Some of my Poems
We meet by chance
in the health food shop,
gannets gathering around the last
of today’s bread delivery.
The talk, of course,
is all about the weather,
this heat we still find alien,
and the unexpected benison
of a summer shower.
‘Come into the garden, Mark,’
she says she said. Apparently,
there have been forty-eight hours
of no kissing.
Intimacy too sticky
to bear. So, the woman in front of me,
with her pain de campagne,
the unbleached white, rye
and wholemeal sourdough,
and five shiny croissants for the morning,
tells us, the queue,
how they revelled
in some luxury
of slow uxorious smooching
in the warm, Welsh rain.
He’s a man now; doesn’t kick or pass,
dribble or play a ball any more,
toe to foot to knee to head, his love
of the game faded away.
Thought it would last always, thought the years
of sunlight and wellness would last too,
restless infant gone, substituted
by a gilded child – football, success –
team, school, friends then girls. Thinking of him
then, bloodied knees, a ball, I recall
those opening bars, Nessun Dorma,
that old ice music working its spell,
pulling the crowds, despite gondoliers,
usherettes’ trays, triteness of old TV ads,
overplaying, overworking, over-hyped,
in that time before Diana went, Luciano too,
when Pav was fab and football was king,
when the blue-eyed boy was beautiful,
his demons checked, ice music, football anthem,
music of hope, limitless possibility.
Elvis an Encounter
Darkness over ripe Welsh meadows,
las vegas, fretted
by strings of fairy lights, solar, blue,
along May hedges, elder-greening, blossom-bursting,
by cigarette glow,
by crackling and hissing of logs from the firepit –
where folks huddle warmed by blankets, chat, whisky.
Well met by moonlight, proud incarnation,
thrusting the King’s torch, rocking ‘n rolling,
owning that suit, spritelike guest
at this night’s nuptials, starblest,
incandescent, lighting up
the loin-lost gaze of his admirers,
who have seen a vision, divine
and otherworldly, (in fact from Malta),
shimmying gifts – lyric, liquidity
of hip, of lip, filling full his luminous leathers.
Now, far from home, awaiting his team,
he shivers in built-up shoes –
I AM NOT COLD; I HAVE PERFORMED.
Elvis takes his leave, cash, applause,
his black truck back,
not loving us tender yet still weaving
some chill, silvery spell,
as tail-lights reveal
sequins shed on bluebell, cow parsley and nettle
at the field gate,
our lane pitted with stardust.
Checking up on dad
You needed to see it for yourselves – the last time
wasn’t so bad, after all. You’d taken him out
to eat. He’d had some, spilled his half of shandy,
seemed pleased at news of next year’s wedding.
When you drove him back, he’d not asked you in.
You could live with that. You put it down
to tiredness, left. If not content, satisfied.
Duty done. Now there’ve been calls, texts. The door barred
to the lady who pops in to check and clean.
He’s not left out washing; been absent, missed.
So you go. Just three weeks, not the normal four.
He seems thinner. Uncombed, unshaved, unwashed.
The flat’s neglected: the fridge bare. An air
of quiet decay, despair. You find a shirt,
sweater, coat, go with him to buy food. The pub lunch
offer gets rejected. Instead he lets you
make poached eggs. Toys with them, is tearful,
trembles. When you try to shift the topic
from scolding him or fretting, he slips back
half a century. Those early rose-lit days
of marriage. On the trip home, unsaids choke
the car. At last, you turn in, stop. Your man looks away,
clears his throat.
He can’t remember Mum. He’s mixed her up
with the wife before, the one who died
at twenty four. Twelve months, they had. That’s all.
It’s just not fair. That’s what hurts the most.
Three or four bottles into the evening,
post-theatre supper with old friends,
the kind you don’t meet up with often
but, when you do, it’s like you saw them
yesterday: and you’ve done politics,
the kids, the state of the planet, had
some hilarity, some banter after all those…
those extremes of on-stage emotion, your friend
starts weeping, wild, raw sobbing in the ladies,
all restraint gone. A diagnosis.
And it’s unjust, premature, final, cruel.
Nothing will ever be the same between
you all, and everything, the catch phrases,
the not using our names any more,
the same old anecdotes – it all makes sense.
Even the last time, when he drove round
the roundabout the wrong way,
and no one said a word.
Named for the Tree
Ever squeamish I’ve stepped outside my comfort zone,
beyond the relief we have to feel. The end of pain.
Her long life, lived full. But this day, this ritual is my first.
No body. No fuss. An empty box. We remember,
without her, the way she folded, blended, welcomed,
warmed all visitors, from kin to friends to passing strays.
Alert, bright-eyed bird, maker of Welsh cakes, her kettle
always just off boil, her teapot cosied, ready. Hazel,
named for the tree, laden with the silent wisdom
of a thousand casual confidences, wearing her prescience
lightly, easy as dust, as flour. No flowers to coat this truth:
she has flown. What’s left will now be shared, studied,
dissected, giving to science, as she gave in life.
We’ll dwell instead on fragments – on linen pressed
ready for those guests expected, and as yet unknown,
on fresh bread doorsteps sliced, on endless baking,
on days spliced with old observance, throwing salt,
curtseys to a lone magpie, A wooden spoon,
a hazel wand, her span of kitchen kindnesses,
List of Poems
List of Poems with recordings
Ode to a Well Filled Wellie