Not Moving On — Part II (slightly delightly)

(more positive verses – mostly – around the subject of devotion)
see part I for caveats

"unless you love someone, nothing else makes sense"

(last added to 7/1/18)

Folding Chair
What If Katie Hopkins
Surprising Joy
No Need
watching the world go by
Conspicuous Absence
as yet untitled
eleven times the muffled midnight chimes
from time to time, forgetful age
To Be Or Not To Have
New Rose
Dr Seuss has Technology Issues
Lockdown Litany
Three Little Liturgies
Still Crazy After Fourteen Years
aftermath / afterglow
It's Last Monotony (after Shelley)
Punchbowl Potter (quince años de soledad, after C P Cavafy)
Persistence (16 years)

Folding chair

I have a small folding chair.
I carry it with me everywhere,
not just to rest my weary limbs
or aching heart — but so that I
may sit in contemplation
of the beauties of the world,
when inspiration strikes
but no seating is provided
by nature or the corporation.

A sketchpad and a notebook
in my bag, always prepared,
like some superannuated scout,
and, for encouragement of course,
a photograph of you. After all,
I live and work under your shadow;
It's rather pleasant there.


What If Katie Hopkins
(Ann Widdicombe revisited)

What if Katie Hopkins —
a woman whose opinions,
indeed, whose personality
I do most heartily despise —
what if she somehow, say,
found my stuff on the web
or saw me in a show, and,
for one of those unfathomed
'love' reasons, developed
an infatuation, a lifelong adoration
for me? What if she cried
every night, curled up alone
in a chair, contemplating,
her heart breaking, her quietus making?

And say, somehow, despite
her sturdy fortitude,
atypic self-control,
in never talking to, much less stalking
Yours Truly, I yet become aware
of her deep distress, this sorry mess?
Who on earth would hold me
responsible, expect me
to call round, strike up
some sort of friendship,
Grin and bear it, pop some
Viagra®, do my humane bit?
I can't think I might feel
any obligation, any call
of pity, much less duty.
So why should exes be expected
to respond to, act on,
even feel compassion
for those who failed to be
sufficient to requirements?
In terms of evolution
it makes more sense to be
more callous still than I
should be with Katie. Let
others offer tea and sympathy –
move on.
                   That being said,
you are my one excuse,
my saving grace, my just-in-case,
should that said dreadful Hopkins
somehow become obsessed
with me. Were I not so
insanely (notwithstanding vainly)
dedicated and committed to
my love for you, being here
against a day that will not dawn,
I might just go and ease her pain
at dire and dreadful cost, because
when all is said and done, I'm just
a big soft ha'p'orth, me.


Surprising Joy

"In times of great emotion we speak in clichés"
[Malcolm Arnold]

Dearly belovéd, assembled today,
Hear my last willing text as I'm slipping away.
My subject is joy and the pity of joy
That the tortures of heartbreak can never destroy.

For nearly a decade I've cried every night,
Knowing there's no hope of putting things right;
Each New Year and Christmas I take to my bed,
Not bearing to hear 'Happy' anything said,
Clutching her photo and hoping that she
Is having more fun, and not thinking of me.
And when I climb out of sleep's bottomless pit,
The first thought that greets me is, "Still alive — shit!"

Far too often I sit with a blade or a rope
Longing to leave this cruel world without hope,
But the cause of my grief is the same thing that spoils
All intentions of shuffling off mortal coils.
If love is a giving thing, could mine be true
If I render it void just because I feel blue?
No; I must be ready, the whole year around,
To help sort major problems — or just lend a pound.

That she doesn't want it, in fact never will —
Does that make devotion more meaningful still,
Or simply seem foolish at this loveless time,
When loyalty's viewed as some self-harming crime?
Oh, it isn't as if it's a matter of choice,
And, much as I mourn, it's far more I rejoice.

Though personal gain nor emotional glee
Are never the reasons, if reasons there be,
There are compensations which keep doom at bay
And more than console me for feeling this way

When I gaze on old pics of her face, wreathed in smiles,
On a raft back in Thailand, a yacht round the Isles,
In Parisian bistros, on some country walk —
My spirit starts singing and soars like a hawk,
And each recollection of good times we shared
Takes me back, just like Proust, to a time when she cared
(Or seemed to at least), and, as if she did still,
The thought of her kindles a rapturous thrill.

Like a hopeless addiction to drugs, where the hit
Far outweighs the withdrawal (which is still total shit),
My whole body trembles, I've tingling skin,
My features contort in a ludicrous grin.
It's a thrillingly new but familiar sensation —
The spit of a newly-formed infatuation.

Though the pain may depress and the symptoms annoy,
They're a small price to pay for this ecstatic joy;
If this be a sickness, then let it get worse —
There are worse things to die of than this blesséd curse!


