How To Be Alone

Waiting for a friend
sipping tea, sunglasses on
passers-by double and disappear
as reflections in shop windows
everything lit golden
then dimmed behind my lenses
I stir the drink some more

Waiting for a friend
they’re half an hour late now
I barely notice
just watch the people
let my mind wander
the liquid turning in the cup

And it hits me, squarely, there
on the corner by the crossroads
these moments
left to my own devices
find me so contented
thinking, writing, dreaming
drawing, planning, scheming

Have I just mastered the art
of how to be alone
or am I just happy
Maybe…
I’m just truly happy
finally…

[2019]

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The Essay (A Writer’s Discovery)

Nineteen nighty five
Nominally fourteen;
I was sitting in the sports hall
pen in hand
the desks apart
a teacher I didn’t know
patrolled the aisles
The English paper said ‘write a story
include a river
and an allegory’

The clock at the front clicks
thin hands jerk and tick
I spin my pen
study the air vents above me
there’s a dusty shuttlecock
caught up in the pipework
there’s a brown deflated football
sitting on the skylight
I need to start writing…

I wasn’t a reader, then
I knew nothing much of stories
I’d watched a lot of films
I’d heard a lot of pop songs
but I wasn’t a writer

Unimpressed by the aesthetic
the muted light inside the sports hall
I pushed my mind 
out onto the playing fields
down the long road past the waterworks
to the river on the edge of town

And I could see it there
a bend in the channel where
a tree had lost its leaves
a tree was clinging 
to the dry mud of the riverbank
being undercut by the flowing water
being ever exposed by the erosion
being deposed

And I started to write
of the tree being cut and torn
being pulled and weakened
by the hunger of the river
Hanging on with every root
and the river’s endless running

The more I wrote 
the sadder I felt for the tree
the more I wrote
the more the tree’s plight mirrored something I’d seen
the more I wrote the more I saw
my mother’s best friend’s fight with cancer 
revealed before me
The more I wrote the more I saw her face
looking back at me
and the more the story moved me

And the tree succumbed
to the river’s flow
as all things will, eventually

That essay was the first time I wrote something
with any meaning
handed my paper back 
a tear-stain just above my name
That was the first time I wrote something
and I haven’t stopped since…

[2020]

Thanks for reading.

Photo credit: http://www.midforkrocks.com/post/201611-if-a-tree-falls-in-a-river/

Listen to my poems on Soundcloud
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