Night

So quickly, it’s night again
the days are short
in times such as these
The sun only stays so long
only lays its light down for so long
then it goes again
we’re plunged into night

O, could you not find a torch
or a candle or a lantern
to bring some light in here
We can’t see any hope
swimming in this darkness

So soon, it’s night again
we’re on the same street corner
I’m selling your body again
I’m selling my brain
it gets so dark round here
I almost forget about the light
there is some light, sometimes
but right now
it’s night…

[2008]

Thanks for reading.

From the collection “One of These Years”. Available now.

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]

Thanks for reading.

All my poems.

Beds, Hearts and Books

In these surprising years beyond expiry
forty and not failing
the journey remains largely painless
and brightly lit
wrapped up in love
in beds
hearts and books

Pull this feeling tight around me
another year of moving on
from all that didn’t seem to fit
closer to who I want to be
tangled up in love
in beds
hearts and books

All these lines, I can’t help but keep weaving
on the loom of all my longing
happily in awe of the ever-expanding story
forty and still dreaming
swaddled by love
in beds
hearts and books

There’s a deep and lingering kiss
waiting in the other room
the co-author of all my future stories
if I put down this pen, move to that place
we’re smothered in love
Hunkering down
in beds
hearts and books…

[2021]

Thanks for reading.

All my poems.

We Ruin All We Love

I have ruined what I’ve loved
I’ve been ruined by my loves
and now all that remains
is tainted and unlovable
I am tainted and unlovable
It’s time for a change…

Cold eyes look out upon a frozen town
icy streets tripping over themselves to keep us indoors
but the boundaries of this house are closing in
and the sound of other voices is so appealing
If only I could hear them now
if only I could fill this space with people

I have ruined all I’ve loved
I’ve been ruined too, in my loving
and now all that I want differs so greatly
from what it is I really need
What I really need is saving
from myself and these ruinous ways
it’s time for change…

Old eyes could look out in years to come
across a town so unexplored and inexperienced
they might peer through that same pretty glass
wishing they’d seen more things first-hand
If only I could see it now
if only I could fill passed time with places

I have ruined all I’ve loved
I’ve been ruined through my love
broken hearts at least force new growth
staid hearts grow their roots too deep
moss clawing all over them, all over me
it’s time for a change…

This town still calls to me
through our dusty windows
and I look, so longingly
it still offers out its hand
from time to time and smiles
‘Don’t let this opportunity pass you by
it comes just once in a lifetime…
you have… but one lifetime…’

But I have ruined what I love
been ruined by my lover
now, there’s just ash
where the fires used to burn
Now, there’s just dust
where our skin used to prickle
now, there are just silences
where our words once dripped in love

And every day the outside world
swells in its appeal
and every day the outside world
multiplies its pull on me
Each morning, I wake one step closer
to making that leap
If only I could fill passed time with faces
if only I could find the door…

[2009]

Thanks for reading this old poem.

All my poems (not all of which are so down on love)

Free Line

Aren’t we both hedonists
just looking for a good time
shouldn’t we just enjoy this
a drug to take
for which we don’t have to pay
in these times of austerity
we can do our bit for the economy

Aren’t we both hedonists
looking for a good time
and if it’s free then why wouldn’t we
indulge whatever thrill we can
with just the touch of our shoes
or our elbows, waiting in the street
wouldn’t we be getting high so harmlessly

I play my free line, hanging on for your reply…

Aren’t we both lost a little
and willing to gamble all that we have left
The sun of this excitement
coats every moment’s surface
mundane places now hold mystery
the daily grind; a roulette wheel of flirting words

I play my free line, chained to your reply…

This is fun, this is free
so why should we reject it
why turn away
from the magic of this opportunity
let’s get out of here
come on, let’s disappear…

I play my free line, a slave to your reply…

[2015]

Thanks for reading.

