Ian’s cousin’s grandad’s shed
The moon came out. By its yellow witness
small shadows could be seen moving items
from the shed – Nazi paraphernalia,
unexploded ordnance, stuff granddad stashed
on completion of his Home Guard duties,
denied he’d ever had, though some knew better.
Access was achieved through a broken corner
breathlessly, with that great delight of trespass.
History was stolen in the night, the war
trickling away while what remained fused
together. Tunnelling, the little sappers caused
the shed’s collapse. Grandad, in a state,
torched it, forgetting the ammunition.
The little buggers came back the following day
sifting through the ashes.
With acknowledgements to Ian Duhig for the first line taken from The Lamas Hireling
Two in one
Is a shed a substitute for something never had,
a replacement mother, or a kind of flat-pack dad?
Was it where we tasted our first amazing kiss,
or where our obsessions culminate in bliss?
In his shed, as sensible as creosote, is Dave,
busy as a bee with his lawn mower and his lathe.
Here the businessman ponders his projections;
this knot-holed retreat is his favourite erection.
Then someone else appears in this nutbush-coloured home,
with his malt, his Private Eye, his little band of gnomes.
This alter ego keeps no careful eye on time,
the hours simply vanish exploring the sublime.
The two come together in their little wooden house
and find their consummation with the spider and the mouse.
Triple-hinged the door reveals a different world within
smelling of beeswax, petrol, tarpaulin.
How I should like to be a woodlouse in the dark
and see the private man in the shed’s generous heart,
feel the hand- stroked weather board, every splinter’s prick;
hear the tenderness of silence, the roof felt’s gentle creak.
A shed’s the secret mistress every man desires
in its dark interior they’re forgiven all their cares.
Safe in the embrace of moonlit tongue and groove
a shed is the nearest thing many find to love.
John Davies is Shedman, the original poet in a shed. Since his inception in 2002 as an installation at the Booth Museum of Natural History in Brighton,
Shedman has engaged, intrigued and entertained young and old alike at festivals and events, in schools and institutions.
With visual artist Sue Ridge he has worked on a number of major healthcare projects using the shed as an attractor and a poetic engagement space. They’ll be talking about their latest project at the European Healthcare Design Congress at the end of June, when Shedman will be setting up his shed in the library at the Royal College of Physicians.
You can find more of John’s poems in the pamphlet, The Nutter in the Shrubbery, in a full collection Shedman, and in the anthology Our Storeys – Art and Poetry in Healthcare (all from Pighog). A new pamphlet Glove Poems will be published in May 2016 by Editions Fuscus.