the stag

The beast lay awkwardly across the road
hemmed in by the obscenity of shock and pain
pressed on the labouring heart beneath its sleek dun coat;
its head was high, its neck was taut, struggling against gravity
with hatred of its torment and the closing graze of cold oblivion
coming motionless to end it, on an unforgiving tarmac hill.
Its countless springtime outcomes now reduced to one:
endurance out of time, prolonged until the tranquillising dart
will still its complex writhing eye, the dimming eye, in mercy…

… oblivious already to any kind of meaning I might have glimpsed
or thought I could ascribe, to the tiring dregs of his gifted life…
to the sacrifice of lithe young potency, betrayed by random order…
to the Fall from a morning’s innocence, rutting with antlered pride
to this helpless agony of broken-hipped distress, still tied
to life by fraying threads of habitude and parting ligaments,
his reality cut through to bring the grave its victory
as we went streaming safely past, insulated in our sins.
Who could prepare for this?



Occasionally there is a death.

A direct shocking abrupt termination
of that person’s hopeful journey in a jagged tragic crash
of horror, pain and blood and dirt and aftershocks.

Fragments.  Sending eddies in the flow for miles

And an hour or so of people’s lives
claimed by the entirety of one, at random:
all too fully human but diminishing with distance…

Fading…  Until the beat resumes…


I could distinguish more finely, and clearly
to please an absent-minded editor;

but it’s better I think to forget
where I came from and those
whom I left there, with their voices
immediate and real – but not mine –

and to whisper fragments such as
we stretched across the silences,

words which fell into the rustling gaps
between the wheezing gasps and rasping coughs
that emptied my father’s tired lungs of air
and his TB.   In isolation.