Fraser Harrison p.1

Mayday, Mayday

Nirvana (for Jack)

Dying Slowly

Mayday, Mayday

Beard of corn, sky-blue eye,
sapling legs, boy’s smile,
our handsome, foolish friend
shot himself, locked in a shed,
on such a morn as this,
in the merry month of May.

Round his shed the cowslips bloomed
yellow as eggs for breakfast,
bloomed the blue forget-me-nots,
and stars of Bethlehem
that doused their light at night
to bloom afresh each dawn.

The sun shone,
that merry morn in May,
the brighter to show him
his failings, how short
his shadow,
how tall his debts.

The birds sang to say
his nest was smashed,
his hen betrayed.
The May green gushed
as the bright day dawned
on a fresh chance to fail.

Lark dotting the sky-blue sky,
woodpecker drilling an oak,
lambs bleating, child sleeping,
lime leaves dappling the roof,
the day our handsome, foolish friend
locked his door.

Copyright © 2008 Fraser Harrison
Nirvana (for Jack)

Playing snooker with my son is nirvana.

Our club tarries in perpetual dusk,
its carpet marshy with booze and fag ash,
strange place to find
the wheelʼs still hub,
yet here, for me,
with him,
is a point of peace at the centre of strife.

Wise old loser, Iʼm Steve Davis
To his Ronnie OʼSullivan, bad boy of the baize.
I despatch my balls as a king
his captains on parlous voyages
across a green sea
to the top pocketʼs spicy harbour.
He slams his shots, gangster-style, every ball
a bullet. Machiavelli, I plot the pot after the pot after next
and miss my easy red. He sinks the pink
by mistake, demands to have the cue ball cleaned.

Always happy when parodic, he commentates
on my style in a famous wheezing whisper:
‛What a beautiful cueing action —
pity he never pots a ball.ʼ
He claims he canʼt perform
without Dennis Taylor specs.
The balls play their own game, deciding
which of us will kiss the cup for the cameras.

During our long hour of companionship,
which trickles slow as a tricky pot along the fickle cushion,
anxiety is debarred, thrown out
to chew its nails at the club door.

Snooker with my son is nirvana.

Copyright © 2009 Fraser Harrison
Dying Slowly

My father’s dying
slowly. Aren’t we all?
Too slow to skip pain,
he hobbles, stick and stocking,
to his grave. Can’t hurry Death:
all in his own bad time.
Rotting from its prostate,
his root turned into Death’s
tool; cell by cell,
he’s inching into his corpse.

Death lives,
a lodger, in their house;
watches telly with them,
sits in the best chair,
hogs the conversation,
keeps my mother awake
whetting his scythe,
stone hissing on the blade,
bleeding my father,
drop by drop.

At grave’s edge,
feet dangling,
he’s become a baby,
fed and nursed
by my, now his
mother. He fears
dying, not death; fears
pain, not the night
his cock-a-doodle-doo
will never rouse.

We’re not reconciled, father
and son. I have my guilt,
he his grievances. He can’t see
beyond his own grave: no grief
for my mother’s to come.
He’s just dying
to be friends with Death,
hopes to wheedle him
into killing kindly.
Don’t we all?

Copyright © 2009 Fraser Harrison
Dying Slowly read by Fraser Harrison

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