Roger Ettenfield

My father’s funeral

This is not my father,
A cold, withered body and sunken, grey face
Covered with the undertaker’s pantomime powder,
Eyes now closed against a trivial world,
Being gawped at, by the curious and idle
And the few who grasped your intellect,
But shuddered at the strength of your intent.

This was not my father,
A few words spoken by a priest who didn’t care,
People and places muddled, made to look small,
Against great, sonorous tales from the ancient book,
The exploits of the Israelites,
Ill-matched to my poor father’s life.

This was not my father,
The easy excuse for a day off work,
From vague kinsfolk, cramming down chicken wings
With blithe appraisals, of the buffet and the man,
Beery breath and sauce-smeared lips,
Daring to compare my father to a dull cliché,
Or a tedious anecdote belched,
By a spongy body in rude health,
Waiting to get home to the kids.

This is not my father,
A frugal wardrobe of out-of-date clothes,
Lacking their jolly company,
A gravy stain from a recent meal
And a faint smell of the aftershave, I bought
Many Christmases ago, with your corny jokes
I should have laughed at more.

This is my father now,
The hollow face of my mother, the skin red raw
From screaming at the loss of sixty years,
Soon to join those other widows, hoarsely chatting from
The mobility scooters, before winter comes,
Being side-stepped by a brash and impatient youth.

This was my father,
Strong arms pushing a small boy, on a rope swing,
On a long summer’s day.

Roger Ettenfield © 2020

Death by proxy

Watching as the smoke rolls out
Envelopes her body and mine, a mystical aura,
Large gulps, then cascading
Escapes out, soaps my hair,
Ash quivers my knee,
Her long nails reflect a glow,
Her fingers, eyes burn into me,
Pressing palms and mouth
Smoke me, stretch me,
Her shoulder crushes mine,
Moves quickly, extinguishes her
Screaming cigarette –
I am still,
Broken at the hilt,
Her stiletto stabs me on the carpet.


And she gave herself, slightly,
For a while; proffered a kind of love
With smiles, but lived in control,
So emotions were explorations
Rather than her soul,
As she danced around so lightly
On this desperate and dirty world
With her beauty … happy chance
As insurance against poor circumstance.

Roger Ettenfield © 2020