Plums

I watched my father stooping on the path
to pick up all the rotten plums that fell
and made the old dog fart before the fire.

I took him to the place I used to dwell,
showed him all four corners of the forest,
took him to the shed that we might lunch
among the cobwebs and old tins of paint.

I tried to tell him where I had gone wrong,
tried, while breaking bread upon my knee,
to tell him he’d been right, right all along.

He smiled, while brushing down some fallen crumbs,
and said he must get back to clear the plums.
Now as the day recedes into the past,
I watch my father stooping on the path.

*

I want to know more, said M. Tell me about these plums of yours.

Not mine, I said. My father’s.

Your father’s then, said M., rustling some papers on his desk. Your father’s plums, do tell me please all about your father’s plums. It may help you get to the heart of things.

I’d like that, I said.

Yes, said M. Like a lettuce.

A lettuce? I said.

Yes, the pure white heart of a lettuce, crisp, firm.

There were no plums, I said.

No plums? said M.

That’s right, I said. No plums.

Pity, he said. I’d like to have talked about plums.

There are no plums upon the ground at midnight. There is only the silver path, swept of leaves, purple stained in blotches. Look! We can walk along the path together and into the quiet of the summerhouse.

I’d like that, said M.

[originally posted 16 June 2013 – the second part was added later. I have no idea who the inquisitor ‘M’ is or what this means, other than it demonstrates my opinion that lyric poetry inevitably contains fictive elements. It was written shortly after my father’s death but has little to do with my actual real-life father. After all, there were no plums.]

Death in Dublin

When Father collapsed and died in Dublin,
I was eating a very good chocolate muffin.

Mother screamed. A teacup fell.
It’s not that he’d even been unwell.

I’m afraid I took another bite;
it was so deliciously moist and light.

[first posted 7 July 2014]

angels

in the end there is nothing
but the beauty of angels
worn down and moss covered
in the garden of remembrance
we went to as kids
to smoke and drink wine in

now clean out of time
I’m no closer
to understanding why
death has more followers
than anyone

Quartet

1. The Intruder

I saw my father lying on the bed
and did not know him.

Not for me the intimacy of death,
more of a mild surprise really,
to find someone so thoroughly asleep
and feel like an intruder.

And when I heard their howls behind the screen,
it puzzled me. You see,
I longed to get away
and drive somewhere.

Much later, when they said it would take time,
I didn’t quite believe them.
I still don’t.

2. The Prowler

I heard my father tapping on the glass
as I slept one night upon the ruined sofa,
weeping again the King my father’s wreck,
as if to tell me something I’d forgotten,
like ‘Never give up’, ‘Always do your best’,
or ‘Don’t heed the hurtful things
the Queen hath said.’

Or had he just come back to say
I’d messed up big time
and if I’d listened to him in the first place,
none of this would have happened?

Parents, eh. Who needs them?

And for how long?

3. Plums

I watched my father stooping on the path
to pick up all the rotten plums that fell
and made the old dog fart
before the fire.

I took him to the place I used to dwell,
showed him all four corners of the forest,
took him to the shed that we might lunch
among the cobwebs and old tins of paint.

I tried to tell him where I had gone wrong,
tried, while breaking bread upon my knee,
to tell him he’d been right,
right all along.

He smiled, while brushing down some fallen crumbs,
and said he must get back to clear the plums.

Now as the day recedes into the past,
I watch my father stooping on the path.

4. The Ash Grove

The red house in the field,
over valley,
in the wheel of hill,
that goes forever rolling on,
will be there in the morning,
and will be there in the evening,
but my father has gone west
in clouds of ashes.

We tossed him through our fingers
in a circle on a hill
like campers shaking out
a morning sheet.

And we left him all in pieces
in a circle by some trees,
now my father has gone west
in clouds of ashes.

Drift

The old boat slipped its mooring,
must have drifted out to sea.
My neighbour took the launch out
though a boat’s no use to me.
I recall when we first got it,
did the trim in powder blue.
Will be out past Dead Man’s Island,
nothing anyone can do.

I’ll go fetch coffee.

Links | c.  Radu Razvan Gheorghe | Dreamstime.com
Links | c. Radu Razvan Gheorghe | Dreamstime.com

Along the Old Sea Wall

The tide was out at midnight,
ropes rattling on the mast,
in the municipal car park
he fell asleep at last,
waking with the tide back in
and jumping in a squall,
as he searched in vain for coffee
along the old sea wall.
He’d gone there out of season,
unlike summers past,
no suitcase, just some luggage
and a crumpled photograph.
The sea was rough by eight o’clock,
no one saw him fall,
as they opened up for coffee
along the old sea wall.

[first posted 25 Nov. 2014]

2223288

table talk

two apples in a bowl
got us wondering
how we’d go

between two breaths
between two tides
before the pudding
has arrived

we were chatting
over dinner

you said
I was looking thinner

I said
rotten talk for supper
on the garden I’ll be scattered

If I have a soul at all
it falls just as the apple falls

to ground

we drank our fill
I paid the bill

a silent walk

table talk

[first posted 22 Feb. 2015]

The Death of Gulls

Like hail they fell,
in numbers uncountable,
leaving no one left to wail but me,
Godless upon an iron sea.

After the storm I was cut adrift,
me a mid-shipman,
ten days out to sea,
and never a sight of land for me,
nor woman’s touch,
but her dark eyes
swam before me all the way
to the whirlpool at the end of days
where under a glowering sky,
still beardless,
I died the death of gulls.

This sea-tale I recount,
by way of settlement
to the God that has deserted me
this seventeenth day of May,
Seventeen hundred and fifty three.

Now the Devil take me.

[first posted 28 November 2014 – I must have been on the rum when I wrote this]

Breathless

For nine hundred and ninety nine nights
he lay breathless in the garden of delights,
watching her sweet breast rise and fall,
awaiting the caress that never came at all.

On the thousandth night as the peacock cried,
her pale hand arose to touch his side,
and his poor heart burst to leave him lying

breathless

in the garden of delights.

Mournful is the peacock’s cry.

[first posted 7 June 2014]

The Narrowing Path

The narrowing path will guide you
towards the close of day,
and there are no forks or deviations
upon that narrowing way,
just a well-worn path trod by many
down towards the shore
and those who turn to look behind
will find the way obscured.

We’ll walk between high hedgerows
until we find the shore,
and then we must let go, old friend,
dissolve and be no more.
The sea and then no more.
One breath and then no more.

(first posted 29 Jan. 2014)