A New Beginning

Leaves of brown and green watching
as the fire reveals a destiny for us
flames licking their lips at the change
of solid and tangible into smoke
On a beach of melancholy teenagers
destroying themselves for something
that they can’t explain or focus on
the big picture that is still being drawn…

Bottles of green and brown offering
their joyous and deceptive contents up
ready to infiltrate our consciousness
convince us that the weight has lifted
a sea of liquid to baptise our brains
then we dance and talk of this rebirth
forgetting all about thoughts of maths or progress
the new beginning we’ve been dreaming of…

Leaves of brown are falling in the sunrise
but day reveals that gravity has won again
our heavy heads are hard to lift now
and the breaking waves outside sing loud
A song of measured secrets that expose
themselves a beautiful harmony of movement
the moon under which we slept last night
brings them to us with it’s strong will

Bottles of green bloom in the sand
empty shells left behind from the war
we fought the best we could all night
and momentarily there was a surrender
a decoy that we fell for too easily
now, in the morning light, it’s obvious
the horizon arcs itself out before us
a new beginning comes every day
a new beginning is ours every day…

[2005]

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Cinema Child

Standing on the sand
I watched the boats afloat
I thought to myself; I must look good
cinematic, brilliant, deep, mature
all eyes were on me, because I stood out
how they must love me…

As those ships drifted by
I’d be thoughtful
roll my eyes, look to the ground
with all the girls watching my ticks and style
I was sullen, moody, sexy, smart beyond my years
they’d love me…

And standing by the water’s edge I’d smile
those girls would find me in my tent that night
strip me down and pick me up, I’d be lost
I’d be so ready for the feelings I imagined
I’d be lovely…

Standing in the surf
I stole the show, all the people loved me
they loved me, even if they never said
or never looked… or never came…

And as I grew, I learned to see
I was just a boy, staring at the sea
a head of daydreams, ideals and fantasies
my image really; just childish, introverted
completely unapproachable

The girls, they didn’t come to me
I just stood on that shore by day
and ran through tall grass and summer rain by night
watching the waves from rocks and heights

My pretence, my best defence
the only way I ever felt okay
trying never to admit
I was young and lonely
I was so young and already so lonely…

[2003]

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The Lighthouse

There are some nights
like clockwork I find myself
ticking up the stone steps
of the lighthouse

There are some nights
cloaked in melancholy
staring out, wide-eyed
across the freezing seas of time

There are these nights
I sit, quietly, by the lens
wondering of all the other nights
I have sat quietly wondering…

A thread of light stretches backwards
through all my life
sewing together
these contemplative moments
connecting me with my younger selves

We all sit there on different steps
looking out to sea
with our lifetime of bad haircuts
and our silver fountain pens
each one more expensive than the one before

We all wonder in an echo
we all wonder
‘Am I right? Is my aim true?
do I have any aim at all?

Where am I going?’

I long to reach out a hand somehow
send out a boat to them
I worry for those lost souls
adrift on wild seas
rocking in churning waters
without a lot of hope

Through the thick blanket of night
I sense
the face of a future me
he looks healthier, happier
richer somehow
looking back
across the freezing seas of time
fondly and encouragingly
he’s smiling back at me…

[2015]

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Jetty Song [with audio]

Her fingers tracing mine
Lily danced me out of the garden
those green eyes brimming lively
with purest abandon
Then barefoot on the boardwalk
her summer dress riding high
she leapt onto the jetty
and gestured to the sky

We let our tanned legs hang below
as we bottomed up the bottle
the air was hot and heavy
the sea around us peaceful
There was lust upon our minds
as a veil upon a bride
the deepest searing truths
politely shot between our eyes

And no man could deny us
loose and open all the time
our hands and fingers; wanderers
tongues locked in a rhyme
By the spit between those kisses
our burning lips were sewn
her dress was barely there
my body carved from stone

With each nail driven into skin
I felt a clapping thunder
the temple tapestry was tearing
as she pierced my thin armour
A melody sung upon her voice
a lyric loudly grows
I’d have gladly turned my back
on all that I held close

We could have traveled every sea
taking turns to lead the way
if only
if only she’d have asked me
if only I’d thought to stay…

Dusk light falling on the harbour
the day became a dream
with toes curled round the boards
she danced me to my feet
in one movement I was shirtless
in another she was naked
a smiling glance was shared
as we leapt with fingers knitted

