Ian C. Smith
seen in the lamp's refulgence
his father’s base criticism
on the private place
where he dwells alone
the voice pleads his mother keeps her mouth shut
no apostrophe with swears
his father glares in rage appeals to his wife.
The boy rehearses his life
as if he senses the road ahead
conjures a blanket of rain
to cushion sound
and sweeten the atmosphere
turns another page
yearns for those other worlds
strains to unmask the future.
He switches his focus to that rain
swells it to a deluge
a freak flood
seizes the voice
its bleak cry of distress
holds it under
until it is drowned.
The boy’s imagination meanders
away from organized games
their rituals their monotony.
He carries home on the sweaty bus
an enriched account of school sports
the drama of his participation
his sacrifice of mind and body
straining to reach the finish
despite his wavering interest.
His father’s imagination
during the trek of marital sex
has stretched like perished elastic
stranding him limp and bereft.
This father sighing for a false past
tunes in to their son’s complaint
a nagging twinge suffered
in the long run up the final straight.
The boy points to the back of his leg
ask his mother, surely not
the same girl his father married,
Mum, is this your G-string?
There’s No Going Back
The aspirations of childhood.
We know what their horoscope says.
A boy, his dreams of gold despite his blood,
grows up to spend driven days
tracing his family like a private eye
of crime fiction, aunts, uncles, misfits,
battered, scattered, their history a cry
in the overhanging night, a clan kinghit.
Through public records and heartrending
tales, he finds them by burrowing back.
All that is missing is a happy ending.
He sees the scene, hears a soundtrack,
a reunion with strings or pan flute.
He sends his story to LWTV,
convinces a man in a suit
to fly his parents for a surprise party.
The ratings zoom, with stifled sobs on cue.
Later, their crowd loud in a London hotel,
our man, his golden dream come true,
musters his old mum, urges her to reveal
how she feels, now, with her sister again.
He wonders if she understands what he did
to bring this pack together, past pain.
His mum responds: She still owes me ten quid!