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Jenny put her finger
in the canary's cage
and it jump on her finger
and she moved
her finger out of the cage
with the bird clinging there

her grandmother
had closed the window
and door
so it couldn't escape

the canary knew
the routine
moving back and forth
turning around
around and around

I watched
sitting on the sofa
waiting for
the promised tea
of paste or
cheese sandwiches
tomato and celery
and a fruit cake
her gran made
and as much tea
as I liked

I can see your drawers
the canary said
Can see your drawers

Shut up Billy
Gran said

Jenny put her finger
back in the cage
and Billy got on his perch
and she closed the door

Jenny showed me
her new doll
a lifeless thing
with fluttering eyelashes
and a dummy
and lipstick
some messed up doll

her gran
laid the promised tea
on the table
and we sat down to eat

Jenny talked
of the doll's hair
and her gran moaned
about her feet.
12h · 16
Do You Remember?
Do you remember
our last kiss?
said Netanya
or our first?

I remember a few
of the kisses
in between,
remember us walking
along the beach
of an evening,
and that first
weekend away.

Do you remember that?
the show we went and saw?
and the funny old dear
at the small hotel
off Charing Cross
who thought it cute
us being on our honeymoon-
which we weren't
of course.

Do you recall that
old fashion bath
where the hot water tap
ran cold and the cold
water tap ran hot?

I missed you
when you
walked out on me
that day
five years later.

Not a word about leaving,
you just up and left.

I never did stop
loving you,
I just loved you
differently.

Funny not remembering
the last kiss.

Can't really
recall the first.

I do remember that
first weekend away
and the *** games
we began to play.
Mr Finn wrote in red chalk
Charles 1st and dates

Jupp gazed
at the blackboard
Was he the first person
to be called Charles?
he said
in a whisper to me

First King called Charles
in English history
I said

the teacher proceeded
to write in white chalk
about the life and history

Jupp whispered
Why we got to learn
about dead kings for?
ain't going to get us jobs
when we leave school

I read the black board
ignoring Jupp's moans

Ellen sat across
the classroom
she had her hair
in two plaits tied
with red ribbons
I saw it
in the corner
of my eye
I guessed her mother
did it for her that morning
before school

Write neatly
in your exercise books
what I have written
on the board
Mr Finn said

we took out
our exercise books
and began

Ellen looked over
and smiled at me
then turned to write
in her fair hand

I scribed
the best I could
my writing legible
on a good day

Jupp wrote reluctantly
his pen leaking ink
and eyes gazing
at the board
deciphering words
which to him seemed like
flying foreign birds.
©
What started out
as being another
boring work meeting
(about profit and loss
and plans for the future)
opened up a door
to a different aspect
to your life

you sat next
to a young woman
who after the meeting
drank the drinks on offer

I better go
she said
good to talk to you

you couldn't let
her go just yet

Why not come back
to my place
and have a few more drinks
and  chat?
you said

she hesitated

I'll get you
a taxi home after
you added

she said all right
so you took her
home with you
and poured you
both drinks
and lit cigarettes

you sat next to her
on the sofa
as she talked
about her job of work
her husband
and how she couldn't
have children

as she spoke
you studied her
took in her beautiful eyes
and fine figure

after she stopped talking
you leaned in
and kissed her cheek
wondering whether
she would get up
and leave

but she sat there
unsure of what to do
so she kissed your cheek

then you drew her to you
and kissed her lips
anxious that she
would push you away

but she held you
close to her
and kissed and kissed

then you paused
and taking her
by the hand
you led her upstairs
to your bedroom
undressed
she was beautiful to see

climbing into the bed
you made love to her
as she had never been
made love to before
in all ten years of her marriage
(she later told you)

afterwards she lay
in your arms
wet and empty

so you took her
to the bathroom
ran a bath
and bathed together
like children
washing each other
and laughing

then you both dried
and dressed
and she said
had to leave

you watched her go
until the taxi
had gone from sight
into the coming night.
Nuala had to go
to a work meeting
one evening,
and said to her
husband Brien:
I shouldnt' be long,
but you never know
with these things.

So she went
and she sat among
others from the company
from others places,
and after the meeting
and having a drink
with one of them
called Una,
she said:
Best go, I suppose;
it's been good
to see you
and have the drink.

Why don't you
come back to my place
for another drink
before you go home;
it's not far from here?
Una asked.

Nuala wasn't sure.

I'll get you
a taxi home after,
Una added.

So Nuala went
back with Una
to her place,
and sat in the lounge
with Una
sipping drinks.

She told her
all about her life
and marriage to Brien,
but no children,
and as she spoke
she realised
that she
was becoming attached
to this woman
who supplied her
with drinks
and cigarettes.

After Nuala
had spoken,
Una leaned forward
and kissed her cheek.

Nuala sat there
unsure what
she should do,
so kissed Una's
cheek in return.

Una kissed her
on the lips
and held her.

Nuala felt herself relax,
closed her eyes,
and the kissing went on
and their passions rose.

Una taking Nuala
by the hand,
took her upstairs
to her bedroom,
and they undressed.

Una kissed her
and made love to her
in a way that Nuala
had never felt before:
each kiss and touch
brought her to a higher
sphere of feeling
than she had ever felt
in ten years of marriage.

After she lay
in Una's arms
soaked and emptied.

So they bathed together,
and then once dry
and dressed,
got a taxi home
to her husband.

She explained to him
how the meeting
had dragged on
and drinks
been provided,
and how boring
it had got
she lied.

He nodded his head
and smiled.

They went to bed
and had ***,
but she couldn't
get Una
out of her head.
2d · 24
Live Wire.
Netanya was a live wire
back then, and at times
teetering on the brink of
...well she teetered,
but pulled just enough
back from the ledge.

She was reaching out
to grab a bit of life
beyond her scope,
until then.

She and he
hit it off quite well,
moved into
a different world,
and folded into
each other close.

London was her
first adventure:
the sights,
the restaurant,
the show he took
her to see,
and then,
that cheap B&B
in some back street
in the West End.

That was some night;
the young stud
kept her going or she
kept him going,
and before that
they bathed together
in that large old
fashion bath,
and it was surreal,
she said after,
that lathering each other
up and down.

