Gentleness

You’re a study to me
content in your calmness
not derailed by desire
nor rotten with bitterness

You cry when you need to
outspoken but reasonable
never screaming, no ill meaning
at your core, only gentleness

An easiness in each movement
you wave everyone in
make integrity and kindness
look utterly effortless

Disarming and charming
you got strong
from lifting others up
as if it’s not that hard to do

You’re a gentle man
and I’m proud my flesh
came from you…

[2022]

Thanks for reading.

There Will Be Birds In The Morning

Hit play to listen or right-click and ‘save as’ to download.

There’s a girl in tears
upon the cathedral steps
as I walk to work
the rain
a mist that swallows us
leaves blowing by
I want to wrap my scarf around her
and say

There will be better days
there will be lighter times
there will be happiness again

And there will be birds in the morning
singing for you and me
singing for you

There’s a boy in a phone box
framed behind glass, he sighs
as I’m passing by
his call has ended
the last call of that friendship
I want to get him a beer and say

Don’t forget the love you have
don’t forget those faces
it will be bright again in time

And there will be birds in the morning
singing for you and me
singing for you

And the rain comes down
and leaves blow by
all the busses look so busy
I laugh quietly to myself
wondering
Do birds even sing
on winter mornings?

[2019]

Thanks for reading.

Oct 2022: Reposting again (sorry) – audio remastered with clearer vocals.

Featured in ‘The Ship-wrecker’s Lamp available now.

Like Someone Who Knows Me

Click play to hear the poem read aloud.

Through the bitterness of winter
life crawls, so lingering and lonely
and hauling your battered heart into
the shelter of some place holy
Your mind swims with the terrible things
those hands have groped toward
The grit of guilt and shame conspire
to serve as your reward

Such troubled thoughts reverberate
as they echo up into the arches
Gathering their mass and falling back
they’ve now swollen to a chorus
It’s to the ivory king atop his wooden cross
your hope will momentarily cling
but in the deafening silence he lets ring
you’ll sigh your stuttered hymn…

“O, hold me
hold me
like someone who knows me
for there must be
one…”

Caught between the ribbons and the frills
of a hired friend in a rented room
Her garments kiss the mottled carpet
as she beckons you from the dimming gloom
You’ve lassoed all your longing
gathered up your greed
but all is tarnished by the arrogance
of succumbing to this need

To feel her fingers, small and slender
as they rouse your self belief
A patron of the pornographic sweatshops
with nothing beyond this fleeting relief
Your hands suddenly feel so cold
There’s much your body is aching to confess
and your tears of lumpen coal merely exist
as you whimper at her breast…

“O, hold me
hold me
like someone who knows me
for there must be
one…”

The dance of waves like hungry knives
metallic in the floodlight moon
This freezing clifftop is haunted
by the remnants of a family ruin
And strobing images of numbered girls
divorced from name and age
You torched everything that mattered
for a compulsion you could not assuage

The trouble swells, you’ve lost control
it’s from yourself you now must flee
Still your wings, they have no feather
it’s a long way down but then you’re free
Soon you’ll slip between the stars
a fragment of that timeless beauty
as the sea rises up to carve your body
you exhale that broken plea…

“O, hold me
hold me
like someone who knows me”

Yet there
were
none…

[2022]

Thanks for reading.

All The Forgotten Novels

I watched you
wrangling those sensations
turning your heart
upside out, inside down
And dipped in ink
kissed the page
I heard your words fall
articulate fictions collected
spelling out the world
filtered through your eyes…

I sat, awe-struck
at those flippant phrasings
pouring from your pen
Truest lies, the lying truths
splattered accurate
clinging to the pages
I believed the textures
you carved in open air
the spoken honey of your prose
a world seen through dark eyes…

All gone and gone
time laughing at us
It’s all forgotten
time mocking us
all for nothing
like rain at sea
Those sparkling lines
those beauties bound
all forgotten
like rain at sea
like rain at sea…

[2013]

Thanks for reading. I have no memory of writing this one but I quite like a couple of the lines so thought I’d share.

