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Ted Walter (1933 - 2012)     about Ted      more poems

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published in Scintilla 11

Event Horizons


The day seems full of worm holes

linking different dimensions

through unexpected moments.

A stag beetle on the pavement

helped to the shelter of the hedge

brings back childhood fingers,

fascinated by the minute clutch

of feet across an open palm

lifting them to the soft down

of the wrist, daring antlers to close;

and the sun-drenched laurel hedge,

a deep green hideout, with an old

carpet for comfort, candle-ends

and a few forbidden matches.

This time no war keeps Dad away; nor

does he ride the motor-cycle that killed him.



The six red tower cranes today swing

across vapour trails’ random geometry,

playing Pythagoras, and Mr. Samuel,

he of the darkened jowl, draws

triangles with squares on two sides

and the hypotenuse, a word

that lingers in another world

to be the name of a cat taking

the shortest distance between table

and flower-stand, or the ladder

against a tower, Rapunzle winding

in her hair as the window cleaner climbs.



Our friendly radiographer brings

our files to take downstairs,

‘Elekta 1 & 4 are idle’. ‘Get fell in!’

says Dai, and I’m back drilling my squad

in Kure, on a bright, cold morning, my first

command as hesitant as my stripe

is fresh on my arm. Our stencilled kit bags

in the paintshop are waiting with our names

to be taken with us in a week’s time, boarding

the ‘Orwell’ on our way home. This time

I stay in Japan, find a different maturity.



Elekta 1 is an obvious oldie,

the room gloomy, the ceiling picture

a blue-tacked poster of flowering cherry;

no warning bleeps, no mouth for ‘smiley’,

its eyes seeming to interrogate darkly,

and the music is country western:

‘You’re the nearest thing to heaven,

yes you are’. As particles put paid

to cancer cells heaven seems pretty close,

lying flat and suddenly whisked to a hilltop

in the Cotswolds, high cloud, sunlight

and gleaming spires; one of bright green

copper we always looked for first,

my cousins and I, before counting the rest

down there in Cheltenham. Then we’d walk

to Devil’s Chimney, later make our way

home when we were tired. It was

the nearest thing to heaven. Yes, it was.


Ted Walter


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