George Ayres

George Ayres was born in Guildford and now lives in London. He previously studied at the University of Exeter and the School of Oriental and African Studies – and his poems have been published in Agenda, Ambit and Poetry London.




in the evenings, your sense flees you,
your sentences come out like rabid dogs,

and the stories you tell are like
playing cards being thrown down a well. 

Father, in the mornings you do nothing to help us,
you sleep till noon and smoke through lunch,

and the names you call us, your sons, disgust even us:
by dusk we are crying on the floor and 

you are your usual self, eating fried fish
on the waterfront, and laughing: stone drunk. 

But father, father, when you lift your weight
and heave yourself onto your boat, our faces soar.

Your hand on the tiller is certain and true,
and as the wind picks up, something like a truce

settles behind your eyes. The fears you have
take a rest in the shade, and we, your sons, forgive you.  




the waves you sail through are the size
of huge, impossibly modern, cinema complexes;

your bravery and gentleness of such fame
that you cannot help but enter a local bar

and be offered a small pig, a man or woman
of your choice, and ten to twelve free drinks.

For this, and more, I have always admired you
brother, even when you have pushed yourself  

onto my side of our narrow single bed.
How I will mourn you brother, do not go 

quite yet, I beg you, we all – your family,
your people – beg you, do not go quite yet. 



The Sons

Rain patterns you on the back
I say, practicing my fatherly voice,
in the mirror to myself, as my sons
play in the yard like dogs. The rain
comes down on this city like small
grey missiles, or capsules that we
must absorb through our heads.

And, as I think that perhaps the rain
has changed me, my sons scream
like mating foxes as another curtain
of it comes falling, hurtling, down.

I sigh to myself, practice my fatherly
voice again, my sons, though we have
grown apart, I still love to watch you
in the yard, still live to see the way
the rain patterns you on your backs.