Songs that inspired me…

For anyone who might be interested, I’ve put together a Spotify playlist of songs which have either inspired me lyrically/musically or that I love to listen to when writing. I’ll add more to the playlist when I get chance (it is by no means exhaustive). I hope you enjoy! 🙂

Spotify Playlist Link: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/0Ebk9zojhEKrXBqXTYYHUh?si=1qJQnhEDRpathySKAeGFRw

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

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An interview with the writer…

Last week, I was lucky enough to be interviewed about my poetry collection One of These Years for AllFM. The interview went out over the weekend and you can listen below.

We talked about the power of poetry, the benefits of writing during lockdown, poetry as free therapy and the influence of music on my writing. With a sprinkling of songs and poetry readings too.

Enjoy 🙂

Thanks for listening!

& thanks to Ruth O’Reilly at AllFM for getting in touch.

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I Will Literally Pay You To Abduct Me

The static crackles
in the living room
and in the hallway
I lace my shoes
and go out walking
tonight, I am out walking

Tree-shapes calm me
raindrops kicked from blades of grass
maliciously
This act cleanses things
I feel my fangs receding
feel the silence
breathe back into me

Imagine the TV glow, dimming
imagine the hatred in her eyes
retreating
I dream of the bad air clearing
but climbing the driveway
back to our place
I spy those red eyes waiting
and know things are worse now
since I went out walking

On nights like this I cannot win
on nights like this
I call out
into the saucerless black sky
and scream
‘I will literally pay you to abduct me…!’

[2016]

Thanks for reading.

Note: I saw the accompanying image on a meme website and it made me smile. I wondered if I could turn it into a poem somehow. This is what came out… 🙂

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We Walked Along The Wall

We walked along the wall
that secret weighing heavy in my pocket
as we circled the old town
my heart beating hard
in a new way
or a way I’d not felt for years

We walked along the wall
passed a bar and got a beer
looking down upon the rooftops
you were pressed so close to my mind
no other thought could form there

The morning sun lit everything before us
not just the view but our lives ahead
I knew this was the beginning
of a new chapter
my secret kept concealed a little longer

We walked along the wall
as I danced the conversation
towards that question long avoided
then slid it, smiling, towards you
an inspired idea, covert no more

We walked along the wall
sea and streets spilling either side
and for the first time in my life
I came down from the wall
my future wife’s hand in mine…

[2019]

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As The Power Lines Crackle Overhead…

Too long, too long
I’ve been too proud
to belong
To let myself lay open
and love
to open myself to love
and follow the flow

But the power lines crackle overhead
as we walk below
I reach my fingers for yours
feel the sparks fly
the way they always have

Too long, too long
I’ve been too scared
to belong to one
Too envious
too greedy
to let myself just love
chase the current

But the power lines crackling overhead
told of the same story
I reach my hand towards yours
feel the sparks fly
the way they’ve always done

I can’t hide from the obvious
from the most fulfilling dream
I’ve been pretending was not mine
was not my desire
all this time
how I strove to deny my love
so foolishly

The power lines crackle overhead
it’s no shock to me at all
You reach for my hand and hold it
we feel the sparks fly
the way they always should
the way they always will…

[2019]

Thanks for reading.

Note: Written into my phone in a tent at Glastonbury music festival in June 2019.

Photo credit: https://www.larkinweb.co.uk/miscellany/fluorescent_tubes_under_power_lines.html

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This Window

This pain is a jigsaw
This bond is a handcuff
This place is a death-trap
This window… is closed

This moment is endless
This feeling is crushing
This heart is failing
This window… is filthy

This love is spent
This union is ending
This sweetness has soured
This window… is painted

This want is obsessive
This change is approaching
This peace is shattering
This window… is cracked

This journey is over
This air is stagnant
This pressure is critical
This window… is shaking

This decade is wasted
This effort is thankless
This ‘us’ is in tatters
This window… is hinged?

