Holy Hell In An Airport Hotel

These paths we walk
grounded by responsibility
well-worn routine
practiced intimacy
I could only smile
when you whispered in my ear
‘Take me away from this
take me anywhere but here’

Living in the moment
it’s all we know to do
as you pepper my shoulder with kisses
my fingers explore every inch of you
You said ‘the world is a minibar
cold and empty
but now we’re blessed by this heat
tonight, we’ve broken free’

You’re biting my shoulders
as I worship at your chest
real life left at the door
shed like the straps of your dress
Then you’re climbing over me
and I taste it on my knees
every drop is so addictive
just like you said it would be

The way you bite your lip
and your softly closing eyes
when I gently twist my hip
as I bring myself inside
My thumb is in your mouth
measuring the pleasure
It’s a holy hell
in this airport hotel

Those moans are low
until they’re as high
and loud as the planes above
it’s a rush, it’s a ride
to any escape that pleases us…

[2023]

Thanks for reading.

Lazing By The Well

This love, our love
so understated
but all consuming

A stick of rock
written right through me
it always has been
Reaching out a hand
to feel
your hand waiting

A tide
I’ll always return
A well
I’ll always refill
your bucket
with love

All my wants, all my needs
melt into a single thought
All my hopes and dreams
collide inside the fact
you exist

I reach out my hand
take your cheek
in my palm
Your smile doesn’t dim
but takes on a new glow

A tide
I’ll always return
A well
I’ll always refill
with buckets
of love…

[2023]

Thanks for reading.

River’s End

Some nights, I can’t sleep
so, I go out walking
following the river
in my discomfort and anxiety
All too aware
of where we’re heading
winding towards that war
no one can win

I pass bonfires of guitars
funeral pyres of pianos
strings all snapped
Art must be rationed out, now
There’s a faded memory of a song
from long ago
that hopeless refrain, lilts
‘these are our final days’

The cities seethe, swollen and diseased
remnant governments siphon off our blood
all the schools are barracks
hospitals lick flames from every window
Kids wear shrapnel like fast-food crowns
landmines pop like party balloons
Lorries scurry the broken masses
from one smouldering ruin to the next

A hatred crackles between the people
the rusted blade edge of civilisation
I feel helpless and heartbroken
panic surging behind closed eyelids
As humanity divides
the two sides meeting twice
once in their compromise
and again at the extremes

The river rushes ever higher
the floodplain quickly vanishes
I mourn the poetry of seasons
the grave of tenderness is washed downstream
I meet a woman, burying her daughter
From an old matchbox, I offer her
the thin stem of withered hope, I nurture
she waters it with her tears

“These are, these truly are
our final days”

When we reach the river’s end
the night is at its darkest
just then a thousand suns light up
this fractured northern hemisphere

Waking in my bed
I realise my dream
But is all this hell
still yet to come…?

[2023]

Thanks for reading. Happy new year! Don’t have nightmares.

Headlights

Picking you up to go driving
I’d get there early to watch you get ready
both seventeen and tangled
in that unspoken thing between us
Cruising the looping country lanes
in those dim headlight beams
That was our place, alone together at last
Two teenagers, eyeing each other sideways
and wondering who each of us would be
would you always stay right there
would you always be
in the car with me
Another mile, another mile
in those endless times…

Thrumming rain upon the roof
your fingers knitted in the glovebox light
always asking me so many questions
our laughter lingering and playful
in the freezing depths of northern winter
You’d push me to say who I liked at school
watching so carefully
I’d study the glowing dashboard for a full five minutes
turn the tape over, change the conversation
stealing so many glances
at your perfect saucer eyes
so smart and so alive
Another mile, another mile
in our early lives…

Somewhere along the journey
we’d stop the car, snuff out the lights
and in the backseat, without a word
we’d learn a new geography
You’d breathe your lessons into me
the beguiling wonder of our story
skirting the youthful boundaries
of a near-love I’d forever treasure
And afterwards you’d finger our initials
on the foggy inside of the glass
I always loved that, but so sad
that those smears outlasted us
Another mile, another mile
in those simple, priceless, times

Twenty years of change sailed by
suddenly, from the silence, you called me
heard I’m in town, saying ‘we should talk again’
I say ‘how about a drive…?’
Eyeing me from the driver’s seat
you say I’d ‘become all the things I used to pretend to be’
you said it was ‘a good thing’
and now you teach at our old college
you’re not married but there’s a good man waiting
and the baby, she already looks like you
Who’d have thought those teenagers were headed here
running country laps, in those dim headlight beams
another mile, another mile
in those precious lives, we had to leave behind

Another mile, another mile
I’m so glad we got to share those times…

[2021]

Thanks for reading.

