Intimations of Mortality

INTIMATIONS OF MORTALITY
Lines written nowhere near Tintern Abbey, not even close
A poem in seven chapters
 
1 Unremembering
 
In the museum of my brain
Archives of remembering
Piled like logs ready for the fire
Flamed by random kindling, is this mortal pyre
Flammable again, again and again?
 
That tickling table in the playground
My first kiss with sweet Yvonne 
The day I refused apple fool
A milky dawn in the kibbutz school
With today’s apples strewn around
 
Look at Liz dancing the Stomp
As Georgie Fame pounds the keys
Addison’s walk on May Day 
When young voices from the Tower play
Fractured memories, a colliding romp
 
But it’s a motor-psycho nitemare
Whose sinews stretch back through time
Connecting Susie, my children and friends
Along a road with unseen bends
And pills and urgent healthcare
 
The synapses are losing their spark
It’s hit and miss ‘what was her name?’
Bricks of autobiography crumble and fail
As if my memories have been sent to jail
And mortality a hammerhead shark
 
In the recesses of my brain
I am losing archives of remembering.
The kindling basket full to the brim
But the logs won’t light, the fires dim,
Unremembering, as memories drain
 
Not once but again and again
 
2 Muscle-Memory
 
Red leather ball in my hand 
Bustling to the wicket
Warm summer days, and more
Devoted to cricket
 
Clattering studs 
On the changing-room floor
Readying for the winter game 
Never mind the score
 
Up at seven every weekend
On the court by eight
Serving up another ace
Not worrying about my weight
 
Sitting in my arm-chair
It’s a mystery to me now
That I used to do these things 
I’ve lost the ‘know-how’
 
My muscle–memory has gone
I won’t play again
TV’s as near as I can come 
Time to take up Zen
 
3 Hard Times
 
WR Mysteries of the Organism
About sex and politics in ‘71
Adopted now (without the ‘ni’!)
Why do I find it so difficult to come?
 
It used to happen in a flash
Sometimes two or three times a day
Nothing grim about the reaper, then,
But now it seems she’s here to stay
 
Some men I hear
Have thrown in the towel
Contemplating successive nights
Like an old barn owl
 
For the erotic dice
Who do we thank
For pleasure disappearing
Not even with a wank?
 
4 A World Without Nouns
 
Please lock me away
not tomorrow night; I mean right away.
It’s time for me to hide
with my growing loneliness
Despite what you say, I won’t stay
in a world without nouns.
 
You say all I need do is change my tune
find for myself a new rune 
But I’m not OK, I’ll just move away
And suffer my homelessness.
I don’t care what you say I won’t stay
In a world without nouns.
 
Here I am in forests new 
Adapting to a world without you
I know you’ll return some day
So my love until then I’ll stay locked away
I don’t care what they say I won’t stay
In a world without nouns.
 
So I wait and hope that in a while
I’ll see your true-love smile
And when you come, whenever then,
Let’s lock both ourselves away
And allow the day when
We stay in a world without nouns.
 
With apologies to Lennon & McCartney
 
5 Webster Is Coming!
 
J Alfred Prufrock measured out 
His dull life 
In coffee spoons
Wearing the bottoms of his trousers 
Rolled
In deference to a body  
Growing old
 
But now is the time when
The personal habits he has 
Developed
His waxed moustache
Fish on Fridays
Shoes polished after waking
And Church on Sunday –
 
Are about to go under siege
As a weekly calendar pack
Of all his medications
Is put together
By wife Esther 
As prescribed by his GP
You guessed it – it’s a Webster 
 
Alas, there are no women to come and go
And no one wants to talk about Michelangelo 
 
6 D – Notice
 
Thank you for D-mentioning 
That memories are not real
That my Dad’s ‘little fish from the Ganges’
Has no factual appeal
That as we age and become unhinged
(Our brains in under-drive)
Throwing off random pellets
No questions about who will survive
How did a yawn 
Between thought and idea
Reveal this chasm peopled by fear?
It’s like I exist not here 
Or there
But underneath that cushion 
On my grandfather’s chair
Waiting to be sat on 
Like an anonymous foetus
Struggling for life – 
Here comes the D-notice
 
7 Trial By Life
 
My Welsh neurologist
Is full of fun as we address
The complex symptoms
Of life’s egress
 
It seems to me certain
My life is mortal 
Each year taking me nearer 
To the exit portal
 
Loss of smell
Quivering hands
Disturbed sleeping
Equivocal scans
 
Chest pains
Slow walking
Creeping deafness
Look who’s talking!
 
There is a deathly truth 
Like a Rorschach blot 
If you live long enough 
You’ll just get the lot