University Payphone

From the depths of a damp October
you called me daily
The auburn street outside
so unfamiliar
That new city
didn’t yet feel like home

“I just called to hear your voice
and ask when you’ll come to visit?”
Muted tears falling
on the university payphone
And the scratch of coins loading
asking if I missed you

And every day, I do
of course, I do
Every dusk into the winter
our daily phone calls
It was so hard to hear
those secret tears

Two months crept by
and now there are other voices
I could hear you smiling
and it’s so good to know you’re happy
new friends surrounding
fewer calls, less often

And every day, I do
of course, I think of you
Every iced spring morning
I miss your phone calls
it was good to hear you happy
but sad to know
you no longer needed me…

[2022]

Thanks for reading.

https://linktr.ee/tomalexwrite

Trust

Playing in the garden
watching films together
as you nestle into my arm
learning each other’s language
You trusted me, eventually
became part of my family

I loved to watch you
explore the world we shared
sunbathing on the rug
or endless pats in the living room
Your fur and the quiet purr
of little teeth grinding

What I’ve been dreading
now, it’s happening
You’re still you
but your legs no longer work
yet you look to me
with such affection in your eyes

I’m so happy we were alive
at the same time
I’m so grateful your life
aligned with mine
and I can’t measure
the happiness you brought

As the tears clear, I can see
I’m doing the right thing
and yet it sorely stings
to watch you slip away
Such trust in your closing eyes
as we say our last goodbyes

All I ever wanted
was the best life for you
You’re skipping now forever
through the meadows
and the vegetable patch
of my fondest memories…

[2022]

Thanks for reading.

https://linktr.ee/tomalexwrite

Morning People

All my life
I’ve been enthralled
by the magic
and the mystique
of morning people

Morning people
with their exercise
and croissant
with their coffee cups
and yoga

Morning people
with their dew-kissed lawns
mythic sunrises
and shop shutters still rattling open
as they arrive to get a paper

Morning people
who wake, rise and stretch
without the solar flare of daylight
smashing through their window
and kicking them out of bed

Morning people
with their quiet trains
stark pavements and carless streets
Playing table tennis in the park
and walking dogs

Morning people
Stopping by to pick morning them up
and they’ve already been for a swim
where do they find the time
where did they get this whim

Morning people
with all those extra hours
make a mockery of me
an afternoon person
a dusk person, a night person

Morning people
they’re an enigma, a puzzle
a code I wish to crack
The morning people in my family
well, I wonder where they got that

At times, I’ve been an interloper
slack-jawed and squinting
at 4am in an airport bar
nursing a pint of beer
gaining the wings to fly

I always assumed
I’d join the club some day
but I’m still a night person
toiling beneath the stars
and sense I may always be…

[2022]

Thanks for reading.

https://linktr.ee/tomalexwrite

The Sunlit Ocean

Click above to hear me read the poem aloud. Right-click and choose ‘Save As’ to download.

Slipping between
the scattered diamonds
as turquoise waters part
and gently lisp against my throat
The heat beats down and the sunlit ocean
claims me as its own

Swimming in the shallows
fish and rocks, bend and merge
the lapping lens obscures them all
weightless in the womb of possibility
The purest pleasure
of the planet against my pores

The dipping sun, a molten iron ingot
a neon snooker ball
plunged into the horizon
torches every surface
All is pink and crimson
a beauty I’ve never known

Dining later
every mouthful was kisses smacking
The spice on my tongue
so uniquely exciting
Cricket’s clicks swell to a crescendo
smothering every sound

The evening air warmly fills
my heart and skin
Blood laced with love
The whole day seared into memory
I tried to catch my breath
but it couldn’t stop escaping

Every sense alight with simple joy
at my most alive
living in and living through
the happiest day of my life
I tried to hold the moment
but it wouldn’t stop escaping…

[2022]

Thanks for reading.

https://linktr.ee/tomalexwrite

Under This Maudlin Sky

Two lonesome figures
under a maudlin sky
Two friends trying to speak
to understand something
The wind whips up
clouds of stinging sand
It’s so hard to look ahead
both momentarily blind
under this maudlin sky

