Tim Fredericks - My Poems

My Poems

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  • Sometimes I Dream My Cousin Hears the Beatles

    Sometimes I dream my cousin hears the Beatles

    Some days in spring, when I was still a child,
    We'd hear the backyard gate click once, and close.
    Down walked my cousin; older than my uncles
    (My father being the youngest one of twelve),
    My cousin would come in and he'd sit down,
    His overcoat too heavy for the spring,
    His forehead sweating, all his body shaking,
    And soon enough he'd start again to tell
    The story of his shattered, blasted youth.
    There, in a straight-backed chair, his mind would stay
    Locked in his eighteenth year: the failed exam,
    His parents' disappointment, and his guilt.

    I heard he once could dance; there was a girl
    To whom he was engaged; he played the piano;
    But all this was as nothing, to the hate
    His parents felt, each for the other one.
    They made him their excuse to stay together:
    Forced him, like glue, to bond two unmatched people,
    Loading him with the insupportable weight
    Of all their mean frustration and their spite.

    At 48, alone in the house they'd lived in,
    Poisoned by stress, and cigarettes, and fat,
    His heart failed, and he fell dead on the floor.

    Sometimes I dream my cousin hears the Beatles.
    He's still alive; it's 1966;
    He's there upon our chair he used to sit on,
    Worrying out his past, apologising
    Just one more time for letting his parents down,
    But this one time the radio intervenes.

    He hears the soft cascade of beats and notes
    Then, all at once, his sleeping heart awakes
    And suddenly he knows he's innocent,
    His parents' accusations flown away.
    His heart beats strong: he yearns to dance again.

    He looks at his own hands, at his own body,
    Guiltless, his nightmare past a fairy story.
    He understands his mother is the world;
    He knows his father is the lovely sun.
    Baffled at who he was for twenty years,
    Amused by what he is, he rises up.

    'Every scene, even the commonest, is wonderful, if one can only detach oneself, casting off all memory of use and custom, and behold it, as it were, for the first time.' Arnold Bennett
  • Defence of the Island

    Defence of the Island

    Reginald Mitchell's school was my school too
    With pictures of the Spitfire everywhere
    He died when he was only forty-two
    I was a teenage drummer, didn't care.
    We played once in the open air at Keele
    Sixteen years old, and glad to get the chance.
    We dragged the cable out across the field
    And kept it fast and loose, and made them dance.

    The tripped-out Rag Queen, in a bridal gown
    Stood by the cymbals, laughing as they chimed.
    I gave the drumsticks to her, she sat down
    I felt her life so close – and in my mind
    Felt pity for the fallen from my town
    And grateful that the Spitfire was designed.
  • Into the Blue Sky

    Into The Blue Sky

    Into the blue sky the flights of small birds
    From windows of cafes we saw them go by
    The past is a string of remembered lost words
    Echoing once through the sweet summer sky

    Sun over courtyards she in her jeans
    Smiled at the wonder laughed through the hours
    And I never guessed at what anything means
    Only the sweetest of questions was ours
  • Birdsong

    Birdsong – Elegy for Jerry Garcia

    Nothing in winter but to paint this place,
    Its desperate beauty; how the sky rolls on
    Forever; how magnificent, frozen grace
    Breaks every branch, leaves every summer gone.
    You gone also – who played on painful strings
    Songs of some other place, some Eden, where
    The tender fluttering beat of tiny wings
    Of small, miraculous things leaps into air.

    August the ninth. My wife came in and said:
    'Heard about Jerry?' Stunned, I went outside
    Stood in the summer night, and overhead
    The stars were bright, the sky looked big and wide
    Open to flight... Let others speak the words.
    Gone from this world a song of little birds.
  • Headington


    Sunday in the heat
    Suburban Oxford townhouse
    Me and the French girl

    Tape player running
    Neil Young Cortez The Killer
    Soundtracking slow love

    Plundered ecstasy
    Thieves in the July garden
    Where the roses grow

    Lost to each other
    Sure to split at summer's end
    Tomorrow I leave

    Beneath the old hills
    South-west across open land
    Oh my sweet England
  • It May Be

    It May Be

    This is the finest Spring I can recall
    Similar in its sun to seventy-five.

    Then, I had just come round from one sad love
    And lived out on the coast beside the sea
    Each day becoming happier than before
    A sudden template for the way to live
    By taking what is offered for no cost
    Instead of what is only lent for trade
    A lesson I have never set aside

    A lesson for the ages: that the moment
    Is all eternity and by the sea
    Under the sun you hear the rolling waves
    It may be that democracy's now ending
    But still I felt the beauty of the dream
  • Nothing So Lovely

    Nothing So Lovely

    Nothing so lovely as the Spring
    Though here we swallow anything
    And choirs of so-called patriots sing
    In praise of lying.

    And we send what we ought to save
    To that dictatorship which gave
    To every land a communal grave
    And distanced sighing.

    That state where he who lifts his head
    Gets it shot down; where one who said
    'This virus kills' is oddly dead
    For even trying.

    While here we chose to lead us one
    Whose image has been slyly spun
    Till any hopes for truth are gone
    Like fine birds flying.

