Posts Tagged regret
When your parents die
the movie ends.
Now you’re not playing a part.
You can sit back in your chair,
the one with your name on it,
and watch the action played back.
See the part you played.
Sit uncomfortable beside others,
self-conscious as your playing is reviewed.
And the silence closes in about you
as you see your failings
and the quiet of those around falls away
into the distance,
and your life and the stuff that is you
comes into focus.
A real tearjerker is this.
Who wrote this script?
How could, who would, did I?
They were just people.
Life’s timeline compresses.
Your streaming curve cuts across theirs
And streams away to curve back.
You with your guns firing.
Your stupid guns.
We should have talked more.
Because now I don’t see you
By way of a mirror.
Now I can look straight at you.
And I have to hang my head
So what am I really?
Now I’m in the mirror.
You stayed for a while.
I felt you and I heard your thoughts.
Now it’s quieter.
But one day I may
Have to have that talk.
About how we all made mistakes.
Mine feel so much greater
And I wonder where I’ll sit
Between you and my sons.
Mild wind in blue sky with sun glinting
off snowy Cretan mountain peaks
and bird song amongst orange groves
ripe with fruit waiting to be picked,
reverberated to a double shotgun blast
as someone blew his brains out
and spread them over the plaster
landscape that was his for too long.
As I wrote mellowed by birdsong,
righteously writing about what was wrong
with no cognisance of what went on
just below my balcony.
A moment came and passed.
And I learned about it from the news.
Written a long way away.
And now when I gaze down,
the birds still sing amongst the oranges.
And the dogs still bark.
The sad thing is that
the only people I’ve harmed
have been those I loved.
As he died and saw the world fade away,
he also saw his life spread out
like a two dimensional fan in front of him.
Then flames appeared and a charred black hole
spread out from the source into the delicate fan spread.
Each blade a part of his life,
crumbling to charred paper and blowing away on the wind.
And so he returned to his original state.
Now able to play a part in the way
he spent his life hoping he might.
Wiser now and on a universal stage
rather than a bit part in a sideshow.
But having learned to understand this.
There were four,
but then it fractured
And I curled and died
with shame and pain.
But they’ve risen from
and fly proud.
What part did I play though
as was my understood purpose?
That purpose that faded away
so I could only watch
And cast faintly heard praise.
they’ll live better lives.
All we can see of ourselves,
that tells our tale,
is our hands.
Smooth and then
suddenly not so.
This process of
the compression of one’s life
cannot be seen
by seeing yourself.
That would be to try
to describe your face
without a mirror.
But you can see
the hands that lie there
looking back at you,
and they tell no lies.
Wrinkled a little now,
they represent your life.
Its good and bad
and ultimately tired understanding.
Walking drunk down the passageway
past the sorry rooms
to gaze through the window
at the grey skies and
the blown crows
I have to ask why things worked out
Had I known that I needed to know
such certainty of ambition so soon,
perhaps I could have focused.
The crows know a secret
that the wind shares.
To follow one’s true nature,
if you can filter that out from the deafening noise.
Through that one small window pane
Looking out onto a black garden
On the darkest of nights,
I saw so many children
Running in the sunshine
Made sparkling by hosepipe rain.
And dogs and barbeques.
And the oak tree leaning over
To whisper smiling praise
For the children’s snowman.
And that battered and sun faded deckchair
That never got put away.
And the rose bush that ran wild.
And the garden shed that came to sag sadly.
And that forgotten glass in the flowerbed
That grew pale green with time.
And the memory of you.
Clear as daylight. Sitting there.
And that crumbling vision of a life
That drained away into the earth,
As though it had never been.
I weep for that now,
Seeing it through my mean window pane.
I weep for that in the eternal now.
Standing on the Chain Bridge
Over Budapest’s Danube,
Watching the water flow by.
Gellert Hill stands in the background,
Where the Nazis had their headquarters
In the second world war.
How many Stukas lie buried in river mud?
Bleached skulls gazing up at passing pleasure boats now,
Wondering what it was for.
