Two Poems

Why I Write

I should have realised forty years ago

that my father would amount to nothing;

we had just two tiny patches of lawn

one out the back and one at the front

just the aggressive, drought-hardy Kikuyu.

Where the back one ended

there was tyre-trodden earth

spattered in places with sump oil

and at the front, the grass gave way

to a wind-swept strawberry patch

and then to an acre of weeds

which my father would plough in

every few years; there was no expanse of green

as McCarthies had, no Charles-Atlas-shoulder

lawn-edges from endless top dressing and rolling

like at the bank manager’s place

there wasn’t even a giant shed filled with NK West

Patented Grape Picking Machines

looming above the house.

Although my father loved words

both their sound and meaning

there were no books in our house

except for shrivelled Reader’s Digest novels

everything about our place told anyone passing

that here lived a man who had laughed at a visiting pianist

because he wore gloves in summer

and fifty years later, was still asking us, as if we should know

why no one had heard of the man since

if he’d been as good as everyone had claimed; no

my father would be forgotten

so soon after the blip of his own life

had ceased to insist on its journey across

the screen.

The Endless Necessity of Dreaming

Dying woman

woken for her analgesic

“You shouldn’t have disturbed me;

I was dancing!”

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