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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https://linktr.ee/tomalexwrite

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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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]

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One Last Affair

I’m wearing blue, you’re dressed in red
lit by the dancing candle light
in the depths of some back table
at a late night poetry evening
Our only hope to stay safe tonight
is to keep this table between us

Some wily orator spills their guts
before the hallowed microphone
but all I care to know now
is do you smell as good as you look
Each of us wills the other to go too far
with a ‘what’s the worst that could happen…’

You hold my eye as I sign your book
then you take my pen and fix my poem
before I fix yours
and we write a few as one
That story was complete but you seem certain
there’s another chapter waiting to be written

Do we turn the talk back to our art
or just devour each other whole
I’m caught between all that’s right
and all that we might do tonight
You purr ‘if we’re going to hell, let’s go together
it’s one last affair, one last affair, I swear…”

Your wrists wrap behind my neck
as my fingers knit into your hair
with wine stained lips we close the circuit
A pulse of poetry rips right through me
spread your pages, dip the nib
let’s immortalise this feeling

Words swim in the air above our heads
they mix and tangle, knotted with emotion
It’s no longer clear whose poem is who’s
where yours ends and mine begins
And who can honestly say
where this night will take us

Like all affairs, we find ourselves
a mess of hearts and words
But if we’re going to hell
we’ll go together…

[2022]

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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]

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Love Is What You Need

If you love it
it will be what you wanted
if you give it
you will find it’s what you lost

There is something waiting
something beautiful, waiting
if you’re patient
if you love it

You say you want to see
scenes that feed your eyes
they’re waiting, they’re all around you
if you love them

There is something happening
something beautiful, happening
if you’re open
if you love it

If it’s beauty that you want
then love it, it’s all around you
if you love it
it will be beautiful

It’s all around you…

[2010]

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

Your Way Will Find You

I will defend your right
to say things that I don’t like
and though I may disagree
it doesn’t mean that I detest you
I’ll try my best to understand
how you reached that point of view

However uneasy listening
don’t bite your tongue
Let us see and hear you
come and speak freely
You may offend me
but then I’ll know we’re not in tune

Perhaps we’ll both learn something
if but how to better listen or argue
I won’t stop or censor you
let us see who you really are
be it brimming with wild beauty
or cosseted in poisonous loathing

All I can say and do
is try and show you a different way
Let kindness be your currency
don’t rush to speak a ‘me’
Reach into the well of suffering
and aim to lift somebody

Always see their value
and your commonality
If you’re feeling lost
and don’t know what to do
Reach out a hand to lend
and your way will find you…

[2020]

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All my poems…

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.

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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]

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The Wonder

Kicking through the moss
in the cooling evening air
I’m staring down the barrel
of a living Rivelin Valley

Crickets clicking in the tall grass
bramble searching for a shin
I stoop to flick away
the tickle of a nettle
caught under my tongue

O, why could I not have felt this way
at twenty one
To know myself
my capabilities, my limitations
to feel this comfortable
in my own skin
or in company
O, to have been at peace
at twenty one…

Now, I am humbled every day
by the wonder of this place…

The birds join each other and sing
contentedly, of a night that’s closing in
The faintest kiss of summer
still smacking on my skin

There’s such endless opportunity
in this undulating scenery
I throw my bare arms into the sky
thankfully and breathing deeply
High with every lungful
I’m still here and doing fine…

The journey takes whatever course it needs
meanders through required weeds
Arriving at the edge of town
a spray-painted billboard message greets me
“There’s no wealth but life”
And I agree
there’s no wealth but life…

I’m humbled every day
by the wonder of this place…

[2021]

Thanks for reading.

Happy New Year and thanks for stopping by The Lighthouse in 2021. I really appreciate it, you’re the best.

Harm’s Arms

Let me admit, to you, my fear
of those ghostly hands
twisting the knife
in the belly of our lives

These house-bound blues
echo louder some days
these house-bound blues
and their hypnotically sad song

My memories reach out for you
you’ve changed your number
my happy memories are reaching out
yet we may never speak again

And though estranged
often, I still wonder
of your gently closing eyes 
your winning smile

I want to know you’re safe
amidst these dangerous days
I long to know you’ll remain
well beyond the grip
of harm’s arms…

Remember when the two of us
were still on first name terms
with the sweetest laughter
running down those midnight sands

Wherever you are tonight
know I’ll care about you always
I hope you’re sailing through
these toxic times

Stay safe tonight
I long to know for certain
you’re far beyond the reach
of harm’s arms…

[2020]

Thanks for reading.

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

Happy Birthday Mirim.

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‘)

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