Trust

Playing in the garden
watching films together
as you nestle into my arm
learning each other’s language
You trusted me, eventually
became part of my family

I loved to watch you
explore the world we shared
sunbathing on the rug
or endless pats in the living room
Your fur and the quiet purr
of little teeth grinding

What I’ve been dreading
now, it’s happening
You’re still you
but your legs no longer work
yet you look to me
with such affection in your eyes

I’m so happy we were alive
at the same time
I’m so grateful your life
aligned with mine
and I can’t measure
the happiness you brought

As the tears clear, I can see
I’m doing the right thing
and yet it sorely stings
to watch you slip away
Such trust in your closing eyes
as we say our last goodbyes

All I ever wanted
was the best life for you
You’re skipping now forever
through the meadows
and the vegetable patch
of my fondest memories…

[2022]

Thanks for reading.

https://linktr.ee/tomalexwrite

Live In The Light

O Lord, I ain’t what I aimed to be
I think I missed the target some
my seed got turned upside down
tried to grow towards the light
and grew down…

O Lord, are you listening to me?
‘cause I’ve never heard your voice in here
no conductor’s baton, no steady hand
as I stumbled through this night
and grew dark…

O Lord, I’m miles from where I meant to be
the Devil, he has no compass, no stars to follow
says ‘hack away, till you reach the easy warmth’
but I hacked so many people, I keep slipping in their blood
and fall down…

O Lord, I haven’t used my eyes for years
don’t see anything when you only live to feel
I get whatever stimulus I can take
I’ll take whatever’s not bolted down
and go blind…

O Lord, I’m chased by that same snake again
always offering me that same apple
all I ever wanted was to live in the light
Yet something always eclipsed that need
now it feels too late to change
and I’ll always hang here in this bleak greed
and pitch night…

Would you forgive me, Lord
let me admit to all this blackness and move on
could you forgive me, Lord
if I promise you I’ll change and for the better

O Lord, all I ever wanted
was just to live in the light
but look at me now, deep in the dark
do you see me here, lost in this dark…

[2008]

Thanks for reading.

https://linktr.ee/tomalexwrite

Morning People

All my life
I’ve been enthralled
by the magic
and the mystique
of morning people

Morning people
with their exercise
and croissant
with their coffee cups
and yoga

Morning people
with their dew-kissed lawns
mythic sunrises
and shop shutters still rattling open
as they arrive to get a paper

Morning people
who wake, rise and stretch
without the solar flare of daylight
smashing through their window
and kicking them out of bed

Morning people
with their quiet trains
stark pavements and carless streets
Playing table tennis in the park
and walking dogs

Morning people
Stopping by to pick morning them up
and they’ve already been for a swim
where do they find the time
where did they get this whim

Morning people
with all those extra hours
make a mockery of me
an afternoon person
a dusk person, a night person

Morning people
they’re an enigma, a puzzle
a code I wish to crack
The morning people in my family
well, I wonder where they got that

At times, I’ve been an interloper
slack-jawed and squinting
at 4am in an airport bar
nursing a pint of beer
gaining the wings to fly

I always assumed
I’d join the club some day
but I’m still a night person
toiling beneath the stars
and sense I may always be…

[2022]

Thanks for reading.

https://linktr.ee/tomalexwrite

The Sunlit Ocean

Click above to hear me read the poem aloud. Right-click and choose ‘Save As’ to download.

