Wild Court

An international poetry journal based in the English Department of King’s College London

Two poems by Patrick Davidson Roberts

Photo by Javier Balseiro on Unsplash




I am content with what I have done in my time, and have little to alter.
You fit your mind to the world around and pray that one bears the other.

I am not visited at night by ghosts of the men that I have seen.
I live quietly, chastened by the end of things, by what has been.

The sun still rises, and prayer is given, taken, talked about and known.
There are those who would build a world, and there are my own.

I have not been back, no, not to the ruins nor the wall, nor the place
where I watched him die. But yes, when I doubt, I doubt before that face.


    The Revenant


New Year’s Eve and there was me having said to Michael that, sure, no problem,
I can help behind the bar until ten, as long as there’s a tab at the end.
All going well, and with Jem in with Jess and Carey and their guys
I’d neared the famed land of content by half-eight. Hell has always been wise to me
and clearly picked up something like a smile each time I pulled a pint.
At nine, then, the black stuff coughed white, and I filled the bucket
before nodding to Mike that I’d be away downstairs for a sec
and could he deal with that lot at the end of the bar, who needed the chuck if they didn’t stop?
Halfway to the cellar, I’d got the feeling that someone was watching
but sure doesn’t the devil have eyes in all the wrong places,
and what was going to happen – the feted last words of each fool at the foot
of a cliff or an overdraft, all spread out – really, what, in this wee trip?
The barrel changed and the dials alright, I got myself out. Halfway up, face to jaw,
the frothing of spit and the bomber’s drone, the heir to Wee Jamie – remember Wee Jamie,
who’d take your leg off as soon as bark? – and clearly set on outdoing his dad.
Midnight can go to hell when it comes to the courage, or lack of courage, available
when dealing with a dog who is literally higher up the ladder
and is considering which part of you is likely to reward the effort
of putting his teeth to work. Sitting amongst the barrels
I started studying that I might compare the cellar around me-
no, I’ve made that mistake before. I noticed the dials on the cider drop,
and swapped old for new, since I was down here. Five minutes later, same with the Stella.
Twenty-five on, and my hammering unanswered, I fitted the John Smiths,
stuck two Smirnoff in the lift when it came, and then a box of white later on.
By quarter to twelve, I was king of the place. The airshaft up to the street
allowed me a funnel for the fags that I promised I’d pay back for later.
An Elmore Leonard perched on the fusebox really hooked me in the second chapter,
and do you really need more than a packet of crisps, when you’ve none but yourself
for company, and little but Jack to drink? At ten past one, the door started banging
and I let Mike into my home. ‘I thought you’d fucked off – you been stuck down here?
Why didn’t you call?’ And then I burst ‘I’ve been down here for four fucking hours!
Did you wonder the barrels were changing themselves on the busiest night of the year?
You’ve got to do something about that dog!’ After a while he straightened up,
though the laughter still fair streamed down his cheeks, and he got me up
to the almost-bare pub, where Jem, who reckoned she’d guessed what had happened
gave me the hour-late dance and the kiss. And just after three, as we shut up behind us,
we came out to once again behold the street, before wandering our soft way home
to what we both knew would be an exercise of ambition over capacity.
So four hours is the allowance that it would seem that those I love
will let out, with me on the end, into the places that do not include them,
before wondering where the fuck he’s gone. Only four hours down below,
and it was comfortable enough.