The Graveyard Watch – Parts 1-3 (2010)

After last week’s political posts I’m returning to poetry. I wrote and deleted a post on Saturday about the riots, but had the distinct feeling it added very little to what I had already written. The political blame game is in full swing and the battle lines between those who blame the rioters and those who blame society are drawn. I’m not up for adding to the noise just because I seem to have developed an audience.

This is series of poems I wrote over Christmas and New Year following several deaths in the family, it attempts to deal with death, chaos and meaning. I’m posting the first three parts now, and will put up the others in a couple of days. I want to apologise to Henry, who took the time to look over the whole series, for not posting a version that incorporated his insights and edits. I left the poems for a while and when I came back to them, they were no longer “alive” to me so I decided to stick with what I’d written in the first place even though it is weaker than it might have been if I had made some of his changes.

The Graveyard Watch

At Twelve O’Clock

In your red-rimmed eyes I saw

Accusation and a man

Less able, more aged than he

That took your vows one August past

And cherished you more

Than I now know how.


And as you pass through sobbing sleep

The one release

From eruptive grieving

And as you dream a summer dream

(That I can tell by your suddenly smiling)

And as the wind whips against the eves

And the sky fills up with iron filings

I sit alone, unwilling,

And keeping by fag light

The graveyard watch.


At One O’Clock

I am done with aphorisms about death

Each one equally unreminiscent

Of intelligence

On a subject where nothing is said

With experience of the event.


I am done with the cliché and the pet phrase

The bon mot that begets

A dozen permutations

And a laugh at every one.


And I am done with the exasperation

The not knowing how to feel

The instant of powerless recognition

And the slithering re-authentication

Of the knowledge it won’t happen to me.


I am done with Death and I am happy

To let Death do and leave Death be.


At Two O’Clock

In the end it matters not which way

Blows the wind that bends us.

Not a jot the strength of storm

That breaks us.


(If, that is we are broken by storm

And not by incessant dripping worn

To a sediment of ourselves)


It matters not how hard, how blind

Became the loving eyes

That didn’t know her when they saw her

Could not recognise what was taken

And what was left alive

By the crash and the fall -like a skyful of water –

Of time


It matters not what words were passed

What blows,

What slights were said so lightly

And felt so hard

That even decades did not weary you

Of grudging them.


And though you do not weary of grudging them,


This too will pass.


At Three O’Clock

Music was for me always

Sullen notes and little more;

A thick-fingered alchemy

A knowledge that leaves me

Clicking poor metronome

While the song itself soars

Spreading high and wild.


And as such there was always

Nothing to tease out the keen

Of a heart at full strain

And draw it like wool or wire

Are drawn into cogency

And out of gnarly yarn.


There was nothing to believe

Against the evidence

Of a slow insurrection

By the forces of noise

And no one voice heard

Against the confusion

That threw itself like a tower toward the sun

And ended, as I have

With the breaking of language

And the confounding of tongues.


There was none

Among my talents that could join –

High and wild – the funeral song

Nor keep its rhythm


One response to “The Graveyard Watch – Parts 1-3 (2010)

  1. I rescind my comments anyway. Reading them again I think they suit being a little red-eyed and ragged. Glad you’ve put the sequence up. I do think it captures those hours.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s