Slipping between
the scattered diamonds
as turquoise waters part
and gently lisp against my throat
The heat beats down and the sunlit ocean
claims me as its own

Swimming in the shallows
fish and rocks, bend and merge
the lapping lens obscures them all
weightless in the womb of possibility
The purest pleasure
of the planet against my pores

The dipping sun, a molten iron ingot
a neon snooker ball
plunged into the horizon
torches every surface
All is pink and crimson
a beauty I’ve never known

Dining later
every mouthful was kisses smacking
The spice on my tongue
so uniquely exciting
Cricket’s clicks swell to a crescendo
smothering every sound

The evening air warmly fills
my heart and skin
Blood laced with love
The whole day seared into memory
I tried to catch my breath
but it couldn’t stop escaping

Every sense alight with simple joy
at my most alive
living in and living through
the happiest day of my life
I tried to hold the moment
but it wouldn’t stop escaping…

[2022]

Thanks for reading.

https://linktr.ee/tomalexwrite

Under This Maudlin Sky

Two lonesome figures
under a maudlin sky
Two friends trying to speak
to understand something
The wind whips up
clouds of stinging sand
It’s so hard to look ahead
both momentarily blind
under this maudlin sky

So many miles, we’ve come
so many times we laughed together
Now, the future feels so small
every outcome seems so brutal
I try my best to steady you
when your steps waver
‘one foot in front of the other’
the only advice I can muster
under this maudlin sky

These moments are dense
with a thousand universes
Thinking feels infinite
limbs so heavy and useless
I can’t put my arm around your shoulder
I can’t manage that quite yet
So, we walk with all our questions
tentative with every step

I wish I could fix this trouble for you
but there are things you can’t undo
Late at night in your lonely room
dark matters at the heart of you
Are you still the friend
I thought I knew
under this maudlin sky

And I want to ask you why
but I know that you don’t know
and I want to ask you why
under this maudlin sky…

Are you still the friend
I thought I knew…

[2022]

Thanks for reading.

This one one of the poems I wrote in August when I forced myself to write a poem every day – unedited and raw.

My Fingers

A palm coasts along the softness
senses tingle in expectation
soon the hand-craft finds the warmth
and lands

I am right there with each one
in the backs and in the knuckles
I am not my head, I am my hands
on you

There is a rattle, a subtle shake
I think we’ve found our place
There comes a signal, a growl within
I think we’ve found our perfect place

Into, into, within
all around the edges
across the surface
exploring, imploring
they toil on…

I am right there with each one
in the tips, and in the nails
I am not my head, I am my fingers
in you…

[2011]

Thanks for reading.

Grandad’s Shed

So many warm afternoons
spent in my Grandad’s endless garden
Home to my first and only treehouse
when air-raid siren tests
still filled those Northern streets

And most magical of all
the rough lumber shed he’d built
A place of wooden-handed tools
you had to carefully maintain with oil
tools what would have been his grandad’s

A place where big furry bees
chose to die with dignity
behind his motorcycle helmet
or a row of ancient cricket balls
by jam jars full of sorted screws

Eighty eight lead weights
from the keys of some deceased piano
kept for… I’ve no idea
Drawers of bakelite switches and fuses
A big old crate of things for me to play with

Such fascinating bits
of dismantled gadgets
all teaching me to wonder
to pay attention, and to imagine
how everything might work

I’m still fascinated now, still want to know
how all of this might work
So, I show my working out
right here on the paper
writing with his old fountain pen…

[2022]

Thanks for reading.

https://linktr.ee/tomalexwrite

Late Night, Harbour Lights

The air is warm tonight
the sea no longer ravenous
As the shawl slips from your shoulders
there’s a feeling that breeds in us
now, we are home
or close enough

A candle flickers at every table
the seafront cafes like crooked teeth
The harbour mouth is kissing us
with its swing bridge tongue and river beneath
We feel that we are home
or close enough

Tied by these rings
and the meaning of this thing
we’re bound now in our journey
seas and sunsets, tears and terror
I long to treasure and to explore
the universe inside of you

In my hand, I now find yours
such a sweet relief
the reassuring touch of home
now close enough

Late night, harbour lights
dancing on the water
This love now blankets us
And our kiss… our kiss…
we’ve never tasted anything like this
The feeling spills from every pore
O, we’re both home
now close enough…

[2022]

Thanks for reading.

https://linktr.ee/tomalexwrite

The Sea At Night Does Not Rest

Too tired to rest
I only care
are you out there somewhere
A glass of cheap wine
on the arm of some expensive chair

And do you…
could you
think of me sometime
maybe…
while I’m still alive

The gravity of your movements
swells the tides of my emotions
and you’ll probably never know
You drag me to ecstasy
then to lowest ebb
and you’ll probably never know

You amaze me
with your vagary
I could fall in love so easily
but you won’t let me

Could you
think of me sometime
could you
think of me sometime
maybe…
while we’re still alive…

[2010]

Thanks for reading.

