Posted in Passages


It arrived at school with the bus –
the urgent talk.
Some claimed to have seen it
others heard of the impact.
There were no red light cameras then
or smart phones
no electronic eye to confirm or dispute
eyewitness :
some said he was moving early
others, late
premature or tardy it made no difference
car + cyclist + red light.

Even the 11-year-olds on the bus knew it was serious,
critical – life-threatening.
We all want to know what had been witnessed
sirens, ambulance and police, then high-speed departure hospital.
Our form master began by saying we’d  probably already heard –
and he had nothing to add.
90 minutes later, after a corridor visit from the principal, he did.
Perhaps the answer was on our faces,
or he wanted no doubt.
“ Yes, the boy is dead. ”

There might have been a prayer, it was a Catholic school
but recall, can’t recall.
Memory remembers just carrying on with maths,
or science or whatever lesson was in train.
No counselling, no trauma team,
no discussion, school service or special assembly.
Possibly his classmates attended the funeral – probably they did
but nothing else – it was never mentioned again.
That was how things were done in the 1970’s.



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.