Feels So Far Away This Evening

October shed its skin
across these pavements
Now, November does its best
to wash the mess away
We glide down
the lonely streets of night
lost in appreciation
for the moody glow that guides us

You carry such a heavy heart this season
what was taken
brought you this blackness in exchange
and so I do
whatever I can
to lift it up for you

This dance of conversation
jig of gentle humour
all my attempt
to paint a more hopeful picture
Ease the crush of grief that’s levelled
by a cruel unfeeling world
And gratefully
I’ll give whatever part of me
might dull this pain for you…

There is hope
(I know you know this)
There is a hope
waiting to be held again
in those gentle, loving hands
(I know you know this)
yet it feels so far away this evening

You are loved by so many
(I know you know this)
There is nothing
but a pure, real, love and respect
flowing through my veins for you
(I know you know this)
but I wanted to remind you
in the hope
that you might cease to feel
so far away this evening…

[2013]

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Whereabouts

What strange gravities compel you?
Which strong seasons
manipulate the focus of your mind?
What forces are at work
governing your silences and interactions?
What are the properties of magnetic north
that keep you so firmly held there?

Which habits formed into crippling routine
Which once-cradled ambitions did you let burn away?
What hope, was it you had, for all of what you started
when you laid yourself beside her?

The peeling back of quiet moments…
The giving birth to living memories…
The quelling of hostile emptiness…
All these
oiled by flasks of brewed liquid…

What source of buried passion exists?
What reason for the unbridged distances of family?
What cold and clear window protects you
from the warm interactions of flesh and blood?
On what throne
beyond the claws of love exposed
do you stay slumped?
And what reasoning hangs from these vague choices?

The flame is weak and distant
the light is dim
The star that shines in you kept hidden
by clouds of distance and disinterest

What do you feel when you see me expanding here
growing into your shape on this reflective surface?
What do you think when you see me flexing skills
that must have been learnt from you?
Do you worry that shared talents means shared failings
Do you think to warn me against their dangers
give the gift of wisdom, just an insight or two
is there more that I could learn from you?

There is still some hope for healing
the withered roads that link our homes
There is still some hope for forging a bond
that will carry us into the future

O, but where are you
and where am I to you?
Where are you
and where am I to you?

[2013]

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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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This Infinity [with audio]

I will never learn from my affairs
they bake within my heart but nowhere else
see, she looks at me
she may speak to me some short time
then suddenly and so completely
it’s all I feel
a love that is not real
all I can do is hang from her every movement…

Yet again, I’m helplessly hopeful for that breath
already feeding myself on the bliss of kisses promised
but those suggestions
don’t emanate from her
or anywhere but in my spiralled mind
as it fills with love for some ideal
all I can do is hang from her slightest smile…

The purity of beauty is a trap for me
my mind is weak and falls so quickly
before I can blink, it’s all that I can see
I twist until the heartbreak of this infinity…

If only obsession didn’t roost inside these bones
if only my mind knew some subtle patience
I’ll lay myself down in that spinning room
try to think of something else or someone other
but no thought can form while she has not spurned
all I can do is hang myself on her polite decline…

The purity of beauty is a trap for me
I build myself a cave so homely
lie scheming on the hope that she embodies
and twist until my heart breaks
in this infinity…

[2010]

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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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A Most Comfortable Prison

The jailer, he’s invisible
yet we’re reminded, daily
he still stalks these corridors
a violent crown upon his brow
turning folk to dust
My marker-pen tally on the wall
begins to eats itself
time moves differently here
it’s a snake, a valley
a constellation
in this most-comfortable prison…

The weather has a mainline to my mood
there’s a shadow in my mind
it blooms or it recedes
with the strength of that sun
The days fluctuate
resizing, bipolar
claustrophobic
or giftedly free
to walk newly discovered lanes
in this most-comfortable prison…

The smiling faces of old friends
glimpsed, as if backwards
through a telescope
so far removed
and blurred around the edges
Our conversations stilted
on satellite delay
How I long to crack
my usual sarcastic comments
and not be inter-
(timing is everything)
-rupted
in this most-comfortable prison…

From my favourite armchair
I’ve been glued to screens
feeling like a dog
killing time until my next walk
wondering of the world beyond these walls
it all seems so dangerous
but such a beautiful memory
in this most-comfortable prison…

There are no other voices here
yours and mine alone
it goes to show how well we fit together
I feel we’re closer now than ever
Looking in the mirror this morning
you remind me of that mantra
we’re both repeating daily
‘you’re one of the lucky ones
you’re one of the lucky ones
in this most-comfortable prison…’

[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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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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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 smile

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
slowly 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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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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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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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]

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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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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]

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Note: this poem appears in my book ‘One of These Years: Selected Poems 2003 – 2019’ available now on Amazon (link below).

