Lantern Lane

It’s okay
in our own ways
we all break
apart sometimes

when we’re apart
sometimes
I break

I saw the light one evening
walking home
what was I doing 
lost, there
when I should have been 
with you
just you

It’s okay
in our own ways
we all break
apart sometimes

Walking home
I face myself fully
face all I’ve done

And tell myself
it’s okay
it’s alright
we all break
break apart
sometimes…

[2015]

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Fall A Little…

Could you fall, a little
Could you not blossom in my breath
eye glowing wide
when I call to see you
and a passionate want
in your every word

Could you not fall
the way I’m falling
for you…

Could you not hunt each and every
slightest excuse to come and just be
close to me
Bring your warmest wit
so precious
to captivate my five favourite senses

Could you fall for me
the way I’m falling
for you…

Could you not flaunt all the rules
forget everything
but my subtle smile
and care nothing more
for what came before
now there exists
this perfect possibility

Could you not fall in deep
the way I’m falling
for you…

All my eyes can see is your pale skin
my ears hear nothing but that wild laughter
scents that trigger such magic memories
a touch so badly longed for
a taste I’ve imagined so many times now

Could you not fall
completely
Could you not fall
obviously, in front of me
down to one knee
and begging ‘please…’
the way I’m falling
for you

Could you, could you
fall in deep for me
the way I’ve fallen for you…

[2009]

Thanks for reading this old poem.

Instagram.

Ruins

Ruins loom on the horizon
but in the distance, not the future
Any life that still clings to them
hangs loose and bellowing

Ruins shiver on loose ground
battered by the winds of time
Shifting perspectives, altered light
their shadows lengthen and diminish

I tried to be good, did what I could
spinning all those plates 
painted with faces
of the friends that came to me

All things spin away from me
all things ruin themselves eventually
and I don’t have the energy, anymore
to keep them all turning

Ruins stand, shrunken and haunted
filled with an emptiness
echoes or flashes of past adventures
when we were different people

I’m on a train
and moving past them
I’m on a train
and moving away…

[2014]

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Read You Once More

I have been having these moments…
Waiting for trains
pouring kettles
folding sheets
opening a window

I have been having these little moments…
flicking through magazines
prowling the off-license
glancing up at street lights
looking out across the city

When the magnitude of your potential
and all the things you said to me
when the poetry you quietly dedicated
and the soft touch of your deft hands
upon my pale body
left me reeling
spinning to infinity

I’m caught off-guard, thinking
I would love to read you
I would love to hear
your thoughts
once more

I would love to read those verses
lose myself in your passionate prose
I would love to bathe in your insight
once again

I wonder if
I wonder how
Is there some way
to read you
once more…

[2016]

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The Wonder

Kicking through the moss
in the cooling evening air
I’m staring down the barrel
of a living Rivelin Valley

Crickets clicking in the tall grass
bramble searching for a shin
I stoop to flick away
the tickle of a nettle
caught under my tongue

O, why could I not have felt this way
at twenty one
To know myself
my capabilities, my limitations
to feel this comfortable
in my own skin
or in company
O, to have been at peace
at twenty one…

Now, I am humbled every day
by the wonder of this place…

The birds join each other and sing
contentedly, of a night that’s closing in
The faintest kiss of summer
still smacking on my skin

There’s such endless opportunity
in this undulating scenery
I throw my bare arms into the sky
thankfully and breathing deeply
High with every lungful
I’m still here and doing fine…

The journey takes whatever course it needs
meanders through required weeds
Arriving at the edge of town
a spray-painted billboard message greets me
“There’s no wealth but life”
And I agree
there’s no wealth but life…

I’m humbled every day
by the wonder of this place…

[2021]

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Happy New Year and thanks for stopping by The Lighthouse in 2021. I really appreciate it, you’re the best.

Harm’s Arms

Let me admit, to you, my fear
of those ghostly hands
twisting the knife
in the belly of our lives

These house-bound blues
echo louder some days
these house-bound blues
and their hypnotically sad song

My memories reach out for you
you’ve changed your number
my happy memories are reaching out
yet we may never speak again

And though estranged
often, I still wonder
of your gently closing eyes 
your winning smile

I want to know you’re safe
amidst these dangerous days
I long to know you’ll remain
well beyond the grip
of harm’s arms…

Remember when the two of us
were still on first name terms
with the sweetest laughter
running down those midnight sands

Wherever you are tonight
know I’ll care about you always
I hope you’re sailing through
these toxic times

Stay safe tonight
I long to know for certain
you’re far beyond the reach
of harm’s arms…

[2020]

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Photo credit: https://www.instagram.com/nightwalkermagazine/

Happy Birthday Mirim.

