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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All my poems.

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]

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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/

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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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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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]

Thanks for reading.

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.

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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One of Us Was Right To Leave

One of us will lose our head
that’s what I always feared
and when the night finally broke
on us, as we clung to the road
it was obvious; the poetry of certainty
conclusive proof of our mortality
the water fell like some swelling sea
and I drowned in tears of deep disbelief

One of us was right to leave
though heaven knows which one it was
we pushed hard and for so long
when the rope, it broke, we didn’t see
just scuttled hard, to find our feet
a dance of letting go, a balancing act
that pushes us down separate tracks
some hollow lane, an unknown road
where derelict houses line the path

One of us will surely return
the pleading of my heart demands
but stubbornness and ignorance of will
prevent me from succumbing first
the angry air that now divides us
speaks of the fear that loneliness delivers
in words so thick and unrepentant
they recoil so quick, back down our throats
choking the chance to ever repeat

One of us was right to leave
I keep reminding my sad heart
the way these changes must play out
will always make retrospective sense
no matter how unfathomable they now seem
once time has passed, the answers come
the fog of clouded judgment thins
and a happiness so resolute and defined
reveals itself before us as a golden field

And whoever it was
who was right to leave
may they go in peace
and come back peaceable…

[2006]

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(Reposted from Sept 2019)

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Dawn

Dawn is naked and alive
pirouetting in the street outside
she is a broad grey sky, endless above

It’s not rain…
just some foggy spray licking windows
a coat the building wears
a metaphor I cannot interpret
All irony is groggily lost on me
yawning with my whole body
struggling with the load of memory
I shoulder daily

Maybe I should stay indoors
get the fire going, the kettle boiling
That armchair won’t sit in itself
those books won’t read themselves…

How easily these stories are told to me
voices pitched and plot unfolding systematically
inspiration distilled onto the pages
the bittersweet feeling as I turn them
with story presenting; story nears its ending
time growls and time swells across all things
I read ‘the doorbell is ringing’
So, I leave the room
to check for the uninvited

There’s no one there
and I return to find…

The kettle has melted on the stove
the fire has spilled onto the carpet
the armchair roars in flames
those flames are toying with the curtains
All my books are burning
the whole house an inferno now
the house is burning down

Standing, cursing, in the sooty street
‘O Dawn! What have you done to me?
you have killed all of the trinkets
that I felt expressed my personality
you have released
all of the memories anchored to them
now they are free
and floating ghostly in the morning air

Oh Dawn, you have stripped me bare of all I carried
I’m no longer tethered to anything here
Oh Dawn, I am free to start a new journey
I’ll have to leave in the clothes I’m wearing
Oh Dawn, what have you done to me?
you have set me free to start again…’

[2014]

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

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Old Flame

Think the improper thoughts
think them through
to quivering conclusion
to nakedness and molten skin
shimmering in the moonlight

Think those improper thoughts
about friends’ lovers
about co-workers, old flames
about passing strangers
but please
think them about me sometimes

Thinking the improper thoughts
to fill boring afternoon meetings
and lonely mornings driving
scarce moments of serenity
always I…
think them about you

[2009]

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

Your Light, Our Youth

The strength of your light
catches me off-guard
how brightly you shine
blooming brilliantly
how welcome
how confusing to me

The confidence of your glow
magnetic from all angles
I’m softened in the shadows
but your light does not permit them
it’s so welcome
so challenging to me

Brighter than in our youth
brighter still than photographs
we talk and take a new one
twenty years since the day we met
how welcome
how perplexing too

I’m reflecting, always reflecting
your light, our youth
the memories hang pristinely
the good and the bad we shared
the good and the bad we did
to one-another

It’s easy now to gape open
so natural to reveal everything
an absence of thought
crouched behind our actions
even now you mine a shiver
even now you well a tear

The candle on the table extinguishes
but the light does not dim
our night of talking softly ends
but the light does not dim

It’s so confusing
I want you even more
than I ever did back then
I want to help you shine
more than I ever have before…

[2017]

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

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.

A Longing Less Refined

You say you love my mind
the sensuality of all I say
how you long to craft a reply
answer all the longing I’ve raised
You lie awake wondering of my words
‘A glimpse is not enough’ you say
‘I want conversation deep
I want to memorise your soul’

Still I shiver for that burning connection
a longing less-refined
can’t you boil for an inch of this
can’t you itch for my lips
to be held in these thin arms again
You’d sweat and burn at night
for our next physical encounter

Your fingernails should mark my skin
There should be bruises left like sonnets
In the meteor impact of our collision
You’ll see the spark of my soul there
As I shiver up inside you

You bite your lip as I show my strength
and repeat until we melt into one
Forget the reading, forget the speaking
bite my shoulder
prolong this feeling
Away with words
Cut this talk
let me at you

Away with words, fuck these sentences
I want silences split with kisses
Sucking sounds and bitten skin
Trade intellectual for the sexual
As we do those things we do
So, away with words
Cut the talk
let me at you

[2010]

Thanks for reading this old poem.

I’d posted an extract from this one on Twitter last week and people seemed keen. This is actually part of a much longer poem but I’ve robbed all the best lines from it for other poems over the years. These are the remaining (previously unshared) parts.

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]

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Lifted

You blew across the sky
a bird, black against the cloud
your wings beating hard
the way I was beating too

And for a moment…
I felt so alive

You slipped through
grazing my sooty skies
these pearly stars 
squealing in your wake

And for a moment…
I felt so alive

Was there something more
that we were supposed to do
some other experience
we should have expected to share

Lifted in your talons
my heartrate soared
lifted in your talons
those saturated colours…

Some moments are confined in life
to one instance only
some of life’s greatest moments
permit themselves to exist
for one instant only
then disappear
then they disappear

Was this the only moment
in these lives of ours
or is there a hope for more
I feel my heart lifted
by the thought
I feel my pulse lifted
by the hope for more…

Don’t disappear…
don’t disappear from me…

[2015]

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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.