The lunatic sings the truth



She came along with a dirty dress hanging around her like a curtain

Torn from a derelict house.

Her hair was dirty and her face was beaten

By time and God knows who.

She noticed me and screamed

That I must work hard to be good,

Love Jesus and look after my loved ones.

She stopped and looked me square in the eye and repeated:

“Be good to your family.”

Then she walked on.

She stank and the air was fouled by her presence.

My publisher sat next to me and watched her go.

“She gave me a manuscript once, years ago.” he said.

“It was well written, the grammar was perfect,

But it was so boring. The characters, the events were so boring.”

“I would have bought her lunch,” I said. “if I knew she was a writer.”

We laughed, but deep down I knew

She had spoken the truth and given good advice.

The walking stick

We went walking in Ireland,

From Sligo, we went, along blue-green paths

Occasionally damp, occasionally flowery.

She carried as much weight on her back as I,

Though her legs were much thinner, she was strong.

We stopped into a small shop, to buy her a walking stick.

Her eyes lit upon a carved length of yellow beech

Inscribed with Celtic patterns of interlocking design.

It was light but strong.

The day outside greyed over

And the shopkeeper turned on his light.

His long smiling face danced in the shadows.


Along the path we walked

I watched her tracks as she went ahead of me

The small round impression to the right of her footprint made a pretty pattern.

We stopped again in the afternoon

And drank lemonade and ate fruit.

“Men are the most tragic of the sexes.”

She said to me through half closed eyes

Her full lips wet.

“They are most truly alone.”

I did not answer.

Looking back now I see that she had already left me.

The last I saw of her was on a London street.

She propped the walking stick against the railway station wall,

And looked back only once.