Chalk-White Moonlight

An Arctic air
pushes past the cracking door
as we step out
into the newly forming night
with many friendly cheers
chasing us from the hall
The searing wind
grabs you by the ears
seconds abroad
and your bones will know the chill
in the chalk-white light
of this moon

Snow falls slowly
first on the cliffs above the lane
then these cobbles are scribbled out
under a virgin whiteness
We turn right
down Henrietta Street
hands meeting the iron
rails that trace the pier edge
The rugged fringes
of the North Sea rim
lit by the chalk-white light
of this moon

Forgive the weather
it cannot help the tearing
at our laces, at our toggles
its fingers fumbling with our buttons
the wind wants at our napes
and your white dress
We see sparks
spitting from a chimney
the smoke house knows its duty
Rising embers
fight the delicacy of falling snow
in the chalk-white light
of this moon

My eyes drift out
glance a fishing boat
crossing the horizon
as it cuts through
the moon’s reflection
Then they turn back to hers
My wife, she holds my hand
for the first time in our lives
lit by the chalk-white light
of this moon

We’ll brave the weather
we’ll brave the seas
as one
we’ll brave everything to come
The chalk-white light
of the moon
glinting on our ring fingers…

[2020]

Photo is ‘Kiss on Henrietta Street’ by Rick Harrison, please check out his fantastic photography. https://www.flickr.com/photos/sovietuk/8472144037

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Reflections of December

In the caverns of a King’s Cross bar
I quietly compose an opening
six months now, since our last meeting
I catch sight of my reflection
twisting in the half-full glass upon the bar
What am I doing here
set up for a disappointing sequel
It’ll never be like it was
at the start
it’ll never feel like it did
before

Festive cheers fill the bar
as my mind slips back one year
when my world was folding inward
intoxicated with the excitement of chances taken
and how I quietly spoke of my growing love for you
in the blurry Christmas air
I made foolish gestures at what I wanted
slid my heart across the table
waited with baited breath
for your reciprocation
and headed home empty handed…

Tonight is such a bittersweet evening
a reminder of how much I love your company
it hits me squarely, and for the first time, fully
how much I’ve missed you
But you’ve changed, grown up, matured somehow
wisdom where once there was only spiked humour
oh, as a friend
you’ll always remain a favourite
held out of reach by our history

It’s so bittersweet, our meeting
our reflections melt and merge
in the glasses that we drain
I’m still beguiled by your luminous beauty
and vindicated to know
what I thought I’d felt was honest
not pure circumstance, greed or opportunity
our briefest spark lit my world so brightly
in way never bettered before or since
It’ll never be like it was
at the start
it’ll never feel like it did
before

Such a bittersweet evening
lit in the primary colours of December
you, grinning, purr ‘let’s do this again soon’
and of course I say ‘I hope we do’
When I cast my eyes across this year
it’ll always be your face
reflected back at me
when I look back from some future distance
your face will always be smiling back at me…

[2015]

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(A sort-of sequel to ‘Anatomy of Longing‘)

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Song For Sam

We drove across the tumultuous city, Sam
You were perched precariously
in the back seat of the van, listening hard
to my words that flowed like water
the stream of consciousness being voiced
I claimed it would calm you, free you from the tension
and the motion sickness
In reality you were lifting the weight of the sorrow from me
lightening my load with your askance eyes
drinking down the broth of hurt and confusion
that was boiling up inside
That truck was stuffed with all that had formed our home
and when we reached the new place
you nervously watched me unpack
All the while I explained what was happening
what I wasn’t sure that you understood
and why it was, that this might be good for us
That bruised night, Sam, you were the best friend I could have had
providing all I needed, without judgment or argument
I was so proud of you there, Sam, I was so close to you