Chaotic Calligraphy

This chaotic calligraphy threads itself through
wrapped weed-like through each decision
scrawled across all memory
a subconscious graffiti tagging everything

This chaotic calligraphy weaves its tentacles so tightly
through every dream, everything said and unsaid
contaminated by spidery strands
of the spinning story’s web unwinding

What is this chaos that comes to me
What is this vast drama
This cricket’s voice, taps me on the shoulder
and says;

‘What you destroy
you can write about
what you demolish
you can sing it out

What you have; is yours to keep
but what you lose 
becomes kindling for more poetry

either way you win
either way you gain something’

This chaotic calligraphy is writ large in me
the explosive adventure always appealing
Is it boredom, is it madness
to tweak the mix and see what comes

In love with what I see before me
in love with all that gets written down
and printed there indefinitely
ephemeral no more

Either way I win
either way I gain something…

[2014]

Thanks for reading.

All my poems.

Kept The Camera Rolling

From kicking, screaming infant; born again
Ripped from the world of shared agreement
into the spiralled twisting cloud of change
I kept the camera rolling
took more photographs than ever
forensically documenting
this transitioning
the pushing on, the falling back
the healing of bruised flesh
The hurt: it all evaporates in time
the hope: it mutates into bigger dreams

I’d drink all that distraction
I’d swallow that ignorance right down
Why burn in searing ache, when you can numb
and as you grow and grow and grow
the less pain you need to kill
I kept the camera rolling
took more photographs than ever
recorded all the positions as I warped through
The running on, the sinking back
as scabs fall, scars fade
obsessions bloomed, fantasies exploded
the synaptic sprawl of all I covet
etched right across me
needle depth, it changed and imprinted upon me
then displaced, replaced, as I move away again

What was her name? What was it that I felt?
Those passionate instants all bettered
all supplanted with new indelible constants
The measure of emotion is its longevity
the desires that remain are the ones we trust
So, I kept the camera rolling
took more photographs than ever
a sketch book of the people I’ve seen
a family album of the ‘me’s I’ve been
Swimming towards the light with a new energy
The world is so much lighter now
done and dusted, it’s just dust
recorded in all my poems this year
a permanent reminder
of this patchwork place
making sense of all this change…

[2010]

Thanks for reading.

This was written 11 months after ‘KEEP THE CAMERA ROLLING’ .

The Train Is Waiting…

The nib bends gently on the paper
and I suppose there’s time to spill
As a river of thoughts flows out
a third of a life is spent
In raven ink, the shapeless smoke
the molten mess of me emerges

We slip, we push, we drag ourselves
into some sort of position
You can call it adulthood, you may be wrong
Me, I call it wising-up, I may be wrong
Lives change, worlds shrink, egos are appeased
we learn to slowly see, who it is will be

She held me, she released me, then we were held again
The roots spun, vines wrapped around themselves
caught in a web of love and then self-loathing
One home, our home, a family – exploded
I made my peace and crawled into the future…

And drinking in and drinking down, six months of neat bile
You destroy yourself, save yourself, love yourself and someone other
So, the story goes, so it grows again, and then it’s over
Another love, an honest love, an equal – exploded
I made my peace and strolled into the future…

The time slowly ticks around, the cogs of a mind align
it feels right to step clean away from all these memories
forge some new experience, swim out beyond my depth
look back at all of this, in time
from some dizzying distance

And, decision taken ‘just come already, just come’ I say
I’m primed, then caught in the nothingness of waiting
So, one more, just time enough to scratch a few goodbyes
say a firm farewell
a good riddance to the certainty of now

Here are the last few drops
of something scrawled within this county
And so I go…
so I grow and test the limits of my potential
nib bending on fresh paper
black ink spilling everywhere

There is something coming
I can’t predict it, can’t see it yet
the train is waiting
It’s all consuming, all I care to dream about
and I’ve just time enough to kiss the page
with my goodbyes…

[2011]

Thanks for reading.

