I wear
your grey
woollen mittens,
the ones


you can make
into gloves
by pulling over
the fingers


to make complete;
soft, thick,
but warm; neat.
I can sense you near


with them on;
an imaginary pulse
moves along
beside mine.


You felt the cold;
although didn't say
as such
or not


over much;
your hands
and fingers
seeking shelter


within the wool,
rubbing against
the fibre, skin
on softness,


warmth like
a kind of drug,
seeping in.
I wear your grey


woollen mittens,
my fingers fitting
where yours once did,
the feel of you


in the wool's soft memory;
the fibre’s hold,
keeping you warm,
my son,


keeping to warm
against the cold.
The mittens seem fresh;
not worn thin or aged


or coming unwoven
as some things do.
I wear your grey mittens,
have them close,


neat and touching.
I wish they were you.

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Do you recall,
my son,
from your side
of the curtain


of death,
that Metallica CD
you bought me
at that record fair


some years back?
You fingered through
a number of CDs
in racks


looking for something
for yourself:
or R.E.M.


I forget which
or was it more
or both.
I was in


a heavy metal
frame of mind
that day;
counting the money


to match the choice.
I'll get it
for you
for your birthday,


you said.
I play it still,
the Metallica CD,
the thundering drums,


buzz saw guitars,
chugging bass,
and tough guy voice
over the turned up


loud burning lot.
I think of you
when playing it now;
your quiet nature,


soft spoken voice,
hungry-bear stance
about the room,
your own unique


chuckle of humour.
Do you remember,
my son,
the Zed Zeppelin


CD and DVD
you bought me
for my birthday
that final year?


you'll always be
a rocker,
you said,  
and those words


repeat softly,
like a summer breeze,
through the corridors,
of my mourning head.


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I still have
you rectangle
black leather wallet,
but it is empty now:


the money notes
banked in your account,
the cards sorted,
cut up and shredded,


the loose coins given
to your chosen charity.
How lonely it looks now
without you to handle;


the leather worn
at the edges
through use
you gave,


shiny black,
silent black,
unused now,
kept as a memory


to hold onto in days
of hurt like now
and years to come.
I remember


that last Saturday
in hospital,
you took out coins,
to buy bottles of water,


to quench your thirst
and help you pee.
The wallet looked full then,
bulging at the seams,


full of use and life,
held in your hands,
your fingers working
the coin zip.


Now it lays there
unused and thin,
your DNA
all over it,


worked in the seams,
the leather,
the small pocket
of the wallet.


I feel close to you
when I rub a thumb
or ageing finger
along its black


rectangle length,
the shiny worn leather,
bringing us, momentarily,
closer together.


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I kept your last
birthday card to me;
tucked it between
books on my shelf,


not knowing then
it would be the last;
your small simple script
and name, artwork done,


received with all the rest
that day, last year.
I have taken it out
a few times now,


read the script over
and over, as if maybe,
more words
might appear,


than those before.
I hold it in my hands
and imagine where
your fingers touched,


where your pen
scribed the words,
and for that frozen moment
capture part of you again,


that feel, that ghostly smell,
thinking maybe
my fingers are, where
your fingers were,


your DNA mixing with mine,
mixing together
like good scotch, not wine.
I shall keep


your birthday card to me,
keep it safe, re-read
now and then,
pretend each year


it came from you,
anew, fresh written,
your fine small hand;
waiting each birthday


for it to land,
the birthday card
from my eldest son
(now dead), and when


my birthday comes around
once more, I shall take
the card out and read
with all the rest that came,


keeping you you always
in my heart and head,
with your small scribed,
loving name.


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We placed a rose
on the plot today,
where in a week or so,
your boxed ashes will lay.


Strange looking at the grass,
the ground damp from rain,
that fell the previous day;
unreal that this


is where your final
remains will lie,
in the casket,


far from the eye.
It gutted me,
looking there,
the lump in the throat,


the eyes full,
slight wind
in the hedges near by,
wanting to pour out,


get the hurt out there,
pushed off somewhere.  
A lonesome rose,
lay on the plot;


all about other stones
and crosses and statues,
names and dates,
words of loss and pain,


other have felt
sometime along the years,
days, hours, ticking quietly
from grave to grave,


flowers placed,
plants in a pot,
and soon you will
lie there in your own


marked plot,
words chiselled
against the black,
but whatever


we have worded there,
can never
bring you back,
dear son,


can never
bring you back.

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Your black,
heavy overcoat,
hangs from a hook
on the door.


It looks
haunted now,
a black phantom
of serge, with arms,
without hands,
holding a memory
of you inside its hold,
snuggled up within,
safe from the cold.


Your youngest brother
has inherited,
your black coat now,
he wears it higher,
being taller,
but it does not fit
so snug or hold him
so tight as it did you,
a short while ago.


He wore it
to your funeral,
buttoned up neat,
your heavy overcoat,
serge of black;
but he would gladly
have given to you,
if he could have
had you back.


I finger the sleeves,
smooth along
the black serge,
sense you there still,
in my mind's eye,
with black hat and tie
and black shades,
that Blues Brother gaze,
back in the good times,
my son, in your
good young days.

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I hate Saturdays
they remind me of you
and your last
minimal texts


blood in urine
just been sick
in phone text
you said


3 days later
you were dead
that long wait
we had


you unable
to urinate
drinking bottled water
breathing heavy


looking tired
you seeing
the doctor twice
no result


no end in sight
off to another hospital
another wait
blood tests


the waiting room TV
nurses coming


and going
you wore your
Family Man tee-shirt
unaware you'd wear


no other
the dark jeans
the zip up


dark jumper
you silent
like a weary bear
eyes watching


then a nurse said
you had
to stay the night


so off we went
to take the bed
the last
on the short ward


the window showing
the dark evening sky
not knowing then


here was where
you'd begin to die
I hate Saturdays
they remind me


of you

at a low ebb
the unfolding drama
the same scenes


after the other

the questions
I continue to ask
inside my head


shaping up

the scenes
trying to avoid
the end

where you are dead.

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Lift him high
to the sky


raise him
on your shoulders


rest his coffin
by your head


your brother's dead
carry me


he said
once in jest


raise him steady
off you go


hold firm
for tears will flow


his favoured song
Over the Rainbow


tones you in
we all follow


gutted empty
feeling hollow


full of sorrow

hand in hand


tearful eyes
hold him steady




keep him close
to heart and head


carry me
he once said


lay him gently
let his coffin lay


let him sleep
in God's rest


you have given all
you have done him proud


you have carried high
the best.


Sleep on
loving brother


dearest son
rest as you can


our close-knit kin
our young brave man.


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In dark dreams
I walk again
those empty
hospital corridors


with their dull lights
and smell of disinfect
and death
in those dreams


I look for you again
my son
passing by
the blanks faces


of others
looking at
their eyes
for glimpses of life


or concern
or such  
as humans
sometimes have


I go by
room after room
pass porters


the occasional trolley
by the various
side wards
passing by


the bright lights
of hospital shops
in the dream
I am hoping


to find you once more
sitting there
on the bed
your back turned


your head lowered
but this time
I am hoping
for a healthier you


my son
not one so ill
so lost
in this dream


sunlight shines
through the window
of the small ward
a bird sings


not that dull curtain
the murmur
of voices
the usual limbo like


air about the place
this time my son
I wish to find you well
looking at me


with your own
familiar smile
not that haunted


and tired eyes
that draw from me
a steam
of deep felt cries.


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