Photo by Candia Dixon-Stuart
So now you are publishing poems without quoting me in a
narrative framing device? moaned Brassica.
Only because some of these are very old poems, I tried to
assure her. I still value your comments.
Right, she replied. I might take a look at your latest,
if I have time.
But it’s not my latest, as I have explained…
You can’t win with Brassie. She never listens.
Here is a poem that I read at Ripe, Sussex, about twenty years ago.
It had won a prize in a Malcolm Lowry poetry festival. See what
you think and ignore Brassie. She just likes to be the centre of
attention and, if she doesn’t get her own way, it feels as if you
are living under the volcano, as it were…
The agent late, and she alone possessing keys,
I wander round the garden, to view elevation and perspective;
inspect the fabric’s pointing, paintwork, lead around the chimneys-
imagine why they’ve left; use the skills of a detective.
My son and daughter shriek from bush to shrub: to them it’s
They clamber on a rusty climbing frame-
already they’ve assumed the tenure.
So, why, crossing the threshold, do I feel a sense of shame?
Divorce. That’s why this house is up for sale-
the wife already chrysalised and living with another man.
The signs of family breakdown can be sensed as Braille
impressions in the rumpus of each room: an unflushed toilet pan;
no evidence of hausfrau pride;chaos and teen disorganisation-
the beds unmade; some slimy dishes slopping in the sink;
the very atmosphere fetid with stale accusation.
Sloughed socks strewn on the floor; the overflowing bin’s
And, on the overgrown lawn, an upturned frisbee lay:
sun disc, reminiscent of a family laughing on a beach,
curving it from hand to hand, connections reinforced through play;
now shattered and forever out of reach.
For a quick sale, they would reduce their price,
but though they merely asked for thirty silver pieces,
to take possession seemed like grasping avarice;
to profit from another’s pain, insensitive by any exegesis.
(For parasites are those who feed on others’ painful scars.)
I wouldn’t let my children lay with that accursed plate,
for others, in halcyon days, circumscribed their little arcs;
the broken circles designating love and hate:
two aspects of a spectrum, whose hopeful rainbow never would conjoin.
The gilded counterfeit at their bow’s end had been a loaded coin:
whichever way they cast it, both sides ensured a loss.
We didn’t take the house, although the building, in itself, seemed sound.
For, unlike other viewers, I really gave a toss,
believing if that toy was thrown, my infrastructure would come
crashing to the ground.