Sad news

Death is rarely a welcome visitor
no guest takes as much
giving so little in return
even in anticipation of it's visit
we are wholly unprepared
as if that in itself
might be enough to cause delay
hold shut the gate
through which we pass
into eternity
but death sweeps all aside
ignoring this lack of preparedness
entering without knocking
it overshadows
so that our loved ones cease
and are carried off

I knew
it was something bad
the minute I heard your voice
I knew
and a part of me plummeted
as I let your words wash over me
as I listened to your heart
crack open
words pouring out
through the fissures
even as I clung to the phone
even as I slid to the floor
I tried to find words
where no words will do
since words cannot undo
and then a nudge
at the back of my mind
literally hearing her voice
reminding me to listen
that I don't need words to listen

And so in those moments
I quietened my own heart
reminded that this is not my grief
although I ache with you
to help
to offer solace
to lift some share
but I can't
it belongs to you
it is yours
ours is but an echo
the smallest ripple
it does not compare
so I can only offer
what I have
knowing it is not enough
because it can't be

Time ticks on
eventually your words
what did I say
nothing much
but enough I hope
laying the phone into it’s cradle
I send up a prayer
for my friend
and also to a friend
who watches over me
and even now
finds a way
to remind me
of the value
in a silent presence.


I am just
unfolding myself
and my pyjamas
when the door opens
smallest boy
dummy in mouth
biggest blue eyes
mumble mumble splutter
"take your dummy out"
determination flashes
louder more strident
mumble mumble splutter
"I can't understand you"
determination becomes
of the obstinate kind
of the 4 year old kind
time for the guessing game

do you need

a cuddle
a story
a drink of water


have you

wet yourself
wet the bed


do you feel

too hot
too cold
a bit sick
a lot sick


here's what we'll do

I take his hand
and we head back
to his room
where I tuck him in
all the while
keeping up
the patter
you know
the patter
nonsensical chatter
encompassing whatever
pops into your head
at the time

where do we learn this
this soothing
how do we know instinctively
that the only thing
really needed here
is a flow of words
a few more minutes
of company
as I sit watching
him fall from here
all the way down
into dream land.


Why is such a powerful question
to be used with caution
many sided as it is
at once a challenge
a request for clarification
but you see the thing is
that in any complete response
a peeling back is involved
an exposure of the layers
delving into the murky depths
of what motivates an act
or creates an interaction

In much the same way
I am cautious in answering
do you actually mean why
are you ready to engage
in a dialogue on the matter
deal with what may very well
turn out to be raw realities
or will platitudes suffice
in which case
the question is not why at all
and the simplest answer is
well ... it just is.

Why do we do what we do
side stepping the issue
we might ask instead
what made me do it
we may thus seek absolution
teetering on the edge
of a shocking self revelation
for isn’t the truth of it
that mostly we do what we do
for our own ends
seeking to meet our own needs
and that is why.

If life were that simple
questioning it would now falter
but isn't it also true
that in the way we seek
we sometimes act
in ways we would not normally
causing internal conflicts
as we try to justify the unjustifiable
shifting the burden of responsibility
from our own shoulders
why do we do this?

When we abdicate responsibility
for our actions
we become powerless
consigned to the fates
or to the will of the gods
in this way we misuse faith
cushioning ourselves from the reality
that we act this way
because we want to
at least at the time we do
but why?


Can silence
ever be as eloquent
as words spoken
or is it that the impact
of a look
can never match
what is said

In silence
we can be eloquent
without words
we can speak
a simple touch
a drawing near
can say more

But silence
can be a barrier
a separation
so I'll throw a line
aim it high
a string of words
from my side

What to say
that hasn't been
only this
I've been thinking
that letting you go
might make it easier
for you to stay

Isn't This?

I don't want to start fighting again
I am so tired of trying to find
new ways to say the same old things
can't we go walking instead
hold hands and talk of the breeze
or of the sound of the river flow

I just want to walk with you my love
and speak of gentler things
reminding us of times gone by
when there was nothing better
than we two on the same path
wandering homeward together

You think this is avoidance tactics
but when I question this use
of such war-like words you shrug
as if to say well isn't this
I know better than to disagree
but my heart cries into the silence

I don't do much in the way of shouting
having never been able to see the benefit
of using volume over reason
is this why you can't see
the intensity of the emotions I feel
or does your focus rest solely on your own rage

I wonder again how it comes to this
how there is even a question of sides
and rights, since when did we have rights
in our dealings with one another
whatever happened to the art of compromise
that doesn't only require that I back down

Still I don't believe that even these difficulties
cannot be untangled, undone rung by rung
if only we can both ascend to the plateau
an agreed level at just the right height
between your needs and mine
from where we can both see the horizon.

