The Winning Hand

In the dimming garden
beneath the belt of Venus
fingers grip a bottle
a nightcap alone

Finally, I belong
finally, I belong to someone
how I’ve run from this
for so long

Now, nothing makes me happier
nothing makes me feel more sure
of anything
than knowing that you’re waiting

There were so many jokers
in the deck
the two of hearts, too many cards
and still dealing, still dealing

The night air’s tinged by a new chill
September’s signature
autographing my bare arms
but I barely feel it

Let me stay by your side
through winter months
and country walks
through rain and sleet
and fog

I used to hold nothing in my hand
look at the empty shape it made
wondering if there was something missing
something
that should have belonged
only me
I should have belonged
to something
to you

I sit down into the wicker chair
look across the valley below
the sky is closing in the distance
darkness gloves the globe again

How could I
even for a moment
have doubted
I held the winning hand
all this time

How could I
even for a second
doubt that
I held the winning hand
all along…

[2019]

Restless

When normally I’d run
why do I cling to this one?

I have money, I have time
but I have no partner in crime

I’ve been a lonely sight these past few weeks
fleeting glimpses of my footsteps on windy streets
indentations in riverbanks
ink-stains on flower beds

If I keep my pen on the paper
this nib keeps bleeding out blue desire

A rational mind gets cross-wired sometimes
now, to what should I aspire?

O, I have money, I have time
I have smiles, I have wine
but still no partner in crime

When normally I’d run
why do I cling to this one?

[2010]

Between A Blue Night and Dawn

Two lovers traveling
two lovers
meeting in the East

Their affair
was letters inked
and photographs
Now here embodied
will they know what to do?

She wakes him one morning, saying
‘let’s take a boat to an island
we’ll rise above the Bangkok smog’

Bike beneath them spluttering
her arms knitted around him
they race from bay to beach
chasing the burning sun
with hair wet and smiles wide

Their shoulders lapped by waves
she was beautiful
sitting on his knee
they felt married, waist deep
straw hats wilting in the brine

He thought ‘I could hold you here forever
I would kiss you
until the stars pepper the sky’

Between the music
from the bars off in the distance
and the love
dripping warmly from her words
a song composes itself over the ocean

Orion’s Belt above them
sand dancing between their toes
they rest upon the rocks
and she knows that she could love him
he wishes this night would never end
it’s one chance in their lifetimes
between a blue night and dawn

In a stilted shack on sand
her black hair spreads
like ink across the bed
longing dialling up their eyes
as the air between them boils
bodies’ voices blending

Two lovers traveling
two lovers don’t know if they’ll meet again
this could so easily have been
the love of their lifetimes

This could so easily have been
yet it existed only
between a blue night and dawn…

[2019]

Books of Blake

You saw me, even then
you knew me
back when no one saw me
I kept no one around
who might know me
I, too, was in my infancy
twenty-something
and far from knowing much
in any real way at all

Still, somehow, you found me
brought books of Blake
to the shop we worked
we’d sit and read together
on the varnished wooden counter
your summer dress
hanging from you like a sail
we’d admire the crazed paintings
taste those verses on our tongues

Books of Blake we stood before
and poured our minds all over
you said I ‘didn’t know how to do what I was doing’
I ‘didn’t know how to love who I was loving’
the cheek of it!
the incisiveness…

And you’d tell me
of the bottle of wine you drank
in the bath, the night before
as the water grew cold around you
cleverly planting images
that I’ve not shaken to this day
(all these years on)

You were a lush and tranquil island
in the sea of my stupidity
you were the first mind
I truly connected with

And I still rue the day
you slipped through my fingers
growing cold around me
then gone forever…

[2020]

Tourist Trap

Holidaying as a teenager
back when time moved slower
and thoughts were many
I’d cruise the gift shops
reviewing tacky souvenirs
This used to be a fishing village
now it’s a tourist trap

And picking up a handmade bear
with wonky mouth and vacant stare
big button eyes and blood red lips
I’d wonder of its maker, its creator
someone dreamed
this bear into the world
someone thought this expression
made it look cute

Was it modeled on a relative
was it ripped-off from some other toy
was its designer trying
to give a child some joy
or only focused on the ringing
of cash registers
and paying the bills
Did they live locally
or somewhere overseas?

Looking at the toy
I’d be overtaken with a sadness
that someone tried and someone cared
if only for a moment
in their little lives

I’d set it back
and wonder
‘will this still be here
on the same shelf
next year?’

[2020]

Lend Me Your Light

Friend, we drink together
talking at a wedding
lit blue and gold
familiar faces dance around us

Friend, secretly, I wonder
if you were to open up your essence
lift a pen to kiss the paper
to vent your heart aloud

Friend, I long to know
what your poetry would be
if you chose to write

Which desires peskily linger
at the edges of your furrowed mind
which old flames still burn a fire
which hidden wounds you’d dare parade
what is the meter
and the rhythm of those unspoken secrets

What ribbon would you choose
to decorate the mundane
Which words would you feverishly grasp towards
what profound truths
do your fingertips quietly trace
which wisdoms guide you along your way
what strength of light shines inside of you
and what damage might you do
to leave us reeling

And I don’t say it
but every time we meet, I think it
Write!
right out loud
for me
for you
splash your heart across the page
in every shade
lend me your light
if but for a moment

Spill your soul for all to see
Friend, I love you, and will always wonder
what your poetry would be
if you’d set it free…

[2020]

The Jagged Edge of Love

This must be my longest night
moon laying its heavy light right down
this room swims in all the gossiping
conversations; always imagined and impossible

This must be my longest night
fading echoes of all we did ring ‘round
there’s no sleep to be had, just counting stars
and scenes replaying; on the ceiling’s cinema

We found the jagged edge of love
it cut right across my heaving chest
as its hand slipped back into the mist…

We skirted the boundary of almost love
close enough to feel its gravity
near enough to have it hurt me;
whipped and cowed by its proximity

We found the jagged edge of love
it burned poker-hot across my palms
as it slipped from reach…

This must be my longest night
from the distant black above
comes understanding
slow and sweaty, but it fills me resolutely
finally calmed; released by this epiphany;

I wanted you
and, for a moment there, you wanted me too
but was it really me at all
or just the softly-stroking hand
of my words upon your ego

And did I ever want you
because of who you were
or how you made me feel about myself
in love with what I saw
when I was the peacock strutting in front of you?

This has been my longest night
tired eyes prodded by a heavy moon
with its gravities and chattering
and the echo of your laughter, before you disappeared
when all I could see
was the mirror you were to my vanity…

[2015]