You were born at three in the morning.
The time was your own.
There followed a lifetime
of putting time into clocks.
Don’t know if you ever
lay naked in moonlight,
the hours outside the door.
You died at eleven,
the clock unimportant.
Took your own time.

‘The tide has left’
The tide has left
cockleshells, pearls of light, a single shoe.
Your daughters will look through your things.
Your daughters will see through your things.
Choose charity, cherish or chuck.
There is no one on my shore.
For now, it is too far.
There are others on their shores
whose seas have disappeared.
They wait for tidal waves.
The tide returns
the sand not the footprints.
There is no one on the shore.

‘Feet on the Sofa’
Went past the house today. Curtains closed. ‘For Sale’ sign outside.
Death didn’t think I could see him. Feet on the sofa. Watching reality tv.
Didn’t call the police. He’ll be bored soon.
There will be new paint.

the first plunge
the last sail

‘ Little Bo Peep’

…’leave them alone
and they will come home’…..

……except they wouldn’t have,
except you didn’t,
and so they did…..
and they are here now.

You were always the sheepdog,
herding the past.
Birthdays, Xmas.

Just to let you know,
we all said ‘keep in touch’.
Probably the next funeral,
when we count what is left of the flock.
Sleep now.

‘Company Policy’
I refer to the procedures on grades of grief.

I am sorry/very sorry that your husband/wife ( amendment to add ‘partner’awaiting approval), child/parent/sibling/other (please delete as appropriate) has died.

I am glad/sorry to say that you will/will not be allowed paid/unpaid compassionate leave. As you know in all circumstances you may apply for a free/discounted company condolence card ( with free first/second/no stamp depending on closeness) which will be left blank for the message of your choice.

Expressions of pleasure/displeasure/grief/relief about being /not being allowed to attend should be kept private and seemly.

‘Some of those’
Some of those
who will carry the coffin
take their cue from flamingoes.
Others, from giraffes.
They synchronize shuffles
to a same solemn gawky
of head bowed erect
and back erect bowed
so that poised and as poised
as can be begin.
Later, they will hitch up their trousers.
Carry on.

‘Wry 1 and 2’
Wry 1.
‘And please remember to switch off your phones.’
No signal.
Wry 2.
European Community. Face book debate.
About the right to be forgotten.
Would you agree inevitable?

‘Rembering Requiems’
The duty vicar discreetly signals
and with a whirr and a glide the coffin is gone.
Outside, another
death waits its turn.
We all depart differently.
I’m just a make weight who knew him at work.

The business of death is a job between sales.

I remember the requiems.
Swinging the incense.
The sweet tick of goodbye
and behind me black lines and red eyes.
Then up to the graveyard in the priest’s old saloon
for a rainswept last mumble and wave.
Then the grown up sons with Brylcreemed hair
and nicotine fingers would press me a pound.

At seven the duty of death was a perk.

I remember your requiem at all sorts of times;
when a train has just gone,
a particular sky.

Sometimes I retreat from death like Dunkirk.

‘And after, tea and biscuits in the Parish Hall’

I’d never have recognised you
though you haven’t changed a bit
you’re looking well
I look old too
well, keep in touch
that is, keep away