On preparing to uproot and leave for London

Why Poems?

Poems are my photographs
my diary
my inner monologue
poems are my measurement
my record
the fingerprints of emotions
invisible no more
Poems are my expression
the sum of interactions
they show my working out
Poems are the breath
of lost lovers
against my neck
Poems are the kisses
for my family and my friends
the hugs I seldom give

And your poems…
your poems keep me company
a little light
calling to my lost ship
I sip my tea
and slip into your mind…

[2019]

Thanks for reading & happy world poetry day!

Buy my book on Amazon

There Will Be Birds In The Morning

There’s a girl in tears
upon the cathedral steps
as I walk to work
the rain
a mist that swallows us
leaves blowing by
I want to wrap my scarf around her
and say

There will be better days
there will be lighter times
there will be happiness again

And there will be birds in the morning
singing for you and me
singing for you

There’s a boy in a phone box
framed behind glass, he sighs
as I’m passing by
his call has ended
the last call of that friendship
I want to get him a beer and say

Don’t forget the love you have
don’t forget those faces
it will be bright again in time

And there will be birds in the morning
singing for you and me
singing for you

And the rain comes down
and leaves blow by
all the busses look so busy
I laugh quietly to myself
wondering
Do birds even sing
on winter mornings?

[2019]

Thanks for reading.

Apologies for the repost – but now WITH AUDIO! 🙂

Featured in ‘The Ship-wrecker’s Lamp: Selected Poems 2010 – 2020’ available now.

(Something)

You take me in your mouth
and do… something
We rowed the boat all day
until you did… something
Now, I can’t go back to her
knowing where my lips have been

I sat alone all week
longing hard for… something
Walking these dead-end streets
looking out for… something
Now, I’ve turned my back on her
licking my lips for what you bring

Down Logic Lane we lose control
you passionately doing… something
Beside the classic cars you smile
reach out and touch… something
Now, when I think back to her
my lips just beg of you

‘Keep doing it, keep doing it
keep doing that… something…’

[2011]

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 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.

The Hate Destroying You

Doe-eyed woodland artistry glows
O, how you hide your face away
I give and give to you
investment in a broken thing
once-grateful hands crave more and more

There is a sickness of mind
a blackness, a spoilt heart
where blame is always searching
and mirrors do not exist
once-blooming thoughts crush more and more

Pushing on the pillars that held you up
you’ve yanked too hard this final time
the string of respect has frayed to nothing
and now we’ve come to this closing door
once-hopeful eyes fear more and more

One day, when all is settled, I hope you change
let go of all the hate and grow in mind
One day, when all is healed
I wish you love and say
‘Destroy the hate destroying you
and save yourself

Destroy the hate destroying you
and save yourself…’

[2010]

Thanks for reading.

Image Credit: https://www.behance.net/gallery/273370/Folklore-Illustrations
Buy my book on Amazon

Quietly… (Collaboration, with audio)

Click play or right-click and ‘save as’ to download the mp3.

You’ve been sitting there quietly
Care to share your thoughts?

This infatuation has me
I wore your scarf to keep me warm
I could smell you there
snaking all around me
Feeling like a teenager 
in the grip of some sweet crush

I watched you
observing me with such indecent eyes
drawing me into your spell
My scarf, which you so casually
wrapped around you
had me burning with jealousy

I’m uncomfortable
seeing you 
sitting in front of me with your silk lips
a drink in your hand
and a sultry laugh filling the air

I’m so frustrated by the distance
my fingers click, my toes make fists
Whole body bends to inch closer
The slang in your eyes
speaks to the strength of my desire
I’m so wired, in the heat of the night
I want your fabric against mine

I was quietly thinking to myself
the only remedy 
to all of this would be
kissing your mouth, kissing your throat
and a week in bed with you…

I was quietly thinking to myself
you should race me home
so our bodies
can lock magnetically together 

for a week 
or three…

I think it’s time 
we called a cab 
and left…

[2021]

Thanks for reading.

