Bonfires

I was living certain and sure
of the future I desired
A house by the water
sea air kissing my eyes
before I brave the morning paper

A figure framed in a gaping doorway
watching freighters skim the horizon
Rest my coffee cup on the fence
slide a nail down this foreign envelope
draw the perfumed letter from within

The paper see-through
like her summer dresses
My fingers beneath it
don’t do justice
to the gentle tan of her skin
or the constellations
of those freckles

“They’re building bonfires
down in the city park” she writes
“I’m jealous of that fire
and that flame
I think of the fireworks
that only we saw
I recall those fireworks
with a dampness in my eye

The realness of the fantasy
we’d be painting daily
between the thighs and sighs
and all the magic we brought forth
our bodies so alive”

Signed off with red lipstick
and the creases of her mouth
it’s suddenly not so obvious
why I made my home here
It’s suddenly so unclear
why I made my home here

And I look out to see
they’re building bonfires
down on the beach
O, I’m jealous of that fire
and that flame

How I long to feel
the creases of her lips
pushing hard
against mine…

[2020]

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Friday Night, We Walked Along The Beach…

Friday night, we walked along the beach
talking over a static sea
through all we wearily witnessed this year
still we speak in riddles
the way men often do
It only gets harder as you get older
weighed down by expectation
You didn’t turn to face me
kept your eyes fixed on the horizon
said ‘she’s pregnant’
with a pregnant pause

Black boots kicking stones across wet sand
choking out my congratulations
the selfish gene loudly screaming
‘another friend gone’
and all the drinks we shared, all that crazed fun
the possibility of our youth
all the talk for very different futures
slowly chipped away or in fruition
gently eroded or made good somehow
Friday night we walked along the beach
as you drifted a little further from me
I wore my catastrophic guilt
all the way to my quiet home

Friday night, we walked along the beach
for the last time in a long time
drinking cans and cracking jokes

Sunday night, we passed upon the high street
you leant in close and stammered
‘she’s no longer pregnant’
and we wept in each other’s arms…

[2017]

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In The Light of The Evening

I work hard most days
hands all rough by six
ah, but it’s worth every callous
whatever’s needed
and when I’m done, I walk
right down the sea-front promenade
sip on a cup of something
so warm and so sweet
with those boats sailing in and out
in the lazy light of the evening

There forms a shape in the foam on my coffee
I see the outline of your nose and eyes
looking up at me
I wonder just how easily
all my hard work here could be dismantled
with just a few whispered words
wagged by your smiling tongue
just the softest touch of my fingers
along the youth of your skin
in the drunken light of the evening

There is infinite potential
of an infinite damage
in the arch of your eyebrow
in your heart-shaped pout
to capsize in your curves
would surely undo everything
so utterly
as you push your hair behind your ear
in the sticky light of the evening

Those ships keep coming in and going out
I tip the cup back, stand to leave
I work so hard to keep from writing letters
telling how much I long to have you
but I do what it’s right to do
I do what is right for you
button up my coat
walk slow and long across the sand
in the mournful light of the evening
the light that you loved

Walk you off
in the sorrowful light of the evening
the light that you loved…

[2016]

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Beguiling Sirens

O child, do not hasten to drop anchor
I hope you live so many nights
lost at sea or diving free
loving by the light of the moon
forever was never the point

You must not miss those smiles
as wide as silver sands
And kisses hotly dripping
like the candle you might write by
in some foreign hotel room

If you should meet them
out there on your journey
(and you should, you should…)
I hope the sirens sing you
songs of salacious shipwreck
and fleshy feasts upon the rocks

If you should meet them
(and you must, you must)
Take those chances
don’t deny this life
let it be painted
in such vibrant colours

Let them ruin you a while
let them wreck you for a spell
then piece yourself together
and wind up more complete
O, and tell them I say ‘hi’

Go chasing honesty, equality
give and take, live wild, love free
take care and move respectfully
remain open to all that comes your way
forever was never the point

O, they will sing some
of your best lines into you
There are many poems waiting
You can dine upon those memories
once you’ve crossed the seesaw
of all your time

While you’re young
with no one who depends upon
then have your fun, go chase the sun
Forever was never
the point of life…

[2021]

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Photo credit: margaret-durow.com/

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]

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All my poems.

