hug each other at the end of the day, and at the same time check
after ‘Like any other girl’ by Jenna Clake
for aches twists knotted skin
the afternoon is long and lonely
full of opportunities to hurt
in the evening let’s sit out
under the last empty planes
with a tin and a cigarette
I want to know the pilot’s name
whether they have a family
to miss them do they miss
the ground how does it feel now
to leave the house take your life
into your hands again & again & again
Ars poetica with dad
you’re in this poem now, and I’ve dressed you
in a brown t-shirt with geology rocks printed on it,
like the one we bought you for your birthday. I’m here too.
It’s not our first rodeo. This time I promise I won’t make you
a woodsman or a bell-ringer or a dog, and I won’t be Jesus Christ
in eyeliner or a fish with its belly split open. I hope, in this poem,
we don’t become distant men on Bob Hicok’s dusky hills.
I hope this time we can talk.
Maybe you’ll say my best boy at the seaside of this poem
or sat opposite me in a University Town coffee shop. And then
I can concentrate on the alliterative quality of parental love,
all the vowels and syllables of it. Maybe I’ll tell you that,
despite the other poems, it doesn’t really matter that you’re terrible
at saying I love you at the end of phone calls, not when you do
such a good job of showing it. I’ll apologise for never giving you credit,
and for calling you archetype rather than dad.
I’ve started telling people that I love you during poetry shows,
that you’re a good guy. Middle aged men confess their regrets
to me, pat my shoulder, linger, pretend that I’m their son.
My other dad, Seamus Heaney, wrote his pen into a gun
and shot his father into the past with it. I’ve made mine
a fence, a lead, a polished axe handle, a series of blunt objects.
Maybe now, like Seamus, I can make a shovel of it,
and unearth an I love you, dad from the wintry soil.
Christopher Lanyon is a poet, mathematician and PhD student based in Nottingham, UK. His poems have been published in Abridged, SPOONFEED, Finished Creatures, Under the Radar and two Bad Betty Press anthologies, among others. Twitter @chrislanyon