Day of Death

The neighbour’s cat
brought a mouse into our garden
four limbs twitching
And from that jaw, those claws
I performed a rescue
but it was all for naught
and I tucked that little life
on the compost stack
hoping it found a comfy spot
to shuffle off

Out walking that same afternoon
on the pavement, on the path
a squirrel who’d tried to fly
but kissed the curb
such a sad sight
as I strolled on by
I hope it was quick
an instant goodbye

Later on that ramble
A pigeon lay on the lawn
insides brought outside
in the shimmering sunlight
Fallen and discovered
by nature’s tiny accomplices
all busy reducing and reusing
a cycle completing

All that death in one day
Was the universe speaking
or is life always busy ending
Nature is not so sentimental
and we’ll all meet those jaws
we’ll all kiss that curb
and complete the cycle
That day of death
comes to us all

While I still draw breath
there are many ‘thank you’s
so many ‘I love you’s
many ‘how can I help you’s
I still need to speak
and so I pray ‘not today’
like we all pray
‘please, not today’…

[2022]

Thanks for reading.

If It Rains…

You say the world is beautiful
you say the world is sad
And all I have to add
is that it can be
so much more than that
but you must let it in…

You won’t walk on the beach
you say the sand will soil your soles
The lapping waves
like slathering tongues
will only taste you
and you won’t let it in…

O, won’t you come and see
the seasons with me
Won’t you come and see
this world of seasons
with me

Your song goes on and on
but it’s a world so sadly sung
As I step out into the sun
you see me leave without a coat
you crease your eyes
tarnishing your words with indignation

‘What if it rains’ you cry
and I pause and I sigh
then I turn and I smile
“If it rains, I’ll get wet
I’ll feel its song against my skin
and I’ll welcome that feeling in…

O, won’t you come and see
the seasons with me
Won’t you come and see
this world of seasons
with me…”

[2022]

Thanks for reading.

https://linktr.ee/tomalexwrite

How To Be Alone

Waiting for a friend
sipping tea, sunglasses on
passers-by double and disappear
as reflections in shop windows
everything lit golden
then dimmed behind my lenses
I stir the drink some more

Waiting for a friend
they’re half an hour late now
I barely notice
just watch the people
let my mind wander
the liquid turning in the cup

And it hits me, squarely, there
on the corner by the crossroads
these moments
left to my own devices
find me so contented
thinking, writing, dreaming
drawing, planning, scheming

Have I just mastered the art
of how to be alone
or am I just happy
Maybe…
I’m just truly happy
finally…

[2019]

Thanks for reading.

https://linktr.ee/tomalexwrite

Gentleness

You’re a study to me
content in your calmness
not derailed by desire
nor rotten with bitterness

You cry when you need to
outspoken but reasonable
never screaming, no ill meaning
at your core, only gentleness

An easiness in each movement
you wave everyone in
make integrity and kindness
look utterly effortless

Disarming and charming
you got strong
from lifting others up
as if it’s not that hard to do

You’re a gentle man
and I’m proud my flesh
came from you…

[2022]

Thanks for reading.

There Will Be Birds In The Morning

Hit play to listen or right-click and ‘save as’ to download.

There’s a girl in tears
upon the cathedral steps
as I walk to work
the rain
a mist that swallows us
leaves blowing by
I want to wrap my scarf around her
and say

There will be better days
there will be lighter times
there will be happiness again

And there will be birds in the morning
singing for you and me
singing for you

There’s a boy in a phone box
framed behind glass, he sighs
as I’m passing by
his call has ended
the last call of that friendship
I want to get him a beer and say

Don’t forget the love you have
don’t forget those faces
it will be bright again in time

And there will be birds in the morning
singing for you and me
singing for you

And the rain comes down
and leaves blow by
all the busses look so busy
I laugh quietly to myself
wondering
Do birds even sing
on winter mornings?

[2019]

Thanks for reading.

Oct 2022: Reposting again (sorry) – audio remastered with clearer vocals.

Featured in ‘The Ship-wrecker’s Lamp available now.

Like Someone Who Knows Me

Click play to hear the poem read aloud.

Through the bitterness of winter
life crawls, so lingering and lonely
and hauling your battered heart into
the shelter of some place holy
Your mind swims with the terrible things
those hands have groped toward
The grit of guilt and shame conspire
to serve as your reward

Such troubled thoughts reverberate
as they echo up into the arches
Gathering their mass and falling back
they’ve now swollen to a chorus
It’s to the ivory king atop his wooden cross
your hope will momentarily cling
but in the deafening silence he lets ring
you’ll sigh your stuttered hymn…

“O, hold me
hold me
like someone who knows me
for there must be
one…”

Caught between the ribbons and the frills
of a hired friend in a rented room
Her garments kiss the mottled carpet
as she beckons you from the dimming gloom
You’ve lassoed all your longing
gathered up your greed
but all is tarnished by the arrogance
of succumbing to this need

To feel her fingers, small and slender
as they rouse your self belief
A patron of the pornographic sweatshops
with nothing beyond this fleeting relief
Your hands suddenly feel so cold
There’s much your body is aching to confess
and your tears of lumpen coal merely exist
as you whimper at her breast…

“O, hold me
hold me
like someone who knows me
for there must be
one…”

The dance of waves like hungry knives
metallic in the floodlight moon
This freezing clifftop is haunted
by the remnants of a family ruin
And strobing images of numbered girls
divorced from name and age
You torched everything that mattered
for a compulsion you could not assuage

The trouble swells, you’ve lost control
it’s from yourself you now must flee
Still your wings, they have no feather
it’s a long way down but then you’re free
Soon you’ll slip between the stars
a fragment of that timeless beauty
as the sea rises up to carve your body
you exhale that broken plea…

“O, hold me
hold me
like someone who knows me”

Yet there
were
none…

[2022]

Thanks for reading.

