Frayed Cords


If I went back,
I could show them
where the air raid shelter used to be,
my father’s shed ankle-deep
in perfumed shavings,
and the exact spot on the garden wall
where our cat would chatter
at birds taunting him in the cherry tree,
or sulk after his holiday in the cattery.

They wouldn’t want to know, I think,
that the house used to have sash windows
and that my father used a holiday
to replace the frayed cords,
that the alien-eyed gas masks
I used to play with were kept
in the cupboard under the stairs
next to the broken gramophone
with the HMV ear-trumpet
and 78s in finger-worn paper sleeves.

A house with a crystal set history,
faint, crackling, distant voices,
pre-war and pre-war
making do and mending,
mental scars, and physical scars
like the grooves lumbering coal-carts
gouged in the alley-walls
that were our fielders in summer
and wingers in winter.

That the gentle giant of a shire
waiting where now they park their car
smelt like newly baked bread
and pawed the road with a restless foot,
while the bread man chatted
to my mother and winked at me
as he lifted the flap of his leather satchel
and rooted for a farthing change,
they wouldn’t want to know.

That the coal-shed smelt like a coal-mine,
that a freshly cleft stump of coal
was history in your hand,
as far removed from the lives
of flat-screen folk
as beating carpets in the back yard
and wringing washing with a mangle,
they wouldn’t want to know.



© Nemo 2023
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I love every line of this terrific poem, my favourite line, if I had to choose only one, ‘ A house with a crystal set history’ for me it sums up the whole poem. I can see so much of my own home here too. Sue.


I did like it very much, and yes the nomination was from me. I would love to see it in the next anthology.
Re-posts are fine I am sure they will always be new to somebody on here. Having said that I’m not too keen on having to do that either. Sue.


For some a timeless piece, yet for a new generation won’t have a clue.
Yes it tells our age, enjoyed the read…Tony

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