By Barry Tebb

Here is a silence I had not hoped for

This side of paradise, I am an old believer

In nature’s bounty as God’s grace

To us poor mortals, fretting and fuming

At frustrated lust or the scent of fame

Coming too late to make a difference

Blue with white vertebrae of cloud forms

Riming the spectrum of green dark of poplars

Lined like soldiers, paler the hue of hawthorn

With the heather beginning to bud blue

Before September purple, yellow ragwort

Sways in the wind as distantly a plane hums

And a lazy bee bumbles by.

A day in Brenda’s flat, mostly play with Eydie,

My favourite of her seven cats, they soothe better

Than Diazepan for panic

Seroxat for grief

Zopiclone to make me sleep.

I smoke my pipe and sip blackcurrant tea

Aware of the ticking clock: I have to be back

To talk to my son’s key nurse when she comes on

For the night shift.
Always there are things to sort,

Misapprehensions to untangle, delusions to decipher,

Lies to expose, statistics to disclose, Trust Boards

And team meetings to attend, ‘Mental Health Monthly’

To peruse, funds for my press to raise – the only one

I ever got will leave me out of pocket.

A couple sat on the next bench

Are earnestly discussing child custody, broken marriages,

Failed affairs, social service interventions –

Even here I cannot escape complexity

“I should never have slept with her once we split”

“The kids are what matters when it comes to the bottom line”

“Is he poisoning their minds against me?”

Part of me nags to offer help but I’ve too much

On already and the clock keeps ticking.

“It’s a pity she won’t turn round and clip his ear”

But better not to interfere.
Damn my bloody superego

Nattering like an old woman or Daisy nagging

About my pipe and my loud voice on buses –

No doubt she’s right – smoking’s not good

And hearing about psychosis, medication and end-on-sections

Isn’t what people are on buses for.

I long for a girl in summer, pubescent

With a twinkle in her eye to come and say

“Come on, let’s do it!”

I was always shy in adolescence, too busy reading Baudelaire

To find a decent wh*re and learn to score

And now I’m probably impotent with depression

So I’d better forget sex and read more of Andr? Green

On metaphor from Hegel to Lacan and how the colloquium

At Bonneval changed analytic history, a mystery

I’ll not unravel if I live to ninety.

Ignorance isn’t bliss, I know enough to talk the piss

From jumped-up SHO’s and locums who’d miss vital side effects

And think all’s needed is a mother’s kiss.

I’ll wait till the heather’s purple and bring nail scissors

To cut and suture neatly and renew my stocks

Of moor momentoes vased in unsunny Surrey.

Can you believe it? Some arseholes letting off fireworks

On the moor? Suburban excesses spread like the sores

Of syphilis and more regulations in a decade of Blair

Than in the century before.

“Shop your neighbours.
Prove it.
Bring birth certificates to A&E

If you want NHS treatment free.
Be careful not to bleed to death

While finding the certificate.
Blunkett wants us all to have ID

Photo cards, genetic codes, DNA database, eye scans, the lot –

And kiss good-bye to the last bits of freedom we’ve got”

“At the end of the day she shopped me and all I’d done

Was take a few pound from the till ’cos Jenny was ill

And I didn’t have thirteen quid to get the bloody prescription done”

To-morrow I’ll be back in the Great Wen,

Two days of manic catching up and then

Thistledown, wild wheat, a dozen kinds of grass,

The mass of beckoning hills I’d love to make

A poet’s map of but never will.

“Oh to break loose” Lowell’s magic lines

Entice me still but slimy Fenton had to have his will

And slate it in the NYB, arguing that panetone

Isn’t tin foil as Lowell thought.
James you are a dreadful bore,

A pedantic creep like hundreds more, five A4 pages

Of sniping and nit-picking for how many greenbacks?

A thousand or two I’d guess, they couldn’t pay you less

For churning out such a king-size mess

But not even you can spoil this afternoon

Of watching Haworth heather bloom.

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