Mat Riches, ITV’s poet-in-residence (they don’t know this yet) has had poetry appear in Dream Catcher, Firth, London Grip, Poetry Salzburg, Under The Radar, South, Orbis, Finished Creatures, Obsessed With Pipework and several other journals. He co-runs the Rogue Strands poetry evenings, and his debut pamphlet with Red Squirrel Press is due in 2023.
Clearing My Dad's Shed
Tobacco tins of tacks and screws
cover every surface and shelf,
a hatchet is Excalibured
in a chopping block by the door.
The spiders have been working hard
to lash together oiled chisels,
cables and caulking guns. His words
linger in curls of shavings.
I haul out offcuts for burning
in the old brazier, the ash settling
where he's scattered. G-clamps
ask questions about the future
for the boxes of random tools
piled beneath hand-built workbenches.
Knowing I’m all gear, no idea,
each box is transferred to the car
to gather new dust in my loft.
The drive home is spent blaming him
for not explaining their uses,
and myself for not asking.
An ambient soundbed for stressful times,
whales’ noises fill relaxation CDs,
open seas and icebergs on the covers.
The most sensitive devices will capture
this chatter on the wires, to be misheard
like Chinese whispers or tales after school,
but listen, you’ll sense the cetacean fury
in songs about growlers, glacier-surfing,
ice-calving and splashes of bergy bits.
Our hydrophones are recording the sound
of break-up songs, pulses and beats
repeated over a bassline of bloops
to form this soundtrack to the end of days
that plays while we run freshly-licked fingers
round the wine-glass rim of the earth.
You find you’re carrying
a cairn in your pocket.
You’ve been to some hard places
before and found yourself
looking down on the rocks
you stole as talismans.
A bespoke quarrying,
they were transported home
in a pocket and turned
over and over, flipped
through fingers like gymnasts
looping round balance beams.
Before you pick your point
short of the horizon,
consider more than just
saving trouser linings.
Take careful aim, winding
up and back, then release
to watch each brief puncture
and skip away lightly.