Recently, I’ve begun to experiment with sharing my poetry in video format, combining the words with images and music to bring the stories to life. My first effort, ‘Jim,’ is below. ❤️
This poem has previously been unpublished.
Jim was never a man for fighting.
He seldom touched a drop
Or took risks
Or hedged his bets
In the way other men did.
Jim kept his counsel
On matters that inflamed the town
Yet he held his own
Amidst loud jubilations and cheers
When the county team arrived home,
Bearing their trophies aloft.
Jim told the young lads,
Be careful, and don’t lose the head.
Many a sure thing
Has been lost through extravagance.
Save your pennies for a rainy day
Get a piggy bank
You may laugh now
But the coins you keep
Will stand to you
When you’re old and grey
The lads thought Jim was cracked:
His advice could never apply
In their world of bright screens
He was a figure from the distant past
Pipe smoke unfurling through the window
Where he would sit and drink his cup of tea
Shaking his head
As the fire burned out.
Jim was never a man for shouting.
He seldom raised his voice
Or caused a scene
Or lashed out
In the way his father did.
Jim spoke softly
Yet he knew to be stern
When his grandchildren
Tore through the rings behind his house.
He sat them down
And told them what was what.
He regaled them with tales
Once whispered by his mother
Of the imps who lived in the wild places:
How they cursed the crops when displeased
And would leap down from branches
To blast a chilling breeze
Scaring Jim and his friends half to death.
Were the stories true
Or was he pulling their leg?
His grandchildren never knew
But they steered clear of the rings from that day forward
Because – fairies or not –
They didn’t want to upset Jim.
Jim was never a man for self-pity
He seldom voiced the pain
Of his failing strength
His aching bones
His fading sight
Yet he could wax lyrical
On the hardships of his youth.
He told the young ones,
In my day we had ration books
The Emergency was upon us
So our mothers kept an anxious eye
On every ounce bought and sold
Every loose stitch
Every hole in our shoes.
When we were late for our lessons
We ran pell-mell across fields
Before the schoolmaster yelled himself hoarse.
We’d be lucky to slip in
Before he locked the doors.
Lucky to escape the rod.
You don’t know how lucky you have it.
Jim was never a man for goodbyes.
When visitors left him
After an evening of yarns and tall tales
He never bid them farewell
But engaged them
In spiralling rounds of well wishes,
Each one longer
Than the last.
He urged them to take care of themselves, now,
And mind the dodgy step on the way out.
Were they going to the market tomorrow?
If not, he’d see them in the pews on Sunday
Unless his back gave out before then.
Jim would be mortified
If he saw the fuss
Being made of him now:
The tasteful flowers
The graveside orations.
He didn’t know how many people loved him.
Jim was never a man for crying.
He was a man to say
Keep the chin up
Don’t let the bastards get you down
And we’ll live to fight another day.
Images sourced via Adobe Spark.