synapse

he thought about the little bay
where they had taken the children on holiday
and where he hadn’t been as happy
as he should have been

and he remembered holidays
with his own father
that brought him up with a jolt
like an electric current

connections occur across a tiny space
a synapse

or the passage of many years

now like a couple in separate rooms
he was out of kilter with himself

sleep couldn’t come too soon

scratch marks 

after the dust broke
I hardly spoke to anyone

but took my relative to a psychoanalyst 
and while he hung about in the waiting room
skated about on the elaborate floor
of the consulting room
apologising profusely for scratch marks
neither of us could see

outside
my relative remained reticent
declining to be recognised 

I bought a poster of the whole event
but have never unrolled it

although I own it
and so does he

howl

dog on the bed
like a polar landmass in the spring
I would give anything
to be like you
yours is an empire of the skin
mine the meandering way within
an island off the compass of the world
go howl your howl
let it be heard

release

I open the door and release them
one by one

they come to the door and I watch them go
in pale December sun

and some of them are beautiful
and some of them are old
and some of them are ugly
some as cold as stone

and some of them are holy

[first posted Jan 3, 2016]

thaw

snow came early this year

my neighbour and I cleared our drives
without speaking

now there are two frozen piles
at the roadside

like pensioners chatting
at a bus stop

[first posted Jan 17, 2015]

say a little prayer

perhaps I should genuflect
light a candle
mumble something holy
but when the night terrors come
to this private vault
we call consciousness
only my dog can hear me
be near me
comfort this old skin
so I say a little prayer for him
and whisper I’m ok

[first posted Jan 8, 2016]

helplines

while she held on to my hand
and whispered soothing words
she had one eye on her car keys
and a quick getaway

there is no common currency here
just rates of exchange
that fluctuate wildly
in different circumstances

try calling the helpline she said
there isn’t one I said
well try calling anyway she said
so I did
many times
many helplines

fifteen of them

[first posted Jan 2, 2016]

even cold

twilight on the ridge
and even the silence seems frozen

forty years ago
under a sky like this
we lay together in your flea-market fur
dreaming wild dreams out loud

I never knew anything could be so soft
nor meaningless things ever mean
so much

it was coming apart at the seams
as I recall
back when friendship meant more than anything

even cold

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