Artefacts

Everything I used to touch
was touched with sadness
Everything I used to make
or say out loud
or joke about
was infused with sadness

A pathos to deepen all
a blackness
to accentuate all light

Everything I hung
was waiting to be hanged
in every tale I spun
I was waiting to be hanged

Somehow, the sadness
magnified the brightness
shifted perspective
brought my dark art to life

Everything I used to hold
was held as I was gripped
by a deep sadness

Artefacts now
from another world
Carried across the borders
of ancient space and time
tinged with all
that passed through me

And coming back
artefacts of the past
have one question to ask
repeatedly they ask:

‘Why and how did you go on
why and for what did you hold on?
swaddled in your black sadness
held back by your blank sadness’

I think I liked it
I think I thought it was all I deserved
I thought it rang true in me
at the cost, at the expense
of all else

O, how wrong I was…

[2015]

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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]

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Tiger Mountain

I have fallen for the mad ones
and the sad ones
and the ones who don’t know what they want

I have found that mania so consuming
confused depression for deep thinking
I’ve tried to heal the cracked ones
and piece the broken ones together…

O, I have tried
to climb that mountain
with broken ankles…

I have lived off the wild ones
brought calm to the angry ones
laid down with the tired ones and slept

I’ve ridden with the seesaw ones
always wondering where I stood
felt lost with the wilful ones
and cried beside the bitter ones

O, I have tried
to climb that mountain
with broken ankles…

I’ve walked across the weak ones
swum naked with the free ones
reached out for the timid ones
but found no hand waiting there

I have been ungrateful for the nicest ones
been bored by the honest ones
prayed for the fickle ones to change
knowing no love could bloom there

O, I have tried
to climb that mountain
with broken ankles…

And I have wondered loudly why
I never could reach the summit
with my broken ankles…

[2014]

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No Secret Place

There’s no such thing as a secret spot
in this college town
where strangers
are just friends of friends
news travels faster than light
Even in the dark
they’re bound to see as we embrace
before we could kiss
word would have blossomed
across town

These people live for gossip
these people live for scandal
I don’t want to service them
and their rotten needs
(by giving in to my own…)

There’s no such thing as privacy
in the glare of these glass eyes
tacked onto busses, buildings, banks
Casually observing every action
if you and I would dare to speak
we’d be captured, saved and dated
before we’d even finished
in this mistrusting town

These people live for drama
these people bay for criminals
I don’t want to fold to them
and their rotten needs
(by succumbing to my own…)

We cannot touch in this post-code
we cannot push the slightest limit
there is no shade
there is no dark corner
we can dwell in
there is no blind spot
there are no closed eyes
in this paranoid town

Perhaps you could meet me
on a sea-front somewhere wet
and in the torrential rain
this country’s eyes will be blinking
so furiously, that they don’t see
the true, free love
that flows in us
and we may finally give in
and we may finally succumb
to our rotten needs

O, and I can’t wait…

[2008]

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Crying In Your Wedding Dress

The roads and gutters flood
not with rain
but tears
crying in your wedding dress
tearing your hair out

The churchyard freezes over
not with winter
but with the pain
of pulling off that ring
screaming your lungs out

You wore that dress for sixteen hours
you wore it too long
you wore it when you arrived
and you wore it when you woke up
the next morning

I wore my invisible jacket
my invisible trousers
my invisible smile
all day
on our wedding day

The prototype for this event
the blueprint of this heart-ache
is etched so deeply in me
there was no other way it could be
on our wedding day

I was walking, drunk, stumbling
you were crying in your wedding dress
I was gone, I was never really there
you were crying in your wedding dress

I was broke for any feeling
you were broke for any hope
crying in your wedding dress
on our wedding day…

[2008]

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The House Looks Like A Painting

The house looks like a painting
yet, we can’t agree on anything
What I want is meaningless to you
what you want remains awkwardly obtuse
and unreadable

I play my game, aligning the pieces
to get me whatever I desire
O, the house looks like a painting
but I never know what’s right
too adept at getting what I think I need

Meeting an old girlfriend
who talks of monasteries and monks
as I count the freckles on her nose
and wonder if she still swallows…

O, the house looks like a painting
yet, we cannot agree on anything
Is there an urge that we can harness
and repair
or just our feeble pushes
toward opposing goals
Two firm lurches toward different shores

It’s corrosive
it’s wholly limiting
it’s the only way we seem to know
to operate

The house looks like painting
and still we’re not aligned
on anything at all…

[2017]

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Torture

You show me your open hand
flash me your smiling eyes
Say ‘come here, talk a while’
then you leave me standing in the rain

You hand me a note stained with kisses
gift me a signed photo of you
Say ‘have this, share with me’
then you leave me standing in the rain

I am such a fool
I am such a fool for you
I’ve been standing in this rain
for three weeks solid now

You meet me at one of our old haunts
loiter in the doorway of our youth
Say ‘Thank you, so much, for coming’
then you leave me stranded in the rain

You write me such an honest letter
show me even more of depths of all you are
Say ‘I’m in need of someone like you’
then you leave me stranded in the rain

