Dave Stacey, Notes to Self

Note to self

When you walk in a room and people laugh
they’re laughing about you

If something out there is gnawing away
and you can feel it inside
there’s little point in trying to fix it
or fixing how you feel about it
watch Netflix instead
in bed all day

If it didn’t work the first time
or second time or third
keep on plugging away
just the same

And if in the unlikely event
you have a party and invite all your friends
ruin it by being in a mood

Things

This is Jacques’ place
he will be dead at some stage
but in the meantime it’s his
the place where he lives

He keeps all his things here
out and about in rooms
and in cupboards and drawers
the drawers and cupboards are his things too

Some of these things remind him
of places he and You Know Who had been
like the Murano frame holding
a photo of Lottie before she’d been run over

Not all of the things were originally his
a few had been YKW’s
before he moved in
for instance nigh on all the books

Some things they had bought together
like the leather footstool from Heal’s
Too posh for your feet
was YKW’s joke

The footstool that he would never use
because YKW’s indent was still there
as it was in the bath
and the shaving mirror they shared

But most of the things Jacques had assembled
before YKW had shown up
before they had taken root
in this his ground floor tenement flat

The sofa and armchairs
the kitchen table
the crockery and pictures
the empty door frames

This is Jacques’ place
the place where he lives
he’ll live here for a while
then he’ll die

Farewell

I’m with my father again. It’s as though
he never died. You dozy bugger,
he says. Think where you left it.

Which might not be an unreasonable
statement, given context. But he’s alone
at the table, apart from me (his walking frame

— that he died before owning — against the wall),
with neither of us having said anything
for a good half hour. And the game of patience

he started before tea has not progressed
in any meaningful way. I sit, as I say,
by his side, but know better than

to help by moving the ten of clubs
under the jack of hearts. Instead
he turns over another trio of cards.

You go, he says after a while, after a slug
of his three-finger whiskey. Go on, you go.
I’ll be all right. I’ll muddle through. And I say,

Yes, of course, but wait until after he’s
asleep in the chair and I’ve handkerchiefed
dry his beard. I stand and kiss my fingertips,

reach down and touch him,
the forehead of my dead father,
just for a moment, then step away.

Dave Stacey lives and works in London. His poetry has been published in recent months by The Cabinet of Heed, Bonnie’s Crew, and Picaroon Poetry.

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