Showing posts from 2017

Borrowed Lines and Spare Time

Hey there, strangers smiling at the bar,
And hey there, barman in behind.
You're a little more familiar now,
And I'm okay, yeah, I'm just fine,
I'm just sipping on my stout
And chasing away the minutes and hours
Long before you call closing time,
Yeah, closing time, but for now it ain't that late,
I'm just Tom who sips and Waits
For my very sweet companion,
For a lady who listens to Lou Reed
And Leonard Cohen, my partner found,
She's late, not lost,
She'll be dressed in black and polka dots
And she'll take me away, we'll leave here, yeah,
But for now, hey, I'm waiting for my gal.

In The Lodge

It's hard to believe
It's been six years,
If I'm correct in
My reading
Between vague lines
And if there's any truth
Behind the icons
Red on blue
Atop the screen
In the Social Network,
Since we shared
A moment that should
Have been forbidden
By all the usual standards
And the rules
Expected of friends or exes.
But despite passing time I still
Cannot help but recall
The thrill, the elation
Of how it felt, extreme,
Not because it
May have been wrong
But because it
Was electric and exciting,
And despite the years
That have passed since
And the lingering fact
That it
Should never
Have happened
At all
With you
Too close a friend
And me
And believing that you
Were taken too,
Despite that, tonight
I remember you well,
And me drunk under lights,
A cheap line,
Pressing our lips,
Seconds of time,
And then never
A hint
Of anything else.

Climbing the Wall

I have known fear,
I must confess,
Yes, I have been afraid
To visit him
And get to know the world
As he had seen it
For reasons obvious,
Of course,
But also more obscure
More selfish
More vain,
Being concerned that
My efforts would merely
Pale in contrast to his,
That I would
Simply be
The poor relation
Who does no more
Than ape the
Of a previous
That maybe
I just miss the point,
The crux of this craft,
In ways
He knew naturally,
Made look easy.
Fear there was, too,
That I would be
A copy-cat,
That I would
Steal his style,
Try to mimic
All his best verses
Or produce
No more than tributes
And carnival mirror

Despite the contradiction
That I show
No such reverence
To those names
Of great renown
Who moulded and shaped me
In the early days
Of this lonely
And there are
Common details
That I cannot escape:
Each of us liked
To take our name
In its translation,
Loved to see
The places where
Old tradition
Lives on,
In the same vocation.
And I too Have known darkness,
Known exhaustion
And despair,
Though …


"Do not ask me for charity now:
Go away until your bones are clean."

(Fleur Adcock, from 'Advice to a Discarded Lover')

The Hoarder's curse
Struck again today
When a misplaced memento
Reappeared and dared
To poke its head up
From its hiding place
And scattered memories
And feelings all over
And made a mess.

I tried to catch them,
Control and gather them
Back into my pockets,
Tried to hide them all with
The scrap of paper ticket
From an almost forgotten date,
Buried them again under
Rubbish and vain layers
Of regret and hate


I was told once or twice in my teen years
About copies of chapbooks and local
Journals that must still survive somewhere,
Proof filed away with scribbles, notes and pages,
The private and the published words
Of a talented and tortured poet,
One young man immortalised and remembered
Among voices preserved in parchments,
Tales from a decade before my time,
The literary legacy of a waning century.

These days I try to gather the works
Of a bright emerging generation
And horde them, safe in a cardboard box,
Save that some might be forgotten,
The sort of stanzas that might not make it
To the library shelves and archives,
Treasures kept for rediscovery
In some unprophesied circumstance
And stored with my own written contributions
Whatever meagre value they may have.

Two Windows

Who can say what way a poet's mind works
Or if, indeed, there is a common trait
That links the minds and hands of diff'rent folks
Aside from wishes that we try to date
In carefully arranging pictures, words,
In separating chance or luck from fate?
With all our tongues and codes and styles of talk,
Different backgrounds, unique sense of place,
Perspectives on a great spectrum of dark
And light, all textures, hues, and shades,
What ties us all yet lets us make a mark
That sets voices apart upon the page?

How can two sets of eyes see the same things
And yet within find always new meanings?

Checking Mirrors

Real fast food:
Porridge with peanut butter,
One hundred and thirty
Kilometres per hour
And coffee in a cheap flask
Quickly getting cooler.
Motorway mornings,
Foot on the accelerator,
Breaking fast behind the wheel,
A meal fit for a commuter.

Playing With Fire

There is something so
Satisfying in stoking
The ashes of a dying fire,
Not in some metaphorical
Or symbolic sense,
But very real comfort

In the welcoming warmth,
Or the gorgeous orange glow
Of hidden embers
Flaring like favourite memories
Ready to live again
With the right fuel and fresh air,

The naive thrill of
Playing with danger,
The power in knowing
All that you have burned
And what you could yet destroy,
Erase, hide away,

Scattering the remnants
Through the gaps in the grate,
A quick cosmetic cleaning
Of the fireplace,
Just dust left to smoulder underneath,
Hidden behind the bars of the guard.