In Memoriam, Derek Power

Derek Power

We regretfully announce the death of our friend and former FRP member, Derek Power, who died in Musgrove on Monday 9th October, following surgery on his hip.

Derek was born in Oldham in 1932, but later moved to Falmouth, where he lived for fifteen years.  Whilst there, he joined Falmouth Poetry Group and became Chairman and Secretary.  Other members of that group, whom Derek got to know include such well-known names as Penelope Shuttle, Peter Redgrove and future Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy.  Later, he moved to Taunton, where he worked as a pharmacist until his retirement.  Derek joined the Fire River Poets in 1989.  At that time and for some time after, the group was meeting at a series of venues, none of them ideal, until Derek took pity on us and offered his home.  From then on, for many years, he and his wife Eileen hosted our meetings and always made us most welcome (drinks were free, until we insisted on leaving a monetary contribution on the table).  We continued to enjoy Derek’s hospitality until early in 2017, when Eileen’s ill health and other factors made it impractical.

Derek put up a healthy resistance to all things digital.  He even gave up trying to read his emails – which led to at least one unfortunate incident, in which a group decision had been made which Derek didn’t even know about!

A poet of considerable talent, Derek had an unusually keen eye for detail, and his colourful observations inform the rich tapestry of his verse.  But beneath the glittering surface of his poems, there is always an emotional, even dark, current. 

Derek’s poems have appeared in New Statesman, The Independent, Ambit, Fatchance, Poetry Business Anthology and Poems Deep and Dangerous Anthology (Cambridge University Press).  Odyssey Press published his first collection, Bluebeard’s Door (1992) and he was awarded joint second prize in the Leek Arts Festival Poetry Competition 1990.

Derek will always be remembered with affection and respect by those who knew him.

by Derek Power

Inside this electronic shell,       
Leper-belled, I feel unclean.
These sensors, icon-eyed,
Intrude upon my life,
Blink and scold as I walk my rooms,
Flare at me if I move too fast.
My few treasures
Worshipped now like idols.
My defence somehow an offence
Against my fellow man.
A coward’s deed whose armour chafes.
There is more honour in a ransacked room.

byDerek Power

This has always been a vanishing occupation.
In Winter he kneels to The Old Masters,
At Christmas to The Nativity.

He suffers the longest overcoat
Murky with colour,
Half-mittens, scarf and balaclava.
His chalks fester in a battered biscuit tin,
On the ground an ancient collecting cap,
The best of his art.

Summer is always sentimental,       
Horses, animals, children,
The beach at Brighton.
A conveyor belt of pictures.
Each one stopped in the perfect still
Of the pavement video.

He lives entirely for the present.
After the rain we discover
Faded fragments like medieval frescoes
To puzzle over.

By Derek Power

The conductor walks on to the stage,
Her dress split six inches above her knee,
Revealing gold damask and a scale of buttons.
Between movements, the trumpeter,
With pursed indifference,
Pops a sweet into his mouth:
With perfect timing, his last suck       
Comes before his first blow,                            
His vintage cheeks changing from chablis to burgundy.     
The organist’s fingers chisel the notes                                        
While his feet perform like puppets.
The elderly double bass cuddles his instrument
With more fervour than his wife.
Before the partita
The solo violinist removes an ear-ring,
Hooks it on to the music stand:
Forgotten, it winks like a star
For the rest of the evening.