Last Summer

From this hill top distance
above the slope of the estate –
there – in thinning October light –
almost aligned to your rooftop –
I see that solitary oak still in leaf –
forever isolated – also cast out –
under which we took our shade
and where my laggard fingers
gripped at your then-bared skin –
slipping below your blue shorts –
flimsy attire suited for sunshine –
but now the cool dew counters
such all out abandonment –
our laid time remains in summer

Finding You

I found value in my love for you
under Aurelius and Epictetus –
so I purchased a one-way ticket
to end my lonely sojourn abroad

I wasn’t tempted in empty deserts –
no fingers took my potent virtue –
no foreign lips encouraged sin –
But I saw mirrors on their pages

and I watched myself translating –
framing – like Christ – opportune times –
I saw my mouth speak in tongues
telling you to taste my poison

Now I unpack my emptied bags
having brought back nothing more –
I left behind heavy possessions
which I no longer wish to share

יין אדום

I don’t believe in God
but I think she hears my prayers

I can only hope to touch her face
if she deigns to ever care

We don’t talk much about politics
it bores her more than sex

We drink red wine and compromise
on what is truly meant

I woke to judgement nightmares
and a terror in my heart –

with an empty wine glass by my bed –
that brittle bodyguard

Loot

So she dug up my soul –
I have a price on my head –
she pulled it from my skull
because of what I said –

Quoting Aristotle –
in accordance with virtue –
she showed me my old failings
as they formed a ragged queue

Jealousy and mistrust
once mine to sculpt with ease –
I’d struck at our confidence –
I’d cut her blood with tears

She placed her prize on scales –
held high by a blinded hand –
and claimed the inside of my head
was hers to now command

The Boxers

There’s now a looseness
of my limbs –
my flesh is tidal-tugged –
my skin’s forgotten fingers –
it doesn’t get their rub

She slugs her way through cities
knocking back – inside pubs
Testing weights and measuring –
she seems to get enough

I spit blood into my bucket –
they don’t say why it drips –
and I wonder if old Jesus
felt the nails as they ripped

Morning is my saviour
telling me that I’m not dead –
I wake her with my stiffness
but she’s not inside my bed

Cracks

I’m spitting out my words
I do not like their taste –
I’ve been thinking too much lately
now I’m fat around my waist

I’ve been seeing the small hours
without sleep’s dead embrace –
I’ve directed thoughts to work
on your holes and your disgrace

I’ll wash my mouth with alcohol
to remove the lines I hate –
whilst the bitter hit of whisky
sets my mind to sleep awake

And if we survive this winter
without a thaw across the lake
then we will skate more fearlessly
since the ice will take our weight

Call Ended

When I touched the button
and killed our discourse
I ripped with emptiness
then filled with remorse

I cannot handle
these telephonic wars –
I start thinking out loud
my unspoken thoughts

I struggle with distances
logged by servers and silos –
those creeping tendrils
gathering ones and zeros

But my ear is pressed
to heed numbers you say –
of your long hours awake
and your days still away

We have lost the buttons
and slow rotary dials –
these phones are devices
which hack our denials

09:45

This is my time of day
with the door wide open –
just clock ticks and the dog
to keep me company

I am untouched by anyone
whilst the alerts and alarms
are switched off – for now –
I do not think about you

I steer my thoughts around
this selfishness of silence –
I would not explain myself
to any visitor to this moment

In this capsule of my remove
I am so strong – now capable
of stopping time and breath
by not thinking about you

Lover

I leave clues in the bathroom –
empty blisters of pills –
Leonard is everywhere
singing of stiffening thrills

Affection is not infecting
the bodies in the beds
and children speak in whispers
because of what is said

All I want from your presence
is engagement and thoughts
instead we stare at screens
and read others’ fingered words

My weight is dropping daily
whilst the world fattens up –
I would pray for forgiveness
but I’d be praying far too much

Box Hedge

I ran my dipped fingers
through unscented hedges
as I tried to leave the rings
of your invisible traces
from our long afternoon
of deep interrogations –
the footpath steepened
to demand some attention
but I flipped my focus
back to that gratification
which I had deposited
on the untrimmed hedges
of the respectable tenants

Digging

It was never about being held
until it stopped
and then my redrafted scenes
were all that remained

The unbalanced intimacies
of being in love
were ours to upset –
to greedily grab and pull at

until their weight combined
and collapsed
without a bed or shelter –
under the spire we stood naked

and blushed at foolishness –
or so it appeared –
because the mass of it all
was too much for us to bear

I pass through the graveyard
where our bench was set
and still cannot read
those upright names.

Pompey Love

Always third in line –
never really intended
such was my birth –
I am long disinherited

Time is our slipway –
greased for each build
It is a steep incline
for those low on love’s skills

Champagne in ribbons
burst on the bow
and then a spunked wave
to please the crowd

‘How long will it float?’
is not to be whispered –
‘Don’t curse the crew
an’ all who sail on er’

Their shouldered terrace –
my parents’ first home
still waiting to slip
into the port’s lapped foam

Across that hinterland
a tide of just-weds –
the wives of submariners –
a choice none understood

One night of holding
before his boat steamed –
it was sweated and lugged
til he heard her scream

The rude gulls returned
when ships broke the Atlantic –
they pull from tipped bins
a seamen’s tossed prophylactic.