So many miles, we’ve come
so many times we laughed together
Now, the future feels so small
every outcome seems so brutal
I try my best to steady you
when your steps waver
‘one foot in front of the other’
the only advice I can muster
under this maudlin sky

These moments are dense
with a thousand universes
Thinking feels infinite
limbs so heavy and useless
I can’t put my arm around your shoulder
I can’t manage that quite yet
So, we walk with all our questions
tentative with every step

I wish I could fix this trouble for you
but there are things you can’t undo
Late at night in your lonely room
dark matters at the heart of you
Are you still the friend
I thought I knew
under this maudlin sky

And I want to ask you why
but I know that you don’t know
and I want to ask you why
under this maudlin sky…

Are you still the friend
I thought I knew…

[2022]

Thanks for reading.

This one one of the poems I wrote in August when I forced myself to write a poem every day – unedited and raw.

My Fingers

A palm coasts along the softness
senses tingle in expectation
soon the hand-craft finds the warmth
and lands

I am right there with each one
in the backs and in the knuckles
I am not my head, I am my hands
on you

There is a rattle, a subtle shake
I think we’ve found our place
There comes a signal, a growl within
I think we’ve found our perfect place

Into, into, within
all around the edges
across the surface
exploring, imploring
they toil on…

I am right there with each one
in the tips, and in the nails
I am not my head, I am my fingers
in you…

[2011]

Thanks for reading.

Grandad’s Shed

So many warm afternoons
spent in my Grandad’s endless garden
Home to my first and only treehouse
when air-raid siren tests
still filled those Northern streets

And most magical of all
the rough lumber shed he’d built
A place of wooden-handed tools
you had to carefully maintain with oil
tools what would have been his grandad’s

A place where big furry bees
chose to die with dignity
behind his motorcycle helmet
or a row of ancient cricket balls
by jam jars full of sorted screws

Eighty eight lead weights
from the keys of some deceased piano
kept for… I’ve no idea
Drawers of bakelite switches and fuses
A big old crate of things for me to play with

Such fascinating bits
of dismantled gadgets
all teaching me to wonder
to pay attention, and to imagine
how everything might work

I’m still fascinated now, still want to know
how all of this might work
So, I show my working out
right here on the paper
writing with his old fountain pen…

[2022]

Thanks for reading.

https://linktr.ee/tomalexwrite

Late Night, Harbour Lights

The air is warm tonight
the sea no longer ravenous
As the shawl slips from your shoulders
there’s a feeling that breeds in us
now, we are home
or close enough

A candle flickers at every table
the seafront cafes like crooked teeth
The harbour mouth is kissing us
with its swing bridge tongue and river beneath
We feel that we are home
or close enough

Tied by these rings
and the meaning of this thing
we’re bound now in our journey
seas and sunsets, tears and terror
I long to treasure and to explore
the universe inside of you

In my hand, I now find yours
such a sweet relief
the reassuring touch of home
now close enough

Late night, harbour lights
dancing on the water
This love now blankets us
And our kiss… our kiss…
we’ve never tasted anything like this
The feeling spills from every pore
O, we’re both home
now close enough…

[2022]

Thanks for reading.

https://linktr.ee/tomalexwrite

Between A Blue Night and Dawn

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

Two lovers travelling
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 travelling
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.

Murmuration

Click above to hear me read this one

A hyper-sensitivity of feeling
your art connects across the senses
The roughness of ancient bark
beneath gentle fingertips
A kiss from rock-pool water
warm against bare ankles

A double exposure
a murmuration
it’s poetry, the sensuality
the sheer never timid beauty
lensed so gracefully
with such assurance and dexterity

The texture, a waking daydream
a cloak of fog, shaft of sunlight
A cinematic freeze-frame
marked by absence
the distance or proximity
of pain and recovery

Point and click, your dark-room trick
it’s as if you have control
over the mountains
the birds, the tides
or consummate authorship
of the nuance you convey

A solo figure in vast expanse
an aloneness I recognise
searching but serene
Lost in the careful creation
of an endless mythology
loudly reverberates in me

The slow creep of new tissue
like quietly vanishing tattoos
it’s at your back and haunches
as your work builds and soars
so far from that place
expressive in its woozy warmth