Handshake

Kiss me, sweet, sickly kisses
kisses of love, longing
and goodbye
One last flirt, one last fling
wish me the best
of what the future brings…

One last ‘always love you’
one throw-away promise
then turn around
and never look back
we’ll never look back

Hold me, safe, tightly hold me
embrace in fear, sadness and regret
One last touch, one final tear
wish me safety
on this long journey
one more ‘never forget you’
one disposable promise
then turn around
and never look back
we’ll never look back at this

Then softly and eternally
wave me gone
let my hand slip out of yours
and wave me on

Never touch, never talk, never kiss…
and never hold
just wave me gone
watch my hand slip out of yours
and wave me on

You kissed me…
you kissed me, sweet, sickly
you kissed me goodbye
and you held me…
you held me, safe, tightly
you held me in this regret
now turn around
and look back…

O, I know you’ll look back…

(2003)

Thanks for reading this very old poem. In 2003 I seemed to be going through a rude awakening that I was no longer a child and this is one of many poems I wrote at the time where I was saying goodbye to childhood.

All The Forgotten Novels

I watched you
wrangling those sensations
turning your heart
upside out, inside down
And dipped in ink
kissed the page
I heard your words fall
articulate fictions collected
spelling out the world
filtered through your eyes…

I sat, awe-struck
at those flippant phrasings
pouring from your pen
Truest lies, the lying truths
splattered accurate
clinging to the pages
I believed the textures
you carved in open air
the spoken honey of your prose
a world seen through dark eyes…

All gone and gone
time laughing at us
It’s all forgotten
time mocking us
all for nothing
like rain at sea
Those sparkling lines
those beauties bound
all forgotten
like rain at sea
like rain at sea…

[2013]

Thanks for reading. I have no memory of writing this one but I quite like a couple of the lines so thought I’d share.

Cinema Child

Standing on the sand
I watched the boats afloat
I thought to myself; I must look good
cinematic, brilliant, deep, mature
all eyes were on me, because I stood out
how they must love me…

As those ships drifted by
I’d be thoughtful
roll my eyes, look to the ground
with all the girls watching my ticks and style
I was sullen, moody, sexy, smart beyond my years
they’d love me…

And standing by the water’s edge I’d smile
those girls would find me in my tent that night
strip me down and pick me up, I’d be lost
I’d be so ready for the feelings I imagined
I’d be lovely…

Standing in the surf
I stole the show, all the people loved me
they loved me, even if they never said
or never looked… or never came…

And as I grew, I learned to see
I was just a boy, staring at the sea
a head of daydreams, ideals and fantasies
my image really; just childish, introverted
completely unapproachable

The girls, they didn’t come to me
I just stood on that shore by day
and ran through tall grass and summer rain by night
watching the waves from rocks and heights

My pretence, my best defence
the only way I ever felt okay
trying never to admit
I was young and lonely
I was so young and already so lonely…

[2003]

Thanks for reading.

Originally published June 2020. This poem can also be found in my poetry collection ‘One of These Years…‘.

University Payphone

From the depths of a damp October
you called me daily
The auburn street outside
so unfamiliar
That new city
didn’t yet feel like home

“I just called to hear your voice
and ask when you’ll come to visit?”
Muted tears falling
on the university payphone
And the scratch of coins loading
asking if I missed you

And every day, I do
of course, I do
Every dusk into the winter
our daily phone calls
It was so hard to hear
those secret tears

Two months crept by
and now there are other voices
I could hear you smiling
and it’s so good to know you’re happy
new friends surrounding
fewer calls, less often

And every day, I do
of course, I think of you
Every iced spring morning
I miss your phone calls
it was good to hear you happy
but sad to know
you no longer needed me…

[2022]

Thanks for reading.

https://linktr.ee/tomalexwrite

Pen Spell

You’ve got me in your pen spell
Greedily drinking ink
anything you spill
every drop
from that incisive quill

Don’t stop, don’t cease
those expertly crafted lines
cut and kiss, in equal measure
Such finely tuned pressure
brings such pain and pleasure

I crave another lick, another hit
I want to taste them on my tongue
Reading between
I see through
all those lines lead me to you

Days have passed
but that turn of phrase;
those words still dance
tattooed up and down
the spine of all my thoughts

You’ve got me in your pen spell
I don’t want to move
or break from this
I’m left crying, sometimes smiling
a catharsis so welcome
and addictive

You talk of the bitter things
the seamier side of life
all telegraphed without judgement
your compassion
is such a rush

Strip me
write directly on my naked body
smudge me with your fingerprints
cover every inch of me
in your masterful calligraphy…

[2022]

Note: I wrote this one in a single draft in August, when I was trying to write a poem each day for the month. Afterwards, I wondered where it came from, but I’ve since realised I was more than likely a bit inspired by the pen-aphile poems of Bree Leto, who writes as SecretThoughtsWithin. While my poem is not about those poems, they must have been lurking at the back of my mind: e.g. Your Pen Is My Desire. So, do check them out!

Thanks for reading.

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.