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

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.

“One Last Affair” published on Spillwords Press

I was very lucky to have my recent poem One Last Affair published on Spillwords Press in their ‘featured posts’ section.

If you’d like to go there and give it a read, please do 🙂 There is even a tiny little ‘heart’ button you can tickle to let Spillwords Press know how much you’ve enjoyed reading it…

Thanks to the team at Spillwords Press and to you for reading. I hope to post some new poems soon.

Tom.

P.S. I’m currently taking a break from Instagram and Twitter but can still be reached by email.

P.P.S. Here is me reading the lyrics to Paper Thin Hotel by Leonard Cohen…

Lady Generosity

Lady Generosity
suddenly, standing before me
Says my voice sets her at ease
and she’ll do anything I please

The night was a vicious dark
so, I wished for more moon
and with a flick of her hair
we’re climbing the stair to her room

She’s a lonesome soul and she tells me so
Loves the silence of being home alone
To hear her laughing loudly with me
is a sound I remember so fondly

Though, I know we’re just passing through
this is not some enthralling start
That doesn’t mean a night can’t feel a decade
on the timeline of a heart

The bunting, sails, lanterns, ropes
caught by the wind coming off the sea
Well, everything is dancing now
and she’s dancing with me

I smile ‘Let’s drink the wine
‘just enough to feel the vine’
She sings of the crashing waves
that rise with each kiss we exchange

Her short hair skitters
like paintbrush tips across bare shoulders
We’ll both feel quite ageless and free
melting in a quivering mass of relief

She says ‘you know, I will not stay
but don’t despair, I’ve filled you full of art
and a night can feel a decade
on the timeline of a heart…’

Now, my body, it is weary
and my soul stinging sore
but I’m grateful for the moments spent
and feel left with something more

I’d have done anything to keep her
delay the moment she’d depart
but this night will feel a decade
on the timeline of my heart…

[2022]

Thanks for reading.

https://linktr.ee/tomalexwrite

This Infinity

I will never learn from my affairs
they bake within my heart but nowhere else
see, she looks at me
she may speak to me some short time
then suddenly and so completely
it’s all I feel
a love that is not real
all I can do is hang from her every movement…

Yet again, I’m helplessly hopeful for that breath
already feeding myself on the bliss of kisses promised
but those suggestions
don’t emanate from her
or anywhere but in my spiralled mind
as it fills with love for some ideal
all I can do is hang from her slightest smile…

The purity of beauty is a trap for me
my mind is weak and falls so quickly
before I can blink, it’s all that I can see
I twist until the heartbreak of this infinity…

If only obsession didn’t roost inside these bones
if only my mind knew some subtle patience
I’ll lay myself down in that spinning room
try to think of something else or someone other
but no thought can form while she has not spurned
all I can do is hang myself on her polite decline…

The purity of beauty is a trap for me
I build myself a cave so homely
lie scheming on the hope that she embodies
and twist until my heart breaks
in this infinity…

[2010]

Thanks for reading.

https://linktr.ee/tomalexwrite

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]

Thanks for reading.

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]

Thanks for reading.

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]

Thanks for reading.

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]

Thank you for reading.

https://linktr.ee/tomalexwrite

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]

Thanks for reading.

All my poems.

To Be Adored…

One day, I would love to sign my name
be wildly proud to autograph a volume
My words printed there in glorious black ink
Type-set, spell-checked and bar-coded
head-shot just inside the hard cover…

And the girl opposite says she loves my work
the way it resonates with her own feelings
gives a voice to what has gone unsaid
she and her beau read them at night

I’d be one step closer to meeting my potential
achieved something of worth
So, when my child wants to know me
they can be proud of what I made

And though, at times, my emotions ran so cold
my self-worth, some nights, practically sub-zero
I managed to focus my thoughts long enough
to shape them into a tidy poem

Illustrate each feeling I have wrestled through
let others know they’re not alone
Give language to annunciate their hurt
in return, all I want
is their respect
and to be adored…

[2004]

Haha, well, that young man didn’t want much… 🙂 Thanks for reading this very old poem.

All my poems.

Greenland

The bell clatters ‘Time’ on another quiet night
tucked off the shore front
In the precious warmth of a Sisimiut tavern
I take another jar, tilt it back and drain
but still there are no answers waiting
Slouching on the bar stool
and licked by shifting shadows
lulled to doze
by the constant comb of a shuffling sea
An absent-minded shiver washes over
and, suddenly, so softly
your pale arm around my shoulder
You put your hand on top of mine
My fingers splay
and for the briefest moment
yours warmly slip between them

How did you find me
I’ve gone as far as I can go
and still you reach me
I’ve run as far as I can run
yet still you’re haunting
In every cell of me
there lives an apology
always longing for release
I’ve got a skull full of sea
and the sting of that thing, it lingers
squid ink, blotting out my smile
A cloud of darkness, I always carry
And like the sci-fi turquoise skies above
your patient ghost won’t let me hide here

Through the coloured houses
spilling warm light on the snow fields
The endless beauty of this country
does its best to ease my soul-ache
I stand by the winter-beached boats
as the ice shelf cracks and sheers
ten ton tears crashing hard into the brine

And I wonder
which will be the first to end
the frost of our faded friendship
or the world…

[2022]

Thanks for reading.

