Posted in Rituals

Keeping Face

He wasn’t the first,
Alistair had that distinction
or destiny.
Al – at high school, we thought him full of bullshit
too much exaggeration
too much hyperbole
too much self-aggrandisement
until dead at 17 : from too much heroin,
we reclassified fiction, non-fiction.

Once he was gone,
we realised he’d never been innocent
or innocent
this time, feel like the first time.
Just 20, all of us – just left our teens
20 – seemed so much older than 19
even the really old school at uni
treated us less like kids now.

In the afternoon sunshine
we stood straight and tall
lowering our heads
in sync with the lowering coffin.
A sigh
moist eyes
no one wiped them
or risked trembling vocal cords.
We walked away in silence.




Most of my life has been spent on the bench, occasionally called into the game by extravagance or attenuation. Waiting has turned a loner into a recorder - nondescript and inconsequential, more not noticed than overlooked - the non-vantage point of children not yet considered old enough to understand. Orphaned Islands (Un)poetry is a lifetime of picking anecdotes up and not throwing them away. Stories collected like odds and ends placed in a box in the basement, the garage, the garden shed - uncertain as to what their use might be but knowing that one day there might be one.