Bill Greenwell


Don’t talk to me of funerals,
the whetstone and the whistle, the way the pie-eyed
barrack the coffin as it enters,
and jeer at the address, if that was the address,
I can’t wait to see
the bloody postcode, and string empty tins,
Kattomeat and Campbell’s soup perhaps, behind
the hearse, and sometimes, the horses
nodding their plumes –
and all this while we open the shutters, and take
not a blind bit of notice.

Those whom God have glued together,
let no man something asunder
until death do us something. Those are the
hard lines. And then the undertaker’s nephew
catches the floral tribute, and he’s next up
for the down-side, and I have seen many young men
blush to their bosoms to find
they’ve been booked. And the worst part of any funeral
is when they cut the cake.

Bill Greenwell lives in Sunderland. He worked for the Open University before retiring. His Impossible Objects was shortlisted for a Forward Prize (best first collection) in 2005, and there are three further collections.