'Maybe a man could not bear how the world had turned pallid, washed out, grey, every day a photocopy of the last.'
   - Peter Murphy, Shall We Gather At The River

'What we are reluctant to touch often seems the very fabric of our salvation.'
   Don DeLillo,
White Noise


Doctor Doubt and his black cat associate
are breakfasting in the garden: tea and toast
on the table, and the opening chapter
of a new novel purchased yesterday.

Doctor Doubt does not know what to believe,
it all reads as fiction now. Politics and news,
friends' poetry, signs and visions in the sky,
each one makes as little sense as the other.

Doctor Doubt's cat sits awkwardly on the lawn,
stares stupidly into space, convinced something
is hiding in the shrubs, something that has gone
each time she bothers to go and investigate.

Doctor Doubt is plagued by faith, worries
he might be wrong to disbelieve. There are
too many everyday miracles that cannot be
ascribed to science, too much to wonder at.

The cat climbs the steps and slips away, is gone.
Doctor Doubt cannot concentrate on his story,
his tea is getting cold. In the corner of his mind
a god bursts through the earth, about to flower.


On the beach, Doctor Doubt
cannot concentrate at all.
Ozone gets into his brain,
his thoughts become fuzzy;
the waves will not keep still,
he cannot focus. And, oh,
the tourists, with their dogs
and gossip, bright clothes
and far too many children.

In the church it is a little better,
although there is sand on the floor
and the 16th century paintings
are hidden behind a stack of books.
He thinks it is strange how the god
needs a house, especially as no-one
comes to visit. The wooden beams
should not hold up the roof but do.
All restoration work has stopped.


He went to one university
but visited friends at another,
experiencing their traditional
lectures and routine vicariously,
wishing he'd gone to where
rivers meandered and history
woke you up each morning
with dusty sunshine, cold
stone corridors and bridges.

He excelled at excelling,
but also at shadowing and
following, standing unnoticed
somewhere he shouldn't be.
He could have done English,
sciences, maths, but wrote poems
and made paintings in exchange
for his bit of paper and the chance
to dress up in a hat and gown.

He was full of ambition and ideas,
made some of his dreams come true.
But doubts crept in, friends died
or moved away, depression
called by and never went away.
Doctor Doubt found a dead-end job
teaching, tried to persuade students
to question what they were
already sure of. Failed miserably.


Doctor Doubt does not have the strength
to be a radical, never liked committees
or communes, collaboration or community.

He is a one-man band, an individual
who never stands out in a crowd
tends to see the worst in everything,

has no time for anyone or anything,
can't stand popular music but has never
found anything else to listen to.

Restaurants and food are a waste of time
but he wished there was something better
to eat and somewhere better to do so.

Modern books aren't like they used to be,
and the old ones aren't as good as he
remembers. Even the old god has died

because he forgot to feed him, stopped
singing his praises and saying his prayers.
His face no longer reflects in the mirror.

    Rupert M Loydell

Portratit of Doctor Doubt A.C. Evams 2015