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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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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Jetty Song [with audio]

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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A Map of The World

In the bright cave
of memories, retained
lives a warm smile
kept, always, for you
Glowing with sharp precision
it will not fade
You painted the walls
of this space I occupy

With no hint of any slight
that could be held to you
No reason for ill thought
of any kind could be
Though I leave you here, our story over
You’re imprinted on the person
you helped me become

You showed me
a new map of the world
Your mind caught mine
and threw it wide open
I’d never known
such connections could exist
though now friendship only
it’s deeply revered

I remember how we lay
on your narrow bed, listening
Playing each other the records
of the songs that shaped us
You span me ‘Harvest’
I unreeled ‘Knock Knock’
Our minds at peace
in the glow of your globe

When I felt the slow damp tears
collecting in my heart
How I hoped this map would lead us
somewhere else
I’d been so sure
our river was longer
with more meanders
Still your wisdom remains, retained
deep within my bones

You showed me a new map of the world
Where you’d come from
well, I’d never been there
Now, I wonder if I’ll ever go
but if I do, know I take you with me
fondly, always, in my memory

Still your easy way has etched
its map across my brain
A place I think about so often
A place I’ll never be sure
I should have left…

[2011]

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Harm’s Arms

Let me admit, to you, my fear
of those ghostly hands
twisting the knife
in the belly of our lives

These house-bound blues
echo louder some days
these house-bound blues
and their hypnotically sad song

My memories reach out for you
you’ve changed your number
my happy memories are reaching out
yet we may never speak again

And though estranged
often, I still wonder
of your gently closing eyes 
your winning smile

I want to know you’re safe
amidst these dangerous days
I long to know you’ll remain
well beyond the grip
of harm’s arms…

Remember when the two of us
were still on first name terms
with the sweetest laughter
running down those midnight sands

Wherever you are tonight
know I’ll care about you always
I hope you’re sailing through
these toxic times

Stay safe tonight
I long to know for certain
you’re far beyond the reach
of harm’s arms…

[2020]

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Photo credit: https://www.instagram.com/nightwalkermagazine/

For Mirim.

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Bite The Bullet

The planets above wink down to me
‘It’s now or never’ they’re implying
I feel her hand brush mine
as we’re walking side by side
her house is just around the corner
I’m leaving town tomorrow
it’s now or never…

A deep breath, I take
I breathe deep
stop my walking, suddenly
she stops and turns to face me
it’s now or never
I tilt my head, crack a smile
make a joke, stall a while
and asking if I’m ‘okay?’
she steps one step toward me
it’s now or never…

I take her warm hand in mine
draw a breath deep down
Think of all that could come of this
she looks at our hands still holding
then back up at me
and for a moment
we share a moment…

But I break our gaze
walk her home
hug her perfume divine and close
as I walk away, alone again
I concede, it’s never
now; it’s never…

[2010]

Photo credit: https://www.instagram.com/nightwalkermagazine/

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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]

Image credit (for this and many of the images I use here): http://margaret-durow.com

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The Garden

I’ve been remembering
the garden we once tended
I’ve been thinking of the petals
that fell each autumn
I’ve been working through the list
of things we said but never did

And the rains that fell upon our garden
and the snow that covered all

I’ve been remembering
the garden we once enjoyed
I’ve allowed myself some moments
to reflect with clarity
I’ve been feeling sadness for the trees
that have since been felled

And the sun that fed our lawns
and the snow that covered all
and when it thawed
you were ready to be gone

And all the seasons since…
Now you’re with another’s child…

I’ve been remembering the garden
the flowers but not the thorns
I’ve been reminded of the feeling
when spring was all we knew
I’ve allowed myself some hours
to wander through those flower beds once more

I can remember how that snow felt
even now; I can smell the rain
I accept that all things end
that’s just the way of things
that’s just the way
of all things

And all the seasons since…
I hope your new garden
is blossoming now…

[2017]

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Return To America

Lit by the distant sun 
in a backyard beer-garden 
overlooking the meadow
my swimming brain spins out
through adventures of the past
forgotten journeys 
by coach, by plane
through unfamiliar landscapes
to the desert 
in California

We rode the Greyhound 
between the sun-drenched cities
your head lay on my lap
and when we could tear 
our eyes from one-another
we’d watch the world pass by
in technicolour, all new

We stayed on Sunset Boulevard
you lay naked on the hotel bed
while I stared hard at maps 
and planned
before turning my gaze to you
we ran down Long Beach
never questioning our love

