David Ratcliffe – Lapsed Memory

Ratcliffe LE P&W 3 Nov-Dec 2023

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14th Anniversary Edition, Live Encounters Poetry & Writing Volume Three Nov-Dec 2023.

Lapsed Memory, poems by David Ratcliffe.

Lapsed Memory

I take myself to inner thought
like I’m in the dentist’s chair
and listen to the rumours
spiralling around my head,
each occupant manipulating,
fragmenting traces of truth
from deception to deflection
causing a disconnect from reality.

I interrogate them one by one
starting with doubt;
I ask what troubles you?
but as this line of enquiry
leads deep into uncertainty
I unravel myself
from this cloak of indifference
and move on…

I turn to conscience
though I’m faced with a condensed windscreen,
with evidence of various attempts
to wipe it clear
that left smears of mistrust
along traces of betrayal.

So then on to guilt;
I ask, what is it that ails you?
why do you spend life in shadow?
and is it true you fled
leaving innocent victims
of circumstance
as you remorselessly forged ahead?

But my voice fails to reach
the depths of my despair,
and so, I turn to compassion
conjuring an alibi
offering mitigation
crafted from decades
of lapsed memory.

Maybe one day
my heart will slow
to the rhythm of my thoughts
as once again I escape
this close shave and smile
like I’m the happiest man alive.

Middle of forever

At 35 the world retains possibilities
unwritten pages yet to turn,
who knows how many?

New beginnings blessed by understanding
share space with defiance
all neatly tucked in your kit bag.

Passed opportunities, stolen by impetuosity,
jealousy, greed, faded now, the trail of debris
serving as a compass
should you open the clasp,
with the road ahead
all a glimmer in midsummer haze.

Whatever triumphs remain among damage,
virtues among the flaws,
the trail of debris left behind,
here you are now,
a little scarred,
unaware of the small lines
thickening under the skin.

You have reached the middle of forever
immortal for a while,
your chord cut long ago
yet still you bleed.

And so, shielding your flame
from a warm breeze,
you stealthily walk toward enrichment
carrying the burden
of lost youth
with renewed vigour
at the midpoint of adventure.


Have you ever felt an urge to yodel in the mountains?
or take the mic from the stand and breath in the moment?
then imagine a world deprived of melody,
just the rhythm of a desolate heart.

Imagine the footage
from a camera fixed on a wall
the silent movie featuring a seated minstrel
ignored by the passing hordes.

Watch as it rolls into Roman times
focusing on a mute beggar
unseen, unheard
irrelevant, a source of disease
you’d pull your child from.

Though down there on the technicolour street
the sounds are a mix of screeching brakes,
car horns,
garbled chatter,
and a faint beautiful tone
emanating from the frozen man
with a tear in his voice.

Electronic earrings
direct commercial sounds
into the minds of some,
others are filled with shopping lists,
late appointments,
weddings plans,
or divorce lawyer meetings.

But those who listen, stay awhile
watching the beautiful soul beneath a beanie hat
blue fingers manipulating strings
producing a melody never heard
accompanied by a voice singing words,
they’d never thought
from a genius with the price of a coffee
in his guitar case.

© David Ratcliffe

David is a poet, playwright, lyricist and short story writer from the North West of England. He is a member of the international poetry study group Worldly Worders. He has been published in a number of magazines both on-line and in print. In 2016 his poem ‘Home Straight’ featured at the Fermoy International Festival.

The stage play ‘Intervention’ was produced for World Peace Day. The main influences on his writing include; Ted Hughes, Ann Sexton, W. D. Snodgrass, Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, Charles Bukowski, James Baldwin, Pablo Neruda and his favourite poet Philip Larkin. His poetry has been published in the following publications… Poetry Pacific Magazine, TRR Poetry, Sixteen Magazine, Mad Swirl, Tulip Tree Review (Print Version) Oddball Magazine, Poem Hunter, THE BeZINE, Creative Talents Unleashed, Drawn to the Light Press, Live Encounters & The Galway Review. His poem ‘He Crawled’ was placed third for the Pushcart Prize in the Blue Nib magazine in 2018.

Also, in 2018 his poem ‘Pour me a Vision’ featured in VatsalaRadhakeesoon.wordpress.com for Dylan Thomas Day. His debut collection ‘Through an Open Window’ was released in August 2021. David’s website contains poems from his book, along with new works… https://david-ratcliffe.squarespace.com/

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