Si Philbrook: three poems about death

Cot Death

sometimes words
are just words
a pale imitation of pain

I bought the second round
sounded like The Jam
on the jukebox
but I was already dulled
by whiskey chasers,

I thought I’d be able to help
good at talking
empathy and all that shit,
he almost hit me
when I asked how he was,

We talked about football
Owen’s goal stole the show
Beckham lost us the match,
we both agreed,

The music got louder
drowned out the need to talk
we weren’t really friends before
and this was not the time
to try,

I’d woken to the banging on the door
four weeks earlier
someone seemed to know
I’d done first-aid
strange what your neighbours

We walked home
alone in company
“if there’s anything…..” I said,
I expected the punch
but it still bled
shed-loads, then I puked
because of everything.

sometimes words
are just words
a pale imitation of pain


a cold time

it was a cold time
late autumn
in the countryside,

the wind
and early evenings
made it seem

and the silence,

warmth has the buzz of insects
or the hum of a radiator
or voices,
there were no voices,

it was a cold time
unseasonal at the funeral,
i’d hoped to avoid a reading;
sometimes you need
your own silence
for healing,

it was the size of the coffin
that broke the stillness
the illusion of peace
the tears of parents

i remained after
to sort the flowers
and thank the vicar
that it was not
my child,

it was a cold time
late autumn
in the countryside,

cold and silent
and sometimes
that is all there is.


guilt trip

i sit on the bus, crying,
some old dear near the window
babbling on about her dying uncle,
he’s 91,
i want to punch her,

ten years
a decade of silent tears
and half embarrassed looks,
sometimes they care
sometimes they move seats,

i hop off by the cemetary stop,
it starts to rain
and i welcome it,
pitter pat against the celophane
that wraps the fresh cut daisies,

his parents have already been
seen to all the weeds and that,
and that one rose
in that one vase,

it feels intrusive
almost abusive of their pain,
i wonder if they know it’s me
who leaves the daisies,

some moments stay with us
we just learn to get around them,
he was already blue and cold
when they banged on our door
and swore at me to do something,

and i couldn’t
and i won’t ever be able to,

so i bring daisies.


More from Si: Love Songs