On Early Death

Burned someone today.

A good woman, vital, lively,

loved.

Her time came too early

in the middle of her life.

Family and friends came

to say farewell,

with hot tears

and soft sobbing

and hard pressed lips

in a place burning with emotions.

There will be another one soon,

another dying day for the living

to bear and witness.

Another life finished too early.

We will gather around the fire

of them, and we will moan and wail

while we wait for the ashes of them.

I would rather not do this.

I would rather go somewhere

and sit in silence,

alone with myself,

and remember them.

“Haply I’ll think on thee.”

I don’t want this. I don’t want

to inflict my passing on those

that I love.

I’ve made up my mind.

I’m not going to die.

No End To Time

We were boys back then, when days were longer.

We were stronger, too, in body and in mind. In time

perhaps we would weaken and soften, but in the now of then,

no end was in our mind, not yours, not mine,

there was no end to time.

We were hard and proud, eager, loud,

happy, stupid, drunk on beer and being young,

though we did not know then

just what that meant.

It meant being more alive

than ever we would be again.

Moving on from booze and song,

we fell apart and into what was yet to come.

The moment we began to think of others

our youth began to leave us.

Our selfish armour pierced by the lance of love

and the prick of its thorny crown, we found

there was more than just our self to centre on.

From the moment after being young,

little leavings of ourselves fell all around us,

dribbles and trickles of what had been

invincible lay in mortal ruins at our feet.

We die in increments.

What you had been was gone too soon,

crashed out in a welter of steel

and a sixteen-wheeler that you never passed

on a road coming back from your future.

Your mortality ruined me, my friend.

I had not yet learned to live.

When You Were

When you were here

I did not hear you

I did not listen to you

You were just you

When you were gone

I could not miss you

I could not think of you

You were past you

When you were dead

I could not look at you

I did not want to

You were not you

Sunlight Through Petals

The garden at dawn, early morning

outside space.

Sunlight shines through petals.

Mere purple turns to violet,

white shines brighter; the light

illuminates the tight spun-sugar wires of webs

linking leaf to stem, bud to branch.

It is too early for the human stain.

Ants crawl by my feet, just as busy and aimless.

Birds sing to me, trilling cadences

thrilling the ear with their unfathomable

messages of life and hope.

There is a faint perfume, the residue of some

night scented bloom

that needs the intimacy of night

to hide it’s beauty.

From three million miles away

the sun paints my face with warmth.

The empty, cloudless sky

has never been more blue.

This world is a wonder.

If I have to leave it,

let it be on a day like this,

not wrapped in the shrouded gloom

of bedclothes and room.

Let me go out

outside,

smiling.

This Old Man

This old man, he played on

until all his mind had gone.

With a tip-tap, slip-slap,

where’s the dog and bone,

send him to the old folks home.

In her pearls, his old girl

watched him as he lost this world.

With a tip-tap, slip-slap,

on the dog and bone,

asking for some care at home.

All alone, on her own

his old girl went daft also.

With a tip-tap, slip-slap,

get the dog and bone,

take her to a different home.

On their own, separate zones,

each went down the slippery slope.

With a tip-tap, slip-slap,

lost the dog and bone,

each one died but did not know.

This old pair, past all cares,

burned and scattered, no one there.

With a tip-tap, slip-slap,

buried dog and bone,

everybody dies alone.

The Sickening

Closer comes the sickening,

the withering, the reckoning.

Closer, now, and closer still.

It always has, and always will,

be there for you, to scare for you

and bare for you your bones.

A pox is on the world today,

perhaps a curse, as some would say.

No, no, it’s just a new disease

that spreads and roams with deadly ease

to mums and dads, and older lads

and older ladies too.

The peril of the world today

is that we’re all six steps away

from every other, everywhere

from over here to over there,

and now we’re all ascloseasthis,

our sickness spreads without a kiss.

It only takes a sneeze or cough

to see your friends and neighbours off,

so stay at home and wait it out,

there is no need to run about,

just save yourself and watch the fun.

Something wicked this way comes.

I Almost Understand

Standing on a footbridge.

The ring road below it, traffic from out of

town streaming along the dual carriageway

from somewhere to somewhere else. In the pointless

morning, cars crawl slowly or stop beneath the bridge,

the rush hour standstill. People see me standing there,

alone. They look up and wonder why I’m there.

When I look at them, they all just look away.

Hours later, at the end of the day, after sunset, it’s different.

When I look at them now, under the street lights,

they look back, and keep looking as they pass beneath me,

swivelling round in their seats to keep me in view,

the solitary figure standing at the edge of the bridge.

I can tell what they’re thinking.

I can smell the diesel stink and hear the rolling roar.

I can almost feel the metal weight of them, the cars

and trucks and buses and vans, speeding along

on the cold, hard, unmoving black macadam

all those unforgiving, heartless feet below.

It’s when I look down that I get it.

Alone, in the dark, on the bridge,

I almost see why people do it.

I almost understand.