what are you warning me for,
you bony old bastard with your black cape &
that corny scythe?
so i’ll stop eating sausages & chocolate.
one coffee a day, no more sugar.
is it a deal?
i promise i won’t watch cop movies
or waste my life on television,
except during those late nights when you come creeping around
the front garden & i can hear you
trashing the rose bushes & twisting the garden hose
into lethal knots & loops across the path.
i don’t drink because i love you.
i gave up drugs through fear of you,
old lover, old father.
there were other lovers but you had them too.
the stars burn out as you swallow them like little coloured pills &
all the carnage of the world is food
& still you are hungry.
why worry about me with my little indigestion
& a pain in the chest,
& an ache in the joints i can’t ignore
& a twisted back that never hurt when i was thirty?
then i only had a glimpse of you & i was never sure
whether your kisses would be cruel,
but now you smile in the hedge with kind indifference,
through the silent masks of my waiting friends.