Forest

I was lost in a forest
the cold night swaddling me
calmly, it was whispering
“Love the ones who love you back
and all will be revealed”

I found a stone, it caught my eye
heart-shaped and out of place
I picked it up and kept it
that was fifteen years ago
it sits on my window sill

Don’t pity me, don’t laugh
I know I lived, as if asleep
throughout my wasted twenties
And then lived like a wild man
while I was supposedly in love
but the forest is overgrown
and I don’t always know where I am going

Still, I’m heart-shaped
and out of place

I wouldn’t want it
any other way
getting lost in the forest
and finding things…

[2014]

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Songs that inspired me…

For anyone who might be interested, I’ve put together a Spotify playlist of songs which have either inspired me lyrically/musically or that I love to listen to when writing. I’ll add more to the playlist when I get chance (it is by no means exhaustive). I hope you enjoy! 🙂

Spotify Playlist Link: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/0Ebk9zojhEKrXBqXTYYHUh?si=1qJQnhEDRpathySKAeGFRw

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

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I Will Literally Pay You To Abduct Me

The static crackles
in the living room
and in the hallway
I lace my shoes
and go out walking
tonight, I am out walking

Tree-shapes calm me
raindrops kicked from blades of grass
maliciously
This act cleanses things
I feel my fangs receding
feel the silence
breathe back into me

Imagine the TV glow, dimming
imagine the hatred in her eyes
retreating
I dream of the bad air clearing
but climbing the driveway
back to our place
I spy those red eyes waiting
and know things are worse now
since I went out walking

On nights like this I cannot win
on nights like this
I call out
into the saucerless black sky
and scream
‘I will literally pay you to abduct me…!’

[2016]

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Note: I saw the accompanying image on a meme website and it made me smile. I wondered if I could turn it into a poem somehow. This is what came out… 🙂

https://linktr.ee/tomalexwrite


We Walked Along The Wall

We walked along the wall
that secret weighing heavy in my pocket
as we circled the old town
my heart beating hard
in a new way
or a way I’d not felt for years

We walked along the wall
passed a bar and got a beer
looking down upon the rooftops
you were pressed so close to my mind
no other thought could form there

The morning sun lit everything before us
not just the view but our lives ahead
I knew this was the beginning
of a new chapter
my secret kept concealed a little longer

We walked along the wall
as I danced the conversation
towards that question long avoided
then slid it, smiling, towards you
an inspired idea, covert no more

We walked along the wall
sea and streets spilling either side
and for the first time in my life
I came down from the wall
my future wife’s hand in mine…

[2019]

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This Window

This pain is a jigsaw
This bond is a handcuff
This place is a death-trap
This window… is closed

This moment is endless
This feeling is crushing
This heart is failing
This window… is filthy

This love is spent
This union is ending
This sweetness has soured
This window… is painted

This want is obsessive
This change is approaching
This peace is shattering
This window… is cracked

This journey is over
This air is stagnant
This pressure is critical
This window… is shaking

This decade is wasted
This effort is thankless
This ‘us’ is in tatters
This window… is hinged?

This shoelace is tied
This suitcase is packed
This pocket is full
This window is…

This window is opening
This window is a door

This one is leaving
That one is staying
This window is a door
and I am walking through…

[2009]

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Somewhere Beyond The Graveyard

She stumbles blindly down the steps
meets and greets the coming traffic with a wave
Falling into this new day with a crash
our dusty lady, of the railway tenements, almost smiles
bruised and beautiful, she sways
left to right, into town, clutching her head tightly

Limp and vinyl shining hair, a shelter
the burning sun neutered by thick glasses
and treading on her hem, she crosses the street
Our heroin girl, of the bed-sit spoons, almost smiles
wired and beautiful, she turns
face to the floor, queuing up, clutching her ticket tightly

The rattle of the train, hypnotic, into the moors
through forgotten, unloved places, and to the sea
Tears barely perceptible, in her faint reflection
our haunted figure, of the candle-lit fish-dinners, almost smiles
re-composed and beautiful, she inhales
eyes on her hands, hands on her knees, she clutches tightly

A red lamp and the bitter end, the slowing coaches
the evening falls to show her breath before her face
It’s almost weightless in her pocket, but weighing on her mind
our anime child, of the emotional apocalypse, almost smiles
diffident and beautiful, she hesitates
Decisive metal, the off-switch in her pale palms, clutched tightly

