Poem ‘October 15’

Electric soldering iron

Electric soldering iron (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

October 15

Lingering smells of vinegar and fish,
red and green smears on an empty plate,
a solitary bone in a serving dish.

The constable pours tea
in a room drenched in sunlight;
an incongruous joke becomes light relief.

At his age a simple case of lights out, it’s said,
something you have to believe.
Only an hour before he stood at the door

complaining of chest pains that
Alka Seltzer would not relieve.
The neighbour walks in wiping her eyes,

tells of a conversation by the fence.
She cups her drink, shakes her head,
unable to make much sense.

Light another round of cigarettes,
though wherever the eyes fall
there are many reasons for regret.

So stand, walk around,
peep through the net curtains where
the ambulance casts its shadow – no sound.

You’re numb with facts that won’t ingest;
a still hot soldering iron, pliers, cut wire,
like something from the Marie Celeste.

poem © copyright David F. Barker 2012
* first published in poetry collection ‘Anonymous Lines’, available at amazon.com

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14 thoughts on “Poem ‘October 15’

  1. DF, you have perfectly captured here what happens in a close-knit community when a treasured member is suddenly struck down! It is the commonplace items you image here that tell the deep truths of friendship and neighborliness!

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  2. Thank you GB – once again, you are very perceptive. This is based on the death of my father nearly 30 years ago. Thank you!

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  3. It brings to mind the month of May and being in the hospital with my own dad for weeks…and running into a friend in the cafeteria who had just brought her dad in, caught in the balance between being where he could receive help, but with severe cardiac problems. There’s a definite tipping point where it all “goes south.” I’m so glad I can leave comments again…I’ve been going to Spam folders! I’ve been reading your poetry, though, and I so enjoy it. Debra

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  4. I’m only too familiar with the moment when:
    You’re numb with facts that won’t ingest…
    What this poem captures, at least for me, is the anesthetic passage of time when everything you are or know becomes a moment that goes on and on as you try to understand what has just happened to you, the person close to you who is now gone, and living itself. Little things have an enormous impact:
    Lingering smells of vinegar and fish,
    red and green smears on an empty plate,
    a solitary bone in a serving dish.
    Then there are these strangers that belong in that moment, but do not belong there at all:
    The constable pours tea
    in a room drenched in sunlight
    Then the truth that cannot really be the truth:
    At his age a simple case of lights out, it’s said,
    something you have to believe.
    Only an hour before he stood at the door

    complaining of chest pains that
    Alka Seltzer would not relieve.
    This is magnificent poetry that should be written, but that should not have an occasion to be written, not even after time has passed, and you are through the initial anguish and into the rest of your life with an absence that should not be there.

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