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]

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Our Still Leaping Hearts

Shooting through the greenery
I lovingly eye our reflections
as they flicker in the glass
of a Bruges-bound train
Your fingers knit silently into mine
warm in your woozy dreaming

On a dirt track headed for Hanoi
behind me on the motor bike
cutting through a tall tapestry of trees
my heartbeat lost beneath the engine
Twisting the throttle so instinctively
as you steal a kiss over my shoulder

Diving in the turquoise waters
St Paul’s Bay, watched by a wedding parade
we swim off the forty-degree heat
fish darting between our toes
You push your wet hair behind your ear
as my fingers trace your calves

Spilling from a Kreuzberg club
The 6am sky a perfect throbbing blue
our eyes so wide and wondrous
we kick through the empty streets
back to our cheap hotel room
so alive and talkative

All those moments fog my mind
as we sit sofa-bound
for the hundredth night in a row
not going out tonight
Another weekend slips away
‘It’s too cold, we’re too old
for all of that now’

All those times we cracked up
so busy living and thoroughly loving
When kisses were endless
and our hearts always leaping
from one adventure to the next
not sitting still, not nearly dead

It’s not too cold, we’re not too old
for of all that, you know
I promise you, my love for you
it’s still young
We’re still young…

[2021]

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The perfect Christmas gift…

The Jagged Edge of Love

This must be my longest night
moon laying its heavy light right down
this room swims in all the gossiping
conversations; always imagined and impossible

This must be my longest night
fading echoes of all we did ring ‘round
there’s no sleep to be had, just counting stars
and scenes replaying; on the ceiling’s cinema

We found the jagged edge of love
it cut right across my heaving chest
as its hand slipped back into the mist…

We skirted the boundary of almost love
close enough to feel its gravity
near enough to have it hurt me;
whipped and cowed by its proximity

We found the jagged edge of love
it burned poker-hot across my palms
as it slipped from reach…

This must be my longest night
from the distant black above
comes understanding
slow and sweaty, but it fills me resolutely
finally calmed; released by this epiphany;

I wanted you
and, for a moment there, you wanted me too
but was it really me at all
or just the softly-stroking hand
of my words upon your ego

And did I ever want you
because of who you were
or how you made me feel about myself
in love with what I saw
when I was the peacock strutting in front of you?

This has been my longest night
tired eyes prodded by a heavy moon
with its gravities and chattering
and the echo of your laughter, before you disappeared
when all I could see
was the mirror you were to my vanity…

[2015]

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Drunk On The Sea

You were drunk on the sea
we’d been talking all night
I was drunk on the scene
and feeling so alive
You turned to me
your face too close to mine
and that kiss…
that kiss made so much sense
that kiss made so much sense
to me then

You were drunk on the sea
another shot
you’re pouring out for me
I’m already drunk on you
we’d been on that beach for hours
You turned and said ‘I want to fall in love
just don’t tell my boyfriend’
and that kiss
that kiss made so much sense
at the time

“She will never know this happened
he can never know this happened”
you whispered
before it happened a second time
And I’m wondering
do you mean both times it happened
or just the second
I almost ask out loud
but don’t want to jeopardise the chance
of a third time

I am drunk on the sea alright
drunk on all you’re telling me
and each kiss
makes so much sense tonight
each kiss makes so much sense
as it happens

The next morning
I wake and you’re telling me
you were sober all night
dry all along
not even drunk on the sea
the waves still crashing in my head
O, what have we done…

[2009]

Thanks for reading.

Always drink responsibly.

The Lockpicker’s Smile (collab with audio)

Click ‘play’ to listen to us read the poem

By Bree Leto & Tom Alexander

With no source of a spark, your hand is alight
exposing daring new doorways in the dark
The succulent seductress, that keyhole smile
relishing each tactile turn of your hot lock

The deftness of your fingers, has me burning alive
igniting something I can’t seem to douse
Your hands on me, kindling that feeds my fire
illuminating feelings I thought were lost

Now, I’m star-struck, I’m speechless
by your unearthly capacity to enthral me
your forcefield, your gravity
invisibly, they preoccupy my whole body

You are my summer solstice
the longest day, smouldering with adventure
Despite my initial hesitation, I’m completely
hypnotised by your lockpicker’s smile

Blazing smile
burning fingers
unlocking doors
molten heat
night made day
as we retreat
into the untamed flames
of our incessant need

Pinned to one another’s heart
that lock forever picked
All passion released
each searing kiss

scorching the sheets
We writhe beneath
and kiss and kiss and kiss (and kiss)
deep into the night…

[2021]

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Check out Bree’s writing.

