Strangers Leave Scars

We were strangers by the pool
there was summer on your skin
I lay low, opened my whole body
in the hope that you would find me

Then taking it the distance
from the shore raised to the sky
there were many sailors scheming
on the bending of your knee

There’s a bridge in your dreams
as it recedes behind a fog
you wonder what it means…

Even naked, your body was a silken gown
as you scurried across the room
I brought you this glass paper
an outcrop of shattered slate

Upon your hip some childhood scar
the very first place I aim my dirty lips
the innocence in your womanly eyes
meets my age but not my weariness

There’s a bridge in your dreams
and you wonder what it means…

I taught you all the things I knew
about the moves I needed from you
you later said my expertise was nothing but a trick
with a flick of the wrist I’d left another scar on you

And, waking, we melted one final time
before I drew from the bed
you briefly begged me to stay
then turned around and slept

And I know when I go
you’ll find a honest barer
of the tenderness you’re owed
the goodness, the reality

I wonder what I brought you
and I wonder what I took
you were the silk that moved beneath me
you were the sweetest laughter

For now, I dare not tell you
as I cross that bridge
vanish into the thickening fog
slip from your life

Strangers, then
strangers again…

[2018]

Thanks for reading.

Listen to my poems on Soundcloud
Follow me on Twitter
Follow me on Instagram
Buy my book on Amazon

Our Still Leaping Hearts

Shooting through the greenery
I lovingly eye our reflections
as they flicker in the glass
of a Bruges-bound train
Your fingers knit silently into mine
warm in your woozy dreaming

On a dirt track headed for Hanoi
behind me on the motor bike
cutting through a tall tapestry of trees
my heartbeat lost beneath the engine
Twisting the throttle so instinctively
as you steal a kiss over my shoulder

Diving in the turquoise waters
St Paul’s Bay, watched by a wedding parade
we swim off the forty-degree heat
fish darting between our toes
You push your wet hair behind your ear
as my fingers trace your calves

Spilling from a Kreuzberg club
The 6am sky a perfect throbbing blue
our eyes so wide and wondrous
we kick through the empty streets
back to our cheap hotel room
so alive and talkative

All those moments fog my mind
as we sit sofa-bound
for the hundredth night in a row
not going out tonight
Another weekend slips away
‘It’s too cold, we’re too old
for all of that now’

All those times we cracked up
so busy living and thoroughly loving
When kisses were endless
and our hearts always leaping
from one adventure to the next
not sitting still, not nearly dead

It’s not too cold, we’re not too old
for of all that, you know
I promise you, my love for you
it’s still young
We’re still young…

[2021]

Thanks for reading.

The perfect Christmas gift…

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]

Thanks for reading.

Listen to my poems on Soundcloud
Follow me on Twitter
Follow me on Instagram
Buy my book on Amazon

Tan Hill Inn

Teenagers, cycling across the Dales
up country roads in the seventies sun
wheels turning, chests burning
on our way to Tan Hill Inn

Too young to drink then
we’d sit in the garden
catch our breath and if we’re lucky
maybe the northern lights
I’d take photographs
thinking to myself
one day I’ll bring my wife here
one day I’ll bring my children
if I have any
and we’d cycle home

All the energy I had then
all that drive to ride the Pennine Road
on the longest and the shortest days
sit by that fire, dripping dry
seemed there could never be a time
I couldn’t call my friends and ride
up to Tan Hill Inn
skidding home in the snow

I thought it all was endless
it all seemed so endless then

Now my kids are grown
my kids are having their own
there’s no energy left
not in these bones
to cycle up those hills
just to sit
without drinking…

[2017]

Thanks for reading.

Listen to my poems on Soundcloud

Where To Hide The Body…

I walk around here plainly
I act so innocent most of the time
Who would think of it
who could think of what I’ve done
when faced with this curious smile
when sated by this quiet voice and caring words
no hint, no trace is there
of my dark secret…

Down every street of every city
through every subway, every alley
Always flashing through my mind is
where oh, where to hide the body?

You see me waiting patiently
in the all-night diner with a paper
sipping slow on lukewarm coffee
casually scribbling down the odd line
and so polite then, to the waitress
‘I’m great with what I’ve got, thanks’
No single signal of the cogs that turn inside
as they click together and tighter wind

Down every lane of every town
on every beach, in every forest
Always at the back of my mind is
where oh, where to hide the body?

Beside every motorway’s ink-black river of road
I’m staring six feet deep into a ditch I haven’t dug
imagining a spade as it showers down the soil upon
and with each shovel of earth; the figure disappears

Every night the same scenes play
I wake up sweating
another body to dispose of
another corpse
unearthing itself each night
another body I’ve got to bury again

In every rest in every bed
in every moment of every day
polluting any chance of happiness
where oh, where to hide the body
of your sweet trust…

[2008]

Thanks for reading this very old poem.

All my poems.

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.