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

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G.S.O.H.

I would not say this heart is hungry
I dare not say this heart is heavy
I only know now, a surer sense of all I want
a clearer description of what will fire
the drive, the rush, the love in me

If we’re not going out at night
then can we just sit and giggle
at each other, at the TV, at the others
Can she laugh with me, make fun of me
until there are tears in our eyes
and can’t breathe

Trying to order a takeaway
I want her to crack me up
have to hang up the phone
recompose myself
In the saddest, dimmest
funeral procession
I want her to puncture my grief
with the warmest humour

She may not be a model, I don’t care about that
she may not be a mother, I don’t care about that
as long as she keeps me laughing
I know that I will love her, I only care about that

If one thing never leaves us…
(the sex can go fuck itself)
our looks all lost to scowls in changed winds
bodies crippled, aged with the years
but let us keep the laughter lines

We’ll sit in soiled, wooden chairs
side by side; in stitches for all time
on my grave can be the set-up
on hers; a killer punch line

Let us be the double-act
that light up people’s evenings
wise-cracks, sharp lines, quick-wits
Me, in awe of her gymnastic tongue
I’ll put that sparkle in her bright eyes
Oh, the jokes; just let them flow
let us never be too old

She may not have ambition, I don’t care about that
she may not be a mother, I don’t care about that
as long as we keep each other laughing
I know that I will love her, I only care about that

I am not saying this heart is hungry
I won’t say this heart is heavy
I’m just surer now, more certain
a clearer definition of what will make me live happy
the smile, the joy, the laughter in her…

[2010]

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Note: Another old one. Be careful what you wish for 😉

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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 Credit: https://www.instagram.com/margaretdurow/

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We Walked Along The Wall

We walked along the wall
that secret weighing heavy in my pocket
as we circled the old town
my heart beating hard
in a new way
or a way I’d not felt for years

We walked along the wall
passed a bar and got a beer
looking down upon the rooftops
you were pressed so close to my mind
no other thought could form there

The morning sun lit everything before us
not just the view but our lives ahead
I knew this was the beginning
of a new chapter
my secret kept concealed a little longer

We walked along the wall
as I danced the conversation
towards that question long avoided
then slid it, smiling, towards you
an inspired idea, covert no more

We walked along the wall
sea and streets spilling either side
and for the first time in my life
I came down from the wall
my future wife’s hand in mine…

[2019]

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High Tide, Low Life

You paint yourself blue, always blue
this letter brings me down
perched upon a rusty trailer
paint peels over my shoulder

I’ve been drinking 
since the boats were rested
on the muddy estuary bed

It’s high tide, low life
high tide, low life

I won’t stop my reaching out
if there’s any way to help, I’ll find it
you’re so slow to take my hand
scratching at your skin for answers

I don’t have any good advice
I do what I can to just keep living right
I’ll listen if you’ll let me
you know; my love is not the enemy

It can’t be this way forever
it won’t always be like this

It’s high tide, low life
high tide, low life

You say you only paint
when you get blue
and I suppose
that’s just the way
the sea feels

You paint yourself blue
always blue
I guess
that’s just the way
the sea feels…

[2020]

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Photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/mr-prints/4717465064/

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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]

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As The Power Lines Crackle Overhead…

Too long, too long
I’ve been too proud
to belong
To let myself lay open
and love
to open myself to love
and follow the flow

But the power lines crackle overhead
as we walk below
I reach my fingers for yours
feel the sparks fly
the way they always have

Too long, too long
I’ve been too scared
to belong to one
Too envious
too greedy
to let myself just love
chase the current

But the power lines crackling overhead
told of the same story
I reach my hand towards yours
feel the sparks fly
the way they’ve always done

I can’t hide from the obvious
from the most fulfilling dream
I’ve been pretending was not mine
was not my desire
all this time
how I strove to deny my love
so foolishly

The power lines crackle overhead
it’s no shock to me at all
You reach for my hand and hold it
we feel the sparks fly
the way they always should
the way they always will…

[2019]

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Note: Written into my phone in a tent at Glastonbury music festival in June 2019.

Photo credit: https://www.larkinweb.co.uk/miscellany/fluorescent_tubes_under_power_lines.html

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