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.

30 Steps

The city is drenched in gold tonight
the sea is wrapped in silver, like my temples
my hands feel older now than ever
but my mind is so much surer
than back when I was younger

I’ve run from love when it got tough
my hair was bleached in boiling light
I helped as many people as I could
my thoughts were darkened in the wilderness
felt alone in crowds of smiling happiness
I learned to speak, to see, to feel this reality

I’ve understood, been understood
I’ve compromised, been compromised
I’ve judged, been judged
Fairly, unfairly

There has been a heaviness in my limbs at times
and there was a divine light that shone
from somewhere I never knew could be in me
I wronged and cheated with a pathological absence of care
which boomeranged around and sunk me in the end
it’s rough to open your consciousness to reality

Siblings, parents; undulating friendships
the push, the pull of love and life
in trying to align the poles in me
I was blind, but thought I was seeing
I was blank, but thought I was saying something
the painted stones I carved, I threw them out to sea

I’ve deceived, been deceived
I’ve contradicted, been contradicted
I’ve believed, been believed
Justly, unjustly

So, I take off my shoes
take out my headphones
I want this wave to wash all over me
The short hand, the long multiplications
I laid out all my working for you to see
trying to crack the code of something real
the combination of what is me

I’ve been taking thirty steps away
from where they forged my heart
I’ve been taking thirty steps toward the tide line
where I etched my childhood
drew a line beneath it and paused to watch…

The waves of youth lap out
the waves of youth
the waves
the…

[2011]

Thanks for reading.

[Written on the eve of my 30th birthday]

Come By My Window

Lover, this night ticks endless
and I am a fire
that must spread
across your perfect body

In the dark of the night
come by my window

Lover, this relentless need
leaves me blank
of all but your presence
replaying, looped and endless

In the heat of the night
come by my window

The sparks as our fingertips connect
I’ll be drained as I am stoked
at the interface of our passion
I’ll be drunk but laser focused
How you consume me

Lover, I need your light
there’s fuel in your whispering voice
but I need more tonight

Because I can’t leave the house
because I can’t be seen to go out

Come by my window…

[2018]

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Still We Wait

O, I have loved you
for such a long time
I have held you
closer than anyone
and yet
still we wait
for something more…

O, I have been insatiable
for your voice and body
I have fought to keep you
harder than anyone before
and yet
still we wait
for something more…

O, you have touched me
deeper, in so many ways
I have worshiped
you more than any god
and yet
still we wait
for something more…

We know not
if there is the possibility
of some better way
We’re both unsure
if there could be
some truer love
and yet
we choose to wait
for something more…

[2006]

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.

Holding My Breath For A Patient Love

Tonight, I dream
of a patient love
Some statue of understanding
who can be quiet, reserved
unveiling themselves slowly
releasing what they have to offer
over time
building such incredibly tough bonds
A love so strong
it lasts forever

Tonight, I lie awake and wish
for some patient love
who comes to me with creativity
empathy and a deeper understanding
than I have felt before
something more in tune
with it is I long for

I only think of what is coming
holding my breath
for that patient love
I crave an intelligence
and a maturity
I have not known before…

[2006]

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.

Been Nowhere, Seen Nothing

Do you remember when we kissed
in the dim bar, beneath the railway arches
that hypnotic smile you wore
the way you demanded to be held
as all hell broke loose between us

Do you remember how you took my hands
as we walked beside the rails
you thrust yourself into my grasp
pushed your body hard against mine
and stopped time

And I felt so alive
that I’d
been nowhere
seen nothing
before that night

I still think about the drunken orange skies
the red tail lights stretching on for miles
as we drifted through the sprawling city
the only heat; that which burned between us
pressing your entire being up against me

And I felt so alive
truly, I’d
been nowhere
seen nothing
before that time

I remember you so clearly
with such precise clarity
I wonder do you remember me
do you still think of me at all

Since then
I’ve been nowhere
seen nothing else…

[2014]

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All my poems.

Once Around The Sun (Collaboration, with audio)

Click play or right-click and ‘save as’ to download the mp3.

