t simply cease.

He gave me a set of keys, not huge

And rust-worn but Yale-cut, with the code

For the burglar alarm, let me know my hours,

Took my insurance numbers and set me to work.

Death, in his boss’s office, will leave

Precisely at five, even if I take overtime:

He’s a stickler. As I file away the evenings

The coffee percolates. The cleaners come

Every Thursday and, oblivious, ask

How the holidays went while emptying the bins.

 

Some late-nighters, by the watchful glare

of the desk lamp, I consider opening

the master’s draw to see what files he keeps

on us.

 

I had not considered the secret life of Death. He places

The smiling frame of his wife and two children

Near to his monitor, next to his World’s Best Dad mug.

Stealing into his room this way is despicable,

Life-affirming; and yet, though the light is dim

And the master is unaware and far away

I still can’t dare to open the personnel file

 

And see what Death has on me. The ultimate reference, Death;

The proof of my last employment; the final P45…

 

Too great a risk. I click off my thief’s light,

Shut Death’s door, set the intruder alarm,

Text darling to say I’ll get the bus back. Not worth it.

 

It is fair to say that, when Death employs you,

Redundancy appears indefinite.

 

This is less characteristically obsessive over structure and rhyme, true, but it does hark back to a regular theme: DEATH. Specifically the mundaneness of death, from the perspective of a probate practitioner. It’s odd, working in estate administration. A gallows humour hangs above us. We work not “with” grief per se, but I think “through” grief, despite of the mourning families and sensitive subjects: we need to crack on and fill in tax forms, even if it means having to press loved ones for details and receipts. Through all of this however I do retain an absolute fascination with Death as a concept. 

Personal Grimoire

 

To think of fairies not so much as dreams

And children’s wings, dust adrift on sunbeams,

 

As towering trees, crooked-branched and sly,

Drawing close to the water like their prey:

 

Not all the fey have wings. The same, I suppose,

Applies also to angels, and to us.

 

Of all the monsters I have met, not one

Has dwelt beneath my bed: I’ve seen

 

Not one true ghost who was not slave to drink,

Or more self-haunting than they haunt on us;

 

None of those red-eyed boys who kissed my neck

And drank my blood were lifeless to the touch.

 

Further Definitions

 

I keep coming back to my fascination with etymology: why our language is constructed and used in the way it is. Writing poetry about words: I am sorry.

 

 

If words are mysteries, they are also historical.

After all, “Enigma” derives its form

From the Greek ainos – that is to say, fable.

That fable became a riddle, over time:

 

They are all as much puzzles as they are exposition.

The way we build them, that is stranger still.

“Structural integrity” to the anarchist

Is laughable, almost hateful contradiction.

 

“Besotted,” though, from the drunken sot, so sodden

With red-lipped affection, he lost his senses to it.

I would like to discover counter-historical

Etymologies, though: perhaps assert

 

That “Adoration” should mean, Making golden;

“Delight,” in us, should mean To make you shine.

In so doing, I could solve each old enigma

And make a delight of it, redefinition.

Taken

Sublime poetry from Jac Green.

Awkward Silence

In rooms we had shared;
the space dividing and uniting us
cigarette smoke permeating every surface
and drifting through our conversation
The single gesture of your hand,
like a lazy comma, pauses me in freeze frame
And so I remain, at your will,

silent, still, waiting for your command

My life on hold so that you may live yours
Our breath, our hearts in sync
And when you take it you take it all
Until the words are dragged, unwilling and broken from my lips
“I know that you loved me once”

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