Doused in black…and drowned in white…
A vampire for sensation’s bite, she used to say
‘If I had faith, I’d take my own life, I swear…
Somewhere… somewhere out beyond the graveyard there’

O, isn’t this what she wished for, isn’t this why she came?
somewhere, just behind the grave yard grass
high above the white and salty crashing waves
her drained and lifeless, body caught up in the barbs
a tangle of black lace and bloody metal
blowing in the wind, in the shadow of the Abbey

Dressed in black and lit by fading light
a picture in her hand, she clutches tightly
His indifferent, almost smiling face, stained red
and that sacred heart, drowning in her own wine
Saved? Is she saved? In many ways she is…
Saved, she’s saved, In many ways she is…

[2004]

Note: Written one afternoon in early 2004. My first office job was as a call centre worker and this poem was composed as an email to myself between phone calls. I have no idea where it came from and never knew quite what to do with it. I’ve always had a soft spot for it though; despite its obvious flaws.

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Image Credit: Nightwalker Magazine

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Division Street

I heard that telephone ringing
at the one remaining box
down on the street
on Division Street

If one of us answers the call
they ain’t coming back
whichever one of us goes
to answer that phone
they ain’t coming back

I woke up restless in the night
opened a window for some air
the whole city poured straight in
over siren wail and drunk’s lament
I could hear that ringing sound

Moonlight is at our glass again
the summer heat is rattling the pane
I can’t sleep for the life of me
through the sound of that phone’s coarse plea

If either of us answers the call
they ain’t coming back
whoever it is to answer that phone
they ain’t coming back

Well now, I haven’t slept
since my birthday week
that ringing has been robbing me of sleep
I think I’ll have to go down
and I may be some time…

[2015]

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Eccentricities

It’s the eccentricities of normal people
that makes art exciting
it’s the connections gifted minds make
that sets the canvas alight

The sexiness of confidence
paired with some intrinsic wisdom
O, just look at what they chose to say
and how they said it
sets the page alight

Shine your twisted mind
all over me
drape your incisive rhymes
all over me
pour your unique charm
all over me

With originality
with your eccentricity
all over me…

[2014]

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Bite The Bullet

The planets above wink down to me
‘It’s now or never’ they’re implying
I feel her hand brush mine
as we’re walking side by side
her house is just around the corner
I’m leaving town tomorrow
it’s now or never…

A deep breath, I take
I breathe deep
stop my walking, suddenly
she stops and turns to face me
it’s now or never
I tilt my head, crack a smile
make a joke, stall a while
and asking if I’m ‘okay?’
she steps one step toward me
it’s now or never…

I take her warm hand in mine
draw a breath deep down
Think of all that could come of this
she looks at our hands still holding
then back up at me
and for a moment
we share a moment…

But I break our gaze
walk her home
hug her perfume divine and close
as I walk away, alone again
I concede, it’s never
now; it’s never…

[2010]

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

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The Garden

I’ve been remembering
the garden we once tended
I’ve been thinking of the petals
that fell each autumn
I’ve been working through the list
of things we said but never did

And the rains that fell upon our garden
and the snow that covered all

I’ve been remembering
the garden we once enjoyed
I’ve allowed myself some moments
to reflect with clarity
I’ve been feeling sadness for the trees
that have since been felled

And the sun that fed our lawns
and the snow that covered all
and when it thawed
you were ready to be gone

And all the seasons since…
Now you’re with another’s child…

I’ve been remembering the garden
the flowers but not the thorns
I’ve been reminded of the feeling
when spring was all we knew
I’ve allowed myself some hours
to wander through those flower beds once more

I can remember how that snow felt
even now; I can smell the rain
I accept that all things end
that’s just the way of things
that’s just the way
of all things

And all the seasons since…
I hope your new garden
is blossoming now…

[2017]

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You Are My Priest

Is it not the beads you count?
Is it not that blessing?
Is it not your seated position
on the far side of the screen?

It’s here I come to spill
twisting myself as rope
endlessly unknotting
in constant confessional

And through the cracks
behind the mesh
I feel your furtive eyes
licking my salacious lines

Dear reader
you are my witness
you are my priest

Is it not the way you briefly kneel
when you step beyond the booth?
Is is not the cross I bore
through every line
I could not make rhyme?

