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My Uncle Gwilym and Sir Philip Sidney

'[...] being thirsty with excess of bleeding, he called for drink [...];but as he was putting the bottle to hismouth, he saw a poor soldier [...] casting up his eyes at the bottle. Which Sir Philip perceiving [...] delivered it tothe poor man[...]" Thy necessity is yet greater than mine."' Fulke Greville, Life of Sir Philip Sidney.

Not Larkin's handsome hotel:

more a factory lying

in its green field site

was where my uncle lay dying.

Young nurses grinning and gauche

had no soft tears to shed;

pointed me to where he was

breathless upon the bed.

We spoke of this and that;

then he insisted I talk, see,

to the lonely bloke in the corner:

"He's far worse than me."

He died that night alone,

all his life a working man,

knowing nothing of Sidney

at the Battle of Zutphen.

Published in About Larkin No. 40 (Oct. 2015)

Fashion Show

You cascade prettily down the patio

steps, your new outfits on

and pose, irresolutely, an extempore fashion show.

"What about this?"  you say in haste,

shyly, as a smooth silk dress now you have on,

narrowing at your still young girl's waist.

I put my hands there as I like to do

and widen their span to feel

the curve and swell of your hips too.

Coyly, you move beneath the apple tree,

the sunlight dappling your appeal

-ing shape, and stepping away from me

the dress unfurls as you spin easily,

the silk shimmering and bright:

no longer a wife and mother now but free;

and I am reminded of twenty years ago

when in lambent winter light

on the Wenallt, the city stretched below,

how you stood sweetly smiling on the rise above

luxuriating in the lense of the camera's love.

Published in About Larkin No. 40 (Oct 2015)

from Pembrokeshire Sonnets

North and South

The postcard came just before my exams:

"Thanks for the fags – gone like chaff in the wine!"

you'd scrawled in a spidery ill hand,

adding "Only a bit of a cold, mind".

The exams now over the phone call

came and southwards I rode through mountains to coast

to find relatives anxious in the hall,

unusually quiet, hopelessly lost.

Out in his Hillman sat my cousin Dave,

Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club playing, 

a magical mystery tour rave;

and others upstairs hopefully praying.

And I in the north had been thinking and writing;

and you in the south were controlling your dying.

Published in About Larkin no.42. (Oct. 2016)

Old Fisherman

Too old now I sit in the evening sun

and watch the slow tide flooding in and out.

I mend the high draped nets when I can

though my joints won't stoop down to the lobster pots.

My son Billy takes all the boats out now;

I've told him where the fattest flatfish lie

and where the mackerel are and where torow.

He'll soon be home on the late evening tide.

The girls they work the rocks some miles away,

stripping the strewn black laver-bread,

a way of life that nowadays doesn't pay;

but I like it for supper, oatmealed, fried.

It's chilly here. When will the children come?

Ah, Billy's home: I hear his outboard's hum.

Published in About Larkin No. 42 (Oct. 2016)

The Lonely Farmer Speaks

I rock back on my heels and have a piss:

the muffled music assumes a quietertone:

a smoochy number with a plaintive moan

slips through the un-shut door like a soft kiss.

My tipsy mates inside won’t want tomiss

the dance’s warm, soft-slow seductive charms;

around some young girl’s slender waist their arms;

they’re hoping for a rampant night of bliss!

I wish I didn’t skulk in here like this;

they look at me in terror and alarm;

no, they don’t want a life on Bryngwyn farm:

they want something more, the modern miss.

A girl to hold in these work roughened hands...

as hard to find as working on the land.

Published in About Larkin No. 42 (Oct. 2016)

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