This was a really fun collaboration with Bree from Secret Thoughts Within. I’d been really intrigued by the idea of working on a poem in tandem with someone else and how on earth you’d go about it. Bree very kindly offered to show me the way and this is what we came up with (alongside a lot of other ideas). It’s a fun process and I’d recommend it if you’ve not tried it before. Check out Bree’s fantastic writing and audio at https://secretthoughtswithin.com/

Crooked Cafe

I used to hate this part of town
After London
it felt like stepping back in time
as if all our momentum to the capital
had been lost
these shops with their hand-painted signs
I didn’t recognise the names
they’re not triplicated on every high street

And now I sit
in the Crooked Café
the waitress always tries to remember my ‘usual’
but I love that she never quite gets it right
gives us something to laugh about
breaks the ice
as I sit alone and eat
drink my tea and sketch my little lines

The walls adorned
with guitars and records
someone really loves the eighties
the food is good
the best I’ve found ‘round here
the perfect way to start a Saturday
it’s always busy
people drinking coffee
and talking through their lives
there’s material everywhere
for a writer-thief like me

Afterwards
I’ll drift down the lanes
between the crooked dwellings
past out-houses, slate roofs, shared yards
neat boxes all pushed so close together
clinging to the hills
I’ve learned to love this feeling
just absorb the history
let the thinning shadow of industry
that’s still cast across this city
seep into me

But for now
I sit by the window
stare out into the old street
feel the season a little more keenly
so grateful to have found my peace here
where I can stop and think
and write my little lines…

[2019]

Thanks for reading.

Listen to my poems on Soundcloud
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Things Half Said

Looking back
over everything
I committed to the page
There seems to be gap
between the truth
of what was felt
and what’s recorded

The words came
while I was still
questioning the validity
yet, what I
then went on to feel
was always with such certainty

There is a space
between
There is a space between
you and me
filled with things
half said

Sifting through the sketches
of painted scenes
I tried to show
There are great swathes
of missing detail
I deemed too complicated

My vocabulary
was much too meagre
to convey
with any accuracy
and what I left
scratched for all time
was never entirely honest

There is a space
between
me and you
between
the story and plot
filled with things half said

Will I ever be skilled enough
to tell my story, completely
Will I ever have the talent
to fill that space
with something other
than things half said…

[2011]

Thanks for reading.

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…

Thanks for reading.

All my poems.

Broken-down Place

(Click play for audio reading, right-click ‘save as’ to download)

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]

Thanks for reading.

All my poems.

Oxford In The Autumn

As autumn’s rusty fingers begin
to push their way through tired trees
So, the early dimming light
and spectral chill conspire
to gently sweep me back in time

It’s Oxford in the autumn
nineteen; with eyes opening
A new life unfolding
cycling through the leaves
and sighing under bridges

Oxford in the autumn
that brick so old around me
broad streets, illogical lanes
busses and puddles
gang up against my dryness

Oxford in the autumn
looking up into the trees
as they’re burying the pavement
or caught up in the railings
my whole life ahead of me

It’s Oxford in the Autumn
Black n’ Red notebook
poking from my back pocket
All the words collecting
I was yet to wrangle

It’s Oxford in the autumn
for a split second, that I’m returned to
by the dipping light of afternoon
yellow leaves upon ancient stone
those deeply imprinted memories

Oxford in the autumn
flowing scarves and knitted hats
of the girls who passed me by
to fight the cold of endless rain
from the depths of gloomy rented rooms

It’s Oxford in the autumn
and dust motes slowly dancing
in the air above the heater
Fog lit by orange street light
outside my cracked window

Every autumn I’m reminded
of those magical new beginnings
standing tall, for the first time
letting go of all my leaves
my whole life ahead of me…

[2020]

Thanks for reading.

All my poems.

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]

Thanks for reading.

All my poems.