Headlights

Picking you up to go driving
I’d get there early to watch you get ready
both seventeen and tangled
in that unspoken thing between us
Cruising the looping country lanes
in those dim headlight beams
That was our place, alone together at last
Two teenagers, eyeing each other sideways
and wondering who each of us would be
would you always stay right there
would you always be
in the car with me
Another mile, another mile
in those endless times…

Thrumming rain upon the roof
your fingers knitted in the glovebox light
always asking me so many questions
our laughter lingering and playful
in the freezing depths of northern winter
You’d push me to say who I liked at school
watching so carefully
I’d study the glowing dashboard for a full five minutes
turn the tape over, change the conversation
stealing so many glances
at your perfect saucer eyes
so smart and so alive
Another mile, another mile
in our early lives…

Somewhere along the journey
we’d stop the car, snuff out the lights
and in the backseat, without a word
we’d learn a new geography
You’d breathe your lessons into me
the beguiling wonder of our story
skirting the youthful boundaries
of a near-love I’d forever treasure
And afterwards you’d finger our initials
on the foggy inside of the glass
I always loved that, but so sad
that those smears outlasted us
Another mile, another mile
in those simple, priceless, times

Twenty years of change sailed by
suddenly, from the silence, you called me
heard I’m in town, saying ‘we should talk again’
I say ‘how about a drive…?’
Eyeing me from the driver’s seat
you say I’d ‘become all the things I used to pretend to be’
you said it was ‘a good thing’
and now you teach at our old college
you’re not married but there’s a good man waiting
and the baby, she already looks like you
Who’d have thought those teenagers were headed here
running country laps, in those dim headlight beams
another mile, another mile
in those precious lives, we had to leave behind

Another mile, another mile
I’m so glad we got to share those times…

[2021]

Thanks for reading.

All my poems.

Only Moments

Remembering dim rooms
hushed conversation
whispering those compliments
almost embarrassed
trying to communicate the reverence
the pure weight of all this feeling
wading so deep in love

Ah, they’re only moments…

Remembering falling rain
buried in each other’s coats
kissing through smiles
desire whilst laughing
being perfectly overwhelmed by someone
the greatness that is all-consuming
swallowed so deeply by love

They’re only moments
so missing
so missed

Today is bright, today is dry
ah, but to feel again that feeling
to feel again
the deepest drowning of love
the greatest feeling

Those moments
only moments
so missed
so missing from my life…

[2011]

Thanks for reading.

All my poems.

Been Nowhere, Seen Nothing

Do you remember when we kissed
in the dim bar, beneath the railway arches
that hypnotic smile you wore
the way you demanded to be held
as all hell broke loose between us

Do you remember how you took my hands
as we walked beside the rails
you thrust yourself into my grasp
pushed your body hard against mine
and stopped time

And I felt so alive
that I’d
been nowhere
seen nothing
before that night

I still think about the drunken orange skies
the red tail lights stretching on for miles
as we drifted through the sprawling city
the only heat; that which burned between us
pressing your entire being up against me

And I felt so alive
truly, I’d
been nowhere
seen nothing
before that time

I remember you so clearly
with such precise clarity
I wonder do you remember me
do you still think of me at all

Since then
I’ve been nowhere
seen nothing else…

[2014]

Thanks for reading.

All my poems.

Pocketful of Rain

What do we have
at the end of our walk
just the smiles on our faces
and a pocketful of rain

I have learned from you all
I have laughed with you all
I have burned for you all
but always, always you’ll be gone

What do we have
at the end of our walk
just the things we have shared
and a pocketful of rain

So grateful to have seen you
I’m honoured to have met you
indebted to your friendship
but always, always you’ll be gone

What do we have
at the end of our walk
just the sparks that were flung
and a pocketful of rain

All that energy we burnt through
all the ink that we spilled
all the time that we spent there
all those moments left bare

Always, always you’ll be gone again
with nothing to show
but a pocketful of rain…

[2017]

Thanks for reading.

All my poems

We Kissed As The House Blew Away

Remember when we kissed all night
in taxis
bar booths
theatres
in takeaways
phone-boxes
queues
in fields
on cliff-tops
white sands
in crowds
in ostentatious style
with absolute certainty
standing in rivers
rolling on haystacks
in tents
in love…

To lose ourselves in kisses
was all we ever wanted
‘lose yourself in kisses’
that’s all we ever whispered

Do you remember the last time we kissed
anywhere
anywhere at all…

[2017]

Thanks for reading.

All my poems.

