Rodney Wood lives in Farnborough. His poetry has appeared recently in The High Window Press, The Ofi Press, Magma, Jerryjazzmusician, Mary Evans Picture Library and Envoi. His pamphlets are Dante Called You Beatrice, which was published in 2017, and When Listening Isn’t Enough, published in 2021. He co-hosts the monthly open mic nights at The Lightbox in Woking.
Handbook for Drivers of the Mounted Service
Letter Dated 8 April 2021 to the Woman who is always down the shops with a flower in her hair and pulling a Pink Shopping Trolley (Written the day after we can meet in groups of 6 or 1 other household).
HANDBOOK FOR DRIVERS OF THE MOUNTED SERVICE
There’s nothing much to say about death
except it’s not a good idea
but I’m lucky as I missed mine
by a few days
had my mind uploaded
and am reborn as ones and zeros
compressed in a city of data servers.
It’s comforting to be in a virtual garden
mowing the lawn.
Actually that is all
I can think of.
Lawnmower blades creating
paths, roads even whole airstrips, watching
clippings fly into a box and my father
appearing with a cigarette in his mouth.
He’s here to laugh at me because after
10 minutes using the lawnmower
blisters bubble on my soft palms.
He worked for 40 years among
the howls, rumbles and detonations
of a print factory complete with rails,
tunnels and skyscrapers.
It was him, I think,
told me the servers are falling apart
and there is no one left to water, weed,
aerate, feed the soil, edge or fill in
This might be true. I have forgotten
much but know it’s time to push the lawnmower
and for someone to appear with that laugh
that makes the ash from a cigarette
begin its long journey to feed the lawn.
© Rodney Wood
Japanese TV is explaining what to do
in case of an earthquake and bare
feet on cold stone floors in evacuation
sites. The answer involves origami
from commonplace objects. After this
Day 8 of the Basho where large nappy
clad men parade round a circular stage
before individual bouts. Stomping is
involved as well as salt throwing
and rinsing the mouth with “power-water”.
Wrestlers crouch before charging
and one is pushed out the ring. The winner
is given a piece of paper by the ref.
I’m obviously missing something
but I don’t suppose anyone cares.
© Rodney Wood
LETTER DATED 8 APRIL 2021 TO THE WOMAN WHO IS ALWAYS DOWN THE SHOPS WITH A FLOWER IN HER HAIR AND PULLING A PINK SHOPPING TROLLEY
It’s been hard this past year when
everyone’s been told to stay at home.
I’m guessing here, but I expect
you are still taking your trolley
out for essentials each day
buying snacks and other morsels.
I know this because shopping
is your joy, your passion.
You could, for example, have chosen:
poetry, making miniature chairs,
flower arranging, time-travelling,
stalking, playing dead, watching soaps,
making animal sacrifices, knitting,
sex, collecting handcuffs, snow-globes,
owls, umbrellas or just marking time
but no, it was this. You’re lucky to do
what you love but it’s only shopping.
Last year I was used to seeing you,
parents, brothers and sisters, sitting
under the pinkish leaves of a Golden Rain tree
on the wooden bench between Greggs
and The Poundshop, eating pasties,
talking, laughing while you adjusted
the purple magnolia behind your ear
and saying I’m so happy we’re all together.
Shops will open again soon trust me.
That bench will feel again the heat and weight
of your family and it will be be surrounded
by crumbs and pigeons that somehow
can fly upside-down and backwards.
© Rodney Wood