About Brian Carlin

Retired psychiatric nurse, redundant poet. husband and father

Soup

It’s like when you get

soup, out

the tin and give it four

minutes in the microwave

and it comes out all

boiled and bubbly, and

boiling, you know, impairs

the flavour but you have to give

it two or three

minutes anyway

or it’ll burn the roof

of your mouth off and as

you wait for it cooling you think

if I’d only set it at three

it would have been hot and perfect

and supped then and there

and now here I am waiting

three or four minutes 

wasted time later

rueing the past, anticipating

the product of my actions

knowing I’ll never make soup again.

Still Life with Violence

The sky smashes

blue down

on surface-thin sea.

 

Horizon evens

the up and under.

 

A trawler chugs blindly

lugging itself

out of sight.

 

A seabird bashes

through to a cold underworld

 

killing fish: thrashing

wetly.

 

Still on the shore

slow waves

lap and lap.

Eagle dream

Liam and I are in our old flat, packing up, ready for the move. We put boxes out on the verandah. Our cat, Zappa, who doesn’t get out, sneaks through the open front door. I worry Susie will be annoyed by this. Tired of the packing up I lie on the sofa and pull a blanket over me, as I fall asleep I notice my shiny black leather shoes. Susie wakes me. She’s not angry and suggests I go out to look for Zappa. I go along the road and see Zappa disappearing slowly over a grassy hill which I can’t get to but I know if I detour round the woods I’ll meet up with him. As I circle round I notice the animals are slightly wilder round this way, and as I’m thinking I’ll never find him an eagle rises huge in the sky opening its wings and hovering there. My first instinct is this is a threat to our cat but I am in awe of the animal and realise this thing of beauty brings no danger. After watching it for a while I decide to head back to our flat. As I retrace my steps, Zappa comes happily over the grassy hill from where he’d gone and happily jumps into my arms. We both head home.Such a pleasant dream, from Susie’s reaction to the missing cat, to the happy reunification, but most of all for that magnificent eagle.

For Madeleine Bourdouxhe, For Faith EvansĀ 

Your sharp little pencil,

its fine lines slice

deftly through the dishes,

the prepared meals, the niceties.

 

Where the fleshy heart of intellect

pulses on the undefined

frontline of desire.

You are a new Sun on an unexpected morning.

 

Not reading French, I read you in French

and grapple the ghost of your clever hands,

prod recesses which surface with re-viewing

and trust to Faith the translation which haunts the shadows of me.

Sentimental Struggles

How we romanticise lost wars,

close eyes for the first

kiss of the first bomb.

 

Throw ourselves into

the killing carnality.

Diarise manoeuvres.

 

Tell virgin soldiers lies.

Get patched up,

return to the front.

 

How we cling

to the possibility of victory

when every daily defeat tells us otherwise.

 

The band of brothers of lovers,

the walking wounded

who have wound up dead and alive.

A Murmuration

A murmuration swoops, curls

blackly against creeping dusk

seen silently from the window.

I imagine the camaraderie in furious wings

the machinations of large populations

where all are bound in keeping an even distance

and rarely stare a neighbour in the eye.

 

I don’t deny the beauty of it, the collective mind in flight

but all this is from where I stand, and

not the birds-eye view of

small town minds where small good mornings

and bare civilities keep us comfortably apart.

 

On Edge

Boundaries

do not blur

 

or get edgy

 

but in an important sense

just are not there.

 

Everything is fluid

and undecided until observation.

 

It’s not uncertain.

 

It’s the way it is.

 

There are pulls and pushes-

Attractions, repellents.

 

But these are all internal events.

 

Nothing else.

Northern Latitudes

Now ageing, and living

the long months of low sun

 

where slate grey or silver sky hung,

where bare trees scratch black lightning,

 

peppered hair on virgin white pillows.

Dreams bled to monochrome.

 

I wake to find Her back to me

and the rolling hills of blanketed hips.

 

My hand on her hot rump

settling there-

a warm reminder,

 

as a sun-baked rock at midnight

of the gone day’s heat.

 

Auld Maggie, Game’s Loup (1962)

Tamp the baccy down-head of the cob pipe-

get it lit, hand shielding.

 

Screw her eyes wi the squall

stood there between the front door and

her oak chair three feet away

 

Black dress

white bib

Puritan.

 

Weathered

skin red

indian

 

Her man the chandler gone

old nets heaped on the beach

Wet rigging, crates.

 

Me at three, with new thoughts, in shorts, gets a smile.

Where the Truth Lies

In the ground, with nothing still,

rotting and living,

nourishing another day. For today

just isn’t ready.

 

In the silent mutual walk to the graveside.

In the being, the togetherness-

the sole sounds the acknowledgement

of all our footsteps slow-marching.

 

We carry your memories around

lighter than the casket we allowed

you to be buried in. We have to

believe in your resurrection.

 

But three days is a long shot.