Once around the sun
with no touch from anyone
with no fun

Such a strange and lonely time
in the history of this planet
I dream of little moments
like brushing past you on the stairs
your aroma so sweet upon my senses
your hair so finely spun between my fingers

Round and round but never close enough
In my past life
it might be weeks, sometimes
could be months between
those shivering connections
molten to the core
on fire, inside another
But now
I count in “years”…

Heaven knows, we cracked the code
perpetual motion–
Won’t do what we’re told
can’t douse our passion
Forget trying to explain it
I need hands-on demonstrations
You and me
weren’t meant to be alone

It’s been too long
since I worked the buttons loose
on your jeans
It’s so long since
I pulled your head to my bare chest
let you listen to my heart
Round and round yet never together
Endless motion yet no connection

Now it’s
once around the sun
all these months without touch
without caress
without our fun

How I dream, how I burst
for the memory
of that breathless surrender
eyes connecting
and the quietly blinking pleasure
as we shiver beside
You bite my shoulder
prolong the moment
So many barren seasons, now
O, I’ve been aching for you

My fingers/nails
my fists/wrists
so dissatisfied…
My arms/sighs
my thighs/hips
so prone…
Once around the sun
so many months between
without touch
without caress
without undress
without breath
O, an end must come…

[2021]

Thanks for reading.

A second collaboration with Bree from Secret Thoughts Within. We wanted to write a poem about two people who’d been kept apart for a year because of lockdown and this is what we came up with. I’ve been struggling to find the time or inspiration to write this winter but collaborating with someone else is a really good way to tease out ideas and keep going. Check out Bree’s fantastic writing and audio at https://secretthoughtswithin.com/

Still Waiting…

Throwing away another spent calendar
I toss another slice of my heart into the wind
I’m still waiting…

I feel all I have known is the length of this wait
and all I’ve been doing is biding worthless time
still waiting…

What difference has it made to me, this waste?
what have I gained so far for my blind patience
and still waiting…

O, nine years… nine years!
I’ve been waiting
still waiting
but I don’t know what for

On this moon-lit beach
in this silver-soaked bay
cliffs hung high over me and you
please tell me it’s you

Tell me it’s you…

[2009]

Thanks for reading.

All my poems.

Quietly… (Collaboration, with audio)

Click play or right-click and ‘save as’ to download the mp3.

You’ve been sitting there quietly
Care to share your thoughts?

This infatuation has me
I wore your scarf to keep me warm
I could smell you there
snaking all around me
Feeling like a teenager 
in the grip of some sweet crush

I watched you
observing me with such indecent eyes
drawing me into your spell
My scarf, which you so casually
wrapped around you
had me burning with jealousy

I’m uncomfortable
seeing you 
sitting in front of me with your silk lips
a drink in your hand
and a sultry laugh filling the air

I’m so frustrated by the distance
my fingers click, my toes make fists
Whole body bends to inch closer
The slang in your eyes
speaks to the strength of my desire
I’m so wired, in the heat of the night
I want your fabric against mine

I was quietly thinking to myself
the only remedy 
to all of this would be
kissing your mouth, kissing your throat
and a week in bed with you…

I was quietly thinking to myself
you should race me home
so our bodies
can lock magnetically together 

for a week 
or three…

I think it’s time 
we called a cab 
and left…

[2021]

Thanks for reading.

This was a really fun collaboration with Bree from Secret Thoughts Within. I’d been really intrigued by the idea of working on a poem in tandem with someone else and how on earth you’d go about it. Bree very kindly offered to show me the way and this is what we came up with (alongside a lot of other ideas). It’s a fun process and I’d recommend it if you’ve not tried it before. Check out Bree’s fantastic writing and audio at https://secretthoughtswithin.com/

Lost Letter, Found

Did you heal that humbling heartbreak
ringing as a bell through you
Did you conquer the stifling loss
bitterly coating all your notebooks

Did you find a stranger at your door
clutching wine and headphones
Did they listen with hungry ears
to all the truths you had to share

Did they grab your wrists with passion
dance you into the endless night
Did they calm your fears with a simple gesture
hold you the way you always wanted

Did they lead you astray, in that inspiring way
did you laugh together in the face of darkness
Did they mute the chill of rain upon your senses
push the mundanities of living back into their places

