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…
Come on, come on, close! Won’t these lift doors ever close? You breathe into my mouth my fingers invade your finery I was hypnotised across the table by the explicit silk of your bare shoulders Now hot air slathers at my forearms as our legs entangle their thick reef-knot Behind this crashing waterfall no one can hear us moan as you’re bitten for the thrill of it
And in this lift, we write together the oldest poem, it’s the oldest poem a poem as old as time
You don’t know this but you’ve re-lit the fuse of life in me I’ve been feeling dead for months in some subtle crushing ways I’d lost my grip upon the rip chord of that passionate parachute Now, I’m risen and roused heart beating in my lower lip as it crushes itself to yours My slight of hand restored your clasp magically unlatching All hell is breaking loose as I soar across your skin
Come on, come on, close! Doors; gift us some privacy Lost in the moment, penning together the oldest poem, it’s the oldest poem a poem as old as time
Do not be afraid of the flames they are the best thing I have ever known Do not try to apply your logic for it holds no currency here You’re welcome to try and hide your joy but there is no point in fighting this it will take you, if it wants to
Do not be afraid of the flames take the chance we all must take please risk the ‘getting burnt’ for there is no better way there is no better purpose in this life Lay yourself down, open your arms hold out your heart, to give
Do not be afraid of the flames there is nothing to fear The love cannot flow unless you let go Take a chance the chance you take I promise you I’ll honour Do not be afraid of the flames I will not let you burn I swear…
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!