John Forbes
For Forbes  (1950-1998)

His cigarettes
behind them
that vivacious intellect,
eagerly alighting all night pharmacies.
His self ironising talk as witty and eclectic
as his verse.

The days we formed
our `economic unit'-
                I paid you rent,
                your bookies,
                to the landlord,
                never sent.

Forbes, you were: more successful than America

I loved our sometime connections
as when you told me
good poetry is
surprising and inevitable
at the same time.

As long as I overlooked
your initial pique at my naivete,
your not too sotto voce enthusiasm
was song.

Or you were absorbed
in a George V. Higgins,
`Jane's Defence Weekly' or `Paris Review',
drinking retsina or red,
Camel soft pack within the turn of a page,
leaping to answer the phone
(knowing every call would be for you.)

Spaghetti Surprise and the inevitable
red and green curries
whose felicitous preparation
you held to demonstrate,
being `functional outside of poetry.'

One time spoke he uneasily
of growing old impecuniously,
                you were the spark
                that set your heart
vibrating like box speakers on a shelf

An honnÍte homme;
no holding you back, John.
You lived as though
building a boat
you were already sailing on.

Malcolm Dow

John Forbes Collected Poems Homage to John Forbes Online Poems
©: adapted by afactor Dated: 16 February 1998 Updated: 23 January 2007