Bonfires

I was living certain and sure
of the future I desired
A house by the water
sea air kissing my eyes
before I brave the morning paper

A figure framed in a gaping doorway
watching freighters skim the horizon
Rest my coffee cup on the fence
slide a nail down this foreign envelope
draw the perfumed letter from within

The paper see-through
like her summer dresses
My fingers beneath it
don’t do justice
to the gentle tan of her skin
or the constellations
of those freckles

“They’re building bonfires
down in the city park” she writes
“I’m jealous of that fire
and that flame
I think of the fireworks
that only we saw
I recall those fireworks
with a dampness in my eye

The realness of the fantasy
we’d be painting daily
between the thighs and sighs
and all the magic we brought forth
our bodies so alive”

Signed off with red lipstick
and the creases of her mouth
it’s suddenly not so obvious
why I made my home here
It’s suddenly so unclear
why I made my home here

And I look out to see
they’re building bonfires
down on the beach
O, I’m jealous of that fire
and that flame

How I long to feel
the creases of her lips
pushing hard
against mine…

[2020]

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https://linktr.ee/tomalexwrite

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]

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Fingerprints

To know my fingerprints
on another’s heart
could stir them into art
a priceless gift, a magic

To know there is a poem
written about me
those words, more beautiful
than I could ever hope to be

From the caverns of passed time
there comes a sound
a constant, quiet, ring
when I choose to listen
always there
telling of another way of living

That the heart of such an artist
a complexly creative soul
with capacity for such beauty
would choose to spill a verse for me;
incendiary!

That passionate romantic
haunts the part of me
still willing to feel things deeply
and for her soul, I write on
so long and so gratefully…

[2019]

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https://linktr.ee/tomalexwrite

Vicious Allure

Now
I wasn’t looking out
eyes down
quietly working
satisfied
and gently living
loving in time
with the tick of the clock
or the beat of her heart
O, I was a good man
I was doing alright

Then
the poison found me
crawling surely
noosed my arm
tapped my vein
and came and came and came
violently derailing
loudly rerouting all that loving
to the rev of the engine
skewed to the thrust of this new heartbeat
O, I was quickly turned
I was too easily bent

And
all I would know from there
all I could know to see
the only wants that dwell

They’re bad thoughts
bad wants
bad things
bad thoughts
bad wants
bad things

All I’m wanting for
is bad things, bad things with you…

[2015]

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Letter From The Lake

Dear friend
a sigh is leaving me
I can concentrate now, finally
a statue, standing on the jetty
the lake’s slow wash below the boards
hypnotising me

I feel freer now than ever
more than I did back there
I don’t know how you toil on
those boiling days below the city
tinned-life crammed in
and searching for air

You wrote me of the love you found
that you always dreamed was waiting
head cocked to one side
a wry smile you’re both sharing
suddenly but so completely
a focus for all that untamed love in you

Here, life moves slow
but never stops completely
there is a girl down in the town
who looks at me so coyly
and some rough lad up at the farmhouse
who would gladly make me his

Between the wind-battered fields
and evenings pickling in the only pub
I keep an eye out for that inner peace
one night I might let him take me
or another, dance her into a barn

I’ve been finding something here
but, speaking plainly, it’s not you
I’m still swimming out each morning
with that pale look upon my face
I swim six laps before breakfast
the palest hope painting my face

I wish you well
and happy with whoever
come and see me one year soon
come up to the water and stay
until then, my friend
take care…

[2013]

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One of These Years…

One of these days I’ll get it all together
gather up my debts and gather up my thoughts
One of these days I won’t have a choice
there’s be no other way, just a fading day
I always say
one of these days…
that’s right
one of these days…

One of these days I’ll write to my family
tell them all, I love them, always have and will
One of these days I’ll start giving to charity
go out and help my brother/sister man along their way
I always say
one of these days…
you watch
one of these days…

One of these days I’ll fix that creaky stair
change the bulb in the darkened hallway
One of these days I’ll start a band, write a book
put something away for the time when I can’t work a day
I always say
one of these days…
I will
one of these days…

Ah, the days they go, slipping by
I just let them go, slipping by
as they build themselves into a tidy month
build themselves into a neat year
build themselves into a pretty lifetime

One of these days I’ll take stock of what I’ve got
sit down with a pen, and calculate the cost of everything
One of these days I’ll stop talking, speak in actions only
like I’ve been promising myself I would for so long
I always say
one of these days…
you just wait
one of these years…

[2007]

Thanks for reading.

I named my first poetry collection after this poem. It felt fitting after finally doing something I’d always said I’d do. You can buy it now on Amazon

Young Family In The Sunshine

Over by the river, a young family
painted by the sunshine
So comfortable in their skin
so happy
Little baby, beautiful mother
loving father
smiling

Pulling silly faces
the three of them
laughing
He looks strong and clear minded
blessed
by the truth of honest purpose

Life seems simple, warm
they wear their love
like a tattoo
Working together
to overcome the daily challenges

They share a small beer
eat fruit from a paper bag
they look fit
and pure
and peaceful

And for a moment
I wish I could feel that way
I wish I could be that dad
for a day…

[2022]

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All my poems.

