LETTER FROM LEEDS by Barry Tebb
Would ‘any woman’ find me difficult to live with?
My tastes are simple: space for several thousand books,
The smoke from my pipe stuffed with aromatic Balkan Sobranie,
A leftover from the Sixties, frequent brief absences to fulfil
My duties as a carer, unending phone calls
And the unenviable reputation as England’s worst or best complainer,
"Treading on toes or keeping people on their toes"
Also a warm and welcoming vagina, an insatiable need
For fellatio and cunnilingus, a bed with clean sheets
I can retire to by five with a hot water bottle
To calm my churning viscera while I read
Endless analytic texts, tomes of French poems to translate,
A notorious weekly newsletter to edit, a quarterly to write reviews for
And – I must confess – cable TV so I can access Starsky and Hutch.
I need a cottage in Haworth to go with the wife,
Companion or whatever, to see with me the changing
Seasons of heather from purple September glory
To the browns of winter and wisps of summer green
And meet with Michael Haslam, fellow poet,
Maestro of the moors and shape-shifter supreme.
I write these verses sitting in the marble hall
Of City Station’s restored art deco glory,
The rats and debris of decades swept away,
How much I need the kindness of strangers,
The welcome from my son’s nurses on the
Ward with the highest security rating Leeds possesses,
A magnificent rotunda among lawns and wooded glades,
Air conditioned with more staff than patients-
When visiting times are readily extended to encompass
My moorland walks and journeys to the capital
When I visit Brenda Williams, England’s leading protest poet.
In an Eden garden which spreads its lawned sleeves
To envelop my tobacco smoke which irritates everyone
Or is it a displacement onto the smoker
As I ecstasise the red and yellow splendour of the red hot poker
Defiantly erect among the flowering robes of magnolia?
Here we reminisce of long ago days when our children
Blossomed with talent and showed no signs
Of the unending torment of their adult years,
Depot injections, Red clouds which whirl as in end-on sections, absconding,
Liasing, losing and finding…