But it had to come
to the end,
that weekend away,
he to his home;
she to your old man
and kids and the old life,
loving mother,
but frustrated wife.
As Rosina climbs out
of the bath
Uncle Ralph sits
on the chair
in the corner
of the bathroom
lighting his ghostly pipe

I'd like privacy
I thought there was a rule
about spirits visiting people
while they are undressed
or toileting?
she says
annoyed and wraps a towel
around herself

he seems
unaware of her
and once he's lit his pipe
he looks up

Didn't see you there
he says smiling
puffing out smoke

A likely story
she says
what are you doing here?

Bright Spark
at 3pm Derby
he says
put money on it
comes in 33 to 1

I don't care
about that
I'm trying
to dry myself
to go out
she says

I'd put money on it
if I wasn't dead
he says
how's your belly
off for spots?
he says jokingly

Go Uncle now
she says
and he goes reluctantly
before the angel guardian comes

she dries herself
and goes gingerly
into her bedroom to dress

Aunt Vi is sitting
by the window
gazing out

The ****** turned up again?
she says
turning to gaze at Rosina
who has placed the towel
on the floor
and begins to dress

What is it with you spirits
that you turn up
just out of the blue
while a girl is trying
to dress and go out?
she says
eyeing her aunt

Be careful
of that boyfriend
of yours
Aunt says
he's not much of a specimen
I've seen better dead ones
this side of the curtain

Leave him be
he's very kind
and thoughtful
Rosina says
zipping up her skirt

He's a wimp
Aunt says
want to get yourself
a real man
who'll put zest
in your drawers

Rosina buttons up
her blouse

I don't want anything
in my drawers
thank you very much
she says

Aunt lights up
a ghostly cigarette
and inhales

the quack always said
these would be
the death of me
she says
and he were right

You should have listened
to him then
Rosina says
and you may have been
still here in the flesh
she goes and brushes her hair
at the dressing table

Life is for living
and once you've lived
you die
Aunt says
where you going
with the fairy?

Rosina sighs
Can you go now Auntie
I need to go
she says

You go
I like it here
Aunt says
besides I like the view
from the window
of your neighbours

I didn't half frighten
that neighbour of yours last week
when he was in the privy
nigh shat himself
Aunt laughs loudly

Rosina sits and gazes
at her aunt in the mirror
behind her
and then she's gone
and sunlight sits
where she sat
like a squat
colourful cat.
As I lay here
in my blind eyes' dark
I hear the rush of people
at the foot of the bed
hear voices
moans and the clatter
of bedpans

I let the fingers
of my right hand
feel down to my hip
and scratch

the nurses
will come soon
to lift me
on to the commode
then after attend
to the stumps of my legs
and changed the dressings

the first thought I had
this morning was
have my legs really gone?
but I knew they had
they just felt there
in my mind
still be there

each morning
is the same
as I wake up to darkness
and go to rise from bed
and realize
they're not there

I remember
a flash of light
and crashing
and falling
and sirens going off
my house had been hit
in the raid
by some German bomber
who never knew me
nor my maid who was killed

some one has come
Morning Grace
how are you this morning?
she says
the nurse whose voice
I recognize

Couldn't be better
I lie
wishing as I did
most mornings
just not to be
but lie and die.
Lindsay's brother
eyed her at breakfast

Ah dinnae think muckle
o' that sassenach lassie
ye brought 'ere lest Sunday
he said
she wisnae yer type

Lindsay gazed at her brother
O how come is that?
she said
dae ye fancy her yersel'?

he smiled
and ate his toast
Ah wouldnt say na
he replied

Na bit she wid
she'd na mair
drap her ******* fur ye
than fly tae th' moon
Lindsay said

he smiled

but she had walked
the girl back to her
university room
the Sunday night before
and had kissed her goodnight
but nothing more
didn't go in
but returned to her
own room for the night

Ah cannae see ye 'n' her
haein a lee th'gither
she's tae sassenach
tae middle class
he said

she lit a cigarette
and gazed at him

Yer likelie richt
bit she wull dae
fur noo
she said
and as she confessed it
she knew it to be true.
The nurses we're glad
to see the back of her
or that is the impression
she got
when her mother came
to pick her up
at the hospital

Hae ye *** everything?
her mother asked

Kersteen nodded her head
Aye 'n' let's ***
oot o' 'ere
she said

she followed her mother
down the ward
ignoring words of farewell
and the sister
in charge of the ward
who spoke to her mother

once she was outside
of the hospital
it hit her just how much
it seemed like a mad world

na mair o' yer making
yersel' peely-wally
her mother moaned
as they walked home

she could see
Edinburgh Castle
over to her right

Ah wull nae
ah haven't fur ages
she lied
breathing in the city's smell

If ah catch ye daein' sae
ah will skelp yer behind
her mother said grimly

she thought of the times
she'd liberated items
from the hospital shop
and stuffed chocolates bars
into her mouth
only to go to the toilet
and push fingers
down her throat
and puked
and the last time
she was kneeling
by the toilet pan
a voice from next door said
Urr ye nae weel
shall ah *** a nurse?
she wiping phlegm
from her lip said
Lea me be 'n' **** aff

her mother moaned
all the way home
making threats

but deep down
she knew her mother
in her own weird way
loved her
as an animal may its young
until they left the nest

but Kersteen guessed
her mother did her best.
I saw Mona today
and she was as beautiful as ever
but we had little time alone
at least not to be able
to kiss or hold hands.

After yesterday's
love making on her bed
it all seems flat today.

My mother wasn't happy
me going home
in Mona's clothes
but when I explained
about getting drenched
in the rain
she was all right.

Luckily Da wasn't about
if he knew about Mona and me
I'd have got a big clout or worse.

All through maths
I looked over at her
and desired her more and more.

We sat on the playing field
lunchtime recess
talking but not much else
as there was too many
other kids about
and a few of the nuns prowling.

I think about her
all of the time
and after yesterday
(which was so sudden)
I think of her more and more.

I can't begin to imagine
what would have happened
if someone came
into her bedroom yesterday
and found us.

I shut it out
it is almost unthinkable.

Her sister's boyfriend
kept giving me the eye
over tea
her sister gave me
black looks
and her da said nothing to me.

