I understand how old men become soaks.

You read how others sail around the globe

or bicycle to India and back –

two cheers for them, or those who write a book,

or visit prisons, or who learn to cook . . .


It doesn’t take a major, lengthy probe:

if you’ve made work your be-all, then its lack

can send you down the pub, to join the blokes

who prop up bars, and set the world to rights,

each boring each with obsolete sound-bites.


You don’t go all at once right off the track.

At first, who knows, some might enjoy your jokes.

But soon you’d test the patience of a Job.

Still, one more round, and then home to the wife

(if she’s still there). And the rest of your life.

Published in Snakeskin 256, December 2018