The Window Box

Returning to that rented house
once we’d split our stuff
casting an eye over
the now barron landscape of our love
I brush away the mess we left
touch up the paint in the hallway

One thing we forgot to pack
one thing you forgot to take
that flower box outside the bedroom window
I bought for you while working away
you planted seeds and raised them up
gave them names with handwritten labels

Now, the pen has faded but
your writing remains so delicate
The soil is white, stems all withered
there’s no life left
Tossing the box into a bin bag
finally, it hits me, hard and winding

Just what is ending here
all those little moments we tended
all those precious things we shared
are done and dusted

Chucked into the big black bag of memory
that only I will really will carry with me
my fat tears water those dead stems
so sure nothing will bloom like that again…

[2021]

Thanks for reading.

All my poems.

A New Constellation

Minding my own business
tending the sail
I was headed home
or thought I was

A clear sky, fine nighttime
and here we are
your smile floors me
so utterly infectious
your soul is rare…

I can’t help but start beaming too
knowing how easy it would be
to fall
to fall in love with you

I was minding my own business
following the stars
headed home
or so I thought

The sky torn open
silver pin pricks pepper the black
a great flash of stars
form this novel map

A new constellation
presiding over me
summer come suddenly
its glow rushes to my bones
I’m so quickly lost in
your mischievous grin

Splashing through the mud
painting these bright colours
lit by the effervescent glow
of your thousand watt smile

I can’t help
but catch myself beaming too
knowing how silky it would feel
to fall
And to be caught
In a net of love with you…

[2021]

Thanks for reading.

All my poems.

Chlorine

The smell of that stuff
they use to wash the water clean
it gets up your nose
when tired from swimming

Me and my friend
he teaches me all these things
Like how to keep a secret
airtight

It’s a drink inside a flask
you don’t tell, even if they ask
and I never said no
but I never said yes

Why does everything here
smell clean
but me…

Busy bare ankles glimpsed
In the gap below the cubicle door
I never thought I wasn’t ready
I’d never thought about it before

Only how many lengths I could swim
another one, another one, before back to him
It’s a silence I struggle to keep
but who would want to listen

Why does everything here
smell clean
but me…

Three decades on
so much distance in my heart
and all those failed moments gone by
all those loves that fall apart

I’m still free when I swim
I rarely think of it now
he was no friend to me
Finally, I learned what it was
I learned it had a name

Chlorine…

[2021]

Thanks for reading this rather bleak poem.

I felt like a bit of an imposter writing this one, as I have no experience of the subject matter. But I thought perhaps it might speak to others.

All my poems.

The Distant Lifeboat

Once all our honey has been spread
once the little moments are learned by heart
routine a debt that stalks our steps
and suggestions nag more than they ought
then the waiting boat will take me
to a wooden shack by the ocean
and there, I’ll start again, alone

Once your touch no longer prickles
once our conversations are to walls not through them
no sound but a ticking house that counts us down
and my advice is not heard or welcome
then the waiting car will take me
a handsome driver spurned from some vintage memory
and there, I’ll start again, without you

But darling, until that time, I’ll stay right here
Darling, until that time, I’m yours yet to discover
unwrap me, keep unwrapping me

Once the laughter seems decades dead
once each tick feels designed to grate
the breath of each day too thick to breathe
and nowhere left to sit in peace
then the waiting boat will take me
to a beach shack by the pale ocean
and there, I’ll find my youth again, alone

Once your rough hands feel me no more
once all the years of the love add up to nought
in a clockwork life that subtracts our bodies
If every word becomes functional but formless
then the waiting car will steal me
caught in the still bright eyes of its reckless driver
and there, I’ll find all that’s lacking, without you

But darling, until that time, please stay right here
Darling, until that time, I’m yours, taste every mouthful
unwrap me, keep unwrapping me

The waiting boat can wait a while longer
That idling engine 
will have to wait a good while longer…

[2021]

Thanks for reading.

Based on a conversation about the little things people tell themselves to navigate difficult or uncertain relationships.

All my poems.

Beds, Hearts and Books

In these surprising years beyond expiry
forty and not failing
the journey remains largely painless
and brightly lit
wrapped up in love
in beds
hearts and books

Pull this feeling tight around me
another year of moving on
from all that didn’t seem to fit
closer to who I want to be
tangled up in love
in beds
hearts and books

All these lines, I can’t help but keep weaving
on the loom of all my longing
happily in awe of the ever-expanding story
forty and still dreaming
swaddled by love
in beds
hearts and books

There’s a deep and lingering kiss
waiting in the other room
the co-author of all my future stories
if I put down this pen, move to that place
we’re smothered in love
Hunkering down
in beds
hearts and books…

[2021]

Thanks for reading.

