The best thing for the children is for us to call it quits.
We won't go to a counsellor, 'cause they're a bunch of twits.
I'll take the kids to Manchester, and you must stay behind.
The best thing for the children is for you to lose your mind.

The best thing for the children is to go behind your back.
To hire a solicitor (who some might call a hack).
To keep a secret diary of every angry word.
The best thing for the children is to treat you like a turd.

The best thing for the children is to summon you to court.
To ask a judge to order that you will do as you ought.
To lie in witness statements and to paint you as a brute.
The best thing for the children is to go the legal route.

The best thing for the children is to keep them from their dad.
To help them to forget about the happy life they had.
To leave behind their schools and friends, their comfortable home.
The best thing for the children is to learn to live alone.

The best thing for the children is to shack up with some guy,
who hardly sees his own kids: it's best not to ask why.
He calls me 'slut' and 'bitch' and says that I'm a lousy mum.
The best thing for the children is to wait for worse to come.

The best thing for the children is to go to court again,
To fight over the money and to put us through more pain.
To dispute all the numbers and to hope you lose your shirt.
The best thing for the children is to drag you in the dirt.

I put the children first, you see, as I pulled them apart.
I cared for them and loved them with a mother's tender heart.
Their interests are paramount, their happiness is key:
The best thing for the children is whatever pleases me.


May. 18th, 2007 02:12 pm
We made it clear that we were just good friends:
"You need a salsa partner, so do I."
No thoughts of other, horizontal, ends.
My wounds too deep, I was unfit to try.

I didn't make for easy company,
and yet, a spark, a glimmer, a new flame.
How best to stoke this new-found love with me?
Well, "Bridget Jones's Diary"'s to blame.

It's "not just shagging" see, to go away:
A long weekend in Wales; a nice hotel;
A comfortable room in which to stay;
the sea to swim in, and our love as well.

A loaf of wine, a jug of bread, and thou.
Our minibreak is paradise enow.
The first time he hurt you, with his madness -
his cruel words and lies, his jealous rage -
You talked him down again, in your sadness;
I comforted you and so set the stage.

The second time he hurt you, ruthlessly,
he threatened to destroy you with his mind.
You went to him, you left me, truthlessly.
You showed him how it pays to be unkind.

Two more times that he hurt you, when you swore
you'd ended it, you'd never let him back.
You knew one day the words would lead to more,
to fists and to your blue eyes swollen black.

The next time that he hurts you, will that be?
And after that? Your friends can't bear to see.


Feb. 1st, 2007 03:39 pm
Spring hurries on stage, well before her cue:
Winter didn't show; cardboard scenery shakes;
her make-up's smudged; her costume is askew.
But she says her line, and the world awakes.

The force that through the green fuse drives us all
stirs in black soil and unlit shoots arise,
part the wet clods and climb out of the pall.
So stirs my blood to life, my heart, my eyes.

The season's wrong: it is too soon for this,
but I am dumb to mouth unto my veins,
to slow the pulse, to unwake, to unkiss;
no more can plants ungrow or clouds unrain.

Too soon, too soon, and blood roars in my ears.
Too soon, too soon, it drowns out all my fears.


Dec. 15th, 2006 09:40 pm

We turn away, part on the beach of life.
We leave no more than footprints in the sand:
the traces of a husband and a wife
walking the years together, hand in hand.

You seek a treasure I cannot provide:
a greater love than you and I had known.
In each rock-pool, see what came on the tide.
A fluted shell? A fish? A heart-like stone?

I walk into the cool indifferent sea:
Dissolve myself in its patient embrace.
It neither knows nor cares for you and me;
treats not our love with dignity or grace

but covers up our footprints, come what may:
to wash away, at last, to wash away.


Nov. 29th, 2006 02:29 am
What harm does folly to the willing fool?
Who knows the truth but turns his mind away.
Who guards his treasure as a precious jewel:
just ashes, now, but he relives the day

when all the world was his, within his reach,
to know and love and share with a true heart;
when joy was spread like pebbles on a beach,
the glorious abundance of love's art.

