Free Line

Aren’t we both hedonists
just looking for a good time
shouldn’t we just enjoy this
a drug to take
for which we don’t have to pay
in these times of austerity
we can do our bit for the economy

Aren’t we both hedonists
looking for a good time
and if it’s free then why wouldn’t we
indulge whatever thrill we can
with just the touch of our shoes
or our elbows, waiting in the street
wouldn’t we be getting high so harmlessly

I play my free line, hanging on for your reply…

Aren’t we both lost a little
and willing to gamble all that we have left
The sun of this excitement
coats every moment’s surface
mundane places now hold mystery
the daily grind; a roulette wheel of flirting words

I play my free line, chained to your reply…

This is fun, this is free
so why should we reject it
why turn away
from the magic of this opportunity
let’s get out of here
come on, let’s disappear…

I play my free line, a slave to your reply…

[2015]

Thanks for reading.

British Summer Time

There is new life
in the old garden
There are pretty specks of colour
blooming brightly from the ground
The middle-air is weightless
blowing freely through the lane
Summer fields fold out
through wooden window-frames
Freshly cut grass glides lazily
down molten tarmac roads

There is new life
In the old garden
A cigarette, a teddy-bear
starched laundry on the line
The meadow beyond the fence
birds resting on wires
Peeling paint turns to dust
on frames, on gates, and benches
white spirits in jars warming in the sun
on the worktop in the shed

There is new life
In the old garden
Luscious greens and winding blues
yellows so intense they’re blinding
stretching out endless and golden
from the stream, to that horizon
Soon old friends will come and smile
brimming with new conversation
and bonfires, water fights, and warmth
so effortless, so pretty

There is new life
In the old garden
A stalking cat, a knowing butterfly
the dance of smoke from a fire
a glass of wine, a scent of fruit
the pouring out of hearts so full
The apple tree, the water-hose
and running through the weeds
These scenes imprinting their memories
on every sense
five times remembered…

[2005]

Thanks for reading this very old poem.

Image: Summer Garden Painting

Chaotic Calligraphy

This chaotic calligraphy threads itself through
wrapped weed-like through each decision
scrawled across all memory
a subconscious graffiti tagging everything

This chaotic calligraphy weaves its tentacles so tightly
through every dream, everything said and unsaid
contaminated by spidery strands
of the spinning story’s web unwinding

What is this chaos that comes to me
What is this vast drama
This cricket’s voice, taps me on the shoulder
and says;

‘What you destroy
you can write about
what you demolish
you can sing it out

What you have; is yours to keep
but what you lose 
becomes kindling for more poetry

either way you win
either way you gain something’

This chaotic calligraphy is writ large in me
the explosive adventure always appealing
Is it boredom, is it madness
to tweak the mix and see what comes

In love with what I see before me
in love with all that gets written down
and printed there indefinitely
ephemeral no more

Either way I win
either way I gain something…

[2014]

Thanks for reading.

All my poems.

House Arrest

I used to keep my dreams in a secret drawer
I would never dare admit, I wanted more
lived my life as if under house arrest
Shaved my edges off
until there was nothing left

Dreaming in the darkness
sighing ‘I don’t want this’

I used to think what use are other people
There is nothing that I can give or take from them
And what is ‘fun’ again, I don’t recall
Life will have to wait
a while more

Dreaming in the darkness
whispering ‘I simply cannot bare this’

The antiquated machinery of my sociability
sat stationary so long
it became rusted
All that solitude bred nothing
but fierce contempt
for the hectic company of anybody else

Dreaming in the darkness
screaming ‘I can’t go on like this’

When I’d served my time
and house arrest was over
community service I took to with such pleasure
such a wealthy world
expanded all about me
So many places, so many faces all friendly

Now, I walk in the sun
rife with life and light
singing ‘everything is right
everything feels right’…

[2009]

Thanks for reading this old poem.

All my poems.

