Shed Poems


Over the past few years, I have moved into a definite Shed period. A well known man thing, the male equivalent of a handbag.

I know a man who had 2 sheds. One stormy day he was having a snooze in one of them, and the wind blew a walnut tree right through the othe one. Which proves that a man cannot have too many sheds.


Clearing the shed

A life spelled out in things. Old toys and artefacts trailing our path. Items that once spelled out the power of flight, soaring light and vulnerable on silk-smooth coastal hills or bumping and twisting in the rush of mastery in rough tight landings made down with relief; or the tools of salt sea slashed speed, tasting the play of dolphins with the wave, or in the calm still blue green space below; a whole deep box of wheels to give wings to our feet, the stuff of honourable mock battles; the tools to get us to the place to play, yes we played our own small part in forcing heat to stay trapped in this bounteous blue green white veiled ball, and now's the time to pay.

And tools, the boxes of brown nails, the bits of metal, each with its form, held for its usefulness that will only come the day when it has gone. the stuff of time, things that I can't take with me. A trail of litter that my playing life has left behind, to be needed never 'til its gone, but all here, obstinately here a mirror to my soul and echo of the moment of creation.


1 Clearing Out

Burdened by books
he is a spring
compressed between
the single root of all this fine reality
and tablets of wooden thought
that made him what he thinks he is

work out the weight of all these fetishes
not good enough to use
not bad enough to be destroyed

2 Advertisement

that flawless leg
sheathed in fine-spun fibre
will fade, grow veins
grow weak and rot away:
the plastic will outlast the leg

3 Power Comes In Many Forms

invisible detritus
the stable substance
that leaves an unseen cloud
weaving its way
among the sky blue air
so that the first wave of the web
breaks down

who cares? I am the Man
no-one can prove I killed your child
your father mother friend
prove it in court of law

reeling back
caught in the fork between
necessity and reason

go die for your beloved frogs
you child

Sclerosis is one form of power.
Is willingness to try new paths another?

(c) Richard Lawson
Autumn 2004

The Shed
To Rudolph Lewis

I hope that you, old friend, toiling away
to fix the roof of your store shed
all day for days in overwhelming heat,
the sweat of natural Florida,
that makes this too-warm English summer
seem temperate again,
I hope you win. I hope your father's store
Is gloried with the roof that it deserves
I hope that you don't fall.

I want my friends in Africa
pinned down in Mogadishu
by flying lead, not nails,
to know about your shed.
I want as many people now
to know about your shed
as stand to learn from it,
because it's more than shed
we talking here.

Fine as it no doubt is as shed,
this one is more than timber,
more than tar paper and sweat,
more than determination,
more than a health and safety risk,
more than some slabs of wood
arranged with more or less regard
to canons of structural integrity:
It is a thing of spirit,
creation of a living poet.

Architecture. Frozen blues, maybe.
Cathedrals come to mind.

Not that they should come
en masse to make a pilgrimage,
although in fact when you have gone
they might well come,
for few are famous while they breathe,
and of the ones that are,
it would be better for us all
that they were not,

The point is that this shed
is getting built.

Trees are our brothers.
They live and die
just like John Barleycorn,
and willingly give up the sap
to win new life in service to their family.

This shed was once alive,
bi-placentate in form,
a joiner-up of earth and sky
the fusion point in its green sap
to all four elements.
Like Shiva's locks that broke the flood
Its leaves gave shade from blazing sun.
Trees give us unconditional love,
like dogs and gods;
some gods,
sadly not all.

It died to find itself becoming shed.

Frozen blues? In Florida now
the only frozen things
are found in white machines
humming beneath their breath
just while the juice is on.
Not frozen: solid blues
from far away, blown out by Buddy Bolden,
crossing a river wider, deeper,
cooler than Pontchartrain
to celebrate one poet's work.

It's up there with the wolf and owl
and in the end, I dare say
up there with
Eli, Eli Lama Sabacthani,
if all the Truth be known.

The point is this:
this is a shed that's going up.
Rudy is in the business of building sheds,
not breaking them.

He does not use his strength to knock down sheds.
He does not bulldoze structures.
He brings no lethal force to bear on others' work.
There are no bombs in Rudy's bag.
That's all. That's good. That's all we need.

© Richard Lawson
August 2006



Part one

The wind is going mad outside.
Not that I mind,

Except I fixed the roof today
And I might find

That my work is ruined.

Shredded shed roof.

Decorating the branches.
Desecrating the environment.

A mess.
And all my fault.

Its not for lack of trying
I gave it welly with the glue
And tidied up the side
And front
With screws
Clamping the new felt down.

But not the back.

Cause when I got
Too wet to carry on

I came in and made a pot
Of tea,

Laced with a spot
Of whiskey

To celebrate the elation
Of shed completion.

A dram or two of pleasure
Is running through my veins.

Maybe I should go out now.
To check the shed.

Out in the rain.

What if I find it ripped to shreds?

What if I catch it in the act of ripping
And have to tie it down?

Yes I must go.
End of part one.

Part two
"What Rudy'd do"

Out in the windy dark
Backyard, first it was still,

Then at the corner by the hill
The storm wind came by with steady force.

But underneath the big old hazel
The shed and roof were looking good.

What would Rudy have done?
I thought he'd weigh it down.

I got a big plank
From the other shed

And laid it down across
The new laid roof.

Rudy would probably have
got the other two

and laid them down,
but by this time I was bleeding, see,

And thinking :

Maybe Rudy would have stayed inside
Not wanting to be hit by falling trees.

And so I go to dream the night away
While Rudy in the USA

sees his own evening through,
in turn.

We just might find
that we can all outlive this little storm.

© Richard Lawson
March 2007

© 2001 R. Lawson