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

Friday Night, We Walked Along The Beach…

Friday night, we walked along the beach
talking over a static sea
through all we wearily witnessed this year
still we speak in riddles
the way men often do
It only gets harder as you get older
weighed down by expectation
You didn’t turn to face me
kept your eyes fixed on the horizon
said ‘she’s pregnant’
with a pregnant pause

Black boots kicking stones across wet sand
choking out my congratulations
the selfish gene loudly screaming
‘another friend gone’
and all the drinks we shared, all that crazed fun
the possibility of our youth
all the talk for very different futures
slowly chipped away or in fruition
gently eroded or made good somehow
Friday night we walked along the beach
as you drifted a little further from me
I wore my catastrophic guilt
all the way to my quiet home

Friday night, we walked along the beach
for the last time in a long time
drinking cans and cracking jokes

Sunday night, we passed upon the high street
you leant in close and stammered
‘she’s no longer pregnant’
and we wept in each other’s arms…

[2017]

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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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Beguiling Sirens

O child, do not hasten to drop anchor
I hope you live so many nights
lost at sea or diving free
loving by the light of the moon
forever was never the point

You must not miss those smiles
as wide as silver sands
And kisses hotly dripping
like the candle you might write by
in some foreign hotel room

If you should meet them
out there on your journey
(and you should, you should…)
I hope the sirens sing you
songs of salacious shipwreck
and fleshy feasts upon the rocks

If you should meet them
(and you must, you must)
Take those chances
don’t deny this life
let it be painted
in such vibrant colours

Let them ruin you a while
let them wreck you for a spell
then piece yourself together
and wind up more complete
O, and tell them I say ‘hi’

Go chasing honesty, equality
give and take, live wild, love free
take care and move respectfully
remain open to all that comes your way
forever was never the point

O, they will sing some
of your best lines into you
There are many poems waiting
You can dine upon those memories
once you’ve crossed the seesaw
of all your time

While you’re young
with no one who depends upon
then have your fun, go chase the sun
Forever was never
the point of life…

[2021]

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Photo credit: margaret-durow.com/

Tokyo Honeymoon

Our hotel window thrown open on the night
sirens rise and weave between our sighs
below, a city squeals in pleasure

Neon light spills across our pillows
We feel the force that has been forged
and binds our stories for all time

Pasts bundled into a suitcase
the lock spun, kicked beneath the bed
while we writhe and rise above

You touch yourself, then I touch you
We let the sheets slip to the floor
leaving nowhere for our desire to hide

A silver spark brightly arcs
connects my fingers and your thighs
welds your tongue tip to my throat

Like rain on glass we quickly merge
the beating rhythm, that low slow moan
so far beyond those ancient intimacies

The rest of our lives begin right here
The branches of our love in bloom
like cherry blossoms painting up the trees…

[2021]

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Hush Little Nightmare

Quiet, quiet
calm and still
closed eyes can rest
sleepy head can drift

Quiet, quiet
gentle thought
no more mess to address
no more questions to molest you

Finally cut free
spill out, drift on
into a new sea
palms laid on fresh skin

Fretted for years
worried for a living
guilt; it breaks your heart
the quietest of all
let it go, let go
they’ll never know

Reborn, reborn
the duty is renewed
don’t ruin, don’t wreck
just hush your wondering

Quiet, quiet
free from white noise
no more hate to abate
no betrayal to wade through

Let your senses roam
let your hope bloom
no fray in the rope of love
you cling to, now

You’re free, you’re free
the creep can sleep
but must not repeat
don’t speak
just hush
little nightmare…

[2010]

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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

As We Entangle…

In the lush laugh of London
I indulge the urge to walk so freely
Let my mind wander wide
entertain all its distractions
But what I find
is that your presence
hangs so vividly behind my eyes
That if I pause a moment
or check the pulse of my emotions
It’s you… It’s you…
I don’t want to be here
if it means I am without you

Long live the hours that are ours!

In the glowing gadget’s glare
your words vibrate into my world
and from my bed, so far away
you’re preparing for a lonely slumber
And what I find
is that your gravity
has its beautifully fierce grip on me
So, if I take a step from where you are
my feet begin to ache as they’re pulled toward
It’s you… It’s you…
I can’t bare to be here
If it means I am without you

Long live the hours that are ours!

