Having listened over the years to so many people (called patients) talking, Richard Westcott has found it’s been a relief to talk – and listen – to himself.  


His poems have popped up in all sorts of places (such as the Mary Evans Poetry Blog, the Pitt Rivers Museum, Lighten Up Online, and a wall at Exeter University), broad/podcast (East London Radio), and been listed, commended and highly commended in various competitions, including the Hippocrates, York Mix, Camden Lumen, Plough and Poetry on the Lake even winning a prize or two here and there.


He’s often to be found outdoors and is blessed with a large and tolerant family to whom he talks, along with his dog, who happens to be a good listener as well, and is also a keen amateur musician (the man, not the dog).







Cover design Detail from woodcut Picasso and the orchid





138 x 216mm


34 pages


£6.00 + P&P UK


ISBN 978-1-910834-78-7


PUB: 26 MARCH 2018













The protagonists of these poems extend from ancient times to yesterday; they range from the famous to the anonymous, from the real to the imagined, from the historic to the mythic. But they all shared the same fate. The medium of poetry, with its particular privileges and special liberties, offers one way to approach the frightening, almost incomprehensible and so often avoided subject of suicide. Unflinching and at times realistic, naturally and inevitably emotional but never sentimental, these poems – as varied as their subjects – acknowledge the suffering, but seek to find a measure of meaning, to achieve some understanding and ultimately sympathy for, if not kinship with, those who left so abruptly.



“It takes some courage and discipline to mount an expedition into the so-near-yet-so-far-away terrain of suicide. Neither deploring nor romanticising it, but considering with sensitivity a range of lives, each individual to its circumstances and society, these poems widen the perspective in which we can look at an act which our culture in particular finds hard even to contemplate.”

Philip Gross


“Having twice awarded Richard Westcott prizes in the YorkMix competition, I was excited to read his first collection. Here is that same clear, intelligent, confident voice inhabiting a wide variety of people from history. It is Westcott’s unique gift to turn these dramatic monologues into pure gold.

I loved every word.”

Carole Bromley


"These poems are about thresholds, not the physical border from the outside, as a doorway into a home, but the conceptual boundary separating out one space from another. Westcott's preoccupation is with this conceptual boundary as it demarcates life from death. His interest is in this very specific juncture, in the context of suicide. He takes as his examples Primo Levi, Virginia Woolf, Seneca, Robert Fitzroy. and others. He inhabits their innerworlds, takes on their voices and contemplates their situations, their plans, and their final actions. The effect is powerful, mesmerising, and moving. But, it is the language that is most impressive. Westcott has mastered his craft, he writes as if the words themselves were utterly lucid, as if the carefully chosen words, the economy and thrust of the narrative, the rhythm were all composed of the air on a crisp spring day- all luminosity, and without any glare. It is a remarkable achievement for he inhabits a variety of voices yet possesses a uniqueness all his own."

Femi Oyebode MBBS, MD, PhD, FRCPsych





Richard Westcott


There they live much longer









A Wise Man Takes His Leave


I can already see the earth

in all its fine reality –  

a sphere of lovely colours,

the mountains smooth where precious stones

are uncorroded – every sense

is clearer. There they live much longer.


Mighty streams descend and mingle.

Dear friends it is determined –

Echecrates, Simmias, Cebes –

your time will come as mine has now.

It's nearly sunset.  Bring in my cup.


I shall ask for a gentle voyage.

The earth awaits.  I walk its surface

for a moment I wait too

for descent and rearrangement.


Let me lie down now.

Farewell to you and to myself –

the icy tide is rising


from feet to legs to waist.

Observe the customs. There they live


much longer.



Lucretia’s Last Words


You do not know what will take place

you who are mine in truth

you do not know.  Not yet.

Hear me. Hear my voice


before I leave and give me

give me your word.  I beg

you father and beloved husband

attend and act as I will now


so that conquest be avenged

both mine and yours.  So brief

brief is beauty.  Death leads

to overthrow.  He is all.


And after it has taken place

I will not know nor ever hear

those future voices as they sing

these words that once were mine.






How long has passed?  Birthdays come and go –

many happy returns – along with many another

death day.  Along these meadows here

I walk where once you walked

to exchange harsh air for gentle water

still current carried to a distant bridge.


The children watched, later found you

here.  The workman in the ditch

saw you pass, not to come back.

No return, although the birthdays

come and go and I return

in my present now to your passing past.


Lar Familiaris


Across this threshold I have passed

many times between my open hands

an offering, to sustain.


Now I approach the familiar step

once more, hands closed.

No collection dish today –  


instead a pillow

like a cushion on the altar

awaits, with comfort.


Through inspiration I shall pass

across this threshold one last time –

my hands will open, to receive

the sustenance I pray for.


(Sylvia Plath laid her head in her unlit gas oven.)






Birds fall silent at this false dusk.

As circles approach the edges of worlds

collide in a blur of first darkness.

An unusual coolness falls upon us.


You do not need to know the pain

when they were both put out.  There is

no darkness to approach that black

when light is lost forever.


Worlds travel on to overlap.

At the centre an oval that grows

a widening eye still out of sight.

Nothing so dark as the pupil itself.


You do not need to see the pillars

as bodies move apart.  I seized them

in a vision of destruction

and in bowing avenged the loss.


The light returns along with warmth.

From ends new starts are made.

Upon the pile of broken stones

a black bird starts to sing.




The Joy of Flotsam


To float free and be subject

to elements alone


to forego all self will

and abandon assumptions


to forget roles and to drift

from the tyranny of function


to begin in time to lose even identity


to have no need to find or be found...

9781910834787 Richard Westcott © Chris Chapman 2018 amend