    My country still so dear to me
    Sweet need in every flower I see
    In England where democracy
    Is gladly dying.
  • Live At Depths

    Live At Depths

    I say, live at depths
    Even if it may hurt you
    Don't buy love from the cheapest stall
    What you risk is what you own

    The beautiful will be injured
    You can't hold yourself apart
    This world is spinning you anyway
    And nobody dances alone

    I drove a van through Leeds
    On a wet September morning
    Tears in time with the wipers
    At the end of all I'd known

    And you too have that story
    On some other morning somewhere
    You came apart and died inside
    Turned for a time to stone

    And I still say, live at depths
    Whatever is forgotten
    Whatever rides behind the moon
    What you risk is what you own
  • Sisyphus


    Nobody lives forever or for free.
    Nobody here or anywhere can say
    how long, how much. The story in the end
    is Sisyphus, pushing the timeless rock
    hard against heaven, watched by the gods
    who see a soul not even heaven can question:
    defeated but still wild, the endless captive
    sweating out his defiance on the hill.

    Nothing has changed. We struggle on the same
    hillside that he did, scared and wondering why
    our lying mentors told us pretty stories
    way back when we were kids. We'll never find
    solace above; but we have you and me
    and either we are nothing or we're rebels.
  • Rivers whose names were unknown

    Rivers whose names were unknown

    She got on her bus and was gone
    I walked home across the city
    And wondered what she was thinking

    All night through and into the morning
    And then as I left town on the train
    Through brittle South Staffordshire countryside

    Gazing through the autumn window
    I tried to guess how to come to know what she knew
    The names of the trees, the rivers and the birds

    Bitterly dreaming that all my friends
    Who quietly knew the names of such things
    Could reach her better than I could

    I did this till I was lost to myself
    Not singing any more not playing guitar
    Just writing untrue poems on trains

    Unaware that no-one can really know
    The self or the deep-slung centre
    Of someone else

    And that very impossibility
    Is the glorious freedom of the world
    And the root of all desire

    For without desire there can be no love
    And it took one night
    Of sex like fire, discovery and completion

    To break my illusions into pieces
    To teach me that the world will not wait
    To show me how to live

    With a girl so different, so good, so alive
    Who seemed that she'd always been with me
    Who seemed like she'd never be gone

    And we went to where I had never been
    We walked hand in hand as lovers
    By rivers whose names were unknown
  • The Mirror

    The Mirror

    If you can look intensely, for a while,
    Impassively, forgiving, free of judgement
    At all the time you've wasted, hour by hour
    Then day by day, till soon a year had gone
    And then another. Gently lament the loss
    Until you feel your heart grow sorrowful.

    Yes, you are guilty, certainly foolish, surely
    The puppet of your fears, a broken wastrel,
    An unconvincing pose that squandered time
    And robbed yourself insanely to protect
    An image fractured in the shards of a mirror
    Smashed years ago, and broken, just like you:

    Sad crystal remnants of a time gone by.
    Those shards, though, mirror nothing; for in truth
    Such wasted chances leave without a trace.
    No image in no mirror, less than air,
    Less than a moment, flimsy – and now nothing
    Remains. A past that never was. Now gaze

    On empty space and - still a fool - forgive
    Because there's nothing to forgive. For you
    Are not a history, not your dull account
    Of days and years. The only truth of you
    Is here, is now, and really always was,
    And here you are. Be free. And rise again.
  • Aubade


    1 Somewhere

    Easy to fall
    When the slip is deep
    Fine to feel
    Sweet time slide
    When there is only
    The touch of a heart
    Gentle as rainfall

    A gown falls
    To a sunlit floor
    While somewhere between heaven
    And the day outside
    Sweet unwisdom
    In its holy grace
  • Treasure


    There was a sad place
    I used to live there
    Days were spent waiting
    In a mind prison
    Through those empty years

    I ran many miles
    Lost in loneliness
    A million footsteps
    Touched the blessed land
    Searching for my peace

    Suddenly at last
    A deep truth opened
    Oh how I believed
    Did you know how much?
    More than I can tell

    A dedication
    To life becoming
    Never went away
    You friends who know me
    Maybe can sense it

    It is all I have
    It is a treasure
    Beyond estimate
    I give it to you
    Yours to always keep
  • Some Sad Artist

    Some Sad Artist

    Wanting to be a hero I turned round
    And gazed back down the roads where I had been.
    Imagining myself a different man
    I dreamed each sorry loss had been a win.

    Like some sad artist unawakened yet
    I painted hearts on days of helpless fear
    A coward far too eager to forget
    That any love that's real is now and here.

    And then I turned again. And here are you.
    To turn my gaze I must have been insane.
    Although it's what too many people do
    I wasted time and will not do again.
  • May


    Remember this. The worst years of your life
    Have been when you forgot you're only human.
    Each day you pledged to live and broke the pledge
    Tightened the springs upon that warm routine
    That openness alone will break apart.

    And here's a chance; a road, a day, a face,
    Blessed with the feet so fast, with eyes that shine,
    Sun on your back, the breeze speaking your name
    Hips in a swing, your shoulders loose, the near
    Promise, the danger, the clinch, yourself reborn.
  • Find Your Way

    Find Your Way

    Find your way back
    To that kid with the backpack, the dreams
    And the hope of a world made of love
    It's no farther than your closed eyes away
    And when you get there
    Smile at the kid
    Who's looking at you so hopeful
    And say:
    "It won't be how you think
    But it'll be OK."
    Then turn around my love
    And I'll see you back here.