Poetry by Michael Ratcliffe

By Michael Ratcliffe

Paddington Bench

For Kathy

What a sight we must have been,
huddled for warmth
on that Paddington bench,
having missed the last Oxford train,
unwilling to spend forty pounds
on a room for the night,
tired from walking hand in hand,
searching for a café in which to sit
and talk over tea and scones.
Years later it seemed such folly,
but that night we were free.

Now that we find ourselves
with children grown,
a comfortable home,
money to buy more than we need—
Now, looking at over half our lives together
and wondering whether
we’ve grown timid with success,
I yearn to miss a train
and spend a night with you again
on a bench in Paddington station.


I Saw God the Other Day

I saw God the other day, standing
at the corner of 5th and F, Northwest,
talking to whomever had ears to hear.
She said Ain’t it a glorious day!
and asked if I could help her out.
Yes it is, I said, and gave her
the Starbucks card in my wallet.
She said it would be nice
to sit and enjoy a cup of coffee.

The first time I saw God
was in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
He was a man about my age; homeless.
He just wanted to talk, and so we did,
about the intestinal troubles
that hit us in our forties,
and how our mothers just want
to treat us like when we were boys
and fix all the foods we can no longer eat,
and when we tell them to stop,
we feel like the worst sons in the world.

When I saw God last year,
she was a pregnant young woman,
purple hair and tattoos,
sitting on the grass
outside a motel along Route 1.
Her boyfriend held a sign asking for help.
I gave them money
and watched
as I let them walk away.

Michael Ratcliffe is a geographer and poet. His work appeared most recently in Peacock Journal and is forthcoming in Thief and Cloud Wanderer. His chapbook, Shards of Blue, was published by Finishing Line Press in December 2015. He can be found on-line at http://michaelratcliffespoetry.wordpress.com.


  1. I did enjoy Michael Radliffe’s poems. I wonder how his wife, Kathy, responded to his poem for her, “Paddington Bench?” My spouse would have said, “Let’s forget about reliving the impulsive rendezvous and rent a nice, clean and comfortable hotel room instead.”

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.