Tokyo Honeymoon

Our hotel window thrown open on the night
sirens rise and weave between our sighs
below, a city squeals in pleasure

Neon light spills across our pillows
We feel the force that has been forged
and binds our stories for all time

Pasts bundled into a suitcase
the lock spun, kicked beneath the bed
while we writhe and rise above

You touch yourself, then I touch you
We let the sheets slip to the floor
leaving nowhere for our desire to hide

A silver spark brightly arcs
connects my fingers and your thighs
welds your tongue tip to my throat

Like rain on glass we quickly merge
the beating rhythm, that low slow moan
so far beyond those ancient intimacies

The rest of our lives begin right here
The branches of our love in bloom
like cherry blossoms painting up the trees…

[2021]

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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]

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Hush Little Nightmare

Quiet, quiet
calm and still
closed eyes can rest
sleepy head can drift

Quiet, quiet
gentle thought
no more mess to address
no more questions to molest you

Finally cut free
spill out, drift on
into a new sea
palms laid on fresh skin

Fretted for years
worried for a living
guilt; it breaks your heart
the quietest of all
let it go, let go
they’ll never know

Reborn, reborn
the duty is renewed
don’t ruin, don’t wreck
just hush your wondering

Quiet, quiet
free from white noise
no more hate to abate
no betrayal to wade through

Let your senses roam
let your hope bloom
no fray in the rope of love
you cling to, now

You’re free, you’re free
the creep can sleep
but must not repeat
don’t speak
just hush
little nightmare…

[2010]

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Fingerprints

To know my fingerprints
on another’s heart
could stir them into art
a priceless gift, a magic

To know there is a poem
written about me
those words, more beautiful
than I could ever hope to be

From the caverns of passed time
there comes a sound
a constant, quiet, ring
when I choose to listen
always there
telling of another way of living

That the heart of such an artist
a complexly creative soul
with capacity for such beauty
would choose to spill a verse for me;
incendiary!

That passionate romantic
haunts the part of me
still willing to feel things deeply
and for her soul, I write on
so long and so gratefully…

[2019]

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Vicious Allure

Now
I wasn’t looking out
eyes down
quietly working
satisfied
and gently living
loving in time
with the tick of the clock
or the beat of her heart
O, I was a good man
I was doing alright

Then
the poison found me
crawling surely
noosed my arm
tapped my vein
and came and came and came
violently derailing
loudly rerouting all that loving
to the rev of the engine
skewed to the thrust of this new heartbeat
O, I was quickly turned
I was too easily bent

And
all I would know from there
all I could know to see
the only wants that dwell

They’re bad thoughts
bad wants
bad things
bad thoughts
bad wants
bad things

All I’m wanting for
is bad things, bad things with you…

[2015]

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As We Entangle…

In the lush laugh of London
I indulge the urge to walk so freely
Let my mind wander wide
entertain all its distractions
But what I find
is that your presence
hangs so vividly behind my eyes
That if I pause a moment
or check the pulse of my emotions
It’s you… It’s you…
I don’t want to be here
if it means I am without you

Long live the hours that are ours!

In the glowing gadget’s glare
your words vibrate into my world
and from my bed, so far away
you’re preparing for a lonely slumber
And what I find
is that your gravity
has its beautifully fierce grip on me
So, if I take a step from where you are
my feet begin to ache as they’re pulled toward
It’s you… It’s you…
I can’t bare to be here
If it means I am without you

Long live the hours that are ours!

In the rain’s relentless ruining of roads
and December’s constant wish for cold
I’m sure I’m going to slip on ice
fall in love so hard
And what I find
you’re just the right kind
the complimentary soul I’ve been writing about
So, if I let this be what it longs to be
My hands, my head, my heart
they turn towards
It’s you… It’s you…
I can’t entertain the thought of being here
if it means I am without you

Long live the hours that are ours!
Long live the hours
as we entangle these lives of ours…

[2010]

Image credit: http://margaret-durow.com

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The Hidden Lake

Take me to the hidden lake
let us wander through
the valleys of your heart
Let us revel in the splendour
of all that rests within
Accumulations, it’s what we are
everything we’ve felt and seen