Our kisses painted salty
lungs burning between breaths
the solution we had longed for
as our bodies coalesced
We swam until our limbs ached
then floated side by side
in the moonlit wideness of her eyes;
another world, I spied

I was so thirsty for the moment
and drank it all too quickly
my mind got blurred and cloudy
my greatest drunken folly
Too naive to know the value
of the treasure in my grip
like sand through careless fingers
I stood and watched it slip

There was water on three sides
and only one path back to land
but somewhere on that journey
I somehow lost her hand
Now, I wonder if she thinks of us
a moment spared for all we shared
does she ever sit upon that jetty
singing of a parallel despair

We could have traveled every sea
wild adventure every day
if only
if only she’d have asked me
if only I’d thought to stay

If only
I’d had the wisdom
to stay…

[2020]

Extra special thanks for reading, I know it’s a long one. 🙂

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British Summer Time

There is new life
in the old garden
There are pretty specks of colour
blooming brightly from the ground
The middle-air is weightless
blowing freely through the lane
Summer fields fold out
through wooden window-frames
Freshly cut grass glides lazily
down molten tarmac roads

There is new life
In the old garden
A cigarette, a teddy-bear
starched laundry on the line
The meadow beyond the fence
birds resting on wires
Peeling paint turns to dust
on frames, on gates, and benches
white spirits in jars warming in the sun
on the worktop in the shed

There is new life
In the old garden
Luscious greens and winding blues
yellows so intense they’re blinding
stretching out endless and golden
from the stream, to that horizon
Soon old friends will come and smile
brimming with new conversation
and bonfires, water fights, and warmth
so effortless, so pretty

There is new life
In the old garden
A stalking cat, a knowing butterfly
the dance of smoke from a fire
a glass of wine, a scent of fruit
the pouring out of hearts so full
The apple tree, the water-hose
and running through the weeds
These scenes imprinting their memories
on every sense
five times remembered…

[2005]

N.B. An old one from when I was still trying to find my voice.

Image: Summer Garden Painting

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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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Strangeness & Experience

I want you to be unruly
write hard and clear
about tangled emotion
those who don’t
make me suspicious
I know there are other things
like genocide and selfish parking
and the bruises received
behind closed doors

I want to know people 
who are walking antennas 
sensitive and gifted
nerves nakedly exposed
flailing in the fallout

I was raised to keep all hidden
I was raised to deny all feeling
“suppress, suppress
deflect with humour”
on the freezing football fields
“stand in goal and we’ll aim at your head”

Thank you, fuck you
the North East of England
I found a way to let it out
I’d have hurt myself or someone else
if not for finding the page
and letting it all out
fuck you, thank you
the North East of England

I want to meet people 
who are lightning rods
for strangeness and experience
hearts on tear-stained sleeves
sopping wet with hard-won wisdom
articulate and true

Move me
make me feel something
there is no shame
and we are not ashamed…

[2020]

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The Deep End

I watched Elena bathing
in the pool of the lower garden
amid birdsong and toiling insect
light shimmering in the heat
she’s a big girl, there’s more to love
and the water must feel warm against her toes
O, life is kind some days

I watched Elena swim, for hours
to and fro, up and down
the pool my father dug
there is nothing of which she’s ashamed
stepping from the water, standing bare
stretching hands above her head
and diving at the deep end
my eyes there with her every movement

I watched Elena sunbathe
on a bamboo bench against the North wall
she looked so bronze and peaceful
in the quiet of the lower terrace
spiders scuttling across the backs of my knees
lying face down in the tree house
O, life is kind sometimes

I watched Elena stepping back into her dress
as the sun contemplated a slow retreat
picking up her wicker bag, she rolled back across the wall
hopped down onto the dusty gravel road
wandered slowly back into the town

I found her necklace, left at the water’s edge
wrapped it twice around my thin wrist
flicked a long nail against the hanging ‘E’
longingly, I watched the fiery light
dance upon the water
but I never saw Elena again…

[2014]

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Tan Hill Inn

Teenagers, cycling across the Dales
up country roads in the seventies sun
wheels turning, chests burning
on our way to Tan Hill Inn

Too young to drink then
we’d sit in the garden
catch our breath and if we’re lucky
maybe the northern lights
I’d take photographs
thinking to myself
one day I’ll bring my wife here
one day I’ll bring my children
if I have any
and we’d cycle home

