Been Nowhere, Seen Nothing

Do you remember when we kissed
in the dim bar, beneath the railway arches
that hypnotic smile you wore
the way you demanded to be held
as all hell broke loose between us

Do you remember how you took my hands
as we walked beside the rails
you thrust yourself into my grasp
pushed your body hard against mine
and stopped time

And I felt so alive
that I’d
been nowhere
seen nothing
before that night

I still think about the drunken orange skies
the red tail lights stretching on for miles
as we drifted through the sprawling city
the only heat; that which burned between us
pressing your entire being up against me

And I felt so alive
truly, I’d
been nowhere
seen nothing
before that time

I remember you so clearly
with such precise clarity
I wonder do you remember me
do you still think of me at all

Since then
I’ve been nowhere
seen nothing else…

[2014]

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Is It Cold Where You Are?

All this talk of cut cords, severed alliances
assuming of an adultness of understanding
a rationing of feeling
where one side metes out their emotions
only experiencing the right and sensible sensations

And so I forget to ask
is it cold, where you are?

All this presumption of absolutes, burned bridges
there being no way to return to stir this into a mess
a wall of arbitrary time, slotted days upon weeks
to hide the vision of what once shone so stellar

And so I forget to ask
is it cold, where you are?

All this forward thinking, predictive dreaming
pushing eyes and minds to see something not yet shown
clawing the edges of a still concealed future
an impatient Christmas morning of wild new opportunity

And so I forget to ask
is it cold, where you are?

Selfishly distracted, by the glowing halo of tomorrow
buoyed by a sense of feeling strong and free
my mind gets wiped, all compassion corrupted
when really I still care
and will wonder about you always

Is it cold, where you are?
and if it is, is there anything I can do?

If it’s cold where you are
is there anything I can do?

[2011]

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Only Moments

Remembering dim rooms
hushed conversation
whispering those compliments
almost embarrassed
trying to communicate the reverence
the pure weight of all this feeling
wading so deep in love

Ah, they’re only moments…

Remembering falling rain
buried in each other’s coats
kissing through smiles
desire whilst laughing
being perfectly overwhelmed by someone
the greatness that is all-consuming
swallowed so deeply by love

They’re only moments
so missing
so missed

Today is bright, today is dry
ah, but to feel again that feeling
to feel again
the deepest drowning of love
the greatest feeling

Those moments
only moments
so missed
so missing from my life…

[2011]

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Anatomy of Longing [with audio]

Cutting to the heart of all this longing
is it the vicious tongue you wag at me
or the perpetual mystery hanging from your actions
the contradictions of your possible state of mind

I see the hurt, I feel the pain you carry
and sense your urge to be desired by men
the flirt of all you do rings loudly before you
and against my better judgement
I can’t help but come swimming back to your shores

With every scar you try to inflict
or accidentally leave on my skin
I drift away for a moment only
then find myself battling the waves
I can’t help but come swimming back to your shores

I know you didn’t ask for this
I know you didn’t choose me or this adventure
and yet I brought it to you anyway
and you didn’t quite turn me away

And you’re cute, there’s no denying
you spill out in all my favourite places
and know how to smile with a catastrophic magnitude
that tears the hair clean off my scalp

The bile in your belly, the bitch barely-contained
I never knew how much I loved that rage
your misery is contagious
I feel its cells dividing in my bloodstream

I doubt I am the only one you’ve drugged this way
I know you’re not planning to leave your man
but as long as you keep stoking the engine of longing
I can’t help but come swimming back to your shores

I dream about you most nights
and when I’m on the bus
or train, or tube, or walking down the street
or when I’m in bed with somebody else
I dream it’s your body
over which my hands journey

And yet you only reach out a paw for me
when you know I cannot be there
you only say you might want for me
when you know we can’t connect

You’re playing me, humble instrument to your vanity
you keep me hanging on for nothing real
I know all of this so well and yet I gladly hang myself
I can’t help but come swimming back to your shores

Sometimes it seems; maybe you feel more for me than I realise
an ambiguous choice of words and perhaps it could mean more
you say the lovers kissing in the bar, are reminding you of me
I say the denim shirt I wore today was reminding me of you

So who are you anyway and why do I long like this
I feel a sudden shortness of breath
when I look into your eyes
I feel my chest twinge when you catch me looking

There’s something in your history too
I know you’ve got some good hidden in you
beyond the selfish drive you choose to expose
I know there’s something that I could harness

There’s something in the things you’ve seen
the pleasure I know you’ve experienced
your taste for the beautiful and the sublime
perhaps if I could make you choose me, it would mean I’m beautiful too