Let us swim in the hidden lake
in that secret world
deep at the core of you
Make it rain, bring forth the sun
We’ll watch the waters flow
across your canvas
into the sea, into reality

When the soul flows through
and out of you…

How long I’ve wondered
where this thing springs from
How long I’ve yearned to learn
what is the source
that feeds your ocean
How long I’ve ached to understand
where creativity is born

Is it the gifting light of some divinity
or weird wiring in the brain
A prophet with a prayer to share
something deep to celebrate
A seer into the fabric of what is
with raw sensitivity, purest empathy
or a jester writing their own joke book

When the soul flows through
and out of you…

The unique way you see things
how you intuit and interpret
painting the ephemeral
The haunting way your voice
speaks of the rich duality
as it carries the tune of living

Don’t despair, the lake is always there
some days, the level low
some days, only a trickle flow
Some days, the dam spills over
some days, the trek into the mountains
takes a little longer

We’ll always return with something new
there’s nothing more beautiful
there’s nothing more true

When the soul flows through
and out of you…

[2022]

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Letter From The Lake

Dear friend
a sigh is leaving me
I can concentrate now, finally
a statue, standing on the jetty
the lake’s slow wash below the boards
hypnotising me

I feel freer now than ever
more than I did back there
I don’t know how you toil on
those boiling days below the city
tinned-life crammed in
and searching for air

You wrote me of the love you found
that you always dreamed was waiting
head cocked to one side
a wry smile you’re both sharing
suddenly but so completely
a focus for all that untamed love in you

Here, life moves slow
but never stops completely
there is a girl down in the town
who looks at me so coyly
and some rough lad up at the farmhouse
who would gladly make me his

Between the wind-battered fields
and evenings pickling in the only pub
I keep an eye out for that inner peace
one night I might let him take me
or another, dance her into a barn

I’ve been finding something here
but, speaking plainly, it’s not you
I’m still swimming out each morning
with that pale look upon my face
I swim six laps before breakfast
the palest hope painting my face

I wish you well
and happy with whoever
come and see me one year soon
come up to the water and stay
until then, my friend
take care…

[2013]

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Highbury Fields

That sixteen-year-old words 
scratched there in my diary
could bring the two of us here
seems almost supernatural

A spring-evening walk, so like us
the us we were as teens
when you were my first
and still my only kiss
as we walked the peaceful parks of home

Now, so many years stretch across
a wide valley of unshared experience
they squeal and dance between us
slowly and methodically we close the gap
spinning our silken bridge of words

I pull the feathers from your lungs
they’re knotted and tarred
dripping with the bitterness of isolation
they’re catching in your throat

Your silences
and the space between those words
they say much more
they say it all…

Your sorrow is a blanket of leaves
your sorrow is blossom that falls
and covers this park…

Highbury Fields disappears
beneath the tears I know you cry
in your silent room
from your hiding place

Recently, I read again of all you gave me
when the two of us were lost together
so I ask myself ‘what I can do
to help lift you from this place’

What can I do for you
what can I give to you
only my time, only my time to you
the healing warmth of resuscitated friendship
as we walk the adult evening
through this pretty park

And you can say it all
you can speak it all out loud…

[2014]

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Great Ocean Road

How good it must feel
as you stretch out in the sun
The relief of open-handedly letting go
Said your goodbyes
moved to the other side of the world

Now, you unwind
top down
a breeze coming off the sea
the sun on your back
driving up the Great Ocean Road

How I know that you deserve this
the unfolding grace of living free
no longer working to repair something
All new, all you again
with fertile thoughts
blossoming
as the past is blown away
charring in the sunset
and life has you smiling again
hurtling up the Great Ocean Road

Such vast happiness at last
lit by the campfire light
at the end of the day
the two of you together
under canvass
And what joy is lurking there
sparkling in your mind
hand in hand
as the sun rises again
and you’re flying up the Great Ocean Road

How powerfully
the image of your happiness
comes to me
The horizon stretching out
that beautiful blue expanse beside you
speeding up the Great Ocean Road

I think of you smiling
and I smile too…

[2014]

For Alex

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One of These Years…

One of these days I’ll get it all together
gather up my debts and gather up my thoughts
One of these days I won’t have a choice
there’s be no other way, just a fading day
I always say
one of these days…
that’s right
one of these days…

