When this is all over: Day 8

I was delighted to finish yesterday’s selection with a Jack of all trades; pretty much how I feel today, having spent several hours doing a job that involved trowels, plaster, decorator’s caulk, two stepladders, boiled linseed oil, three collapsible crates, kitchen sealant and a bucket of emulsion. I took a cupboard down, skimplastered the wall behind it, let it dry, emulsioned it, let it dry, and then put the cupboard back up . I had it in my head that it would take an hour or so. Jack of all trades, master of none. That poem resonated with me. As did the idea that when this is all over….I’ll have a coffee and a smoke. And at three o clock, I did. Sometimes it would be nice to simply get a proper man in. I imagine that royalty live like that, unthinking, blithe. Stuff just gets done.


The King   

When this is all over, said the King

I will pipe down the hammocks

float out with the tide

drink from an everyday jug left in the rain

later three sheets will blow in moonshine

                     & in the offing

                     watch the water-colour sky unfold

On days it’s pouring I’ll take long walks

            meet rainy day women shopping in doldrums

            who know the ropes

            grabbing hand over fist 

            for frozen tiaras & fishnet dreams

            who have no idea 

                       my heart

                                is at a loose end

they are deported in ships of fools

escaping through portholes

 I’ll chase their chasing shadows 

when I’m through      put on my shades

                    knock on your door  

                    bend on a royal knee 

like a seasick sailor      wave goodbye to the sea

                    hand you my heart 

                                       like a crown



When all this is over, said the kitman,
I will hang up the whole squad’s boots & never marry 
up a shin pad with its partner again. 
I’ll visit properly all those cities we played in 
that season we reached the UEFA Cup quarter-finals, 
back when we were decent:
Split, whose crowd would’ve killed us just for opposing; 
Istanbul, where the warm-up climaxed 
in goat sacrifice; Vigo, the Grimsby of Spain; 
& Parma, home of the winners, who spanked 
our arses. A solo Grand Tour. In each, 
I’ll seek the pleasures I had no time for then: 
hire a Vespa, shoot up Roman roads & stop for limoncello 
poured by somebody luscious, 
who’ll ask me if I’m free; 
& like the silver fox I am, I’ll take off my shades, 
flash my new gnashers & answer 
in smoothest Schteve McClaren Dutch.

[Note: When he managed FC Twente in the Netherlands, former England manager Steve McClaren notoriously answered interviewers’ questions in a peculiar, ‘Dutch’-inflected accent.]


 Late Chain Survey             

We drag our chain to the fuzzed margin,

        the field for us the only field on earth,


all else is blur. We rod the line,

        behind us upright wisps of red and white


and one distant in front. Then twilight’s grey pall

        and beyond the hedge falls black.


Our thin tape rasps out the offsets.

       The rye grass offers no mark,


the same in this station as the next.

       Then the chain goes forward.


Your figure quests onward into dark,

       until, link by link, there is only the moving chain.




When all this is over

my ears will have grown

been re-minted

learnt to swivel, independently, and often

to the rasp of damp grass 

the thump of butterflies’ feet

the thundering rearrangement 

of feathers on tucked-deep nests

badger air’s duskly snuffle

oxygen easing from trees’ leaves.


It will be, by week three, as if I had laid

your Windmills of Norfolk teatowel over the daisies;

reached in elbow-deep through my clogged glup of Icarus;

to unpin; held my auricle to the sun; become cog-carer.

Disassembled helix and anti-helix onto Cley-next-the-Sea,

tragus and anti-tragus to Burnham Overy, concha and lobule 

(strange to remove my gold sleepers only now) safe at Stow and on 

into the percussion section – malleus, incus, stapes to Turf Fen – 

for the full Spring clean while pear blossom snowed the veg beds

confusing the bees for days.





And once more 

I shall be deaf.


Lorry Driver

When all this is over, I will take to the road 

where day starts at 3am
and conversation is largely a matter
of country on late-night stations.


I want to learn a new language: 

to blow my doors off, to be south bound 

and hammer down through Europe, 

to drive through centuries of forest,
the memories of trees in the dark.


I intend to travel in straight lines,
to be shocked by the colour each morning
and stop only where the services are worth it.
I want to be stalked by wolves, to be prepared

to drive on bridges that might not hold.

I won’t hurry. On the high tracks over La Paz
I will take it steady
where dusty plastic flowers mark the graves.

I will be adept with a mallet and hammer
and the weather will be my story.


The world will shrink in my mirror, 

storms will approach me.
I want life to drive towards me all lit up. 

I want to be awake through the night
with hundreds of miles still to go.



after Eileán Ní Chuilleanáin


When all this is over

I will wear cardigans, not cloaks.

I’ll enjoy the firm oak floor, 

solid beneath my feet.

See a cat flap for what it is,

rather than an opportunity.

I will use a handkerchief to sneeze into.

The rabbits will grow un-tame

in the back garden.

Their pink noses soft and twitching

see-sawing dandelion leaves

late into the evening gloom.

When I enter or leave a room

I will utilise the traditional means.

Nobody will gasp

excepting Mrs Suprendo

who, on a Sunday night

will challenge me to poker

and make me deal,

do a swing cut, a riffle shuffle

the cards purring through my hands.


Magic. There’s a note to end on, like the swish of velvet curtains and rapturous applause. We’re half way through the alphabet, and not quite half way through the poems. Day 9 will feel like a watershed. See you there, on the ridge.

4 thoughts on “When this is all over: Day 8

  1. All those people wanting it to be over. For some reason the teatowel with the windmills of Norfolk really got to me. Also the idea of getting a proper man in. XX to you and yours, Fogginzo.


    1. It’s a family catchphrase, Gráinne. Flo’s Auntie Beryl famously would say to her husband after another spell of his DIY: “It’s no use, Frank, we’ll have to get a proper man in”. You need to hear it in a Liverpool accent for the full dismissive effect


  2. I like the Listener and not just because I’m envious that they used Cley-next-the-sea in a poem before I did 😂. Went there one holiday c. 29 moons ago with son Clay (yep spelling & pronunciation difference, specially said the Norfolk way).
    Great end line to that poem too.
    So enjoying reading all of these John.


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