Remembering James

He used to make this  beautiful battenberg cake

Each colour clearly separated

The dense yellows and pinks staining the sponge

Beguiling to the eye as the knife sliced through

Almondy marzipan and syrupy borders


We sat in the car after the church group

He told me how he’d been a chef before

And how his ex used to beat him up

A nervous man always watching his step

He said it took him forever to trust again


I saw him on the train

A couple of days later

With a Tupperware box of sandwiches

Wrapped in greaseproof paper

Sat, pouring strong coffee from his tartan patterned

Thermos flask


He said he was visiting the big gothic library

Returning his books sixteen miles away

A long way just to borrow them I thought

I asked him what he'd been reading

And he showed me a sturdy rattan shopping bag

Filled with books on composers

Mozart,Haydn,Debussy among the names I recognised


I was classically trained once

He said, eyes beginning to glisten

Back when I had a life

I notice his attempt at a smile

But his chin begins to tremble

And I awkwardly try to change the subject


He told me how he'd eat 

In the top cafe's

How he and his friends would drink wine

And visit theatre's regularly

How he'd cook all the time

And hold small dinner parties


The city loved him and he loved it back

He’d been happy here once years ago

Before she’d taken ill and needed help

No one else would look after his Mum though

So he moved down the tracks and took his place

On the gritty estate

He stood out like a sore thumb


I know this is wrong of me he said once

Trying to gauge my reaction

But the young man I held hands with in prayer

At the meeting is always on my mind

I think he felt the same way about me


But i’ve been told that God won’t accept me

A leader told me god loves the sinner

Not the sin

Not my Homosexuality

He told me it was an abomination

I feel dirty now

He said 

Looking down 


Over time James stopped answering the door



I didn’t speak up though I felt the same

I saw him again one day

On the train, smiling

As I waved him over, and we chatted

I don’t agree with them you know I said

If you feel that way then you feel that way


He smiled, opened the foil, and we shared the cake.

◄ The Sea Dog

The Dresser ►


Frances Macaulay Forde

Fri 26th Jan 2018 22:56

You certainly have a special way with words, Jon.
You understand how to grab the reader by his collar and pull him close, so close that he can taste your breath.
Well done, again.

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chris yates

Sun 5th Nov 2017 18:46

Touching sad thought full this poem just takes the reader on an unknown journey into the life of a lonely man re ching out for acceptance .
Loved the last stanza were you met up with him once again we have a long way to go but poems like this change our perseptions.
Thank you and keep these poems coming look forward to your next one .
Always thought provoking.

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Hannah Collins

Wed 1st Nov 2017 19:36

I enjoyed this poem so much. The description, the story and emotions.
Thank you for commenting on my poem The Bound Bird.
Really appreciated your comment, especially so as it led me to your work.


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Tue 31st Oct 2017 13:57

"The city loved him and he loved it back" like a line from Woody Allen that one.
I know you well Jbd and this is a new mood for you in some ways, though obviously it mirrors you typically .
You always paint a picture with your poetry and often you sugar it with the past anecdotal.
Knowing about this phase of your life as I do helps me when I read it, and as ever you always convey beautifully the simplicity of your understanding of other people you feel empathy with. 10 out of 10

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keith jeffries

Sun 29th Oct 2017 22:40

Jon, this is one of the most beautiful and touching poems that I have ever read. Thanks. Keith

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Philip Stevens

Fri 27th Oct 2017 12:19

Forgive the swearing but " i fucking love that piece of writing" as with all your work, you take the reader on a journey, fantastic story telling, i felt like an looker as visualized each scene. Thanks for sharing Jon

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Fri 27th Oct 2017 09:53

Loved this piece.
Very touching and thought provoking.
Well done ?

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Stu Buck

Wed 25th Oct 2017 07:08

this really is quite wonderful. powerful and heartbreaking. the battenburg is a clever metaphor and i like the way it sits in the background while the straightforward language conveys the strength. beautiful. read it twice.

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Tue 24th Oct 2017 15:17

Written in response to a theme of alienation. The Church can sometimes isolate the people it says it's reaching out to.

The person this poem was inspired by thought he'd found a place of acceptance initially after many long,sad,lonely years.

Sad to say this kind of treatment is far more widespread than we sometimes understand it to be.

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