The House-Mothers arrive en masse
recounting midday errands and after school plans
Sleep-filled Bengali Fathers have risen
to pick up their kids before heading out
to deposit people in various states
of comings and goings in various states
of inebriation. A couple of Grand-Fathers
in tow with ‘her indoors’ complete the human
presence. The pigeons and crows
are having their forensic moment
in the playground still. Everything
is primary now; fun gives way underfoot
to tarmac foam speckled with stars
with lines to the future. Is life meant for risk?
House-Father searches for his own time
of grazed knees and elbows, latched on
to the uniformity of Klee Klamp piping
dressed up in limpet kids.
An open door signals school’s end
beaks twitch with a half second lift-off
to their own airborne canvas
hoping for scraps after the rush.
House-Father remembers running
towards his own Mother with an army
of hunger beside him – chirping squealing
the only pure echoes of his past.
For my Father, life has ever been
a braw bricht moonlit nicht
But Lauder was no Burns
for the Ayrshire Bard’s picture
was a fixture on the shelf
within a line of our kin.
Though my Father never read poetry
Burns was the man
like Celtic the team
whisky the drink
leaving Scotland the means
to go down South
behind auld enemy lines
armed with saltire crosses
their brogue voices lilting
the bars with songs
for the displaced who
wandered many a weary feet
singing their way home
for the sake of a fading time
for the sake of Auld Lang Syne.
House-Father and three Work-Mothers go
to show little children at school what to do
when they grow up and make enough money
to stop their own inevitable children dying
from malnutrition. One mother is an actuary
so can actually predict the future. But the way
the world is so certain to end she won’t win. Not that
it’s a competition House-Father tells himself
sitting with a plate of homemade cupcakes
in his rubbery yellow hands. His wife is going
to tell the students she is an astronaut for she
can see the earth is going to shit so they must
recycle cardboard and not eat plastic to stop life
coming to a roaring end. She’ll come last. On arrival
House-Father is disappointed another Father
is there, an opera singer who enjoys dominating
the acoustics of the school’s corridors. This annoys
House-Father no end as it deflects the children’s
attention away from his brilliant presentation
on the value of time management in the home.
The kids love the cupcakes and enjoy blowing up
the Marigold gloves, bouncing them on each other’s
heads. He watches them do what they’re not meant
to be doing knowing it’s exactly what they should be
doing. He’s lost even though he knows it can’t be a game
not when you have nothing to show for your troubles.
Peter Raynard is editor of Proletarian Poetry (www.proletarianpoetry.com). His books of poetry are: ‘Precarious’ (Smokestack Books, 2018) and ‘The Combination: a poetic coupling of the Communist Manifesto’ (Culture Matters, 2018). ‘Rumbled’ will be published by Nine Arches Press in 2022.