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1st September, 2020

By Humphrey Ocean - Humphrey Ocean, CC BY-SA 4.0,

First water, poetic aristocracy,
a cricket lover, plied exquisite line
and length. An expert witness in elegy
he mourned his life, alive, as he refined
the elegant corralling of a phrase;
the management of words schooled to erase
the early grief afflicting him. His main
relief and consolation found in art,
whose sorcery’s felicity imparts
integrity to dull quotidian pain.

For him fulfillment gained from causing change
was insufficient. Being able to
impinge and choosing how to rearrange
was little privilege. No clue
how to charm mortality’s blind funk,
nor how to raise foundering courage sunk
in terror. Unless, like Baudelaire, the verse
he fashioned conjured fears, rescued his life
in metre, end-stopped time, consoled the strife
that froze his heart, helping dissolve the hearse

that passed so near. Momento Mori were
his stock in trade. He was danse macabre’s hep cat.
But why should this unman him? Let’s concur
that old Skull Hill’s our natural habitat.
The Bone House is our living room, it throws
things into focus. Such perspective grows
us balls. It sets life’s gemstone, making keen
the sweetness we receive. Colours brightened
and sounds more plangent. Tastes, too, are heightened
knowing the lease will be guillotined.

While Bechet wailed out an enormous yes
he always kept his options open, knew
“What will survive of us is love”, confessed
he sensed, though, this was only “almost true.”
Preferred half-measure modern alienation,
a fifties form of British constipation,
insisting on his English diffidence,
was unconsoled and less deceived, defined
by negativity. The yes declined
in non-commitment. Never once relents.

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