Buy my books! for every 2 books I sell, I can buy myself a pint of beer.

Drunk On The Sea

You were drunk on the sea
we’d been talking all night
I was drunk on the scene
and feeling so alive
You turned to me
your face too close to mine
and that kiss…
that kiss made so much sense
that kiss made so much sense
to me then

You were drunk on the sea
another shot
you’re pouring out for me
I’m already drunk on you
we’d been on that beach for hours
You turned and said ‘I want to fall in love
just don’t tell my boyfriend’
and that kiss
that kiss made so much sense
at the time

“She will never know this happened
he can never know this happened”
you whispered
before it happened a second time
And I’m wondering
do you mean both times it happened
or just the second
I almost ask out loud
but don’t want to jeopardise the chance
of a third time

I am drunk on the sea alright
drunk on all you’re telling me
and each kiss
makes so much sense tonight
each kiss makes so much sense
as it happens

The next morning
I wake and you’re telling me
you were sober all night
dry all along
not even drunk on the sea
the waves still crashing in my head
O, what have we done…

[2009]

Thanks for reading.

Always drink responsibly.

The Lockpicker’s Smile (collab with audio)

Click ‘play’ to listen to us read the poem

By Bree Leto & Tom Alexander

With no source of a spark, your hand is alight
exposing daring new doorways in the dark
The succulent seductress, that keyhole smile
relishing each tactile turn of your hot lock

The deftness of your fingers, has me burning alive
igniting something I can’t seem to douse
Your hands on me, kindling that feeds my fire
illuminating feelings I thought were lost

Now, I’m star-struck, I’m speechless
by your unearthly capacity to enthral me
your forcefield, your gravity
invisibly, they preoccupy my whole body

You are my summer solstice
the longest day, smouldering with adventure
Despite my initial hesitation, I’m completely
hypnotised by your lockpicker’s smile

Blazing smile
burning fingers
unlocking doors
molten heat
night made day
as we retreat
into the untamed flames
of our incessant need

Pinned to one another’s heart
that lock forever picked
All passion released
each searing kiss

scorching the sheets
We writhe beneath
and kiss and kiss and kiss (and kiss)
deep into the night…

[2021]

Thanks for reading.

Check out Bree’s writing.

The Causeway Between Our Hearts

Tonight, I eye the wind
as it dances on the water
singing of the distance
that no longer can be closed

Well, I told you I was selfish
there were no children in me
Unwilling to stir for a moment
from this endless daydream
where I father my creativity

You told me that you knew me
our hearts beating to that same drum set
and no one must wake you either
That carving pretty worlds
behind closed eyes
is your calling and profession

With one eye knowingly
looking into mine
and the other doggedly at the door
you welcomed my request for kisses deep
while telling me you could feel
that farewell letter in my back pocket
itching to be delivered

You rip away on the mildest breeze
a kite cut free
Could not believe
the words a writer brought you
the words you said you loved to read
You wished it dead, before the birth
and all I did was acquiesce

I tell you now
that letter was no dis-missive
but a list of tide times
The wind thieves it from my fingers
and I watch it whipping out
across the water

Two selfish hearts can coexist
only for a passing moment
then the ocean rises
the road is lost
the causeway closes

All we were is washed away
or wind upon the surface
ripples or waves, decaying…

[2020]

Thanks for reading.

All my audio readings.

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]

Thanks for reading.

Listen to my poems on Soundcloud
Follow me on Twitter
Follow me on Instagram
Buy my book on Amazon

Under The Old Whale Bones

If you can find your way back here
let’s meet
under the old whale bones
this place that we each love
Where we look out to sea
or back towards the sleeping town

One day, we’ll stand together
and unbeknownst to us
it will be
for the last time in our lives

Whichever of us, must go first
let’s make a promise to meet again
under the old whale bones
Hearts filled with feeling
and the beauty of the harbour lights
reflected on the water

The hem of night is chasing us
with its rude goodbye
as it claims its prize
and lays us down
as we close our sleeping eyes

One day, we’ll smile at one another
and unbeknownst to us
it will be
for the last time in our lives

Mum, dad, when you
slip into that endless blue
or if I am gone before you
Let’s find some way back and meet
under the old whale bones

We’ll pose for someone’s photos
ghosts that chatter
or ghosts that silently
contemplate the sea
under the old whale bones

We’ll stand together
and look out across the sand
stretching as wide
as our smiles…

[2021]

Thanks for reading.

All my poems.

Disorder of My Family

This aimless wander has me homesick
my family haunts me
Around the table; spirits chat and eat
it’s been much too long
since I heard those voices
saw the smile in my father’s warm eyes
somersaulted in my mother’s complete understanding
laughed and gasped at the speed
of my sisters’ lightning wit

There is a peace there
in the disorder of my family
I’m at home there
in the disorder of my family

These years, I have spun far away
but still we each hold so tightly
my return feels as though I’d never left here
That easiness and warmth retained
So, to bathe in my father’s wisdom
or breathe in my mother’s open heart
to relax with my sisters’ friendly tales
as they look to me with such respect

There is an unending bond there
in the disorder of my family
there is always a home for me
in the disorder of my family

This aimless wander finds me wanting
to return, to see my family
to go back, to see my family
so, I go home…

[2010]

Thanks for reading.

