As Incredible As Love Is – some winter poems

My second poetry collection, ‘Elephants (Fragile)’, published by Cinnamon Press will be launched on Wednesday 21st Feb 2018 at The Bethlem Gallery. I am performing some of those poems at ‘Drop The Disorder’ event in Brighton on Friday 16th Feb 2018.

These are recent poems, with a wintry feel.

My Bench Is Misshapen

my bench is misshapen
I cannot sit properly

someone strong or something large
has unmoored its foundations
ripped its legs from the soil
brought up the rock in which it was rooted
for no reason as far as I can tell

maybe they wanted to carry it away
but it must have proven too heavy

now the poor thing is buckled and squats
low slats slumped across its width
like a tired smile

I find myself sliding sideways into the middle
stretched out almost horizontal
until my knees, neck and back
begin to hurt

it is sad for such a bench
to be so unhinged and slouched

I think of all the walkers deserving of rest
who now can’t

Something Is Wrong

Something is wrong
that I let lie heavy all morning
in my belly

a mangy dull thing
some blood-sucking beast
my gut writhing like a bucket of worms.

This afternoon I fish it out
rotten canker, stench of deathly pig
shrivelled, squirming

boot it around the park
like an old tennis ball
left on the path by a dog

beat it with a cricket bat
leave it under a rock wheezing
like an empty bag in the wind.

This evening, I kicked up leaves
like a boy
suddenly breathing.

I wake at night
with something wrong.
I miss my companion.

I Don’t Deserve Hot Chocolate

Sunday in the car in the car park of the park
winter just before a dark day gets darker
staring through the spattered windscreen
at bare branches and a slew of sodden leaves
just before the gate shuts, just before the café closes.

I don’t deserve hot chocolate and definitely not
with whipped cream. I am aflame. We talked
this morning about emotions and hard-wired habits.
I text: I am ashamed. You’re right to be upset.
I love you. I will never shout like that again.

He replies: it’s fine alongside a winking emoticon
I am 55 years old, he is 14 and it’s not. I can
sit 30 years while the gates close and open
10,950 times and still and still not learn.

For uncle Robin (1929-2006)

He is clearly dying. Clearly because
he can sense our roomful of wan souls
clearly because snow is falling in Geneva
clearly because skin is permeable
to death’s particulates dimming cells.

The tubes are smuggling slow liquid
into the suck and sigh of tired arteries.
His glazed eyes find mine. I lean in
I suppose a final time, surprised by the grip
of his bloodless fingers on my bare arm.

Then he asks me for my news.
Still that beam. Ever a searchlight.
Each of us paused in the definitive glare
knowing I have nothing to tell but his.


my mother collected Pink Shield Stamps
I licked and pasted them in a little book
careful to line them up
so one day we might get a tea pot

if I did things right
she would breathe in calm
all of us exhale gentleness
and have lots of stuff

nothing I did proved any good
this knowledge burst out of me one day
like in Aliens
as I waited for a 245 from Cricklewood Lane

then my head fell across the sky in a showering of starloads
then I had to get the bus


I have walked across this bridge
dozens and dozens of times
when I’ve been well
and a good few occasions before that

the carriages scraping into Charing Cross
the water as near
as grey lacklustre as it was
so many drab ways to die

broken skateboards thrown over the side
I take my boys to the very spot
point out St. Paul’s
do what we like

choose to wear a hat
the brain allowing itself
to give of me more generously
but the gulls still at my back

As Incredible As Love Is

The wintry wood is leafless
and furthering heart unprotected

the comings and goings on the Piccadilly Line
urge and shudder across the vale

haunting the spare-limbed trees
and with its new found appetite

for overseeing the cold,
a low sun hangs.

We walk from the warm café
reluctantly towards a knowing

of what we cannot do against
the day to day damage of the ordinary.

Winter brings a mastery of task
the inevitable frosted ground

an ushering in of temporality
biology shaken down

to cool sense and faded will
earth stippled brown-golden with silences

hard won recognition of our own resilience
seemingly done –

winter knows
that as incredible as love is

it now has to be gut-felt
rather than evidenced by spring.

If you liked these poems, and this blog, there are plenty more at – some on healthcare, some on patient and public engagement and patient leadership, some on mental health and several with poetry…

All poems © 2017 David Gilbert

I am kind, but please no plagiarism, otherwise I will come after you. I promise.



1 thought on “As Incredible As Love Is – some winter poems

  1. David you are starting to become a legend 😊 poems so good they touch your heart, make you cry or laugh out loud. Thank you for being so honest and real – it really shines through


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