All my poems.

Second Favourite Feeling

Singing my lungs out, singing loudly
The music so carefully
chosen for the journey
when there’s no one in the car with me

Screaming at the dashboard
wailing for the headlight beam
Wait, did I just hit that note
we’ll never know… it’s miles behind me now

Caught in traffic
other drivers smiling at me
if only
they could sing the harmony

Songs of unions, songs of absence
songs of pleasure, songs of pain
songs of laughter, songs of sadness
Songs of love, songs of praise

By the time that I arrive
my throat’s a little dry
voice huskier than usual
but on my face, always a smile

Singing along to the music
on some long journey
My second favourite feeling
driving home to number one…

[2023]

Thanks for reading.

The Old Machinery

As young men, we ran through this town
chasing the madness
at the bottom of every bottle
and the warmth of teenage smiles
honeyed with the promise
of new experience

Spinning from bar to bar, pushing the limits
of our bodies capacity for self-destruction
and regeneration
snow melting from our clothes
as we sat and drank and laughed
in the Christmas evening air

Tonight, we’re trying to revive that old machinery
lubricating our shared memories
speaking in the antiquated language
of past experience
trying to reverse
the hands around the clock face

We were young men then
now, we’re something else
there’s less of us left
The barest of bones and dust
well dressed skeletons
if we squint when we look

Those times echo in the canyon between
that ‘then’ and this ‘now’ 
but I don’t have the constitution to return
I’ll always treasure those precious
fizzy memories
but I can’t restart that old machinery…

[2023]

Thanks for reading.

Petrol Green Eyes

Furtively, you smile
as I dive
into your petrol green eyes
we’ve run out of words tonight

My unspeaking lips
form the shape of a silent promise
to burn
my house to the ground

For there is only
you and me now…

And I hear the screams
of my old way of life
And the swirl of ashes
of somebody’s broken heart

And a twinge of shame
so swiftly erased
in the rising dance
of flame

For there is only
you and me now…

[2023]

Thanks for reading.

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.

Fulfilment

Click ‘play’ to hear me read this poem – or right-click and choose ‘Save As’ to download the MP3.

Senses softened in the dark afternoon
This year is charring in the fire grate
So, I pour out into the haunted fields
looking for loneliness, for lines, for clues
to get a handle on all that’s happened
to make predictions on where I am headed

All around my body, the world’s covered by a sheet
life’s decorator is preparing to paint the new year
This land spills on for snowy miles
my past reels out somewhere behind me
in those paths taken, in those choices made;
there are glimpses of the shape of my future

The Grecian islands, the Cornish coast
Those petty milestones, those brave goodbyes
from swollen ankles, to exploded minds
Portuguese walled-towns, to Derbyshire hills
From a decade planted, then uprooted and moved
the letting go, the keeping a hold
Surprises; surprising, plans made and fulfilled
much falls away, much more presents itself
weddings, worries, work; with friends
consciousness glides across the ghostly fields
comes to rest behind my smiling eyes

So, now I have the things I’ve always wanted
the peace I chased, the love I imagined
the tools I’ll need are all within me
and Kate is waiting, with her key, somewhere

By the gate, I pause, look up into the nothing
time stands still, my eyes adjust…
the pitch black night is full of stars
(when did I last see those?)
My gaze breaks, my footsteps in the powder flow
time moves, I need for nothing else…
I go back into the house

Toss my wondering on the fire
pour a drink, talk to my family
I’m satisfied
and warm…

[2011]

Happy Christmas & thanks for reading/listening.

The piano track on the audio recording is “The Book of Jen by Tedosio“.

Got an Amazon voucher for Xmas?… ‘The Ship-wrecker’s Lamp: Selected Poems 2010 – 2020’ available now.

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Looking Out

The pen I found on Oxford High Street in 2002

I was young, I was clay
I was given to looking out
and there upon the train seat
a gift from the universe
A barely filled notebook
no name, no number
no way to find the owner
it piqued my curiosity…

With pencil then, I tried to fill it
with all my words, my wonderings
my secret truths
but it went nowhere
just collected dust upon my shelf

A few months gone by
still young, my paint still wet
still at my most malleable
Lying on the pavement there
another present from the universe
a gleaming fountain pen
lid on, no engraving, no passer by
no way to return it
instinctively, I picked it up
put it to the waiting paper

The flick of that scalpel nib
the infinite potential, the promise…
For the first time in my life
I could speak without interruption
get my thoughts straight, talk it over
A friendship formed there
that has never faded

Since that strange coincidence
or you may call it providence
I’ve always had a keen eye on the world
for its quiet subtle gifts and moments
Look up, look down, look out
It’s all around, every day
I am humbled by the wonder
of nature
and the ever generous beauty
of existence…

[2021]

Thanks for reading.

