Introducing a new series of poems by Julian Matthews. Julian is a writer and Pushcart-nominated poet published in The American Journal of Poetry, Autumn Sky Poetry Daily, Borderless Journal, Beltway Poetry Quarterly, Dream Catcher Magazine, Live Encounters Magazine, Lothlorien Poetry Journal and The New Verse News, among others. He is a mixed-race minority from Malaysia and lived in Ipoh for seven years. Currently based in Petaling Jaya, he is a media trainer and consultant for senior management of multinationals on Effective Media Relations, Social Media and Crisis Communications. He was formerly a journalist with The Star and Nikkei Business Publications Inc
By Julian Matthews
I was perhaps five or six when I first remember my father fall.
My face pressed against the glass gripping the grilled gate.
He had just been dropped outside by a friend.
It was dark. One minute standing, his vacant eyes staring at me,
the next minute gone.
My mum then called all my siblings
And organised the rescue.
He lay on the wet grass, it was drizzling.
We hoisted his heavy frame, stumbled up the stairs.
I remember the smell of alcohol, the sweat and rain, the slurred mumbling that made no sense.
And my mother patched him up.
Fast forward, I am 25.
I remember I was with my friend Pako.
A bigger than life Egyptian scuba diver
And doing his doctorate in history.
We had much to drink over some deep philosophical issues that neither of us would remember the next day.
We walked back in the rain after the nearby corner coffee shop had closed.
It was drizzling and we had to cross a field.
It was dark. There was a slope and we both fell.
We lay there for a bit.
My friend Pako had a favourite phrase:
“I come from the desert, we sleep under the stars”.
As we lay in grass, giggling like two boys who just discovered the sex part in a novel.
The smell of alcohol, the stale sweat, the wet grass, the slurred mumbling.
We eventually organised our own rescue.
Hoisted each other up and stumbled back home.
And we patched each other up.
Fast forward it’s 2016.
A schoolmates’ reunion, lots to eat and much to drink.
It was 2 or 3am and I called a Grab.
He was across the road and I decided to cross it and fell.
Into a hole. I didn’t see it and fell right through.
I had to organise my own rescue.
Pulled myself out. Got into the Grab and headed home.
And I come home bleeding, bruised and through the smell of alcohol, stale sweat,
the pong of a wet drain and the slurred mumbling that made no sense,
You patched me up.
My father, mother and my friend Pako have fallen for good now.
Into the abyss. And they are not coming home.
Some days are still dark.
And I am still falling.
But it is raining in my heart
And if you go
There will be no one to patch me up.
First published in Beltway Poetry Quarterly, Washington DC, USA