The Sun Sets on the Yorkshire Hills

A brickie by day, a poet by night. Hefting hods from foundation to walltop: then under-using his artistic nature to smooth the cement into neat half-inch channels, straight as a die … a spirit-level in more ways than one.

Then, getting home, kissing the amenable wife who had prepared an amenable meal, he’d eventually settle down beside her as she watched soaps. He chewed the end of his invisible pen and started thinking out tonight’s poem:

“The sun sets on the Yorkshire hills…”

He hummed and hahed about a rhyme for ‘hills’. Dark Satanic Mills. He laughed at the thought. Dark Satanic Meals. He’d love a richly dark curry full of competing spices, built upon goo-ily with dhal and mango chutney. All he ever had were eggs and chips, mince and potatoes or macaroni cheese that at least was slightly continental…

Back to the poem written in his head.

“The sun sets on the Yorkshire hills
My eternal soul mixed with every slope:
Darkness sweeps in and silently fills
Me with death and thought of knotted rope.”

Hum, doesn’t scan.  Needs smoothing. He gets up while the soap’s commercials start running, thus maintaining the pretence he was actually following its story-line, a plot straight as a die with not even a single twist. His wife enjoyed it more if she thought he was watching it, too. He had got up – with sudden decision – to fetch the builder’s spirit-level from his tool-bag in the hall.

He hums to himself as he walks, demolishing another poem in his head:

“The sadness of council house halls
Life’s nothing but a load of balls.”

He simply needs to play around with words. It is his raison-d’etre. Nothing is straight and narrow in poems. A poem represents a relief from the precise cement creeks between the orange cuboids. Not even crumbly cuboids: finished true with immaculate edges. You could see everything coming in soaps, too: no diversions, no odd corners. Its own spirit-level of the mindless soul.

He sat down – the real spirit-level in his lap.

“What you got that for?” she asked.

“Not sure,” he mumbled.

But then she forgot the question as the soap resumed. She did not even see the tears in his eyes.


Written as the speed-writing exercise at the Clacton writer’s group (19 July 2012)


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