When I finally worked up the courage
to take the plunge and ask you out,
I felt as lost as a diver
plummeting to the bottom of the inky sea.
Buffeted by currents
I panicked about what I’d fallen in to.
Until you pulled my helpless body
to the surface where
I floundered gasping for oxygen
as you pounded on my chest and
started my heart beating again.
Lit only by Indistinct pricks of bobbing light
the Styx like water whispers of a dark crossing to come.
I board the ferry like a spirit
gliding through its many bars, where
bonhomie orders just one more nightcap until
it slips down it’s chair into sleep,
mumbling to itself face down on a table.
I too want to be cast adrift intro slumber but
with each dip and fall of the boat
I feel like I am alone and flailing
in troubled waters.
Like a solitary sailor or channel swimmer
I’m valiantly pushing forward forcing
a tired body to execute stroke after stroke,
leaving me breathless but
knowing that this ceaseless labour
is bringing me closer to you my love.
The sea has tried its hardest
to wash this beach clean,
countless times over countless years.
Yet no matter how many waves
hit this shore or
how many times the tide
advances and retreats,
there are memories here
that cannot be washed away.
For when heroes’ blood is spilled
their sacrifice becomes
engrained like DNA
into the very cliff face rocks
and every single grain of sand.
So the memories here
could never be washed away,
no matter how long and hard
the persistent ocean tries.
Some days I feel like a neurotic pigeon,
pecking out a meagre existence,
surviving on my dumb luck alone
in a world full of cats.
I constantly walk on eggshells,
while all around me the
sleek fat chic pad confidently by,
their lips curled in sneers or snarls.
I’m an endangered species
with no defence except
my novelty value.
Which is no real protection for a neurotic pigeon
whose dumb luck could ruin out at any time,
constantly scrabbling to exist
in a world full of cats.
A pigeon who realises that his problem is
he’s that bloody stupid he’s forgotten he’s got wings.
Many years ago I made a foolish promise,
it consisted of five simple words.
” I will always love you.”
You took my promise and
reminded me of it every day,
until my fragile hope
became iron in your grip.
Five iron words.
Five iron nails you drive slowly
into my heart each day.
Five words you engraved
on every link of the chain
that binds me to you.
there should always come beer.
Bitter hops match
the poet’s temperament,
slowly sipping dark beer
trying to quell darker thoughts.
Glasses are clunked down
Staring into froth,
wondering what will appear.
This poem is the spiritual successor to this little poem that at the time of writing I was unaware would grow into my first book of poetry.
The hardest thing I did this year,
was to stand up at your memorial service
and read one of your poems about nature.
I mean I’m a city boy, made of streets and brick,
reading a poem about the wisdom of trees.
Trees, my only concern with them
is when they drop their leaves
on my lawn.
But now I read your poem,
a poem whose words grew and blossomed
from the earth that nourished them.
Words to me that feel like
pebbles in my mouth.
Afterwards when I get home,
I take the paper with your words and
bury them under the tree,
at the bottom of my garden.
I thought you might appreciate it.
I’m the work spreadsheet that won’t balance,
The disembodied electronic voice in the lift.
The email that invites you to an all day meeting,
The feeling you’re not alone on the night shift.
I’m the missed call on your mobile phone,
The last five percent on your battery.
The text message from someone you don’t know,
The unknown person photobombing your selfie.
I’m the treacherous black ice on the pavement,
The hard rain that drives and stings.
The wind that smashes grit into your eyes,
The unexpected crack of thunder and lightning.
I’m the decaying pigeon corpse on the footpath,
The brick wall that blocks the end of the street
The steaming vomit at the bus stop,
The cracked paving slab that twists your feet.
I’m the traffic accident blocking the motorway,
I’m the stabbing outside Marks and Spencers.
I’m the person throwing themselves in front of the train,
I’m the demon that owns the soul of this city, your urban tormentor.
I focus on….
The dough not the nut,
The beer not the gut,
The joy not the division,
The tunnel not the vision,
The Doctor not the who,
The crazy not the glue,
The under not the exposure,
The game not the over,
The world not the war,
The eye not the sore,
The banana not the split,
The bull not the shit.
Freedom is reading your favourite book until you fall asleep,
without having to stop as censors have chopped out the “harmful bits.”
Freedom is walking wherever your feet fancy taking you,
and not finding your path blocked by someone in uniform.
Freedom is singing along at the top of your voice to a much-loved song,
not having to worry about being reported as antisocial.
Freedom is being able to write whatever you feel,
never worrying about a knock on your door in the dead of night.
Freedom is falling helplessly in love with whoever your heart chooses,
with no fear of being blindfolded and stood against a wall.