Soft and salty crusted with soot,
Once bitten, the butter-drenched holes became trees
In flaky forests with trunks that flexed
And God knows what the stuff on the top was,
Brazed like black lead on the range. Because
We’d been dropped off, he’d cough, then offer us beans
Or pikelets. We’d pretend we’d passed on breakfast,
But we knew that he knew and he knew that we knew.
Soft and salty, sulphur encrusted,
A surface like the moon a skin satsuma’d
With Woodbines and work and weariness and dust
And God only knows why he chose to marry
Her; dismissed out of kissing range she reeked like a fish
Defiled by Fisherman’s Friends and Humbugs,
Watched funerals for fun, feasted on lollies
And never did a day’s work. The Devil
Might have tried to make idle hands work
And God knows there was sod all to do but oddly,
Her tartan tin full of alopecia and hairpins,
Plus remembered tastes of tree-trunks and holes,
All salty and soft, sulphured on your teeth,
Deflected us from diabolical thoughts and deeds.
Instead, inspired by nothing, the innocuous blankness
Instinctively hinted at winters of more,
While staring at soot holes sickening the washing.
God only knows the corrosive effect
On holes-in-the-heart, inhaled and swallowed,
All soft and salty, consumed with nothing.
Expelled outside by a spiteful TV
That seemed to be stuck with Stars on Sunday,
A cooker that couldn’t, and death-bed curtains,
We kicked baked bean tins of burning time
Up and down and round while cloud
And smoke suggested that something here
Was limited, like lemonade or Radio 1.
At Whitsuntide he died but I’d moved on
By then. Heroes with holes in, hung
On the walls, pimpled by wishful woodchip.