Is it not the lies I profess
while carving out my perfect story?
Is it not the way I leave, relieved
lightened in my daily load?

Dear reader
you are my witness
you are my priest

Let me be yours…

[2019]

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

Restless (Sequel) [with audio/music]

Writing in circles again
I’m chasing your tail
self-referential
to edge of pointlessness

The nihilistic streak in me
vibrates at the thought of you
It’s like I take my pulse
while getting your name tattooed

You’ve got your phantom hook in me
just deep enough to tear
welcome back
o, welcome back…

The most concise statement I ever etched
the most desperately impassioned verse spilt
it’s emblazoned with your image
it squawks for your attention

That devil on my shoulder
lights a cigarette when you smile
it’s like an ache
and all the pills I can take

You’ve got your phantom hook in me
just deep enough to burn
so welcome back
welcome back…

Be gentle with me
say as little as possible
to me…

It will never be as good as it was
it will never feel like it did at the start
but welcome back
welcome back…

[2014]

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[A sequel to The Sea At Night Does Not Rest, written 4 years later]

We Were Beautiful

The complication of those earrings
the texture of the paint around your eyes
the sun’s highlights in your hair

The redness of those parting lips
such belief in everything we said
the pristine shape of your nose

Lying on the roof
your head close to my heart
summer blushing the sky
weren’t we beautiful
weren’t we beautiful then

Nothing to fret about
just prolong the passing day
swaying through the city
weren’t we beautiful there

The precision of our jaw-lines
the optimism in our hearts
skidding through that midnight snowfall
spelling out each other’s names
as I caught you in my arms

We were so alive
so in love
so beautiful
at that moment in our lives…

[2018]

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Restless

When normally I’d run
why do I cling to this one?

I have money, I have time
but I have no partner in crime

I’ve been a lonely sight these past few weeks
fleeting glimpses of my footsteps on windy streets
indentations in riverbanks
ink-stains on flower beds

If I keep my pen on the paper
this nib keeps bleeding out blue desire

A rational mind gets cross-wired sometimes
now, to what should I aspire?

O, I have money, I have time
I have smiles, I have wine
but still no partner in crime

When normally I’d run
why do I cling to this one?

[2010]

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You Are Free

Freedom is…
A blank page, ruled with margins for scribbled after-thoughts
Ink in the fountain pen and some new idea to spill
A canvas, with pallet oiled and brushes ready
A quiet room, an acoustic guitar in tune
A sunrise, derelict buildings, wide lens and film ready in the camera
A garden, soil turned and green fingers
Wet sand, a new love and a sharp stick
A science textbook, a biro and a teenage smirk

Freedom is…
Truths to tell, a close friend with a sympathetic ear
White folded card, marker pens, glue, an impending birthday
A concrete wall, spray can in hand, something to say
A ream of material, needle, thread and buttons
An audience, a microphone, a knowing smile
A piano, no music written but itchy fingers
A blog post and a theme as free as freedom itself
Freedom is your life, and whatever story you choose to write with it

Freedom is self-expression
and you are free…

[2010]

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You’re My Man

Tell me again, my teacher
hungrily, I listen to your story
ravenous, by candlelight
calling from the sooty street

Incisions made with your deep insight
the surgeon stillness
of deftly poetic hands
those wisdoms draped in laurel leaves
infinite movement and such sweet inertia

Shower me, my master
my naivety gladly surrenders
in the wake of your delivery
O Len, sing for me
some story I can disassemble
reverse engineer your experience
give birth to my own interpretation

On a wicker throne in some Grecian harbour
my fountain pen refilling
I sip wine, imagining your women
one; she comes along
with askance eyes pawing over me
and the limits of my vague body
she whispers ‘touch me with your intellect’
but I shiver, stark in its absence

O, it’s the little things
the nuanced way you speak it out
the details and the clarity
the hilarious obfuscation
Christ, that galling crystal ball

I could never reach you
I’d be waving, I’d be waiting
breathing my vanilla thoughts to no one
but my drunk self
Hunched alone at the end of the bar
praying to you…

Spin me a yarn
turn on my table
O Leonard, you’re my man…

[2014]

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