Poem ‘Woman from the West’

Woman from the West

You’d awoken me with tea in the spare bed,
where my feet hung out the end.
At breakfast we heard about the pier,

smashed by the savage storm, the worst for years.
It was early December with heavy skies threatening,
so we wrapped up warm to take some air,

scarves blowing, my arm around your waist
feeling your locomotion, the buttock’s rise and fall
with that playful goose-step, your natural stride.

Through the lichgate, we passed graves old and
one very new. We stopped by wreaths, with thoughts
for a boy of no age. Found him in a ditch, you said,

in blasé exaggeration. No Christmas this year.
Not for them, but did it bother us?
Your life lay ahead, sampling life in London,

as lethal as the sea stallions pummelling that pier.
Now my eyes were open. That walk wasn’t playful
but callous, and the tea seemed like a gesture.

So when we left the wreaths, I felt changed.
Wreaths for that poor boy and for us.
Not for love.

© copyright David Francis Barker 2011

* First published in 2011 in poetry collection ‘Anonymous Lines’.

** The illustrations are from a 1990s drawing of a Lincolnshire Church, and a more recent painting of a couple on Cromer beach in North Norfolk, England. CLICK ON AN IMAGE TO SEE BIGGER SIZE!

41 thoughts on “Poem ‘Woman from the West’

  1. Hi David,
    this is so dreamy and still clever… the sad and the beauty of it, the December scenery and sentiments. The story in it! That pier and the final lines.
    I love it all:)
    And beautiful paintings again!


  2. Ina thank you! The story is elements of truth in it from an awfully long time ago, would you believe, although the woman wasn’t from ‘the west’! Thanks again for your kind comments!


  3. How realizations eventually come to us…especially to our hearts.

    I love the descriptive style, a short story in verse with all the elements that make it engaging. Very well done. So glad I found your writing!


  4. You are a great story teller in your poetry, David. It flowed with such ease and made me want to read on and on.


  5. this is a wonderful poem david and i was wondering if you were talking about the west pier in brighton..not sure if you know.. i was there just a few weeks ago and wrote a poem, including the west pier skeleton…
    in case you wanna read it… http://jaywalkingthemoon.wordpress.com/2011/11/08/brighton-in-november/

    love all the details in your poem david…the weaving together of what’s outside and inside…you paint a breath-taking mood here..


  6. Hi Claudia – thank you for your comments.
    To be honest I can’t recall which pier it was! I have been to Brighton but not for some time. All I remember is the co-incidence of a storm, destruction and the fall of a relationship. I have had a look at ‘brighton androgynous’ etc and was frankly stunned! How did I miss this? Your writing is a lesson in cutting loose, of fathoming true feelings and what a result! Parts of it even reminded me (perhaps wrongly!?) of DM Thomas (White Hotel etc), that sort of easy yet invasive eroticism, but wonderfully beautiful. You know, I’ve always fancied myself as a bohemian but I’d be lying! I’m far too ‘conservative’ and so I have more than one poetic ‘voice’. Your voice, however, is quite clear, honest, ‘in your face’, and all the better for it. I’m glad your work is there for us to see. Thank you for sharing and being so kind. David
    Kind regards



  7. DF, this would have been WAY too sad (and yes, callous) in tone if not for the very last line, letting us know the writer does not bury love! Thanks for the hope! And always, always, you have my greatest appreciation for your uplifting, gentle paintings.


  8. You are simply a good poet. The story you tell lights up a part of humanity that is in all of us, but needs to be treated as you have treated it here: With a certain gesture, civility, but recognition that love is not in it; therefore it cannot lead to love. Callousness is always bubbling under the surface in groups of human beings. By why? This poems leads to deep reflection.


  9. Your poems have me captivated; they tell such “want to read more” stories (can’t think of a word!)

    And as ever the paintings – I feel I have seen enough now to be able to say “That’s definitely a David Francis Barker!! 🙂



  10. My goodness, this is Rich! “Sea stallions” is particularly striking. Your work is “genius” wonderful!


  11. David, I can see why this poem has attracted such a lot of attention and so many ‘likes’. It is very straightforward, articulate but not in too high a diction, narrative and descriptive but with a subtle point to make and a feeling to express, and ultimately very poignant. There’s a delicacy of touch which (forgive me) I don’t usually associate with male writers.

    I spend half an hour each morning surfing the ‘poetry’ tag at wordpress. Very often there is little worth reading. Today I happened on your poem first of all, and I am very glad I did.

    Marie Marshall


  12. I am so grateful for your comments that I really don’t know what to say! Except thank you so much – if a few words can make a day somehow ‘better’, then this is all the inspiration I need to keep going. Yes, perhaps for what we might term a ‘normal male’ and a seemingly pretty closed off English one at that (!), then yes, I don’t mind admitting that I do have very strong, deep feelings. Thank you once again and my very best wishes.


  13. This is such a good example, for me, of what I love about your poetry: focus on the details. I think it speaks to the artist’s eye that learns to see deeply, to see things other may overlook.


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