Bury Me At Sea

With no deity could I shake hands
and with no children at my feet
who will tend my grave
when all is said and done

Something sublime smiles back at me
from the music I lose myself in daily
but who will tend my grave
who will know that I was here

‘No children at our feet’
we were in agreement then
but will we always be
You would have been
an exceptional mother
and I had some stories
I wanted to pass on

O, bury me at sea, bury me at sea!
Print out all my poetry
and mummify my body

Let them take a chunk
from the soft skin
at my rump

Fill the six gill shark with searching words
an army of shrimp tuck into the sweetest memories
Some busy lobster, a canny swordfish
come on, take a piece of me
and another
and another piece of me

My creativity
my laziness
my empathy
my cynicism
my passion
my bad spelling
my caring
my obsession
my gentleness
my duplicity
my desire
my naivety
my love of family

I’ll feed the fish
and they’ll give birth
I was here
now they can be
We’ll go on and on and on
into the blue…

[2020]

Thanks for reading.

Small Victories

Taking to the ocean
distance put between
my flippant will
and things to conquer
heart beasts
tugging at my sleeve

Turning, turning, turning
from that incessant chasing
the bay recedes, city lights 
swallowed by the horizon
heart beasts
circling overhead

Test me, am I strong enough
I try not to be broken
daily trials so choking
can I survive them?

At night, rocking in the waves
dreaming of returning
my fingers whispering upon them
my fortunes reversing
heart beasts
tangled all around me

Rising in the morning
telescope to my eye
mistakes reflected back
I reach for my pen, plot a course
heart beasts
following my wake

Some days, I have to wonder
is the chart the right way round
is this a map or just an outline
is this a tide to follow
heart beasts
snapping at my feet

Will I be strong enough
could I still be broken?
daily trials to navigate
can I survive them?

Here’s to the honest ground 
I’m scheming on
here’s to heart beasts tamed
each day; another day without them
here’s to small victories
here’s to heart beasts tamed
here’s to living
without them…

[2019]

Thanks for reading.

Across The Fields At Dusk

Hours spent listening to your voice
disembodied
carefully controlled
precisely chosen words
with expert intonation

I’ve laid with headphones on
naked and imagining 
there is no separation
no distance
that you’re beside me speaking
as my knuckles snake your thigh

You tell the story of your life
you’re telling my story too
How strange, how similar
manifestly different
but emotionally in tune

Walking through the fields at dusk
I hear your voice blow close
chasing me across the land
promises and nothings
sweet and divine

Coming for me
I’m coming for you
across the fields
at dusk…

[2020]

Thanks for reading.

Fall A Little…

Could you fall, a little
Could you not blossom in my breath
eye glowing wide
when I call to see you
and a passionate want
in your every word

Could you not fall
the way I’m falling
for you…

Could you not hunt each and every
slightest excuse to come and just be
close to me
Bring your warmest wit
so precious
to captivate my five favourite senses

Could you fall for me
the way I’m falling
for you…

Could you not flaunt all the rules
forget everything
but my subtle smile
and care nothing more
for what came before
now there exists
this perfect possibility

Could you not fall in deep
the way I’m falling
for you…

All my eyes can see is your pale skin
my ears hear nothing but that wild laughter
scents that trigger such magic memories
a touch so badly longed for
a taste I’ve imagined so many times now

Could you not fall
completely
Could you not fall
obviously, in front of me
down to one knee
and begging ‘please…’
the way I’m falling
for you

Could you, could you
fall in deep for me
the way I’ve fallen for you…

[2009]

Thanks for reading this old poem.

Instagram.

Read You Once More

I have been having these moments…
Waiting for trains
pouring kettles
folding sheets
opening a window

I have been having these little moments…
flicking through magazines
prowling the off-license
glancing up at street lights
looking out across the city

When the magnitude of your potential
and all the things you said to me
when the poetry you quietly dedicated
and the soft touch of your deft hands
upon my pale body
left me reeling
spinning to infinity

I’m caught off-guard, thinking
I would love to read you
I would love to hear
your thoughts
once more

I would love to read those verses
lose myself in your passionate prose
I would love to bathe in your insight
once again

I wonder if
I wonder how
Is there some way
to read you
once more…

[2016]

Thanks for reading.

Reflections of December

In the caverns of a King’s Cross bar
I quietly compose an opening
six months now, since our last meeting
I catch sight of my reflection
twisting in the half-full glass upon the bar
What am I doing here
set up for a disappointing sequel
It’ll never be like it was
at the start
it’ll never feel like it did
before

Festive cheers fill the bar
as my mind slips back one year
when my world was folding inward
intoxicated with the excitement of chances taken
and how I quietly spoke of my growing love for you
in the blurry Christmas air
I made foolish gestures at what I wanted
slid my heart across the table
waited with baited breath
for your reciprocation
and headed home empty handed…

Tonight is such a bittersweet evening
a reminder of how much I love your company
it hits me squarely, and for the first time, fully
how much I’ve missed you
But you’ve changed, grown up, matured somehow
wisdom where once there was only spiked humour
oh, as a friend
you’ll always remain a favourite
held out of reach by our history

It’s so bittersweet, our meeting
our reflections melt and merge
in the glasses that we drain
I’m still beguiled by your luminous beauty
and vindicated to know
what I thought I’d felt was honest
not pure circumstance, greed or opportunity
our briefest spark lit my world so brightly
in a way never bettered before or since
It’ll never be like it was
at the start
it’ll never feel like it did
before

Such a bittersweet evening
lit in the primary colours of December
you, grinning, purr ‘let’s do this again soon’
and of course I say ‘I hope we do’
When I cast my eyes across this year
it’ll always be your face
reflected back at me
when I look back from some future distance
your face will always be smiling back at me…

[2015]

Thanks for reading.

(A sort-of sequel to ‘Anatomy of Longing‘)

All my poems.