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Faith

So many times

life had mortified you.

But you were elastic.

Having such a sunny disposition.

So when you slit your throat

with a bottle of Scotch malt

we were all surprised.

I guess we never expected

this messy end.

That your party-going smile

could be dimmed forever.

When I found you

congealed in that bloody corner,

the last remnants of a tumbled faith

died in me.

Masterpiece

She never realised

what a masterpiece

she’d written.

The verbs saluted

with martial proprietary,

the lines scanned majestically

rolling like a deep brown river,

the rhythms sprung,

young hares.

She shoved

her perfect work

in a drawer

with her greasy hairbands,

forgetting what resonance

she’d made.

You found it.

Read. Smiled.

Shivered. Changed.

Beachcombing

is a special pleasure.

Turning over a shell

with a sandalled toe,

inhaling the acrid stink

of ocean kelp.

I love how the breakers

detonate and chase my toes,

how the sandflies skip

amongst a seagull carcass.

I stoop to gather some

pebble green sea glass

buffed by the surf;

I turn it in my fingers.

It is a prize.

Thunderstruck

Mother was flabbergasted

at my antics.

I was always

a wayward boy

with fanciful ideas

and no money.

I’d moon along

the canal banks

feeling inspired

and she’d demand

to know

what crazy notion

I was hatching.

We’d spar

and my out-of-it father

would disconnect his ears.

He was so rock-solid

not prone to fantasies

or the big drinking binges

mother would ride.

For me and she,

we were both broken dreamers.

South

The smelter at the southernmost tip
of the island
is an industrial vision.
With a pier that swings out
into a curving ocean that's all
bluster and choppiness.
To watch a cargo vessel
limp up the lanes
and deliver its hold of ore
is absolute voyeurism.

Ageing

You place a tumbler
of chalky water
by your bedside lamp.
To sip with your insomnia.
Which stalks you.
Which only fizzes out
when the stars wink out.
Then your mind,
tighter than a meat safe,
greets the morning.
You wrap your crocheted quilt
around your shoulders
and heave yourself up.
It is laborious.
Being alive.

Derelicts

The stink of detergent.
Industrial strength.
The place is a morgue
of dribbling men
whose war medals
mean nothing: shuffling
scarecrows society forgot.
And my old man
is among them.