Thrill of The Compass Spin

Can I claim it as the artist’s curse
the love for new adventure
the pleasure of magnetic hearts
freshly spinning so close to us
whipping the iron filings of our creativity
into some explosive blur
a manifest bright energy

This fizz, the ghostly drag
invisible hands guiding these wanton bodies
I feel my compass spin
drawn in endless circles

Is it a curse at all
happily getting lost
the thrill of the compass spin
drawn off course by that force

So confusing, so all-consuming
and fizzing on my tongue
I want it here
I want you
fizzing on my tongue again…

[2015]

Photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/oskay/4581193346

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Shadows Climb In My Cold Room

How I long to sleep tonight
forget these thoughts
and rest
Ease my body free 
of anxiety and worry
but the more I try
the more I fail
I fidget fast, roll in frustration
cursing my debt
and conversations that won’t end
Where are those waves of darkness
when will they wash my brain
Where is that tide of sleep
of empty-headedness 
of ignorance
and bliss…

Six hours now
I’ve studied ceiling cracks
A new day hangs two hours away
when creeping up in me
come hunger-pains from hell
itchy hair and sweaty palms
I drop so close to sleep
then jolt back into the room
a cushion spared to shield my eyes
from that solar-flare
that blinking clock
And shadows climb
in my cold room
now the sun, it rises
soon so do I
not blessed with dreams
or ignorance
or bliss…

[2006]

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Return To America

Lit by the distant sun 
in a backyard beer-garden 
overlooking the meadow
my swimming brain spins out
through adventures of the past
forgotten journeys 
by coach, by plane
through unfamiliar landscapes
to the desert 
in California

We rode the Greyhound 
between the sun-drenched cities
your head lay on my lap
and when we could tear 
our eyes from one-another
we’d watch the world pass by
in technicolour, all new

We stayed on Sunset Boulevard
you lay naked on the hotel bed
while I stared hard at maps 
and planned
before turning my gaze to you
we ran down Long Beach
never questioning our love

So, this evening I wonder 
if you will ever 
return to America
will you share those moments
with someone new
can he afford to hire a car
so you don’t have to 
ride the Greyhound
stare out of the window
laughing at the wind farm…

[2006]

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You Are My Priest

Is it not the beads you count?
Is it not that blessing?
Is it not your seated position
on the far side of the screen?

It’s here I come to spill
twisting myself as rope
endlessly unknotting
in constant confessional

And through the cracks
behind the mesh
I feel your furtive eyes
licking my salacious lines

Dear reader
you are my witness
you are my priest

Is it not the way you briefly kneel
when you step beyond the booth?
Is is not the cross I bore
through every line
I could not make rhyme?

Is it not the lies I profess
while carving out my perfect story?
Is it not the way I leave, relieved
lightened in my daily load?

Dear reader
you are my witness
you are my priest

Let me be yours…

[2019]

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Image borrowed from: http://margaret-durow.com/

Idle Flame

She came to me with pride
and her sealed conditions
said she wanted someone she could trust
with a rousing proposition
to ease her cobwebbed lust

It was cold out there on the avenue
I’d been walking lonely for some way
it was the idleness of her greeting
it was the hint of warmth within

There was little choice to make
and nothing smart in my reply
‘just come inside, keep it between
the universes of you and I’

It was an idle flame that we both tended
its very dimness was the whole idea
but standing up to leave one morning
I must have knocked 
a pillow into the flame…

[2019]

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Image borrowed from: http://margaret-durow.com/

Restless (Sequel) [with audio/music]

Writing in circles again
I’m chasing your tail
self-referential
to edge of pointlessness

The nihilistic streak in me
vibrates at the thought of you
It’s like I take my pulse
while getting your name tattooed

You’ve got your phantom hook in me
just deep enough to tear
welcome back
o, welcome back…

The most concise statement I ever etched
the most desperately impassioned verse spilt
it’s emblazoned with your image
it squawks for your attention

That devil on my shoulder
lights a cigarette when you smile
it’s like an ache
and all the pills I can take

You’ve got your phantom hook in me
just deep enough to burn
so welcome back
welcome back…

Be gentle with me
say as little as possible
to me…

It will never be as good as it was
it will never feel like it did at the start
but welcome back
welcome back…

[2014]

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[A sequel to The Sea At Night Does Not Rest, written 4 years later]

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]

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The Deep End

I watched Elena bathing
in the pool of the lower garden
amid birdsong and toiling insect
light shimmering in the heat
she’s a big girl, there’s more to love
and the water must feel warm against her toes
O, life is kind some days

I watched Elena swim, for hours
to and fro, up and down
the pool my father dug
there is nothing of which she’s ashamed
stepping from the water, standing bare
stretching hands above her head
and diving at the deep end
my eyes there with her every movement

I watched Elena sunbathe
on a bamboo bench against the North wall
she looked so bronze and peaceful
in the quiet of the lower terrace
spiders scuttling across the backs of my knees
lying face down in the tree house
O, life is kind sometimes

I watched Elena stepping back into her dress
as the sun contemplated a slow retreat
picking up her wicker bag, she rolled back across the wall
hopped down onto the dusty gravel road
wandered slowly back into the town

I found her necklace, left at the water’s edge
wrapped it twice around my thin wrist
flicked a long nail against the hanging ‘E’
longingly, I watched the fiery light
dance upon the water
but I never saw Elena again…

[2014]

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We Were Beautiful

The complication of those earrings
the texture of the paint around your eyes
the sun’s highlights in your hair

The redness of those parting lips
such belief in everything we said
the pristine shape of your nose

Lying on the roof
your head close to my heart
summer blushing the sky
weren’t we beautiful
weren’t we beautiful then

Nothing to fret about
just prolong the passing day
swaying through the city
weren’t we beautiful there

The precision of our jaw-lines
the optimism in our hearts
skidding through that midnight snowfall
spelling out each other’s names
as I caught you in my arms

We were so alive
so in love
so beautiful
at that moment in our lives…

[2018]

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Restless

When normally I’d run
why do I cling to this one?

I have money, I have time
but I have no partner in crime

I’ve been a lonely sight these past few weeks
fleeting glimpses of my footsteps on windy streets
indentations in riverbanks
ink-stains on flower beds

If I keep my pen on the paper
this nib keeps bleeding out blue desire

A rational mind gets cross-wired sometimes
now, to what should I aspire?

O, I have money, I have time
I have smiles, I have wine
but still no partner in crime

When normally I’d run
why do I cling to this one?

[2010]

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The Friend You Lost

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

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

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

[2011]

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An Actor Writes From Their Dressing Room…

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

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

[2005]

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Touching Souls

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We were touching souls…

[2011]

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

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Backwards

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

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

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

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

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

unresolved…

[2003]

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You Are Free

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

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

Freedom is self-expression
and you are free…

[2010]

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Pillars of Creation

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

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

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

[2016]

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The Truth Is Sadness

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

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

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

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

[2019]

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