The Jagged Edge of Love

This must be my longest night
moon laying its heavy light right down
this room swims in all the gossiping
conversations; always imagined and impossible

This must be my longest night
fading echoes of all we did ring ‘round
there’s no sleep to be had, just counting stars
and scenes replaying; on the ceiling’s cinema

We found the jagged edge of love
it cut right across my heaving chest
as its hand slipped back into the mist…

We skirted the boundary of almost love
close enough to feel its gravity
near enough to have it hurt me;
whipped and cowed by its proximity

We found the jagged edge of love
it burned poker-hot across my palms
as it slipped from reach…

This must be my longest night
from the distant black above
comes understanding
slow and sweaty, but it fills me resolutely
finally calmed; released by this epiphany;

I wanted you
and, for a moment there, you wanted me too
but was it really me at all
or just the softly-stroking hand
of my words upon your ego

And did I ever want you
because of who you were
or how you made me feel about myself
in love with what I saw
when I was the peacock strutting in front of you?

This has been my longest night
tired eyes prodded by a heavy moon
with its gravities and chattering
and the echo of your laughter, before you disappeared
when all I could see
was the mirror you were to my vanity…

[2015]

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The Friend You Lost

Forgive
accept
let go
empathize…
There have always been two sides
relax the pains
loosen the hurt
you’re not the only one
you’re not the only one
who couldn’t cope

Forgive
see common ground
smile
at peace…
of course; the other burned too
imagine what they went through
moved too fast? Awful timing? Yes
you weren’t the only one
you weren’t the only one
struggling to move on

Don’t drown these precious things in anger
don’t lose sight
of all that was beautiful
such indelible jokes
and love and laughter
Forgive
accept
let go
smile at the friend you kept…

[2011]

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An Actor Writes From Their Dressing Room…

The room turns cold on my entry
chilled by the endless winter in my heart
which came one day when I was younger
and never began to thaw
Now the icicles of loneliness reach
they hang above this crooked form
this bent back scribbling at its desk
Well I’ve tried to fake some warmth
I’ve stood outside and screamed at the sky
but this emotionless, empty heart
will never melt, or heal, or bloom again

Now all of the love I’ve acted out
just inverts into hate and boomerangs
and I can’t stand or leave this chair
I refill my pen and pour more wine
reclining under the weight of sadness
that I could never be blessed
with love, or loyalty, or warmth
all I do is write about my missing pieces
unsure if, or when, I’ll ever find them
maybe I am not deserving of saviour
but I’m still vain enough to hope…

[2005]

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Contusion Blues

Have I caught a cold?
I can feel it in my bones
this hollow sense that I can’t shake
when I gauge the current state

Newspaper, newspaper
you’re not paper anymore
and it’s not news
just the inevitable unfolding
an unstoppable rolling
towards flag waving
a dismantling, dividing
dis-united kingdom

This news, this news
gives me contusion blues…

Politics is broken, democracy’s a joke
opinions spin in the echo chambers
they’ve weaponised conjecture
demonised the expert

This malaise creeps upon us like a sickness
our unshakable, solemn sadness
with fingers tight around our wrists
I feel the dead blood pool
just beneath the surface
I can barely grip a pen (to vote)

This news, this news
gives me contusion blues…

It’s been like this for years
but I just feel 
everything
seems to be getting worse…

[2019]

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Touching Souls

Where are the keys,
why do we suffer these?
Nine to five, making the best of things
six to twelve, not making the most of me

Where is the doorway into,
the life we always thought was ours?
Five years pass, soon ten years have passed
I’m older now but no nearer to where I want to be

These prisons
these cells
why do we dwell here?
Are you the key
are you the one for me?

Closed eyes at work and dreaming
I am alive somewhere in words and rhyme schemes
your mind’s on fire and always turning
momentary escape through creativity

Closed eyes at night and kissing
we’re alive, somewhere in the alleyway
your tongue is in my mouth and we are beating
two hearts filled with the thrill of living

These prisons,
these cages
why do we age here?
You release me
but always so briefly

Those things you make and speak inspire me
but still I stay here
Those things I say and do consume you
but still you stay there

We were one chapter, now just a recurring character
in the long story of each others lives
you were a glimpse of all that might have been for me
in the long story of our separate lives

but for a moment there
for a moment
we were not trapped

We were touching souls…

[2011]

Note: Title by Joni. Artwork credit: https://www.saatchiart.com/alisonmarydunn]

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Songs From The Womb

Through my life I’ve collected voices
maybe twice a decade a new singer comes to me
and I can’t let it pass by
without holding tight

Through the years certain songs seem magnetic, somehow
whole albums written in a style I know too well
for it to be coincidence
and I have to hold it close

