There Will Be Birds In The Morning

There’s a girl in tears
upon the cathedral steps
as I walk to work
the rain
a mist that swallows us
leaves blowing by
I want to wrap my scarf around her
and say

There will be better days
there will be lighter times
there will be happiness again

And there will be birds in the morning
singing for you and me
singing for you

There’s a boy in a phone box
framed behind glass, he sighs
as I’m passing by
his call has ended
the last call of that friendship
I want to get him a beer and say

Don’t forget the love you have
don’t forget those faces
it will be bright again in time

And there will be birds in the morning
singing for you and me
singing for you

And the rain comes down
and leaves blow by
and the busses look so busy
I laugh quietly to myself
wondering
Do birds even sing
on winter mornings?

[2019]

Thanks for reading.

Featured in ‘The Ship-wrecker’s Lamp: Selected Poems 2010 – 2020’ available now.

The Ship-wrecker’s Lamp: Available Now!

I did a book!

Somehow, amongst the madness of 2020, I found little slivers of time to collect and polish up another 80 of my poems. The Ship-wrecker’s Lamp contains many of my more recent poems as well a chapter dedicated entirely to poems written about 2020’s Covid lockdown.

All 80 poems were written between 2010-2020. Reflecting on romance, desire, life, lockdown, friendship and writing. The perfect stocking filler, wonky table leg leveller or double-fisting beer coaster…

Buy the paperback edition from Amazon now.

Here are a couple of poems from the book:

High Tide, Low Life

Chalk-White Moonlight

Between A Blue Night and Dawn

Bonfires

Renee By A Thread

Thanks for reading/listening.

Tom Alexander, 1st Dec 2020.

This Leaving Feeling

Below the boards I hear the water rushing
a stray dog strolls by and says hello
he doesn’t stop for long, keeps moving on
across Port Meadow the horses roam

I’ve got this leaving feeling
breeding in me…

The sun above sheds its strength with the season
trees undressing, will soon stand naked
arms held up but not in questioning
the bridge at Magdalen wheezing smoke

I’ve got this leaving feeling
coiled up in me…

Abandoned nests descending in the gales
I’m shedding possessions, lightening the load
too many treasures to take with me
decorating Cowley with my life’s bright litter

I’ve got this leaving feeling
biting down upon me…

After everything that has to be done, is done
can I return?
Once everything that has to be done, is done
will I return here?

Will this feeling ever leave me?
Once I leave
will this feeling be gone?

[2011]

Thanks for reading.

All my poems.

A Thousand Lovers

There is quickly surging in here
a rising stream of what has been
A thousand lovers now, to write about
their pursuit is my only want some nights

Another night of over-driven charm
another taxi ride of careless kisses home
A thousand lovers, they soon add up
too many names, too many faces come and go

A life is lived the wrong way around
I’ve grown up to grow down…

That amiable and likeable image is soon in tatters
stains all over the character and the name
A thousand lovers negate it all
phrases repeated too many times to be true

In this dark chamber, pretty birds linger
some circle so wantonly around here
A thousand lovers just for the taking
I forget how to simply speak a ‘no’

I’ll become a notch on a thousand bed posts
I missed the point of what I miss the most…

Can’t let them think there’s something more to this
or soon enough I’ll find myself too deeply in
with a thousand angry hearts to answer for
A thousand lovers all of whom so badly hate me

Bleak lists form on scraps of paper
in dirty bedrooms, on sweaty sheets
These thousand lovers do not ignite me
there’s no inspiration in these unfeeling flings

A thousand lovers; there may soon be
the more they add up
the less there is left of me…

[2010]

Thanks for reading.

All my poems.

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.

Great Warmth of a Curious Heart

Lurking in the natural world
there are sentences, unspoken
always waiting to be written
frozen in time
waiting for the great warmth
of a curious heart

Haunting the edges of the living world
are spirits of the unspoken connectivity in people
dead or alive, the as-yet unborn
caught between planes
waiting for the flashlight beam
of a curious heart

There is an untapped seem of precious understanding
running through the foundation of all things
reverberating in the soulful moments
ringing just loud enough
to be heard by the ears
of a curious heart

Melt me
shine upon me
hear me
with your curious heart…

[2012]

Thanks for reading.

All my poems.

Your Poem Is Still Young

Your poem is still young
I have not mastered it just yet
I am constantly revising
still working on the phrasing

Your poem is still young
though its meaning is defined
I only have the final line
those last three certain words

Your poem is still young
each year instils new ideas
your actions suggest more rhymes
and we have many years to go

Your poem is still young
though I recite it constantly
my aim is to perfect it
through every day and night

Your poem is still young
I’d hoped to have found a way to say
to address all of the beauty and joy
there is in you, by now, but no

Your poem is still young
and I am glad to say that
it remains unfinished even now
open on the pages of my favourite notebook

Your poem is still young
still improving with every moment
as we lay together, safe in the flames
until the end of time, I’ll sing;

I love you…

Thanks for reading.

