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February 26, 2024

My name is Stephen, with ph

By Stephen Kingsnorth

My name is Stephen, with ph

As only lonely child with Dad --
he called me Step --
when my new step's boot
meant taking strides away from flat,
his notes scribed to hostel room,
distant-paced, infrequent from the first,
marked, not newsy stuff,
but greater stages on his path,
where he had trod, how and why,
lines with rebuke of my poor effigy.

Now cross-legged,
harmonica in my hand,
to new faces,
sleepwalk pavement, passers of my hat,
I always introduce myself,
'It's Stephen with ph' I say,
not diminutive as Steve,
asserting I exist.

They search their banks --
That Strange Man,
to recall my given tag,
finding the prompt to fire the start
'It's Stephen with ph' they say,
and I think, 'another step',
knowing with another pace, they wane.

The Beard, environmental nursery lad
waves, digs his mind,
sees the beer drowning slugs,
taking the usual alkie line,
ponders home pot of pointing blades,
mother-in-law's snake acid tongue,
questions my unbalanced mind,
knowing I grounded,
wishing he nutrient tilthy rich,
imagines testing my pH.

Bifocal Man, the chemist, nods,
eyes far-peering past his nose,
but, returning to his lab, the Ph phenyl group,
with a contrasting aromatic bond,
and shining memory, my label rings,

Pink Tie, his teacher mate, maybe
pauses at phosphor P, a bit fresh,
imagines I am glowing in the dark,
maybe on a Viking rafted funeral pyre,
even under water, still a fire.

Along with strings of others, bowed,
The Brooch, a musician, scores
by hearing p -- her softer notes, italicised,
besides my tinny organ fare,
and with the briefest rhythm rest,
remembers me as an incidental note,
and wonders, with my moniker,
why, and, as I, who I am.

Article © Stephen Kingsnorth. All rights reserved.
Published on 2022-10-17
Image(s) are public domain.
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