A Song of The Wind

Audio reading with guitar

Attic window open on the night
a dim wash of light
as hinges creak
From the page, I raise my pen
is that your laugh, your voice I hear
blowing through the years

Is it you, is it real
or a song of the wind
it is you, is it real
I’m never sure

I see the miles of white tiles
that infinite airport floor
where you left me statuesque
our future time without a date
that never came

The shredding of our story
lost, somewhere in the night
amidst the terminal and the air
somehow I wanted to imagine more
that never was

Is it you, is it real
or a song of the wind
it is you, is it real
well, I never know

I checked my post
fifteen times this week
was that you I heard
addressing me with a howl
or a song of the wind
the only tune I hear these days

Thank you for the kisses
the love and warmth you brought
all the jokes we shared
and your fingers in my beard
how could I forget

It’s you, it’s you
a song of the wind
always it’s you
such a sweet melody to have known

And on the wind
I hope your memory
will always blow
beside me…

[2019]

Thanks for reading or listening.

The lovely guitar accompaniment was written and performed by Sirishty Thakur who writes wonderfully on her blog ‘Thought Loop‘. Please do check out her work!

Image Credit: https://www.instagram.com/nightwalkermagazine/

For M.L.

Between A Blue Night and Dawn

[Please click above to listen! Right-click and choose ‘Save as’ to download the Mp3]

Two lovers travelling
two lovers
meeting in the East

Their affair
was letters inked
and photographs
Now here embodied
will they know what to do?

She wakes him one morning, saying
‘let’s take a boat to an island
we’ll rise above the Bangkok smog’

Bike beneath them spluttering
her arms knitted around him
they race from bay to beach
chasing the burning sun
with hair wet and smiles wide

Their shoulders lapped by waves
she was beautiful
sitting on his knee
they felt married, waist deep
straw hats wilting in the brine

He thought ‘I could hold you here forever
I would kiss you
until the stars pepper the sky’

Between the music
from the bars off in the distance
and the love
dripping warmly from her words
a song composes itself over the ocean

Orion’s Belt above them
sand dancing between their toes
they rest upon the rocks
and she knows that she could love him
he wishes this night would never end
it’s one chance in their lifetimes
between a blue night and dawn

In a stilted shack on sand
her black hair spreads
like ink across the bed
longing dialling up their eyes
as the air between them boils
bodies’ voices blending

Two lovers travelling
two lovers don’t know if they’ll meet again
this could so easily have been
the love of their lifetimes

This could so easily have been
yet it existed only
between a blue night and dawn…

[2019]

Thanks for reading.

Reposted from February, now with an audio reading set to the track Green Arrow by Yo La Tengo.

Murmuration

Click above to hear me read this one

A hyper-sensitivity of feeling
your art connects across the senses
The roughness of ancient bark
beneath gentle fingertips
A kiss from rock-pool water
warm against bare ankles

A double exposure
a murmuration
it’s poetry, the sensuality
the sheer never timid beauty
lensed so gracefully
with such assurance and dexterity

The texture, a waking daydream
a cloak of fog, shaft of sunlight
A cinematic freeze-frame
marked by absence
the distance or proximity
of pain and recovery

Point and click, your dark-room trick
it’s as if you have control
over the mountains
the birds, the tides
or consummate authorship
of the nuance you convey

A solo figure in vast expanse
an aloneness I recognise
searching but serene
Lost in the careful creation
of an endless mythology
loudly reverberates in me

The slow creep of new tissue
like quietly vanishing tattoos
it’s at your back and haunches
as your work builds and soars
so far from that place
expressive in its woozy warmth

