I didn’t know you until I was in my thirties
but by the end of the decade we were on
first name terms. I remember our first words
in a cold room at the chapel of rest;
I knew you were a bit bloody weird then,
beaming with pride at a job well done.
You even said: “It looks like him, dun’t it?”
referring to my scrubbed up dad, on your slab.
It was Yorkshire empathy at its best.
I wanted to say you’d been inappropriate
but what could possibly be appropriate
in the presence of the dead?
Since then, you’ve done neighbours and my mum,
and each time I see you, the closer we become.
I’ve even dreamt about you in your black suit
and a bowler hat, playing the trumpet for Madness
to One Step Beyond, like some Cockney grim reaper.
But you’ve never ventured down the M1 –
you’ve been far too busy
burying those I’ve lost and loved.
One day, you waved at me from your hearse –
I waved back. We were like bus drivers
who’d known each other for years.
Listen: don’t take this wrong mate
but can you pretend you just don’t know me?
No offence, but please, just look the other way.
Mark is a Leeds based poet and author, regularly performs his work and is the compère of the lively Word Club monthly open mic poetry event. His poems have been widely published both in magazines (Envoi, Dream Catcher, Prole, Sarasvati, Dawntreader, The Alarmist and The Word) and anthologies. His first collection, Life is a Long Song was published by Otley Word Feast Press in 2015.
More information and poetry may be found on his website