I am such a fool
I am such a fool for you
Either you don’t know enough about me
or you know exactly what you do
Give me another taste of all I want
then pull away and make me wait again

This is torture
I could do this to myself
I don’t need you, too
I am such a fool
I am such a fool for you

Why won’t you open up
and give yourself to me
finally and fully
As I stand in the falling rain
soaked through
I’m soaked through for you…

[2009]

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This Poisonous Time

The plan never changed
it was quietly revealed
suddenly, this cell was just mine

Can I still grow?
can I still change?
I don’t want to be my father
I don’t want to live alone

Another evening in
another night, pushing everyone away
All I need is a little space
room enough to think a while
write some lines
a drink or two
me; all too myself

But the more I take
the more I die
of this
this poisonous time

And even on the odd occasion
I go out and sit with other people
there is nothing I can say
to make them want me to stay
I’ve focused every sense within
this cell is me

There should be jokes, there should be smiles here!
I used to be so good at this
There should be humour, there should be such love!
I used to be so good at this

But the more I take
the more I die
of this
this poisonous time

Alone and wading through
such a poisonous time…

[2008]

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Electricity

In that lift ascending
electricity…
In that hotel bedroom
electricity…
In our empty office
electricity…
On that leather sofa
electricity…

On the last train home
electricity…
In my en-suite bathroom
electricity…
In the work-place kitchen
electricity…

In the tips of your fingers
electricity…
In the palm of my hands
electricity…
In the peeling off our clothes
electricity…

As I push my tongue to yours
electricity…
As your body wraps tight around me
electricity…
In the heat of your molten curves
electricity…

But in our conversation

And in our hopes and values

In our tastes beyond flesh

And in our sense of humour

We have nothing else to share
but this electricity
We have nothing else in us
but this electricity…

[2009]

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Wail Song

Sometimes, we sing the wail song
Sometimes, it never seems to end
Get well soon and mend all things
Some times never wants to end

I was kneeling in the garden, shuffling the leaves
trying to keep nature in boxes
Wind blows and wind knows I can never win
my shoulders sink, I know I can never win

Sometimes, we sing the wail song
Sometimes, there is nothing we can do
tuck your head below the sheets and wait
Sometimes, there is no sign at all

Sometimes, we sing the wail song
Sometimes, we can’t avoid it
Just push your hopes into a poem
sometimes, it seems, there is no one who will listen

The waves rise over the railings, soaking me
the shock, the cold of the sea’s like magic
in that blast of reality, I achieve some clarity
I’m not afloat, I’m driving this life’s direction

Sometimes, we sing the wail song
sometimes, we get so blinded
reach out and find a sure hand, it will come
sometimes, we have to make more effort

It just takes time… you have to try
take some time, do what you have to
shed the song right off your body
it just takes time, you have to try…

[2011]

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My Body Gets In The Way

Years are piling up around us
the shape we make
get whittled more precisely
Tongue and groove lock ever tighter
I want to spell it out
the way we did
when we were younger
I want to paint my love across his skin
but I’m blocked
before I try
My body gets in the way…

The house we built
swaddles us so comfy
The nest follows our shared blueprints
Complimentary thought
in tessellation
I want to speak
this deep connection plainly
The way I know he longs to
Wash our busy brains
for some short instant
but I’m stopped
before I begin
My body gets in the way…

Not tonight, not any night
it’s too much to deal with
I’m told it’s not an issue
but I can’t hear it
I know the barrier won’t lift
and no matter he says
my body gets in the way…

[2018]

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The Sigh Forever

I keep so busy
with nothing much of note
Living, eating, working, sleeping
never putting pen to paper
never pushing myself
to reach for anything

I keep so busy
not really loving anyone truly
Wishing, wanting, lying, scheming
never giving myself completely
never really drinking in
the wine of what could be

First her and now you
The sigh forever
Is all I ever do…

Whatever happened to childhood dreams
To singing, painting, writing, loving
never having to pay or earn anything
never having to deal
with the cost of living

Whatever happened to the careless caress
Laughing, drinking, rolling, talking
never being sure of the time or day
never touched by anything
beyond the bed

First her and now you
The sigh forever
Is all I ever do

Is this all
I can ever do?

[2011]

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Frightened Eyes

They don’t understand
being beautiful, being desired
They have no experience
of anything but
broken smiles
inconsequential voices
feeble phrases
and frightened eyes…

Frightened eyes
despise
everyone, everything
everyone and everything
Frightened eyes
consider lies
the currency of choice
to navigate the halls of hate
down which they walk every day
at everyone they pass, they laugh
and everything they see, they secretly
want, so badly, to be…

They don’t understand
being youthful, being vital
with no energy
for anything but…
vicious side-swiping
venomous debasing
violent de-throning
and squint-eyed loathing…

Squint-eyed loathing
seeping in
every hour, every day
every hour of every day
Squint-eyed loathing
the only thing
they undertake to truly know
deeper goes their insight into
scared-shitless creeping feelings
and everyone they meet, they mistreat
everything they learn, they, in return
want, so badly, to burn…