Her ma was all right
talked a bit
and when she asked Mona
what had taken us so long
I blushed although
I tried not to.

Maybe if we're lucky
if we are careful
I can hold her hand
on the coach
under her coat
warm and lovely
and to feel her again.

We had to rush off
the playing field lucnhtime
as it began to rain.
Today at school
on the coach
Lisa and I sat together.

It was the first time
we had seen each other
since the day before
when she came for tea.

We spoke in whispers
so that others
may not hear.

I couldn't believe
that we had made love
on my bed the afternoon
before tea.

Now she was there
beside me
and I went looking at her
and remembering
and wanting so much
to kiss her again
but I couldn't
so sat talking
in low voices.

She asked me
how things went
after she had gone.

I said it was all right
and had hidden
the cigarettes
she had left behind
in the wet dress
she had been wearing
when we were caught
in the down pour of rain
on the way home
from the pond.

She asked if my parents
suspected anything
and I said no.

Later in the day
we managed to get time
alone together
on the playing field
during lunch time recess.

I explained everything
and still we could not kiss
or hold hands because
others were about.

I wanted to hold her
so much but all I could do
was look at her
and hope we could be
on our own again.

The skies darkened
as we sat there
and it looked like rain.
Maggie hoped
that as her sister Sara
was out with David
she and Edward
could have some time
alone together
without Sara
stomping in and out
of the room
while he's there

but he is away
for a few days
visiting his brother

she pours herself
some wine
and sits down at the piano
and begins to play
a little Mozart

she's not so good
as Sara is
but she pleases her own
satisfaction
sipping wine
now and then

If Edward does ask her
to marry him
what would happen to Sara?
she promised Sara
she would keep her
with them
but they don't get on
Edward and her
and I couldn't take her
on our honeymoon

but she'd not cope alone
her mind can't cope
with the world as it is
unless I am there
to reassure
and she talking to Mother
who's dead
when she's stressed

Maggie pauses playing
the Mozart doesn't do

she sips the wine
she wonders if David
could look after her
while they
are on honeymoon
if Edward asks her
and she accepts
and would Sara
stay with him
while we're away?

she begins some Bach
unaware
her dead mother
passes behind her chair.
Do you like
Puccini operas?
David asks
waiting for the meals
in the restaurant
to arrive

Sara sitting opposite
gazes at him
her stomach feels empty
and she's eager to eat

Better than Wagner
Edward took us to see
she replies
so heavy

he smiles
Yes Wagner is
a certain taste
David says
and German of course

he looks away from her
pushes a memory
that has dislodged
from his head
a place in woodland
where they piled the dead
so many men
and friends and all

Do you like Edward?
she says suddenly
as if the words
had just popped out
of her head

David looks back at her
We were in the War together
and saw sights
and endured things together
and we share a friendship
he replies
gazing at her eyes

I think my sister
wants to marry him
Sara says
but what will
happen to me?

David is uncertain
of what to say
Would she not
keep you with her?
he says

Edward wouldn't
want that
she says bitterly
he'd shove me
in an asylum

David frowns
Why would he?

she looks at her hands
Without her
I would be loss
and only she
understands me
and how I am

she pauses
as the waiter
brings their meals
and leaves

she is famished
and eager to begin

Would your sister
leave you?
he asks softly

He might insist
once she's his wife
Sara says

David begins to eat
and so does she
twice her mother
(now dead)
passed by the table
with a frightful hat
on her head.
You didn't love him
as he loved you.

His seemed a deep love
unlike your shallow
and passing love.

He wrote you letters
each day
while you
were away
in Florence
and your mother said
when you got back
He seems besotted by you
as she handed you
the pile of unopened mail.

Be gentle with him
she said
let him down gently

You read the letters
one by one
they were pretty much
of a same.

You put them away
in your drawer
and composed one letter
of reply.

You went with him
to the cinema
and to the public house
for drinks and chat
and once when your parents
were out of their house
where you lived
you played him some Chopin
on the piano
and kissed
and you wanted to
ease him off gently
before you left
for university
in a far off city.

You never made love to him
but it got close that day
and if the parents
had not returned earlier
you may
have been
well away.
He's just left;
I watched him go
into the night air.

Now I sense loveliness
creep up and embrace me
with its cold arms.

Empty glasses
on the coffee table;
an ashtray
of cigarette ends.

I feel his juices
drip from me
as I begin
to clear away.

Every time he goes
I want him to stay,
but then the neighbours
would talk,
and tongues
would wag.

Young enough
to be your son,
they'd say
or silently judge
behind their hands
as I walked past.

We made love
in my bed this time,
more in keeping
with things,
but it doesn't matter
when it all stirs up
and the going
gets going.

He brought half bottle
of scotch whisky
and his Delius L.P.
and it played continuously
throughout the whole affair,
lingering like a charm
filtering the air.

I thought when I was late
last month
I was up the duff,
but it was just my body
beginning its change,
but I didn't say,
just in case
he got the fear,
and cleared out
of us and here.

I undress for bed
and in my mind's eye
still see us there,
both naked
and in heat,
but he has gone,
and I alone,
enter the bed
and turn out the light,
and dream of him,
(hopefully)
in dreams at night.
The shop is busy;
customers wanting to buy
paintings or prints, brushes
and canvases or paint.

Benny has just sold
that Renoir print
that's been hanging
around upstairs
gathering dust.

I have sold three
water colour paintings
of Sussex scenes
by the young artist
who comes in
with her work
now and again.

We haven't had time
out for lunch,
so grab a sandwich
in between sales;
even with the Saturday girl
we are pushed:
she knows her art
even if she's a bit pushy.

I watch Benny
as he talks
to a young woman
who has gained his attention:
she smiles and he smiles;
she pushes fingers
through her blonde hair
and puts her head
to one side.

I watch him explain
some detail
with his hand
pointing up stairs.

Can I help?
I ask,
eyeing Benny,
ignoring her.

This lady wants
to see those Van Gogh prints
upstairs,
he says,
eyeing me.

