He Is Dead

I didn’t lose him
I know where he is
He didn’t drown in a river
Or fall off a cliff
So it can’t be said
That he slipped away
It’s wrong to suggest
That he has passed on
He’s not moved house
We know where he’s gone
He wasn’t killed in action
Not even killed in Acton
His case is believable
But he never bought it
Unlike a clumsy horse
Or a petulant milkmaid
He didn’t kick the bucket
Or bite the dust
Like the worser cowboy
A circus is packed up
A viewpoint is packed in
And giving up the ghost
Only happens to old cars
It would hurt me to think
He’s no longer with us
Shuffled off the coil
Knocking on heaven’s door
Spare me the pity
And say instead
He is dead


Tom Neill, 2009.

Shortlisted for the Grace Dieu Writers’ Circle Poetry Prize in 2014.