One of these days I’ll write to my family
tell them all, I love them, always have and will
One of these days I’ll start giving to charity
go out and help my brother/sister man along their way
I always say
one of these days…
you watch
one of these days…

One of these days I’ll fix that creaky stair
change the bulb in the darkened hallway
One of these days I’ll start a band, write a book
put something away for the time when I can’t work a day
I always say
one of these days…
I will
one of these days…

Ah, the days they go, slipping by
I just let them go, slipping by
as they build themselves into a tidy month
build themselves into a neat year
build themselves into a pretty lifetime

One of these days I’ll take stock of what I’ve got
sit down with a pen, and calculate the cost of everything
One of these days I’ll stop talking, speak in actions only
like I’ve been promising myself I would for so long
I always say
one of these days…
you just wait
one of these years…

[2007]

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I named my first poetry collection after this poem. It felt fitting after finally doing something I’d always said I’d do. You can buy it now on Amazon

Young Family In The Sunshine

Over by the river, a young family
painted by the sunshine
So comfortable in their skin
so happy
Little baby, beautiful mother
loving father
smiling

Pulling silly faces
the three of them
laughing
He looks strong and clear minded
blessed
by the truth of honest purpose

Life seems simple, warm
they wear their love
like a tattoo
Working together
to overcome the daily challenges

They share a small beer
eat fruit from a paper bag
they look fit
and pure
and peaceful

And for a moment
I wish I could feel that way
I wish I could be that dad
for a day…

[2022]

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All my poems.

This Poisonous Time

The plan never changed
it was quietly revealed
suddenly, this cell was just mine

Can I still grow?
can I still change?
I don’t want to be my father
I don’t want to live alone

Another evening in
another night, pushing everyone away
All I need is a little space
room enough to think a while
write some lines
a drink or two
me; all too myself

But the more I take
the more I die
of this
this poisonous time

And even on the odd occasion
I go out and sit with other people
there is nothing I can say
to make them want me to stay
I’ve focused every sense within
this cell is me

There should be jokes, there should be smiles here!
I used to be so good at this
There should be humour, there should be such love!
I used to be so good at this

But the more I take
the more I die
of this
this poisonous time

Alone and wading through
such a poisonous time…

[2008]

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Books of Blake

You saw me, even then
you knew me
back when no one saw me
I kept no one around
who might know me
I, too, was in my infancy
twenty-something
and far from knowing much
in any real way at all

Still, somehow, you found me
brought books of Blake
to the shop we worked
we’d sit and read together
on the varnished wooden counter
your summer dress
hanging from you like a sail
we’d admire the crazed paintings
taste those verses on our tongues

Books of Blake we stood before
and poured our minds all over
you said I ‘didn’t know how to do what I was doing’
I ‘didn’t know how to love who I was loving’
the cheek of it!
the incisiveness…

And you’d tell me
of the bottle of wine you drank
in the bath, the night before
as the water grew cold around you
cleverly planting images
that I’ve not shaken to this day
(all these years on)

You were a lush and tranquil island
in the sea of my stupidity
you were the first mind
I truly connected with

And I still rue the day
you slipped through my fingers
growing cold around me
then gone forever…

[2020]

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

I’m Not Here

Conversations float like dandelion seeds
drifting on some tumble-weed breeze
the words are soft and out of focus
bouncing quietly off hazy walls

Invisible vibrations pass unnoticed
no effect, no eye turned, no ear piqued
was that my name, something I should recognise
or just another wave in this sea of endless ambience

I’m not here
I’m not here at all

I’m back at that table
our legs entwined below the cloth
I’m down on that station platform
my hands holding your head
I’m reclining on that sofa
our bodies charged with static arcing
your begging smile just inches from mine

I’m not seeing
I’m not feeling
anything immediate
I’m not here
No, I’m not here

I’m standing on the train
with your hand sliding towards mine
I’m sitting too close to you
our shoes discreetly clunking
I’m at my desk watching you across the office
your body floating in that summer dress
you’re shooting me that covert smile

I’m not seeing
I’m not feeling
anything around me
I’m not here
I’m not really here

I’m daydreaming of your seductive voice
I’m waiting for your call…

[2015]

Photo credit: A still from Under The Skin (2013)

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