I can show her;
you get a bite to eat,
and I take her upstairs,
and Benny looks up
and smiling, stares.
When last I walked
to your grave, my son,
and bent down
to some flowers lay
or put in vase,
I was lost
for words to say,
or prayers to mouth,
or mind to comprehend
the loss of one so young,
so loved,
and so missed,
and all I could manage
was to blow my kisses,
and hold back the tears
I know were there,
and gazing down,
breathing deep,
gave a loving stare.

Each time I visit you there,
and lay flowers on the grave
or place in vase of green,
I hope to see a robin
near at hand,
one singing in bush,
or coming down to land,
hops to where
your stone is laid
at the corner end
of the cemetery,
or wait and listen
to wind’s breath in hope
a word may come
of how you are,
beyond the skies
or distant star,
or maybe some other sphere
more peaceful and loving
than here.
A father talks to his dead son
Three new postulents
came yesterday.

Hope they last longer
than last year's crop.

I watched them in church
during Matins
standing in their places
in the choir stalls
two opposite
and one on the front row
at the end.

Sleepy eyes
and that look
of bewilderment
on their faces
their eyes
reading the Latin
of the Office
their ears listening
to the beautiful chants
around them.

One looks older
her eyes peering through
her wire-framed glasses.

I remember my first day
with Sister Rose and I
standing as these are
innocent as lambs.

Sister Augustine is in
her nineties
and as seen them
come and go
since she came in 1946.

She is wise
and like a grandmother to me
and has helped me
no end since I first came.

Today I mowed the lawn
in the nun's cemetery
talking to the sisters
I used to know
and some I never knew
whose names in Latin
wear with age and moss.

One day my name
will be here some place
amongst the dead
and another will mow
the grass instead.
I share a cigarette with Bridget
each taking turns of a pull
and intake of smoke

Ah hear th' wifie
wha slit her throat
is daein' braw
Bridget says

Glad to hear it
I reply
she made
a good job of it

Nae that guid
if she's survived
Bridget says
and takes a long pull
on the cigarette
and hands it
back to me

I'll have more cigarettes
when Big Sid comes in
I inform
and take a drag

Bit dramatic wasn't it
tae slit yer throat
Bridget says

Maybe she
felt dramatic
I suggest
seeing Bridget
mess with her bra
inside her dressing gown

She cuid hae
slit her wrists
'n' lay in th' bath
'n' hae waited
she says
and takes back
the cigarette
and inhales
and releases smoke
into the 6 am lounge
of the locked ward

What the voices say
you do I suppose
I say

she gives me back
my cigarette
and walks away.
She stands
facing the mirror
in the bathroom
of the locked ward
her eyes gaze back at her
and she gazes back
at her eyes

suddenly
so that even she
is surprised
she slams her fist
at the mirror again
and again and again

a crack appears
then a slice of the mirror
falls into the sink below
and blood appears
on her fist
then through her fingers
then on to her wrist
warm and sticky

she picks up
the slice of glass
and with a quick movement
across her throat
slices through

blood spurts
and suddenly
she feels calm
and faint
and a wash red
slashes the remaining mirror

she slides down
with her back against a wall
and she hears screams
and bodies in white
move about her
and eyes looking at her
up close
and voices talking

but what they are saying
she has no idea
and she passes out
and all goes white

two nurses wrap towels
against the flow of blood
give pressure

Get the doctor!
an ambulance!
one calls

footsteps rush
along the corridor
of the locked ward
rush past the lounge
where a few patients
watch the screen
as a goal is scored
in a football match
murmurs of voices

I walk past
the bathroom
and see the two nurses
wrap towels against
the woman's throat
and walk on
taking the sight with me
into the lounge
and light up a cigarette
trying not to remember
never to forget.
I got a train to Dover,
then walked to find a
good B&B for the night.

I found one not far from
the station, where I was
to meet others for this
overland trip in the morning.

The woman who ran the B&B
was very kind and showed
me the room and left me there.

I had only brought one book
with me for the trip, and as
I wasn't in the mood for reading,
I undressed, and got into bed,
and for the first time I felt quite
homesick, depressed and anxious.

I didn't sleep at first and could
hear noise from the street below
and in the house, but I did get
to sleep eventually and woke
wondering where the heck I was.

I washed, dressed then went
down for breakfast, which was
very good. After breakfast I
paid for by bed and breakfast
and thanked the woman, and
collecting my case and back-pack
made my way to the station to
meet the other thirty people.

I felt nervous but excited, but
hoped all would go well on my trip.

Outside the station a large group
of people had gathered; some in
small groups, some in one or twos,
and as I walked towards them, I
became nervous again, but despite
that, I met a couple of girls about
my age who began to talk with me,
but whether we would become good
friends later, we would have to see.
I don't think I had tried
so hard to avoid a girl
before as I did her, she
was everywhere I went
at work, no matter how
much I tried to busy
myself in my job of work.

Think she must have a thing
for thee, George said, she be
where you be. He was right;
even while bathing Louis she
poked her head in the bathroom
door: O here you are, she said.

Getoutofhereyabitch! Louis
bellowed, and she fled and
closed the door, and Louis
said angrily: Feckingwhore.

I was making up the bed in
Robert's room, sorting out
his comic books of his youth,
sorting out the drawers for
odds and ends of acorns, and
apple cores, dead leaves, when
she came in and closed the door.

We could on that, she said, If
we're quiet and quick. No time,
I said, I have work to do and men
to bath and laundry to sort.

She pouted and pored me like
a devious cat: Won't take long,
she said. I left her there, and made
my way to the next in line for bath.

It wasn't that she wasn't attractive
because she was, and she knew it
too, but I wanted to be the hunter
and not the prey; wanted to do my
job of work, not a bed of bedded hay.
Sunlight enters the cloister
and warms us
Dio è il tuo migliore amico
o il peggior nemico
the Italian nun says
as we walk towards
the refectory for lunch
and could imagine God
being both my best friend
or worst enemy
if Hell and Purgatory
were examples of the latter

A nun reads from a book
on Mary Queen of Scots
as we eat in the refectory
I listen as I eat
trying to picture her
in my mind
Un martire cattolico
a dire la verità
the Italian nun
whispers after lunch
as we wash up
in the kitchen after
although I wasn't sure
she was a martyr
at least not to the faith
but didnt argue
just nodded my head.

