Good Neighbour
Irecê, Brazil

An entrepreneur, he ran a butcher’s stall in the market.
So you could see the meat he’d waft the flies away with his hand.

We rented a house from him; he showed us the covered tank in the yard –
that’s where the truck deposited water – the only water there was;
you had to add blocks of sulphur to make it fit for human consumption.
One day we found a large lizard, floating there, belly up, disgustingly white.
I scooped it out with a shovel.

When our removal arrived, so did his mother, pretending to help.
She sat on the edge of the bed, and furtively bounced up and down;
what she was doing was trying our mattress out for herself.

We thanked her for coming. I asked her how many children she had.
Six living, she said, I continued How many all told?
I’ve had umpteen, she said, all that the Good Lord sent.
Then she invited us round for coffee and cake.



Philip Dunkerley set up the Stamford Stanza and is active in open-mic and other poetry groups in South Lincolnshire. He reviews for Orbis and his poems and translations from Spanish and Portuguese have appeared in magazines, webzines and anthologies.