In a Budapest pub against a wall,
Stands an ancient pram that sits quietly
Amongst the bawdy crowd,
Remembering walks in the park.
Its cast iron wheels and rusty springs
Support a wicker basket lined with
Broken cotton that once warmed
A baby long dead now.
In its place lie old bottles,
And a single, painted plate.
It looks up at the ghost of the woman
Who still patiently pushes her charge
Down tree lined paths in parks
Long since bombed beyond existence.
She sings to her baby
And it beams back,
Its awkward, human hand painted features
Irregular in a mechanised world.
The plate is still there
Whilst the baby’s long gone,
Having lived a process through
Two world wars.
Now through that plate,
The artist and the child join spirits
And smile happily up at the pretty young woman
Who knew nothing of what was to come.
When you reach a point where what you need to say cannot be expressed, and there’s no one to express it to anyway. That’s when you hit despair. When suddenly the odd phenomenon of being alive feels like a sensual experience that you’d rather not feel right now because it’s so uncomfortable. And your time is spent waiting for it to pass. Like being too stoned or too drunk, and waiting for the world to stop spinning because it isn’t fun any more. Fun sort of but not actually, and you want it to stop. And only what’s beyond this state is desirable. But beyond seems so far away. And it’s not allowed anyway. And seems to be impossible.
Past the train station.
Its old stones and arching glass having seen
Tanks and wars and revolutions.
I stood amongst shoppers with garish bags
From all the top brands.
Then past me walked a woman in blue plastic
With tears running down her face
As she saw the cold night ahead living on the street.
And I wanted to give her something to help
But I didn’t.
I stopped and turned and watched her walk away
Through the hurried, selfish crowd.
Now it’s I who weep.
For my weakness.
If you stopped to ask him why,
As he sat filthy bent there on the street,
A few small coins in a paper cup,
Would he lift up his sag skinned face,
Filthy creased leather and wire wool beard,
Eyes red rimmed and shocking piercing,
And answer you?
Would he tell you his story?
Would he warn you why?
Would he tell of children and lost love?
Of missed chance and chances taken?
Would his eyes water with regret
Or turn deep with hidden meaning?
Or would he ask you the same question?
Dad was further up the bus queue
He caught one just now.
I’m still waiting.
Some wait in front of me
And some wait behind.
Number 37 or some such.
Don’t know where it goes
Or why it’s called that.
But we’re all waiting for it.
In a queue.
I didn’t see that he’d caught his bus
Until just now when the phone rang.
But then it is a long queue
And he was right up at the front of it.
I remember when he stood
Kicking the dirt right back here
Where I now stand.
Looking about him
And wondering what and why.
Maybe the good bits
Are so good that we must pay
A pain price elsewhere.
As the swirling whirling world
Flew by my eye
Caught sight of a frozen moment.
Hanging there still in streaming blur,
Eyes wide watching me and asking why.
So I lied and I told him a story.
One that I came to believe.
And now I stand here looking out
Across the windblown moor.
Knowing what went wrong.
So slow life seemed then.
But as life’s integers pass,
Each becomes smaller.
What matters most?
Soft squeezing through fingers sensual
Or hard serrated stuff that makes you bleed?
Look in the mirror.
See the person there yesterday.
The shadow of your smile lies
Across the smooth white perfection
Of my view.
Like a chasm that splits
A snowfield in two.
A divide between the perfect and the perfect.
A bottomless rift
That will forever divide my life.
I had a home once. With warm fires and warm people and friends and hot food. And a cat, and children. And problems with neighbours.
Village pub characters knew me, and I was always torn between their welcome, and the given one at home.
But it was all false. Built on sand. Built on an acquired attitude, acquired because it was required in order to be able to compete. Make money, forget about earning it. Quiet periods in some other pub, on the way home from work, when I could be me between being one person at work and another one entirely at home.
Will my wife be an angel or a devil when I get there? Synthetic when the former, insufferable when the latter.
But my children loved their home.
