Weekly Poem #198

Disposable

 

Somewhere in a storage closet, in a corner swept smooth with passing shadows,

Underneath a few ripped coats and ragged rucksacks, there’s a plastic box,

A box filled with disposable cameras, stacked five-high and further across.

Accumulating for decades, a slow, monotonous Tetris game, no kill screen.

Films nestled deep in the carapaces, never developed, always dormant,

Brimming with memories from the world over, spirits, sunsets and ghosts.

The moon hanging gigantic over a Scottish loch, a clear sky across a mountain range,

A blurry establishing shot of a party at a flat in Lambeth, wreathed in smoke,

A family walk through a busy market in Istanbul, a family dog dashing through a field.

A candid shot of a grandfather, unready to pose enough to mask a solemn face,

Or a tender moment between lovers, untarnished by the need to face a grin forwards.

It’s all there, an emotional archive, an amalgam of memories since split and scattered,

Entombed in a translucent sarcophagus, but still stubbornly clinging to life, still with us.

Never pasted across a web page to farm for approval or sink into obscurity,

Never poured over by a sleep deprived mind mining memories and wondering when they’ll be that happy again,

Never tagged, tethered and tarnished by the need to prove something to the silent crowd.

Trees fall soundlessly in the woods, and unseen photographs steal beautiful secrets away,

They sit curled like woodlice in their cases, and spark in the minds of their long-gone subjects.

There’s magic woven into that film, there’s a world remembered, but unknown.

The room darkens, the sky swings over, and the box stays shut. In the darkness, the box stays shut.

Weekly Poem #174

Anti-Matter

 

Our negative charge is of our own making,

Cloistered in dusted shells deep inside,

Waiting for the brain to rattle them loose

And send them shattering against the skull.

A day spent pondering on your worth,

An innocent word from a friend, twisted, corrupted,

Or a short, excruciating stretch of radio silence.

It’s in all of us, dying, dormant or dominant,

That feeling that you don’t really matter,

Or worse, that you don’t deserve to matter;

That your friends would drop you if you struggled,

Your loved ones are ever scanning for the exit,

And your ambitions will crumble in your grasp.

It paints a dark shade across your sky,

It taints the world you create each day on waking,

And it manifests monstrously in dreams.

It can’t be silenced with any kind of logic,

It spreads out into taunting, taxing hypotheses,

Tickling mercilessly between your ribs

And telling you that you deserve to be alone.

A world, visible through reality’s translucent film,

Seeming like the slightest rip will set it loose,

And in one moment all your joys will morph,

Becoming torments, becoming your undoing.

Fighting it is wearisome, it drains and syphons you,

Makes you want to crawl between the sheets

And simply cease, to be spared this looming pain,

But those around you all face their own struggles,

They fight their own battles every day, as you do,

Some are winning, others are losing, but they fight on,

And they love you, oh how they love you.

For however much you might try to think you matter to people,

You matter so much more, and you’ll never truly know,

That spark of affection you use to keep going,

The one they gave you, well you gave it to them.

You might not have noticed, or intended to,

But you’re someone else’s reason to get up in the morning,

They might have even told you that, and you blocked it out,

Only to twist and shake when they chided you,

Ran out of patience with you, or didn’t have time for you.

Love isn’t about constant affirmation, or reassurance.

Someone could tell you they loved you 10,000 times,

And it wouldn’t be any more true on the last than the first,

So you can surrender to anti-matter, sit in aguish

And convince yourself that it’s all just an act,

Or you can accept that you are surrounded by love,

A heavy, tangible love beyond your comprehension,

And know that you’ll never really understand it,

And realise just how beautiful that notion is.

Weekly Poem #147

2am Smoking Area Warfare

 

I heard you let that one slip,

Caught a gleam from the sheen

Of the spit across your top lip.

You’re in your worst phase

Of your beer-battered haze

Spewing blaze about low pay,

Theresa May and the Gaza Strip.

I can see you’ve got a full clip,

You want to pull the hammer back

And let rip, but face it, you look a dick.

There’s no height on your pedestal,

You’re just to spaced out to see your feet

Because your head is full.

Full to the brim with ideas that are soaked in gin,

So you send them out until you’re pale of skin

And fumbling through your pockets for the ventolin.

Nothing good happens after Big Ben shouts 2am,

Hell, nothing good ever happened in a Vodka Revs smoking den.