I hear the touch, witness the aroma
I exist in awe and quiet wonder
A world scatters its knitted beauty
a murmuration
Little charcoal sketches
across watercolour paper

The spine is a map
a breadcrumb trail
we trace with our fingers
but we can’t go back
ephemeral and observable only
in reflection or a photograph

Dusk tides, an evening deer
a crumbling barn, eiderdown snow
A swimsuit girl, the Northern Lights
a neon sign, a broken rainbow
midnight phone booth, stitches in skin
untethered and inspirationally free

Your photography is a place
I love to visit when I can
It’s pure poetry you pen
with the light, with your lens
A lasting comfort, you translate
the message I can’t help but take;

It’s impossible
impossible not to love
the beauty of this world…

[2021]

Thanks for reading.

An ode to the exceptional work of one of my favourite photographers; Margaret Durow.

Dark At The End of The Street

We’ve had some fun
but our story is complete
The moral knife still twisting deep
That improper thing must always be beat
So, you turn your back
and off you creep

Promising me each memory
you’ll fondly keep
And with my battered trust
and my itchy feet
how firmly you believe
I’ll casually retreat
back into the dark
at the end of the street

We knew the rules, we knew the game
and still we had to cheat
We wrote through sun
and rain and sleet
We thought ourselves immune
our passion so discrete
now the choice is made
we casually hit ‘delete’

You’re so sure
my heart won’t miss a beat
we blackened many notebooks
we tore out many sheets
So much goes unsaid
those poems stay incomplete
All filed away in the dark
at the end of the street

Do you think me as some devil
replete with tricks and treats
it seemed like art at first
something so unique
An open mind, an open cage
a bird that often leaves
And yet here we are again
that same story on repeat

What made your soul once leap
now feels so obsolete
Was there always something missing
a fatal flaw in this conceit
It no longer matters
our time, we did deplete
my footsteps fade into the dark
at the end of the street

Where I fein my understanding
and wrestle with relief
Peering out
through the dampening eyes of my defeat
I’ll fold myself so small
my vanishing so neat
I slip from this scene
back into the dark
at the end of the street…

[2022]

Thanks for reading. All emotions are imagined.

https://linktr.ee/tomalexwrite

Thirst

Boomeranging in the snowy streets
it all comes back around to this
that loneliness breeds contempt
for the company of others…

Under a bridge by the station
I kissed, when I was fifteen
I kissed hard and passionate
I kissed no one
Then, at sixteen, under that bridge
or anywhere for that matter
I kissed no one
I just lay in my darkened room
I lay in wait
alone

Ten years on
and I’m still waiting
but I’ve kissed, O, what I haven’t kissed
isn’t worth mentioning
yet, I’m still waiting now

All the people there are talking
still I’m happier alone, dreaming
more comfortable on my own
dreaming again of finding my place

While under bridges down-town
or by rivers, roads, colleges, canals
I kiss all of them, all I couldn’t before
each pair of lips, another conquest
I’ll show the other me how things are done
I’ll show him what he should have done

This howling wind rips through me
this empty cavity screams deep
such a thirst to contain something
and when it does, it comes and goes
I only ever know when it’s too late

And I kiss anything
I’d kiss anything to understand this
I’d kiss anyone to know just what is missing
and I kiss anyone
anyone but you…

[2007]

Thanks for reading.

https://linktr.ee/tomalexwrite

Mind Tides

Those chemical seas
wash you closer and closer to me
on the chemical seas you ride closer
and then closer again to here

O, how I’ve held a small part of my breath
kept a little air inside for your return
part of me; patiently poised
as your waves wash through my closing fingers

O, how I’ve quietly tended a small flame for you
landing lights aglow along this heart’s runway
expectantly, with a constant hunger
for that desired descent back to me

Those chemical seas sweep you past my port
pulling you away from me
Your fickle thoughts, your fickle heart
strip you of decency
rip you far away from here

The restless movement of the moon
caught in my saucer eyes
The polished mirror of the moon
a wet silver across all your photographs

I’m still helplessly recoiling
at the wave of hurt that levelled me
but just as I see you, so the tide turns
and as I reach out for you
so your mind blurs

And then you’re gone again
for good…

[2016]

Thanks for reading.

https://linktr.ee/tomalexwrite

Jetty Song

Click ‘play’ to hear me read this poem. Or right-click ‘save as’ to download an MP3.

