Pull Apart The Perfect Nest

So then, stick by stick
tonight we tear off strip after strip
the newest feathers first
then the older twigs and vines
with each one
my heart drops
until there’s nothing left
and nowhere lower
just empty branches
where our sweet home once was

Inch by inch
we pack and divide the moss
all the soft things we’ve collected
years of careful, loving selection
pecking them away, each and every one
my heart stops
as we place them in our beaks
to separate forever
over an unknown distance
just a meaningless assortment
of what once was our sweet home

Doing what we know we must
we both say it’s for the best
the home we had just turns to dust
pull apart the perfect nest

You fly south
I stay north
and never again
will our sweet home be here…

[2009]

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All my poems.

The Last Night of Your Trip

If you ever come to London…
On the last night of your trip
let me know
when and where you’ll be eating
I’ll book a table
get to the restaurant before you arrive
And as you order dinner
with your husband and your kids
we can exchange covert glances

Nervous at first, mere milliseconds
then slowly growing in confidence
our first and only glimpse
of one another in the flesh
eye-fucking, lip-biting
so subtle and so smart
Hopefully, we’ll pass
on the way back from the bathroom
I’ll hold your gaze too long
let my knuckles graze your hip
the only contact we’ll ever share
I’ll leave while you’re still eating
return to my hotel room
alone

The next morning
pouring a tea
fumbling with the paper
I’ll watch the sky
wondering which plane is yours
somersaulting in thought
and how another life passed so close to this
A brief glimpse between worlds
and the other lives
we could have lived…

[2019]

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All my poems.

Marriage

The ocean calms me
envelopes me
supports me when I need to sail
Powerfully, it won’t hesitate
to remind me of my place
or comfort me when I fail

Its waves sing along in time
mirroring my mood
or challenging me to improve
We laugh in the shallows
or toil through the depths
almost always perfectly in step

Every day is beautiful
a work of heart
and trying…

The muse of my life; my happiness
and though your face isn’t
peering out from every poem
Sometimes, we are artists
making makes us happy
in each other’s company we’re free

Sometimes, we’re salty
Sometimes, we don’t say
all we need to say, straight away
but it flows out in the end
and we’re back on course again

This life we made together
our voyage into the future
You my love, you are the sea
Please never leave
Raise your loving waters
and swaddle them around me

Every day is beautiful
a work of heart
and trying to be
my very best for you…

[2020]

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All my poems.

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

Don’t Forget To Breathe

Stuttering awake
in the anxious hours
when white noise
no longer lets you sleep
And in the mattress springs
a crawling metronome
some percussive heartbeat
one thought then another
one worry trailed by the next
Did what was said make sense?
was it understood
will this be good enough
impossible options
improbable odds
suddenly so awake
in the anxious hours
Don’t forget
to breathe…

Stuttering awake
in the anxious hours
try to recall these words
line by line
whispered in the dark
piece by piece
fall back to sleep
it’s peace upon peace
and don’t forget
to breathe…

[2019]

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All my poems

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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Born To Muse

Click above to hear me read it. Right-click and choose ‘Save As’ to download an MP3.

In the hammering rain of last night
I slept the best I have all week
I slept deeper, longer
than I have done for months

And would you guess who I should meet there
on the dream stools
at the dream bar
ordering her dream gin
sliding me a dream beer

Well, you come here often
I don’t have to ask
I’ve seen you here so many nights before
but it has been a while
(and I’ve missed you)

Back in real life; you live so freely
you’re pure inspiration to me
a scholar of your beauty
besotted by your confidence, your creativity

And when we went our separate ways
(did we ever really agree on one path anyway?)
after all those notebooks you drove me to fill
after the purest verses I fear I may ever spill

When we went our separate ways
you found yourself an artist
and now you’re all he paints
day drinking, or in the nude
the ways I still remember you
you… you were born to muse

Sitting on the dream couch
in the dream bar
your dream knees
pushing against dream me

you… you were born to muse…

[2019]

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A repost from Nov 2019.

