Strangers Leave Scars

We were strangers by the pool
there was summer on your skin
I lay low, opened my whole body
in the hope that you would find me

Then taking it the distance
from the shore raised to the sky
there were many sailors scheming
on the bending of your knee

There’s a bridge in your dreams
as it recedes behind a fog
you wonder what it means…

Even naked, your body was a silken gown
as you scurried across the room
I brought you this glass paper
an outcrop of shattered slate

Upon your hip some childhood scar
the very first place I aim my dirty lips
the innocence in your womanly eyes
meets my age but not my weariness

There’s a bridge in your dreams
and you wonder what it means…

I taught you all the things I knew
about the moves I needed from you
you later said my expertise was nothing but a trick
with a flick of the wrist I’d left another scar on you

And, waking, we melted one final time
before I drew from the bed
you briefly begged me to stay
then turned around and slept

And I know when I go
you’ll find a honest barer
of the tenderness you’re owed
the goodness, the reality

I wonder what I brought you
and I wonder what I took
you were the silk that moved beneath me
you were the sweetest laughter

For now, I dare not tell you
as I cross that bridge
vanish into the thickening fog
slip from your life

Strangers, then
strangers again…

[2018]

Thanks for reading.

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

Turn These Lives Around

You’re filling all my notebooks
even though we rarely speak
A constant stream of inspiration
and wishes for what has been
Why must my mind remain connected
always wishing for another chance
a change of life
a new life with you
Could we stop this juggernaut
pull the handbrake
and turn these lives around…

Inertia, it seems, has got it in for me
too weak to fight it
but for you…could I fight for you
and turn these lives around

One day, will you walk out
One day, leave him standing there
One day, will I walk out
leave her standing there
And could we live with each other
could we live with ourselves
if we did that to them

This seeming connectivity
would it continue in those new times
cut adrift on a sea so fresh
filled with hope for change
and what newness may come
From our off-chance meeting
unexpected acceptance
You’re filling all my notebooks
since the hours talking today
of turning these lives around…

[2009]

Thanks for reading this old poem.

All my poems.

Hurt

All I want to do is leave
but I don’t know how
I don’t know the words
I don’t know what to say
In every word that she purrs
in every smile that she shines
all I see are other lives
are other ways for me
but I don’t know how
I don’t know how…

All I want to do is say ‘goodbye’
but I don’t know if I can
I don’t know when it’s right
I don’t know if I am
In every kiss that she steals
in every lie she extracts
all I feel is a damming shame
and how I want to get out
but I don’t know how
I just don’t know how…

And this can’t go on anymore
I have to stop it now
but I’m not even certain
if this is really me
and the only one I can trust
is the one I want to leave
There is no one else left
there is nowhere to turn

So, I have to decide
I have to be strong
but it’s so hard to admit
it’s too tough to address
I don’t want to regret this
but I don’t want to just settle
I have to be sure
I have to be right
but there is no real ‘wrong’
and there is no clear ‘right’

I’m not scared to be alone
I’m not afraid of the night
but I’m petrified of regret
and know I will miss her so much
and more than anything else
I don’t want to hurt her
but if I do this
then all I will do is hurt her
more than I am hurting now
more than I am hurting now

I have to be sure
I have to be right
but there is no real ‘wrong’
and there is no clear ‘right’…

[2005]

Thanks for reading this old poem.

Note: I’m going to post some older poems which I’ve never shared before over the next week or so. They’re all quite early in my writing and are flawed in all sorts of ways (aren’t we all) but I thought they might be of interest to people to see where I started. T.A. 18th June 2021.

All my poems.

