Poem: Smoking

black and white portrait person smoker
Photo by omar alnahi on Pexels.com

He sits smoking in his room,
fingers like the jaundiced walls
of degradation.
Staring out of windows
will serve for entertainment, 
hope lies in the sound
of crunching steps on the gravel,
a letter falling on the floor,
until the day he can make that trip
no more

Copyright Francis Barker 2020

Poem: ‘England’s Glory’

man person men old
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

He taps the roll up on his weathered
seat, strikes the match
towards him as an old man should, a box
of ‘England’s Glory’ and tobacco bag
thrown at me, as if they weren’t
all his worldly goods.

“No thanks, I don’t.”

He shrugs as if it’s my loss,
cups the yellow light with
the nonchalance of a friend, his hands
raw and dirty. He draws, a near
toothless mouth collapsing
like worn bellows;
he exhales, deftly aiming a spit
of spare flake to his right, while knotty
fingers wipe wet lips— the sound
of sandpaper on wood. And so
the coughing starts. There’s little else
to fill the new day.

* ‘England’s Glory’ is a brand of match

copyright Leofwine Tanner 2019

 

Poem ‘Harmonium’

Harmonium

You cut the harmonium strings
and I’ll tie them up each time,
pedals getting higher and higher
till almost vertical, unplayable.
And for what?
Does it spoil your peace?
Do my attempts at sounds,
at music, offend you so?
This family doesn’t do talent, I know.
There is only work.
But you needn’t have worried:
When I came down today
there was this space, gaping,
and through the kitchen window
I saw the fire in the yard,
the contented man, smoking

© copyright df barker 2012

Poem ‘Charity Shop’

Litter in Paramaribo.
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Charity Shop

That scream connected
with the deepest level of guilt.
I’d been breezing by the charity shop,
litter and leaves scuttling ahead in a chill wind.

I saw him strapped into a chair
on the chewing gum pavement,
pulling taught in a fury
of condensation and sputum.

I stopped a safe distance away,
mingling-in with the bus queue,
all eyes askance and tutting as one,
wondering if (and how) to intervene.

Best not to get involved.
It’s nothing to do with us,
it would cause more trouble
than it was worth.

So I left to get some food,
relieved to find him gone on my return.
A clear misunderstanding:
mum had been in the shop all the time,

had emerged to the relief of all,
smiles and hugs and kisses all round.
But no. There he was ahead of me,
blighting my eye, my mind,

outside the chip shop
surrounded by shell suits and smoke,
the swearing and the sputum –
on the chewing gum pavement.

poem © copyright df barker 2012

*poem first published in 2011 in poetry collection ‘Anonymous Lines’, available at amazon.

Poem ‘Doing it all’

Doing it all

you are like a meteor
and you’re young.
I am a metaphor for middle-age

I watch you smoke,
I can’t tell you
how it makes me feel

one hand wants to snatch
while the other loves
patting your head

so why do I smirk
at your facebook smile? – oh
this envy takes many forms

though the worst is knowing
you’re doing it all, and that I,
for all my whittling

have nothing to show

poem and image © copyright dfbarker 2012