Family Stories

This poem addresses how the repetition of anecdotes can become a replacement for real contact.

“You better have Gibbos’s breakfast Les, it don’t look like he’s coming back.”

In September 1944 Dam Buster hero Guy Gibson
did not return from a bombing sortie
so my father ate his eggs and bacon,
it became his favourite story.

As he laying dying in August 96 I realised
that his stories were all I knew him by.
Moments in time polished and embellished
with ‘Putting one over’ someone as the target
when buying, selling, bidding, haggling, dealing
a self preserving instinct devoid of generosity.
There must have been more to him
some selfless cloaked spirit of humanity
but I never asked the hard questions
so it was never revealed.

In the hospital, looking at his vacant face
I knew it never would be.

The frenzied sobbing of my oldest sister
mobbed the room’s sepulchral silence,
ending only with the arrival of my oldest son
who walked past the shocked siblings
declaring as he reached into the untoched bowl of fruit;

“He had Gibbo’s breakfast, I’ll have his banana.”
I was suddenly reassured –
the grandsons stories would have more humour.



This poem has appeared on the web magazine Open Writing, which features a variety of writing.  Click on the highlighted title to visit the site.

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