Her fingers tracing mine
Lily danced me out of the garden
those green eyes brimming lively
with purest abandon
Then barefoot on the boardwalk
her summer dress riding high
she leapt onto the jetty
and gestured to the sky

We let our tanned legs hang below
as we bottomed up the bottle
the air was hot and heavy
the sea around us peaceful
There was lust upon our minds
as a veil upon a bride
the deepest searing truths
politely shot between our eyes

And no man could deny us
loose and open all the time
our hands and fingers; wanderers
tongues locked in a rhyme
By the spit between those kisses
our burning lips were sewn
her dress was barely there
my body carved from stone

With each nail driven into skin
I felt a clapping thunder
the temple tapestry was tearing
as she pierced my thin armour
A melody sung upon her voice
a lyric loudly grows
I’d have gladly turned my back
on all that I held close

We could have traveled every sea
taking turns to lead the way
if only
if only she’d have asked me
if only I’d thought to stay…

Dusk light falling on the harbour
the day became a dream
with toes curled round the boards
she danced me to my feet
in one movement I was shirtless
in another she was naked
a smiling glance was shared
as we leapt with fingers knitted

Our kisses painted salty
lungs burning between breaths
the solution we had longed for
as our bodies coalesced
We swam until our limbs ached
then floated side by side
in the moonlit wideness of her eyes;
another world, I spied

I was so thirsty for the moment
and drank it all too quickly
my mind got blurred and cloudy
my greatest drunken folly
Too naive to know the value
of the treasure in my grip
like sand through careless fingers
I stood and watched it slip

There was water on three sides
and only one path back to land
but somewhere on that journey
I somehow lost her hand
Now, I wonder if she thinks of us
a moment spared for all we shared
does she ever sit upon that jetty
singing of a parallel despair

We could have traveled every sea
wild adventure every day
if only
if only she’d have asked me
if only I’d thought to stay

If only
I’d had the wisdom
to stay…

[2020]

Extra special thanks for reading, I know it’s a long one. 🙂

https://linktr.ee/tomalexwrite

The Wind Is Howling

In the grate, the shivering flames
hungrily wrap their lips around logs
The boards above me creek
my wife haunting somewhere
the baby’s hands reach out
wave before its sleeping eyes

The wind is howling…

The smiles on our faces as we galloped down the aisle
making sense of scattered photograph moments
but I can’t remember why
can’t think of anything but waiting
and doing everything I can
patiently hoping
for you to get well

The wind is howling…

You’ve been asking me to stay close
you’ve been praying ‘don’t change your state’
and you’ve been crying, screaming, aching
at 4am
to just feel well again

The wind is howling…

And with the tiny heart
that beats beside me now
I’m filled with a strength of love I have never known
and yet I feel
so alone

The wind is howling…

[2018]

Thanks for reading.

Note: Written for a new father struggling with loneliness.

https://linktr.ee/tomalexwrite

The Essay

Nineteen nighty five
Nominally fourteen;
I was sitting in the sports hall
pen in hand
the desks apart
a teacher I didn’t know
patrolled the aisles
The English paper said ‘write a story
include a river
and an allegory’

The clock at the front clicks
thin hands jerk and tick
I spin my pen
study the air vents above me
there’s a dusty shuttlecock
caught up in the pipework
there’s a brown deflated football
sitting on the skylight
I need to start writing…

I wasn’t a reader, then
I knew nothing much of stories
I’d watched a lot of films
I’d heard a lot of pop songs
but I wasn’t a writer

