#poem #poetry #amwriting #ilkley writers group

don't mind me....

I'm just putting together some poems to read at ilkley writers group


Musing In Ilkley Cemetery
No more on the hill the Middleton clan,
     now resting apart in municipal plot.
He to the left with the Romans and Catholics,
     she to the right among Protestant stock.

He passes his time amongst sisters and Irish,
     she spends her days with the cream of the mill.
And were they to rise, and meet on the pathway,
     they could look through the Ash to the pile on the hill.

Walking once more, hands crossed behind me,
     the A plots, the B plots and C's tucked behind,
reading the stones, somber and solid,
     eaten by moss and losing their shine.

Now here's a baby resting with mother,
     daffodils, and brambles over their head.
Laying untended, their family departed,
     'gone safe to the Lord', the legend there says.

A squirrel picks crisps from littered green packet,
      vinegar, bites and claws at its tongue.
Skirting the line of war fallen heroes
      into conformists I gladly move on.

Past teachers and doctors, inventors and shepherds,
     he was a pal of George Bernard Shaw,
her flag she raised with Garibaldi,
     his soul he saved building homes for the poor.

At last, I complete my ambling circuit,
     back once again beside Middleton sun.
Surely despite religious contention,
     husband and wife might lay here as one.


 for a dead child

where shall I take these ashes
   my urge is to the sea
   to the wide norfolk sands
   and trudge across the flatness
      on a receding tide
   so that I might have excuse
   to keep you

I will keep you close
   to my beating heart
      lay down on the wetness
      of drying sand
push my head
   backwards onto mussel shells
      so that I might have excuse
      to keep you

and when the tide turns
   chasing me to the land
I will find excuse
   why I never take you
   to the sea

                for I am you
and you are me

                and one day
                we shall be


 in praise of wb yeats

fuck I hate yeats -
every molecule and electron
within me - despises him -

he's a priest of cheap tricks
   shoving his mitre
   in a choirboys mouth -

nothing he says has merit -
and everything is divisive
and dull - and dulled
because he says it -

put him beside a real poet -
like rilke - who peels you apart
like lsd - or emily dickinson -
with her subtle honesty -

yeats is the lowest of the low
  which is why
   he is held so high
to enable his admirers
to jump - not at all -
   to surpass him
   in their quest for the sky


the doctor says, 'your baby is not alive'
yeah I know
but it's the missus I'm worried about now

the Simpsons play on the TV in the side room
but you don't laugh
instead the missus lets out a wail
that no actress can reproduce
no cliche ridden bullshit will let you hear
no poetic crap about darkness
or pretendy metaphor nonsense

the fact is
that it's not what you think
losing a child

yeah you hang onto each other
yeah there's anger
but there's more fear

fear that 
not being kicked by that ball of hope
when you spoon in bed
will cut the thread
the umbilical of kindness
that makes cups tea
shares jokes
holds hands in the street

And no
you are not the same
when later you lay in bed
hand on her belly
wishing that fart
was a moving finger
a flickering eye
a thought

and you do despise the sympathy
the well meaning advice
the imposition of grief
the morons who say 'oh how dreadful'
'I can't imagine'
'you have to keep talking'

fuck off

and then there's the coffin
in the chapel of rest
and the instruction not to open it
because the veins are too small
for the formaldehyde
and you won't like to remember
what you see

which will not be that child
who was born dead
and lay in perfect stillness
on the blanket your missus crocheted
with the rattle you bought
in an idle moment of expectation

it will not be the child
with pink fingers
the scratch mark under the eye
that you imagine was done
when waking from sleep in the womb
and not when dying
those bowed rose lips
thinning and darkening
from which no sound ever came
in the few hours you spend together

that child who you dressed
in a white Sunday dress
with white tights
and white shoes
and tended
with all respect
and all duty
in death
because you couldn't in life

so you do what you are told
the coffin stays shut
and you kiss it
and embrace the sharp edges

and then a day or so later
tears rolling down your face
you lift it from
the hearse
it don't even cover the spare wheel
and carry it into the chapel
in front of your family and friends
and cry
and cry
and hold onto each other

and then the little white box
slides through the curtain
and you get ashes in a plastic pot



laying here - stroking your back - as you sprawl snoozing
it strikes me how much you have grown

though you are still small enough to ride mahout on my shoulders
and tug reluctant on my arm when shopping

your face when sleeping carries those babyish curves
   you pull the heart at the smallness of perfect

      but you are definitely growing

just as I get used to the slim child
   you grow chubby
   branch out and up
and a new slim child appears

   you tell me that one day you will be taller than the sky
   I can wait
   for I love the smell of your hair



the town hall clock strikes maunful tone
   tea washed and dried
                                  she leaves her home
this time of day she calls her own
    as she makes her way to evensong

those who live their life by reasons
    will not comprehend her love of seasons
    nor the smallness of her hoped for pleadings
        as she slips away for evensong

she goes not for god or wealth
not even really for herself
but to hear the birds in full breath
    in glorious joyous evensong


 To Tenby

that moment at the end of bleary chivvying
summer special on my lap sweets already half eaten
in that moment when with a thunk
unclunked or clicked we were sealed into our holiday

brown vinyl burning legs below my snake belted shorts
father's cigarettes virginian sweet ashen flicked midges
caught on the wind sucked back through the window
sugaring minnie the minx or ginger and numbskulls

all the while mother asking 'are you feeling sick'
brown paper bag ready in the footwell
with the tupperworn buttered ham sandwiches

into an A-road world of trees and hedgesrows
square council housing jig-saw cottages new build bungalow
portico piles down long yellow driveways
and tractors and caravans bicyclists and muttered
white knuckling grip cursing lost time

through country towns with one set of lights
church clocks and women wandered markets
wearing chemically printed polyester

                        i spy sky road car 'can I see it'
and groans for the unguessed three cows drinking
five miles behind
as we ingested the size of the journey
and digested olympic breakfast pancakes fizzy orange
tartrazine brightness free lollipop
the afternoon sibling squabbling
the threats to sit still and put your feet down
then songs would begin

how young my mother was
as she slipped a fox's glacier
                          into my fathers mouth



The Blue Book