All my poems.

In Real Life

Those stories we swap
in the heat of the night
Those secrets we share
on the cool mattress springs
Beyond the ears of the world
the prying eye of the sun
that’s where you’ll feel
our friendship in full flight

In real life
In real life

Those laughs that catch us
loose and disarmed
in a parked car at the riverside
Those conversations deep
that push through to the bone
binding our minds
in timeless chains of trust

In real life
In real life

I sit before the mirror, this portal
the exhausting window
the only current pathway to our friendship
and I wither
So much thinner
eyes zooming out

Staring at the word ‘real’
it starts to look odd to me
have I spelled it wrong
is everything rearranged
jumbled by this dull familiarity
eyes squinting hard

Does it mean our foundation is flawed
if it doesn’t sing aloud through this disaster
I know you’ll be there for me
I am here and waiting
O, the sooner we can be together
the sooner we can laugh again

In real life
In real life…

[2021]

Thanks for reading.

All my poems.

We Ruin All We Love

I have ruined what I’ve loved
I’ve been ruined by my loves
and now all that remains
is tainted and unlovable
I am tainted and unlovable
It’s time for a change…

Cold eyes look out upon a frozen town
icy streets tripping over themselves to keep us indoors
but the boundaries of this house are closing in
and the sound of other voices is so appealing
If only I could hear them now
if only I could fill this space with people

I have ruined all I’ve loved
I’ve been ruined too, in my loving
and now all that I want differs so greatly
from what it is I really need
What I really need is saving
from myself and these ruinous ways
it’s time for change…

Old eyes could look out in years to come
across a town so unexplored and inexperienced
they might peer through that same pretty glass
wishing they’d seen more things first-hand
If only I could see it now
if only I could fill passed time with places

I have ruined all I’ve loved
I’ve been ruined through my love
broken hearts at least force new growth
staid hearts grow their roots too deep
moss clawing all over them, all over me
it’s time for a change…

This town still calls to me
through our dusty windows
and I look, so longingly
it still offers out its hand
from time to time and smiles
‘Don’t let this opportunity pass you by
it comes just once in a lifetime…
you have… but one lifetime…’

But I have ruined what I love
been ruined by my lover
now, there’s just ash
where the fires used to burn
Now, there’s just dust
where our skin used to prickle
now, there are just silences
where our words once dripped in love

And every day the outside world
swells in its appeal
and every day the outside world
multiplies its pull on me
Each morning, I wake one step closer
to making that leap
If only I could fill passed time with faces
if only I could find the door…

[2009]

Thanks for reading this old poem.

All my poems (not all of which are so down on love)

Free Line

Aren’t we both hedonists
just looking for a good time
shouldn’t we just enjoy this
a drug to take
for which we don’t have to pay
in these times of austerity
we can do our bit for the economy

Aren’t we both hedonists
looking for a good time
and if it’s free then why wouldn’t we
indulge whatever thrill we can
with just the touch of our shoes
or our elbows, waiting in the street
wouldn’t we be getting high so harmlessly

I play my free line, hanging on for your reply…

Aren’t we both lost a little
and willing to gamble all that we have left
The sun of this excitement
coats every moment’s surface
mundane places now hold mystery
the daily grind; a roulette wheel of flirting words

I play my free line, chained to your reply…

This is fun, this is free
so why should we reject it
why turn away
from the magic of this opportunity
let’s get out of here
come on, let’s disappear…

I play my free line, a slave to your reply…

[2015]

Thanks for reading.

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

Chaotic Calligraphy

This chaotic calligraphy threads itself through
wrapped weed-like through each decision
scrawled across all memory
a subconscious graffiti tagging everything

This chaotic calligraphy weaves its tentacles so tightly
through every dream, everything said and unsaid
contaminated by spidery strands
of the spinning story’s web unwinding

What is this chaos that comes to me
What is this vast drama
This cricket’s voice, taps me on the shoulder
and says;

‘What you destroy
you can write about
what you demolish
you can sing it out

What you have; is yours to keep
but what you lose 
becomes kindling for more poetry

either way you win
either way you gain something’

This chaotic calligraphy is writ large in me
the explosive adventure always appealing
Is it boredom, is it madness
to tweak the mix and see what comes

In love with what I see before me
in love with all that gets written down
and printed there indefinitely
ephemeral no more

Either way I win
either way I gain something…

[2014]

Thanks for reading.