Unimpressed by the aesthetic
the muted light inside the sports hall
I pushed my mind 
out onto the playing fields
down the long road past the waterworks
to the river on the edge of town

And I could see it there
a bend in the channel where
a tree had lost its leaves
a tree was clinging 
to the dry mud of the riverbank
being undercut by the flowing water
being ever exposed by the erosion
being deposed

And I started to write
of the tree being cut and torn
being pulled and weakened
by the hunger of the river
Hanging on with every root
and the river’s endless running

The more I wrote 
the sadder I felt for the tree
the more I wrote
the more the tree’s plight mirrored something I’d seen
the more I wrote the more I saw
my mother’s best friend’s fight with cancer 
revealed before me
The more I wrote the more I saw her face
looking back at me
and the more the story moved me

And the tree succumbed
to the river’s flow
as all things will, eventually

That essay was the first time I wrote something
with any meaning
handed my paper back 
a tear-stain just above my name
That was the first time I wrote something
and I haven’t stopped since…

[2020]

Thanks for reading.

Photo credit: http://www.midforkrocks.com/post/201611-if-a-tree-falls-in-a-river/

https://linktr.ee/tomalexwrite

Morphine

All the faith carried in your soul
and all the morphine
lightening the load
they play a strange sad game
spinning lies in devilish ways

I listened to your doctor speaking
as you read from some ancient tome
yes, you know your body well
but pain isn’t the cause

This belief takes its small toll
the colour and the hope draining away
defeatedly, you feel
you’re failing

But you’re not fading
you’re not going anywhere
I take your hand to emphasize
you’re not slipping from this life
you’re falling into morphine
warm and wide
with those tired eyes

You say to me
‘Son, He is waiting
will you pray for me?
I feel Him come for me’
but even faithlessly
I know he’d not be ready
it’s just the morphine murmuring
as you try to start our last goodbye
I smile, say ‘it’s alright

And you’re not fading
you’re not going anywhere’
I look deep into your eyes
say ‘you’re not slipping from this life
you’re falling into morphine
warm and wide
just sleep tonight’

In this windowless room
you’ll see no blinding light
come for you in the night

You look at me and say you’re ‘sure’
think I’m angry
because I ‘can’t bare to hear’
I’m just frustrated
by those velvet hands
rummaging in your brain
and your absent God

And all that morphine
wet and warm
you’re wading through tonight

I love you, mum
and you’re not going anywhere…

[2015]

Thanks for reading.

https://linktr.ee/tomalexwrite

Chalk-White Moonlight

An Arctic air
pushes past the cracking door
as we step out
into the newly forming night
with many friendly cheers
chasing us from the hall
The searing wind
grabs you by the ears
seconds abroad
and your bones will know the chill
in the chalk-white light
of this moon

Snow falls slowly
first on the cliffs above the lane
then these cobbles are scribbled out
under a virgin whiteness
We turn right
down Henrietta Street
hands meeting the iron
rails that trace the pier edge
The rugged fringes
of the North Sea rim
lit by the chalk-white light
of this moon

Forgive the weather
it cannot help the tearing
at our laces, at our toggles
its fingers fumbling with our buttons
the wind wants at our napes
and your white dress
We see sparks
spitting from a chimney
the smoke house knows its duty
Rising embers
fight the delicacy of falling snow
in the chalk-white light
of this moon

My eyes drift out
glance a fishing boat
crossing the horizon
as it cuts through
the moon’s reflection
Then they turn back to hers
My wife, she holds my hand
for the first time in our lives
lit by the chalk-white light
of this moon

We’ll brave the weather
we’ll brave the seas
as one
we’ll brave everything to come
The chalk-white light
of the moon
glinting on our ring fingers…

[2020]

Photo is ‘Kiss on Henrietta Street’ by Rick Harrison, please check out his fantastic photography. https://www.flickr.com/photos/sovietuk/8472144037. Dedicated to Kate.

Thanks for reading.

https://linktr.ee/tomalexwrite