Category Archives: Poetry & Prose

O’Brother

Part one – Love Child

O’Brother I was ten
When I had a live doll in you
To bath and walk and pat
The navy and steel perambulator
With white walled tyres
And the white crocheted blanket
She made.
You were supposed to be the love child
Of an old marriage.
A babe taking meds before he was born
A Mother with a thin grasp
A Father who would go to the end of
Anywhere.
She was spared your death
But not him, or me.
A surprise gift of genetics
That I missed
Came your way at twenty odd
So we grieved for you
As we did for her,
And while you searched conspiracies
Through imaginary means
And got more troublesome
And less reasonable
O’Brother we said.

Part two – Questions

You could sing and paint
(Houses) and dance but
You could talk with wit.
And still did
Sometimes a bit.
So many different friends
Sought you out
And the same old ones.
Unmarried Sov
He loved you so!
O’ (poor) Father!
He listened to you but thrice
From behind his closed door
While you demanded privacy
From behind yours.
Wailing, wall thumping
Why me! O’ why me.
A man still at home.
A twisted fog parted
Just for an hour or so
Each time.
By chance or by some
Strange alignment?
A job won and lost in a
Single morning, and again
And again. Was that it?
Aided by a toxic salad
Prescribed by empathic scientists
Can we call it clarity?
So rare a state it has no name
Imbued with tortuous threads
Like a vine in a season not recognised.
A stranger in the mirror
Gone to seed perhaps? but failing
To begin again.
Could that be the goal?
What good?
O’ Brother. Why you?

Part three – The Elegy

A poem?
The juxtaposition
To grief;
For weeks now
My body revs
Perpetually
Then swerves
Like a car fishtailing
On a dark empty
Road.
Fear the impact
For the shattered shell
It screams.
Repel the task
And suffer from the effort
Motion sickness.
Sea sickness.
It gives up.
Poetry is
A scalpel on the scab.
I still feel sick, sicker even
For the swallowed sobs
As I write
Are like too many great bowls
Of vanilla ice cream
You once loved.
A glutton gorged on grief
And then
Who will read it?
Not you
Obviously.
O’Brother, and
Not Father
Either.
God no.

Part four – Coming of Age

O’Father, share a drink
With your brother
Who married in a kilt.
The amber liquid
Of old country—
It’s your friend today
I bought you a special bottle
Drink and drown
Just this day.
Tonight is truly your
Turn to wail
And you do.
Like an alpine wolf
In the suburbs, at an ambulance,
Death is your composer
Your talent preordained.
The old Celtics are here
Echoing through your kin
Keeping you company
While you sing.
I sit in frozen grimace.
Sober but trying not to vomit.
Your brother’s wife
My stalwart today –
We remain in the kitchen.
Your door is wide open
And while I cower inwards
And let it be,
Outwardly
My sons are holding you up
Like men.

Part five – The Eulogy

I stepped out according to
The day at hand,
The sun only three fifths
Risen, streaming up and out
From just below the horizon
In a parting of the trees
In thick symmetrical opaque bands
Like a festival poster
Highlighting the underbellies
Of the white tufts, a smattering of
Clouds from a toy story sky
Pulled apart and grown up;
So beautiful so unreal I knew at once
It was from you.
Just three and a half hours
After writing for you.
It came with your message
You got it done, good job, thank you.
I didn’t hear you exactly

You were too far away

Or everywhere, part of the sky

It punched my chest
O’ Brother

Thank you.

The Silence of Momento: an ekphrasis exercise

Your quiet absence
Tiptoed to the cold tiles.
But I was inside of myself
As always.
The agitated light
Bounces out unheard,
And the origin of time,
Is molested.
Sound rendered obsolete as
Evil collects the absence
Another missing compass
For memory to cling.
With hopeless mute fervour
We flay against the sharp edges.
Silence misinforms fragmented reason
And I fall beside you.
Through your opaque shroud
The lashes flicker like a faulty bulb.
Sleep as if on a soft cloud
And I shall wake into a storm.

 

 

The Missing Top Hat

It was the best sandwich he’s ever had
His grin bright, against the colours of summer,
I smile and put down my fork.
A silver sedan rounds the bend taking flight
As silent as a hot air balloon floating on the wind.
Like a slot car off the track
It twists and flips in a flashy glint,
Down the grassy knoll – the reel fails.
My treasure, his back to the road
The whites of his eyes widening
Watches in the bakery’s clean glass
A scene less real than television.
Across the street, the people moving by
With hats and bags, are punched
And split like ten pins,
A tall man is flipped extra high
Like a juggler’s extra flick
Making time for another baton.
But he’s dropped, and falls badly.
He ricochets back up  – as if the path
Was made of hot coals.  He’s looking all about.
He flew higher than he was tall.
A broken clock waits for him to sit crumpled.
My sunshine, watching in the glass.

Our gaze turns to a single sound
That once begins, doesn’t stop
Like a naked girl after napalm, he appears
Pausing on the road, empty hands outstretched,
Screaming, screaming, Mum!  Mum!
Like strands of party poppers, the colour of blood
From his golden crown to his knees.
The beachside hub becomes a postcard
From ocean to shiny shops, from pier to pub.
It’s high summer yet all is still and quiet.
Only the tall man looking for his top hat
Only the boy screaming.

He’s outside of himself and the sun glares
Only his family will do – where are they?
The ten pins, collected
By a faulty machine and not returned.
The summer café chatter charges silent
Doctors disguised in this seasons Havanas
And sunburn, press play and converge.
I don’t have to decide to move, so I hug my son.
We make our way back to our holiday
And in a week, take the inland route home.
The boy’s family take a helicopter.