These are my favourite clothes, I
wear them for days on end.
They retain their shape,
even when I toss them
into wardrobes, or hang them from
skeletal frames, dis-
assembled, waiting for warm
odours of my living
So say you’ll never throw them
out, and resist all
temptation to wash. Simply
lay them on a chair or bed – though
mark the creases,
the bulges of cotton limbs, fleshy
legs which have moulded denim,
now hanging in threads. And make sure
to study the greasy collars, precious
oils of my skin. Then take
hold of this shirt, stretch the faded
fabric in your hands and breathe in
the smell of years. Remember
the walks and our talks, when
there was only time to kill. For these
things, which may be nothing now, are
still worthy of note, the relics of
a single life
and not without right
image and poem © copyright David F. Barker 2013
Without too much thought I took
to the beach,
followed the white lines of
leading me due north along that
in no time at all the beach huts were
removed by dunes and blurring
she was there
right in front of me, as if she’d
right out of the ether.
she was squatting down,
blonde haired and
her blue-green dress hitched up a touch
showing small bare feet
where the dry white sand
gave way to shingle.
but she didn’t even look!
staring into that wide expanse
she could see
clear across the ocean.
looking down I admired her
the delicate amber jewellery on
her long hair matted by
the keen breeze.
then she looked up,
her eyes like cyan gems
and pointed to herself–
‘Elfhild’ I thought she said
sounding sort of German
or Dutch or maybe something
but I didn’t speak a word.
she didn’t seem lost or in any distress
so I moved on,
giving her a faint wave,
after all, what business was it
I carried on steadily
maybe half a mile or so,
felt the wind move round
south to south east.
I could’ve done with a jumper so I
got up quite a pace in the end.
frankly I wanted to return
to see if she was alright –
but I saw only footprints
where she had been, where the shingle
gave way to sand.
walking to the shoreline something
caught my eye, a piece of amber
wet and shining.
I picked it up, held it
to the light
and smiled, looking out
to where the waves
were rolling in by the edge of
that German sea
poem and image © copyright Dave Barker 2012
And I followed you,
holding desperately your trailing hand.
From dodgem screams in head-on collision,
to long kisses on carousels,
sitting the wrong way—
Yes, I was daring you!
That smile behind your eyes like a loving sun
which I met devouring candy floss,
sugar highs spinning lips together,
meeting and melting our cares;
suspended in ghost trains,
scaring you, opportune for me.
And later, strolling slick sands,
the far bass thuds
tripping our hearts,
setting off our lives:
Still in motion
poem © copyright df barker 2012
We set out one morning
after the rain had cleared.
Not a breath of wind,
loose clothes sticking to my skin.
Our intention was to search
the shallow beach,
stretching so far ahead of us
towards lights on low, murky cliffs—
baleful beacons through the mist.
“Stop there!” you said
and took that picture of me,
my trousers rolled up;
never the most fetching sight.
“Walking on water,” that’s
what you called it right away:
Maybe this was the closest
we ever got to heaven
poem and image © copyright df barker 2012
Mare Incognito (for J)
Southwold and Saltfleet,
that’s all I’m prepared to say.
Where eastern seaboards
lose out each year,
glacial moraines fall away
with no answer to tides
that even kings couldn’t resist.
England crumbling in eye and mind.
Now that could be a clue
but they’re not too high,
though high enough to sit on
and savour the grey seas,
the view, such as it is.
Does it matter?
Fine days won’t do, not to this mind.
Sea mists, fogs, or battleship skies
which leave enough to be imagined,
whose easterlies cut me into me
whatever I wear—they’re best—
when the only way to keep warm
is to keep moving, jogging
below the sleek aerobatics of herring-
and black-backed gulls,
super-marine harbingers of storm
doing their best to bring life to
Mitchell’s drawings of seaplanes—
and the spitfire.
Such an elegance in death.
But I’m here to forget about war,
about politics which can only
divide and kill.
Grey days mean I’m alone
in a moody make-believe.
I turn my back on all that was,
think about what might be,
where nightmares a few miles away,
that lost world within my right hand,
might just be gone when I return
or answer the bleep which says
I’m connected, branded for life.
Leave me now.
For a little while longer
let me say I’m free
image and poem © copyright df barker 2012
I’d arrived there at noon
stunned by the view
from your window,
that vast sweep of shoreline.
I had earl grey tea, some carrot cake;
you made do with strong coffee.
You said we should talk, walk,
try to mimic the clockwork sanderlings,
laugh at comic turnstones,
all busy birds of the beach
I hadn’t realised
how far we’d walked.
The polar wind which swept us along
brought stinging tears to my eyes,
though little could detract
from the sight of your house
standing steadfast against the shore;
nothing except for the florid face
all cheeky smiles and winks,
that prodding finger in my side
image and poem © copyright dfbarker 2012