Song for Laura Lee

Laura Lee, she was my first love
tangled in her parents’ bedsheets
and shadows from the attic window
With my army-surplus shirt
slipping from her shoulders

Laura Lee, she was my first love
my first taste of intimacy
her loving hands upon me
guiding that desire, so deftly
through our discovery and naivety

Laura Lee, she was my first love
our fumbled teenage kisses
quickly blossomed and were washed
in ever deeper waves of lust
and learning a new language

Laura Lee, she was my first love
she taught to me the chorus
of that lover’s song
she handed me the blueprints
I would forever build upon

Laura Lee, she was my first love
I’d ascend for hours into
the bottomless darkness of her eyes
and the lines of those lips
her quiet radiant beauty

Laura Lee, she was my first love
as I learned how two hearts will knot
a little death, a birth
as she sang the lover’s song
deep into me

It’s a melody I’ll chase
perpetually
Thank you, thank you for the tune
I’ve carried always
with me…

[2020]

Thanks for reading.

Ellipsis [with audio]

I don’t write them like I used to
they’re not carved out of my bone
the way they used to be

I don’t bleed over the carpet
in some mouldy rented bathroom
like I used to

They used to say it was the angst that drove me
some mild flair for painting what had pained me
but you have to make peace eventually
I don’t know what is driving this anymore

At the end of that final line there’s an ellipsis
at the end of all I said there’s an ellipsis
saying so much more than I

Now, I don’t sweat it out in twisted sheets
with cramped heart and cracked beliefs
surrendering my barbed emotions like a flag
the way I used to

I don’t tap that vein of pure unfocused bile
don’t let it gush across the front row of my imagined audience
they don’t say much about my unbridled verse these days
like they used to

At the end of every poem there’s an ellipsis
at the end of all I said there’s an ellipsis
dragging on and on

It speaks louder than I ever could…

[2014]

Thanks for reading.

The Essay (A Writer’s Discovery)

Nineteen nighty five
Nominally fourteen;
I was sitting in the sports hall
pen in hand
the desks apart
a teacher I didn’t know
patrolled the aisles
The English paper said ‘write a story
include a river
and an allegory’

The clock at the front clicks
thin hands jerk and tick
I spin my pen
study the air vents above me
there’s a dusty shuttlecock
caught up in the pipework
there’s a brown deflated football
sitting on the skylight
I need to start writing…

I wasn’t a reader, then
I knew nothing much of stories
I’d watched a lot of films
I’d heard a lot of pop songs
but I wasn’t a writer

Unimpressed by the aesthetic
the muted light inside the sports hall
I pushed my mind 
out onto the playing fields
down the long road past the waterworks
to the river on the edge of town

And I could see it there
a bend in the channel where
a tree had lost its leaves
a tree was clinging 
to the dry mud of the riverbank
being undercut by the flowing water
being ever exposed by the erosion
being deposed

And I started to write
of the tree being cut and torn
being pulled and weakened
by the hunger of the river
Hanging on with every root
and the river’s endless running

The more I wrote 
the sadder I felt for the tree
the more I wrote
the more the tree’s plight mirrored something I’d seen
the more I wrote the more I saw
my mother’s best friend’s fight with cancer 
revealed before me
The more I wrote the more I saw her face
looking back at me
and the more the story moved me

And the tree succumbed
to the river’s flow
as all things will, eventually

That essay was the first time I wrote something
with any meaning
handed my paper back 
a tear-stain just above my name
That was the first time I wrote something
and I haven’t stopped since…

[2020]

Thanks for reading.

Photo credit: http://www.midforkrocks.com/post/201611-if-a-tree-falls-in-a-river/

Listen to my poems on Soundcloud
Follow me on Twitter
Follow me on Instagram
Buy my book on Amazon

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.

Listen to my poems on Soundcloud
Follow me on Twitter
Follow me on Instagram
Buy my book on Amazon

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]

Thanks for reading.

Listen to my poems on Soundcloud
Follow me on Twitter
Follow me on Instagram
Buy my book on Amazon

Tourist Trap

Holidaying as a teenager
back when time moved slower
and thoughts were many
I’d cruise the gift shops
reviewing tacky souvenirs
This used to be a fishing village
now it’s a tourist trap

And picking up a handmade bear
with wonky mouth and vacant stare
big button eyes and blood red lips
I’d wonder of its maker, its creator
someone dreamed
this bear into the world
someone thought this expression
made it look cute

Was it modeled on a relative
was it ripped-off from some other toy
was its designer trying
to give a child some joy
or only focused on the ringing
of cash registers
and paying the bills
Did they live locally
or somewhere overseas?

Looking at the toy
I’d be overtaken with a sadness
that someone tried and someone cared
if only for a moment
in their little lives

I’d set it back
and wonder
‘will this still be here
on the same shelf
next year?’

[2020]

Thanks for reading.

Listen to my poems on Soundcloud
Follow me on Twitter
Follow me on Instagram
Buy my book on Amazon

For Jordan

Out driving our first cars at night
snaking the blackness of North East country roads
I’d flick the headlights off
hear the girls scream
then back on and we’d crack up laughing

In our town, there wasn’t much to do
but wander looping streets
haunt the park outside of college
blow house to house, see who was home
or spend it lying in your bedroom laughing

When you and Chris split, he handled it okay
drank too much a week or two and then
got a little down but everything went on
still way too soon for Mike to tell you
so we all sat as friends and laughed

Back then, I couldn’t think of much else but Jenny
but I loved the way you’d say my family name
still hear it ringing from the depths of memory
standing with you in some sticky bar
and you collapsing into Mike laughing

They were gentle times, good times
before we were scattered wide
I don’t think I saw or thought of you that often
twenty years just paced before our eyes
how I hope you kept on laughing

With your man, your son
your life carved out somewhere…

On a Brighton beach, one weekend this summer
Mike was chatting, said ’the cancer took you’
and nothing more to add to that
just taken – that’s all he knew
there on the pebbles, I stood, winded and weeping

Just taken – nothing more to add to that

Jordan, it was laugher, laughter
of you; that will always be my memory
sweet laughter, laughter
and the way you spoke my family name…

[2018]

Thanks for reading.

Listen to my poems on Soundcloud
Follow me on Twitter
Follow me on Instagram
Buy my book on Amazon