I’m Not Here

Conversations float like dandelion seeds
drifting on some tumble-weed breeze
the words are soft and out of focus
bouncing quietly off hazy walls

Invisible vibrations pass unnoticed
no effect, no eye turned, no ear piqued
was that my name, something I should recognise
or just another wave in this sea of endless ambience

I’m not here
I’m not here at all

I’m back at that table
our legs entwined below the cloth
I’m down on that station platform
my hands holding your head
I’m reclining on that sofa
our bodies charged with static arcing
your begging smile just inches from mine

I’m not seeing
I’m not feeling
anything immediate
I’m not here
No, I’m not here

I’m standing on the train
with your hand sliding towards mine
I’m sitting too close to you
our shoes discreetly clunking
I’m at my desk watching you across the office
your body floating in that summer dress
you’re shooting me that covert smile

I’m not seeing
I’m not feeling
anything around me
I’m not here
I’m not really here

I’m daydreaming of your seductive voice
I’m waiting for your call…

[2015]

Photo credit: A still from Under The Skin (2013)

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Old Flame

Think the improper thoughts
think them through
to quivering conclusion
to nakedness and molten skin
shimmering in the moonlight

Think those improper thoughts
about friends’ lovers
about co-workers, old flames
about passing strangers
but please
think them about me sometimes

Thinking the improper thoughts
to fill boring afternoon meetings
and lonely mornings driving
scarce moments of serenity
always I…
think them about you

[2009]

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linktr.ee/tomalexwrite

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

Your Light, Our Youth

The strength of your light
catches me off-guard
how brightly you shine
blooming brilliantly
how welcome
how confusing to me

The confidence of your glow
magnetic from all angles
I’m softened in the shadows
but your light does not permit them
it’s so welcome
so challenging to me

Brighter than in our youth
brighter still than photographs
we talk and take a new one
twenty years since the day we met
how welcome
how perplexing too

I’m reflecting, always reflecting
your light, our youth
the memories hang pristinely
the good and the bad we shared
the good and the bad we did
to one-another

It’s easy now to gape open
so natural to reveal everything
an absence of thought
crouched behind our actions
even now you mine a shiver
even now you well a tear

The candle on the table extinguishes
but the light does not dim
our night of talking softly ends
but the light does not dim

It’s so confusing
I want you even more
than I ever did back then
I want to help you shine
more than I ever have before…

[2017]

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linktr.ee/tomalexwrite

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

A Longing Less Refined

You say you love my mind
the sensuality of all I say
how you long to craft a reply
answer all the longing I’ve raised
You lie awake wondering of my words
‘A glimpse is not enough’ you say
‘I want conversation deep
I want to memorise your soul’

Still I shiver for that burning connection
a longing less-refined
can’t you boil for an inch of this
can’t you itch for my lips
to be held in these thin arms again
You’d sweat and burn at night
for our next physical encounter

Your fingernails should mark my skin
There should be bruises left like sonnets
In the meteor impact of our collision
You’ll see the spark of my soul there
As I shiver up inside you

You bite your lip as I show my strength
and repeat until we melt into one
Forget the reading, forget the speaking
bite my shoulder
prolong this feeling
Away with words
Cut this talk
let me at you

Away with words, fuck these sentences
I want silences split with kisses
Sucking sounds and bitten skin
Trade intellectual for the sexual
As we do those things we do
So, away with words
Cut the talk
let me at you

[2010]

Thanks for reading this old poem.

I’d posted an extract from this one on Twitter last week and people seemed keen. This is actually part of a much longer poem but I’ve robbed all the best lines from it for other poems over the years. These are the remaining (previously unshared) parts.

Greenland

The bell clatters ‘Time’ on another quiet night
tucked off the shore front
In the precious warmth of a Sisimiut tavern
I take another jar, tilt it back and drain
but still there are no answers waiting
Slouching on the bar stool
and licked by shifting shadows
lulled to doze
by the constant comb of a shuffling sea
An absent-minded shiver washes over
and, suddenly, so softly
your pale arm around my shoulder
You put your hand on top of mine
My fingers splay
and for the briefest moment
yours warmly slip between them

How did you find me
I’ve gone as far as I can go
and still you reach me
I’ve run as far as I can run
yet still you’re haunting
In every cell of me
there lives an apology
always longing for release
I’ve got a skull full of sea
and the sting of that thing, it lingers
squid ink, blotting out my smile
A cloud of darkness, I always carry
And like the sci-fi turquoise skies above
your patient ghost won’t let me hide here

