Tag Archives: Love

A love letter

In perfectly clear water I laid down about as still as I could, as though it were a game to keep this little sea asleep while the giant was thinking, and I saw your face in two thirds profile and your hair all like spun girl straw and not a thing harder.

Beneath this sheaf, and taking up the picture, were eyes so wide and soft they looked pulled from some mask painting where it’s only the eyes you can see, faintly amused. By now I was sailing almost, as though a ship of a body upon the sandbar, but even now beginning its move. My heart like a motor, like some buried down generator, began stumbling on as those men in their dirty undershirts shoveled in the coals of memory.

What work they do those men. Endlessly breaking up furniture when their anthracite grows short, pushing in the slightest combustible pieces and never thinking of a future without fuel. They are massive, invisible, and have sinews made strong by the pathways of true feeling. They will never stop.

Because of them, motionless, wet, yet traveling fast now, my five layered fingers trace down your back again and again, while my tongue moves across the line between your upper gum and teeth which do nothing but wait patiently.

What a thing it is to have details no longer just imagined, and yet still have so much left for the imagination to consider within its altogether separate housing, built here so cleverly beside these pistons of memory.

The water grows cold. I do not.


Love at first sight



Consider the cornea
The shin bones, the thighs
The sound in her ears
The look in her eyes
The heart as it beats
The liver in function
Her breathing and lungs
as they meet at the junction
of all that has happened
and all that will be
and none ‘til this minute
involving of me.


The Honourable Schoolboy

Scruffy work
to be a spy

and a boring life
always so very careful

in your words and deeds
professionally consistent

observant to a fault
never allowed to slop along

the existence of celebrity
without the non-existent charm

grey socks and a steady heartbeat
no dozing in

to be late for school without reproach
it comforts me to consider

how fearful they must be
of talking in their sleep

weighing betrayal
above abandonment

the only boy in class
who perishes at the thought

of being blown.

Toast Soldiers

Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.
Albert Einstein

We had soldiers too, I’m sure most children in Britain did and do. Same marshaled strips, little platoons of German doughboys ready to bravely go head first (in my mind they always went head first) into the albumen-surrounded yellow furnace of certain death, from which they emerged, miraculously, horribly scalded, disfigured, but still hanging on by a thread, before, in a savage yet utterly moral dénouement, their young English adversary in his pajamas (for it was me) chomped down on them like a shark on a herring, and time and time again the breakfast war was won and the world made safe before school.

However, it is obvious to me that some who write of this type of food come from a far more well-to-do family than ours, which was poor but honest (largely). Our soldiers were only ever bread and butter, never toast, for Mother didn’t believe in accustoming us to habits that took any extra work on her part or added expense to the family purse. Her honorific of choice was (and still is) the Mistress of Reduction. As an example, upon hearing that her only son was going to have his first child she said, in friendly but serious tones, “Don’t start off by warming his milk. He’ll know no different and like it well enough cold.” As surely I had learned to like it also, no doubt.

It’s a sensible idea, even a clever idea, but one could hardly consider it a nurturing idea. I think much of her persistent parsimony can be traced back to the years of rationing after the second world war when there was much want, even more need, and damn little in the pantry. And that was true for people who had pantries, which Mother’s family did not, although they were inordinately proud to be one of the few families on their little terraced street of slums that had their own outside toilet, rather than having to share a midden with four other houses, as most there did.

The scarcity principle is a hard to shake, leaving many with a lifelong fear of lack, even years later when their circumstances have much improved. On top of that is the fierce pride that many poor people have, especially the British, as regards being seen to be poor. This was the elbow grease that saw all the front steps rubbed in a bright red polish and woe betide a housewife who did any less, for she would bear the brunt of gossip and reproval.

Unlike the other people who lived on our street, and who wore the same sorts of clothes, bought the same sort of food and might have also had a household appliance or two bought on the never never or hire-purchase from the local Co-op, we were not poor, this was according to Mother. We just suffered through brief periods of impecunity which lasted most of the time. Fine. Bread and butter soldiers, but “take it easy on the butter young-un, that’s pat’s got to last ’til Friday,” (payday, of course).

While I couldn’t in all conscience buy a machine to cut a slice of bread into more slices (unless you consider a knife a machine, which some do), I have lately begun eating soldiers again for breakfast. I think this is in preparation for encouraging my son to do the same. He isn’t a good eater. Not fussy perhaps, but just not very interested. Ritual is all with some kids, and Finn seems to be in that camp and thus we have waffles on Sunday mornings, because waffles and maple syrup are great (I repeatedly announce), and thus they are what we have on Sunday morning, and there is no room for discussion because marketing has taken all of the air out of the room, leaving not an inch of space for pondering whether waffles are indeed (or not) what might be wanted.

During the week, and despite the fact that he’s three already, can read words from the newspaper, and holds fairly complex conversations, I still feed him his yogurt, because it’s far quicker to do so, and the thing gets eaten rather than worn. Yes, it is irritating (especially when worse from the previous night’s drinking) to be up early making airplane noises as you mimic the incoming craft that is the yogurt spoon approaching the hangar of your child’s uncertain gob. And it can also get old pleading that said gob be opened to allow the plane to deposit its cargo that will then go “…..off down the little red lane!” of said boy’s throat. But it does the job.

The introduction of soldiers will, for one or two mornings a week, allow a new routine, a new tradition as it were. One that he will look back on as I look back myself. I have promised myself however that there will never be a shortage in the amount of butter made available to him, for as Wayne Dyer has noted, abundance is not something we acquire, it is something we tune into. I promise to make the signal as strong as it can be.

[I wrote this a long time ago. It was true. And I did.]

On This Third Day of July

It’s ten in the morning,
on this third day of July,
and I am sitting on a narrow bench
(too narrow for the bones upon it),
on an old wooden deck in a tangled garden
at the back of a tangled house.

There are bricks and twigs
roughly assembled here on the table
and a long shell stuck nose down
into the hole designed to received umbrellas.
There are small reasons for all of this,
as there are for mostly everything.

It is the hot of New England,
for we are closer to the sun here
(although it remains uncertain
if the sun feels closer to us).
My fingers and this pen are a shadow on the page,
as if the left-handed sundial of myself.
Two lines the most moderate of detectives
could spend a full day in the field over.
What can be known from the little that is told?

They say in other dimensions you can slip through time,
as if off the back of a creased envelope,
and this is also true of relationships long-developed.
Any different word or way of saying it
can rip through this fabric we consider so strong.

The bricks, thirteen of them in their pieces,
some still clung to by mortar,
came from a chimney on the roof
(where chimneys tend to be).
There was a storm some weeks ago
while we were in the west and elsewhere,
as though a movie left running
with no one in the room.

The lightning rod served its purpose
and is propped up here beside me,
disconnected and dead for now.
The bricks I don’t know about,
they remain gathered up
awaiting word of their fate.

The twigs, also poorly collected,
are a kindling pile for the smallest possible fire.
They were fingernails from a branch
that was connected to a bough,
once limber on a thick trunk,
that was snapped suddenly by the wind
during the same storm and are nothing now
but items of evidence in a court that will never convene.

Upstairs my wife sleeps.
It’s ten twenty five;
what has been learned?



An Explanation of the Break Up

And so
the phone rings

no more
does my heart sing

when there’s no one close beside you
nowhere left to run

release yourself
into the arms of all that’s said and done

You choose to walk on in
one brighter wedding day

but now the time has come
for the heart to have its say

for the heart to have its say
for the heart to have its say…