Proof

Walking with my father
through the junkie’s habitat of the park
past the band-stand to the pond
where we stood and watched the birds

I longed to find some words to speak to him
as he stood beside me like a statue
in some stony silent prayer
I racked my brain for something true
some sort of spoken key
to unlock the parts in him he never shows

I wanted to see some proof
that deep inside he loves me too
I needed to touch his scars
to finally believe that all of this is real…

[2005]

Thanks for reading this very old poem.

Check out my photos.

House On The Edge of Town

More and more
my thoughts turn to you
So aware
I’m now the age
that you were
when the pair of you parted
and you got that rented house
on the edge of town

We’d stay at weekends
watching winter’s tide sweep in
stand in the falling snow
garden and fields disappearing
said ‘throw another log on the fire’
said ‘dad, your house is cold’

At fifteen, I was nothing
lost in my own sea of nonsense
I didn’t ask you anything
I didn’t think to say a word
Where was my empathy
you let nothing show

Every other Saturday we’d gather
at your house on the edge of town
it all felt new to me
felt so exciting
a fresh world of fields to explore
of walks to take and fires to light
with or without you

So immature and lost
in my own mythology
I never really realised
you could be hurting
I didn’t stop to think
When maybe your son
could have been there for you

Living raw, living alone
twelve days at a time
the snow piling up around
your house
on the edge of town

While we still have some time
let’s talk openly
let’s talk now…

[2019]

Thanks for reading.

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]

Thanks for reading.

The Wind Is Howling

In the grate, the shivering flames
hungrily wrap their lips around logs
The boards above me creek
my wife haunting somewhere
the baby’s hands reach out
wave before its sleeping eyes

The wind is howling…

The smiles on our faces as we galloped down the aisle
making sense of scattered photograph moments
but I can’t remember why
can’t think of anything but waiting
and doing everything I can
patiently hoping
for you to get well

The wind is howling…

You’ve been asking me to stay close
you’ve been praying ‘don’t change your state’
and you’ve been crying, screaming, aching
at 4am
to just feel well again

The wind is howling…

And with the tiny heart
that beats beside me now
I’m filled with a strength of love I have never known
and yet I feel
so alone

The wind is howling…

[2018]

Thanks for reading.

Note: Reposted. Originally posted October 2019. Written for a new father struggling with loneliness.

Listen to my poems on Soundcloud
Follow me on Twitter
Follow me on Instagram
Buy my book on Amazon

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]

Thank you for reading.

Listen to my poems on Soundcloud
Follow me on Twitter
Follow me on Instagram
Buy my book on Amazon

Tan Hill Inn

Teenagers, cycling across the Dales
up country roads in the seventies sun
wheels turning, chests burning
on our way to Tan Hill Inn

Too young to drink then
we’d sit in the garden
catch our breath and if we’re lucky
maybe the northern lights
I’d take photographs
thinking to myself
one day I’ll bring my wife here
one day I’ll bring my children
if I have any
and we’d cycle home

All the energy I had then
all that drive to ride the Pennine Road
on the longest and the shortest days
sit by that fire, dripping dry
seemed there could never be a time
I couldn’t call my friends and ride
up to Tan Hill Inn
skidding home in the snow

I thought it all was endless
it all seemed so endless then

Now my kids are grown
my kids are having their own
there’s no energy left
not in these bones
to cycle up those hills
just to sit
without drinking…

[2017]

Thanks for reading.

Listen to my poems on Soundcloud
Follow me on Twitter
Follow me on Instagram
Buy my book on Amazon

Disorder of My Family

This aimless wander has me wanting
my family haunts me like a ghost
around the table; spirits chat and eat
it’s been much too long
since I heard those voices
saw the smile in my father’s warm eyes
somersaulted in my mother’s complete understanding
laughed and gasped at the speed
of my sisters’ lightning wit

There is a peace there
in the disorder of my family
I’m at home there
in the disorder of my family

These years, I have spun far away
but still we each hold so tightly
my return feels as though I’d never left
that easiness and warmth retained
So, to bathe in my father’s wisdom
or breathe in my mother’s open heart
to relax with my sisters’ friendly tales
as they look to me with such respect

There is an unending bond there
in the disorder of my family
there is always a home for me
in the disorder of my family

This aimless wander finds me wanting
to return, to see my family
to go back, to see my family
so, I go home…

[2010]

Thanks for reading.

Listen to my poems on Soundcloud
Follow me on Twitter
Follow me on Instagram
Buy my book on Amazon

Don’t Look And It Won’t Hurt

Five years of cobweb
decorates the hallway box
the urn inside
holds more dust at rest
well, it used to be your father…

Don’t look and it won’t hurt
don’t look and it won’t hurt

Your brother’s drinking
on a fifteen year bender
so quick to lose his temper
if you ask too many questions
that snake prone upon his shoulder

Don’t look and it won’t hurt
don’t look and it won’t hurt

Your man beside you lies untouched
no communion for years now
still the love is strong between you
but something physical has broken
in desperate need of discussion

Don’t look and it won’t hurt
don’t look and it won’t hurt

I’m always here if you
want to talk it through
heaven knows, you need to
I know it’s hard to face it fully
but I’d do my best to help you

That mantra you’ve been living by
it simply isn’t true
the mantra you’ve been swearing by
quietly, it harms you

Don’t look and it won’t hurt
don’t look and it won’t hurt…

[2019]

Thanks for reading.

Listen to my poems on Soundcloud
Follow me on Twitter
Follow me on Instagram
Buy my book on Amazon

Pillars of Creation

Looking out to look inside
I see you both
the pillars of creation
above me, before me
deft hands
painting me into existence
with hands of love

Across all time
beyond the sky
my gratitude expands eternally
into a space that doesn’t yet exist
hand above my heart
your two hearts all over my art
the hands of love

Should you ever leave
you’ll never leave me
the pillars of creation
I carry, always, in me…

[2016]

Thanks for reading.

Listen to my poems on Soundcloud
Follow me on Twitter
Follow me on Instagram
Buy my book on Amazon