Poem

What am I going to write here?
Something, I hope. A year
or so since I last launched out

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Years ago when John Forbes praised
my later work, he said my Problem
of Evil was influenced by Tranter’s
Red Movie, and being younger and furiouser,
I rang Forbes and explained P. of E.

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I wish I had been painted by Millais. Maybe not as Ophelia in a tepid bath.
Perhaps as Lady Macbeth. Or Titania. Or Portia. Not Brutus’s Portia. Portia from
The Merchant of Venice. I used to make you sit on a little wooden stool and pretend
you were painting me. Stroke after stroke rasping against the canvas. I would

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B, brave brown, C, icicle
pendant, D, dun though pale,
F for faint mauve, fish and bicycle,
G, gothic paint in a green pail

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Twelve noon Monday, 38 degrees and rising.
The phone’s rung twice
and someone else has fallen off
the twig while military files of micro-

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Emboldened by sharing, briefly, the same
publisher as Frieda Hughes, I looked up
an article on her latest collection, found
a photo of her living room, which seemed

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1

Camperdown’s for dogs,
Friday evening in the park off Church Street

a barefoot man
carries a plank:

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Old age is not my problem. Bad health, yes.
If I were well again, I’d walk for miles,
My name a synonym for tirelessness.
On Friday nights I’d go out on the tiles:
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A flash like silver cufflinks
ribbons off into river grass:
a fluid lick of nickel,
the sidle and slather of eel.

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The house is up for tender and will be sold.
Houses always sell
– in the end. Even if it is
for the land. Smoking out or treading down
the haunts takes three days, or even longer.

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