My Father

By Jan Noble

Date Posted: 15th December, 2011

Jan Noble is a poet and performer. He plays with the band The Cesarians. He lives in London and though he doesn’t live in Chelsea, he supports its football club. His most recent published volumes of poetry include Assemblage de choses de même nature au nombre de douze or 12 poems in 12 books in 1 boxOff the Map and In Truth You’re Still in Love with Addie Smith. Jan has previously written poems for the goodenoughcaring Journal. We are grateful for his generosity.



My Father


Jan Noble


And so he retreats back into the sea
my father, now who has no idea
that it is the sea that has come for him,
the first wave hissing on the sharp shingle
bringing in an army of tiny crabs
to feed at the yellow shells of his toes.
The second wave an icy swell that bites
at the bells of his empty testicles
and his wretched seagull cry is hollow
and lost and nothing less than foaming salt
as the third wave washes under his arms
and gently lifts his barnacled body
for a moment he’s breathlessly buoyant
my father, now, who has no idea.


It is the sea that has come in for him
as it will come in for us all one day
and I watch the fourth and the fifth wave break
and curse the surf for this slow departure.
This is the agony the drowning man
throws back at the hopeless crowd on the beach
and we wish the sixth wave will consume him
as a high tide crests behind his ears.
“It is nature after all and not us
that set his desperate course into the waves
and deprived this vessel of its captain”
we say as we retreat to higher ground
and waves seven, eight and nine conspire
against my father with no idea.