Jos was beginning to get mild paranoia and his poetry was taking on a sense of funny desperation.
Lost for words, trying to find words for lost
missing someone, bereft of purpose
being nowhere near, brief grief unfounded
misplaced emotions somewhere far off
still implausibly unearthed, yet still unseen
and consequently lost, for words
Please, come and find me
this silence is making me afraid
Jos’s humour was as ambivalent as at any time in his life. During this period he called The Bore War, Jos often said, as a mode of introduction, “Lighten up, you’re so boring. “ and he retorted to himself, “You won’t when you’re older.” His traumatic experience in his native New Zealand had shaken him very much. The next outpouring shows his sadness and amusement at his existential exile.
Watching a sheep counting sleepers, wondering where the track came from
and where it will end for mutton as unstressed as lamb.
A sound somewhere not far off – the crack of leathering cranium on willow
misadventurous child becomes one of the weepers
as he is retired from the gaming kingdom
as the attendants hastily staunch the strawberry jam
and his so-called teammates stand and scoff
while his swollen head is struck by a pillow.
He walks like a train, approaching now
assailed by a truculent truck talking of reversing
what we know when first we fell hungrily from a bough
groggily devouring equations wherein nothing is enough
becoming preoccupied with killing nonsense and economic stuff
then abandoning natural energies in posing,
Jos played Reginald Maudling in a political play, that ran for twenty minutes, rendered in iambic pentameter, called X Marks The Spot. Jos co-wrote the script and one of his famous monologues was unearthed by a dog, called Piccalilli in a London park.
I cut, to tax the poor and blow on heaths
for false low rates we strive, we shout in house
in bullet blue points they die at church in prayer
a flag does wave at her enthroned on gold
in pomp and circumstance she throws them coins
and crosses noughts, and traps their pens in sheaths
gunshots do ring in flight, result, no grouse,
bald blood-lust shaves the countryside of hare
a hoary winter that they make so bold
satisfying base surges in Sir loins
severing heads but not old school ties
making equations with their endgame pies.
Jos never regretted the social ostracism this class polemic afforded him. In fact, he flourished as a man of lettuce. He once said in perfect facetiousness to a friend, recalling this poem and the adverse reaction he received, “Ah, what crisp salad days. Now you can toss off!”