jars

I think there should be jars
upon a shelf
different coloured unguents
one could reach for
each containing something
one has felt
or each containing something
one might strive for

it would not be so hard
to know oneself

if only there were jars
upon a shelf

[first posted 26 June 2013]

family portrait

that man I saw
sleeping by the sea
turned out to be a rock formation
little group of three

sleeping by the sea
sleeping by the sea
while his woman rocks the baby
back to sleep
tenderly

freehand

once
many years ago
I drew a perfect circle
freehand

I’m only telling you this
because of what happened next

I destroyed it
it disturbed me
it still does

The Old Tin Shed

They found asbestos in the old tin shed
and told me it would take thousands to remove.
Yes, but it’s only an old shed, I muttered,
I don’t want it, you can take it away.

The next week masked men came
to the old tin shed and told me
to disturb nothing. My neighbour
had once done that and now lay dead.
One fibre is all it took, they said,
like a bullet to the head, only slower,
much slower.

It’s funny how something you know so well
can hold the seed of your destruction
like this house, this pen or the face
you knew back when.

Now the old tin shed glowers
from the bottom of the garden,
spiders and mosses have taken over.

This earth is a dangerous place, I said,
and waved them away instead.

the sum of all my fears

that mouse you saw in the hall
turned out to be a rat
admittedly small and docile
but still a rat
when I went in for the kill
it curled up in my palm
puny and piebald
its little pink fingers entwined
its tiny red eyes
watery and so very human
I should strangle it I thought
that’s what you do with rats
but feeling its neck begin to crack
like last Sunday’s chicken bones
I hesitated

I can’t do this I thought
so let it scuttle down the garden path instead
from where black and arched
like a cartoon villain
it turned to leer

now like the sum of all my fears
it will return
and I’ll be waiting

Out There

‘In the end bed,’ the nurse sighed,
and when J. arrived
he was visibly shaken.

Could this be the same old man
he had seen out earlier
on the beach.

Gone was that look of
wild knowingness,
replaced by an anxious frown.

‘You shouldn’t have come,’
he growled, not looking up.
‘It’s none of your business.’

‘I felt I ought to,’ said J.,
reaching in his pocket for a mint.
‘It was the least I could do.’

‘How I miss my old life,’ he replied.
‘The one I had earlier —out there,’
then he quietly closed his eyes.

All next day the gulls bombarded the roof,
as if searching for something,
and calling, calling.