Kept The Camera Rolling

From kicking, screaming infant; born again
Ripped from the world of shared agreement
into the spiralled twisting cloud of change
I kept the camera rolling
took more photographs than ever
forensically documenting
this transitioning
the pushing on, the falling back
the healing of bruised flesh
The hurt: it all evaporates in time
the hope: it mutates into bigger dreams

I’d drink all that distraction
I’d swallow that ignorance right down
Why burn in searing ache, when you can numb
and as you grow and grow and grow
the less pain you need to kill
I kept the camera rolling
took more photographs than ever
recorded all the positions as I warped through
The running on, the sinking back
as scabs fall, scars fade
obsessions bloomed, fantasies exploded
the synaptic sprawl of all I covet
etched right across me
needle depth, it changed and imprinted upon me
then displaced, replaced, as I move away again

What was her name? What was it that I felt?
Those passionate instants all bettered
all supplanted with new indelible constants
The measure of emotion is its longevity
the desires that remain are the ones we trust
So, I kept the camera rolling
took more photographs than ever
a sketch book of the people I’ve seen
a family album of the ‘me’s I’ve been
Swimming towards the light with a new energy
The world is so much lighter now
done and dusted, it’s just dust
recorded in all my poems this year
a permanent reminder
of this patchwork place
making sense of all this change…

[2010]

Thanks for reading.

This was written 11 months after ‘KEEP THE CAMERA ROLLING’ .

Keep The Camera Rolling

You’re a vulture, you’re a thief
with your hungry eyes
and bloody mouth
Ravenous for the pain
thirsty for the tears
While these sad events unfold
you’re there licking up the morsels
As she and I disintegrate
you’re standing on the sidelines
rampant with your precious inspiration
Sketching the scene so detailed
Re-chewing each mouthful of emotion
every snap of our shredding hearts
splattering your spidery black notes
scrawled wet across the page
for all time
So, we may never forget this hurt
or how it came to us so heavily

For once in your obsessive life
can you not shut that camera off
please not record this
these aching tears, these deafening screams
let the two of us
mourn our love in peace, apart
forget and move on
lighter and brighter
Now all is done and dusted
let it be dust
with no record of the depths we plunged
no permanent reminder
of this painful place…

[2009]

Thanks for reading.

On the confusion of being a writer whilst you completely come apart. Raging at yourself for not being able to shut off that journalistic part of you.

The Train Is Waiting…

The nib bends gently on the paper
and I suppose there’s time to spill
As a river of thoughts flows out
a third of a life is spent
In raven ink, the shapeless smoke
the molten mess of me emerges

We slip, we push, we drag ourselves
into some sort of position
You can call it adulthood, you may be wrong
Me, I call it wising-up, I may be wrong
Lives change, worlds shrink, egos are appeased
we learn to slowly see, who it is will be

She held me, she released me, then we were held again
The roots spun, vines wrapped around themselves
caught in a web of love and then self-loathing
One home, our home, a family – exploded
I made my peace and crawled into the future…

And drinking in and drinking down, six months of neat bile
You destroy yourself, save yourself, love yourself and someone other
So, the story goes, so it grows again, and then it’s over
Another love, an honest love, an equal – exploded
I made my peace and strolled into the future…

The time slowly ticks around, the cogs of a mind align
it feels right to step clean away from all these memories
forge some new experience, swim out beyond my depth
look back at all of this, in time
from some dizzying distance

And, decision taken ‘just come already, just come’ I say
I’m primed, then caught in the nothingness of waiting
So, one more, just time enough to scratch a few goodbyes
say a firm farewell
a good riddance to the certainty of now

Here are the last few drops
of something scrawled within this county
And so I go…
so I grow and test the limits of my potential
nib bending on fresh paper
black ink spilling everywhere

There is something coming
I can’t predict it, can’t see it yet
the train is waiting
It’s all consuming, all I care to dream about
and I’ve just time enough to kiss the page
with my goodbyes…

[2011]

Thanks for reading.

