Context ...

Softwell is a life restoration company that rebuilds existential capital and social maintenance infrastructure.

One of its founding fathers has fallen foul of the corporate politics that is taking over and remolding its inspirational and charismatic origins.  He is removed in some disgrace, which not only breaks his heart, but his health and will to live.  Death takes him, but in so doing reveals all that life never understood.  And the new leader will beatify his memory….

‘Death in the Afternoon’ is a poem about ideals, virtue, power, memory, betrayal, death and the fallibility of all things, no matter how well intended and organized.

Life is messy.  Succession and change is inevitable.  Death resolves all.  Read on…

How could it come to this

that even crunching slippers

on gravelled path seemed loud

and full of fury


of that last and awful meeting

on floor fifty-two?

He needed the escape

through the welcome unshut portal

to his shed of kinder things

the reassuring smells

of garden scents

paint and solvents

the orderly and predictable rows

of tools to make and mend

in the quiet limpid light

of innocent afternoons

that filtered through the panes

of fly flecked cobwebbed windows

peeling paint

as mute remains of better days.

And yet in the shadows

of this tin room

was something so oppressive

in its silence,

so accusing

in its demeanor,

that he fidgeted

and couldn’t concentrate

except upon a looming dread

a dark and chilling draft

whose icy malice churned his heart.


He could feel the blood swelling

and pulsing round his temples

bringing on a migraine. 

He tried to massage them

then his nose’s bridge

to relieve the eye strain. 

But with eyes closed

there was no darkness

only harsh fluorescent lighting

in the heavy tabled board room

on the floor below his office

where there’s now a meeting

and water there for drinking

to slake the desert dryness

of his mouth now dehydrating

salty silence in the making

and cracking lips a-grinding

on a face that is composing

for a blow.

Read the full poem here, where you will also find the correct formatting ...