You laugh at my jokes…
no matter how ruthless the punchline
the sharper, the more scathing the better
I can’t help but come swimming back to your shores

I need to catch myself
before I fall much further
slam my pick in the ice
before the precipice

Cutting to the heart of all this longing
I see such complicated shapes emerging
and despite all my better instincts
I can’t help but come swimming back to your shores…

[2015]

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Windmill Hill [with audio]

Walking to the old wooden mill
walking up Windmill Hill

Walking high above the sleeping villages
stomping slow through powder snow
following my friend as he stretches his legs
moving as two faint dark figures
across the dim blue glowing fields

See smoke rising from a chimney
off in the distance, a single building shivers
one light flickers in an upstairs window
I momentarily wonder what they might be doing
huddling for warmth by the fading orange fire?

On nights like this I walk for miles
until my shoes are consolidated ice
and I can’t walk too many steps more
on nights like this I love to drift freely
let thoughts unfold in the clean crisp air
a few pure hours among the hills and valleys

When I free my mind and let all grip swing away
when I am calm and utterly alone
always the things I find, that I dwell upon
are the gratitude and joy I experience daily
it’s the happiness and the luck
that seem to surround and blanket me daily

I know life won’t always be this gracious
won’t always handle me so gentle or easily
I know that health and the blessing thereof
is a passing gift that will soon be gone
and yet to know that times like this exist
renews and amplifies
the hope and happiness
I carry with me

The snow begins to fall again
my furry friend shakes the flakes
from his heaving back
now we must return to the sleeping village
both of us, content and smiling

lost in the endless beauty of the living world
looking for calm amongst the chaos
and knowing that it’s out there somewhere
it’s out there
or in here
somewhere…

[2014]

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A Love Experience

How patiently, how perfectly
with such finesse, you plan our passion
in such exacting detail
you’ve prepared our romance
five years in advance

A spreadsheet for every kiss
lingering looks added to your ‘to-do’ list
flow-charted clothes torn off
a map showing where to lose ourselves
in the moment

But it’s still love
or a version of it…
O, it’s still love
or your version of it…

Did you make a plan for me
to bend that knee
to descend on bended knee
did you even know me then
did you even know me when
you made that plan

A clockwork heart ticks true
a clockwork heart flicks through
a catalogue of love experiences
to tick, tick, tick off

Ah, but it’s still love…
or a version of it…
O, it’s still love
or your version of it…

In the office of your heart
plan us a love event
in the office of your heart
can you schedule us some love

Or a love experience
to tick, tick, tick off…

[2016]

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We Kissed As The House Blew Away [with audio]

Remember when we kissed all night
in taxis
bar booths
theatres
in takeaways
phone-boxes
queues
in fields
on cliff-tops
white sands
in crowds
in ostentatious style
with absolute certainty
standing in rivers
rolling on haystacks
in tents
in love…

To lose ourselves in kisses
was all we ever wanted
‘lose yourself in kisses’
that’s all we ever whispered

Do you remember the last time we kissed
anywhere
anywhere at all…

Storm Chasers

Tyre tracks on dirt roads
storm chasers
looking for the eye
or something on the other side

Peddle kisses the floor
world whips past the window
tearing up the old road
headed North, searching for more

We were happy here
but could there be greater happiness
elsewhere?
The storm is a chorus
always another verse
on the other side…

In some mad way
we’re headed for a greater shelter
through the storm
headed for safety, hopefully

There is danger
there always is
but life is a song
with danger singing along

Windows wound down
radio up high
with our lives thrown in the back
I feel so alive
do you feel alive?

You call it ‘danger’
I say ‘adventure’
well, life is a song
adventure singing along

Storm chasing
it makes no sense
but for the place on the other side
perhaps, where it’s cheap to live
maybe that makes sense

O, but look at that view
didn’t we always say
it’s all about the view
here; we can see for miles…

In some mad way, we’re headed for greater shelter
on the other side
as we dance into the storm
I feel so alive
don’t you feel alive?

[2016]

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This Leaving Feeling

Below the boards I hear the water rushing
a stray dog strolls by and says hello
he doesn’t stop for long, keeps moving on
across Port Meadow the horses roam

I’ve got this leaving feeling
breeding in me…

The sun above sheds its strength with the season
trees undressing, will soon stand naked
arms held up but not in questioning
the bridge at Magdalen wheezing smoke

I’ve got this leaving feeling
coiled up in me…

Abandoned nests descending in the gales
I’m shedding possessions, lightening the load
too many treasures to take with me
decorating Cowley with my life’s bright litter

I’ve got this leaving feeling
biting down upon me…

After everything that has to be done, is done
can I return?
Once everything that has to be done, is done
will I return here?

