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

it would all be with the greatest civility
though I cannot remain serious
for too 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
at your table

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

[first posted Jan 10, 2016]

from another ocean 

tales were told at table

that night
and when it came to my turn

I said
why is it always my turn

and the answer came back
you’re the only one

so I recounted the days of my

which I missed grievously

and told
of sorrows and lost loves

and worse things
wearing my heart wide open

the story of the whale mother

to her stolen calf unceasingly

from another ocean

no book

I imagine the room will be small
with pale blue walls
and a neat bed
with a thin coverlet
perhaps a curtained window
overlooking a communal garden
like the one we had
at the flats you never came to

there will be a bedside table
but no books
except for the one you leave behind
after your visit
with the black covers
alongside that copy of The Racing Post
the cleaner was reading

I’d send it back to you
if you hadn’t gone on ahead
I only back certainties now
want no book at all

not even love

you said you’d show me a good time
but now it’s past time
and I’m uncertain of the days

my mother’s people came from Italy
but the limestone Auden praised
means not a thing to me

nor all the masters at top table
I’d like to name them
when I’ve had a few

they mutter sonnets in their soup again
they should be locked away
for what they did to me

we have no culture but the one we made
a gaudy hit parade
tinsel and after-shave

what is a good time anyway
you never did quite say
before you went

oh how the masters would lament
not even love is heaven sent

the hide

we are left with a westerly wind
blowing us memories of the five isles*
deepening our response to the autumn apples
squashed into pulp on the greenway pavement

when I stood upon the beach at midnight
I wasn’t looking for a ship to sail
only wanting a quiet life
after long years of silence

and trooping back along the boards and rushes
I felt a sudden urge
to make for the sanctuary of the hide
peer again through a slat into dark waters

we are left with a westerly wind
re-inhabiting points of loss
most keenly felt when as children
we frequented an empty toy shop
a shop where nobody came

I went there with half a crown
to the elderly brothers in brown
I went for a five shilling blessing
but brought only half a crown

bless me for I have sinned
only here do I find peace
here in the sanctuary of the hide
kneeling above dark waters
clutching the past like a broken toy

*[Isles of Scilly]

The Winter Garden

I have known the passing of loved ones
and the passing by of one since longed for, 

felt the touch on fingertips
of lips that can be kissed no more;

touched with those same fingertips,
a photograph, a golden ring,

but I have never known a Winter garden
that did not hold the thought of Spring,

’til now.