1: The day the rains came
The day the rains came tasted bitter sweet,
coffee reflections through french windows, no
scent of breakfast toast had drifted to meet
his morning dreams upstairs, or mingled slow
with the World Service News; as to and fro
downstairs a ‘hoover’ mowed brown carpet pile.
That afternoon the cat patrolled hostile
to touch, lost for her shoes to nuzzle on
or scratch, and gazed deep disconsolate while
their eyes met, knowing that the sun had gone.
2: On knowing that the sun had gone.
On knowing that the sun had gone, it dawned
on him ‘and where were you last night’ to ask
after the muzziness had slowly yawned
upon the truth, translucent as the basque
that didn’t lie beside him. A simple task
one would have thought he could resolve as night’s
realities faded to day dreamed sights
barely recognisable to the cat
who had been privy to private delights;
and whose claws raked his coals awake with that.
3: Whose claws raked his coals
Whose claws raked his coals he knew for a fact
unused to penetrating steel blue eyes
as he was to waking to them intact
of a late morning one could but surmise
it was more than only a sharp surprise.
The cat of course knew that before, and rolled
meaningfully belly up with an old
fashioned look in the aftermath, and blazed
coward deep into where reason kept hold
of history, and his was re-appraised.
4: Of history and re-appraisal
Of history and re-appraisal,
his more checkered than
a café curtain had been decimated,
though this made legal only twice –
gone for a burton, eight didn’t ring the starting bell.
Certain of nothing except intuition
cat licked her light pink lips lascivious
at her empty armchair, and with folded paws
on his open book showed him white was black
until he believed in opening doors.
5: He believed in opening doors
He now believed in opening doors shut
for far too long. Where winds had swept last Spring
Summer days grew soft, and warned him to ‘sutup’
initially at a loss to bring simple words to bear upon,
or to sing “Salmon chanted evening”.
Cat had more than her share of them both
and promptly swore he’d sung so “bite -me!”
And did, to his toe a mischief,
whereupon he swore something
quite rude in hot pursuit, quite à propos.
6: Quite à propos
Quite à propos for some penultimate
he drew circular conclusions in sand
Serpentine, Hyde Park. Thoughts more Sultanate
strolled with his own innocence hand in hand
and the lightly brightly clad contraband
seen from his shady summer’s day repose.
At home that night the cat telepathic rose
indignant at desertion and his thought
off piste excursions,and stretched slowly those
simple points she wished to make sure he caught.
7: On drawn out evenings
Sure, he caught simple points, or would have dropped
in deep enough, or given half a chance
or less made reservations one could opt
more pertinent for ‘im before. Perchance
there’ll be more sun filled days of dalliance,
a smile drawn close that whispers clouds away.
The cat recalcitrant, careless this day
looked too deep into his eyes and the flame
found her soft underbelly, hell to pay
on drawn out evenings when the rains came . . .
Poem copyright Neil Harding.
17-12-1941 — 20-10-2017
Neil was not only an excellent poet , but also a great mentor
and a very dear friend to many of us.
London will no longer be the same without you.
You will be missed.
Rest in peace , my dear friend.