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]

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The Causeway Between Our Hearts

Tonight, I eye the wind
as it dances on the water
singing of the distance
that no longer can be closed

Well, I told you I was selfish
there were no children in me
Unwilling to stir for a moment
from this endless daydream
where I father my creativity

You told me that you knew me
our hearts beating to that same drum set
and no one must wake you either
That carving pretty worlds
behind closed eyes
is your calling and profession

With one eye knowingly
looking into mine
and the other doggedly at the door
you welcomed my request for kisses deep
while telling me you could feel
that farewell letter in my back pocket
itching to be delivered

You rip away on the mildest breeze
a kite cut free
Could not believe
the words a writer brought you
the words you said you loved to read
You wished it dead, before the birth
and all I did was acquiesce

I tell you now
that letter was no dis-missive
but a list of tide times
The wind thieves it from my fingers
and I watch it whipping out
across the water

Two selfish hearts can coexist
only for a passing moment
then the ocean rises
the road is lost
the causeway closes

All we were is washed away
or wind upon the surface
ripples or waves, decaying…

[2020]

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Holly Hagg

Pen devoid of poems
adventure long overdue
living room carpet
growing long in the tooth
I’m pining for movement
so keen to get out
I’ll go walking down
to Holly Hagg

Little glimpses at normality
haloed by golden rays
There’s no poison
in the idle river
no politics
in the quiet horse
cantering to
another chew

The clouds of working day
part while I’m out walking
bathed in nature’s endless beauty
which never disappears
only ever obscured by thought
or perspective
Eased back into focus
on the road
to Holly Hagg

With every step I take
the tension unspools
And there are words, waiting
ideas that come to me
pinned to ancient fenceposts
nestled in the cracks between the stones
making up the wall
that keeps me on the road
to Holly Hagg

The walk becomes a gallop
blood pumping in my chest
body now loose enough
for every step to be a dance
I am light and free
as I close the distance
on my prized poetry
and the generous view expands
beyond Holly Hagg…

[2020]

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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]

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Tiger Mountain

I have fallen for the mad ones
and the sad ones
and the ones who don’t know what they want

I have found that mania so consuming
confused depression for deep thinking
I’ve tried to heal the cracked ones
and piece the broken ones together…

O, I have tried
to climb that mountain
with broken ankles…

I have lived off the wild ones
brought calm to the angry ones
laid down with the tired ones and slept

I’ve ridden with the seesaw ones
always wondering where I stood
felt lost with the wilful ones
and cried beside the bitter ones

O, I have tried
to climb that mountain
with broken ankles…

I’ve walked across the weak ones
swum naked with the free ones
reached out for the timid ones
but found no hand waiting there

I have been ungrateful for the nicest ones
been bored by the honest ones
prayed for the fickle ones to change
knowing no love could bloom there

O, I have tried
to climb that mountain
with broken ankles…

And I have wondered loudly why
I never could reach the summit
with my broken ankles…

[2014]

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Crying In Your Wedding Dress

The roads and gutters flood
not with rain
but tears
crying in your wedding dress
tearing your hair out

The churchyard freezes over
not with winter
but with the pain
of pulling off that ring
screaming your lungs out

You wore that dress for sixteen hours
you wore it too long
you wore it when you arrived
and you wore it when you woke up
the next morning

I wore my invisible jacket
my invisible trousers
my invisible smile
all day
on our wedding day

The prototype for this event
the blueprint of this heart-ache
is etched so deeply in me
there was no other way it could be
on our wedding day

I was walking, drunk, stumbling
you were crying in your wedding dress
I was gone, I was never really there
you were crying in your wedding dress

I was broke for any feeling
you were broke for any hope
crying in your wedding dress
on our wedding day…

[2008]

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The House Looks Like A Painting

The house looks like a painting
yet, we can’t agree on anything
What I want is meaningless to you
what you want remains awkwardly obtuse
and unreadable

I play my game, aligning the pieces
to get me whatever I desire
O, the house looks like a painting
but I never know what’s right
too adept at getting what I think I need

Meeting an old girlfriend
who talks of monasteries and monks
as I count the freckles on her nose
and wonder if she still swallows…

O, the house looks like a painting
yet, we cannot agree on anything
Is there an urge that we can harness
and repair
or just our feeble pushes
toward opposing goals
Two firm lurches toward different shores

It’s corrosive
it’s wholly limiting
it’s the only way we seem to know
to operate

The house looks like painting
and still we’re not aligned
on anything at all…

[2017]

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Torture

You show me your open hand
flash me your smiling eyes
Say ‘come here, talk a while’
then you leave me standing in the rain

You hand me a note stained with kisses
gift me a signed photo of you
Say ‘have this, share with me’
then you leave me standing in the rain