On preparing to uproot and leave for London

Vodka

Do you still see the ghosts
those aged faces, dried crimson blood
Do you still shiver in the dark
with drugged malaise, false memories
trapped in shifting rooms
as shadows gather and clamber over you
tight chest and splintering palms
Clutching at the floor
slack-jawed and eager
Holding on to stay afloat
in vodka
in vodka, gin and brandy…

[2004]

Thanks for reading this very early poem. I think this was heavily influenced by Martin Amis’ second novel Dead Babies, which I’d finished reading at the time.

All my poems.

Heavy Rain

I’m driving in heavy rain
I am on my way
As thick as fog
this heavy rain
and I can’t see
I can’t see
I am driving in heavy rain

Part of me wishes
part of me aches
part of me wants to make a mistake
I am driving in heavy rain
I am on my way

There is an urgency in my blood
There is an urgency
in my blood
to spill
Driving in heavy rain

Eighty miles an hour
in heavy rain
Eighty miles an hour
for hours

A mistake
a mistake
I make
a mistake…

[2010]

Thanks for reading.

All my poems

Ashes Blow Over All Things

Audio Reading: https://soundcloud.com/tomalexwrite/ashes-blow-over-all-things

For every happy thought
for every smiling friend
for everyone who thanked me
I let the ashes blow

For every hand I lent
for every promise made
for every declaration of love
I let the ashes blow

For every moment of understanding
every instant of communion
and every apparent good deed
I let the ashes blow

Somewhere, there is a garden
overgrown and wild with weeds
one brown bench book-ends it
and there I spend my days
as I turn myself inside out
in the incessant search for meaning

But every shard of hope I find
any glimmer of talent or humour
quickly disappears from view
as I let the ashes blow

So much love I’ve had and been given
so much trust pinned upon me
so much that just gets buried
as I let the ashes blow

Somewhere, there is an attic room
shadowy sanctuary of scribbles
with scalpel nib I carve apart
the body of a life ‘just lived’
dissecting its every organ
in the wild-eyed search for meaning

My burning words of questioning
they scorch all things
and I let the ashes blow
my burning words, unstoppable
they scorch all things
and I just let the ashes blow…

[2011]

Thanks for reading.

Note: I was looking at my writing in 2011 and was struck by how full of questioning, uncertainty and sadness it seemed to be when taken as a whole. The poems always seemed to come when I was at the start of something, never once I’d gained the wisdom. And only ever written in times of sadness, never reflecting on times of joy. This was sad poem all about that realisation – and a turning point in the way I choose to organise my thoughts.

Listen to my poems on Soundcloud
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(Photo credit: http://www.marybethheffernan.com/skills/ashes)

Why Poems?

Poems are my photographs
my diary
my inner monologue
poems are my measurement
my record
the fingerprints of emotions
invisible no more
Poems are my expression
the sum of interactions
they show my working out
Poems are the breath
of lost lovers
against my neck
Poems are the kisses
for my family and my friends
the hugs I seldom give

And your poems…
your poems keep me company
a little light
calling to my lost ship
I sip my tea
and slip into your mind…

[2019]

Thanks for reading & happy world poetry day!

Buy my book on Amazon

Once Around The Sun (Collaboration, with audio)

Click play or right-click and ‘save as’ to download the mp3.

Once around the sun
with no touch from anyone
with no fun

Such a strange and lonely time
in the history of this planet
I dream of little moments
like brushing past you on the stairs
your aroma so sweet upon my senses
your hair so finely spun between my fingers

Round and round but never close enough
In my past life
it might be weeks, sometimes
could be months between
those shivering connections
molten to the core
on fire, inside another
But now
I count in “years”…

Heaven knows, we cracked the code
perpetual motion–
Won’t do what we’re told
can’t douse our passion
Forget trying to explain it
I need hands-on demonstrations
You and me
weren’t meant to be alone

It’s been too long
since I worked the buttons loose
on your jeans
It’s so long since
I pulled your head to my bare chest
let you listen to my heart
Round and round yet never together
Endless motion yet no connection

Now it’s
once around the sun
all these months without touch
without caress
without our fun

How I dream, how I burst
for the memory
of that breathless surrender
eyes connecting
and the quietly blinking pleasure
as we shiver beside
You bite my shoulder
prolong the moment
So many barren seasons, now
O, I’ve been aching for you

My fingers/nails
my fists/wrists
so dissatisfied…
My arms/sighs
my thighs/hips
so prone…
Once around the sun
so many months between
without touch
without caress
without undress
without breath
O, an end must come…

[2021]

Thanks for reading.