This shoelace is tied
This suitcase is packed
This pocket is full
This window is…

This window is opening
This window is a door

This one is leaving
That one is staying
This window is a door
and I am walking through…

[2009]

Thanks for reading.

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Somewhere Beyond The Graveyard

She stumbles blindly down the steps
meets and greets the coming traffic with a wave
Falling into this new day with a crash
our dusty lady, of the railway tenements, almost smiles
bruised and beautiful, she sways
left to right, into town, clutching her head tightly

Limp and vinyl shining hair, a shelter
the burning sun neutered by thick glasses
and treading on her hem, she crosses the street
Our heroin girl, of the bed-sit spoons, almost smiles
wired and beautiful, she turns
face to the floor, queuing up, clutching her ticket tightly

The rattle of the train, hypnotic, into the moors
through forgotten, unloved places, and to the sea
Tears barely perceptible, in her faint reflection
our haunted figure, of the candle-lit fish-dinners, almost smiles
re-composed and beautiful, she inhales
eyes on her hands, hands on her knees, she clutches tightly

A red lamp and the bitter end, the slowing coaches
the evening falls to show her breath before her face
It’s almost weightless in her pocket, but weighing on her mind
our anime child, of the emotional apocalypse, almost smiles
diffident and beautiful, she hesitates
Decisive metal, the off-switch in her pale palms, clutched tightly

Doused in black…and drowned in white…
A vampire for sensation’s bite, she used to say
‘If I had faith, I’d take my own life, I swear…
Somewhere… somewhere out beyond the graveyard there’

O, isn’t this what she wished for, isn’t this why she came?
somewhere, just behind the grave yard grass
high above the white and salty crashing waves
her drained and lifeless, body caught up in the barbs
a tangle of black lace and bloody metal
blowing in the wind, in the shadow of the Abbey

Dressed in black and lit by fading light
a picture in her hand, she clutches tightly
His indifferent, almost smiling face, stained red
and that sacred heart, drowning in her own wine
Saved? Is she saved? In many ways she is…
Saved, she’s saved, In many ways she is…

[2004]

Note: Written one afternoon in early 2004. My first office job was as a call centre worker and this poem was composed as an email to myself between phone calls. I have no idea where it came from and never knew quite what to do with it. I’ve always had a soft spot for it though; despite its obvious flaws.

Thanks for reading.

Image Credit: Nightwalker Magazine

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Poems Read Aloud…

In the mood for a poetry reading?

I had the opportunity to record a couple more of my poems this week. I’ve added them to the poetry playlist on my Soundcloud page. Feel free to have a listen.

Thanks for listening.

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Division Street

I heard that telephone ringing
at the one remaining box
down on the street
on Division Street

If one of us answers the call
they ain’t coming back
whichever one of us goes
to answer that phone
they ain’t coming back

I woke up restless in the night
opened a window for some air
the whole city poured straight in
over siren wail and drunk’s lament
I could hear that ringing sound

Moonlight is at our glass again
the summer heat is rattling the pane
I can’t sleep for the life of me
through the sound of that phone’s coarse plea

If either of us answers the call
they ain’t coming back
whoever it is to answer that phone
they ain’t coming back

Well now, I haven’t slept
since my birthday week
that ringing has been robbing me of sleep
I think I’ll have to go down
and I may be some time…

[2015]

Thanks for reading.

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Eccentricities

It’s the eccentricities of normal people
that makes art exciting
it’s the connections gifted minds make
that sets the canvas alight

The sexiness of confidence
paired with some intrinsic wisdom
O, just look at what they chose to say
and how they said it
sets the page alight

Shine your twisted mind
all over me
drape your incisive rhymes
all over me
pour your unique charm
all over me

With originality
with your eccentricity
all over me…

[2014]

Thanks for reading.

