Desert Island Discs
I must be past my sell-by date:
I’m fifty, frazzled, overweight.
My mother glares at me to show
she’s not to blame; my wife groans no
on those infrequent nights when
clumsily lonely, reach out and try
to make/wake love. Asleep, I snore.
My kids think I’m a dinosaur ‒
if up to them, I’m not an
they’d download. Just a bank to tap . . .
I’m running out of things to say
to friends, except pub chatter – they
wear the same puzzled, sober frown
however many pints they down.
We watch the football on the box,
the stars who earn more than Fort Knox ‒
my job’s a grind, my boss a jerk,
my pay’s a joke, I’ll have to work
until I’m seventy at least:
my pension pot has lost its yeast.
Is this what life is all about,
the rules the multitude can’t flout? –
frustration, failure, stuck ruts, time
speeding up as we decline,
the bitterness we try to hide,
the sense of plenitude denied,
our bodies failing part-by-part,
but in the ageing, aching heart
the troubled yearning to be free,
to say my prison walls aren’t me . . .
The souls on Desert Island Discs
seem to have bypassed all such risks
when they complacently review
their trek to join the Happy Few
chosen to choose the tunes they’d take
to their solo isle . . .
it’s a fake –
what if always and everywhere, everyone’s
a castaway, and oceans
separate us from each other, full
of animal eating animal?
Dear God, if you exist, please teach
me patience on my private beach
where yes, I’ve got your Bible to
ponder eternity’s point of view,
but also Shakespeare, confirming
the hand-picked favourites you endow
with stardom live more fully than
those in the ranks who also ran –
even when his heroes’ fates are tragic
their pain, and poetry, are magic.
Above all, I’d appreciate
as daily I deteriorate
sight of a sail, far out at sea
but on its way to rescue me . . .
If you have any thoughts on this poem, Tom
Vaughan would be
pleased to hear them.