to pay respects

I never knew

fella had been to the house

many times over time

helped the old man decorate

hung paper on walls

painted the gloss skirting

I never knew about you

had no idea you existed

tho’ I worked with him

thirty plus years more

never saw a photo

pictures on the wall

shoes slippers toys

& he never mentioned

not one word of any of you

& here you are

at his funeral

I’m here to pay respects

I guess you are too?

the all of it & that

they said they were looking for talent

while I was looking another way

something that might work to capture me

I got the high priests of poetry

understood the all of it & that

the rhymes they were setting out to do

while I was searching the streets

listening to what they called low lifes

spitting out their heart felt poison bars

crazy at what had been done to them

poverty pain prison working blues

the nearest I got were the war poets

& even then the lines they sung

were distant detached highbrow lost

I was looking for words that hummed

sang of me & you walking broke

unable to eat the high yellow sunset

worrying about the shoes on our feet

hanging on in until tomorrow comes

but that don’t sell in the bookstores

draw in the crowds make fortunes

help make my teachers & me to meet

Atlantic coast

the kind of campsite

where if you don’t hear the roar

of the trees the pines

you hear the surf night & day

the season was closing fast

everybody local had gone away

when I found him in the shadows

he told me he was travelling

with jesus

hoping to find his way

between here & Santiago

& those I asked are your plans?

more for fear for him

with winter closing in

as I noticed jesus had not provided shoes

a tent winter coat or map

& he sighed long & low

like this question was raised by everybody

by fools who did not know

the lord is here with us now

he said smiling again

who needs shoes on holy ground?

& all I could see were shadows

stones & sand

a scruffy dirty traveller

standing alone

questioning just who

was the mad one

here

thumbsucker shoes

he was wearing those shoes

have a wide Velcro strip

instead of laces

marshmallow soft shoes

trainer type things

that will never ever see

a second of track time

& if I called them

thumbsucker shoes

you will know what I mean

even if

you don’t like the title

whadda’ya got? he asked

just a dog I replied

just an ordinary mutt

no harm in him

but a need for bones

long walks going nowhere

& affection

wha’? he asked

& it was then

I noticed his shoes

even shoes have tongues

I’d like you to come with me

to my dads funeral

she half asked said

& I’d met the man once or twice

talked of Barcelona

our shared love of the idea

of the anarchists running the trams

his reporting of the fascist war there

but I didn’t own

a decent enough pair of shoes

here, try these she goes

& they fitted ok

pair of brown brogues

I put on my best pair of black levis

white shirt black borrowed tie

my black 2nd hand raincoat

& off we went

it was a decent affair

in a gentle soft rain

I met her brothers

rest of the family

who treated me fine

for an unemployed writer bum

& we buried him real nice

headed back for tea & sherry

sympathy for the widow

small talk in the garden

you know it goes

until the brother jolted me

wide awake

you’re wearing my fathers shoes?