the price of light bulbs

you sit at your table writing
while I sit at mine
I’d like to have coffee with you sometime
a glass or two of wine
discuss the price of light bulbs
or the intricacies of verse

there are subjects far worse
such as love
loss
domesticity

it would all be with the greatest civility
though I cannot remain serious
for very long

I knew a girl once made me laugh so much
I could have wept
but now she’s gone
and I am undone

so here’s to you
and whatever it is you write
so feverishly
uneasily
at your table

I am unable
to stand the light
for much longer
at any price

[first posted Jan 10, 2016]

futility 

rain falls now in silver shafts
and I wonder
as I always wonder
when reality will make its entrance
as in a doctor’s waiting room

or the waiting room
of a rural branch line
some sunny day
so many years ago
I can’t remember

dust on the old shelves
in the old place
the silent space I once inhabited

the books I took from room to room
lie yellowing in boxes
and all the while the minutes pass
the paper peals from sodden walls
a curling shroud of roses
leaves the scent of putrefaction

the waiting room is dark

poems win prizes

poems win prizes
others do not
some remain imminent
some go to the shredder

some sit in boxes
under suburban roofs
or lay on top of wardrobes
gathering dust

some may be found
in an old man’s coat
as he carries his bread
up a winding hill at eve

do not whisper
do not shout
speak in the common tongue
when walking hereabouts

sing for the page
not for the praise
laureate of oblivion
and unheralded days

no picnic

the rock on the edge of the cliff
from the coastal path
like the head of the patriarch

only a flimsy thing
that soon blows over

leaving clear day
and little else of meaning

on the headland
where we leave eggshells
for the birds 

and scatter

sorry
I meant to show you something special

if I were to lay

if I were to lay upon the field all day
until the dew soaked through my shirt

then I would have a picture of something great
forever in my head

while the earth

the earth would wear an imprint of my outstretched form
for a short time

a short time alone

the passage of one cloud across the sun

the time it takes the buck to run for home

[first posted Dec 31, 2013]

navigation 

when conversation became difficult
I made for the shelter of the trees
looking back across the sun-bleached field
to where the party was in full swing
appreciating the amplitude of tall silences
that I could navigate more easily

from there I could see you slowly circling
coming to rest
before finally heading out

navigation

ascertaining a position
calculating the most favourable route
between one point and another

even when there is no point at all

navigation

just moving around

it takes skill

practice

finesse

when even gentle waters
can seem treacherous

safer amid trees

they don’t move around

at least don’t appear to

I whispered a quiet thank you
and plotted a course back

wild roses

wild roses grew on the border
but pretty soon after died
I moved into the Albany
and sat up every night
there is a window on the soul
if we have a soul at all
there is a phone here by the bed
but I never make a call
there is a wind and there is a wood
and there is a darkening way
there is a phone here by the bed
but I wouldn’t know what to say
from a room here at the Albany
and a window on the soul
I love a quiet garden
where wild roses grow
no one has an answer
no one has a key
wild roses on the border
no longer bloom for me