Tactile and Personal

Tactile and Personal

Norman Burslem

Format: 13.5 x 21.5 cm
Number of Pages: 150
ISBN: 978-3-99130-071-7
Release Date: 14.12.2022
A poignant collection of 60 poems and 8 short stories, Tactile and Personal covers a range of themes, from family, relationships and the human condition to climate change and life in pandemic times.
Part One - Tactile


In the darkest night you were my dawn,
Your warming light crept round the rim
Of my winter world, now quite reborn.
And as your sun rises above our crest
My awakened life revives and blooms.
This morning light is for all that’s best
To illuminate our mutual world.

Love’s Bouquet

Love’s flowers bloom deep within us
Seeds stirred by our warming breath
Germinate under our loving passion
To burst inwardly into a mutual display.
This sensual spectrum illuminates our love.
Now we live in our own verdant garden
Tendered by our shared compassion.
But for how long can our bouquet last
Before time’s drought wreaks its deadly spell?

After Birth

Lamb wrapped newborn sleeping on your mother’s breast
With eyes crinkled closed against this unfamiliar light.
Posed thus mother and child share a deep plenitude of rest
This tranquil scene is for me an overwhelming sight.

As I watch I see his eyes flick open,
Watch four small fingers encase just my thumb
Awakened now we gaze into each other, eye through eye.

Drawing with Ozzie

On dark, wet days in that northern town
We’d sit in your room to draw,
And I would watch your sketching hand
Skim the paper with sure, certain strokes
Depicting images of heroes onto the page,
Of aces heeling on speeding machines
Or wrestlers contorted in grappling bouts.
Your completed efforts surpassed my immature attempts,
Your talent was alive as breath, timeless to behold.

But all has changed, our drawings are lost
Save for imprints stored within my mind
Sustaining my identity into twilight’s calm.
You are gone but your skill lives on.


Mum doesn’t live here anymore,
She did till I was three, or was I four?
But then one day I found her gone.
I’ve asked my dad the reason why
But he gets mad; sometimes he’ll cry.
I’ve often wondered was it me?
Was I so bad when I was three?

Mum doesn’t live here anymore.
There’s been Aunty Jane and now there’s Kay
I’m not affected either way.

One day I saw my mum in Market Street,
I didn’t know if we two should meet
So I crossed the road and walked on by,
Mum hadn’t seen me and I did mind.

When I’m grownup I’ll find her, then
I’ll say, “Look mum, I’m like all the other men.”
She’ll gaze at me and be really proud,
Well, I hope she will, but she might be sore
She might shout out loud, “I’m not your mother anymore!”
Better keep it as it is,
Still asking, why and who and how I am?
Because mum doesn’t live here anymore.

Gower Street

Enclosed by walls in the noise bound street
We stood.
Together but apart, on the verge of change.
We were.
Face to face, known but unknowing
Our futures.
Our hands reach out each to each,
One final grasp of the past
As skin slips over skin.
“Good luck.”
We turn to our own worlds,
I start to wave but you have entered
Your future alone.

Father’s Day

I remember the day they took my dad,
Two tall men in dark clothes clad
Came at ten to our front door,
Their boots tramped fear across our floor.
They went to the room where my dad lay,
There wasn’t much anyone could say
So they loaded him on the stretcher there
Then they carried him down our steep, back stair.
I stood by the door to say goodbye,
Dad looked at me with fear filled eyes,
He noticed me but he knew me not,
He stared through me, and he knew me not.

The ambulance was parked across the street
On that winter’s day with its flecks of sleet.
“Stay here,” said mum, “I may be late.”
I went indoors to sit and wait.
The clock tocked loud in the living room
As the day passed by in the gathering gloom,
And Scamp, our dog, lay and whined a song,
The wind got up and moaned along.
The light had gone when mum came back,
Scamp heard her step along the track.
Expectant we sat as mum came in,
But when she spoke her voice was thin,
“Your dad is dead,” she said.
“Your dad is dead.”
Is dead your dad?
Your dead is dad.
Dead, dead, dead.

Mother’s Night

She sits alone in her time entombing room
Cocooned in her own reality
Where the present and her past coalesce
And the future always threatens death.

The suspended sack of her life shrivels and dries
Constricting her mind, allowing lies
And delusion to warp her soul,
Cruel metamorphosis
Beyond the grasp of us who share her change.

When will her sack crack
Freeing the moth with iridescent wings
To seek the light
Beyond the confusion of her earthbound night?

Visiting Time

“She’s over there in that bed,” they said.
I stretched a smile across my cares
And approached her, there cornered by the walls.
“My word, you’re looking well,” I said
But I thought no, you’re so much worse,
Your skin is gray; your breath is weak,
Tubes stake you out and your cough’s a curse.
“They’ll soon have you back on your feet,” I said.
She mumbled some unintelligible words.
You won’t last long like this, I thought,
But I said, “They’re very good in here you know.”
She stared unbelieving, eye through eye.
But then I caught a word, “Home,” she’d said.
That won’t be possible ever again, I thought,
But I said, “Yes, when you’re up and on your feet.”
She smiled an asymmetrical smile
But then she cried some soundless tears
And, as I sought words, the closing bell clanged time.
Goodbye I thought,
“Goodbye mum.” I said.


“Palliative Care Alone,” his doctor said.
“But for how long?” the patient asked.
“Could be months, perhaps a year.”
With head bowed low the sick man stood,
He turned and left the constricting room,
His future restricted to some state unknown,
His present ensnared in this pressed ordeal.
The past beckoned with its wealth of memory
But death would strike in its own time.
Would anything remain of his mortal frame?
Perhaps the gas and ash from his cremation
Could combine again in some future state,
Life revived by some as yet undefined, scientific force?
His question offered him some hope at least.


Her chair remains where it always was
Before the window and the T.V. screen
But she is light lost now to this binocular view
Switched off, unplugged, shut down. Adieu.
So she is gone from the lounge and the kitchen too
But in her bedroom when I look around
Scattered remnants of her life abound.
There’s a novel open on the floor.
Her hairbrush lies there, bristles up
And on the table her false teeth grin
Though scuppered in a broken cup
And in her wardrobe, hanging attention straight,
Are her blouses and dresses in a serried rank
Fit only now for the clothing bank.

As I gaze around
Memories drift slowly downwards with the dust
As though attracted by static to these remaining things.
5 Stars
Best  - 25.01.2023

I impress

5 Stars
Best  - 25.01.2023

I impress

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