Bob Devereux

Chests heaving, bubbling snores, night talk,
Their old-man noises flood the ward.
This room provides no roost for rest.
I’m left here stranded on a ledge,

I word-walk edges, craving sleep, combing the coast of memory, hoping to find some remedy; something adrift in murmuring.

At Porlock Weir the sea had dumped pebbles, a frontier barricade.
Stone chatter sent us on a hunt where shoreline groynes controlled the waves.

My wife showed me a mythic beast, torn from the cliff, aeons before, warm in the stone; a rounded breast, formed by the oceans tumbling,

a plump dove with a hero’s head resting his chin on feather folds; sea crafted certain in his shape, figure of Somnus from the deep.

I move but cannot feel my limbs.
Oh sleep… would be a gentle thing…

Percy’s asleep, disturbing all the ward.
He’s off with dogs, where walls dissolve
His chiseled face is like that bird’s.
His harsh cries come as no surprise.

He’s out there now, in silhouette against the dazzling sheets of spray.
He calls his lurchers to him. “Heel boys, heel.”
His gown blows out behind him like a wing

A voice intrudes says,
“Have you slept?”
A clattering trolley heralds day.
They bring me tablets in a cup and tea and toast and marmalade.

I sit up contemplating eggs…
A curtain’s drawn round
Percy’s bed.

Poet Bob Devereux

Poet, painter and librettist, Bob Devereux ran the Salthouse Gallery in St.Ives, Cornwall for over thirty years. Since closing the gallery, as famous for its poetry and music events as its exhibitions, Bob has devoted his time to writing, painting and organizing the St.Ives Literature Festival, which occurs in May. Bob also runs the weekly Café Frug, a lively night of cabaret. In 2012 he was one of judges of the Project Life ‘Funki Fungi’ art competition.
The poem ‘Sleepcombing’ was written during a short stay in hospital. It is worth observing, that Percy did not die that night, but was returned to the Old Peoples’ Home because he was so noisy!