So from here on down, let's be nicht diese Töne,
Leave heartache and pain sitting on the back burner;
No hint of nostalgia for things that are lost
But rejoicing in pleasure that's well worth the cost!


No Need

You don't understand
You naysayers, Job's
comforters, well-meaning
advisers, friends and foes

Don't try to fix me up with
amiable acquaintances —
lonely single friends of yours —
condemn another lonely sod
to some bland this'll-have-to-do,
a twilight years companionship,
or on the sad and slender chance
of ending up as soul mates
after all.
              Girlfriend, lover,
partner, even wife, all these
are not, for me, mere job
descriptions, vacancies
that must be filled, lest I be
                      My love has
made me whole, and loss
of faith could only undermine,
diminish me.
                      Can you not see
just how the pitch is queered; how
sometimes something
so stupendous comes along,
that cannot be replaced
however badly it goes wrong?


watching the world go by

watching the world go by
over the rim of a coffee
wondering where you are now

and yet, as one more sweet
barista brings a steaming cup
with decorated foam, a smile
at which my faithful heart
still sings, perhaps a
diet-thwarting cake

my sorrows are, at least in part
offset by life's small pleasures —
to carry on seems — possible


Conspicuous Absence

I don't think 'they' would let me write
a three-word poem. The three words I

most want to say, and you
least want to hear. Even
the haiku needs
full fifteen syllables for
its condensed profundity.

But everything I
do or make
is built on
those three words.
To use them
is to make
them clichés, stating
them, to state
the bleeding obvious.

It's tempting to give up,
accept their unsaid presence,
look – and strive – elsewhere —
not reinvent the
over-burdened wheel.

But poems, like ambition,
should be made of sterner stuff.


Serenade (nunc dimittis?)



walking new
routes, finding
less-known ways,
rail lines, branch
canals, knee high
grassgrown towpaths;
couple, speaking
little, sharing
inner thoughts;
pointing out
the passing,
sunset owl,
the powling cat;
at ducklings,
clustered close
to mother.
Solitary strolling
into the twilight;

me in the flesh;

you in my heart.


as yet untitled

After decades of inaction
(Spreading my dissatisfaction),

I found the One, just right for me,
A soulmate with a spirit free;
A mismatch folks called heaven-made,
More precious, being so delayed:

An instant, numinous connection,
That slowly grew to sheer perfection.

Or did it? Time's discrepancy
Began to chafe that spirit free,
And fear of obloquy soon frayed
That golden fabric, heaven-made,

Then half-healed wounds were torn apart
Breaking her spirit — and thus my heart.

So I have passed a sad decade,
With memories of 'heaven-made';
While she's known spells of misery,
Fearing to let her spirit free.

Folks say, "You dodged a bullet there."
I say they're wrong or I don't care,

And, still buoyed up by 'heaven-made',
I've wished, I've hoped, I've even prayed,
Her soul may find stability,
And set, once more, her spirit free:

That she can find the right direction
(With or without our re-connection).

I still bathe in the memory,
So joyful, of that spirit free;
If absence could true love degrade,
How could I call it 'heaven-made'?


eleven times the muffled midnight chimes

notch up another year

eleven times the muffled midnight chimes
a pillow over ears, a photo in my hand
but no light to illuminate your face

wind down another year

the distant fireworks fade and later on
the pissed up revellers are noisy on the stair
at random, sleep-impeding intervals

tick off another year

a personal catharsis clears the soul
a private wallowing far easier to bear
with only lasting joy allowed to show

start up another year


from time to time forgetful age

from time to time forgetful age
and shortened northern days combine,
and nearing home I see a light
still shining in the living room.

and though I'm never daft enough
to leap up stairs three at a time,
hi-honey-I'm-homeing at the door,
cruel hope still bares my breast, ready
for disappointment's barbed stiletto


To Be Or Not To Have

we watched Être et avoir
bringing on brief broodiness
captivated by cuteness
we joked
of how we'd need one Asian child
among our clutch of thirty

later on
effects of film diminishing
but love and sex encouraging
continued thoughts of procreation
we cut
the number down by quite a a bit
to a more practical six

your studies
and exciting social life
nurturing architectural ambition
opening new sexual vistas
you thought
that children maybe weren't for you —
a damper on ambitions

many love disasters later
crushed by failures, anxieties
and the advancing years
you moaned
that love and children now seemed
out of reach for you for life

I weep
to be no more an option
to have no part to play


New Rose

She's utterly delightful and
she walks in the paths that are
rightfully yours and she sings and
she laughs and she gladdens
the hearts of people she meets
with her smile so sweet and
her spirit of play, she reminds me
of you when the demons are away.

