Some of the poems on this page have been ‘re-mixed from my slim volume of poems “Ready to Ignite”.
Artwork on this page by Suzy Angus and Juliet Adele.
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Brush strokes for pleasure
(A final plunder of ‘Ready to Ignite’ )
The lover in my Bed (revised)
The moon looks down like an orphaned balloon.
New lovers exchange tongues passed the scent of midnight,
their limbs arched and coiled to the hammer beat.
In deep, die cast, swimming in the splendour of a theatrical dawn,
while the world erupts like the surface of Io.
The dignified moon, in all its ochreous modesty, pulled upon the tide.
Their love, burned out by a killer sky,
left scratching an itch that is flesh,
with memories to scatter like autumn coat tails. Once scratched and scattered,
a fresh canvass. Brush strokes for pleasure not immortality.
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There are moments
There are moments
inside my head
when voices rise like an angry mob,
singing, chanting straining like an underdog to be heard.
No mirror to perform in, only a rented set;
a blank wall of smoke stained magnolia, a broken plate, a coffee stain.
blasting them with my dedicated eyes.
Choked and ravaged by the weariness of sleepless nights.
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Write (2013 remix, parts 1, 2 and 3)
I am a writer. I can taste my words when all goes well, slipping down my throat like literary oysters fresh from the shell, or choke on the liquor that feeds me and feel my ink stained tongue dry up and swell. I am a writer.
I am independent, fast moving, energetic, word fuelled, internet dependent, cut to the chase… kind of writer.
I am lovingly crafted, hard edged, tender, gritty, poignant, the pen is mightier than the sword, let language fill my void… kind of writer.
I am a gloomy obsessive, flirting with depression, disparate, choking on the fumes, licking my wounds… kind of writer.
I am a suicide note, hands stuffed in the pockets of my coat, walking the rain soaked streets, fish out of water… kind of writer.
I am pay per view, pay you pack, paper over the cracks…paperback writer.
I write for the fun, I write for the joy. I write for the critical acclaim, the kudos, the backslapping artificiality and the self-congratulatory smugness of bookerdom and whitbreadville and the opportunity to thank my mother for the sperm that egged me on.
Let me say here and now ‘cos I’ve been doing this for twenty years, the words on the page are no sacred cow, I give you my assurance by word of mouth, in other words…
I’m a borrower, a plagiarist, a word thief; my words, your words, his words, her words, anything to make you believe words.
I can toss you a line fresh from the page, a starter menu of linguistic delight; taste the blood spots in the sand, the smoking chamber and the feisty dame, the starched crinoline and the secret past, the red dust bowl and the blackbird pecking at the scarecrows eyes.
I am a conduit, i conned you into it. Close your eyes while I take a casual stroll in your head, to a small wood, fragrant with wild flowers, bluebell, red campion and celondine. I drop a pebble into your stillness and you are holding a poisoned chalice, a vein slapping, flame to the spoon black hole of malice.
I am a grip you by the balls , squeeze you tight, tender is the night, suck you in ’til the morning light… kind of writer.
Simplistic, intrinsic, tongue in cheek, tongue in your cheek… kind of writer.
I am on the verge, veracious, verbose, voracious, vindicated by a vapour trail of truth, obsessed with the letter ‘v’… kind of writer.
A pithy, salivating blank wall with nothing to scream at, impotent, stumped for words… kind of writer.
I am in fashion, I am unfashionable. I will fashion you an ending. My ending. Your ending. any ending you like… kind of writer. a please call me I need the work… kind of writer.
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Words i dust from my coat/Anxiety clock (2004)
The tightness in my throat,
words i dust from my coat,
an ocean of images that keep me afloat.
The insight, the impact, the light and the shade,
the bitter recriminations when inspiration fades.
the difference between the handle and the blade.
where were you when I was counting the seconds?
head pounding to the beat of my anxiety clock.
don’t you know that seconds turn to minutes,
minutes to hours, hours to days,
and words turn to beasts of burden
with sentences to slay.
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I must confess (revised)
I must confess this a test,
an acid test of my fractured ego,
peripatetic or worse;
down in the gutter chasing the scene of a crime,
guilty/not guilty… I’ve done my bit.
My words resonate in time to a good rhythm.
Curves to die for and an eye..oh that eye for colour –
a shot – a cameo – a drama.
Playful fingers stroke, caress, soothe creases, unpick the thread,
pick up pieces, fuck with your head.
Why? Why in this age of social interaction,
of media scrutiny where pixels out-perform poets and players,
where post modern wordsmiths shtick is dismissed with a flick of a discarded cigarette,
to become a stubbed out entity, filtered as if culpable.
Why is my pixelated memory erased from your history.
I must confess I don’t why.
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The subject of the following two poems is a kiss. The first represents the beauty and joy of committing to one another and is an extract from Torch Song written for and performed at my friends Lucy and Carlo’s wedding. The second poem is the antidote, the pain of a remembered kiss when love is lost.
