Hand in hand you eagerly led me to
love’s cliff edge.
Where I instantly fell for you…
Or was I pushed?
It’s not just you
There are many who can help.
No one is alone.
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I was never really keen about science at school,
until that day my mate on an idiotic dare
ate some copper sulphate and puked blue bile.
Briefly my interest in science grew,
until I discovered that to be a good scientist,
you also really needed to be good at mathematics.
I was never really keen on poetry at school,
until that day to impress a girl I wrote a poem
and was made to read it out to the whole class.
Briefly my interest in poetry grew,
until my friends that lunchtime,
kicked the sense back into me.
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.
He was an absolutely avid collector
of the lost toys of his childhood he remembered.
Filling his cupboard and attic with his finds.
She was a teacher who loved to impart
the songs of the Beatles she knew by heart.
Singing lustily in traffic jams to pass her time.
He was smitten by her singing,
She adored the fact he was a nostalgia geek.
But though they passed on the stairs each day at work,
neither ever found the nerve to catch the others eye and speak.
She will break your heart using just an old guitar
Bared tattooed arms display her story in scars.
Fixing the audience with her passionate stare
A dark shadow under the spotlight’s glare.
She’s Shirley Manson, Brix, Joan,
Kim Deal, Kristin Hersch and Nina Simone.
She’s Courtney when she loved heroin and Kurt,
Plus Tori trapped in a quirky world of hurt.
She’s the lipstick on a cigarette stub,
No one knows how she survived her invite to the 27 club.
She’s a fallen angel who chain sawed off her wings,
Shining like a dying star when she sings.
There’s unanswered texts on a phone
A discarded present under the TV
A drained bottle of vodka
Bruises inflicted where the family can’t see.
There’s an engagement ring dropped on the carpet
Torn up wedding invites on the floor.
Spilled tablets around the sink
No answer to urgent knocks at the door.
There’s an unopened Valentine’s card on the doormat
Tear stains on Sunday best clothes.
A body sprawled on the floor
A pale lifeless hand on a red rose.
Last year I was lucky enough to be involved in a project at the New Art Gallery in Walsall where a group of us wrote poems based on some of the pictures in their permanent collection. Here’s one of the poems I wrote based on the above painting by Frank Holl entitled “Ordered to the Front.”
The morning dispatch shook the soldiers like cannon fire
The regiment is ordered to the front it calmly said.
So despite the earliness of the hour
Sleep was quickly swept aside
As the well-oiled military machine slowly came to life.
Uniforms were quickly pulled from chests
Bearskins removed from cupboard tops.
Wives hush crying babies while quickly dressing them
Daughters wrap whatever food is in the pantry.
Before all join the slow column to the station.
As young soldiers trade quips
Where the clock slowly counts down to departure
Casual bravado hiding nerves.
A shaking hand adjusts a hastily dressed uniform
Or tightens a rifle strap.
Unsure what is worse, the order to the front
Or a surprise inspection from a grizzled sergeant.
The older Men clasp a hand with their silent wife
While holding their rifle tight
Unwilling to let go of either.
Children instinctively know to be quiet.
Remembering their friends, who also saw their fathers off
But never saw them return.
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.