She's not taking your place


Dr Seuss Has Technology Issues

I do not want a mobile phone!
Let me be! Leave me alone!
"Oh, what of access while you roam?"
Very simply done at home!
Except for WeChat and — oh, damn! —
"Yes, you cannot use Instagram."
Oh dear, my pictures can't be shown,
Until I get a mobile phone.

I do not have a mobile phone!
Must I have one of my own?
If I should get a Huawei Mate,
Should I get a Ten or Eight?
Should I get all the latest apps —
You might not want to chat, perhaps?
Oh no, your thoughts will stay unknown,
Unless I get a mobile phone!


Lockdown Litany
(Lowe in the Time of Corona)

How are you today? Who
do you live where with these days?
On the bathroom box with drawers tonight I put
the toothbrush unit thinking back on how we bought
that box Barnado's now long-gone emporium
of furniture once-loved the bedside tables too
from where your photo watches me by night

At Rest and Be Thankful
[after On Visiting Zhang’s Hermitage, by Du Fu (杜甫; 712–770)]

Alone on hills of spring I looked for you;
A distant chainsaw, people thinning out.
In lingering chill beside a stream in spate,
in sinking sunlight trudge up to the bench.
All night beneath a gold and silver sky,
hearing the distant captives of the zoo.
My thoughts roam far, all motivation gone;
you seem to me an empty boat, adrift.

Cemetery walks. A garden
ornament, wee lass, a sandstone
sculpture pushing tiny planter,
stone-shaped and static wheelbarrow.
Sweet gatekeeper of the garden
of death; war graves and victims too
of post-war flu pandemic. Now
peaceful place for solitary strolls,
safely distanced from the silent
residents, with springtime birdlife
singing lusty territory songs —
we all mark out our spaces somehow.

And we, young toad —
did we ever walk together
down that road?


Three Little Liturgies

I often took scores from the main city library
I still don’t read music, despite your encouragement
What is that sound, that chord, I wondered, like
sun coming out in glory. Just, it turns out, C major
richly layered. A resolution; what came before giving
that glow effect, like love after heartache’s sorrow

Good morning, dear, I say to your photo, and give
a chaste kiss on the cheek to your painted image, as
I pass to draw the curtains. And, of course, good night,
on turning out the bedside light, to lie, staring, into the dark

Each day I sit down to dine with you
Not in the flesh, which is nothing
But in the spirit and in endless Love,
which is everything there is or ever can be


Still Crazy After Fourteen Years

Still here
Still drinking chocolate on our anniversary
Still all alone
Still faithful
Still sort of healthy
Still hiding from the world at Yule and Valentines
Still yours
Still creating
Still performing
Still intrinsically jolly some of the time
Still hanging in there
Still expecting nothing


aftermath / afterglow

every now and then someone
shows me something you have said
written made filmed on blog or social
multimedia gives me a link or else
latenight curiosity clicks half-forgotten
                  words always your strength
enhance inform your visuals as thoughts
ideas images combine collide strike
sparks off one another
                                      your riffs
on once imagined future loves bolstered
by liquid visuals windworried surfaces
of citythread canal or punctuating
            for me


Its Last Monotony

But Naples I have never seen
Nor am I like to go
To stare from the Amalfi coast
Into the sunset's glow.

Seeking the deeps less trampled
Among time-tumbled graves
Recalling skinny-dippers
In soft Atlantic waves

My soul's passed through dejection
And left despair behind
While hope's long ceased to trouble
My unexpanded mind

Smiles from passing strangers
Scarce help to cheer me up
Spring's approach does nowt to warm
My cold, half-empty cup

But thoughts of ceaseless chaos
Do help to clear my head
And bring acceptance of my place
At home among the dead

[after Stanzas Written in Dejection, near Naples]
note that Notts 'nowt', is 'note', not 'now-t'

Punchbowl Potter (quinze años de soledad)
after Τεχνουργος κρατήρον by C P Cavafy

On this fine punch bowl       exquisite stoneware
made for wealthy             New Town clients
renowned for their             aesthetic sensibility
behold: bucolic scenes       vineyards and a rivulet
and central to all             a celestial nymph
tasteful but erotic             one insouciant leg
dangled in the stream.       I called on every Muse
to guide my hands           to do full justice
to the form and face       of my life's one true love.
How difficult this was       as this week marked
full fifteen years since       that cold night when
we two walked out together       and I came home alone


Persistence (16 years)

My love cannot be recycled
My love will not biodegrade
I think you're just taking the Michael
When you ask if it's started to fade

It doesn't decay like uranium
My love does not wither with age
It's more stable than what's in my cranium
Far more than just words on a page

Not brittle, but rather elastic
It won't crack, dissipate or congeal
More persistent than single-use plastic
Ten times stronger than well-tempered steel

You can't burn it or send it to landfill
You can't cancel or tell it 'begone!'
When your disregard grinds to a standstill
My love will keep trundling on