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Love on Borrowed Time

Walking the tracks again
with my face to the rain
every step I take in fear
of that ever-nearing train

I cheated death, I cheated truth
and now there is no proof
more than what my accusers say
yet they increase in number
with every passing day

They shout ‘He stole’
well I admit
I may have borrowed some
and I may have lied
when they looked me in the eye
and I may have given them something
to keep quiet

Every step I take in fear
of that ever-nearing train
every sound that I hear
lights a bonfire of panic in my brain

Every insect buzz
could be a rattling in the rails
every splashing duck
could be steam cloud trails

Cheating in love
I don’t deny
my neck it aches, from looking back
at the tracks of my life
down the tracks of my lie
always looking for that train

I’m walking the tracks again
with my face to the rain
every step I take in shame
for that ever-nearing train…

[2007]

Thanks for reading.

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Bite The Bullet

The planets above wink down to me
‘It’s now or never’ they’re implying
I feel her hand brush mine
as we’re walking side by side
her house is just around the corner
I’m leaving town tomorrow
it’s now or never…

A deep breath, I take
I breathe deep
stop my walking, suddenly
she stops and turns to face me
it’s now or never
I tilt my head, crack a smile
make a joke, stall a while
and asking if I’m ‘okay?’
she steps one step toward me
it’s now or never…

I take her warm hand in mine
draw a breath deep down
Think of all that could come of this
she looks at our hands still holding
then back up at me
and for a moment
we share a moment…

But I break our gaze
walk her home
hug her perfume divine and close
as I walk away, alone again
I concede, it’s never
now; it’s never…

[2010]

Photo credit: https://www.instagram.com/nightwalkermagazine/

Thanks for reading.

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Tears of a Bitter Man

Just like your father
you sing that fearful song
spelling out your anger
in seven shades of bile
peeling back the hate
of the bitter man

Just like your father
constant exclamations
in the lexicon of loathing
vague and barbed
the angry poetry
of the bitter man

How saddening to hear
you singing your father’s song
How sad it is to hear
you singing his bitter song

Yet, here I find myself
cold-eying old friends in new photographs
nerves twisting
at a stranger’s conversation
silently debasing the happiest gestures
nurturing the hateful hollow

Here I find myself
clinging onto glaring disapproval
Ready to beat up on the helpless
misguided in my sense of sureness
everyone else’s fault but my own
becoming the bitter man

How saddening
to watch my grip slide
find myself crying
the hot tears
of the bitter man…

[2012]

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The Garden

I’ve been remembering
the garden we once tended
I’ve been thinking of the petals
that fell each autumn
I’ve been working through the list
of things we said but never did

And the rains that fell upon our garden
and the snow that covered all

I’ve been remembering
the garden we once enjoyed
I’ve allowed myself some moments
to reflect with clarity
I’ve been feeling sadness for the trees
that have since been felled

And the sun that fed our lawns
and the snow that covered all
and when it thawed
you were ready to be gone

And all the seasons since…
Now you’re with another’s child…

I’ve been remembering the garden
the flowers but not the thorns
I’ve been reminded of the feeling
when spring was all we knew
I’ve allowed myself some hours
to wander through those flower beds once more

I can remember how that snow felt
even now; I can smell the rain
I accept that all things end
that’s just the way of things
that’s just the way
of all things

And all the seasons since…
I hope your new garden
is blossoming now…

[2017]

Thank you for reading.

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Nocturne

Floating through the house
all curtains open
lit up against the night
let the people see what you want them to

Curating the moments, so carefully
trucks pass
lost walkers returning from the fields
catch glimpses
see slivers
of the character you created

A sensual, lost, bright mind
the answer, the home
to any lost soul…

Close-up on your pale face
painted, pained, so perfectly
the precise nature of your openness
a second thought and then it’s revised
a second thought
and something not quite right; vanishes
you vanished it

The scene is so moodily affected
controlled and filtered
so accurately gloomy
in brooding midnight
An ambiguous painting
our eyes can’t help but dwell upon

