Two Poems on Grief

Death of a Hero


The whip-crack of the thread, the

pin snapped like a rib and

we saw the cloud for miles, billowing

like pipe smoke trapped

in the big, beat-up black-country.


Some reached for the top shelf book

expecting a hollow hiding place but

most threw stones at the goof in the bullet-proof house;

besides, the buck-toofed lay told

us the troof – and the gallows-maker lives on.


A year gone, the tears turn to wine,

(after all, we

toppled the bronze, a whip-snap of the rope)

and the crowd grows and smiles, bubbling

like a bath bomb in the drip-tray.


The hero’s limbs rotting in the wooden box on

rotting silk in the mud of the black-country.



The Still Room


Pale walls, the jaundiced

lungs of the giant, wheezing, snap

sterile, like the crack of the ventilator, not

that he saw it


through the stale light of his eye,

hanging from the ceiling, wires beating

fat with the drag of

forced palpitations, not

that dad felt it,


the doctor’s pulse,

or heard it, the rain papping

on the window,

or smelt it, the stale thunderous

anaesthetic, but


he cried like I

sweated on the plastic


and dad didn’t know it,

but his tongue dried to leather.

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