Senses softened in the dark afternoon This year is charring in the fire grate So, I pour out into the haunted fields looking for loneliness, for lines, for clues to get a handle on all that’s happened to make predictions on where I am headed
All around my body, the world’s covered by a sheet life’s decorator is preparing to paint the new year This land spills on for snowy miles my past reels out somewhere behind me in those paths taken, in those choices made; there are glimpses of the shape of my future
The Grecian islands, the Cornish coast Those petty milestones, those brave goodbyes from swollen ankles, to exploded minds Portuguese walled-towns, to Derbyshire hills From a decade planted, then uprooted and moved the letting go, the keeping a hold Surprises; surprising, plans made and fulfilled much falls away, much more presents itself weddings, worries, work; with friends consciousness glides across the ghostly fields comes to rest behind my smiling eyes
So, now I have the things I’ve always wanted the peace I chased, the love I imagined the tools I’ll need are all within me and Kate is waiting, with her key, somewhere
By the gate, I pause, look up into the nothing time stands still, my eyes adjust… the pitch black night is full of stars (when did I last see those?) My gaze breaks, my footsteps in the powder flow time moves, I need for nothing else… I go back into the house
Toss my wondering on the fire pour a drink, talk to my family I’m satisfied and warm…
I lit a fire on the beach you were feeling beaten by the wind no, we can’t hear anything in this weather but the waves and the crackling wood you don’t speak anyway we have nothing we care to say
Our human silences amid nature’s screams fill me with a loss so unforgettable Our human silences amid nature’s screams fill me with a void so inescapable
The sky goes dark and the sea slides away time is huge and our movements tiny I wrote my address on the back of your hand but you reached into the water and it vanished I can’t imagine a life not anchored here as you turn slow to dive from me
The answers come only with soft punches a milked stone, I lie folded and bruised how could we ever know this lost romance your whirlpool eyes cry tears of understanding I dust the sand from my baked face and frown there’s no warning of love’s swift decay
Our human silences amid nature’s screams fill me with an ache so all consuming
Moon reveals the night’s black heart you say you love me, as you leave me you say you care for me, as you go down on him there’s no favour you can grant me anymore there’s no connection to the blood in my heart just open your palms, expose our withered bonds
The rain rages fast and hard across the sand we tussle as broken wings on some sick bird finality comes to me, its decision absolute your hand slips away and swings clear for all time I fall back into the water, exhaling slowly ‘Our home cannot be here…’
Out driving our first cars at night snaking the blackness of North East country roads I’d flick the headlights off hear the girls scream then back on and we’d crack up laughing
In our town, there wasn’t much to do but wander looping streets haunt the park outside of college blow house to house, see who was home or spend it lying in your bedroom laughing
When you and Chris split, he handled it okay drank too much a week or two and then got a little down but everything went on still way too soon for Mike to tell you so we all sat as friends and laughed
Back then, I couldn’t think of much else but Jenny but I loved the way you’d say my family name still hear it ringing from the depths of memory standing with you in some sticky bar and you collapsing into Mike laughing
They were gentle times, good times before we were scattered wide I don’t think I saw or thought of you that often twenty years just paced before our eyes how I hope you kept on laughing
With your man, your son your life carved out somewhere…
On a Brighton beach, one weekend this summer Mike was chatting, said ’the cancer took you’ and nothing more to add to that just taken – that’s all he knew there on the pebbles, I stood, winded and weeping
Just taken – nothing more to add to that
Jordan, it was laugher, laughter of you; that will always be my memory sweet laughter, laughter and the way you spoke my family name…
Spitting it out in the hope of releasing unlocking the cage stifling my growth burning it all selfishly brightly and the feeling is back again pounding my head again to just let go… just let go…
Spewing it up with the aim of escaping fleeing this habitual and too perfect a world shedding the handcuffs worn in contentment and the aching is back again haunting my thoughts again to just get out… just get out…
Dreaming it up in the hope of fulfilment melting again in the heat of the lime-light always around and forever predictable and the wanting is mine again consuming me whole again to just let go… just let go…
Welling them up in my shining eyes now both of them bursting in the wealth of emotion as red as your face when you listen to these words the Devil is my friend again scorching my faith again Screaming ‘just get out… just get out…’
My demons are strong again twisting my arms again almost convincing me to just let go… just let go…
Somehow, amongst the madness of 2020, I found little slivers of time to collect and polish up another 80 of my poems. The Ship-wrecker’s Lamp contains many of my more recent poems as well a chapter dedicated entirely to poems written about 2020’s Covid lockdown.
