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]

Thanks for reading.

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]

Thanks for reading.

Between A Blue Night and Dawn [with audio]

[Please click above to listen! Right-click and choose ‘Save as’ to download the Mp3]

Two lovers traveling
two lovers
meeting in the East

Their affair
was letters inked
and photographs
Now here embodied
will they know what to do?

She wakes him one morning, saying
‘let’s take a boat to an island
we’ll rise above the Bangkok smog’

Bike beneath them spluttering
her arms knitted around him
they race from bay to beach
chasing the burning sun
with hair wet and smiles wide

Their shoulders lapped by waves
she was beautiful
sitting on his knee
they felt married, waist deep
straw hats wilting in the brine

He thought ‘I could hold you here forever
I would kiss you
until the stars pepper the sky’

Between the music
from the bars off in the distance
and the love
dripping warmly from her words
a song composes itself over the ocean

Orion’s Belt above them
sand dancing between their toes
they rest upon the rocks
and she knows that she could love him
he wishes this night would never end
it’s one chance in their lifetimes
between a blue night and dawn

In a stilted shack on sand
her black hair spreads
like ink across the bed
longing dialling up their eyes
as the air between them boils
bodies’ voices blending

Two lovers traveling
two lovers don’t know if they’ll meet again
this could so easily have been
the love of their lifetimes

This could so easily have been
yet it existed only
between a blue night and dawn…

[2019]

Thanks for reading.

Reposted from February, now with an audio reading set to the track Green Arrow by Yo La Tengo.

Ellipsis [with audio]

I don’t write them like I used to
they’re not carved out of my bone
the way they used to be

I don’t bleed over the carpet
in some mouldy rented bathroom
like I used to

They used to say it was the angst that drove me
some mild flair for painting what had pained me
but you have to make peace eventually
I don’t know what is driving this anymore

At the end of that final line there’s an ellipsis
at the end of all I said there’s an ellipsis
saying so much more than I

Now, I don’t sweat it out in twisted sheets
with cramped heart and cracked beliefs
surrendering my barbed emotions like a flag
the way I used to

I don’t tap that vein of pure unfocused bile
don’t let it gush across the front row of my imagined audience
they don’t say much about my unbridled verse these days
like they used to

At the end of every poem there’s an ellipsis
at the end of all I said there’s an ellipsis
dragging on and on

It speaks louder than I ever could…

[2014]

Thanks for reading.

Such Strange Light

Such strange light
washing out
into the long night

Generous with pigment
volcanic reds and stella blues
you see that damp look
on the snapshot of my face

I wish someone had told me
wish someone had just shown me
dad, you could have warned me

O, how it burns
how it hurts to see yourself
suddenly, with that clarity
kept reserved for other people

In the rear-view mirror
in that mirror

Cold slate evenings
rudely cut in two
and poking through the gaping night
such a strange, strange light

Fickle thought
fickle life
fucks all
fickle thought
fickle life
forgive me…

[2016]

Thanks for reading.

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]

Thanks for reading.

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]

Thanks for reading.

Tunnels

Tunnelling in the dirt below my feet
I’ve been digging for weeks
carving this hollow so deep
Today, I hit bone

This is heavier work than I imagined
we surveyed the ground from beyond the fence
both agreed that this was right
but now this toil
is breaking me apart

As a new day rises
I’m crying in the shower
never knew I could feel this low
crying in the shower
with the taps turned up to ten
never knew this pain was in me

She works elsewhere, broken too
she rests elsewhere
with someone new

This is the lowest point
promise me, please let this be
the lowest point

She will undulate and warp
she too will dig her way through
and when she climbs out of her tunnel
she’ll be who she’s become
and the person I loved will be gone…

She may smile the same way sometimes
she may shout me some echoey ‘hello’
but the person I loved will be gone

As I hack away the earth
I pause, wipe my brow and grieve
mourning the person, the love, the way of life
that will be buried when this work is done

Everyone’s heart gets bloodied sometimes
I never thought I’d choose this path
never understood the way
the pain could grip you in your bones each night
as you work your way through the tunnel

Promise me
it’s on from here
out of this tunnel
my work complete
and back up again
towards the light…

[2009]

Thanks for reading.

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Step Change

Tear the statues down
put them in a museum
have their achievements weighed
against their modern moral faults
Give them context
It feels wrong to venerate
values we no longer share

Tear the problematic statues down
it’s time to move on
They’ve had their light
they’ve had their vaunted praise
let them slip into the past
I don’t want to walk beside
the likeness of a slave trader
on my morning commute
despite their pigeon-shit coat
that always makes me smirk

Tear the statues down
The older folks may say it’s a pity
the folly of an ignorant youth
but times; they change
often abruptly
and sometimes it’s appropriate
to force a step change
to send a message
Like scientists reevaluating theories
based on new research
Shouldn’t we reassess
elevated heroes of the past

Tear the problematic statues down
let’s build new ones
better ones
let them inspire hope and unity
and in 100 years, if they must fall again
then so be it
History is not lost because of it
books will go on, museums go on
providing that all-important context
for those who seek it…

[2020]

Thanks for reading.

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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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Poetry Readings: Listen Now

Give your tired eyes a rest, take a long bath, go for a drive in the countryside and fill your ears…

Below is a playlist of 30 of my poems read aloud. Some have been injected with added ‘atmosphere’ and a couple are set to music. If you’ve not listened before, maybe now’s the time? If you have, there are a couple of new recordings dotted throughout. It’s free to listen. If you make it to the end, there’s also an hour-long interview discussing writing, music and fountain pens…

What better way to spend the next hour of your life… 😉

Thanks for listening.