In the rain’s relentless ruining of roads
and December’s constant wish for cold
I’m sure I’m going to slip on ice
fall in love so hard
And what I find
you’re just the right kind
the complimentary soul I’ve been writing about
So, if I let this be what it longs to be
My hands, my head, my heart
they turn towards
It’s you… It’s you…
I can’t entertain the thought of being here
if it means I am without you

Long live the hours that are ours!
Long live the hours
as we entangle these lives of ours…

[2010]

Image credit: http://margaret-durow.com

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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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One of Us Was Right To Leave

One of us will lose our head
that’s what I always feared
and when the night finally broke
on us, as we clung to the road
it was obvious; the poetry of certainty
conclusive proof of our mortality
the water fell like some swelling sea
and I drowned in tears of deep disbelief

One of us was right to leave
though heaven knows which one it was
we pushed hard and for so long
when the rope, it broke, we didn’t see
just scuttled hard, to find our feet
a dance of letting go, a balancing act
that pushes us down separate tracks
some hollow lane, an unknown road
where derelict houses line the path

One of us will surely return
the pleading of my heart demands
but stubbornness and ignorance of will
prevent me from succumbing first
the angry air that now divides us
speaks of the fear that loneliness delivers
in words so thick and unrepentant
they recoil so quick, back down our throats
choking the chance to ever repeat

One of us was right to leave
I keep reminding my sad heart
the way these changes must play out
will always make retrospective sense
no matter how unfathomable they now seem
once time has passed, the answers come
the fog of clouded judgment thins
and a happiness so resolute and defined
reveals itself before us as a golden field

And whoever it was
who was right to leave
may they go in peace
and come back peaceable…

[2006]

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(Reposted from Sept 2019)

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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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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]

Thanks for reading.

For Jordan

Out driving our first cars at night
snaking the blackness of North East country roads
I’d flick the headlights off
hear the girls scream
then back on and we’d crack up laughing

In our town, there wasn’t much to do
but wander looping streets
haunt the park outside of college
blow house to house, see who was home
or spend it lying in your bedroom laughing

When you and Chris split, he handled it okay
drank too much a week or two and then
got a little down but everything went on
still way too soon for Mike to tell you
so we all sat as friends and laughed

Back then, I couldn’t think of much else but Jenny
but I loved the way you’d say my family name
still hear it ringing from the depths of memory
standing with you in some sticky bar
and you collapsing into Mike laughing

They were gentle times, good times
before we were scattered wide
I don’t think I saw or thought of you that often
twenty years just paced before our eyes
how I hope you kept on laughing

With your man, your son
your life carved out somewhere…

On a Brighton beach, one weekend this summer
Mike was chatting, said ’the cancer took you’
and nothing more to add to that
just taken – that’s all he knew
there on the pebbles, I stood, winded and weeping

Just taken – nothing more to add to that

Jordan, it was laugher, laughter
of you; that will always be my memory
sweet laughter, laughter
and the way you spoke my family name…

[2018]

Thanks for reading.

This poem is featured in my new book! ‘The Ship-wrecker’s Lamp: Selected Poems 2010 – 2020’ available now.

Lifted

You blew across the sky
a bird, black against the cloud
your wings beating hard
the way I was beating too

And for a moment…
I felt so alive

You slipped through
grazing my sooty skies
these pearly stars 
squealing in your wake

And for a moment…
I felt so alive

Was there something more
that we were supposed to do
some other experience
we should have expected to share

Lifted in your talons
my heartrate soared
lifted in your talons
those saturated colours…

Some moments are confined in life
to one instance only
some of life’s greatest moments
permit themselves to exist
for one instant only
then disappear
then they disappear

Was this the only moment
in these lives of ours
or is there a hope for more
I feel my heart lifted
by the thought
I feel my pulse lifted
by the hope for more…

Don’t disappear…
don’t disappear from me…

[2015]

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Love Is What You Need

If you love it
it will be what you wanted
if you give it
you will find it’s what you lost

There is something waiting
something beautiful, waiting
if you’re patient
if you love it

You say you want to see
scenes that feed your eyes
they’re waiting, they’re all around you
if you love them

There is something happening
something beautiful, happening
if you’re open
if you love it

If it’s beauty that you want
then love it, it’s all around you
if you love it
it will be beautiful

It’s all around you…

[2010]

Thanks for reading.

Image Credit: https://www.instagram.com/nightwalkermagazine/

Death Is The Only Song

As the sun slickly slides
through a quickly capsizing sky
you needle me for taking photographs
for wanting to record this way of things
Do you not feel that this is temporary
Do you believe there won’t be a different way

These are precious moments
these are precious moments
in our short lives

And with each day that ends 
I feel a larger ending
creeping closer
and with each dusk descending
I sense a fuller ending
edging quietly closer

Remember when you kissed me with passion
on a peeling pier by painted boats
some Grecian bay, one nameless day
I laughed a lot, we both did
then we felt the twist
the sparks of our lives crackling between us
the energy of all we were; burning before us

These were precious moments
these were precious moments
in our short lives

And with each ending day I hear the tune grow
with each night that we casually let end 
I hear the chorus

And death…
death is the only song
I don’t want to sing
death! death is the only song
death is the only song
I don’t want to sing…

[2017]

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