Fancy a book?

Day of Death

The neighbour’s cat
brought a mouse into our garden
four limbs twitching
And from that jaw, those claws
I performed a rescue
but it was all for naught
and I tucked that little life
on the compost stack
hoping it found a comfy spot
to shuffle off

Out walking that same afternoon
on the pavement, on the path
a squirrel who’d tried to fly
but kissed the curb
such a sad sight
as I strolled on by
I hope it was quick
an instant goodbye

Later on that ramble
A pigeon lay on the lawn
insides brought outside
in the shimmering sunlight
Fallen and discovered
by nature’s tiny accomplices
all busy reducing and reusing
a cycle completing

All that death in one day
Was the universe speaking
or is life always busy ending
Nature is not so sentimental
and we’ll all meet those jaws
we’ll all kiss that curb
and complete the cycle
That day of death
comes to us all

While I still draw breath
there are many ‘thank you’s
so many ‘I love you’s
many ‘how can I help you’s
I still need to speak
and so I pray ‘not today’
like we all pray
‘please, not today’…

[2022]

Thanks for reading.

How To Be Alone

Waiting for a friend
sipping tea, sunglasses on
passers-by double and disappear
as reflections in shop windows
everything lit golden
then dimmed behind my lenses
I stir the drink some more

Waiting for a friend
they’re half an hour late now
I barely notice
just watch the people
let my mind wander
the liquid turning in the cup

And it hits me, squarely, there
on the corner by the crossroads
these moments
left to my own devices
find me so contented
thinking, writing, dreaming
drawing, planning, scheming

Have I just mastered the art
of how to be alone
or am I just happy
Maybe…
I’m just truly happy
finally…

[2019]

Thanks for reading.

https://linktr.ee/tomalexwrite

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.

Cinema Child

Standing on the sand
I watched the boats afloat
I thought to myself; I must look good
cinematic, brilliant, deep, mature
all eyes were on me, because I stood out
how they must love me…

As those ships drifted by
I’d be thoughtful
roll my eyes, look to the ground
with all the girls watching my ticks and style
I was sullen, moody, sexy, smart beyond my years
they’d love me…

And standing by the water’s edge I’d smile
those girls would find me in my tent that night
strip me down and pick me up, I’d be lost
I’d be so ready for the feelings I imagined
I’d be lovely…

Standing in the surf
I stole the show, all the people loved me
they loved me, even if they never said
or never looked… or never came…

And as I grew, I learned to see
I was just a boy, staring at the sea
a head of daydreams, ideals and fantasies
my image really; just childish, introverted
completely unapproachable

The girls, they didn’t come to me
I just stood on that shore by day
and ran through tall grass and summer rain by night
watching the waves from rocks and heights

My pretence, my best defence
the only way I ever felt okay
trying never to admit
I was young and lonely
I was so young and already so lonely…

[2003]

Thanks for reading.

Originally published June 2020. This poem can also be found in my poetry collection ‘One of These Years…‘.

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

Live In The Light

O Lord, I ain’t what I aimed to be
I think I missed the target some
my seed got turned upside down
tried to grow towards the light
and grew down…

O Lord, are you listening to me?
‘cause I’ve never heard your voice in here
no conductor’s baton, no steady hand
as I stumbled through this night
and grew dark…

O Lord, I’m miles from where I meant to be
the Devil, he has no compass, no stars to follow
says ‘hack away, till you reach the easy warmth’
but I hacked so many people, I keep slipping in their blood
and fall down…

O Lord, I haven’t used my eyes for years
don’t see anything when you only live to feel
I get whatever stimulus I can take
I’ll take whatever’s not bolted down
and go blind…

O Lord, I’m chased by that same snake again
always offering me that same apple
all I ever wanted was to live in the light
Yet something always eclipsed that need
now it feels too late to change
and I’ll always hang here in this bleak greed
and pitch night…

Would you forgive me, Lord
let me admit to all this blackness and move on
could you forgive me, Lord
if I promise you I’ll change and for the better

O Lord, all I ever wanted
was just to live in the light
but look at me now, deep in the dark
do you see me here, lost in this dark…

[2008]

Thanks for reading.

https://linktr.ee/tomalexwrite