Anger, thick old-blood red anger,
the fury that drives you to drink
to drink till the black velvet settles
soft feathers that smother your breath
And so sleep. The sleep of dreams
of people and horses and places once known
their lives continue when you are no longer
their lives continue though you are now gone
Perhaps some calm sleep
Perhaps some deep sleep with no nightmares
no eyelids fluttering or moths in the night
but the calm of the sea when the wind has forgotten
when the wind has forgotten its nature and calling
cracking no cheeks for children are silent
the storms of grey seabirds have spiralled and landed
the sea oil smooth, angered colours of sunset
Then the awakening and the bed is still empty
empty the bed and the room and the world
head slopping with sorrow and hope that is absent
you are gone you are gone you are gone you are gone
never my life the blinding injustice
I hold tight to my belly and smile
Your words burned.
“We need to talk” scorched,
“It’s not you” set my blood to seethe
all those words about finding yourself
were fiery nails through my heart.
One day I hope
a “maybe”, “perhaps another try”
will extinguish flames and salve again the steaming wounds.
I’m an easy crier, I’m not ashamed –
films, memories, cheap music, you name it.
I thought I would sit,
dignified tears down my cheeks,
but I sobbed like a lost man,
all consuming, muscles and gripping and heart,
because I have felt this – this – before
and know and so dread it’s coming again.
Between the clouds pales the sun’s snow-washed face
J turns to catch his shadow but it’s gone
His father left the village on St. Joseph’s Day
Across the mountains he walked and the sea held him close
Goodbye to my father, goodbye as the days grow
One day I will follow, go with you to the sea
Though you are not here
the breeze which once you breathed
ruffles my hair
and stirs my blood
fog hides frost underfoot
the fog into which you disappeared
my balance is lost
Summer sea whirled white
Barracuda hunting tuna
Fingers cover eyes
Bent knee at sunset
Hot tears as you slowly walk
Farewell, love, goodbye
Early snow this year
My head against your shoulder
Our last breath a sigh
There it is again
That flame of pain inside my lower lip
Every time I sip cold water
Or think of you
It is never gone
The love tattoo lingers on my tongue
where my filed tooth has caught the skin
Every time I think of you
This will be the mother of all days.
The day when all the ways I miss you
will be revealed. And all the devils
in the detail, and all the stories I still write
for you, tall tales of shameless derring do,
of fisher folk on the tempested seas,
all the tiny hints I write
for you to seize on,
knowing you will never read them
or even know they are there.
Oh, this will be the mother of all days.
I heard how your name was properly pronounced
and practised it all the way to your home.
But by the time I got there it was gone from my tongue, forgotten.
And I had to get it right, get everything right.
Because if I got everything right
and everything else turned out alright, who knows?
We could have had it better.
But I blurted out your name and your parents
– or your children –
couldn’t help it and laughed.
But that’s a girl’s name
– or a man’s name – they said
and hid their laughter behind their hands
but not from their eyes.
So that was the last time I saw you until today.
Thank you for coming.
My life has been good
and now is complete.
Thank you for coming. Goodbye.