I am picking apples
in the orchard
with Sister Charles
after our recreation
period is over
Attention à la façon
dont vous cueillez les pommes
nous ne voulons pas
les écraser
she says
gazing at me
I pick the apples carefully
avoiding bruising them
and place them
in the basket
as if they are
new born babies.

As we drink our tea or coffee
in the garth after
the office of None
the sunshine still warming us
Sister Rose comes next to me
and talks about going through
the dark night of her soul
See Sister Augustine
I suggest
she helped me a lot
when I was going through it
she says she will
and walks off to talk
with Sister Martha
La noche oscura de la fe
es una que todos
enfrentamos
I remember the Spanish nun
telling me when I spoke to her
about my dark night of soul
and supposed we do all
go through it at some or other
although when I write home
once a month permitted
I never tell Mother.
Benny couldn't make it this weekend
as he was away in Edinburgh. Mother
came to my private ward and it was her usual moans and groans. She was
unhappy that I'd had a weekend pass
last weekend with Benny and she
wanted to know all the ins and outs.

I made up some innocent tale of seeinghis parents and staying at their place rather than us making love in some cheap hotel off Charing Cross Road which she would not have liked and have moaned and moralized all the more. We had a good weekend what with going to the cinema and having dinner in a restaurant in Leicester Square and then to bed in
the room snuggled down after having
made love three times. The quack came this morning with the plump nurse asking the usual boring questions to which I returned the usual boring short answers.

He said I needed to interact with the other patients more and ward activities and I said no I didn't want to mix with the mentally ill as I was a drug addict not mentally ill.

He wasn't happy but too bad and he went off in a huff. Too bad. I was allowed to have a bath this morning but I had to have one of the nurses to supervise which was a bit embarassing ******* in front of
young nurse with glasses who looked as if she could do with a good dose of rogering.

I miss it when Benny can't come and I have to sit in my private ward reading ****** books brought around on the trolley or gaze out the window at the view of buses and cars and people coming and going. I sit and smoke
and dream of being with Benny in Edinburgh in some bed off the Royal Mile making love with my ever thankful ever grateful smile.
Any hope I may have had of
taking the other waitress to
my bed in my room were dashed
when she told me she was
engaged to be married to
the under-manager of a clothes
shop in Carnaby Street. I had
spent all week to persuade her
to go to the cinema with me
only to hear her say that during
the intermission as we ate our
ice-creams. Lucky him I thought
but didn't say. But never give in
that's my motto. So I tried harder
to ****** her but to no avail.

Sometimes you succeed and
sometimes you fail. But at least
I had the satisfaction of still
seeing her at work in the Soho
restaurant. Mary Moran wrote
one of her scribbled letters last
week and said she'd fallen in love
with her boyfriend's mother and
what did I think? Come to London
I replied and leave his mother be.

Martha's still in the convent driving
them to distraction with her crazy
ways I suspect although she herself
doesn't say that. There's a girl in
the hairdressers next door who is
quite a dish who I've eye on and
maybe get into my bed. I wish.
There are days when I wish
I'd gone with Magdalene to
London, rather than stay here
in Tipperary waiting for Keith
to make love to me. He won't
make love to me, he said, until
I'm married to him with his
mother's blessing. I live at home
with my parents and work in the
hospital as a ward maid, and
go to Mass with him on Sundays
and have tea with him and his
mother late Sunday afternoon.

He bores me with his morality.
I am attracted to his mother
more; for half a crown, I would
rather take her to bed instead.

Her husband died from cancer
when Keith was young and she's
slept with no one since, she said.

When she prepared tea last Sunday,
while Keith was out of the room,
I gladly helped her in the kitchen.

It took all my will power to stop
myself kissing her cheek as she
neared me. I gazed at her body
as she turned to the cupboard,
and imagined she and I were
in her big bed upstairs, but once
Keith was down, the temptation
was removed, and I sat with him
as he showed me black and white
photos of him and his mother over
the years. How young his mother
looked when she held him as a baby.

Seventeen, she said she was, when
she entered the room, same age
as I was. She was thirty four; she
looked twenty four. I wanted to bed
her more, and as she brought in
the plates of fresh sandwiches
and cake, I knew I was in love with
her not him, wanted to take her to
bed and make love, not dull old him.
The convent walls
are high
the cloisters have a silence
undisturbed

Martha is sweeping the stairs
with a focused gaze

Sister Joan says
There's a dead butterfly
on the windowsill

Yes isn't it beautiful
even in death
it retains its beauty
Martha replies

It needs to be cleared
Sister Joan says
and whistling is not
permitted
within these walls

Did you recognize
the tune?
Martha asks
It is a piece of Bach

the nun is perplexed
the girl clothed in black
seems oblivious to others

No whistling
Bach or any
the nun says

Is the twitch in your eye
still there?
Martha asks
I asked the Crucified
about it this morning
as well as last night

the nun's eye twitches
Yes it is
the nun replies
and walks away
down the stairs
and into the cloister

Martha takes
the dead butterfly
into her palm
and breathes upon it
the dead wings flutter

she puts it into the pocket
of her black skirt
and starts to sweep again

not whistling this time
she hums
her favourite hymn
as she descends the stairs
with dustpan and brush
leisurely
without rush.
It would be so easy
you said
to slit an artery
with the knife
with which
you prepare supper

to overdose
on the pills before bed
and o.d. yourself dead

to jump
in front of the train
on the lonely platform
on your way to work
in a down pour of rain

to jump
from the bridge
as others have done
and do before you

to hang yourself
from the top of the stair
while no one is there

to leap
from the cliff
to the rocks below
and no one
to see you go

but you do not
not as yet
you eat supper
in a quiet mood

take the correct amount
of prescribed drug
before bed
with a clear head

board the train
to the job you loathe

cross the high bridge
without looking down

and stand on the edge
of the cliff looking out to sea
and wait and wait
for which
it may be.
Terry Collett May 18
The birds sing
and waken me
from sleep
says Milka
their songs bring me
a chorus of welcome
to my sleepy head

my mother is up
with the lark
hangs out washing
in my second sleep
cooks Daddy's breakfast
for his work on the farm

I rise like Lazarus
from his tomb
wipe sleep from my eyes
like yesterday's dreams
stretch my arms out
like the crucified Christ

my brothers are up
and out to fish
at some nearby pond
with maggots and worms

I go to the bathroom
and toilet myself
in an half-awake state
hearing the radio downstairs
play music as my mother sings

I wonder if Benny
will come early or late
hopefully not before
I go down
hopefully not while
mother will pamper

I wash and dress
and tidy my bed
the bed we lay in
making love
some weeks ago
while Mother was shopping
and Father at farm

I go down the stairs
as Benny comes knocking
and enters in as bright
and innocent with no
wounds or words
of our ****** sin.
Terry Collett May 18
You were the last one
for confessions.