Note to a long time friend

I think you've mentioned that I’m soft
both in the heart and in the head
at least so you've said

But I just wanted to let you know
that I have not given up on us
even if it turns out that you have

Some say things they don’t mean
trying to soften the blow
or avoid it altogether with silence

So if I have misunderstood somehow
mis-read the signals or lack thereof
I thought I’d better just say

That this softness lasts a lifetime
and so you’re always welcome
to re-establish contact when you’re ready

Assured that our friendship endures
until or if such time comes
that you tell me otherwise

It feels like it’s been too long now
since we sat at your kitchen table
chatting into the small hours

Since none of my recent attempts
to tempt you into talking have worked
I’ll leave you instead with this thought

I can’t change the person I am or was
or any of the things I have done
despite having so many deep regrets

But something I can say in truth
is that no matter what happens
I will never regret knowing you

So now I’ll leave you finally in peace
for I’m not sure I can bear trying again
to scale the walls of your silence

Some Starting Point

I hate that familiarity breeds contempt
how is it that I can trace my hand
across any part of your terrain
and know it as if it were my own
whilst your thoughts remain hidden
behind this dull but polite courtesy
when did we start behaving this way

How can I risk so much on you
when you give so little in return
each small step seen from the outside
can feel like a giant leap from within
and yet … ah well, here we are again
with me thinking this way and you that
am I still so blind to your compromise

Can divergence ever be persuaded
to change course and head for home
have you forgotten the promises we made
that no matter what life brings our way
you and I would be our own safe haven
us against the world, do you remember
such safety found in each others arms

As I talk of such matters I meet your eyes
I want you to see my serious intent
knowing my simplicity bothers you
makes you think I don’t see the whole
the complexity of the issues at play
but in this you mistake me my love
for I see it all … all too well

I am not searching for a quick fix
but a lasting solution or resolution
I want to find some starting point
a place where I can stand with you
where we can once again become one
even if it is only in this endeavour
to find some way forward together

Time passes

Nearly six months have passed
since yesterday
when I walked into your room
for the very last time
carrying yet more flowers
some of our favourite music
and a heavy photo album
loaded down in every way
for our stroll along memory lane
wondering as I did
how to build an effective dam
against the pressing torrent
of tears threatening
to engulf me at any moment

Even now I remember the dread
other mixed emotions
how to live up to this honour
of being here to see you through
from this side
to whatever lies beyond
not knowing though
that this would be that hallowed day
hoping as ever to push back time
stretch the moments
and yet with your next breath
wanting to run as far away
as it was possible to get
afraid as ever

Rooted instead to the spot
holding tight somewhere inside
even as I gently held your hand
too frail, not really yours at all
listening to the rasp of your breaths
spaced impossibly far apart
wondering how to tell
when exactly it would be that you left
and thinking where are the final words
the chance to say ...
well so many things
too many for such a dry mouth
as my hammering heart raced
even whilst yours slowed to a still

Slowly I became aware of that stillness
from which there would be
no re-awakening
no more feeble jokes
as we stumbled through another rosary
why is it that when your heart is full
your mouth ceases in it's ability
to form even simple words
perhaps because they are as dust
whirling like so many motes
in the light that fell upon your face
I never sat so still
as I did in those moments
hoping for one more flicker of you

See, I remember just as if these months
were really only seconds
I can still feel the crushing weight
somewhere below my stomach
and how wobbly my legs were
as I went to find someone to come
to make sure of what I already knew
and not wanting to walk back
into this room ever again
even as I desperately wanted to
to see you, no ... to see you
not this remnant left over
I recall thinking you looked better
now that it was all over

What I don't remember is leaving
or any of the drive home
how strange it was to feel so numb
and yet still able to move
I can still hear the whooshing sound
and the indescribable cry
when your mum heard my voice
knowing that I was
keeping my last promise to you
that even in those moments
we were letting go
and starting the whole process
of somehow learning to live
without you

However it feels in this moment now
it is not the same as then
each day has unfolded in it's time
bringing with it a lessening
in such imperceptible increments
that it's almost impossible to tell
except in small ways
I never knew how much I'd love
your amazing mother
or how much we'd laugh and cry
as we sorted through your stuff
finding small treasures
to parcel out to loved ones
how we would ourselves become friends

How strange it is now when we chat
that I see your smile on her face
that funny way you'd flutter your hands
as if to wave away my idiocy
and just when proved right
you'd twist it so it wasn't so
so this is where that sharpness comes from
I see the history of you in her every line
and in the gentleness of her chiding
that I should eat better, get more sleep
I know how she drove you up the wall
with her unceasing care
bequeathed now to us left to bear
even as time passes.


The irony is
that I have longed for this
for you to finally crack
and talk to me
how has the law
of unintended consequences
come into play here

As I listen to you say
that you're not sure
if you want me any more
that you've felt
like this
for quite a while now
which leaves me