The Artist, Mariner and Engineer

I.

 At eleven years old
 my Dad’s teenage sketchbooks
 opened.
 Cows sat down in pencil.
 His Dad’s backyard full of tools
 a preliminary pencil sketch.
 Wanked off at
 his female nudes, even when
 drapery hid modesty.
 Extremely detailed Clwydian hills,
 mountains, landscapes,
 rotting stump colours
 ablaze yellows, ochres, greens.
 I wanted to draw, sketch,
 inspired.

 I asked
 for my Dads’ books.
 He did not have many.
 He gave me all.

 Alfred N. Whiteheads
 “Problems of Philosophy”
 “An Introduction To Immanuel Kant”
 “The Poems of Rudyard Kipling”

 He played a 33″ record Dylan Thomas
 ‘Under Milk Wood’ from my earliest memory
 so every portion of my life
 a quote from it pops into my head.

 “Listen, listen. Time passes…”

 II.

 White, steaming big neck
 swings like sail in full.
 Horns razor sharp Madras cow
 clanks down metal aisle
 three funnelled merchant ship.

 Dad, up from hot boilers
 his mate behind the beast
 they hit it with sticks herd it
 back to wooden corral
 above hold.

 Heat, more flies than sweat.
 Dad knew white monster’s
 coal blistered face,
 nostrils hissing air
 steam scream water
 through pipes, pistons.

 Knew every caress of its flank
 every flinch, flick, strain
 yawn of engine below
 the only way to get there.

 Indian cows are sacred,
 so are ships boilers.

 II.

 (cough)

 I kept at him

‘Have a drink of water, Dad.’

Retired he climbs Lake District
 up through
 earth’s forest lungs

 (cough)

 Specialists ask “Have you worked with Asbestos?”

‘Only cleaning boilers when I was young.’

dust thickens
 lungs
 diffuse thickening
 dries lungs
 branches and twigs

 (cough)

 “Listen, listen. Time passes…”

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