When Joni sings of ‘skating away’
something jumped out of the speakers
and Leonard says a ‘highway curls up like smoke’
those lines leap out of my headphones

Georgie’s story and the way Rod tells it
grabs me by the lapels
Don’s road trip to the levy
those lines are etched beneath my skin

My mother, my mother played these songs to me
before I even took a breath
my mother, my mother played me these songs
before I ever took a breath

Songs from the womb
songs from before
come back and find me again…

[2019]

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If My ‘Always’ Could Be True

Some dusks, they take too much
and of men, I am duty-bound
to be loyal, to provide…
There should be a shelter
I can create with my hands
so when the clouds revert to water
then she will have some warmth

But I am a coward, sometimes
I am a snake, sometimes
a jackal and a vulture
I dream to take it back
undo my failed moments
so my ‘always’ could be true

Men look at me and smile
some simply see I am like them
drawn to flames and to destruction
other men see me as a joke
not as a man should be
armed to art and to creation
she seems to like my contradictions

But I am uninspired, sometimes
I am a beast, sometimes
an animal and a killer
I long to take it back
undo those bleak mistakes
so my ‘always’ could be true

I have been a knife
and I have slit before
so my ‘always’ will never be true…

[2006]

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Don’t Look And It Won’t Hurt

Five years of cobweb
decorates the hallway box
the urn inside
holds more dust at rest
well, it used to be your father…

Don’t look and it won’t hurt
don’t look and it won’t hurt

Your brother’s drinking
on a fifteen year bender
so quick to lose his temper
if you ask too many questions
that snake prone upon his shoulder

Don’t look and it won’t hurt
don’t look and it won’t hurt

Your man beside you lies untouched
no communion for years now
still the love is strong between you
but something physical has broken
in desperate need of discussion

Don’t look and it won’t hurt
don’t look and it won’t hurt

I’m always here if you
want to talk it through
heaven knows, you need to
I know it’s hard to face it fully
but I’d do my best to help you

That mantra you’ve been living by
it simply isn’t true
the mantra you’ve been swearing by
quietly, it harms you

Don’t look and it won’t hurt
don’t look and it won’t hurt…

[2019]

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Night

So soon it’s night again
the days are short
in times such as these
The sun only stays so long
only lays its light down for so long
then it goes again
we’re plunged into night

O, could you not find a torch
or a candle or a lantern
to bring some light in here
We can’t see any hope
swimming in this darkness

So soon it’s night again
we’re on the same street corner
I’m selling your body again
I’m selling my brain
it gets so dark round here
I almost forget about the light
there is some light, sometimes
but right now
it’s night…

[2008]

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Backwards

There is a place
I’ve kept it secret
where answers come before the question
and what is made must be undone
a place where love will follow heartbreak
a place where life begins in sadness
I go there to forget…
I go there to forget everything…

So, kiss me…
Kiss me in the rainbow calming water
electric lips to shock it out of me
strip the corruption from my eyes
tell me it’s not true, it isn’t real
I go there to unravel…
I go there to untangle everything…

There is a place
where waves lap back out to sea
to go there is to come back regressed
shrunken, out of time
it helps to watch the rain form
and fall into the sky
knowing everything is being erased
I go there to come back…
I go there to come back to everything…

So, drown me…
Drown me in the rainbow fizzy water
burning lips to scold it out of me
scratch the images from my heart
tell me it’s not truth, it isn’t real
I go there to unravel…
I go there to untangle everything…

I get out of joint, dislocate my head
slip out of time
I go there to forget
I go there to forget everything
but I can never, really forget
I can never get away
and I come back
back to everything

unresolved…

[2003]

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You Are Free

Freedom is…
A blank page, ruled with margins for scribbled after-thoughts
Ink in the fountain pen and some new idea to spill
A canvas, with pallet oiled and brushes ready
A quiet room, an acoustic guitar in tune
A sunrise, derelict buildings, wide lens and film ready in the camera
A garden, soil turned and green fingers
Wet sand, a new love and a sharp stick
A science textbook, a biro and a teenage smirk

Freedom is…
Truths to tell, a close friend with a sympathetic ear
White folded card, marker pens, glue, an impending birthday
A concrete wall, spray can in hand, something to say
A ream of material, needle, thread and buttons
An audience, a microphone, a knowing smile
A piano, no music written but itchy fingers
A blog post and a theme as free as freedom itself
Freedom is your life, and whatever story you choose to write with it

Freedom is self-expression
and you are free…

[2010]

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Pocketful of Rain [with audio]

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]

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Raining In Darlington

Every new day brings fresh lethargy
renewed deceit, increased malaise
The tipping-point arrives
the call goes out
but there is nothing
and no one comes;
these ‘friends’ have failed

