The Boiler Man: My Dad

The Artist

Eleven years old
I open my Dads teenage sketchbooks

At his request I return them
Some years ago.

Memory has
Cows sat down in pencil
His Dads backyard full of tools

a quiet pastel harbour with sailing vessels

preliminary pencil sketches
get off on
his female nudes,
drapery hides modesty
extremely detailed Clwydian hills, mountains, landscapes,
rotting stump colours ablaze yellows, ochres, greens
I want to draw, sketch,

Same age ask
for my Dads’ books

He does not have many
He gives me all

Alfred N. Whiteheads
‘Problems of Philosophy’
An Introduction To Immanuel Kant
The Poems of Rudyard Kipling

He plays 33″ record Dylan Thomas
‘Under Milk Wood’
so every portion of my life
a quote from it pops into my head. 

The Embarrassment

He reads a map
Opened fullest extent
On roundabout entry road
Ignores other cars horns

Welsh holiday
drives and sings
out of tune
without all verses
Sospan bach
Summer Holiday

I am twelve with Dad
both in trunks
he enters door marked
‘Authorised Personnel Only’
ushers me through
chats about heating
ventilation system

India to Ceylon Blue Funnel, 1950s

White, steaming big neck
Swings like sail in full
Horns razor sharp Madras cow
Clanks down metal aisle
three funnelled merchant ship

Dad, up from hot boilers
His mate behind beast
Hit it with sticks herd it
Back to wooden corral
Above hold.

Heat, more flies than sweat
Dad knew white monster
coal blistered face
Nostrils hissing air
Steam scream water
Through pipes, pistons.

Knew caress its flank
Every flinch, flick, strain
Yawn of engine below
Only way to get there.

Indian cow sacred,
So are ships boilers 


His son said His (cough)
in every sentence,
up with phlegm.

In Sixties, a child (cough) 
he kept at him
‘Have a drink of water, Dad.’
In retirement (cough) 
climbed Lake District mountains
up through forests,
Ben Nevis,
cough every sentence.
2000s  specialist asked (cough)
whether he had worked
with Asbestos.
‘Only cleaning boilers
when (cough) I was young.’
Asbestos dust thickens (cough)
his lungs (pleura),
diffuse pleural thickens
drys lungs (cough)
branches and twig

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