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It took me the best part of a year, Sammy Joe, to be able to start to put this down, and months more to hone it and remould it. You were in my head when I read it last Sunday in Walsall, a town you visited occasionally for the New Art Gallery and where we met up more than once. I guess you'll always be in my head.

Al Barz

S J

Before the breeze arrived from the Azores
Before the blooms of Spring broke through the soil
She left. The sun too late to warm her bones.
Under Winter's sullen canopy
She inked her life in squared parentheses.

The weight of spiky granite in her head,
She stumbled often, grazing tenderness
From skin that wouldn't shed no matter how
She longed to cast it into bygone years
Before the breeze arrived from the Azores.

And tears, empathic with the Holocaust.
And unjust faith in failed humanity.
Exquisitely, her faltered self-belief
Denied the academic mountain-top
Before the blooms of Spring broke through the soil.

Before the party and the burgeoning,
Before the Rosie age yet to arrive,
She left no packing done, no notice given
Unwilling, in her proper state of mind,
She left. The sun too late to warm her bones

However much her friendships counted for
No-one could quell the demons in her mind.
A fateful day upturned her sense of life
To solitary death’s release from toil
Under Winter's sullen canopy

 

Now those of us who loved her, hold her still
In random memories that linger on.
That hollow place reserved for her embrace
Kisses on the cheeks of pages blanked,
She inked her life in squared parentheses.

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