The priest like a bee
having gathered
too much nectar
wearily began
the process of confession.

You smelt the odour
of the many bodies
that had knelt in the place
before you; the cushion
still warm under your knees.

I haven't much to confess,
you said, I was only here
the other day and the old priest
took it- not you father,
but the deaf one on loan
for the day from the abbey.

You paused;
scratched your thigh.

I have tried to be charitable,
Father, but old Sister Ambrose
does have an obnoxious
smell about her,
and I mention to her,
she was most offended,
and musing on it afterwards,
I think Our Lord
was informing me
I was uncharitable,
and I think I could
have gone about it
in a more diplomatic way,
I tried to make amends
by giving her my
talcum powder
and soap gift
I got from an aunt
for Christmas,
but she wouldn't take
the peace offering.

You paused.

The priest suppressing
a yawn said
Is that all my child?

You puzzled your brain,
but that was all
you could recall
since last time.

That's it, Father,
you said.

The priest talked
about being charitable
and gave a penance
of two Pater Nosters
and absolution
and you left.

You went to the side chapel
where a statue of the Madonna
stood in a niche,
and said the two Pater Nosters
slow and meaningful
in Latin as much
as you could recall.
Terry Collett May 18
You're next to confessions
the nun said to Mary
as they sat in the pew

Mary entered
the confessional
and closed the door
behind her
and it became dark
except for the light
through the wire mesh

she knelt down
and peered
at the faint outline
of the priest

Yes my child
what have you
to confess?
he asked

she stared at the mesh
where to begin?
she mused
keep it simple
get to the point
and so she did
unloading herself
of all she could remember
since her last confession

the priest said
Is that everything?

Mary closed her eyes
and said
I slept with my girl friend

the priest said
I see
and he was silent
for a few moments

Bless you for making
a true and open confession
and he went on
about how to avoid
the occasion of sin
and so on

she hoped
he was not going
to be much longer
as she needed to ***
so she pushed
her knees together

once he gave
her the penance
of a given psalm
and then absolution
she left the confessional
and made her way
down the aisle
to the toilet outside
the church hall
and finding
an empty one
closed the door
of the stall.
Terry Collett May 17
He is in
every room you enter
his presence lingers
in each corner
of the rooms

you stand in the library
it's as he left it last
each book in its place

his desk by the window
has papers with notes
and the pen in the ink well
where he left it
after the last note

you stare out the window
the grass has been mown
but no bread thrown
out for the birds he loved

you smell his pipe tobacco
although he's not been there
for weeks since his demise

you walk from room to room
sensing him in each
yet he is not

you have given the maid
the day off
you want to be alone
in the house
want just you and him
and memories
and the inconsolable grief

you know
you can't go on
there's no point

neither of you
were religious
neither of you
believed in God
and as he said
towards the end

It's all a pointless charade
no god
no design
no design no purpose
no purpose except
he said at his end
the moment of being

now he is no more
just a memory
a loss an inconsolable loss

you walk down the passage
past the scullery and kitchen
down to the gun room
where he kept his guns
for hunt and game

it smells of tobacco
and old leather

you pick the shotgun
he showed you
how to use
in the good old days

you load the cartridges
in both barrels
and close the door

the silence of the house
is disturb by a boom
which echoes faintly
from room to room.
Artist Dora Carrington committed suicide by shooting herself after the death of her companion Lytton Strachey in 1932.
May 17 · 9
Playing Sad Games.
Terry Collett May 17
You hug yourself close
as he would have done
and you close your eyes
and imagine it is he
who embraces you tight
and feel all
will be all right
but you know
it's not him
not his arms
holding you tight
but yours
and nothing is right

you kiss your own hand
and turn away your head
pretend it is he
who kisses it now
his lips soft on your skin
his dampness left there
but he is dead
and you know
it's your lips
that kiss soft
out of despair
knowing he
is no more
is not there

you touch your ear
as he once did
gently run your finger
along the rim
pretending it is him
not you
his finger touching the lobe
with soft caress
his lips whispering
I love yous there
full of tenderness and care
but you know you lie
he is no more
and you cry.
Terry Collett May 17
It is Magdalene's
turn next for confessions
other girls sit behind her
with two nuns to supervise

she enters into
the darkened space
and closes the door
behind her

as she kneels down
she sees the priest's outline
through the wire mesh
which separates him from her

the cushion she kneels on
is lumpy and uncomfortable

Yes my child
the priest says
breaking the silence
what have you to confess?

she stares at the outline
it's the old priest
not the younger one
whom the girls
swoon over

Bless me Father
she begins
sorting through her mind
for suitable sins to confess

so she begins gently
with the small sins
the uncharitable ones
the sins of sloth
the ones involving
being disrespectful
to her mother

then after going
through a list
as if shopping
she pauses
and hesitates

Is that all my child?
he says
leaning closer
to the wire mesh

she braces herself
No
she says
and takes a deep
intake of breathe

I slept
with my best friend
she says

he stares
at the mesh
Slept?
he says
as if he needs
more information
How do you mean slept?

Had ***
with my best friend
she says softly

Boy friend?
he asks
his voice
showing signs of stress

No
she says
girl friend

he moves away
from the mesh
and silence comes
between them

the darkness
seems darker
and she feels anxious
as she used to
when her ma said
she'd tell her da
when he got home
and she knew
what that meant

the priest
breaks the silence
in a gentle voice
not full of damnation
and hell fire
but gentle
as if she'd fallen
and he had lifted her up

she listens
to his words
not just the meaning
of the words
but the tone
the confidence
between him and her
(and God of course)
and the penance
of not Pater Nosters or Aves
but to read a given psalm
and then absolution

it is over
and she rises
from the confessional
and walks up the side aisle
and out in the sunlight
of the Saturday

she sees Mary Moran
by the wall talking
with Sister Joan
and wanting Mary
on her own.
An Irish girl goes to confession with an unusual confession in Eire 1963
Terry Collett May 17
John sat on the grass
by the school
at midday recess
eating sandwiches
his mother made

by his leg
a book of butterflies
and moths

Sheila saw him
and said
Can I sit beside you?