A second collaboration with Bree from Secret Thoughts Within. We wanted to write a poem about two people who’d been kept apart for a year because of lockdown and this is what we came up with. I’ve been struggling to find the time or inspiration to write this winter but collaborating with someone else is a really good way to tease out ideas and keep going. Check out Bree’s fantastic writing and audio at https://secretthoughtswithin.com/

There Will Be Birds In The Morning

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.

Apologies for the repost – but now WITH AUDIO! 🙂

Featured in ‘The Ship-wrecker’s Lamp: Selected Poems 2010 – 2020’ available now.

(Something)

You take me in your mouth
and do… something
We rowed the boat all day
until you did… something
Now, I can’t go back to her
knowing where my lips have been

I sat alone all week
longing hard for… something
Walking these dead-end streets
looking out for… something
Now, I’ve turned my back on her
licking my lips for what you bring

Down Logic Lane we lose control
you passionately doing… something
Beside the classic cars you smile
reach out and touch… something
Now, when I think back to her
my lips just beg of you

‘Keep doing it, keep doing it
keep doing that… something…’

[2011]

Thanks for reading.

Reflections of December

In the caverns of a King’s Cross bar
I quietly compose an opening
six months now, since our last meeting
I catch sight of my reflection
twisting in the half-full glass upon the bar
What am I doing here
set up for a disappointing sequel
It’ll never be like it was
at the start
it’ll never feel like it did
before

Festive cheers fill the bar
as my mind slips back one year
when my world was folding inward
intoxicated with the excitement of chances taken
and how I quietly spoke of my growing love for you
in the blurry Christmas air
I made foolish gestures at what I wanted
slid my heart across the table
waited with baited breath
for your reciprocation
and headed home empty handed…

Tonight is such a bittersweet evening
a reminder of how much I love your company
it hits me squarely, and for the first time, fully
how much I’ve missed you
But you’ve changed, grown up, matured somehow
wisdom where once there was only spiked humour
oh, as a friend
you’ll always remain a favourite
held out of reach by our history

It’s so bittersweet, our meeting
our reflections melt and merge
in the glasses that we drain
I’m still beguiled by your luminous beauty
and vindicated to know
what I thought I’d felt was honest
not pure circumstance, greed or opportunity
our briefest spark lit my world so brightly
in way never bettered before or since
It’ll never be like it was
at the start
it’ll never feel like it did
before

Such a bittersweet evening
lit in the primary colours of December
you, grinning, purr ‘let’s do this again soon’
and of course I say ‘I hope we do’
When I cast my eyes across this year
it’ll always be your face
reflected back at me
when I look back from some future distance
your face will always be smiling back at me…

[2015]

Thanks for reading.

(A sort-of sequel to ‘Anatomy of Longing‘)

All my poems.

Still Waiting…

Throwing away another spent calendar
I toss another slice of my heart into the wind
I’m still waiting…

I feel all I have known is the length of this wait
and all I’ve been doing is biding worthless time
still waiting…

What difference has it made to me, this waste?
what have I gained so far for my blind patience
and still waiting…

O, nine years… nine years!
I’ve been waiting
still waiting
but I don’t know what for

On this moon-lit beach
in this silver-soaked bay
cliffs hung high over me and you
please tell me it’s you

Tell me it’s you…

[2009]

Thanks for reading.

All my poems.

