john freeman poetry website
john freeman poetry website




My Grandfather’s Hat


Most of the time I saw Granddad indoors,

first in his dark room with gas mantels

and a kitchen range and one tall window

in Poplar,  then in the overheated room

of aunt Nell and Uncle George’s new house 

in Morden when he was in his nineties.

But he came to stay with us sometimes,

and it must have been when he was leaving

that I saw him wearing his trilby hat.

Nothing in our family’s possession

struck me as so stylish and beautiful.

It was grey and sleek like a new plush toy.

And no one ever made our two front steps

more like a staircase in a stately home, not                 

even my mother with her polio feet.

Crowning himself slowly, his own archbishop,

and holding a handrail like a sceptre

he did a slow turn like one of the ships

he sailed in round Cape Horn as a boy

in another century and approached each step

like a descent to be addressed with ropes.

Slowly he lowered one foot, then the other,

while we watched him, silently exclaiming

vivat, and the black and white chess-board 

of the path to the front gate stretched out

like a long drive lined with waving flags.        

For a video clip of this poem being read, see:


White Wings: New and Selected Prose Poems, Contraband Press, 2013

Here are some links to work published in the autumn of 2014:


<< New



 Tears in the Fence 59 (Spring 2014) includes a 'Conversation Piece' between me and Gavin Goodwin about prose poetry in the context of the recent publication of White Wings,

which is reviewed in the same issue by Ian Brinton.


Scintillla 17, Spring 2014, available from Amazon now, includes my poem 'On the Field of Battle'.

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© John Freeman