he wrote

I like that piece you did

all about death

that got me but I loved it

& when we met

I thanked him of course

for the comment

can you remind me I asked

which piece it was?

oh yeah it was all about

you walking the streets

looking looking for something

somebody to hold on to

finding nothing everyday

just keeping going on

oh yeah I remember that I said

yeah I got the death part

he smiled I got that deep

glad to be of service

I smiled back

lets get a drink

thinking he got death?

from that?

wait ‘til he finds the maudlin one

about loss

26 degrees

we go there & every time

the heating is on summer winter

at 26 degrees as I sit sweltering

taking off layer after layer

she comes to mine

& needs a jumper cardigan something warm

complains you always have the windows open

& I don’t tell her

the why her being much older

death is closer to her than me now

but I will tell you

I’ve felt the reaper close by

the warm there in hospitals where people die

I was wishing one fella to please just go

around 3 in the a.m. crash crew keeping him going

over & over they resuscitated him

until round 5 he slipped away

while I lay the next bed over

ill’est I’d ever been

wondering if my turn was to come

wanting a window fresh air to blow

make it uncomfortable for the reaper to stay

hovering at 26 degrees

once their life

working at the thrift

there are fewer things sadder

mebbe being thrown over

for a better other

divorce death

or loved ones

family cats dogs dying

than working

with these remnants


of anothers’ life

cardigans with names sewn in

worn carpet slippers

grannies cutlery drawer

thrown into a cardboard box

knives forks spoons

bottle openers corkscrews

jumbled now in the plastic tray

still holding the crumbs

of her


their life

Living with loss

he tells me of lovers

counting them off

finger by fingers thumbs

indicating toes

people he called out love to

now gone

the way of all flesh

living with loss he tells me

as the jug empties

& we call for more

gentle under the trees cicadas moon

& my turn will come he sighs

caught in the thought

the majesty of death

of course I say quiet

reaching across for olives

& oil

I know nothing of any of this

for I am immortal

having never ever felt loss

suffered in any way

felt life’s thin cruel whip

y’know he said all bright

& firing now

for my longest ever friend

you can be such a arsehole

another day of this

they gave me pills

help take the pain away

& being young

maybe foolish

I felt if I took them all

I wouldn’t see

another day of this

to find myself

face down bathroom floor

puking on me

fighting tooth & claw

climb my way

back to living

take the next breath

something inside of me

wanting life & living

more than death

& the pain

was still there

my constant companion

but now I knew

this was just a part of me

not to be defeated

but accepted

worked through

my very own Sisyphean task

as hers now

death has marked him

as hers now

a thin fine tattoo veil

drawn across that pale face

weighty enough

to pull down eyelids

corners of lips

create cant of eye

to distinguish what was

from what is now

& I do not tell him this

he knows

we all know

but only he can carry the burden

will bear until the end

we are forever onlookers

until she comes for us


her boys

towards the end

of this tract of row homes

lives an older lady

gently frail bent

she looks after us

her boys she calls us

as we are weak & feeble

men in the world

but never man enough for her

we are the straw men

shadow hollow men

playing out our boy games

struggling to get on

while she

has raised four children

had three difficult births

buried two husbands

these dying of cancers

after long wasting illness

where they slowly shrank away

so we do her chores

drink tea with her & listen

& wait

while she dictates

what we can

& cannot


but what do you do?

city refrain to country folk

them not knowing where anything is

where nightlife

fun can be found

not part of the endless round

of meeting people

obligations to be fulfilled

the fayres jumble sales

table top sales

whist drives beetle drives

bridge for the fatous

the pub connections to be made

kept up

if you need x doing at mates rates

your keeping your side

of the bargain

the dodgy deal

twisted arrangement made at midnight

involving livestock

the death of that

& your hands in the doing

but what do you do? they ask

& you have nothing to say

for this

is but a part of it

plenty of nothing

walking the streets in the early hours

hoping to meet no one

plundering the depths of self-hate

huddling against the cold

the same thoughts going over

& over

how full of shame I was

waste of skin & bone

hoping death would come

not in any dramatic way

but cold as the stone wall I sat on

because when you are young

the infinity of nothing is preferable

than this creeping stifling of blood

no energy to move forward

even less to go back

mute & bound to the moment

no ideas to do anything

just alone & sad

& nothing prepares you for this

no words no comforts

this is yours alone

the corruption of the neat

haunts my days

not just in the tidying of the green field

the neglected street corner

refused to be let go

gentrifying the run down

bring fussy tidying to the rotten row

here a collapse concrete flaking wall

all reminders of our own instability

fending off with new paint brush

sweeping away the crumble past

forgetting death in its untidy

comes for us all

but how the tidiers want in to your life

fix a little here straighten up the back

run a line of soap across the floor

polish up the bones of your internals

pretty up the unpretty to feel better

about themselves their inner poor core