Bob Tombs

Gareth Reeves

the bar-flies called him.
At seventy he still dived –
‘Always get my head wet before my feet’ –
and climbed the Deyá hills, goatish,
quixotic, tilting at something.
He raced me to the top, where he said,
‘A gentleman never pinches his best friend’s girl,’
which is just what I was doing, in secret.
So the old boy really is a wizard ...

It was the idea of love spurred him into song.
What irked father was not so much
stoogeing while the great man
went off with the latest goddess
as that he began to believe his own bunkum.

He took me vaguely under his wing:
wrapping me in his Oxford gown he said,
‘Now I’m going to tell them a lot of nonsense.’
It was no-nonsense nonsense.
When mid-lecture he tripped
into his poems you didn’t notice:
the art of irreverence, anti-rhetoric,
Yeats had nothing on it – the cool web ...

For the last ten years his skull
swam in the wide glare.
Did a fly on his brain-wall
hear the beating drums,
the old-world fighting
the duty to run mad?

He would have scorned this, cashing in on deat.
My son, seeing his face in the paper, asks
‘Is it Worzel Gummidge?’ He’d have liked that
‘Difficult being in the poetry biz
with your dad,’ he said to me once
(I didn’t know till then that I was),
‘I had that problem too.’

When someone complained to the local policia
that while he was sunbathing with his radio
a wild-haired man strode over
and tossed it, still going, into the sea,
they threw up their hands, ‘That will be our
Señor Gravés,’ and showed him the door.