A Taste of Fame

A taste of fame
microscopic
a little glow from my tiny flame
And sure enough
lost and troubled souls began to circle
hungry for warmth

They think they know you
from the lies you sold
the way you mixed the paint
those clumsily broad brush strokes…

A flash of talent
minuscule 
in its dimmish burst
Surely then, they shuffle closer
neglected, in need of light
hoping for a glimmer
of your humanness
or the residual heat
from a fire you once described

Convinced they know you
without asking any questions
assuming everything
from a scene you span
so many years ago

O, vanity, vanity
you’ll be the death of me…

[2020]

Thanks for reading.

All my poems.

Poetry Audio – Listen now…

I’ve put together a playlist of 21 of my poems on Soundcloud. If Monday is already too much to deal with, slip into some words spoken aloud. 45 Minutes of ramblings for your enjoyment.

Link (if the embed above doesn’t work for you).

If hearing the words isn’t enough for you, you’ll find most of those poems in my paperback/Kindle poetry collections:

The Ship-wreckers Lamp – Selected Poems. Released 2020
One of These Years… – Selected Poems. Released 2019.

Thanks for reading/listening/just being you…

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]

Thanks for reading.

Listen to my poems on Soundcloud
Follow me on Twitter
Follow me on Instagram
Buy my book on Amazon

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]

Thanks for reading.

Listen to my poems on Soundcloud
Follow me on Twitter
Follow me on Instagram
Buy my book on Amazon

Holy Terror

Folding out your wings
and fastening them to the breeze
you stand firm upon the window sill
Instinctively, you turn from me
I feel the coolness of the air
and know that soon you’ll be
nothing but a poem
on some damp page I’ll tuck away
my eyes finally wiped dry

What is that holy terror
beating at the heart of you?
You said you long to bind your essence
to the history of the world
but I wonder, will you find your truth
or some brittle hedonism
And what scares you most
is thinking that your story
may go unheard

In your pursuit of freedom
you’ve chained yourself
to so many things
to pretty bottles, departing trains
torn pages, leaky pens
smiling faces with haunted eyes
or words of seduction
so wantonly exchanging flesh
for a clever rhyme or two

You sing as if you are a bird
but I know you as a kite
All these things, they are your string
and in your endless daydream
you can bare to wield no knife
I know I cannot own you
your art, it consumes you
furiously chasing some distant dream
even you can’t see

But jumping from the sill
the wind plots you a new course
Maybe soon, you’ll find those answers
be they peace or understanding
perhaps some deeper seam
the bond between all things
or just to give a label
to that holy terror
beating forever at the heart of you

Be sure to call me
one day in the lonesome future
if you feel the hunger has abated
and you can bare to finally belong…

[2021]

Thanks for reading.

All my poems.

Turn These Lives Around

You’re filling all my notebooks
even though we rarely speak
A constant stream of inspiration
and wishes for what has been
Why must my mind remain connected
always wishing for another chance
a change of life
a new life with you
Could we stop this juggernaut
pull the handbrake
and turn these lives around…

Inertia, it seems, has got it in for me
too weak to fight it
but for you…could I fight for you
and turn these lives around

One day, will you walk out
One day, leave him standing there
One day, will I walk out
leave her standing there
And could we live with each other
could we live with ourselves
if we did that to them

This seeming connectivity
would it continue in those new times
cut adrift on a sea so fresh
filled with hope for change
and what newness may come
From our off-chance meeting
unexpected acceptance
You’re filling all my notebooks
since the hours talking today
of turning these lives around…

[2009]

Thanks for reading this old poem.

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.

Holly Hagg

Pen devoid of poems
adventure long overdue
living room carpet
growing long in the tooth
I’m pining for movement
so keen to get out
I’ll go walking down
to Holly Hagg

Little glimpses at normality
haloed by golden rays
There’s no poison
in the idle river
no politics
in the quiet horse
cantering to
another chew

The clouds of working day
part while I’m out walking
bathed in nature’s endless beauty
which never disappears
only ever obscured by thought
or perspective
Eased back into focus
on the road
to Holly Hagg

With every step I take
the tension unspools
And there are words, waiting
ideas that come to me
pinned to ancient fenceposts
nestled in the cracks between the stones
making up the wall
that keeps me on the road
to Holly Hagg

The walk becomes a gallop
blood pumping in my chest
body now loose enough
for every step to be a dance
I am light and free
as I close the distance
on my prized poetry
and the generous view expands
beyond Holly Hagg…

[2020]

Thanks for reading.

Follow me on Instagram.