Ninety nights of drinking up and falling down, Sam
Ninety days of not plugging my heart’s gaping hole
Laid low in bed again, six feet beneath the sheets
You’d come and hover beside me, in your naive curiosity
listening to what I had to say
offering me some calming contact
The softness of your presence could always light a smile
ease the thunder claps of pain
crashing through my battered brain
And with more grace and ease than I could muster
you settled down and found your rhythm within new walls
A certainty to which I could return each day
that familiar look you’d give, saying ‘I’m glad you’re home’
it lifted me from the scraping, bleeding, lows
of that new hollowness I crawled within
I was so grateful, so indebted to you then, Sam
And, finally, when I levelled out again, we played a while
with you running your rings around me

It was a brutishly cold Christmas, Sam
at my mother’s rented house, that winter
We stayed in the upstairs room with a broken window
it got so cold at night, you’d come and lie beside me
keep close for whatever warmth I could provide
Sam, you looked so small just lying there trying to sleep
gripped in the fist of that endless icy grip
I remember seeing you watch me leave
from the upstairs window
A Christmas eve spent with friends from back before I knew you
You didn’t seem to mind me leaving
but I knew I’d be back soon to check on you
And when I returned, you’d charmed my whole family
Sam, you left your mark on them
those smiling faces trailing in your wake

So, I was healed in time, Sam, and you flourished
another pair of loving arms were opened up to us
You were right there, giving your blessing
and looking out for us
Seemingly, you responded well
to the renewed happiness that had blossomed in me
I’d sing my songs to you from time to time
and you never seemed to mind
Just sat, bemused and listening without reproach
My first and only audience in a whole lifetime
of wanting (but not daring) to sing
I wonder what you thought of it
what you made of those croaked notes
They were sung for you Sam, they were sung for me too
You watched so much of my changing life unfold in front of you
The peeking from my cave
to the walking tall in the clear and golden daylight

Sam, you know me, I can’t sit still too long
no sooner was I healed, a new and lasting lover in tow
and it was time to jump out from that goldfish bowl town
No question, no hesitation, you came along and settled in so effortlessly
carving these new lives of ours
among the towering heights of the spiralling capital
And Kate, she loved you so much, and was always there for you
Running from room to room
the closing circles of happiness drew around us
Finally, Sam, I think we were a family, and such a happy one
Watching the Olympic torch paraded past our house
So many memories, sweet mornings, playful evenings
and all our adventures by train and tube and car

But Sam, that last night, you lay there so sluggish
wearing that quietly searching expression
no way to say what was ailing you
and I stayed close, through your illness, to be with you
I knew that night would be the last we shared
We sat together for hours, all of our past replaying in my head
Despite your pain, you wore it well
lost in your quiet thoughts
And as I left the room for the final time
I was never more filled with such an overwhelming sadness
and gratitude
For everything you gave and did and meant to me
the next morning, on the way to work
I remember that song playing on my headphones and Scout was singing
“Baby, what can I do, to make it right for you”
I had tears forming in my tortured eyes
knowing there was nothing more I could do
knowing I’d never see you again

Now, when I venture into the back room
it’s toxic with your absence
a silent freeze-frame that screams your name
Through the creaking emptiness of a soulless place
O, my friend, I don’t want to be without you
My friend, life isn’t the same without you
I wish you were here, I miss you tonight
and won’t forget you, Sam
Thank you, always…

[2013]

Thanks for reading this very long poem.

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Ship In A Bottle

I do it to blur the edges
vignette the haze of night
I do it to shave the edge off
it’s always my round
There’s wonder in the bottle
another glass, another glass
This ship can never sink
can never skim its hull
can never drown
will never go down

And that’s the lie
the lie
that I’ve been living by
for so long

Shattered streetlight reflections
scatter in the puddles
backlit house windows
neatly arranged on hillsides
it’s a painterly view through squinted eyes
so cinematic through mottled glass
Headphones up high
the music video life
It’s fifteen years now
but I could stop at any time

And that’s the lie
the lie
that I’ve been swearing by
for so long

I folded myself so carefully
shoved down the narrow neck
such safety in the numbness
watching all of life’s weather
from the confines, from the inside
Pull on my strings
sails raised and bellowing
my course will soon stop circling
and I never hurt anyone
but my pickled self

And that’s the lie
the lie
that I’ve been telling myself
for so long

The tides that I am carried on
move too slowly
to truly show themselves
but this morning
I caught sight of my reflection
red eyes in tears for what they saw
it’s so obvious
I need to change my course
and would you help me if I ask
help break me out of this

I can’t afford
to buy into this lie
I’ve not enough time
to buy into this lie
anymore…