So, this evening I wonder 
if you will ever 
return to America
will you share those moments
with someone new
can he afford to hire a car
so you don’t have to 
ride the Greyhound
stare out of the window
laughing at the wind farm…

[2006]

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Restless (Sequel) [with audio/music]

Writing in circles again
I’m chasing your tail
self-referential
to edge of pointlessness

The nihilistic streak in me
vibrates at the thought of you
It’s like I take my pulse
while getting your name tattooed

You’ve got your phantom hook in me
just deep enough to tear
welcome back
o, welcome back…

The most concise statement I ever etched
the most desperately impassioned verse spilt
it’s emblazoned with your image
it squawks for your attention

That devil on my shoulder
lights a cigarette when you smile
it’s like an ache
and all the pills I can take

You’ve got your phantom hook in me
just deep enough to burn
so welcome back
welcome back…

Be gentle with me
say as little as possible
to me…

It will never be as good as it was
it will never feel like it did at the start
but welcome back
welcome back…

[2014]

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[A sequel to The Sea At Night Does Not Rest, written 4 years later]

Books of Blake

You saw me, even then
you knew me
back when no one saw me
I kept no one around
who might know me
I, too, was in my infancy
twenty-something
and far from knowing much
in any real way at all

Still, somehow, you found me
brought books of Blake
to the shop we worked
we’d sit and read together
on the varnished wooden counter
your summer dress
hanging from you like a sail
we’d admire the crazed paintings
taste those verses on our tongues

Books of Blake we stood before
and poured our minds all over
you said I ‘didn’t know how to do what I was doing’
I ‘didn’t know how to love who I was loving’
the cheek of it!
the incisiveness…

And you’d tell me
of the bottle of wine you drank
in the bath, the night before
as the water grew cold around you
cleverly planting images
that I’ve not shaken to this day
(all these years on)

You were a lush and tranquil island
in the sea of my stupidity
you were the first mind
I truly connected with

And I still rue the day
you slipped through my fingers
growing cold around me
then gone forever…

[2020]

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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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Touching Souls

Where are the keys,
why do we suffer these?
Nine to five, making the best of things
six to twelve, not making the most of me

Where is the doorway into,
the life we always thought was ours?
Five years pass, soon ten years have passed
I’m older now but no nearer to where I want to be

These prisons
these cells
why do we dwell here?
Are you the key
are you the one for me?

Closed eyes at work and dreaming
I am alive somewhere in words and rhyme schemes
your mind’s on fire and always turning
momentary escape through creativity

Closed eyes at night and kissing
we’re alive, somewhere in the alleyway
your tongue is in my mouth and we are beating
two hearts filled with the thrill of living

These prisons,
these cages
why do we age here?
You release me
but always so briefly

Those things you make and speak inspire me
but still I stay here
Those things I say and do consume you
but still you stay there

We were one chapter, now just a recurring character
in the long story of each others lives
you were a glimpse of all that might have been for me
in the long story of our separate lives

but for a moment there
for a moment
we were not trapped

We were touching souls…

[2011]

Note: Title by Joni. Artwork credit: https://www.saatchiart.com/alisonmarydunn]

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Great Destroyers

Sometimes
I suddenly remember
the last thing we said to one another
parting

‘If you’re ever
feeling self-destructive
hell, look me up
and we can
destroy ourselves together’

Occasionally,
by chance, I remember
the last time we sat across a table
drinking

‘If you’re ever feeling
like the whole mad world
needs a little petrol
you know where to find me
and we’ll
torch the fucking lot’

You and I
always were the great destroyers
such a shame
we never got
to spark each other up

You and I
always were the great destroyers
so lucky
looking back
we parted when we did…

[2019]

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Is It Cold Where You Are?

All this talk of cut cords, severed alliances
assuming of an adultness of understanding
a rationing of feeling
where one side metes out their emotions
only experiencing the right and sensible sensations

And so I forget to ask
is it cold, where you are?

All this presumption of absolutes, burned bridges
there being no way to return to stir this into a mess
a wall of arbitrary time, slotted days upon weeks
to hide the vision of what once shone so stellar

And so I forget to ask
is it cold, where you are?

All this forward thinking, predictive dreaming
pushing eyes and minds to see something not yet shown
clawing the edges of a still concealed future
an impatient Christmas morning of wild new opportunity

And so I forget to ask
is it cold, where you are?

Selfishly distracted, by the glowing halo of tomorrow
buoyed by a sense of feeling strong and free
my mind gets wiped, all compassion corrupted
when really I still care
and will wonder about you always

Is it cold, where you are?
and if it is, is there anything I can do?

If it’s cold where you are
is there anything I can do?

[2011]

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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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