You walk the house, going from room to room;
Taking in each aspect where Lytton was
Before his death. The curtains still closed up;

The smell of his tobacco smoke still there;
His bed made up as he liked it to be;
His papers neatly stacked; his many books

Shelved row on row, and his gramaphone
Standing silent now, with all his records
Stacked side by side in the cupboard beneath.

But there is death in the air; you smell it
All over the house and each of the rooms.
Some mornings you wake up and feel him there;

Sense you hear his voice in the birds outside, hear his footfall in his study and hall.
But he is no more; death has claimed him now,

And he is silenced and his thoughts distilled
In his books and writings, but not his mind.
Death is the one constant, he often said,

And you have no comfort, for he is dead.
Dora Mourns for Lytton 1932
The ceiling never seems to move about;
it seems steadfast like the mast of a ship,
only shadows billowing like old sails
caught by rough winds, flicker above your head.

You lie on your back on the double bed,
your body caressed by the cream duvet;
your head propped up by two off-white pillows.

You do not think he will return again;
it had been a bad night with little sleep,
with both your voices rowing in the night,
with intermissions of ****** games,
with promises made in the lustful hours;
a future mapped out in idealized talk.

Dawn’s light seeps in at the curtains’ edge;
birdsong filters in from the trees outside;
distant traffic hums like like far away bees.

But this love-making bed is yours alone;
he has fled to some other’s bed, you guess;
someone younger, more pliable than you,
who has that innocence and skin beauty
that you once had. Now she is his new ship
that he can sail in his lustful hours.

You lie there on the bed like a wrecked ship;
marooned on the loneliness of this shore;
this bed; this room and ceiling, loved no more.
© 2 minutes ago, Terry Collett
A woman betrayed
George had not seen such a bloodbath like that;
He'd seen his fair share of death and dying;
Witnessed the wounded with life changing wounds;
Seen dead horses on the roadside and fields,
Or those injured whinning out their pains,
Large eyes staring, terrorised by the war,
Unlike the men, not knowing what war was for.

But this slaughter witnessed, George knew, was bad:
the sheer numbers, mass ****** of his men,
Walking, not running, towards machine guns,
Rat-a-tat-tat disturbing the bird song;
Shells exploding blasting men to pieces.

George survived the onslaught without a wound,
Except the wound opening up within
His mind; sights seen, sounds heard, orders giving, orders obeyed towards a death.

George was hospitalised: shell-shock they said,
But all George could see was fields of the dead.
© 2 minutes ago, Terry Collett
An officer shell-shocked on the Somme 1916
Day after day I think of you, my son,
think of your youthfulness and dry humour;
your humanity and Stoic wisdom;
that chuckle that you had when brought to mirth;
your large eyes peering out from photo frames;
and that shy smile, I shall never forget,
not even in my old age far from you.

Night after night when I turn out the light
I think of you; think of you in your youth,
as a little boy running ahead of all,
or climbing trees without fear of a fall;
or think of you as that baby I held
in my arms, protecting you from the world
with all its vanity and cruelty.

But I could not protect you in the end
as you were betrayed by those in whose care
I had left you that day, thinking that they
would watch over you, being medical
professionals on that ward where you stayed;
but in the end, my son, you were betrayed.
© 4 minutes ago, Terry Collett
A father talks to his dead son
Ingrid was living
with her mother again,
once she had been acquitted
of her husband's ******;
but lived in a flat
in another block.

I saw her in Baldy's
grocery store:
Good to see you again;
how are things?
I said.

She said she was happy
to be back with her mother,
and would be back
at school on the Monday.

She had no idea
who murderd her old man;
quite a list of enemies.

She looked happier
than I'd seen her
look in ages.

No more beatings
from her bullying father;
no more rows to endure.

You coming out?
I said.

Have to ask, Mum
she replied,
but I expect it
will be o.k;
where you going?

Want to go collect stones
for my catapult
on the bomb site
off Meadow Row,
I replied.

Baldy served her
as she was before me.

I wondered who killed
her old man;
I hadn't thought
it was her mother.

I never liked her old man
and he didn't like me;
now she was free.
Benny and Ingrid 1958 in London
Unlike Archimedes
cannot from a bathtub exclaim:
tο βρήκα,
tο βρήκα,
tο βρήκα.

I am a seeker
of Truth.

Quid est veritas?
As Pilate asked the Christ.

Sunlight over
the bell tower;
dark birds in flight
over the tall trees.

Centrum deus
est omnium,
the old monk said,
his rugged features
making him
appear aged.

I polished the choir stalls;
mixture of polish
and incense from Mass
that morning.

l'Eucaristia è l'essenza
della Chiesa,
the Italian monk said
as we lay out
for the Mass.

I shall spread
my wings for you,
she said,
and I lay
betwixt the wings.

The afternoon sun
through the refectory windows
making patterns
on the polished
wooden floor.

Ici il y a la paix,
the French peasant monk
told me as we sythed
the tall grass;
his slow swipe
generating many centuries
of breeding and faith.

Here there is peace
and the Eucharist
is the essence
of the Church,
Catholic church that is,
Dom Joseph related
in conversation.

Have I found it?
Truth?

What is the Truth?
as Pilate said
to one later crucified.

Ego sum veritas,
said the Crucified
before He died.
A novice monk in an abbey 1971
She came into the shop
for a new hat;
it was Saturday afternoon,
and we had been quite busy.

She said what sort
of hat she wanted,
and I thought
it would be
straight forward
and an easy sale.

But after showing her
the selection of hats
in that style
we had in stock,
she seemed unsure,
and tried them all on
and gazed at herself
in them in the mirror.

What do you think?
She asked;
does it suit me?

It didn't,
and I said
I didn't think
it was quite
suitable for her.

She agreed,
and asked to see
a different style of hat.

I brought her three
different hats,
in different colours,
and she tried
them all on.

Not sure,
she said;
I like the red one,
but do you think it
too loud?

It did look rather 'loud'
as she termed it;
it made her look
like a rare bird
(I never told her that),
and I said:
Not quite you.

She smiled,
and asked
to see others.

I took back
the other hats
and disappeared
into our stock room.

I liked her smile,
but what hat to fit it
or blend with her features?

I returned
with three hats
of different styles
and different colours.

Her eyes fell
on the charcoal hat
with a wide brim,
and she tried it on
and gazed at herself
in it and smiled:
I think this suits me;
do you think so?

It did;
I said it
suited her well.

She stood
and smiled at me.

She asked
how much it was
and she paid me
in cash.

As she was
leaving the shop,
I felt I would miss her;
she'd been in the shop
for nearly an hour,
and I watched her
go from sight.

I dreamed of her
and that charcoal hat
that night.
A shop girl and the lady and hat
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