This stuff is too dark by half, they remark
and I’m inclined to side on the choir’s
behalf, those adherents so decent, so devout
en route to the rostrum to recite
their poetry-lite. How I should like to describe
the blueness of sky, how wet water is
and what a pareidolic planet
we inhabit, with a piano tinkling
in a dim-lit corner, the antenna of the censor
alert for content thought too explicit.
But the past needs must visit, and reflected
in dark glasses is the spectre
of Byron Barraclough advancing
from a fire that’s been blazing for thirty years.
Accidental death the verdict, malfunction
of an electric blanket, Byron drunk
again, smoke inhalation, didn’t feel nothing.
That’s how I’d lullaby the sparse funeral gathering,
recalling his lovable Yorkshire accent, ginger beard,
flat cap with check patterns, the look whose time
would never happen; that occasion he managed
a swish restaurant, consumed a melange
of drink and drugs and turned all the lights off
at 9.21, ushering unfed, open-mouthed customers
into the cold dark night. I’d go on to divulge
how we over-indulged his eagerness
to lose at Strip Poker, those too touchy-feely
games of Twister; the Straw Dogs obsession,
his arrest for molesting young girls
on a train, that reluctance to remain in the room
when we changed our daughter’s nappy,
because of the “sexual connotations”.
The stare I shared with my missus, suspecting
a disease more dangerous than meningitis
hovered among us, waiting for
an unguarded moment. The confrontation
we shirked from addressing, that feeling a part
of your life has turned dirty, the sense of shame
when Byron became no more than ashes,
as if we’d urged some outraged father or husband
to endow himself with a cowboy judgement,
and contrive a murder to resemble misfortune,
so that his death, like his life was just a result
of faulty wiring, the ineffable being to blame.
But there must be a name for this idée fixe,
this yearning to share these narratives with
anybody who will listen, where no one comes out
with honour intact and all are under suspicion.
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