As a child he kept amphibians

netted in the gentle stream,

fed maggots, worms and spiders;

enjoyed that savage ritual.


Along the seaside promenade

he'd pester grandma for another coin

to watch the clockwork execution:

a model man led out by guards

who dropped through a tiny trapdoor.


Later he amassed billions,

rose to power, eliminated rivals,


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Nocturnal soliloquies and wandering

are a far cry from childhood days

when we glimpsed the Southport sea

or a convent of cold war Ursulines

prayed mercy for evil Mr Khrushchev.


The fairground rollercoaster passage

of years before our family dwindled,

tea shops became an endangered species;

my uncle's crinkle-cut hair, ridiculous

as Kenneth More's ca...

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The dove looks alarmed

as its mate goes flying

off the sideboard's edge

when you fling a door.


Forty years, same place,

you used to tell me

how instalments ensured

the pair were yours.


Now you sit in this pool

of senseless oblivion

and don't even shed a tear

as I brush up fragments,


dream miraculous repairs

like those lost vases


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Sofa-surfing at loose-end parties

after tired feet touch tarmac

and poverty is a canvas of hazard.


A cousin in some pot-luck suburb

where cork sags under adverts.

At last a pokey crumbling room:

cabinet doors hang open in defiance,

insect agendas behind furniture

glued tight by the gunge of years.


New curtains and light bulbs

from alien sho...

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Herded down to the beach at ten

on a winter's morning

in thin white gym shorts as if our volition

came from his barking.

He claimed to have been a marine

and we were terrified,

with anaesthetised flesh

on the oily beach

strewn with bladder wrack

like something coughed up foul and green

and a pill box

full of trash and graffiti;

concrete obstacles from ...

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My father's journey through life

from school to war to office

was just a sequence of obedience

while others did the thinking.


No sooner home from work

than meal finished, off to play.

Sundays at the cricket crease

the only place he wished to be.


A catalogue of parks and pitches

we were driven to on sufferance,

mum to make tea and sandwiches


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