Thursday, 18 June 2015


The sun on Danby Gardens
smells of roast beef,
tastes of my youth.
The flying cinders of a steam train
spark in my dreams.
Across the old field,
a miner breaks his back
and lovers roll in the ditches,
off beaten tracks.
Off Bigges Main,
my grandad taps his stick,
reaches for the braille of long-dead strikes.
The nights
fair draw in
and I recall Joyce Esthella Antoinette Giles
and her legs that reached for miles,
tripping over the stiles 
in red high heels.
It was her and blonde Annie Walker
who took me in the stacks
and taught me how to read
the signs
that led inside their thighs.
Those Ravenswood girls
would dance into your life
and dance though all the snow drops
of those freezing winters,
in the playground of young scars.
And I remember freckled Pete
who taught me Jazz,
who pointed me to Charlie Parker
and the edgy bitterness of Brown Ale.
Mrs Todd next door
was forever sweeping
leaves along the garden path
her fallen husband loved to tread.
Such days:
the smoke of A4 Pacifics in the aftermath of war,
the trail of local history on the birthmarked street.
And I have loved you all my life
and will no doubt die in Danby Gardens
where all my poems were born,
just after midnight.


Wednesday, 3 June 2015


(for John Green)
Scissure in spit-splitted earth, heaped
Sod and soil and clay, until
This mundane boxed antithesis
Of birth lies beneath backfill.
May dashes along the hawthorn,
Dandelions button the field
With galaxies of garish suns
That must flourish and then yield
To time blowing by like the breeze,
Dispersing life while leaving
A flaccid stalk and lifeless head.
Soughing, as the gathered grieving
Cast other blooms, single roses
On to the wicker casket
Lowered through sod and soil and clay,
A parody Moses basket
In that deliberately chosen,
Unconsecrated ground. No
Pious words or promises
For one left lying below.
Age brings increasing absences,
Each an indelible gap
Through which we are all travellers
Travelling without a map.
And think how all too easily,
“Time drags!” is said with a sigh.
Then there comes the final moment
When a lifetime has sped by.
While those presently left behind,
Knowing too well what’s to come,
Stand in that terrible silence,
Stand in the wake, feeling numb.
This final reckoning of years,
A life, in passing, so brief,
Yet, a life of such significance,
Its passing’s worthy of grief.
Friends, these are now our dying days,
Where the uncharted route lies,
And we gather as we dwindle,
As we say our last goodbyes.
With a final bowing of heads
We do or don’t speak to God,
Then turn and leave as that cleft is
Filled by clay and soil and sod.

Dave Alton