O, how I wanted to be that person
how I wanted to be the one standing there
on some unexpected evening
with that bottle and those tunes

I hope someone answered all the longing
that came pouring from your pen
I pray that you’re still singing
but now the song is sweeter

I hope someone answered you
the way I always wished to…

[2013]

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Get A Room

Let me fan the flames
of your fandom
tickling ‘like’ and painting praise
watching out for typos
You and I
should duck
out of here
you and I
should get a room

What would we do in there
behind the locking door?
Turn two armchairs facing inwards
swap endless breathless monologues
clinging on to voices
hanging from each word
at what point would we be satisfied
at what point would we be done

Let’s assume
there’s a bed in that room
or an armchair
or a shower
at what point would we be satisfied
at what point would we feel like one

Afterwards, the peace glide
and searching open eyes
scanning for silent truths
for glimpses of emotion, for clues
at what point would we be satisfied
at what point would it feel enough

There’s an ocean of desire
between your pen and my paper
there’s an ocean of water
between your hem and my wrist

You and I
should duck
right out of here
you and I
need to get a room…

[2019]

Thanks for reading.

All my poems.

Hyde Park Winter Rink

We circle as sharks
on the Hyde Park winter rink
our eyes like lasers
I audibly bleep when they meet

We both go forwards
not getting anywhere
we pass with differing intervals
I only breathe when we pass

Some laps are flawless
some laps are clumsy
some laps I nearly take some sucker down
some laps I kiss the ice

I feel your eyes lift me to my feet
I feel them brush the slush from my skate
would I have fallen if you hadn’t been watching
would I fall if we linked arms

You’ve got some new moves I see
a graceful pirouette by the bandstand
another pair of eyes
hold you tight from the sidelines
another pair of eyes
brim with that familiar glow

Sometimes we have to let go
sometimes we have to help someone up who’s gone down
sometimes we just have to skate past
sometimes we can’t risk looking back

We circle like sharks
on the Christmas market ice rink
then you take off your skates
make for the big wheel
you’ll be too high in the city
to see
my heart waving below…

[2019]

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Anatomy of Longing

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…

[2015]

Thanks for reading.

All my poems.

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

Letters To Old Lovers

Why should anyone still care
why should anyone raise an eyelid
the news is old
Perhaps, eight years ago
you may have gotten
some reaction
to justify the price of ink

Still you persist in writing them
letters to old lovers
letters they may lazily reply to
letters they may not reply to
the news is old

There’s no reason now
there’s no alliance
Perhaps to reminisce
for a short while
on a long cold afternoon
but nothing more
in these new lives

Still you persist
in writing them
letters to old lovers
letters that strain not to say
letters that overtly long to say
‘let’s try again’

And every time the letterbox snaps
its steel chops around your words
old lovers don’t bat an eye
old lovers just drive to work
(and teach)

And perhaps some time
they might recline
maybe a word or two then
they may spare for you
‘take care’, ‘go somewhere’
the news is cold

And still you insist
on replying to them
letters to old lovers
letters that don’t know when they’re beat
letters that don’t know when it’s time to stop

You don’t know when
the news is old…

[2007]

Thanks for reading.

All my poems.

Live In The Light

O Lord, I ain’t what I aimed to be
I think I missed the target some
my seed got turned upside down
tried to grow towards the light
and grew down…

O Lord, are you listening to me?
‘cause I’ve never heard your voice in here
no conductor’s baton, no steady hand
as I stumbled through this night
and grew dark…

O Lord, I’m miles from where I meant to be
the Devil, he has no compass, no stars to follow
says ‘hack away, till you reach the easy warmth’
but I hacked so many people, I keep slipping in their blood
and fall down…

O Lord, I haven’t used my eyes for years
don’t see anything when you only live to feel
I get whatever stimulus I can take
I’ll take whatever’s not bolted down
and go blind…

O Lord, I’m chased by that same snake again
always offering me that same apple
all I ever wanted was to live in the light
Yet something always eclipsed that need
now it feels too late to change
and I’ll always hang here in this bleak greed
and pitch night…

Would you forgive me, Lord
let me admit to all this blackness and move on
could you forgive me, Lord
if I promise you I’ll change and for the better

O Lord, all I ever wanted
was just to live in the light
but look at me now, deep in the dark
do you see me here, lost in this dark…

[2008]

Thanks for reading.