Sure why not
he said

so she sat beside him
and looked at the book

Do you like butterflies
and moths?
she asked

Yes butterflies especially
he replied

I hate moths
she said
I hate it
when they come
into my bedroom at night
when I have the window open
because of the heat

What do you
do with them?
he asked

I **** them
she said
hit them with a book

he nodded his head
They're harmless
they won't hurt you
he said

I know but they are ugly
and flutter by my head
or the light shade
and fall
she said

Capture them
in between your hands
and release them out
of the window
and shut it out
he said

But it is too hot
with the window shut
she said

Turn out the light
and open the window
they won't be
attracted in then
he said

she smiled
and said she'd try it

but she hadn't come
to sit next to him
to talk about moths
she wanted
to be near him
maybe kiss him
or better still
he kiss her
and then if any
of her school friends
saw her they'd not
think her so wet

You don't mind me
sitting here?
she asked

Of course not
he said
I like company
he paused
But you like butterflies?
he said
looking at her

inwardly she sighed
Yes they are beautiful
she said
wanting him
to hold her hand
and kiss her instead.
May 16 · 16
Evening Melancholy.
Terry Collett May 16
The evening draws in
draws in like the claws of a crab
urging you to bed
and with the pills
hopefully sleep
and dark or death
your soul to keep

the evening comes
and you put out the cat
and wind the clock
and gaze at the chair
he used to sit
but he's not there

the evening invites you
up the stairs
the stairs he walked
behind you whispering love
and bed time caresses
but now you walk alone
no one to whisper
words of love
nor promises of bed time
hugs and hold
just the silence
and stair way cold

the evening welcomes you
to your room and bed
and you close the door
and wait for his embrace
and kisses
but none come
it's all too late

the evening watches you
undress and enter the bed
the bed where half
is now unclaimed
his pillow has no indentation
where once he lay
you want to talk to him
but he is dead
and nothing to say.
Terry Collett May 16
He's behind
at the back of class
with the Rennie boy

you want to turn around
and look at him
and smile
but it will bring
too much notice
and tale telling

so you gaze ahead
as Miss Gee
talks of Schubert
and plays on the piano
certain passages
to explain a point

you played that
Schubert piece
to him one break time
when no one
but you and he
were there

and as you played
he was behind you
kissing your neck
hands on your hips
listening to you play

you blush at the memory
and wonder if he smiles
and gazes at your back

and as Miss Gee
plays again
you feel his kisses
on your neck
and hands on your hips
in playback

you at the front
and him at the back.
Terry Collett May 16
The room is as it was
nothing touch
nothing different
even the dust gathers
in remembrance
and cobwebs hang
like wreaths

the room smells of him
smells of aftershave
and deodorant
he used too much
too much but less so
towards his end

the room holds
his conversations
and words intact
in the olden walls
but they refuse
to release them
release them
for grieving ears
to hold

the room is full of him
full of memories of you
seeing him there
but it is empty of him now
only his ghostly shadows
weave patterns
in morning's wake up
and evening dying shades

the room remains
as it was
but nothing like it was
just flash backs
of him there
fading as the midday sun
drives all shadows away
as it has today.
May 16 · 25
Pretend and Loss.
Terry Collett May 16
Those eyes
used to gaze at you
but gaze no more
but are closed to you
but you remember
what you saw

those hands
used to hold you close
and wipe tears
from your eyes
or softly brush hair
from your eyes
but they are still now
unmoving
and no one holds you now
nor brushes away the tears
or softly brushes
your hair from your eyes
and the hands in your memory
must pretend it now
somehow

those lips
kissed yours once
pressed warmly in welcome
and in farewell
or in bed at night
before you were tired
and into sleep fell
or kissed you
to giggles in play
but the lips are cold now
where death has come
and you must imagine
the lips and kisses
and pretend their touch
but sometimes sometimes
it's all too much.
May 16 · 63
As Usual.
Terry Collett May 16
It is the usual morning
the usual waking
as if like Lazarus
brought back
from the dead

the usual going
to the bathroom
and gazing at the self
revealed there
with the sad eyes

the usual washing
drying
applying make up
as your mother used to do

the usual dressing slowly
wishing to return
to bed and sleep

the usual going down
for breakfast all alone
making coffee and toast

the usual gazing at the place
where he used to sit
and talk and laugh
and now has gone

the usual regrets
you never said more
never said how much
you loved him
never always listened
to what he said
now he is dead

and as usual
it all goes around
and around your head.
Terry Collett May 16
I allowed Yiska
to hold my hand
through the streets
of the small town
where no one knew me
and a distance from the school

I didn't think her mother
was pleased to see me
-although it had been arranged
the day before

Yiska and I sat at the table
next to each other
while her mother
got our lunch
in the kitchen
in the next room

we sat innocent as lambs
hands touching
beneath the table
listening to the music
from the radio
her mother switched on
some classical music
-too high-brow for us-

in the flash of movement
she kissed my cheek
and turned away
as her mother entered
with sandwiches
on flower-patterned plates
and placed them down
and walked away
for tea *** and milk jug
to complete the scene

Yiska's leg pressed
against mine
and I sensed it there
warming me through
as I lifted a sandwich to eat

her mother
sat at the table
opposite us
How was school?
she asked

Usual boring crap
Yiska replied

I said nothing
but ate

That boring crap
as you call it
is what will determine
your station in life
her mother said
so it pays to study
and focus

I chewed slowly
with my mouth closed
-as my aunt had taught me
as a little boy in Aldershot-
and sat ill at ease

