Apport – Marc Stevens

Asbestos hands that unscrewed sparking plugs

Many thanks to Marc Stevens for ‘Apport’ – a poem inspired by his father’s shed. Marc has been penning poetry since 1984 and is clearly very passionate about the art. Marc is ‘ inspired by the fiction of Ian M. Banks and by the Liverpool poets, especially the love poetry of Brian Patten.’ We really appreciate his contribution and support.


If you asked me where the dead live

I would say nowhere –

unless you count memory.

If pushed, I would tell you that there is no

quantum theory of ghosts, that the soul, 

as a self-sustaining energy matrix, 

is hokum.

In the shed that was my father’s

I’m hoping for rawlplugs

because even armchair physicists

have to put up shelves.

I peer into jars of assorted screws,

into packs of tacks and tins of pins

that prick the questing finger

and prod the sheepish conscience to views

of how much I took my father’s help

and how little I returned.

Screwdrivers look down their shafts 

in dismissal of a man who has no calluses.

Sarcastic spanners and tinsnips

snipe from the sidelines

like old sweats on building sites,

hazing the new boy.

Above the bench, the adjustable wrench, 

the bradawl, the backsaw, the brace

are polished smooth by years of toil,

as bent by the task as the man 

whose hands have stained them.

In drawers, old toys of bolt and grommet,

experiments in copper pipe,

are rusting down to a humus

of sawdust, solder, the spirals of swarf 

he’d pluck from fingers as thick as truncheons

without complaint,

on mornings too cold for participation

by teenage theoreticians.

Asbestos hands that unscrewed sparking plugs

heedless of HT leads, unbothered by the manifold 

that burnt a hole in his good overalls,

seemed to perform diagnostics

that would baffle the man himself

and I’d be back on the road again.

Odd, amongst such riches,

that loss should touch me now.

Odder still that those damn rawlplugs 

have dropped into my palm, 

like a gift, just for the wishing of it.

Marc Stevens

Did you enjoy this poem? Why not visit Maggie’s website at: Maggie’s Centre Nottingham to find out more about their exceptional work and/or make a donation. Do you have a poem you would like to submit to Voices? Feel free to do so by email at: or via the ‘Contact’ page on this site.

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