P.S. If anyone is interested in collaborating on setting words to music (and can provide the music to accompany my words) please get in touch! tom.alex.write@gmail.com

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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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Moonlight

I casually looked up
from flicking through some book
I saw the way you stood
Hell, we’d better look alive
while we’ve got the time…

You met me by The Globe
the whole world waiting with bated breath
you were purring ”are you in?”
O, I’m in…

We blew along the Southbank
for one night only
kissing by the wheel
I kissed you deep within the shadows
a thousand lights tied in the trees

My hand reaching, slowly, for yours
as the tower struck out its chimes
and the moonlight on the Thames
never looked so fragile…

If there is any kind of magic
it is between two bodies
that understand and share
something elemental

The taxi driver asked
if you were my wife
I turned
looked into your eyes
and I lied

And your plane’s leaving in the morning
its engines ticking in our bloodstream
for tonight; there’s no tomorrow
we’ll just indulge this feeling

In some other world
it would be alright
in some other life
this lasts a lifetime

A little kiss of magic
brightens the edges of our lives
it was a little kiss of magic
lighting the edges of our lives

But the moonlight on the Thames
never felt so fragile…

[2017]

Thanks for reading.

Note: repost from Dec 2019.

Photocredit: https://www.trevorsherwin.co.uk/london-at-night

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Jetty Song [with audio]

Her fingers tracing mine
Lily danced me out of the garden
those green eyes brimming lively
with purest abandon
Then barefoot on the boardwalk
her summer dress riding high
she leapt onto the jetty
and gestured to the sky

We let our tanned legs hang below
as we bottomed up the bottle
the air was hot and heavy
the sea around us peaceful
There was lust upon our minds
as a veil upon a bride
the deepest searing truths
politely shot between our eyes

And no man could deny us
loose and open all the time
our hands and fingers; wanderers
tongues locked in a rhyme
By the spit between those kisses
our burning lips were sewn
her dress was barely there
my body carved from stone

With each nail driven into skin
I felt a clapping thunder
the temple tapestry was tearing
as she pierced my thin armour
A melody sung upon her voice
a lyric loudly grows
I’d have gladly turned my back
on all that I held close

We could have traveled every sea
taking turns to lead the way
if only
if only she’d have asked me
if only I’d thought to stay…

Dusk light falling on the harbour
the day became a dream
with toes curled round the boards
she danced me to my feet
in one movement I was shirtless
in another she was naked
a smiling glance was shared
as we leapt with fingers knitted

Our kisses painted salty
lungs burning between breaths
the solution we had longed for
as our bodies coalesced
We swam until our limbs ached
then floated side by side
in the moonlit wideness of her eyes;
another world, I spied

I was so thirsty for the moment
and drank it all too quickly
my mind got blurred and cloudy
my greatest drunken folly
Too naive to know the value
of the treasure in my grip
like sand through careless fingers
I stood and watched it slip

There was water on three sides
and only one path back to land
but somewhere on that journey
I somehow lost her hand
Now, I wonder if she thinks of us
a moment spared for all we shared
does she ever sit upon that jetty
singing of a parallel despair

We could have traveled every sea
wild adventure every day
if only
if only she’d have asked me
if only I’d thought to stay

If only
I’d had the wisdom
to stay…

[2020]

Extra special thanks for reading, I know it’s a long one. 🙂

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Renee By A Thread [with audio]

Down the corridor, comes a scream
Was it physical pain
or the horror of finally learning
the way this game is turning
They took your clothes
gave you a gown
there was nothing to do but lay right down
Now, the machine breathes
for you
hung by a thread and leaving soon

Faint flashes behind tired eyelids
recalled moments from a busy life;
the night before your wedding
barefoot kisses by the Seine
The tentative first steps of Child Two
A shaking hand, a ‘thank you’ card
from the family of one you saved
Now, the machine breathes
for you
hung by a thread and leaving soon

The ache, it came and spread like water
the fever burned, the cough, it worsened
they hooked you up, you knew the drill
the butterfly, the slow sure drip
and then it seemed to ease a while
The bed you took, brought guilt at first
your hands no longer helping
Then suddenly; your quick decline
Now, the machine breathes
for you
hung by a thread and leaving soon

There’s a feeling in your chest
and that sixth-sense you sometimes get
the dawn tomorrow, you will not witness
Nurses come, their voices hushed
gloved hands hold, always too briefly
you don’t like the letting go
The room is quiet but for the wheeze
as the machine breathes
for you
hung by a thread and leaving soon

In the chair beside you, that loving face
waiting at end of every nightshift
You know that he will raise them right
Ah, but which patient was it
which desperate hand you gently held
which reassuring words you shared
with no fresh mask to wear
Now, the machine breathes
for you
hung by a thread and leaving soon

The family grieves
a nation grieves
for you
gone
needlessly soon…

[2020]

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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]

Thanks for reading.

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]

Thanks for reading.

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]

Thanks for reading.

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]

Thanks for reading.

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

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Cooling Towers [with audio]

Parking the car
out by the cooling towers
I breathe the quiet in
lit by the moon
not going anywhere

Thinking on
all those sad miles behind me…

Remember when we were nineteen
kissing in the back seat
tucked into the kerb
lit by our lust
not going anywhere

Thinking on
all those mad miles behind me…

When we were nineteen
everything was a fire
everything was flame
but everything evaporates
like steam rising

I’ve driven up this road
and come back down again
not going anywhere
not the silver in my hair
nor the lines around my eyes
not going anywhere

Thinking on
all those bad miles behind me…

Sitting in the car
flicking the headlights on
and off again
when did everything evaporate
like steam rising

Not going anywhere
forehead against the steering wheel
tears bursting on my knees
whispering
‘just kiss me
just kiss me
in the backseat of my car…’

[2017]

Thanks for reading.

Note: a repost from October 2019, I just wanted to add the video with the audio reading and subtitles you can read/listen along.

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