[2009]

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Feels So Far Away This Evening

October shed its skin
across these pavements
Now, November does its best
to wash the mess away
We glide down
the lonely streets of night
lost in appreciation
for the moody glow that guides us

You carry such a heavy heart this season
what was taken
brought you this blackness in exchange
and so I do
whatever I can
to lift it up for you

This dance of conversation
jig of gentle humour
all my attempt
to paint a more hopeful picture
Ease the crush of grief that’s levelled
by a cruel unfeeling world
And gratefully
I’ll give whatever part of me
might dull this pain for you…

There is hope
(I know you know this)
There is a hope
waiting to be held again
in those gentle, loving hands
(I know you know this)
yet it feels so far away this evening

You are loved by so many
(I know you know this)
There is nothing
but a pure, real, love and respect
flowing through my veins for you
(I know you know this)
but I wanted to remind you
in the hope
that you might cease to feel
so far away this evening…

[2013]

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Whereabouts

What strange gravities compel you?
Which strong seasons
manipulate the focus of your mind?
What forces are at work
governing your silences and interactions?
What are the properties of magnetic north
that keep you so firmly held there?

Which habits formed into crippling routine
Which once-cradled ambitions did you let burn away?
What hope, was it you had, for all of what you started
when you laid yourself beside her?

The peeling back of quiet moments…
The giving birth to living memories…
The quelling of hostile emptiness…
All these
oiled by flasks of brewed liquid…

What source of buried passion exists?
What reason for the unbridged distances of family?
What cold and clear window protects you
from the warm interactions of flesh and blood?
On what throne
beyond the claws of love exposed
do you stay slumped?
And what reasoning hangs from these vague choices?

The flame is weak and distant
the light is dim
The star that shines in you kept hidden
by clouds of distance and disinterest

What do you feel when you see me expanding here
growing into your shape on this reflective surface?
What do you think when you see me flexing skills
that must have been learnt from you?
Do you worry that shared talents means shared failings
Do you think to warn me against their dangers
give the gift of wisdom, just an insight or two
is there more that I could learn from you?

There is still some hope for healing
the withered roads that link our homes
There is still some hope for forging a bond
that will carry us into the future

O, but where are you
and where am I to you?
Where are you
and where am I to you?

[2013]

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Between A Blue Night and Dawn [with audio]

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

Two lovers traveling
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 traveling
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.

A New Beginning

Leaves of brown and green watching
as the fire reveals a destiny for us
flames licking their lips at the change
of solid and tangible into smoke
On a beach of melancholy teenagers
destroying themselves for something
that they can’t explain or focus on
the big picture that is still being drawn…

Bottles of green and brown offering
their joyous and deceptive contents up
ready to infiltrate our consciousness
convince us that the weight has lifted
a sea of liquid to baptise our brains
then we dance and talk of this rebirth
forgetting all about thoughts of maths or progress
the new beginning we’ve been dreaming of…

Leaves of brown are falling in the sunrise
but day reveals that gravity has won again
our heavy heads are hard to lift now
and the breaking waves outside sing loud
A song of measured secrets that expose
themselves a beautiful harmony of movement
the moon under which we slept last night
brings them to us with it’s strong will

Bottles of green bloom in the sand
empty shells left behind from the war
we fought the best we could all night
and momentarily there was a surrender
a decoy that we fell for too easily
now, in the morning light, it’s obvious
the horizon arcs itself out before us
a new beginning comes every day
a new beginning is ours every day…

[2005]

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Ellipsis [with audio]

I don’t write them like I used to
they’re not carved out of my bone
the way they used to be

I don’t bleed over the carpet
in some mouldy rented bathroom
like I used to

They used to say it was the angst that drove me
some mild flair for painting what had pained me
but you have to make peace eventually
I don’t know what is driving this anymore

At the end of that final line there’s an ellipsis
at the end of all I said there’s an ellipsis
saying so much more than I

Now, I don’t sweat it out in twisted sheets
with cramped heart and cracked beliefs
surrendering my barbed emotions like a flag
the way I used to

I don’t tap that vein of pure unfocused bile
don’t let it gush across the front row of my imagined audience
they don’t say much about my unbridled verse these days
like they used to

At the end of every poem there’s an ellipsis
at the end of all I said there’s an ellipsis
dragging on and on

It speaks louder than I ever could…

[2014]

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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]

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Sewing It Together

Our footprints in the sand veer off
two different paths they’re treading now
you go on and live your life…

I’ll be here, I’ll be sewing it together
working the thread you taught me to weave
I go on and live my life…

You go on, for we both must grow
push the boundaries of all we can be
I’m grateful for the years in your love
I pray you’ll remember me the same

Even when the brightest spark had faded
and we both knew our time was ending
still you were my best friend
still you gave to me so much

Your fingerprints on my heart will linger
I hope they never fade, a gentle reminder
Now, you must go on and live your life…

I’m sewing it together, here
I’ll go on, as you’re sewing it together too
and I wish you only love…

[2009]

Thanks for reading.