Through the coloured houses
spilling warm light on the snow fields
The endless beauty of this country
does its best to ease my soul-ache
I stand by the winter-beached boats
as the ice shelf cracks and sheers
ten ton tears crashing hard into the brine

And I wonder
which will be the first to end
the frost of our faded friendship
or the world…

[2022]

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One Last Affair

I’m wearing blue, you’re dressed in red
lit by the dancing candle light
in the depths of some back table
at a late night poetry evening
Our only hope to stay safe tonight
is to keep this table between us

Some wily orator spills their guts
before the hallowed microphone
but all I care to know now
is do you smell as good as you look
Each of us wills the other to go too far
with a ‘what’s the worst that could happen…’

You hold my eye as I sign your book
then you take my pen and fix my poem
before I fix yours
and we write a few as one
That story was complete but you seem certain
there’s another chapter waiting to be written

Do we turn the talk back to our art
or just devour each other whole
I’m caught between all that’s right
and all that we might do tonight
You purr ‘if we’re going to hell, let’s go together
it’s one last affair, one last affair, I swear…”

Your wrists wrap behind my neck
as my fingers knit into your hair
with wine stained lips we close the circuit
A pulse of poetry rips right through me
spread your pages, dip the nib
let’s immortalise this feeling

Words swim in the air above our heads
they mix and tangle, knotted with emotion
It’s no longer clear whose poem is who’s
where yours ends and mine begins
And who can honestly say
where this night will take us

Like all affairs, we find ourselves
a mess of hearts and words
But if we’re going to hell
we’ll go together…

[2022]

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Across The Fields At Dusk

Hours spent listening to your voice
disembodied
carefully controlled
precisely chosen words
with expert intonation

I’ve laid with headphones on
naked and imagining 
there is no separation
no distance
that you’re beside me speaking
as my knuckles snake your thigh

You tell the story of your life
you’re telling my story too
How strange, how similar
manifestly different
but emotionally in tune

Walking through the fields at dusk
I hear your voice blow close
chasing me across the land
promises and nothings
sweet and divine

Coming for me
I’m coming for you
across the fields
at dusk…

[2020]

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Fall A Little…

Could you fall, a little
Could you not blossom in my breath
eye glowing wide
when I call to see you
and a passionate want
in your every word

Could you not fall
the way I’m falling
for you…

Could you not hunt each and every
slightest excuse to come and just be
close to me
Bring your warmest wit
so precious
to captivate my five favourite senses

Could you fall for me
the way I’m falling
for you…

Could you not flaunt all the rules
forget everything
but my subtle smile
and care nothing more
for what came before
now there exists
this perfect possibility

Could you not fall in deep
the way I’m falling
for you…

All my eyes can see is your pale skin
my ears hear nothing but that wild laughter
scents that trigger such magic memories
a touch so badly longed for
a taste I’ve imagined so many times now

Could you not fall
completely
Could you not fall
obviously, in front of me
down to one knee
and begging ‘please…’
the way I’m falling
for you

Could you, could you
fall in deep for me
the way I’ve fallen for you…

[2009]

Thanks for reading this old poem.

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Read You Once More

I have been having these moments…
Waiting for trains
pouring kettles
folding sheets
opening a window

I have been having these little moments…
flicking through magazines
prowling the off-license
glancing up at street lights
looking out across the city

When the magnitude of your potential
and all the things you said to me
when the poetry you quietly dedicated
and the soft touch of your deft hands
upon my pale body
left me reeling
spinning to infinity

I’m caught off-guard, thinking
I would love to read you
I would love to hear
your thoughts
once more

I would love to read those verses
lose myself in your passionate prose
I would love to bathe in your insight
once again

I wonder if
I wonder how
Is there some way
to read you
once more…

[2016]

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The Faintest Farewell

Pale fluorescent lighting paints the scene
ears still ring hollow
with such an effortless ‘goodbye’
All breathing paused
as she rations out that smile
all too aware of exactly what it does to me

Allowing a single kiss
to parachute upon her cheek
I thank her for the madness
of all those past encounters
But she has nothing more for me
just empty eyes and vague replies

One foot follows the other
as she minds that endless gap
All confusion quickly thins
a bullet hits me, there’s no feeling
no reverence for the weight
of all that’s crumbling

That wild force once warped us
distorted the very shape of our existence
but now in its withdrawal
it has no effect on her
My eyes are filled with moon
hers rewind blue movies

Between our kisses
I’d sketched great journeys on a napkin
which she now takes and rips
tucks the scraps in my top pocket
In the glass of the parting doors
I watch myself get torn in two

So much remains unsaid
her thinning smile waves me on
as the sterile platform claims her
deep into its caverns
Every strand of thought
hangs unresolved and billowing

I know our show is over
our passion moot and spare
without a care
The faintest farewell
so fitting, so real
So what…

[2021]

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Hold some poems in your hand.

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]

Thanks for reading.

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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