It is always so lovely
when we speak
but she prefers salty
she said I don’t know now
I am struggling to see
how to let this sweet taste be
said walk a mile
be with me
suffer my storms
drown in the salt of my sea
gladly would I go with you
What a feeling to be
what you want to be
she called this feeling “freedom”
but what I had wanted to be
changed in a moment
in a week
as do the tides and the seas
in the Moon’s wax and wane
I am Autumn mourning for Summer
and Summer longing for rain
gladly would I come for you
and gladly would I change
When she left me
she was exactly as when she came
but it was I
who had been affected
it was I
who had changed
so as the moon it pulls on the ocean’s quilt
she continues to pull on me
and here I am
wanting to spill myself from the mouth of the river
into the salt of her sea
gladly would I go to you
but it cannot be
for I have made my home in sorrow
it cannot be
it cannot be.
It shames me to say
no good thought of you
has passed through my mind
since the first day
when parted ways.
Your long hair flowing
like the mouth of a river, down the bedside
and mine like the red torrent of the sea
where they should have mixed together there was instead
me not knowing, you not loving
more of me.
Tiny fingers outstretched
in search of your skin
to feel the blanket in which we swaddle the world
to take the sting
from the bite of its being
You asked if I was pleased
to see you, when we did
long afterwards, meet
but pleased is a happy word
sullied by the whispering slur
and I left my happiness
long ago at your teat
swept with your uncaring hand
to grow amongst
the kerb-line weeds.
So, no, I am not pleased
nor happy or aggrieved
but, the endless growings of
the motherless grey
and the numbness soaking
through the void between.
Standing here now
two adults again greet
I see that you too have taken the bottle
from it still
you drink most deep
always only, just a babe
with ruby-red flushed cheeks.
With old fingers now, shaking, outreached
to two rivers battling at the mouth of the sea
where they should have mixed forever
but still in the chop, bereaved
it is you who requires most the weaning
from the milk of the bottle
much more than me.
They build the balustrade
off the back of all Man’s failings.
Strong enough to hold the rope
and the enormous weight of consequence,
and with your arms by your side
you’ll feel the hemp-woven toll.
The balustrade is always strong enough
to protest your shivering throws.
But if you ever stand up there, be still
you will know in that moment, you have all control.
What strange fruit
to be hanging from the stair,
where a selfish act was found, you’ll say,
in the place of a prayer.
You couldn’t see it through the mind’s blindness, but we cared,
All of us cared.
What strange fruit you are
hanging from that stair.
They build that ledge
on the other side of the railing
wide enough only for your heels
and if you stand over that river
with your arms stretched out wide
you’ll feel the water cleanse your soul.
The ledge is always wide enough
but not for your toes.
If you ever have to stand up there, be still,
it will be the only time you ever really take control.
What strange fruit
to be bobbing in the water,
where a selfish act drifts away, you’ll say,
no clemency, no quarter.
‘Jump you coward!’ yell the gathering crowd, let loose the mortar.
And where the tide gains a son,
a mother loses a daughter.
What strange fruit you are
bobbing in that water.
Nothing works anymore.
I once had the parameters in “tight”.
It was all working right.
Then the humidity started falling out of range,
the extractor fan stayed on for days.
It’s not the only thing that can’t cope with change.
The tap drips constantly in protest.
Limescale tarnishes all that was clear, and it’s always in jest.
I once had reason present in my mind.
I was able to fight.
The Water Board came round and shut the water off,
the tap ached as it stopped.
It’s not the only thing that aches in this box.
The floor is bare, a splintering trap.
Newspapers used to fall on the mat.
I once had soft oak, and friends to invite.
It was all lit dreamily in the soft morning light.
Then the sun died and the clouds pushed through,
now the floor is barely a floor anymore, it is barely anything at all.
The wood is wet with my tears, for I am like to bawl.
It’s not the only thing that is nothing at all.
The lamp flickers and hums like a wasp is caught in the shade.
This is the din
that I have made.
I once had everything in its place.
It was the finest of tastes.
Then the disconnecting silence filled the halls.
The lamp stopped humming and it threw darkness up the walls.
The telephone doesn’t ring, nobody calls.
These are not the only things that have become this small.
These are not the only things that have become nothing at all.
She said to me “Son, go steady,
you are not yet ready
to sing this song.
Unclench your fist, bite your lip:
some men are better with words
than they are with bombs.
“Blood near boils in the heat of a fight;
and whilst you are right,
you are wrong.
Take a moment, catch your breath:
the measure of a man is in how he moves on
from the thing that’s already done.
“Where a mother has a right to mother,
don’t stay always under this cover:
even weeds grow in the shade.
know when to love and when to leave,
know when to smile and when to grieve.
Know when to hide under the pain,
Know when to break into a million pieces:
many a good thing from broken parts
can be made.”
“Be compassionate to yourself. That means being gentle to yourself at times when you feel like being self-critical. Think what you’d say to encourage a friend in a similar situation. We often give far better advice to others than we do to ourselves.”