All the energy I had then
all that drive to ride the Pennine Road
on the longest and the shortest days
sit by that fire, dripping dry
seemed there could never be a time
I couldn’t call my friends and ride
up to Tan Hill Inn
skidding home in the snow

I thought it all was endless
it all seemed so endless then

Now my kids are grown
my kids are having their own
there’s no energy left
not in these bones
to cycle up those hills
just to sit
without drinking…

[2017]

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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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Raining In Darlington

Every new day brings fresh lethargy
renewed deceit, increased malaise
The tipping-point arrives
the call goes out
but there is nothing
and no one comes;
these ‘friends’ have failed

Every new year brings fresh poetry
a handful of old photographs
and the game of remembering names
Those pretty kids stand so still
smiling on a beach somewhere
Where are they now
in these heavy adult years

Every new life brings fresh expectation
new-born hope, budding dreams
a player joins the game
takes their part in the play
and we share our cheats and scripts
in some duty-bound illusion

But today;
there is no heat in the air
the streets awash with tears
this Northern sky cries every day
for the future, for the past
for the sadness it has seen
it misses us, mourns our departure
and dresses itself in black
for our recurring nightly funeral

Where did we lose our way?
When did we wish ourselves away?
The darling sky begs for answers
they’re sprayed on crumbling walls
they’re compass-point scratches on school desks
and etched with hearts on lonely trees
they’re everywhere
but we don’t always see
They’re everywhere
but we’re just too busy
They’re everywhere
and the rain magnifies them for me…

[2005]

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30 Steps [with audio]

The city is drenched in gold tonight
the sea is wrapped in silver, like my temples
my hands feel older now than ever
but my mind is so much surer
than back when I was younger

I’ve run from love when it got tough
my hair was bleached in boiling light
I helped as many people as I could
my thoughts were darkened in the wilderness
felt alone in crowds of smiling happiness
I learned to speak, to see, to feel this reality

I’ve understood, been understood
I’ve compromised, been compromised
I’ve judged, been judged
Fairly, unfairly

There has been a heaviness in my limbs at times
and there was a divine light that shone
from somewhere I never knew could be in me
I wronged and cheated with a pathological absence of care
which boomeranged around and sunk me in the end
it’s rough to open your consciousness to reality

Siblings, parents; undulating friendships
the push, the pull of love and life
in trying to align the poles in me
I was blind, but thought I was seeing
I was blank, but thought I was saying something
the painted stones I carved, I threw them out to sea

I’ve deceived, been deceived
I’ve contradicted, been contradicted
I’ve believed, been believed
Justly, unjustly

So; I take off my shoes
take out my headphones
I want this wave to wash all over me
The short hand, the long multiplications
I laid out all my working for you to see
trying to crack the code of something real
the combination of what is me

I’ve been taking thirty steps away
from where they forged my heart
I’ve been taking thirty steps toward the tide line
where I etched my childhood
drew a line beneath it and paused to watch…

The waves of youth lap out
the waves of youth
the waves
the…

[2011]

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[Written on the eve of my 30th birthday]

Hunger Hill Farm

Darling, where have I been?
I’ve been out driving
I’m driving again
down Summer lanes at night
in the faded light
like I used to
when I was young
back before I knew you
back before all of this, now

I’ve been out driving
where my mind is freed
I can think, but I don’t have to
just keep the car on the road
along I go
the music playing loud
louder than you’d allow
how I so love to hear it
feeling the place and time
like it is an ancient place and time

Where I’ve been is really ‘when’
I’ve been back to where I fell in love
with a life so open wide
with so much opportunity
so much I could have been
and though the car was empty
I swear I could hear my old friends talking there
voices coming from the back seats
and they were laughing
how I’ve missed that sound…

I’ve been out floating
through those streets and villages
beyond the commuter-belt handcuffs
hurtling down a slick-black river of road
sometimes, I stop the car
in the ditch by Hunger Hill Farm
I lie on the metal roof
watching the stars
timeless, unfazed, above me
like we did when we were younger
like when I first met you…

Sometimes, I imagine you’re beside me
but the ‘you’ when I first met you
so free, so open, so in love with everything
and she whispers in my ear
‘All of this is ours
whatever we may want
we may… yet… be…’
and I smile with shining eyes

I’m sure I loved you
I’m sure I loved you then

Then slowly, I drive home
you hound me for where I’ve been
complain about your day
as I open my first beer
imagining I’m still out there, somewhere…

I’ll always be out there
a part of me
will always be out there
somewhere…

[2009]

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