Seeing all we want to see
seeing nothing real

A beautiful, longing, artistic mind
a destiny, a home
to any lost soul…

Do you remember
do you recall
who you were
before you were the imagined answer
before you were the suggested home
for all those lost souls…

[2014]

Photo credit: https://www.instagram.com/p/B9rsX-UpDjJ/?igshid=i10rhrxl0hk6

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Thrill of The Compass Spin

Can I claim it as the artist’s curse
the love for new adventure
the pleasure of magnetic hearts
freshly spinning so close to us
whipping the iron filings of our creativity
into some explosive blur
a manifest bright energy

This fizz, the ghostly drag
invisible hands guiding these wanton bodies
I feel my compass spin
drawn in endless circles

Is it a curse at all
happily getting lost
the thrill of the compass spin
drawn off course by that force

So confusing, so all-consuming
and fizzing on my tongue
I want it here
I want you
fizzing on my tongue again…

[2015]

Photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/oskay/4581193346

Thank you for reading.

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Shadows Climb In My Cold Room

How I long to sleep tonight
forget these thoughts
and rest
Ease my body free 
of anxiety and worry
but the more I try
the more I fail
I fidget fast, roll in frustration
cursing my debt
and conversations that won’t end
Where are those waves of darkness
when will they wash my brain
Where is that tide of sleep
of empty-headedness 
of ignorance
and bliss…

Six hours now
I’ve studied ceiling cracks
A new day hangs two hours away
when creeping up in me
come hunger-pains from hell
itchy hair and sweaty palms
I drop so close to sleep
then jolt back into the room
a cushion spared to shield my eyes
from that solar-flare
that blinking clock
And shadows climb
in my cold room
now the sun, it rises
soon so do I
not blessed with dreams
or ignorance
or bliss…

[2006]

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Return To America

Lit by the distant sun 
in a backyard beer-garden 
overlooking the meadow
my swimming brain spins out
through adventures of the past
forgotten journeys 
by coach, by plane
through unfamiliar landscapes
to the desert 
in California

We rode the Greyhound 
between the sun-drenched cities
your head lay on my lap
and when we could tear 
our eyes from one-another
we’d watch the world pass by
in technicolour, all new

We stayed on Sunset Boulevard
you lay naked on the hotel bed
while I stared hard at maps 
and planned
before turning my gaze to you
we ran down Long Beach
never questioning our love

So, this evening I wonder 
if you will ever 
return to America
will you share those moments
with someone new
can he afford to hire a car
so you don’t have to 
ride the Greyhound
stare out of the window
laughing at the wind farm…

[2006]

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You Are My Priest

Is it not the beads you count?
Is it not that blessing?
Is it not your seated position
on the far side of the screen?

It’s here I come to spill
twisting myself as rope
endlessly unknotting
in constant confessional

And through the cracks
behind the mesh
I feel your furtive eyes
licking my salacious lines

Dear reader
you are my witness
you are my priest

Is it not the way you briefly kneel
when you step beyond the booth?
Is is not the cross I bore
through every line
I could not make rhyme?

Is it not the lies I profess
while carving out my perfect story?
Is it not the way I leave, relieved
lightened in my daily load?

Dear reader
you are my witness
you are my priest

Let me be yours…

[2019]

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Image borrowed from: http://margaret-durow.com/

Idle Flame

She came to me with pride
and her sealed conditions
said she wanted someone she could trust
with a rousing proposition
to ease her cobwebbed lust

It was cold out there on the avenue
I’d been walking lonely for some way
it was the idleness of her greeting
it was the hint of warmth within

There was little choice to make
and nothing smart in my reply
‘just come inside, keep it between
the universes of you and I’

It was an idle flame that we both tended
its very dimness was the whole idea
but standing up to leave one morning
I must have knocked 
a pillow into the flame…

[2019]

Thanks for reading.

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Image borrowed from: http://margaret-durow.com/