top of page

Daniel Gooding

Back to Issue


The flush on the toilet is not working
because somebody used it a moment ago.

My father says I should leave it for the next person,
by which time it will have righted itself

and the mechanism will work.

I look at a couple more episodes of Frasier
and my father returns to his newspaper.

This is how the river works its way,
ripples of inertia
laid smooth over unseen boulders,
until the way is what it is.

The shower is constantly dripping,
so my father lays a flannel beneath it
until the dripping becomes a slap.

He attends to his fishing magazine
while I am occupied by thoughts of literary acclaim
and my untimely death,
possibly by my own hand.

This is how stalagmites and stalactites are formed,
the endless building up
and letting go of secretions;
the never quite meeting in the middle.

The geode endures beneath the bed of the world,
a tucked-away planet orbiting nothing
but its own crystalline centre.

Looking back I can see it
from the edge of the crater
I have made in my life;

until my wife calls to me
that our son has wrenched off the garden tap
and water is now gushing every which way.

The ground gives beneath me,
this rocky outcrop no firmer than a sand dune,
and then I am right back in it;

centuries of erosion
in a matter of moments.


The hot yellow dust of this arboretum car park,
the deep sky of Parker pen blue with no clouds
is exactly how I imagine Steinbeck country to be –
the way I first pictured it
in the bower of my parents’ garden:
me, The Grapes of Wrath, the wind chimes
playing their glockenspiel arpeggios
and the wood pigeons
nesting in the giant conifers,
seeming to cheer me on
with their half-hearted woo-hooing.

Fifteen years old: the shimmering heat haze
on the horizon like a forcefield
I have yet to pass through;
this book the exact shape of a door,
opening the chance that I might one day
fix a blown gasket, or dismantle

a rabbit for eating;
and somewhere
in that featureless valley,
on the long stretch of road
where everything is still clear,
I would slowly
pull ahead of my family
and lead us all
to the next place of security.

Thirty-eight years old: I am broken down,
and my father and uncle
slowly recede into the distance
arguing over the best way to help me.
My home, and everything in it,
is still lashed
to the back of their truck.

D. P. Gooding’s (He/him) poetry has been featured in One Hand Clapping and The Crank. He has been a regular contributor to The Guardian and Information Professional, and in 2022 he was shortlisted for the Alpine Fellowship Poetry Prize. He currently lives in a small village near the Cotswolds.

bottom of page