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LETTERS TO FRIENDS
Dear Eddie we’ve not met
Except upon the written page
And at your age the wonder
Is that you write at all
When so many have gone under
Or been split asunder by narcissistic humours
Blunder following blunder
Barker and Graham, godfathering my verse
Bearing me cloud-handed to Haworth moor
From my chained metropolitan moorings,
O hyaline March morning with Leeds
At its thrusting best, the thirsty beasts
Of night quenched as the furnaces
Of Hunslet where Hudswell Clarke’s locos
Rust in their skeletal sheds, rails skewed
To graveyards platforms and now instead
Skyscrapers circle the city, cranes, aeroplanes,
Electric trains but even they cannot hinder
Branches bursting with semen
Seraphic cloud sanctuaries shunting
Us homeward to the beckoning moors.
Leeds voices soothe the turbulence
‘Ey’ ‘sithee’ and ‘love’, lastingly lilt
From cradle to grave, from backstreet
On the social, our son, beat his way
To Eton, Balliol, to Calcatta’s Shantiniketan
And all the way back to a locked ward.
While I in the meantime fondly fiddled
With rhyme and unreason, publishing pamphlets
And Leeds Poetry Weekly while under the bane
Of his tragic illness, poet and mother,
You were driven from pillar to post
By the taunting yobbery of your family
And the crass insensitivity of wild therapy
To the smoking dark of despair,
Locked in your flat in the Abbey Road
With seven cats and poetry.
O stop and strop your bladed darkness
On the rock of ages while plangent tollings
Mock your cradled rockings, knock by knock.
In these doom-laden days
You are steady as a pilot nursing tired ships homeward
Through churning seas
Where grey gulls scream
Forlornly and for ever.
I am the red-neck,
Shifting sheer rock
To rape the ore of poetry’s plunder
Or bulldozing trees to glean mines of silver
While you sail serenely onward
Ever the diplomat’s daughter
Toujours de la politesse.
Daisy, dearest of all, safest
And kindest, watcher and warner
Of chaotic corners looming
Round poetry’s boomerang bends
I owe you most a letter
While you are here beside me
Patient as a miller waiting on wind
To drive the great sails
When the muse takes over
I am snatched from order and duty
Blowing routine into a riot of going
And coming, blind, backwards, tip
Over arse, sea waves crashing in suburbia,
Saturnalia in Sutton, headlines of mad poet
Striding naked over moors, roaring
"I am here I am waiting".
Niagaras of letters on pink sheets
In sheaths of silver envelopes
I open your missives
Like undressing a girl in my teens
Undoing the flap like a recalcitrant
Bra strap, the letters stiff as nipples
While I stroke the creviced folds
Of amber and mauve and lick
As I stick stamps like the clitoris
Of a reluctant virgin, urgent for
Defloration and the pulse of orgasm.
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