Every new year brings fresh poetry
a handful of old photographs
and the game of remembering names
Those pretty kids stand so still
smiling on a beach somewhere
Where are they now
in these heavy adult years

Every new life brings fresh expectation
new-born hope, budding dreams
a player joins the game
takes their part in the play
and we share our cheats and scripts
in some duty-bound illusion

But today;
there is no heat in the air
the streets awash with tears
this Northern sky cries every day
for the future, for the past
for the sadness it has seen
it misses us, mourns our departure
and dresses itself in black
for our recurring nightly funeral

Where did we lose our way?
When did we wish ourselves away?
The darling sky begs for answers
they’re sprayed on crumbling walls
they’re compass-point scratches on school desks
and etched with hearts on lonely trees
they’re everywhere
but we don’t always see
They’re everywhere
but we’re just too busy
They’re everywhere
and the rain magnifies them for me…

[2005]

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Pillars of Creation

Looking out to look inside
I see you both
the pillars of creation
above me, before me
deft hands
painting me into existence
with hands of love

Across all time
beyond the sky
my gratitude expands eternally
into a space that doesn’t yet exist
hand above my heart
your two hearts all over my art
the hands of love

Should you ever leave
you’ll never leave me
the pillars of creation
I carry, always, in me…

[2016]

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The Truth Is Sadness

Decorated lives
shuffling onwards
towards inevitable darkness
we cloak ourselves
in the hood of love
cover the cage
deny the sky above
the truth is sadness

Tiny movements
helpless gestures
elliptical orbits
around the heart of happiness
an argument
with a river
convinced of our control
tilting the rudder
towards hope
the truth is sadness

Fold the patterned sheet
around your sleeping child
know they’ll close
the carved casket
someday around yours
all you’ve seen
or done or sung
is gone
the truth is sadness

Zoom out, zoom out
and it’s clear
every story is a tragedy
what came of your argument
with the river
did you learn to love
that strange beauty
the truth has always
been impermanence
ephemeral experience
an end
to all things
the truth is sadness…

[2019]

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Why Poems? [with audio]

Poems are my photographs
my diary
my inner monologue
poems are my measurement
my record
the fingerprints of emotions
invisible no more
Poems are my expression
the sum of interactions
they show my working out
Poems are the breath
of lost lovers
against my neck
Poems are my kisses
for family and my friends
the hugs I seldom give

And your poems…
your poems keep me company
a little light
calling to my lost ship
I sip my tea
and slip into your mind…

[2019]

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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]

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Is It Cold Where You Are?

All this talk of cut cords, severed alliances
assuming of an adultness of understanding
a rationing of feeling
where one side metes out their emotions
only experiencing the right and sensible sensations

And so I forget to ask
is it cold, where you are?

All this presumption of absolutes, burned bridges
there being no way to return to stir this into a mess
a wall of arbitrary time, slotted days upon weeks
to hide the vision of what once shone so stellar

And so I forget to ask
is it cold, where you are?

All this forward thinking, predictive dreaming
pushing eyes and minds to see something not yet shown
clawing the edges of a still concealed future
an impatient Christmas morning of wild new opportunity

And so I forget to ask
is it cold, where you are?

Selfishly distracted, by the glowing halo of tomorrow
buoyed by a sense of feeling strong and free
my mind gets wiped, all compassion corrupted
when really I still care
and will wonder about you always

Is it cold, where you are?
and if it is, is there anything I can do?

If it’s cold where you are
is there anything I can do?

[2011]

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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]

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Windmill Hill [with audio]

Walking to the old wooden mill
walking up Windmill Hill

Walking high above the sleeping villages
stomping slow through powder snow
following my friend as he stretches his legs
moving as two faint dark figures
across the dim blue glowing fields

See smoke rising from a chimney
off in the distance, a single building shivers
one light flickers in an upstairs window
I momentarily wonder what they might be doing
huddling for warmth by the fading orange fire?

On nights like this I walk for miles
until my shoes are consolidated ice
and I can’t walk too many steps more
on nights like this I love to drift freely
let thoughts unfold in the clean crisp air
a few pure hours among the hills and valleys

When I free my mind and let all grip swing away
when I am calm and utterly alone
always the things I find, that I dwell upon
are the gratitude and joy I experience daily
it’s the happiness and the luck
that seem to surround and blanket me daily

I know life won’t always be this gracious
won’t always handle me so gentle or easily
I know that health and the blessing thereof
is a passing gift that will soon be gone
and yet to know that times like this exist
renews and amplifies
the hope and happiness
I carry with me

The snow begins to fall again
my furry friend shakes the flakes
from his heaving back
now we must return to the sleeping village
both of us, content and smiling

lost in the endless beauty of the living world
looking for calm amongst the chaos
and knowing that it’s out there somewhere
it’s out there
or in here
somewhere…

[2014]

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