I am such a fool
I am such a fool for you
I’ve been standing in this rain
for three weeks solid now

You meet me at one of our old haunts
loiter in the doorway of our youth
Say ‘Thank you, so much, for coming’
then you leave me stranded in the rain

You write me such an honest letter
show me even more of depths of all you are
Say ‘I’m in need of someone like you’
then you leave me stranded in the rain

I am such a fool
I am such a fool for you
Either you don’t know enough about me
or you know exactly what you do
Give me another taste of all I want
then pull away and make me wait again

This is torture
I could do this to myself
I don’t need you, too
I am such a fool
I am such a fool for you

Why won’t you open up
and give yourself to me
finally and fully
As I stand in the falling rain
soaked through
I’m soaked through for you…

[2009]

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Wail Song

Sometimes, we sing the wail song
Sometimes, it never seems to end
Get well soon and mend all things
Some times never wants to end

I was kneeling in the garden, shuffling the leaves
trying to keep nature in boxes
Wind blows and wind knows I can never win
my shoulders sink, I know I can never win

Sometimes, we sing the wail song
Sometimes, there is nothing we can do
tuck your head below the sheets and wait
Sometimes, there is no sign at all

Sometimes, we sing the wail song
Sometimes, we can’t avoid it
Just push your hopes into a poem
sometimes, it seems, there is no one who will listen

The waves rise over the railings, soaking me
the shock, the cold of the sea’s like magic
in that blast of reality, I achieve some clarity
I’m not afloat, I’m driving this life’s direction

Sometimes, we sing the wail song
sometimes, we get so blinded
reach out and find a sure hand, it will come
sometimes, we have to make more effort

It just takes time… you have to try
take some time, do what you have to
shed the song right off your body
it just takes time, you have to try…

[2011]

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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]

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Such Strange Light

Such strange light
washing out
into the long night

Generous with pigment
volcanic reds and stella blues
you see that damp look
on the snapshot of my face

I wish someone had told me
wish someone had just shown me
dad, you could have warned me

O, how it burns
how it hurts to see yourself
suddenly, with that clarity
kept reserved for other people

In the rear-view mirror
in that mirror

Cold slate evenings
rudely cut in two
and poking through the gaping night
such a strange, strange light

Fickle thought
fickle life
fucks all
fickle thought
fickle life
forgive me…

[2016]

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This Infinity [with audio]

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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Tunnels

Tunnelling in the dirt below my feet
I’ve been digging for weeks
carving this hollow so deep
Today, I hit bone

This is heavier work than I imagined
we surveyed the ground from beyond the fence
both agreed that this was right
but now this toil
is breaking me apart

As a new day rises
I’m crying in the shower
never knew I could feel this low
crying in the shower
with the taps turned up to ten
never knew this pain was in me

She works elsewhere, broken too
she rests elsewhere
with someone new

This is the lowest point
promise me, please let this be
the lowest point

She will undulate and warp
she too will dig her way through
and when she climbs out of her tunnel
she’ll be who she’s become
and the person I loved will be gone…

She may smile the same way sometimes
she may shout me some echoey ‘hello’
but the person I loved will be gone

As I hack away the earth
I pause, wipe my brow and grieve
mourning the person, the love, the way of life
that will be buried when this work is done

Everyone’s heart gets bloodied sometimes
I never thought I’d choose this path
never understood the way
the pain could grip you in your bones each night
as you work your way through the tunnel

Promise me
it’s on from here
out of this tunnel
my work complete
and back up again
towards the light…

[2009]

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Step Change

Tear the statues down
put them in a museum
have their achievements weighed
against their modern moral faults
Give them context
It feels wrong to venerate
values we no longer share

Tear the problematic statues down
it’s time to move on
They’ve had their light
they’ve had their vaunted praise
let them slip into the past
I don’t want to walk beside
the likeness of a slave trader
on my morning commute
despite their pigeon-shit coat
that always makes me smirk

Tear the statues down
The older folks may say it’s a pity
the folly of an ignorant youth
but times; they change
often abruptly
and sometimes it’s appropriate
to force a step change
to send a message
Like scientists reevaluating theories
based on new research
Shouldn’t we reassess
elevated heroes of the past

Tear the problematic statues down
let’s build new ones
better ones
let them inspire hope and unity
and in 100 years, if they must fall again
then so be it
History is not lost because of it
books will go on, museums go on
providing that all-important context
for those who seek it…

[2020]

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