[2021]

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Treat yourself to a paperback…

Float

the brightness has died like it couldn’t stand the heat
it left us alone on the beach where we met
the fire is dead and the coldness sets in
I’m wearing the same clothes as the first time we kissed
and further than I could ever go
a smile I want to keep forever
like a beast I couldn’t tame
couldn’t keep control
at the time, until just now
it felt all too much, too big, too bright
it felt much too strong, too overgrown
and like forever, it would last us
and like forever, it would last…

but we were wrong…
and now it’s gone…

fallen down in the snow still miles from home
you drag me down lower than I have ever seen
below the surface you’re trapped in sadness
I’m still wearing a scowl I’ve practiced so long
and deeper than I could ever pull you
a look I want to lose somehow
like a fear I couldn’t conquer
couldn’t over-come
at the time, until today
it felt all too soft, too safe, too bright
it felt much too tall, too durable
and like forever, it would last us
and like forever, it would last…

but we were wrong…
and now it’s gone…

and the waves lap up against your precious face
my tired arms keep us afloat a while longer
and you turn to me and breathe
“there can never be forever”
slowly now, and wholly now
my limbs take on a burning now
and harder now, and breaking now
we sink beneath the waves again
and like forever, it shouldn’t fail us
and like forever, it’s supposed to last…

but we were wrong…
and now it’s gone…

I wave to you, a last farewell
and as I go, I melt inside
and guts all spilt, I sleep so deep
wishing now to never wake
the stench of death, decaying flesh
drifting now, on endlessly
on and on in a lonely sea

another time, another place maybe
another way, another me maybe
ever-lasting soon gives in
soon disappears and dissipates
another time, another place maybe
another way, another you maybe

and we were young…
but now it’s gone…

[2003]

Thanks for reading this very old poem.

The Faintest Farewell

Pale fluorescent lighting paints the scene
ears still ring hollow
with such an effortless ‘goodbye’
All breathing paused
as she rations out that smile
all too aware of exactly what it does to me

Allowing a single kiss
to parachute upon her cheek
I thank her for the madness
of all those past encounters
But she has nothing more for me
just empty eyes and vague replies

One foot follows the other
as she minds that endless gap
All confusion quickly thins
a bullet hits me, there’s no feeling
no reverence for the weight
of all that’s crumbling

That wild force once warped us
distorted the very shape of our existence
but now in its withdrawal
it has no effect on her
My eyes are filled with moon
hers rewind blue movies

Between our kisses
I’d sketched great journeys on a napkin
which she now takes and rips
tucks the scraps in my top pocket
In the glass of the parting doors
I watch myself get torn in two

So much remains unsaid
her thinning smile waves me on
as the sterile platform claims her
deep into its caverns
Every strand of thought
hangs unresolved and billowing

I know our show is over
our passion moot and spare
without a care
The faintest farewell
so fitting, so real
So what…

[2021]

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Hold some poems in your hand.

What Have You Done With The Daylight?

What have you done with the daylight?
What have you done 
with all you’d waited for, so patiently
those long days of nothing
those long days of stumbling lost
between the armchair and the fridge
What have you done with the daylight?

What have you done with the daylight?
Since it came to you completely
painted so beautifully
smiling down and sunny
licking the edges of your everything
a warmth you’d doubted could be possible
What have you done with the daylight?

What have you done with the daylight?
Did you let it bless the hours you were woken
did you pull it close to you
and give thanks for every moment
not still scraping through the blackness
you thought was never ending
What have you done with the daylight?

What have you done with the daylight?
Did you take its hand in yours
put a ring upon its finger
did you skip town and start a family
and make a pact to cherish always
the brightness of that feeling
What have you done with the daylight?

O, I did, I did
I do
Now, I am wed to you…

[2019]

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Love (And Everything Else)

Let’s take our bond
seal it within
a singularity

Let’s celebrate 
and acknowledge it
There was desire
now there is
fulfilment

A new infinity
of love
compassion
empathy

I’ve been decorating
repainting everything
renewing the colour
drawing a line here

Like much of the modern world;
I’ve been denying it
but now I’m ready
and I’m sorry
for making you wait this long

It’s time for love
and everything else
It’s time to embrace 
all that we can be

No more excuses
we’re ready now
we’re in need
it is time

For
love
compassion
empathy…

[2019]

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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]

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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

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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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]

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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.

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