Inner

The intimacy of it
has been shelved –
I use the phrase
side-lined as well

The heat reduced
is also true –
I woke to the shunt
of a drunkard’s spew

A four AM throw up
of booze-necked shit –
the uniformed kids
will side step it

These hours are mine
before any one else –
No opened eyes
in my unslept house

Dents

Hide me away
with a tumble of words
and do not release
the briefest of hugs

Under thickening armour
that won’t be removed
you wear that breastplate
of hardening blood

And I picked the wound –
pulled back half scabs
which makes you flinch
at this offer of love

The slice across us
is deepest when drawn
by your quick furled edge
of blunted retorts.

GMT

I used to reset my watch
when flying over la Manche
An engineered engagement
of small clicks and twists –
spinning hours from the east
to Greenwich Mean Time

Our first rented house
was about a hundred yards
from that scientific mark
which cut a line through
my old school atlas
of blushed exaggerations
and empirical remains

This trip was a reset trick
of handheld smart devices
which knew the differences
and needed no fingernails
to lift the watch’s crown
and turn back lost time

Distances

We are existing on two shifting continents
still being dragged apart by the slow forces
of nature – her spiteful ways have set us asunder
through more than time differences and flights

This borrowed bed is without the weighted duvet
which you may have reclaimed in my absence –
I sleep under a single sheet and the turning fan –
I am woken on work days by tipping trucks

I am here to consider my place in the world
with the set distance fixed like a short sentence
from which I will be released – but still without
any solution to deal with my mounting crimes

A long call brings neither of us new insights –
only the confirmation that the future is foul
and my recent behaviour is another indicator
of everything that is wrong on our edged shores

I shall return weighted down by foreign gifts
to home soil – I will not step well across that space
which we cannot pull back together –
because the landmass drift still exists

Reader

If you wrote poetry
I would read it
because I need
to know more
But my typed words
are lost to you –
the one person
who should consume
these lines
of half-honest reflection
which are set out
for any browser’s eye
They will not reach
between heights
unless they are clicked
and read

The Shade

There is no word for this foreign heat
but under the dapple-shadow plantation
I find a ten minute retreat from our star

Here I sit and consider my options –
as a bead of sweat rolls from my chest
to track like an insect under my shirt

This is a playground for absent kids
with still swings and slides anchored
between picnic benches on which I rest

I consider my options with no haste –
for now relocated to this middle east
of loud relatives and small children

We are not sheltering in the same land
and I wonder if this half-turned separation
is my way of seeing the other side of the sun

Elicited

I have to measure my responses
and weigh the more foul energies

against those that lift me to you –
a conversion to a way with propriety

I should sacrifice for the lost dead
and keep their spirits at a burnt distance

and so find equilibrium in the overhead
tug and pull of ghosts and lost gods

but not give in to the religious fervour –
the lies of any other life but this one

Baht

That exotic coin
which sits on the sill
has no value here –
a measure of nothing

It has no function
now it is removed
from foreign change
for goods
for food

My recall of the heat
and sweated steps
have an equal value
being worth nothing
unless exchanged

The Winchester Goose

He would pay in cowry shells
and barter for love with time
as they exchanged such currency
the lies they laid made lines

She lay outside the liberty
of the clink and London’s wall
reducing down the value of
his late night wide-net hauls

The orders placed by princes
through their messengers and men
took her eyes from their line
and back to Bankside friends

Luna

‘Slumped’ would be a good description
of my state after the coffees were delivered

I cried as little as I could as we dissected lives
which crossed and recrossed around us –

like those thousand circling aircraft overhead
with thousands again also slumped in the sky

The restaurant was empty enough for tears
and for private speeches about why I cry

I am now the sad old man in this odd kinship

The Delivery

I am driving slowly to your place –
well under the national speed limit
because there is no more rush
to arrive – to park up – to be there –

I am returning with the fourth nail
which a poor blacksmith forged
for a death and his condemnation –
but I cannot deliver it now

I step from the car with less art
because I no longer bear my weight
without a graceless poke of a stick
combined with planned landings

‘The sharpest will pierce his lung’
his feinting mother was told
of those tempered metal pins –
one of which I now hold

Knife Crimes

I had sliced open my thumb
peeling flesh to fish-white bone –
but the unexpected incision
refused to well and bloom

Caesar took over twenty cuts –
and may still have survived –
but the one knife that killed him
stopped his heart – and then his life

I was stabbed by your fingers
and by your loud blunted tongue –
I pressed at my open wounds
to catch the crimson run

Then I raised my whetted blade
to your bared narrow back –
and plunged it so deeply
that your spine was duly snapped

The Wedding Guest

Two contrails cross over Croydon
as a childish whispered kiss
a wedding party walks the aisle
of this train to London Bridge

The bride is dressed all in black
carrying a bunch of flowers
and her rich perfume fills the train
as she necks a bottle of cider

The twenty minute reception
of small talk
of drunken laughs
of the booze flowing as water
to her lips and to her heart