When this is all over :Day 7

Hop picker


When all this is over, said the hop-picker,

I’m going back to the time before the war

when there was morris dancing and singalongs

and blokes called Len who looked after their own


unless they were in the Scrubs. Before my time,

of course, same as the hop-picking.

But I almost remember the caravans

where you used to sleep, and being poor but happy,

hungry but happy, maybe, or just plain hungry.  

I’ll flog the telly,

cancel the direct debit on my phone,


and set off on foot to Kent, to sell my skills

to whoever needs them: people with polytunnels

who’ll show me a bed in a shed with nine other men

and no running water, and take the bed-and-board

out of my pay, so I end up owing them.


The Horologist

I’ll tell you about time

You see enough, you come to understand

how shallow the conceit

that one might influence the falling sand


The tiresome tick and tock

my patience never tested so before

The plague’s relentless mock

beat us till we in blind obeisance swore


I need to clean my hands

This work requires a sterile atmosphere

Should you wish to observe

then do the same before you enter here


Bring me your broken clock

chronometer or clepsydra to mend

This is my element

a steady eye and yet more steady hand


I’ll show you whole worlds

within the shifting gears of this chablon

but out beyond these walls 

could you be sure that life and love go on?


And though time finds its voice

from pockets, mantle pieces and bell towers

now clocks can only serve –

each timepiece striking off life’s hollow hours


When all of this is done

would you meet me by the meridian?

We’ll take a quiet turn

I’ll tell you of the great John Harrison


Ice Cream Man


I pass the cones across the shelf,

planting them like light bulbs

in their fists, livid blue bubble gum,

squat tubs of ripple,

coffee and walnut tasting of nothing.


Tourists, mostly, even in winter,

detouring south to the beach

we aren’t famous for

before heading to the hills 

where at least the ice is real.


Or these schoolkids and their mams

for their three-thirty rush,

tips slimmer than I used to be,

hips held in by elastic

that never sees a gym.


I wipe things down and see it shine

between indecisive anoraks.

I never pretend to smile.

I have worn this badge so long

I have forgotten my own name.


( Synergy, or the infinite bloody mindedness of the univers. …..you wait for hours and them two turn up at once)

Ice-cream Man

When all this is over, said the Ice-cream Man,

I will not hum along to any blasted tinny chimes –

Greensleeves and O Sole Mio will be put on ice.

My puppies will never be slushy or mushy

or outrageous blue – they will be fawn and warm,

with abrasive tongues like Wet and Dry.

I will not spell Kool Ices with a ‘K’ or have rivers  

run in ripples across my tongue. I will mow down 

the ninety-nine waffled police cones outside my house

and not Watch that child! I will eat scoopfuls 

of burning chilli flakes and peri-peri chicken, 

drink huge mugs of steaming chocolate, 

raise tropical twirling flowers of peach and tangerine

in my roasting greenhouse. My thermometer

will rise at night to twenty-five degrees −

I’ll tie a hot water bottle to my waist, 

look up to the stars through misted glass 

and know my eyes will not waver,

they will not be fogged; they will be dry.


Jones y Cig

Pan fydd hyn i gyd gorffen, meddai Jones y Cig…

                                Bryntir ap Gof, Glyndyfrdwy


When this is all over, said Jones the Meat,

I’ll sell the blydi siop.

For years, I haven’t eaten flesh and blood.

I hope I haven’t left it all too late,

but Jones the Bread might buy it, double up.

When this is done, I’ll tell him that he should.


I’ll move up to the Hafod on the hill.

It’s rented now, I know,

but soon the shepherd’s lease will run its course —

they’ll take away the bleats and passing bells.

I’ll dig the garden up and try to grow

my sort of food. I’ll buy a working horse,


and call it Patch, like Dafydd’s used to be.

I’ll turn the tractor shed

into a stable, plough the upper field for wheat.

Or maybe leave it growing wild. I’ll see.

When all of this is over, if I’m not dead,

I’ll close the blydi siop! said Jones the Meat.


Jigsaw puzzle designer


When this is all over, said the jigsaw puzzle designer, I’ll stop looking for identical blue bits and dark shadowed edges with the faintest hint of grey. I’ll abandon beige for the rest of my life, seek out the single bright stem, the gimlet leaf, leave overblossomed branches for someone else to fret over. I’ll take a long flight somewhere warm and as we pass over the sea, I’ll stop noticing puffs of wavecrest as differentials, and take a merlot without matching it to the headrest. When the scented woman next to me asks what I do, I’ll look at my blunt, practical hands and say “Carpet fitter”. I have transferable skills. 




When this is all over, said the jack-of-all-trades, 

I will focus on doing one job really well. 

No more of this fixing, mending, bending, 

up-ending, tapping, wrapping, brushing, 

rushing, slushing, plunging, de-gunging, 

wiring, re-firing, all in one day. 

I will be full fat perfection

in my niche, I won’t spread 

my margarine-self 

so thin 

the toasty burns shine through, 

I won’t be busted for my lack

of quals or certs. I will master 

my destiny, choose my path, walk the walk 

and talk – well, I’ve always been good at that

One thought on “When this is all over :Day 7

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