Robert Harding is Dead was first published on Ink, Sweat and Tears on Jan 27th 2014

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Robert Harding is Dead

Turn all the locks, put down the phone,

I’ve something to say,

about someone you’ve known,

Robert Harding is dead*

He’s passed away,

His fuse has blown.

Where were you when you heard?

Withdrawing money?

Parking at the kerb?

Fingering a book,

Reading the blurb?

Robert lived a full life,

Tried hard at school,

though he could have done a lot better, with more concentration and not have been so easily distracted, not had so many dreams about being a doctor or lawyer,

accept it kid, you’re black,

you’re gonna be poor.

As a young man he experienced numerous orgasms,

and boned some beautiful girls,

he had a varied sex life,

studded, it must be said, with emergent troughs of strife.

He worked casually and as a professional,

Though in between he enjoyed periods of slackerdom.

Once upon a time he taught,

Everyone else.

Himself,

Naught.

Rob achieved a lot academically.

But ended up treating his brain chemically,

dismally,

He achieved his ambition of getting published.

Though most of what he wrote was rubbish.

He had three research reports, one article on science fiction,

two stories and a poem published with bad diction.

He worked with several professors and a Cabinet Minister,

men of influence, all stiff and sinister.

He drove a nice car with a V5 engine.

and had a sweet nephew,

name o Benjamin.

He made an investment in a small flat in West London,

from money given him by someone who loved him once,

folded in the envelope,

accusations of ‘ponce’.

Close to Robert’s heart was his love of travel. It helped him unravel.

If you see what I mean.

From England Rob went all over,

all over Europe and back to Dover,

Many times,

And to long haul climes,

Like Venezuela, Mexico, Costa Rica,

to many he was a seeker.

But it was no use his life was over,

he gradually got weaker,

his rock was eroded.

Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, beloved India**.

But by then he was living in Numidia,

Or was it Shangri-La, Xanadu or Hell?

Hell. That was the closest.

See the key to his heart was thrown away.

‘Just like that!’ I hear a comic say.

And while you think of him in death,

crossing the darkened vale,

remember him as a body of light,

whose heart burned brightest,

it’s best you know he didn’t write this.

In the hospital bed, beneath the shroud,

that shrunken body of his turned over, just one last time,

swivelled and floated and took a look at the mourners,

like Rusty James,

there was no one to blame,

floated above them all,

putting some in his mind’s cardboard box, letting others roam free.

And they came, foxing, squeezing out crocodile tears, their lives boxy and neat,

they wept,

gathered up

compacted,

protected,

thrown away and at the same time,

kept.

His last words weren’t clever, he said

‘Nothing lasts forever,

but a little love goes a long, long way.’

*Stokowski’s arrangement of JS Bach’s Passacaglia and Fugue, Coldplay’s Beautiful World and I’m a Man by Muddy Waters will be played during the service,

to be held at the entrance to his mother’s cervix.

**The ashes will be scattered at Kovalam Bay in Kerala, South India.

Will you,

Dust vol au vent crumbs off your hands?

take your eye off your mobile price plans,

and ask,

Is that the last I will hear of him?

You must be joking!

Think of him this Christmas when your salmon is smoking,

Robert Harding is dead.

Long live Robert Hoking!

END

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