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]

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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]

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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]

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No Secret Place

There’s no such thing as a secret spot
in this college town
where strangers
are just friends of friends
news travels faster than light
Even in the dark
they’re bound to see as we embrace
before we could kiss
word would have blossomed
across town

These people live for gossip
these people live for scandal
I don’t want to service them
and their rotten needs
(by giving in to my own…)

There’s no such thing as privacy
in the glare of these glass eyes
tacked onto busses, buildings, banks
Casually observing every action
if you and I would dare to speak
we’d be captured, saved and dated
before we’d even finished
in this mistrusting town

These people live for drama
these people bay for criminals
I don’t want to fold to them
and their rotten needs
(by succumbing to my own…)

We cannot touch in this post-code
we cannot push the slightest limit
there is no shade
there is no dark corner
we can dwell in
there is no blind spot
there are no closed eyes
in this paranoid town

Perhaps you could meet me
on a sea-front somewhere wet
and in the torrential rain
this country’s eyes will be blinking
so furiously, that they don’t see
the true, free love
that flows in us
and we may finally give in
and we may finally succumb
to our rotten needs

O, and I can’t wait…

[2008]

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Torture

You show me your open hand
flash me your smiling eyes
Say ‘come here, talk a while’
then you leave me standing in the rain

You hand me a note stained with kisses
gift me a signed photo of you
Say ‘have this, share with me’
then you leave me standing in the rain

I am such a fool
I am such a fool for you
I’ve been standing in this rain
for three weeks solid now

You meet me at one of our old haunts
loiter in the doorway of our youth
Say ‘Thank you, so much, for coming’
then you leave me stranded in the rain

You write me such an honest letter
show me even more of depths of all you are
Say ‘I’m in need of someone like you’
then you leave me stranded in the rain

I am such a fool
I am such a fool for you
Either you don’t know enough about me
or you know exactly what you do
Give me another taste of all I want
then pull away and make me wait again

This is torture
I could do this to myself
I don’t need you, too
I am such a fool
I am such a fool for you

Why won’t you open up
and give yourself to me
finally and fully
As I stand in the falling rain
soaked through
I’m soaked through for you…

[2009]

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Ghosts On The Platform

The early evening rain falls hard
treading the yellow line, I’m solemnly waiting
a little drunk, a little lost again
all too aware of where I’m not going
haunted by the ghosts littering this platform…

As she draws him in so close to her
he dips his head, accepts those smiling lips
begging, no, they’re beating to be kissed
as phantom hands journey all across her body
curves pushed tight on this freezing platform…

Now, thicker rain spits from a pitch black sky
lit orange, my face winces, squinting hard
twisted by the warmest dreams of last winter
all too aware of what remains trapped back down my tracks
haunted by our ghosts parading on this platform…

She holds the back of his head so firmly
his eyes open looking into hers so deeply
words shoot between, saying ‘I’d leave her for you
ask once and we’ll make this passion permanent’
as those ghosts merge like puddles on the platform…

Clattering lights approaching, shattering the moment
six empty carriages sailing down towards me
inside there’s shelter, some drab imagined safety
but no curves pushed close, no fingers locked tight
haunted by the ghosts on the platform of my mind

Journeying onward, journeying home
but haunted, always, by the ghost of you and I
and all we could have been…

[2016]

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The Prettiest Music [with audio]

The heat shifts between rooms
from the front of the house, to the back
on the bed, your curled form is laid
I watch the sky as it cries in the street
blowing my nose, counting the people
they carry bags of food to their cars
filled with treats and sweet desserts
As I move to the kitchen, you stir for a second
this day is turning dark in the light from the loft
shadows dance, from the candles you lit

By the stove, I pause to warm my hands
not sure what to do, I don’t want to wake you
I sit back at the window, take up my book
but there are no new words to read and I place it back
if only the story would change of it’s own accord
O, I think it’s time for some movement
a raising of the silence, let the music in
just some small tune to warm this room
and your sweet progression of chords kissing my ears
I lie down beside you, cup your face
whisper some sickly greeting as you focus up on me

Come on love, we should make a song
you are the music and I am the words
you are the music and I am the words
we should make a song, my love
we should make a song
you are the music and I am the words
you are the prettiest music
and I am the most grateful words…

[2004]

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Bonfires [with audio]

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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Mind Tides