Will this feeling ever leave me?
Once I leave
will this feeling be gone?

[2011]

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Broken-down Place [with audio]

Our sentences are short
perfunctory statements
serving a purpose

Our brief embrace is feeble
lacks the backbone
the spine of years ago

Your easiness with everyone is gone
my insight into everything is gone
in this broken-down place

We built ourselves a fire
but who will be the first to admit
it’s stone cold now…

Time is a ticking machine
household tasks are an escape
will sleeping ever come?

A phone call to someone else
like a glimpse of some sweet beach
the image lingers on
long after they’ve gone

Your diamond eyes are dulled tonight
my wit is simplified tonight
in this broken-down place

We built ourselves a fire
but there’s no strength in us to go on
and no strength in us to admit
it’s stone dead now…

[2009]

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Calling Wisdom

Calling wisdom…
to see through all the horse shit
of your flimsy words
those jelly-limbed actions
flailing so selfishly and blindly
out in front of me
I’m calling wisdom…

Calling wisdom…
to untangle all the wires
of your dangling contradictions
Cut through the paper masks
of all your posturing
that you’re completely lost in
I’m calling wisdom…

Calling wisdom
to cast a dim light on your thinking
what train of thought
you caught to get to here
these decided sidings
of this line’s end
I’m calling wisdom

Calling wisdom…
to map a human sense of things
the fucked foundation you’ve been building on
is cratered and crumbling in upon us
and burning bricks and buried bones
are all that I can know now
I’m calling wisdom…

Calling wisdom…
to put in place a forest of words between us
brush blooming plants to hide the muddy path
that we spun down; senseless and scared-shitless
and because you never did
I’m calling wisdom…

[2010]

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You’re My Man

Tell me again, my teacher
hungrily, I listen to your story
ravenous, by candlelight
calling from the sooty street

Incisions made with your deep insight
the surgeon stillness
of deftly poetic hands
those wisdoms draped in laurel leaves
infinite movement and such sweet inertia

Shower me, my master
my naivety gladly surrenders
in the wake of your delivery
O Len, sing for me
some story I can disassemble
reverse engineer your experience
give birth to my own interpretation

On a wicker throne in some Grecian harbour
my fountain pen refilling
I sip wine, imagining your women
one; she comes along
with askance eyes pawing over me
and the limits of my vague body
she whispers ‘touch me with your intellect’
but I shiver, stark in its absence

O, it’s the little things
the nuanced way you speak it out
the details and the clarity
the hilarious obfuscation
Christ, that galling crystal ball

I could never reach you
I’d be waving, I’d be waiting
breathing my vanilla thoughts to no one
but my drunk self
Hunched alone at the end of the bar
praying to you…

Spin me a yarn
turn on my table
O Leonard, you’re my man…

[2014]

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Let The Tide Decide

On some night-time road
with only the distant moon
or your dimming torch
meting out a weak light

Do not be afraid of getting lost
some new thing
may come to you
on the path that you can’t see
some great thing may surprise you

On that long journey
towards day’s promised ending
without any real map
to study or call upon

Do not be afraid of being wrong
take a chance
and see what comes
sometimes you’ll be right
and others you’ll start again

Free yourself
to be wrong
sometimes
you will find new capabilities

Be free
to get lost
sometimes
you may discover treasures there

Let the tides
of your mind decide
it’s alright
to be wrong
sometimes

Be free
be free to get lost
sometimes
let the tide decide…

[2017]

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Still Waiting…

Throwing away another spent calendar
I toss another slice of my heart into the wind
I’m still waiting…

I feel all I have known is the length of this wait
and all I’ve been doing is biding worthless time
still waiting…

What difference has it made to me, this waste?
what have I gained so far for my blind patience
and still waiting…

O, nine years… nine years!
I’ve been waiting
still waiting
but I don’t know what for

On this moon-lit beach
in this silver-soaked bay
cliffs hung high over me and you
please tell me it’s you

Tell me it’s you…

[2009]

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Great Warmth of a Curious Heart

Lurking in the natural world
there are sentences, still unspoken
always waiting to be written
frozen in time
waiting for the great warmth
of a curious heart

Haunting the edges of the living world
are spirits of the unspoken connectivity in people
dead and alive, the as-yet unborn
caught between planes
waiting for the flashlight beam
of a curious heart

There is an untapped seem of precious understanding
running through the foundation of all things
reverberating in the soulful moments
ringing just loud enough
to be heard by the ears
of a curious heart

Melt me
shine upon me
hear me
with your curious heart…

[2012]

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30 Steps [with audio]

The city is drenched in gold tonight
the sea is wrapped in silver, like my temples
my hands feel older now than ever
but my mind is so much surer
than back when I was younger