The Hate Destroying You

Doe-eyed woodland artistry glows
O, how you hide your face away
I give and give to you
investment in a broken thing
once-grateful hands crave more and more

There is a sickness of mind
a blackness, a spoilt heart
where blame is always searching
and mirrors do not exist
once-blooming thoughts crush more and more

Pushing on the pillars that held you up
you’ve yanked too hard this final time
the string of respect has frayed to nothing
and now we’ve come to this closing door
once-hopeful eyes fear more and more

One day, when all is settled, I hope you change
let go of all the hate and grow in mind
One day, when all is healed
I wish you love and say
‘Destroy the hate destroying you
and save yourself

Destroy the hate destroying you
and save yourself…’

[2010]

Thanks for reading.

Image Credit: https://www.behance.net/gallery/273370/Folklore-Illustrations
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Quietly… (Collaboration, with audio)

Click play or right-click and ‘save as’ to download the mp3.

You’ve been sitting there quietly
Care to share your thoughts?

This infatuation has me
I wore your scarf to keep me warm
I could smell you there
snaking all around me
Feeling like a teenager 
in the grip of some sweet crush

I watched you
observing me with such indecent eyes
drawing me into your spell
My scarf, which you so casually
wrapped around you
had me burning with jealousy

I’m uncomfortable
seeing you 
sitting in front of me with your silk lips
a drink in your hand
and a sultry laugh filling the air

I’m so frustrated by the distance
my fingers click, my toes make fists
Whole body bends to inch closer
The slang in your eyes
speaks to the strength of my desire
I’m so wired, in the heat of the night
I want your fabric against mine

I was quietly thinking to myself
the only remedy 
to all of this would be
kissing your mouth, kissing your throat
and a week in bed with you…

I was quietly thinking to myself
you should race me home
so our bodies
can lock magnetically together 

for a week 
or three…

I think it’s time 
we called a cab 
and left…

[2021]

Thanks for reading.

This was a really fun collaboration with Bree from Secret Thoughts Within. I’d been really intrigued by the idea of working on a poem in tandem with someone else and how on earth you’d go about it. Bree very kindly offered to show me the way and this is what we came up with (alongside a lot of other ideas). It’s a fun process and I’d recommend it if you’ve not tried it before. Check out Bree’s fantastic writing and audio at https://secretthoughtswithin.com/

The Lighthouse Keeper’s Song [with audio]

Click play to listen or right-click and ‘save as’ to download the MP3

The gulls above me, wild and free
my song begins to echo theirs
squawks of tuneless noise
as I try to make some sense
or to release something

Watching the breaking waves
from a distance and then up close
I’ve been nowhere
but up and down the stairs
of this hollow and lonely year

It’s hard to remember the good I do
keeping other ships at safe distance
as I patiently await the promised boat
that will return me to the world
and the smiling faces of my family

I fear I’m losing my peace of mind
I sense the loosening pieces
as my happiness erodes
My song goes round and round
as does the light I tend

Wild and free, used to be
the way I chose to live
Wild and free, an impulsive sea
the way I chose to love

I wait so patiently
on that coming boat
that will return me
to the world I used to love…

[2020]

Thanks for reading.

This poem is featured in my latest book – Buy my book!

Lost Letter, Found

Did you heal that humbling heartbreak
ringing as a bell through you
Did you conquer the stifling loss
bitterly coating all your notebooks

Did you find a stranger at your door
clutching wine and headphones
Did they listen with hungry ears
to all the truths you had to share

Did they grab your wrists with passion
dance you into the endless night
Did they calm your fears with a simple gesture
hold you the way you always wanted

Did they lead you astray, in that inspiring way
did you laugh together in the face of darkness
Did they mute the chill of rain upon your senses
push the mundanities of living back into their places

O, how I wanted to be that person
how I wanted to be the one standing there
on some unexpected evening
with that bottle and those tunes

I hope someone answered all the longing
that came pouring from your pen
I pray that you’re still singing
but now the song is sweeter

I hope someone answered you
the way I always wished to…

[2013]

Thanks for reading.

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