Those chemical seas
wash you closer and closer to me
on the chemical seas you ride closer
and then closer again to here

O, how I’ve held a small part of my breath
kept a little air inside for your return
part of me; patiently poised
as your waves wash through my closing fingers

O, how I’ve quietly tended a small flame for you
landing lights aglow along this heart’s runway
expectantly, with a constant hunger
for that desired descent back to me

Those chemical seas sweep you past my port
pulling you away from me
Your fickle thoughts, your fickle heart
strip you of decency
rip you far away from here

The restless movement of the moon
caught in my saucer eyes
The polished mirror of the moon
a wet silver across all your photographs

I’m still helplessly recoiling
at the wave of hurt that levelled me
but just as I see you, so the tide turns
and as I reach out for you
so your mind blurs

And then you’re gone again
for good…

[2016]

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Jetty Song

Click ‘play’ to hear me read this poem. Or right-click ‘save as’ to download an MP3.

Her fingers tracing mine
Lily danced me out of the garden
those green eyes brimming lively
with purest abandon
Then barefoot on the boardwalk
her summer dress riding high
she leapt onto the jetty
and gestured to the sky

We let our tanned legs hang below
as we bottomed up the bottle
the air was hot and heavy
the sea around us peaceful
There was lust upon our minds
as a veil upon a bride
the deepest searing truths
politely shot between our eyes

And no man could deny us
loose and open all the time
our hands and fingers; wanderers
tongues locked in a rhyme
By the spit between those kisses
our burning lips were sewn
her dress was barely there
my body carved from stone

With each nail driven into skin
I felt a clapping thunder
the temple tapestry was tearing
as she pierced my thin armour
A melody sung upon her voice
a lyric loudly grows
I’d have gladly turned my back
on all that I held close

We could have traveled every sea
taking turns to lead the way
if only
if only she’d have asked me
if only I’d thought to stay…

Dusk light falling on the harbour
the day became a dream
with toes curled round the boards
she danced me to my feet
in one movement I was shirtless
in another she was naked
a smiling glance was shared
as we leapt with fingers knitted

Our kisses painted salty
lungs burning between breaths
the solution we had longed for
as our bodies coalesced
We swam until our limbs ached
then floated side by side
in the moonlit wideness of her eyes;
another world, I spied

I was so thirsty for the moment
and drank it all too quickly
my mind got blurred and cloudy
my greatest drunken folly
Too naive to know the value
of the treasure in my grip
like sand through careless fingers
I stood and watched it slip

There was water on three sides
and only one path back to land
but somewhere on that journey
I somehow lost her hand
Now, I wonder if she thinks of us
a moment spared for all we shared
does she ever sit upon that jetty
singing of a parallel despair

We could have traveled every sea
wild adventure every day
if only
if only she’d have asked me
if only I’d thought to stay

If only
I’d had the wisdom
to stay…

[2020]

Extra special thanks for reading, I know it’s a long one. 🙂

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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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Adrienne

There exists a God in your body
a deity in you, somewhere
All who look upon you, they become
detached from what they thought they knew
from what they understood before
And so begins the free fall…
into a deep and glowing love for you

You are a carrier, spreading the seed
of this great ailment throughout
With each bat of each lash you do
and with that smile and slow sure dance
your words are bursting in my ears
And so begins the free fall…
into a deep and shining love for you

[2008]

Thanks for reading.

Note: written into my phone in a club in Oxford early 2008.

Image Credit: Image is a still from the excellent film ‘Victoria‘ 2015.

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Trespassers

Does this trip start with you
or spring somewhere in me
there is an urgency of need
I can’t seem to abandon

My fingers on the button
clawing at your door, heart thumping
will you answer all this longing
let me cross the line, trespassing

Calling by, I’m calling by
that ancient question in my eye
and you can tell, you can smell
that I’ve been drinking 
you know me
I don’t act without reason
a song as old as time
sung by my insides

You don’t close the door
you don’t tell me to go back to her
just study the mat for a full half-minute
then shake your head, crack a smile
‘we’re trespassers’ you say
and lead me up the stairs

I’ve been longing for this thing
I’ve been looking for what’s been missing
I’ve been down a few roads now
you’re the only way that works
you’re the only way I know

Sunday morning
there’s no escaping
it’s written every way I turn
trespassing, this foreign skin
how madly I wanted it

Trespassing
the only road I know
trespassing
you’re the only road I know…

[2017]

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