British Summer Time

There is new life
in the old garden
There are pretty specks of colour
blooming brightly from the ground
The middle-air is weightless
blowing freely through the lane
Summer fields fold out
through wooden window-frames
Freshly cut grass glides lazily
down molten tarmac roads

There is new life
In the old garden
A cigarette, a teddy-bear
starched laundry on the line
The meadow beyond the fence
birds resting on wires
Peeling paint turns to dust
on frames, on gates, and benches
white spirits in jars warming in the sun
on the worktop in the shed

There is new life
In the old garden
Luscious greens and winding blues
yellows so intense they’re blinding
stretching out endless and golden
from the stream, to that horizon
Soon old friends will come and smile
brimming with new conversation
and bonfires, water fights, and warmth
so effortless, so pretty

There is new life
In the old garden
A stalking cat, a knowing butterfly
the dance of smoke from a fire
a glass of wine, a scent of fruit
the pouring out of hearts so full
The apple tree, the water-hose
and running through the weeds
These scenes imprinting their memories
on every sense
five times remembered…

[2005]

Thanks for reading this very old poem.

Image: Summer Garden Painting

Reflections of December

In the caverns of a King’s Cross bar
I quietly compose an opening
six months now, since our last meeting
I catch sight of my reflection
twisting in the half-full glass upon the bar
What am I doing here
set up for a disappointing sequel
It’ll never be like it was
at the start
it’ll never feel like it did
before

Festive cheers fill the bar
as my mind slips back one year
when my world was folding inward
intoxicated with the excitement of chances taken
and how I quietly spoke of my growing love for you
in the blurry Christmas air
I made foolish gestures at what I wanted
slid my heart across the table
waited with baited breath
for your reciprocation
and headed home empty handed…

Tonight is such a bittersweet evening
a reminder of how much I love your company
it hits me squarely, and for the first time, fully
how much I’ve missed you
But you’ve changed, grown up, matured somehow
wisdom where once there was only spiked humour
oh, as a friend
you’ll always remain a favourite
held out of reach by our history

It’s so bittersweet, our meeting
our reflections melt and merge
in the glasses that we drain
I’m still beguiled by your luminous beauty
and vindicated to know
what I thought I’d felt was honest
not pure circumstance, greed or opportunity
our briefest spark lit my world so brightly
in way never bettered before or since
It’ll never be like it was
at the start
it’ll never feel like it did
before

Such a bittersweet evening
lit in the primary colours of December
you, grinning, purr ‘let’s do this again soon’
and of course I say ‘I hope we do’
When I cast my eyes across this year
it’ll always be your face
reflected back at me
when I look back from some future distance
your face will always be smiling back at me…

[2015]

Thanks for reading.

(A sort-of sequel to ‘Anatomy of Longing‘)

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New Memories

Squinting at the good old days
through a low winter sun
Dreaming of those times
spent down there on the sand
lost in the blue hour
or scheming on a journey
deep into the night
We could have gone anywhere
a can raised to the sky
and on our faces only smiles
for miles
and miles and miles

So many friendships
left behind at other stations
back down the tracks
My friendships all are fraying
their ropes unwinding
I can’t see anything
but all of their waving
They’re waving goodbye

O, we need to make new memories…

Alone on the stones
eyes cast out across the water
churning
looking back towards the land
I feel there’s so much possibility
still coursing through these veins
only halfway, I’m halfway only
The world bends
where the sky and water blend
as day ends, I see their pretty faces
as the ripples on the surface

Those old memories
they’re thinning in the depths
at the edges of my mind
My old partners in crime
keep waving
they’re waving goodbye

O, we need to make new memories…

Come dance with me
on the moonlit beach
let’s make new memories
come roll with me
on the endless dunes
let’s make new memories…

[2019]

Thank you for reading. This one feels even more apt these days…

All my poems.

Rooftop Reverie

The sweetest memories hang
like negatives
in the dark room of my mind
I develop them occasionally
picturing again
more exciting times

Yellows and browns begin to wash
across the leaves outside my window
I haven’t seen you in the flesh
since those shoots were new
it feels so long ago

We ran through those streets
as if we owned them
spinning endlessly from bar to bar
from joke to joke
in our abandon

Our last night in the city
some nameless rooftop bar
we watched the buildings making love
to their reflections on the water
A stranger took our photo
sloshing glasses tucked behind our backs
arms around each other’s shoulders
smiles wider than the frame

I hope there will be other times
another chance and soon
to lose ourselves together
in conversations deep
in the bowels of dimly lit bars
or the roof terraces decked with lanterns
on endless summer evenings
down bustling cobbled alleyways
a community of revellers

O, these dusty memories
bring me close to tears
these dusty memories
chase me round the house
dreaming of a time
when we can crawl out of our bunkers
spend another night
getting lost in the city
finding each other…

[2020]

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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.

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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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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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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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/

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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