You were fine when your thoughts were being drowned out by Whiz Khalifa,

But out here in the cold your tongue’s gurgling like a broken heater,

Or badly tuned radio,

How many times do I have to suggest that we go?

We both know that you came here to forget,

Your phone’s at home on silent

And you just had your first cigarette,

First one since 2013, you said it was an accident

So you went ahead and had another 19.

In fact, make that 20,

That’ll teach me to turn around while your hands were empty.

No, I’m not going back inside to help you talk to girls!

Every time you stop to belch I think you’re going to crouch and curl,

I brought you out here because it’s somewhere we can talk

But you’re shaking like a turbo-charged tuning fork.

So I drop a passing mention about the kebab shop across the street

And see a twinkle sprinkle across your pupils, and a quiver in your feet,

Oh, didn’t you hear? They changed the closing time to half 2

Yeah, I know it’s weird, but if you drink any more they won’t serve you.

If we get inside all I’ll have to do is pretend that I’m not sober,

And try to endure the smell of donner without my innards rolling over.

A polystyrene tray in hand, a short climb out of wonderland

And then perhaps we can tie off this sorry strand,

And maybe, you can take some time to expand.

It’s killing you, isn’t it? Help me to understand.

Weekly Poem #77

Wistful Thinking

 

Wear the same coat enough times and it begins to sag,

It hardens like a fossil with frayed cuffs and faded tags.

Make the same mistake enough times and the sting goes away,

But a new kind of longing slips in and teaches a different pain.

You trundle through life, convinced you have things worked out,

But your shadows and footsteps are ever saturated with doubt.

A rouge’s line of ‘almosts’, the ones that you could have let in,

Instead they shuffle into memory; a cold, tragic sin.

You pick up, carry on and try your best to be harder;

You can walk on alone without anyone to help carry you farther.

One day though, it’ll hit you so hard that you’ll break at the seams

As you realise that you never really learnt what love means.

Weekly Poem #48

Penultimate

 

The final night was a write off; I’d have to spend it in hibernation.

No food or drink past eleven, they said.

Seemed like critical information.

So the night before the night before I hurled myself into the evening.

Took the Victoria line from Seven Sisters

With my first beer, quietly teething.

At Kings Cross I changed and took the Northern up to Camden.

I homed in on pregnant weekend pulses

And found some understanding.

Sparingly, I tucked my last sliver of crystals under my lips

And then smiled my way through flickering lights,

Sweat and gyrating hips.

Some deeper longing burned inside to tell my touching story.

But I clenched my jaw, bit my tongue

And claimed to be hunky-dory.

Before long I’d laughed and hugged my way into a familiar social group.

Forging deep friendships with kindly strangers

That would expire like a glass shoe.

We carried on until 5am and then struggled out into the dawn

Past headlight solar flares in morning mist

And light glimmering from modest lawns.

At a house party in harmonious Gospel Oak, a pretty girl came and beckoned.

I guided her in for kiss with one hand

And pushed her back with the second.

Morning became midday became afternoon and I felt the decay of my reprieve.

I felt the tugging ties of sterile promises

And I didn’t want to leave.

I don’t want to leave.

Weekly Poem #5

Lightning Field

 

Slight incline; roll up to the lights, neutral, first.

Carve a dancing crack of light past weary eyes, strange friends.

Twenty gone and ten to go, proceed with the countdown,

Paved grey now onyx with a rainy sheen, light touches.

Right signal flickers monotonous but for the sudden crack.

 

The rooks tear apart in the sky like a sheet to reveal green ranges.

Shady columns of small, thick trees it seems but then flash.

Not trees but friends, older than the strange, unmoving.

Eyes don’t peek and fingers don’t flinch, then flash.

The cackling claw rips one from the earth, hurled scarce.

 

What hatred? What trick? To go around again?

Bolts whip down and familiar famine grows,

Scorched jet patches, lonely dead shadows, unfilled.

These phantoms walked backwards once but then they stood,

Now torn from the sky by synaptic digits, out of minds.

 

Waking up, no more club drug terror-scapes.

No more wistful torment, so forced, so forced.

A flood in the interim, or, no, this expanse is natural.

Correction not possible, perhaps, not warranted.

Strange friends wave no hands, old shades flicker, then flash.

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