I am pleased to say my first collection of illustrated poems is now available to buy worldwide on Kindle for the ridiculously low price of £1.49 or whatever local currency you have spare – I kept it as low as possible so Bezos wouldn’t make millions out of me! Enjoy! Here’s the link or just search ‘Leaving Brighton’ on Amazon:
she stood where the waves turned to leave
a smiling line of debris on the shore
he looked back over his shoulder
a line of grey buildings washed away
when she waved the sea came in
when he waved back the sea went out
somewhere very deep inside
they were both crying
tired winds whisper through the shutters
breathing stories into the dust above the fireplace
where once hot embers warmed your toes
now only ash and fallen plaster lie in remembrance
the mottled mirror in its gilt frame has long since gone
the furniture too – auctioned off and wheeled out
on sack trolleys borrowed from the stables
themselves now ravaged by worm and rust
left behind when all had fled this crumbling pile
your white dress and pale skin stalking the corridors
ghostly and forlorn on floorboards unfit to bear
the weight of words that tumble from these walls
I too am lost as I wander from room to room
doors creaking to the push of my hand
filtered sunlight finding the motes of memories
that float in limbo in time’s absence
a bell far off rings and in my mind I scurry off
down staircases to kitchen and scullery
the servant boy who idolised the Mademoiselle
who dreamt of running away with his belle
only to have found himself an old man selling
tomatoes and tales under the lime tree in the square
searching every young woman’s eyes in hope
that one day, maybe, she would return for him
i used to walk on pebbles in bare feet
high as the moon on Schlitz and pain killers
the cigarette smoke spiralling out of control
like the helter skelter on the edge of the pier
that appeared to be toppling into the sea
or was that me teetering on the edge of my own insanity?
you buried me there
amongst the seashells & cigarette butts
a cairn of pebbles piled upon my chest
that made for heavy breathing
a labour of love and lust & longing
for a morning that would bring us back to earth
with a crash and burn and a song and dance
a-holding hands we’d go
inside every box sleeping secrets lie a letter from a long lost love to open with a sigh a lock of golden sunlight hair curled around a question why? the fingerprint on a forbidden hint an envelope to pry but who owns the keeper keys to open up and spy?
2 years ago today I was visiting the Ozark Cultural Center bathhouse in Hot Springs, Arkansas and these metal lockers grabbed my attention.
She asked me if I was happy.
I don’t know, I replied, are you?
She paused and thought for a while before saying,
I think there have been periods of happiness but on the whole, no not really.
We were sat on the terrace of a bistro we used to frequent.
How many years, I asked, thirty-four, thirty-five?
We tried to work it out and settled on thirty-four.
Half a lifetime, almost.
A seagull strolled along the iron balustrade,
stopped and squirted a stream of white crap over the side.
It landed with a slap on the black tidal mud below.
This unsociable act appeared to give the seagull great pleasure.
Tilting its head backwards it squawked at the sky as if to declare
‘this is my patch now’ before flying off and forgetting,
circling away towards the new white footbridge to alight and no doubt
eject its fishy crap once more like an incontinent vandal.
A breeze blew across the line of low tide water below the houseboats.
It caused little ripples to fan out in all directions
all of which were unsure which way to run.
I looked at the side of her face. Laughter and life outlined.
The bone structure was less defined now under her fifty year old flesh.
Like myself, I noted a few extra pounds here and there.
Beneath her skin a slight translucence glowed,
a bit like an underwater river. I found it strangely alluring
but it also made me feel like I was drowning. Lost at sea.
I crossed my legs and leant forward and she turned and smiled
as if having read my thoughts but more likely a nervous reaction
to the break in conversation.
Do you remember, up on the hills? she asked,
turning to look southwards. The biplane had circled overhead
whilst down below we had made love in the wheat field
surrounded by poppies. How could I forget.
I went to get more drinks and when I returned
she was standing by the iron balustrade,
her dark hair across her shoulders, her head turned away.
In contemplation of the ebbing tide, perhaps.
I fought the temptation to stand close behind her,
to feel her body close to mine, one last time.
When she turned, her face revealed the single line
that a teardrop makes as it trickles down a woman’s cheek.
Why did you come back? she said suddenly.
Her words hit me like a gust of wind through a propeller.
I looked away and up the river, steadying my thoughts.
I’m sorry, was all I could think of in reply. And I was.
You used to call me your Petite Fleur, she said.
I’d forgotten that. A bit embarrassing really.
I had been her first and she, mine.
I had plucked the petals from my little flower
one by one, until the call had come and I was gone.
I watched her fly away in her poppy print dress.
A flock of seagulls battled with a biplane high in the sky
and I knew then that this war was finally over.
I waited in that room for you to return
reading between the lines on your face
on the photos taken in a cramped booth
in the amusement arcade on the pier
burning black and white in my hands
just a couple of crumpled square inches
was all I had left and it didn’t feel right
oh well, there was still sand in my socks
and the stain of ketchup from the chips
on the t-shirt bought specially for the day
the taste of salt kept recurring on my lips
like waves crashing on the pebbled shore
as the sun set over the blurred horizon
and the gulls settled down for the night