That past is past, and cannot be replayed:
the beach long-covered by the rising tide.
He knows it best of all, the price he's paid,
so ask not why he dreams a life denied.

One day he will move on; his dream will die.
And then he'll be a poorer fool than I.
The picture stood upon their window-sill:
A happy couple, young, in love, alive.
Their joyful moment then is captured still:
The Charter Ball of nineteen fifty five.

When I was eight, Mum taught me how to dance.
With Dad to demonstrate the leading parts.
I mostly stood and watched their true romance:
I flunked the waltz, but learned of loving hearts.

The ruby wedding, nineteen ninety eight:
The village hall, the band, family, friends.
Dance on, although the hour is getting late.
Live for the dance, until the music ends.

When mum died, I was at a salsa class.
She would approve, the dancing Yorkshire lass.
Upon a rise, above the Derwent clear,
 an ancient ring of stones you showed to me.
I took you back there, by surprise, last year.
 I'm glad you took our children there to see.

I led you, eyes closed, through the kissing gate
 into the circle you knew as a girl:
the sacred stones that number thirty-eight.
 We spun around the centre in a whirl.

The marriage that we'd been to celebrate
 was over when just twelve more months had passed.
I never felt that ours could meet that fate:
 a living monument we built to last.

Though fine details do not survive today,
 Much of the magic never fades away.


Oct. 16th, 2006 08:22 pm
Upon a rise, above the Derwent clear,
 an ancient ring of stones you showed to me.
I took you back there, by surprise, last year.
 I hope you'll take our children there to see.
  I led you, eyes closed, through the kissing gate
   into the circle you knew as a girl:
  the sacred stones that number thirty-eight.
   We spun around the centre in a whirl.
The marriage that we'd been to celebrate
 was over when just twelve more months had passed.
I never felt that ours could meet that fate:
 a living monument we built to last.
And yet you end it now, to all our cost:
 all vows, all promises, all trust, all lost.


Oct. 9th, 2006 09:24 pm
The cellist's cloak is long and black and sheer;
her hair is wild, her playing is precise;
self-echoed seven times, in phases near,
on split-screen digital video splice.

The second piece is harder, complex voice;
redeemed by simple beauty in the strings.
Repeat, return, sing back the leader's choice.
His genius is in the little things.

The interval: I buy the new box set,
a card, a pen, and sit and write to her,
remembering our trip to hear "Sextet,"
six months, a lifetime, all a nightmare blur.

"18 musicians" lifts my soul through tears.
"2 listeners," this music's had, for years.


Oct. 2nd, 2006 07:36 pm
One cannot engineer the human heart;
no chart can tell the way that love will go.
The mechanism of each hidden part,
the fulcrums and the balances just so.

You called, and offered me a meeting then,
the opportunity to see and hold
our perfect children, on a weekend when
I thought that chance had gone, as you had told.

We met, and as our children shone with joy
(our precious girl and I danced salsa spin,
I played the lava game with rosy boy),
I learned about a lever deep within:

The weight of one sweet child upon my knee
Will lift my soul's great burden, set me free.


Oct. 2nd, 2006 07:13 pm
One cannot legislate the human heart;
no court may order love to come or go.
Though learned friends might employ all their art,
their arguments can never make it so.

You called, and I let slip the truth unthought,
and, though I tried, those words can't be unsaid.
You are my love, and if love comes to naught,
it is love still, and may be 'til I'm dead.

We met, and as our children shone and played,
you wept, a grief unspoken in your eye.
I dared not ask, nor offer any aid:
My care, my touch, would never these tears dry.

It undoes me, to sit and watch your pain.
If only I could comfort you again.


Sep. 23rd, 2006 10:40 pm
The promise that you made me undertake,
the order that the court refused to give:
what surer way to tear things up, to break
your words: "respect and love", "live and let live".
Your cruel, brutal treatment in that week:
callous resort to law, curbs meant for brutes,
ensures that you and I no more can speak,
seals off from us the amicable routes.
I cannot risk a chance word misconstrued;
contempt proceedings you would surely bring
if anything I said struck you as rude
or if you took my tone as pestering.
What of your words, if I remember right:
"We must be friends, we must not ever fight"?