Are you speaking
from experience or regret?
Yiska replied

her mother eyed her
From both
her mother said

it was Bach's music playing
moving its way into the room
as mother and daughter stared
in some tension
I never shared.
May 16 · 5
Eyes That Met 1961.
Terry Collett May 16
On the way to the church
for choir practice
sitting in the back
of the station wagon
with Juliet and others
in the semi-darkness
of a November evening

I sensed her there
beside me
her thigh against mine
soft and warm

yet we said nothing
listening to the vicar
talking as he drove
through dark
country roads
and my hand
was tempted to find
her hand and hold it
but I was too shy
and let it lie

in the church
we stood in the choir stalls
opposite each other
while the choir mistress Janet
went through the psalms
and hymns
for the Sunday service

our eyes met
and she smiled
and blushed
and looked away

I only half-listened
being in love
to what the choir mistress
in the church
had to say.
May 15 · 23
In the Mood 1971.
Terry Collett May 15
Dr Rahman
isn't pleased with Yiska's
lack of progress

with her three attempts
at suicide
with her unkempt self

with her attitude to staff
with the way she sits
and stares

with the language
of negativity and nilhism
with way she lets her gown

lay open inviting looks
she's been in the locked ward
for months on end

This cannot go on
he says
we are here

to help you recover
she wonders
who does his tie

he or his wife
it is crooked
the knot too loose

the colour doesn't
match his shirt
she wonders if Benny

would embrace
her face to face
there is commotion

outside the room
screams and rushing
of footsteps

he rises and goes
to the door
she wishes

she could borrow his tie
she is in the mood
to die.
Terry Collett May 15
What's got you
in a mood?
Lizbeth's mother said
besides
your room
was a right mess
I've not seen it so bad
what with cups
and plates on the floor
records scattered around
soiled washing
on the and under the bed

I'll tidy it
Lizbeth said

Done it
her mother said
keep it that way

Lizbeth waited
arms folded
wondering what
the boy's name was
and wished she gazed
at him longer
and had taken what sight
she could have
in the moments passing

Get out
of the school uniform
and fold it up
not ******* up in a ball
her mother moaned

she supposed her mother
must be having one
of her moods or heads
or's on the rag

Is that it?
she said wanting
to leave the battle field

Yes that is it
and don't take
that tone with me
her mother said
to her daughter's
departing back

If I spoke to my mother
like that I would have got
what for

the girl had gone
and the upstairs door
had slammed

she sighed
and lit up a cigarette
and poured another
glass of wine
waiting for the dinner
to cook
and tried to forget
her daughter's look.
Terry Collett May 15
There is some commotion
along the corridor
of the locked ward
but Bridget isn't stirred
to go and look
she is watching football
in the lounge TV

Th' referee coudnae
fin' his bahookie
wi' baith hauns
behind his back
she says
thumping the sofa arm

nurses rush past
murmur of patients
by the door

That is a foul
whit's wrong
wi' th' referee
she bellows

I enter the lounge
having seen
the ****** scene
throat slashed
nurses busy
seeking to stem
the flow

That glaikit prat
missed th' baw
he coudnae fin'
his misse's fud
wi' th' lights oan
Bridget moans

I light a cigarette
and stand
by the window
staring out
she'd made
a good job of it
slitting her throat
with a slither
of broken glass

Bridget is beside herself
with Gaelic rage
swearing at the TV screen

but I guess she'd
be unmoved
by what I'd seen.
May 15 · 16
Unknown to Each Other.
Terry Collett May 15
He seeing her
unaware
she has seen him
seeing her

he whose feelings
are a stir
whose eyes have feasted
on her passing view

is beside himself
not knowing
what to do

unaware
that she herself
in that moment passing
had seen what saints
in their deepest prayers
had sought

something beyond themselves
far lovelier
far beyond their words
to speak
and each unaware
of the other's thoughts
and desires

burn with love
and lustful fires.
Terry Collett May 15
Who's the dish?
Lizbeth said
when she
and her friend Angela
passed the new boy
in the corridor
of the school

Angela looked back
Don't know
but I think his sister
is in my class
they came Monday
she said

What's his sister's name?
Lizbeth asked

Naomi I think
Angela replied

Find out more
about him
Lizbeth said

Angela said she would
and the girls walked out
into the playground
for morning break

Lizbeth turned the image
of the boy
around in her head
and created scenes
in which to play out
her desires

Angela walked beside her
jealous of her friend's
interest in the new boy
envious of the boy's
innocent ability
to turn Lizbeth's eyes
and head

wishing it was she
for whom Lizbeth
had turned her eyes
and desires
instead.
May 14 · 37
Beauty Seen 1961.
Terry Collett May 14
I didn't know
who the girl
on the school mini-bus was
but she smiled
and so did I

no one talked to me
being the new boy
on the mini-bus
but some stared
or whispered behind hands

but she smiled
and her eyes brown
and liquidy
gazed at me
as if they
wanted to speak

I studied her hair
black as coal
with a shine

she held her hands
in her lap
not mine

then she turned
and gazed straight ahead

and I stared out the window
at the passing scene
trees and bushes
and fields and cows
a boring sight
for a London kid

I guessed I liked her
at least she
occupied my mind
fed my eyes
with the beginning of beauty
if so definded
at least in my mind.
May 14 · 22
The London Boy 1961.
Terry Collett May 14
A new family
have moved into one
of the cottages
by the farm
the vicar's wife said
at breakfast time

So I heard
the vicar said
from London
I understand

his wife
raised her eyebrows
Really? I do hope
they're not a rough lot
she said
we had some children
during the War
from London
and they were

Shouldn't judge people
from our experiences
of the past
he said

No I suppose not
she said

Jane the daughter
who didn't want to interrupt
just sat and ate breakfast
but the new boy and girl
on the school mini-bus
seemed quiet
and the boy
had a lovely smile

I think they are all right
she said
once her parents
had stopped for a moment
the boy and girl got
on the school mini-bus Monday

What are they like?
her mother asked

Quiet and civil
Jane said

That's good
her father said
I must pop in
and welcome them

Although
Jane said
he got into a fight
on the first day
at school

O dear
her mother said
I do hope they're not
a rough lot

Jane said nothing more
but ate in silence
he did have
a lovely smile
she mused
and it was at her
he gave it
and she had smiled
back at him
and surely smiling
wasn't a sin.
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