All my poems.

Storm Chasers

Tyre tracks on dirt roads
storm chasers
looking for the eye
or something on the other side

Peddle kisses the floor
world whips past the window
tearing up the old road
headed North, searching for more

We were happy here
but could there be greater happiness
elsewhere?
The storm is a chorus
always another verse
on the other side…

In some mad way
we’re headed for a greater shelter
through the storm
headed for safety, hopefully

There is danger
there always is
but life is a song
with danger singing along

Windows wound down
radio up high
with our lives thrown in the back
I feel so alive
do you feel alive?

You call it ‘danger’
I say ‘adventure’
well, life is a song
adventure singing along

Storm chasing
it makes no sense
but for the place on the other side
perhaps, where it’s cheap to live
maybe that makes sense

O, but look at that view
didn’t we always say
it’s all about the view
here; we can see for miles…

In some mad way, we’re headed for greater shelter
on the other side
as we dance into the storm
I feel so alive
don’t you feel alive?

[2016]

Thanks for reading.

All my poems.

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]

Thanks for reading.

All my poems.

Broken-down Place

(Click play for audio reading, right-click ‘save as’ to download)

Our sentences are short
perfunctory statements
serving a purpose

Our brief embrace is feeble
lacks the backbone
the spine of years ago

Your easiness with everyone is gone
my insight into everything is gone
in this broken-down place

We built ourselves a fire
but who will be the first to admit
it’s stone cold now…

Time is a ticking machine
household tasks are an escape
will sleeping ever come?

A phone call to someone else
like a glimpse of some sweet beach
the image lingers on
long after they’ve gone

Your diamond eyes are dulled tonight
my wit is simplified tonight
in this broken-down place

We built ourselves a fire
but there’s no strength in us to go on
and no strength in us to admit
it’s stone dead now…

[2009]

Thanks for reading.

All my poems.

Let The Tide Decide

On some night-time road
with only a distant moon
or your dimming torch
meting out its weak light

Do not be afraid of getting lost
some new thing
may come to you
on the path that you can’t see
some great thing may surprise you

On that long journey
towards day’s promised ending
without any real map
to study or call upon

Do not be afraid of being wrong
take a chance
and see what comes
sometimes you’ll be right
and others you’ll start again

Free yourself
to be wrong
sometimes
you will find new capabilities

Be free
to get lost
sometimes
you may discover treasures there

Let the tides
of your mind decide
it’s alright
to be wrong
sometimes

Be free
be free to get lost
sometimes
let the tide decide…

[2017]

Thanks for reading.

All my poems.

Oxford In The Autumn

As autumn’s rusty fingers begin
to push their way through tired trees
So, the early dimming light
and spectral chill conspire
to gently sweep me back in time

It’s Oxford in the autumn
nineteen; with eyes opening
A new life unfolding
cycling through the leaves
and sighing under bridges

Oxford in the autumn
that brick so old around me
broad streets, illogical lanes
busses and puddles
gang up against my dryness

Oxford in the autumn
looking up into the trees
as they’re burying the pavement
or caught up in the railings
my whole life ahead of me

It’s Oxford in the Autumn
Black n’ Red notebook
poking from my back pocket
All the words collecting
I was yet to wrangle

It’s Oxford in the autumn
for a split second, that I’m returned to
by the dipping light of afternoon
yellow leaves upon ancient stone
those deeply imprinted memories

Oxford in the autumn
flowing scarves and knitted hats
of the girls who passed me by
to fight the cold of endless rain
from the depths of gloomy rented rooms

It’s Oxford in the autumn
and dust motes slowly dancing
in the air above the heater
Fog lit by orange street light
outside my cracked window

Every autumn I’m reminded
of those magical new beginnings
standing tall, for the first time
letting go of all my leaves
my whole life ahead of me…

[2020]

Thanks for reading.

All my poems.

Old Poem

Come on, come on, close!
Won’t these lift doors ever close?
You breathe into my mouth
my fingers invade your finery
I was hypnotised across the table
by the explicit silk of your bare shoulders
Now hot air slathers at my forearms
as our legs entangle their thick reef-knot
Behind this crashing waterfall
no one can hear us moan
as you’re bitten for the thrill of it

And in this lift, we write together
the oldest poem, it’s the oldest poem
a poem as old as time

You don’t know this but you’ve re-lit
the fuse of life in me
I’ve been feeling dead for months
in some subtle crushing ways
I’d lost my grip upon the rip chord
of that passionate parachute
Now, I’m risen and roused
heart beating in my lower lip
as it crushes itself to yours
My slight of hand restored
your clasp magically unlatching
All hell is breaking loose
as I soar across your skin

Come on, come on, close!
Doors; gift us some privacy
Lost in the moment, penning together
the oldest poem, it’s the oldest poem
a poem as old as time

And I’ve
never felt so alive…

[2020]

Thanks for reading.