All my poems.

House Arrest

I used to keep my dreams in a secret drawer
I would never dare admit, I wanted more
lived my life as if under house arrest
Shaved my edges off
until there was nothing left

Dreaming in the darkness
sighing ‘I don’t want this’

I used to think what use are other people
There is nothing that I can give or take from them
And what is ‘fun’ again, I don’t recall
Life will have to wait
a while more

Dreaming in the darkness
whispering ‘I simply cannot bare this’

The antiquated machinery of my sociability
sat stationary so long
it became rusted
All that solitude bred nothing
but fierce contempt
for the hectic company of anybody else

Dreaming in the darkness
screaming ‘I can’t go on like this’

When I’d served my time
and house arrest was over
community service I took to with such pleasure
such a wealthy world
expanded all about me
So many places, so many faces all friendly

Now, I walk in the sun
rife with life and light
singing ‘everything is right
everything feels right’…

[2009]

Thanks for reading this old poem.

All my poems.

Kept The Camera Rolling

From kicking, screaming infant; born again
Ripped from the world of shared agreement
into the spiralled twisting cloud of change
I kept the camera rolling
took more photographs than ever
forensically documenting
this transitioning
the pushing on, the falling back
the healing of bruised flesh
The hurt: it all evaporates in time
the hope: it mutates into bigger dreams

I’d drink all that distraction
I’d swallow that ignorance right down
Why burn in searing ache, when you can numb
and as you grow and grow and grow
the less pain you need to kill
I kept the camera rolling
took more photographs than ever
recorded all the positions as I warped through
The running on, the sinking back
as scabs fall, scars fade
obsessions bloomed, fantasies exploded
the synaptic sprawl of all I covet
etched right across me
needle depth, it changed and imprinted upon me
then displaced, replaced, as I move away again

What was her name? What was it that I felt?
Those passionate instants all bettered
all supplanted with new indelible constants
The measure of emotion is its longevity
the desires that remain are the ones we trust
So, I kept the camera rolling
took more photographs than ever
a sketch book of the people I’ve seen
a family album of the ‘me’s I’ve been
Swimming towards the light with a new energy
The world is so much lighter now
done and dusted, it’s just dust
recorded in all my poems this year
a permanent reminder
of this patchwork place
making sense of all this change…

[2010]

Thanks for reading.

This was written 11 months after ‘KEEP THE CAMERA ROLLING’ .

Keep The Camera Rolling

You’re a vulture, you’re a thief
with your hungry eyes
and bloody mouth
Ravenous for the pain
thirsty for the tears
While these sad events unfold
you’re there licking up the morsels
As she and I disintegrate
you’re standing on the sidelines
rampant with your precious inspiration
Sketching the scene so detailed
Re-chewing each mouthful of emotion
every snap of our shredding hearts
splattering your spidery black notes
scrawled wet across the page
for all time
So, we may never forget this hurt
or how it came to us so heavily

For once in your obsessive life
can you not shut that camera off
please not record this
these aching tears, these deafening screams
let the two of us
mourn our love in peace, apart
forget and move on
lighter and brighter
Now all is done and dusted
let it be dust
with no record of the depths we plunged
no permanent reminder
of this painful place…

[2009]

Thanks for reading.

On the confusion of being a writer whilst you completely come apart. Raging at yourself for not being able to shut off that journalistic part of you.

Vodka

Do you still see the ghosts
those aged faces, dried crimson blood
Do you still shiver in the dark
with drugged malaise, false memories
trapped in shifting rooms
as shadows gather and clamber over you
tight chest and splintering palms
Clutching at the floor
slack-jawed and eager
Holding on to stay afloat
in vodka
in vodka, gin and brandy…

[2004]

Thanks for reading this very early poem. I think this was heavily influenced by Martin Amis’ second novel Dead Babies, which I’d finished reading at the time.

All my poems.

Heavy Rain

I’m driving in heavy rain
I am on my way
As thick as fog
this heavy rain
and I can’t see
I can’t see
I am driving in heavy rain

Part of me wishes
part of me aches
part of me wants to make a mistake
I am driving in heavy rain
I am on my way

There is an urgency in my blood
There is an urgency
in my blood
to spill
Driving in heavy rain

Eighty miles an hour
in heavy rain
Eighty miles an hour
for hours

A mistake
a mistake
I make
a mistake…

[2010]

Thanks for reading.

All my poems