Artwork ‘Kiss’ by Juliet Adele (which i’m proud to say I own)
Torch Song (2011)
Seal the extravagant promise you made today,
a kiss for life, your names writ large
in a spire of grey rising from a dancing flame,
your torch song.
Carry it with you for mile upon mile,
share it with all you know.
Lay it down on a warm beach at night,
see bonfire sparks caress the alluring stars.
Speak it with words that resonate
like lovers naked footprints by the water’s edge.
In her heart there sits a ruinous pain,
restless like a naked tree in wintertime,
Impatient branches tap like ghosts at her window,
His perfect weight, perfect no more.
She kisses Christ in silver, wrapped around her neck,
like kissing the hot relentless stench of history.
The crimson stain of communion wine
like a scarlet letter sewed
on the breast of her snow coloured wedding dress.
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The following poem is a remix of two poems ‘Wrecked’ and ‘Hitting a brick wall’.
The wonderful artwork by Suzy Angus accompanies my words.
Wrecked/Hitting a brick wall (2004 remix)
Rocks like giant sugar cubes.
A million years formation.
An obelisk of polished slate
and the waves stampeding through.
Rock pools lost in murky salt water,
a premonition, a killer sky.
Storm clouds spit out tongues of light,
sifting through my skin and bones.
Wreck. Wrecked, twisted metal, salted timber,
hold below the shifting sands.
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The following poem is based on an episode on my travels in Europe last year. Divided in two, ‘Night Train to Rome’ mixes fiction and fact and a reminder to me that being an incurable romantic requires a sharp dose of reality every now and then.
Night Train to Rome (parts 1 and 2, 2012)
Evening heat sweltering and still,
sinfully clings to skin and clothes.
Avoiding contact with beggars and their sleep induced babies,
Eyes fixed on the chattering departure board, for the…
Night Train to Rome (part 1)
I have a drama playing in my head on the night train to Rome,
of Marlene Dietrich and spies in pursuit,
in the chaos of post war monochrome France.
She is on the run, a hotel receptionist with cabaret credentials,
no country to speak of and looking for answers.
Pulling out of Paris Bercy the metal beast snorts and groans, exhaling steam,
gathering itself for the charge.
In the fading light of a rattling corridor we meet,
her tousled hair and smoldering eyes emerge from the shadow,
the exotic features of her face half shaded by the sloping brim of her fedora.
Her mouth whispered softly in my ear,
she slipped a note in my pocket.
A list of names?, a message to decode?
She drew me in close with the allure of her accent and the perfume
from her white camellia nestled in a buttonhole.
she stroked the luxury of her mink collared coat.
We shared a cigarette after post war monochrome sex
and while she slept I made her a promise.
The promise of an Englishman abroad.
We played the role of newly weds when authorities called,
with their Napoleon complexes and know it all looks.
But I knew when morning arrived she’d be gone.
She took everything, leaving only my pocketed note, signed F for fake.
Night train to Rome (part 2)
My vignette of post war zeitgeist goes up in smoke
and I’m stuck in this 4 bed couchette for hour on hour
with a sinister Serb who sneers and snarls.
Craving nicotine, he plays with the lighter he keeps tucked in his sock.
Above me two amorous Algerians with wandering fingers
who fill the cabin with their sex smells and talk.
We are joined by a stowaway who curls up in the bedding.
Young and nervous with hardly a shave to his name.
He is rumbled in Dijon, no passport no money, thrown to the night with nothing to gain.
At the Italian border the doors burst open,
the Algerians are strip searched and subject to questions.
Papers are turned out of zip bags and pockets
and all they are left with is hurt in their eyes.
Yes all they are left with is hurt in their eyes.
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The following two poem are from my first collection Ready to Ignite published in 2004 and have been ever so slightly revised. Once again the wonderful artwork is courtesy of Suzy Angus.
I lost my heart in the continental cafe (2002 revised)
I lost my heart in the continental cafe,
It drifted on the smoke,
through vents, inhaled among the talk.
Your eyes held me spellbound,
I was seduced by the redness of your mouth.
With a deftness that makes men envious, your extensile hand
crashed through my skin,
invaded as if paper tissue thin.
I picked at my Greek salad,
sucked the flesh from an olive stone.
Pitted against you, what chance had I,
nervously sipping at my de-caff latte.
You plucked with your hand, aortic snap,
out it slid through the hole you created,
cupped in your blood soaked palm.
I put a finger to my temple
and stared into your watchful eyes.
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Sylvia: in memory of Sylvia Plath (2004 revised)
In a room for a year with his smell,
words of betrayal still ringing,
you and your fiery Cambridge lover.
The churlish sour grin of the selfish poet,
the joyous positive, the despairing negative,
where does this ruthless force come from?
Ripping and shredding words, shaping language into prizes,
the bloody cotton sheets and the crying child.
Light for him, shade for you.
The pain of separation and the dying you do so well.
What was the tipping point?
A sleeping child, an open door. the absence of pain
or an edge that proved too inviting.