Friday, 6 July 2012

Mother’s Ramble

The wood shuddered and every eye
listened at the stair behind the wall

The door opened and slowly
a black felt hat followed
by a long black coat

a black handbag and two black shoes
emerged turned and quietly closed the door

In her eighties she was still a mountain
crumbling now but not yet turned to dust

Lips quivered her moustache. She smiled
uncertainly at these strangers in her room

negotiated the pillar and struggled
through double doors - down steps - below the swinging sign


At the bar the cry went up
"She's off again. Better get your coat on"

He emerged - flustered - from the kitchen
followed by the smell of onions and hot pot

"Which way?"
He ran back - turned off the gas
banged flour from his greying beard

In sandals - hurrying up the cobbled street
Icy wind whipping round his toes
biting through thin checked trousers

He scanned anxiously for signs of her
'Fleet for her age - Pity her brain doesn't match'

Puffing - he turned a corner and sighed softly
Her bulky determined shape a few yards on

"Mother.. come on Mother
Its too cold to be out
Where are you going this time?"

"Home.. I'm going home"
She saw the terraced house three miles away
..its shiny windows

"Mother.. its gone
You know its gone"
She looked at this fat blank stranger

"Why are you calling me Mother?
I want Tommy
You can't stop me.. our Tommy.."

His eyes watered against the ice
His lips clamped tight shut

"Mother.. please.. come on I'll take you home"
linking her arm he gentle turned her round

Chin hairs wobbled as she cried bitter tears
He dried her face on the tea towel from his pocket
soothing as they walked slowly back down the cobbled street

"Soon have you warm again
Some tea and a biscuit"

"Is Tommy coming?"
Searching street.. face.. memory..
"No Mother - You know he can't"

She saw the strong young son in his uniform
searched the face of this grey bearded stranger

"Who are you?
I don't want you
Where's Tommy?"

"Its alright Mother
Come on - nearly home"

Up the steps under the swinging sign
Into the bar and a sea of pink faces

Her eyes screwed tight
Her face lifted
Every hair changed into an angle of welcome

"Oh.. you're all here
How good of you to come
This man will get us all some tea"

The Old Man

Into the bar
in an elderly shuffle
woolly hat casing his grizzled old head
A pint or a half
and a seat at the table
A smile when eyes caught
and the same conversation

Then all of a sudden we heard he was dead

The old man was gone
He would never more shuffle
except in the photograph which I once took
when he shuffled in
with his drink at the party
A man on the fringes
but eager and bright
A man out in daytime
where sociable chatter
could wash all around him
And after his drink he went home
with the ringing
of speech and of pleasure spread into his night

He's dead and he's buried
His elderly shuffle
is silenced for ever
- or so they all think

But here in the silences
listen - you'll hear him
His ghost in his warm woolly hat
shuffles past
Clutched in his hand
is another last drink
Spread from his eyes
is the need to exist

Dementia Settling

I don't think I'm mad but
My memories..? Run
Don't think I feel sad but
I've stopped having fun

I went up the stairs
and forgot why I'd gone
Came down and.. who cares
It revolves on and on

I can't understand
How to drive anymore
My brain's in the wind.. and
My foot's through the door

My wool hat's pulled on but..
My feet are unclad
I would wear my socks but..
Its just like my dad

If I could remember
The thing or the part
I'd rather September
Debouching debart

Than trapped in the feathon
Falanding krilane
The mourning.. the fostron
Suspicing the sane

In cough or in coffin
Take me and go off
They hide me - they're laffin
I die and .. enough

The bath's on the floorboards
It floods through the door
I paddle.. on.. onwards
To reach the far shore

With pies in the gas grill
And gas taps left on
I eat.. but the taste still..
Elusively .. gone

The world is my snap-trap
I pack up the bin
There's more to this clip-trap
The bottles go in

And pills in the waking
And pills in the night
And pills are for taking
..I must get it right

I've taken tomorrow's
The next day's as well
It adds to my sorrows
A 'medicine hell'

My cushions are splendid
Piled high to sit on
The programme has ended
.. The tele's a 'con'

Its always remote and
I can't work it out
I bawl and I throat and
I stamp and I shout

I bathe in the morning
For shops that are shut
Its somehow the evening
.. I must dress my foot

Life's ever confusing
That tray's got to leave
And who has been using..
She's dead - I must grieve

I sleep like a barmy
Old man.. and I fought
In the war in the army
In battle ..? I thought?

My tales.. entertaining
Grow wild and remote
And hours explaining
Yes.. where is my coat?

But sitting and drinking
My corner's still there
I'm chatting .. or thinking
Whenever time's spare

My friends in the pub
Are a comfort to me
And habit's the job
And just letting life be

Friday, 13 January 2012

Demented –failing lives

 Thousands sit awake at night
On watch for movements of the day
To hear the creaky-groany boards
The closing door – the moving chair

They estimate what actions keep
The one demented soul awake
And settle only on the loss
Of sound of movement through the wall

Or yet – exhausted – sleep in spite
Of night long wailing out of dreams
A Sisterhood – a Brotherhood
For years their ears attune the need

Which patched and pricked into their soul
Will still advance while there is life
Their life - or life of one they love
In retrospective empathy

Of times when love meant everything
They settle stunned by misery
And cope as well they’re able to
Give up when nothing’s making sense

To sleep in guilty nightmare’s grip
To - waking – find continuance
The fact of small destructiveness
Upon a mind once clear and bright

Shows here in sorrow – loss of self
And loss of will to wash and dress
Or to ensure that meals are made
Or eaten once – not twice nor thrice

That sinks and baths are not the same
As toilet bowls – and floors left clean
Are spread in brown – the stink removes
The will to eat in those who care

Yet loss of smell in failing mind
Allows no deep concerning thought
Of gas or food gone over long
Nor any sense in life still lived

By others round about – nor need
To gather love nor willingness
For those who care – yet cannot care
In spite of all – nor take delight
In love returned – nor hopefulness
Of better times to come.

The Man He Is

 Salt - he’s into salt this week
And farts producing foetid air
And pissing in the kitchen bin
And ‘gobbing’ in the kitchen sink

Is there no end to my disgust
It rises choking into rage
Yet he is heading into dark
The man once tenderly I loved

The man enclosing all my hope
Who loved and set me free to live
Who moved me – happy – round the earth
How can I mend this widened gap

His room – his cave – is lined with books
With newspapers in carrier bags
Withall no reading now delights
But only worries more than life

He walks – he drinks – he’s going deaf
He loses temper on the spot
Invents his history of war
Expounds to all who lend an ear

As on and on – with Hitler beat
His tanks and planes and submarines
All driven – so it seems – by him
When he was but ‘the milk round lad’

Yet deep confusions in his head
Controlled by will ‘magnificent’
Are sometimes forced to line the wall
As sympathy and need arise

Inside his eyes I see the spark
Of who he is – still fighting back
I hold my breath – try not to cry
But just admire the man he is.