All my poems.

The Lighthouse Keeper’s Song

The gulls above me, wild and free
my song begins to echo theirs
squawks of tuneless noise
as I try to make some sense
or to release something

Watching the breaking waves
from a distance and then up close
I’ve been nowhere
but up and down the stairs
of this hollow and lonely year

It’s hard to remember the good I do
keeping other ships at a safe distance
as I patiently await the promised boat
that will return me to the world
and the smiling faces of my family

I fear I’m losing my peace of mind
I sense the loosening pieces
as my happiness erodes
My song goes round and round
like the light I tend

Wild and free, used to be
the way I chose to live
Wild and free, an impulsive sea
the way I chose to love

I wait so patiently
on that coming boat
that will return me
to the world I used to love…

[2020]

Thanks for reading.

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]

Thanks for reading.

All my poems.

Let Down Your Guard

Do not be afraid of the flames
they are the best thing I have ever known
Do not try to apply your logic
for it holds no currency here
You’re welcome to try and hide your joy
but there is no point in fighting this
it will take you, if it wants to

Do not be afraid of the flames
take the chance we all must take
please risk the ‘getting burnt’
for there is no better way
there is no better purpose in this life
Lay yourself down, open your arms
hold out your heart, to give

Do not be afraid of the flames
there is nothing to fear
The love cannot flow
unless you let go
Take a chance
the chance you take
I promise you I’ll honour
Do not be afraid of the flames
I will not let you burn
I swear…

[2008]

Thanks for reading.

All my poems.

Ghost Café

Our Halloween masks reflected back
as we peer through that dusty glass
into the quiet gloom
of the Ghost Café

If only the ghost waitress would take our order
‘large or small?’ she asks
well, I’m a medium
ghost chairs dragged across the ghost floor

And the clank of local steel
as it’s set down
on delicately painted porcelain
bustling echoes bounce from peeling walls

People starting or restarting their little days
someone is eating
someone staring into space
someone there in spirit only

The tangled bead curtain splashes
each time the burly ghost chef passes
Chip-and-PIN fickle again
as always

Unopened letters collect behind rusted shutters
a thick dust settles on every spout
Ghost landlord longs to collect
the ghost rent

We keep our distance, don’t touch a thing
we stay at home
say ‘what a shame
nobody in the ghost café again’

The Ghost Café serves a passing trade
ghost shops, ghost pubs
ghost banks and ghost galleries
all the local haunts

The Ghost Café looked alive for a moment
spectres flickering in the gutted ruins
another empty space
now up for sale…

[2020]

Thanks for reading. A repost of a recent one, as it’s the only spooky poem I have 😂

All my poems.

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]

Thanks for reading.

All my poems.

Why So Blue, Sweetheart?

Sweetheart, you’re black and blue
Sweetheart
from the things I’ve done to you

Now your dead arm swings loose
and that bruised eye won’t open
Sweetheart
these things I’ve done to you

An evening among friends, descends
now we’re alone
Sweetheart
now you start, on me again
buttons all pushed, again

You try to stand your ground
but I always shout louder
Sweetheart
surely safer for you to just settle down?

Cower, out in the bedroom
give me space to throw my weight around
Sweetheart
don’t start those waterworks with me

Sweetheart
right from the start
you knew
I’m a passionate man
when it comes to you
Sweetheart

Those knocks
are just acts of love, gone wrong
slightly astray
Sweetheart
a light ‘tap’ on the face, Sweetheart
and you know that I love you

You’re shaking in my arms again
just like when we first met
I can still do that to you?
O, yes I do
but now you’re black and blue
Sweetheart…

[2009]

Thanks for reading.

All my poems.

The Winning Hand

In the dimming garden
beneath the belt of Venus
fingers grip a bottle
a nightcap alone

Finally, I belong
finally, I belong to someone
how I’ve run from this
for so long

Now, nothing makes me happier
nothing makes me feel more sure
of anything
than knowing that you’re waiting

There were so many jokers
in the deck
the two of hearts, too many cards
and still dealing, still dealing

The night air’s tinged by a new chill
September’s signature
autographing my bare arms
but I barely feel it

Let me stay by your side
through winter months
and country walks
through rain and sleet
and fog

I used to hold nothing in my hand
look at the empty shape it made
wondering if there was something missing
something
that should have belonged
only me
I should have belonged
to something
to you

I sit down into the wicker chair
look across the valley below
the sky is closing in the distance
darkness gloves the globe again

How could I
even for a moment
have doubted
I held the winning hand
all this time

How could I
even for a second
doubt that
I held the winning hand
all along…

[2019]

Thanks for reading. Repost from 2019.

All my poems.