Aug. 25th, 2006 10:30 pm
From all that we have shared and dreamed and done,
Of all the love and joy that we have made,
Remains but this: the thought "well, that was fun!
What next? Where next? Who next?"; the rest is laid
Away in boxes full of memories,
Retained for grey heads to nod at one day,
Dragged out to show grandchildren ill at ease.
"Nice biscuits, grandpa," they will find to say.
Onwards, then, see what paths our lives will take,
To what horizon, what banners unfurled?
Become yourself, unhindered, go on, take
A glorious bite out of the whole world.
Conquer it all: we'll see who you can be.
Keep watch also, as I grow into me.


Aug. 8th, 2006 10:00 am
Escape and find your space, your hope, your life,
New friends, new lovers, but this is still true:
Deep within we are made 'husband' and 'wife' -
Leave the marriage; I know it won't leave you.
Eleven years we've woken with a kiss,
Sealing again the promises we made.
Such love does not evaporate like this,
Like cheaper ink left in the sun to fade.
You choose this year to wake that day alone.
You will not let me bring you tea in bed.
Or even wish you happiness by phone,
Upsetting your belief that love is dead.
Respecting you, I will not mar the day,
Save in my words, in this acrostic way.
I am my father's son, it says so here:
  above the date, the vows, the eighty friends.
My mother's too, the archive ink is clear,
  and they persist in me, beyond their ends.

When we were joined, I left behind my past,
  and with you made our future family,
but here within, the traces were stuck fast:
  the unthought ways, the deepest memory.
So not by choice or promise I was Haines,
  and so their passing tore a hole in me.
I'm healing now, and Barnes alone remains,
  the words I stood to speak where all could see:
My loving faithful husbanding I'll give,
  so long as we both on this earth shall live.

Full Power

Jul. 26th, 2006 11:30 pm
It is not safe, no: it might end in pain;
  in grief and disappointment and in tears:
to give yourself completely once again
  the way we learned together down the years.
As we turned up the power over time,
  learned how to trust each other with our hearts,
rewarded with pure joy and love sublime:
  a whole far greater than our private parts.

But think, remember, were you safe with me?
Is that the word for what we shared and made?
The total open-ness that made us free?
We were not safe, we were just unafraid.

So set the dial to ten and hang the cost:
You cannot win without first being lost.

Going On

Jul. 17th, 2006 11:30 pm
Keep breathing in and out, and wonder why?
  What unknown impetus propels me on?
Before I know, a minute passes by;
  an hour, then a day, since hope has gone.

We went through this together, long ago:
  the emptiness that takes the place of grief.
You felt it too, this vacuum below,
  this crater where once stood one's self-belief.

Six years have passed, and warmth replaced the cold,
  our hearts regrew, refilled with love to give,
with joy and trust and plans and hopes to hold,
  to share and come together, and to live.

Can that be why, this impetus explained?
The knowledge that time healed, and will again?

The End

Jul. 16th, 2006 11:40 pm
And so it ends, not in a dreadful row
  or with slammed doors or smashing crockery
but in a calm reflective piece of now,
  you tell me what you need - and it's not me:

to be alone, free from my loving gaze,
  to be yourself, unhindered by my view,
to be all you can be, choose your own ways;
  to be the undiscovered, hidden you.

I love that you, as much as all the rest:
  parts of the greater whole, my heart, my wife:
the one for whom I've always done my best,
  the one around whom I have built my life.

So let us turn together to the task,
  and I will strive to give you what you ask.


Jul. 5th, 2006 01:44 am
To love cannot be wrong; it is no sin.
The power of your heart I know full well.
Do not regret the fire you feel within:
the joy, the hope, the one true magic spell.
  The safety that you feel within his arms,
  or at his voice, or reading his sweet lines;
  The breathless trembling wait that his touch calms;
  The reckless happiness: these are the signs
Of something wonderful, not to be feared,
But welcomed, celebrated, raised up high.
Not to be hidden, but instead be cheered.
Be shouted out at every passer-by.
  All I will ask is that you let me see,
  and wish from time to time that it was me.



April 2017



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