Running dangerously low on petrol
we’re driving to visit my family
home and spend Christmas.
We seem to be getting by on air.
Passing all the petrol stations,
not wanting to stop even once
we at last reach my old house
where I refuel and ignore the car.
When we go back to Belgium,
we’re going to live in your home.
At the border I worry whether
my ticket will be accepted –
it’s valid only for one
but I’m two people now.
In the Black Bull,
there’s a Georgian
steel engraved map
of the British Isles.
Many years of boozy
breath and sweat
have got under the glass
and foxed the paper.
These blotches look
like little ghost islands,
perhaps the places
where pub regulars
who’ve not been seen
in years have gone.
Filling in forms
Are you happy here? No.
Then why did you come? To make someone I love happy.
Do you intend to stay? Yes.
Are you sure?
Your answer to the previous question was shaky.
Please give details.
Yes, I intend to stay. It was this wonky table
and not my resolution that wobbled.
The plume boom
Never usually careful, crossing the road
carrying only my life. But I am when
I carry a box of eggs that will never hatch.
Well over a century ago, when Darwin
walked the earth, people were shooting birds
out of the air for feathers to make hats
to wear to a church that was beginning
to be shot down itself. It’s hard to believe
we’ve ever done any good. Whenever
I applaud a songbird it flies off in fright.
From the raised beach of the loft
a Victorian wooden ark with carved
animals covered in lead paint.
The whole menagerie’s there
but the children who played with it
have not been spared the flood.
Richie McCaffery is from Warkworth, Northumberland but now lives in Ghent, Flanders (Belgium). He has a PhD in Scottish literature from the University of Glasgow. He is the author of two poetry pamphlets, including Spinning Plates (HappenStance, 2012) as well as the collection Cairn (Nine Arches Press, 2014). A third pamphlet is due out this year from Red Squirrel Press and he is working on his second book-length collection.
You can read Richie’s previous contributions to Clear Poetry here.