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

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

A Song of The Wind

Audio reading with guitar

Attic window open on the night
a dim wash of light
as hinges creak
From the page, I raise my pen
is that your laugh, your voice I hear
blowing through the years

Is it you, is it real
or a song of the wind
it is you, is it real
I’m never sure

I see the miles of white tiles
that infinite airport floor
where you left me statuesque
our future time without a date
that never came

The shredding of our story
lost, somewhere in the night
amidst the terminal and the air
somehow I wanted to imagine more
that never was

Is it you, is it real
or a song of the wind
it is you, is it real
well, I never know

I checked my post
fifteen times this week
was that you I heard
addressing me with a howl
or a song of the wind
the only tune I hear these days

Thank you for the kisses
the love and warmth you brought
all the jokes we shared
and your fingers in my beard
how could I forget

It’s you, it’s you
a song of the wind
always it’s you
such a sweet melody to have known

And on the wind
I hope your memory
will always blow
beside me…

[2019]

Thanks for reading or listening.

The lovely guitar accompaniment was written and performed by Sirishty Thakur who writes wonderfully on her blog ‘Thought Loop‘. Please do check out her work!

Image Credit: https://www.instagram.com/nightwalkermagazine/

For M.L.

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