I hear the touch, witness the aroma
I exist in awe and quiet wonder
A world scatters its knitted beauty
a murmuration
Little charcoal sketches
across watercolour paper

The spine is a map
a breadcrumb trail
we trace with our fingers
but we can’t go back
ephemeral and observable only
in reflection or a photograph

Dusk tides, an evening deer
a crumbling barn, eiderdown snow
A swimsuit girl, the Northern Lights
a neon sign, a broken rainbow
midnight phone booth, stitches in skin
untethered and inspirationally free

Your photography is a place
I love to visit when I can
It’s pure poetry you pen
with the light, with your lens
A lasting comfort, you translate
the message I can’t help but take;

It’s impossible
impossible not to love
the beauty of this world…

[2021]

Thanks for reading.

An ode to the exceptional work of one of my favourite photographers; Margaret Durow.

Thirst

Boomeranging in the snowy streets
it all comes back around to this
that loneliness breeds contempt
for the company of others…

Under a bridge by the station
I kissed, when I was fifteen
I kissed hard and passionate
I kissed no one
Then, at sixteen, under that bridge
or anywhere for that matter
I kissed no one
I just lay in my darkened room
I lay in wait
alone

Ten years on
and I’m still waiting
but I’ve kissed, O, what I haven’t kissed
isn’t worth mentioning
yet, I’m still waiting now

All the people there are talking
still I’m happier alone, dreaming
more comfortable on my own
dreaming again of finding my place

While under bridges down-town
or by rivers, roads, colleges, canals
I kiss all of them, all I couldn’t before
each pair of lips, another conquest
I’ll show the other me how things are done
I’ll show him what he should have done

This howling wind rips through me
this empty cavity screams deep
such a thirst to contain something
and when it does, it comes and goes
I only ever know when it’s too late

And I kiss anything
I’d kiss anything to understand this
I’d kiss anyone to know just what is missing
and I kiss anyone
anyone but you…

[2007]

Thanks for reading.

https://linktr.ee/tomalexwrite

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]

Thanks for reading.

https://linktr.ee/tomalexwrite

Jetty Song

Click ‘play’ to hear me read this poem. Or right-click ‘save as’ to download an MP3.

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. 🙂

https://linktr.ee/tomalexwrite

The Wind Is Howling

In the grate, the shivering flames
hungrily wrap their lips around logs
The boards above me creek
my wife haunting somewhere
the baby’s hands reach out
wave before its sleeping eyes

The wind is howling…

The smiles on our faces as we galloped down the aisle
making sense of scattered photograph moments
but I can’t remember why
can’t think of anything but waiting
and doing everything I can
patiently hoping
for you to get well

The wind is howling…

You’ve been asking me to stay close
you’ve been praying ‘don’t change your state’
and you’ve been crying, screaming, aching
at 4am
to just feel well again

The wind is howling…

And with the tiny heart
that beats beside me now
I’m filled with a strength of love I have never known
and yet I feel
so alone

The wind is howling…

[2018]

Thanks for reading.

Note: Written for a new father struggling with loneliness.

https://linktr.ee/tomalexwrite

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. Dedicated to Kate.

Thanks for reading.

https://linktr.ee/tomalexwrite

You & I, Vampires

You and I, vampires
habitual creatures
you and I, hungry again
This hollow needs a fill
O, to dip our quill…

You’re chasing love
chasing fantasy
the thrill of infatuation
dutifully presenting 
its pale skin beneath
those long teeth

Ravenous
I stalk experience
joyful or otherwise
Thumping heartbreak
or whatever I can muster
any morsel of emotion
to carve apart and analyse 
Drawn into the well
to spill again
I’ll get my fill again

You and I; vampires
you and I; blowing through some town
I’d see the same look in your eye
that I would see
if I could face myself 
in the mirror

We both know
there’s nothing out there
that’s going to seal
that crack, these wounds

The chase is endless
habitual creatures
Sensation fleeting
always; we’ll part 
and roam on…

[2019]

Thanks for reading.

Image Credit: Edvard Munch

https://linktr.ee/tomalexwrite