The way we do things round here


fifteen years or more

coughing your lungs out

until, four days in hospital

they finally emptied


tough, my brother said

one of the hard men, lean

half a stone heavier than you ran

at naval school


you never complained

except about the government

and that didn’t count   to me

Arthur Scargill some kind of hero

to you   Thatcher the ultimate villain

along with the Queen and Prince –

we never had spells or wands

just tinsel at Christmas

best enjoyed alone


when you eyed that twinkle

I liked you, but only drink

or the thought of a pretty woman

seemed to conjure it, and she was

never mother   never, father –

what had she done?


I sought you out

you wrote to me

about the treatment

and as you shrank

stopped walking to the pub each evening

took the car, that

ill-begotten thing on wheels

or accepted a lift

and choked on it till breakfast


the birds came and your

cat’s fond bell

herbs and onions


you survived

in the house without hot water

toilet at the bottom of the garden

where it belongs

and now   now, I second

your fine ideals, father

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