GRIEF, loss and anger, but wonder too at the sheer beauty of a still moment in time –they're all there in York poet Don Walls' latest volume of work, Somewhere Else, which will be officially launched at the City Screen Basement Bar on Tuesday.
Last year, York's Saint Saviourgate Unitarian Chapel hosted an evening of Don's poetry in celebration of the life of his son Peter.
The 86-year-old teacher and poet's sense of loss is perhaps nowhere better expressed than in the short poem 'I don't know how to tell you about this', which is included in his new book.
It describes everyday objects– but objects which are all utterly changed, utterly different, because the poet's internal world is different. It's almost like a mental breakdown captured in the precise, potent language of poetry: "There was something going on/ I could tell/ the way the mirror stared at me and the carpet suddenly rolled itself up... the bed – oh, don't ask me to describe it! The bedside lamp, the way the curtains hung!
"But what surprised me most was myself,
"I behaved as if nothing had happened, as if logic had just changed its mind and me with it."
It makes for painful, powerful reading. But elsewhere in Don's latest volume, there is work of shining beauty, too. In Orchid, he writes about a walk on Clifton Ings, long ago when he – and the world as he knew it – were young.
"It was only the second time I'd been out with a girl/ and a curious nervousness ran down my arms, legs/ and blocked the words I struggled to say...
"Then suddenly an orchid – a common orchid - in the long lush grass/ and we knelt and stared at it, a bee buzzing round...
"'I think it's going to settle on it' I said.
"A beautiful orchid - a catalyst for speech..."
Don's poems are at their best, of course, when read aloud by the man himself.
There will be plenty of reading aloud at Tuesday's book launch, when Don will be joined by fellow York writers and performers Oz Hardwick, John Gilham, Philippa Blakely, Dave Gough, Helen Sant and Joanna Ezekiel, with music by Toni Bunnell and Sarah Dean.
Somewhere Else by Don Walls is published by Stairwell, priced £8. The book launch in the Basement Bar, City Screen, York, on Tuesday starts at 7.30pm. Tickets £3: but the book will be available at the discount price of £5. A portion of profits from book sales will go St Leonard's Hospice.