Here's the piece I would 'end on'. Although I've mentioned it, and linked to it, I've spared you my poems here, but this is one I wrote for my leaving do, and then forgot, in the emotion of the moment, to read. Besides we'd already had a new Shakespeare poem that night. (Tom Shakespeare, that is, my chair at ACE amongst many other things.) It was probably for the best, that night, but I shared it afterwards with the team in the North East office, and it seemed as as good a way to go quiet here as any.
The angles of the north are sharp as words
bitten in the wind, ballasted by bricks
so they can’t float over Pennines or Borders
to the uber-North as it plays its trump card,
devolution. My devotion is fast,
true as the compass of the A19,
A1 , or East Coast Main Line, the magnet’s pull
towards home or good work, twin poles that switch
and twitch like dancers in cold rehearsals.
Even restless melodies can settle
for equilibrium, and those have been mine,
home, work, twin arts of making worlds together.
But winds change, pick my dump weight up and heave.
Release is good, from on high landscapes shift,
graceful application turned to growth, sun
staccato off roofs and extractor fans,
curves and corners of new tunes and stages
rising like time-lapsed dough giddy with yeast.
There’s a toolbox down there, plenty to make
us tight with invention, rapt in creation.
There is no stopping us, no hopes gone south
now, no mothballing but of metaphors
of our doubt. We are done with all that,
have set out on fresh sweaty marathons,
mantras muttered against cynicism’s
insufficient priorities, competing
demands for fresh beats of northern hearts.
The sun sets in the west, beyond Barrow.
Yes, we are brothers and sisters from sea to sea:
our vowels as flat as the plains of class.
I have walked slowly to’t Foot Of Our Stairs,
a long march of a ten year trek but that’s
where I’m bound now, working out what I’ve done.
What we’ve done, is all I can see or say to end.
More is needed than these puzzled lines, more due
to others than this circular ‘thank you’.
But thank you will have to do.