The Gaping Gulf

  1. Cloud-capped, deserted, building and building site
  2. Exchange whispers and winks. I glide half-
  3. Asleep down the alley between them, as if
  4. Adrift on some superannuated schooner. Nearby, on another
  5. Kind of scaffold, John Stubbs gallantly raised his hat to the cheering crowd
  6. With his left hand, and blessed the Queen, while her
  7. Executioner held aloft his right.
  8.                                                                Then he fainted. I’ve the taste
  9. Of azure and wind in my mouth, and flecks
  10. Of soot and dust in my hair. I think
  11. Of all those on the verge of fainting
  12. Today — teachers and alcoholics, long-distance runners, Tokyo-bound
  13. Commuters crushed rib to rib. Their lungs
  14. Wheeze and labour, and would rest; they need
  15. A cold compress, a caressing breeze, some
  16. Respite from the rattling drone of dried peas
  17. In the inner ear. Ruminating, renouncing
  18. Word after spellbound word, the alphabet looms like twenty-six
  19. Patient camels on the horizon, then breaks
  20. In half between the letters m and n, burdened
  21. By too much grit and rubble
  22. And sand... Look! A sand-
  23. Coloured lizard is disappearing through a hair-fine
  24. Crack in the wall just above the wireless, as one gropes
  25. For the dates of the reign of Henry
  26. The Navigator, or Philip the Second
  27. Of Spain. Dusk
  28. Descends here like a thrown cloak, coarse, thick, almost suffocating,
  29. Alive with inexplicable sounds. Was that
  30. A distressed owl, or the harsh bark
  31. Of a disease-bearing fox? What bothered who- or what-
  32. Ever cried? — distant thunder vexing the dim
  33. Hyades, or breadfruit upon breadfruit thudding
  34. To earth?
  35.                  The gulf
  36. Between a bleeding wrist and the breadfruit-crowned
  37. Adventures of the current Order
  38. Of the British Empire, is fast receding into the dark
  39. Back of time. My father (born October, 1934, died
  40. The last day of May, 2007) kept his medal in a safe
  41. Cleverly hidden in the utility room.
  42. The institutions that formed him, bade him don
  43. A tin hat at Suez, shimmer like elegant, gauzy backdrops
  44. Floating down from the flies. He wept
  45. Rarely, ate powdered egg through gritted teeth
  46. As a child, believed in the beneficent
  47. Stride of progress. ‘Who
  48. Would true valour see,’ we sang
  49. at the crematorium, ‘Let him
  50. Come hither.’