David Ratcliffe – Poetry

Slipping his moorings

Less than an hour earlier,
he’d knelt thumbs crossed;
on failing to receive a signal
he slid solo on a one-way voyage,
slipping his moorings
with no one at the helm
drifting toward a squall
no lenient heart had charted.

Senses long since mutinied
lifeboats cut adrift,
alone like never before,
he no longer sought an afterlife
just wished to withdraw.

No one could navigate his depths,
no flares were witnessed,
no comms picked up,
no search was undertaken.

An hour after the storm,
calm waters lapped the shore
delivering his corpse;
a gift no parent should unwrap
free from pain
leaving nothing but pain.

My Bike’s Too Small

I pine for the days when
wholesome, homespun wisdom
wasn’t seen as doublespeak;
a time when intimate gatherings
where less, well ‘intimate’.

A time before I’d followed the tributary
leading to her turbulent depths.
To her eyes, an elegant corridor
soiled by the foot traffic
of mawkish nomads
who’d provided cadaver samples
I chose to ignore.

To the bejewelled source of her porcelain neck
that sent shafts of ornate light
through the core of my virtue
carrying promises I dared not deliver;
chose not to decline.

So I hurtled beyond delirium
into a netherworld,
like I’d fallen from my bike
in days of innocence,
though now I’m full-grown,
my pain too great,
and my bike too small…

Perennial Smile

Your perennial smile did not winter so well;
sunlight has cracked the veneer,
your grey-blue gaze weeps
and full primed lips tremble
with each tug at the ligature
around your caustic tongue.

The once sweet taste of lies
now decompose in my mouth;
your beauty turned foul
in the landlocked autocracy
you’ve ruled with derision,
where borders to reason
are manned by regulars
who now question your credentials.

I repel at the odour you emit,
that sweet nonsense I’d thought sublime.
With obeisance withdrawn
I now burn my placards
and vacate the barricades,
leaving heartache at the frontier
of broken prophecy,
with you in my rear-view mirror.


Between your opening salvo
to the question of my interest
I’ve visited ancient embers
with its dead in barrows,

punched a hole through the
inelastic membrane of the future
to where I’ve writhed, fixed
within the silence of a scream.

Your annoyance first alarms,
then amuses; the interrogation
providing relief at intervals,
each chastisement forging, mauling,
cajoling, until softened to paste,
I am driven to servitude.

Fixed in the profile of your angles
you’d consider me rapscallion,

wishing passage to my thoughts;
though for you to undertake
that crossing I should warn
this vessel holds a solitary lifebelt.

Stagnant Pool

I am a simulation in repetition,
a compromising vagabond
tied to the mast of endeavour
with no desire to travel.

I follow followers in vacuous
ignorance imploring part of my
smile find purpose become
real, spontaneous, my own.

Wading a stagnant pool that
defines me, curiosity stemmed
by stemless algae forming
around the corpse of forbidden

passage. I’m overcome by
indifference, loquacious thoughts
swim around a taciturn shell on the
liquid side of a landlocked dream.

Unreliable Witness

Leaving words unwritten
of thoughts indisposed
I finally conceded to fatigue,
logging off from the familiar,
while at odds with accounts.

Deleted files from my hard drive
attracted the self-appointed detective
working the night shift
who’d become perplexed
at disturbing images
demanding investigation.

As the mind closed down
he poked around
viewing the ‘out of whack’
box set of my autobiography
as the corrupted files played
nonsensical encounters.

Evermore confused and defeated;
his trilby slid over his eyes
as he fell asleep on the job
leaving the surreal episode
to drift into perdition.

A place where erased memory
of the dead presides
over varied reports
of time and place
about cold case events,
though nothing was taken
or body was found.

Recklessness befell mindfulness;
repentance recoiled
at the midpoint of torcher
as the grainy image closed
and woke the gumshoe
who questioned this unreliable witness
now seeking counsel.

About the contributor

David Ratcliffe hails from the north of England though now living in the south. He writes poetry, short stories and song lyrics

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