Day staggers in, glazed-eyed, an invalid.
Morning contracts to shrunken appetites.
Little endures that interests you much.
Something like tears slide down the glass.
Your allotment, hard won, reverts to wilderness.
The fertile square is now couch grass.
Downstairs the chiming clock conveys a measured
Sense of things, not our snapped thread
Where beads in darkness scatter out of reach –
Under the silent bed. Under the silent past.
Nothing culminates. I walk the beach –
The Bingo’s boarded up, the glass pane’s smashed.
I sidle the length of my childhood cage.
An empty bench observes the breaking waves.
Father, I’ve been unjust to you.
Less than fair. Large with my own self.
Janus, the two-faced god, is always true;
There were other times. We had other selves.
Now I remember how in slippers you padded
To our room, to turn out the gas light.
The small gashed globe went ember-red
And briefly smouldered on into the night.
As the purring faded our room regained
Its attic silence. And then you quietly came
To both our sides. You made the sign of Christ
Upon our sleepy heads. And said God bless.
Now in the greater darkness, the small light out,
Your clumsy silent hands seem, almost, eloquent.
WHAT THE CRITICS SAY
A real body of work.
-Seamus Heaney in a letter to the author
Peter Abbs exquisite third volume of poetry consists of five sonnet sequences, 55 poems in all....Their subject is the self, yet these poems are not confessional in the usual sense. Abbs makes few emotional demands on the reader: the tone, taking advantage of the formal constraints of the sonnet, is restrained, even detached. He does not write to reveal himself. He writers to define himself...It is a volume which in time may prove very influential.
-Richard Burns in The Independent
Peter Abbs new collection Icons of Time is sub-titled An Experiment in Autobiography but while the five sequences of sonnets explore his personal history, much more is at stake here than a simple record of events. These poems log the story of a journey back...Dangerous subject-matter this, and riddled with pot-holes for the unwary, but the restraints of the sonnet form, which Abbs handles with astonishing skill, impose an effective brake on material which in the wrong hands could easily have degenerated into a confessional poetry of the worst kind.
-Nicky Rice in Resurgence