I’ve run from love when it got tough
my hair was bleached in boiling light
I helped as many people as I could
my thoughts were darkened in the wilderness
felt alone in crowds of smiling happiness
I learned to speak, to see, to feel this reality

I’ve understood, been understood
I’ve compromised, been compromised
I’ve judged, been judged
Fairly, unfairly

There has been a heaviness in my limbs at times
and there was a divine light that shone
from somewhere I never knew could be in me
I wronged and cheated with a pathological absence of care
which boomeranged around and sunk me in the end
it’s rough to open your consciousness to reality

Siblings, parents; undulating friendships
the push, the pull of love and life
in trying to align the poles in me
I was blind, but thought I was seeing
I was blank, but thought I was saying something
the painted stones I carved, I threw them out to sea

I’ve deceived, been deceived
I’ve contradicted, been contradicted
I’ve believed, been believed
Justly, unjustly

So; I take off my shoes
take out my headphones
I want this wave to wash all over me
The short hand, the long multiplications
I laid out all my working for you to see
trying to crack the code of something real
the combination of what is me

I’ve been taking thirty steps away
from where they forged my heart
I’ve been taking thirty steps toward the tide line
where I etched my childhood
drew a line beneath it and paused to watch…

The waves of youth lap out
the waves of youth
the waves
the…

[2011]

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[Written on the eve of my 30th birthday]

Why So Blue, Sweetheart?

Sweetheart, you’re black and blue
Sweetheart
from the things I’ve done to you

Now your dead arm swings loose
and that bruised eye won’t open
Sweetheart
these things I’ve done to you

An evening among friends, descends
now we’re alone
Sweetheart
now you start, on me again
buttons all pushed, again

You try to stand your ground
but I always shout louder
Sweetheart
surely safer for you to just settle down?

Cower, out in the bedroom
give me space to throw my weight around
Sweetheart
don’t start those waterworks with me

Sweetheart
right from the start
you knew
I’m a passionate man
when it comes to you
Sweetheart

Those knocks
are just acts of love, gone wrong
slightly astray
Sweetheart
a light ‘tap’ on the face, Sweetheart
and you know that I love you

You’re shaking in my arms again
just like when we first met
I can still do that to you?
O, yes I do
but now you’re black and blue
Sweetheart…

[2009]

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(For a friend and an ex-friend)

Your Poem Is Still Young

Your poem is still young
I have not mastered it just yet
I am constantly revising
still working on the phrasing

Your poem is still young
though its meaning is defined
I only have the final line
those last three certain words

Your poem is still young
each year instils new ideas
your actions suggest more rhymes
and we have many years to go

Your poem is still young
though I recite it constantly
my aim is to perfect it
through every day and night

Your poem is still young
I’d hoped to have found a way to say
to address all of the beauty and joy
there is in you, by now, but no

Your poem is still young
and I am glad to say that
it remains unfinished even now
open on the pages of my favourite notebook

Your poem is still young
still improving with every moment
as we lay together, safe in the flames
until the end of time, I’ll sing;

I love you…

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Letters To Old Lovers

Why should anyone still care
why should anyone raise an eyelid
the news is old
Perhaps, eight years ago
you may have gotten
some reaction
to justify the price of ink

Still you persist in writing them
letters to old lovers
letters they may lazily reply to
letters they may not reply to
the news is old

There’s no reason now
there’s no alliance
Perhaps to reminisce
for a short while
on a long cold afternoon
but nothing more
in these new lives

Still you persist
in writing them
letters to old lovers
letters that strain not to say
letters that overtly long to say
‘let’s try again’

And every time the letterbox snaps
its steel chops around your words
old lovers don’t bat an eye
old lovers just drive to work
(and teach)

And perhaps some time
they might recline
maybe a word or two then
they may spare for you
‘take care’, ‘go somewhere’
the news is cold

And still you insist
on replying to them
letters to old lovers
letters that don’t know when they’re beat
letters that don’t know when it’s time to stop

You don’t know when
the news is old…

[2007]

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Let Down Your Guard

Do not be afraid of the flames
they are the best thing I have ever known
Do not try to apply your logic
for it holds no currency here
You’re welcome to try and hide your joy
but there is no point in fighting this
it will take you – if it wants to

Do not be afraid of the flames
take the chance we all must take
please risk the ‘getting burnt’
for there is no better way
there is no better purpose in this life
Lay yourself down, open your arms
hold out your heart, to give

Do not be afraid of the flames
there is nothing to fear
The love cannot flow
unless you let go
Take a chance
the chance you take
I promise you I’ll honour
Do not be afraid of the flames
I will not let you burn
I swear…

[2008]

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