One winter, it began to snow. And that peculiar silence fell across the village. A sense of expectancy. Or was it more like a balm on sunburned skin? Or Christmas eve perhaps. As though all those competitive spirits had suspended the game for a few hours, to watch and consider each other for once.
The cat flap flapped, and in walked Sam. He paused, shook one paw daintily before proceeding to his righteous place in front of the blazing fire. One child read quietly in the corner, whilst the younger, three years junior at six, played with his cars, lining them up across the carpet in a precise grid, only to smash the resulting matrix to pieces by hurling his rubber dinosaur at them. Sam took his place by the fire, and I sat on the floor watching them all.
My wife appeared. Both children stopped what they were doing. The cat stopped purring. She stopped, and stood still in the doorway, and sighed. In that moment, in that warm room in that warm home, something of the frozen chill outside invaded and touched us all. Something of the future invaded the present, and in hindsight, made it worthless.
‘I want a divorce.’
Dancing orange firelight played amongst the fractal mirrors of frost on the windowpane, and the world felt colder still. My younger son threw one more dinosaur.
Pink dawn light fluoresced though steam rising ever so slowly from the frozen surface of the canal. A solitary bird uttered a note and fell silent again. Smoke oozed from the stack on a nearby narrowboat. A heap of sacks in front of me stirred and Angie’s face, red and blotchy, appeared from one end. I moved to speak but my beard was frozen to the bench and I had to busy myself freeing it.
A low and watery winter sun appeared, only to emphasise the sagging bellies of low grey cloud hanging over us. By eight o’clock, it was snowing. Big, wet lazy flakes drifting down of their own accord through the quiet air, not driven by any cause or need. I lay there and watched them, and the yellow windows of the narrowboat. Other boats sat further down the canal, each fainter than the other, becoming more grey as mist rising gently from the water obscured the view. In the background, dark hills sat squat and watching.
Angie produced a bottle of whisky from underneath her sacks and offered me some. She was a good old girl. Heart of gold.
The smell of bacon drifted over from the narrowboat. The whisky felt good, slipping down warm and softening the world. A noise came from the boat, and a cat appeared. It paused, and then jumped ashore, tail pointing contemptuously upwards at the glowering sky. Its paws left perfect prints in the snow as it walked by.
It’s all coming to a grinding halt.
All those years of making
And trying and playing.
It hasn’t worked and its stopping now.
And a sense of failing grows
Like a vine though my mind.
What road next? What turn or twist?
What way to go to stay
Sure as rock and solid,
That I might hold my head
In cocksure certainty
And hope to be a winner.
I’m on a raft and bouncing down
This torrent of white water,
Carrying me off rocks and dying.
Only the pace seems important.
How long will this last?
It just goes on.
But some friends smile
And a gentle word makes it all worthwhile.
This form is strange stuff
That makes such a trial.
I don’t know how to manage this
But maybe that’s the problem.
I try too hard to make it work
To fit some silly idea
Of what should be. But this is luxury.
To think like this.
Necessary planning on a route
To self sufficiency perhaps.
But there’s no such thing.
We have a world that is no softer
Than that hard bed that Christ was born to.
And the harder we work
The further it moves and we build
A wall of fire before us.
Do I give up?
Do I really know?
What is mood and what’s to see?
What is the real me?
And what is my circumstance?
It isn’t what I think,
It’s something deep inside
Some non existent existence that
Preceded all I know.
I’ll die one day.
Maybe too soon.
And then I’ll know I was deluded
And time’s much longer
Than even I imagined.
I took him back and he looked at me.
His eyes spoke loud and I sighed and went away.
Nothing I could say.
I live in this garden now.
But he still plays and races and laughs
And I can see him.
Is reality a product of my eyes?
Or is my mind the true source
Of all mankind and all is what I need it to be.
Is time a process that belies the truth?
That my son still plays here?
My eyes lie but my mind knows better.
Time is just a trick designed to fetter
Our hopes and desires.
I choose to live when things were better.