Monthly Archives: April 2016

Telephone Call


She used to call me every Sunday.
I was in my early thirties, then.
Gradually, as time went by,
it was once a month,
then once or twice a year.
My journeys to visit her
lapsed in a similar way.

Harassed by “nuisance calls”,
I switched the ‘phone off,
and never answered it at all;
only checking, in the evening,
for messages.

So it was, that evening,
I found I’d had four messages.
My brother’s unfamiliar voice,
already despairing, steeped
in misery, in the first message.

I called him straight away,
my hands trembling. His voice
was now drained, hollow.
He asked if I was sitting down.
I knew, but didn’t believe,
what he was going to say.

She’d passed away, just days
before my annual visit
for her birthday and Mother’s Day,
conveniently close together.
Her birthday and Mother’s Day;
just a coincidence. Convenient
for me, but a pity, in a way.

Convenience, as excuse;
convenience misused.
All my life, she’d been there for me;
but it was inconvenient for me
to be there for her, that day.

This time of year has evoked sad memories for me, over the past few years, since the death of my mother.  She passed away just a few days before her birthday, which happened to be in close proximity to Mother’s Day – or Mothering Sunday, as it is also known.  She was 89 years old, but in good mental and physical health, so her sudden collapse came as a complete shock.  I was all set to visit her, as I always did at that time of year, but the sudden death caught me by surprise, and the prevailing tone of the above poem is one of sadness and regret.


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The Kids


Concatenations of loss and gain;
the kids on the stairs, causing me pain.
Clattering, screaming, piercing my brain,
the kids on the stairs drive me insane.
Tidal currents, again and again;
rushing, retreating, joyous, inane.

Diurnal patterns, chaotic and brief;
the kids on the stairs, giving me grief.
Whooping, laughing, invading the air;
relentless footfall imprint on the stair,
carpet fading, resistance threadbare,
helpless against the kids on the stairs.
Hemmed in by noise, I skulk in my lair,
surrounded by the kids on the stairs.

Cribbed, confined; where else can they play?
Voiceless, my protest; I have no say.
Today, tomorrow, day after day,
nothing else for it; the kids have to play.
The kids on the stairs, causing me pain;
concatenations of loss and gain.

I have to admit to writing the above poem quite quickly.  It is, essentially, a howl of pain, provoked by the noisy activities of a bunch of local children who took a liking for the staircase leading up to my front door, and used it every day as the focus for their rowdy antics during the Easter school holidays.  Looking afresh at the poem, it strikes me that it may be one of those poems that works best read aloud – in the style of punk-poet John Cooper Clarke’s machine-gun delivery, perhaps.

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