All 80 poems were written between 2010-2020. Reflecting on romance, desire, life, lockdown, friendship and writing. The perfect stocking filler, wonky table leg leveller or double-fisting beer coaster…
They dwell in strange rooms the murky recesses of affordability barely buildings, bedrooms with sinks chair pushed up against the door flakes of lives flung everywhere a curtain, a quilt – who can really say?
A bare bulb hangs in an open window no shade inside from day or night Still lives go on; the rudimentary, ramshackle, clutching at homeliness the need for shelter unites us all a hotel, a shed – who can really say?
In bleak electric heat, so many sing it’s a different song all sing a different song Some higher, happier some lower, more desperate than mine flowing on through these days and nights a verse, a chorus – who can really say?
The lawless, surging, movement of cars the self-possessed trains below the buildings so many pairs of eyes journeying on the things they’ve seen, things they still see those minds, all varied, wrapped in their own stories a tragedy, a fairytale – who can really say?
Market stalls, street-sellers in threading gloves the inside world spills out, a necessity pavements become malls dressed in winter veils motorbikes slip ghost-like in and out of sight drunks stumble in high-spirits from bar to bar a wall, a urinal – who can really say?
In tall towers, in basement bunkers so many singing their different songs some sing of the joy of things some sing only of the difficulty the tunes flow through this city’s veins a love song, a death’s lament – who can really say?
But can you? can you hear the people sing? the miserable, the quietly ecstatic can you hear the people sing?
Thanks for reading.
This poem is taken from my first collection of poetry: One of These Years. Available now in paperback and Kindle editions on Amazon
Cutting to the heart of all this longing is it the vicious tongue you wag at me or the perpetual mystery hanging from your actions the contradictions of your possible state of mind
I see the hurt, I feel the pain you carry and sense your urge to be desired by men the flirt of all you do rings loudly before you and against my better judgement I can’t help but come swimming back to your shores
With every scar you try to inflict or accidentally leave on my skin I drift away for a moment only then find myself battling the waves I can’t help but come swimming back to your shores
I know you didn’t ask for this I know you didn’t choose me or this adventure Yet, I brought it to you anyway and you didn’t quite turn me away
And you’re cute, there’s no denying you spill out in all my favourite places and know how to smile with a catastrophic magnitude that tears the hair clean off my scalp
The bile in your belly, the bitch barely-contained I never knew how much I loved that rage your misery is contagious I feel its cells dividing in my bloodstream
I doubt I am the only one you’ve drugged this way I know you’re not planning to leave your man but as long as you keep stoking the engine of longing I can’t help but come swimming back to your shores
I dream about you most nights and when I’m on the bus or train, or tube, or walking down the street or when I’m in bed with somebody else I dream it’s your body over which my hands journey
And yet you only reach out a paw for me when you know I cannot be there you only say you might want for me when you know we can’t connect
You’re playing me, humble instrument to your vanity you keep me hanging on for nothing real I know all of this so well and yet I gladly hang myself I can’t help but come swimming back to your shores
Sometimes it seems; maybe you feel more for me than I realise an ambiguous choice of words and perhaps it could mean more you say the lovers kissing in the bar, are reminding you of me I say the denim shirt I wore today was reminding me of you
So, who are you anyway and why do I long like this I feel a sudden shortness of breath when I look into your eyes I feel my chest twinge when you catch me looking
There’s something in your history too I know you’ve got some good hidden in you beyond the selfish drive you choose to expose I know there’s something that I could harness
There’s something in the things you’ve seen the pleasure I know you’ve experienced your taste for the beautiful and the sublime perhaps if I could make you choose me, it would mean I’m beautiful too
You laugh at my jokes… no matter how ruthless the punchline the sharper, the more scathing the better I can’t help but come swimming back to your shores
I need to catch myself before I fall much further slam my pick in the ice before the precipice
Cutting to the heart of all this longing I see such complicated shapes emerging and despite all my better instincts I can’t help but come swimming back to your shores…
Lurking in the natural world there are sentences, unspoken always waiting to be written frozen in time waiting for the great warmth of a curious heart
Haunting the edges of the living world are spirits of the unspoken connectivity in people dead or alive, the as-yet unborn caught between planes waiting for the flashlight beam of a curious heart
There is an untapped seem of precious understanding running through the foundation of all things reverberating in the soulful moments ringing just loud enough to be heard by the ears of a curious heart
Melt me shine upon me hear me with your curious heart…
Welcome to my world! We go through a lot in our lives but to accept them with an open heart and emotional strength is what keeps us alive. My posts are about all those little fears, happy moments, and anticipation we experience throughout our lives. I hope you find solace in them!