House Arrest

I used to keep my dreams in a secret drawer
I would never dare admit, I wanted more
lived my life as if under house arrest
Shaved my edges off
until there was nothing left

Dreaming in the darkness
sighing ‘I don’t want this’

I used to think what use are other people
There is nothing that I can give or take from them
And what is ‘fun’ again, I don’t recall
Life will have to wait
a while more

Dreaming in the darkness
whispering ‘I simply cannot bare this’

The antiquated machinery of my sociability
sat stationary so long
it became rusted
All that solitude bred nothing
but fierce contempt
for the hectic company of anybody else

Dreaming in the darkness
screaming ‘I can’t go on like this’

When I’d served my time
and house arrest was over
community service I took to with such pleasure
such a wealthy world
expanded all about me
So many places, so many faces all friendly

Now, I walk in the sun
rife with life and light
singing ‘everything is right
everything feels right’…

[2009]

Thanks for reading this old poem.

All my poems.

Houdini Song

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…

[2003]

Thanks for reading this very old poem.

Buy my new book! ‘The Ship-wrecker’s Lamp: Selected Poems 2010 – 2020’ available now.

N.B. I’ve since decided I should NEVER use the word ‘just’ in a poem if I can possibly help it.

This Leaving Feeling

Below the boards I hear the water rushing
a stray dog strolls by and says hello
he doesn’t stop for long, keeps moving on
across Port Meadow the horses roam

I’ve got this leaving feeling
breeding in me…

The sun above sheds its strength with the season
trees undressing, will soon stand naked
arms held up but not in questioning
the bridge at Magdalen wheezing smoke

I’ve got this leaving feeling
coiled up in me…

Abandoned nests descending in the gales
I’m shedding possessions, lightening the load
too many treasures to take with me
decorating Cowley with my life’s bright litter

I’ve got this leaving feeling
biting down upon me…

After everything that has to be done, is done
can I return?
Once everything that has to be done, is done
will I return here?

Will this feeling ever leave me?
Once I leave
will this feeling be gone?

[2011]

Thanks for reading.

All my poems.

Storm Chasers

Tyre tracks on dirt roads
storm chasers
looking for the eye
or something on the other side

Peddle kisses the floor
world whips past the window
tearing up the old road
headed North, searching for more

We were happy here
but could there be greater happiness
elsewhere?
The storm is a chorus
always another verse
on the other side…

In some mad way
we’re headed for a greater shelter
through the storm
headed for safety, hopefully

There is danger
there always is
but life is a song
with danger singing along

Windows wound down
radio up high
with our lives thrown in the back
I feel so alive
do you feel alive?

You call it ‘danger’
I say ‘adventure’
well, life is a song
adventure singing along

Storm chasing
it makes no sense
but for the place on the other side
perhaps, where it’s cheap to live
maybe that makes sense

O, but look at that view
didn’t we always say
it’s all about the view
here; we can see for miles…

In some mad way, we’re headed for greater shelter
on the other side
as we dance into the storm
I feel so alive
don’t you feel alive?

[2016]

Thanks for reading.

All my poems.

In The Light of The Evening

I work hard most days
hands all rough by six
ah, but it’s worth every callous
whatever’s needed
and when I’m done, I walk
right down the sea-front promenade
sip on a cup of something
so warm and so sweet
with those boats sailing in and out
in the lazy light of the evening

There forms a shape in the foam on my coffee
I see the outline of your nose and eyes
looking up at me
I wonder just how easily
all my hard work here could be dismantled
with just a few whispered words
wagged by your smiling tongue
just the softest touch of my fingers
along the youth of your skin
in the drunken light of the evening

There is infinite potential
of an infinite damage
in the arch of your eyebrow
in your heart-shaped pout
to capsize in your curves
would surely undo everything
so utterly
as you push your hair behind your ear
in the sticky light of the evening

Those ships keep coming in and going out
I tip the cup back, stand to leave
I work so hard to keep from writing letters
telling how much I long to have you
but I do what it’s right to do
I do what is right for you
button up my coat
walk slow and long across the sand
in the mournful light of the evening
the light that you loved

Walk you off
in the sorrowful light of the evening
the light that you loved…

[2016]

Thanks for reading.

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

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.

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