Jetty Song

Her fingers tracing mine
Lily danced me out of the garden
those green eyes brimming lively
with purest abandon
Then barefoot on the boardwalk
her summer dress riding high
she leapt onto the jetty
and gestured to the sky

We let our tanned legs hang below
as we bottomed up the bottle
the air was hot and heavy
the sea around us peaceful
There was lust upon our minds
as a veil upon a bride
the deepest searing truths
politely shot between our eyes

And no man could deny us
loose and open all the time
our hands and fingers; wanderers
tongues locked in a rhyme
By the spit between those kisses
our burning lips were sewn
her dress was barely there
my body carved from stone

With each nail driven into skin
I felt a clapping thunder
the temple tapestry was tearing
as she pierced my thin armour
A melody sung upon her voice
a lyric loudly grows
I’d have gladly turned my back
on all that I held close

We could have traveled every sea
taking turns to lead the way
if only
if only she’d have asked me
if only I’d thought to stay…

Dusk light falling on the harbour
the day became a dream
with toes curled round the boards
she danced me to my feet
in one movement I was shirtless
in another she was naked
a smiling glance was shared
as we leapt with fingers knitted

Our kisses painted salty
lungs burning between breaths
the solution we had longed for
as our bodies coalesced
We swam until our limbs ached
then floated side by side
in the moonlit wideness of her eyes;
another world, I spied

I was so thirsty for the moment
and drank it all too quickly
my mind got blurred and cloudy
my greatest drunken folly
Too naive to know the value
of the treasure in my grip
like sand through careless fingers
I stood and watched it slip

There was water on three sides
and only one path back to land
but somewhere on that journey
I somehow lost her hand
Now, I wonder if she thinks of us
a moment spared for all we shared
does she ever sit upon that jetty
singing of a parallel despair

We could have traveled every sea
wild adventure every day
if only
if only she’d have asked me
if only I’d thought to stay

If only
I’d had the wisdom
to stay…

[2020]

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Return To America

Lit by the distant sun 
in a backyard beer-garden 
overlooking the meadow
my swimming brain spins out
through adventures of the past
forgotten journeys 
by coach, by plane
through unfamiliar landscapes
to the desert 
in California

We rode the Greyhound 
between the sun-drenched cities
your head lay on my lap
and when we could tear 
our eyes from one-another
we’d watch the world pass by
in technicolour, all new

We stayed on Sunset Boulevard
you lay naked on the hotel bed
while I stared hard at maps 
and planned
before turning my gaze to you
we ran down Long Beach
never questioning our love

So, this evening I wonder 
if you will ever 
return to America
will you share those moments
with someone new
can he afford to hire a car
so you don’t have to 
ride the Greyhound
stare out of the window
laughing at the wind farm…

[2006]

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Tan Hill Inn

Teenagers, cycling across the Dales
up country roads in the seventies sun
wheels turning, chests burning
on our way to Tan Hill Inn

Too young to drink then
we’d sit in the garden
catch our breath and if we’re lucky
maybe the northern lights
I’d take photographs
thinking to myself
one day I’ll bring my wife here
one day I’ll bring my children
if I have any
and we’d cycle home

All the energy I had then
all that drive to ride the Pennine Road
on the longest and the shortest days
sit by that fire, dripping dry
seemed there could never be a time
I couldn’t call my friends and ride
up to Tan Hill Inn
skidding home in the snow

I thought it all was endless
it all seemed so endless then

Now my kids are grown
my kids are having their own
there’s no energy left
not in these bones
to cycle up those hills
just to sit
without drinking…

[2017]

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We Were Beautiful

The complication of those earrings
the texture of the paint around your eyes
the sun’s highlights in your hair

The redness of those parting lips
such belief in everything we said
the pristine shape of your nose

Lying on the roof
your head close to my heart
summer blushing the sky
weren’t we beautiful
weren’t we beautiful then

Nothing to fret about
just prolong the passing day
swaying through the city
weren’t we beautiful there

The precision of our jaw-lines
the optimism in our hearts
skidding through that midnight snowfall
spelling out each other’s names
as I caught you in my arms

We were so alive
so in love
so beautiful
at that moment in our lives…

[2018]

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For Jordan

Out driving our first cars at night
snaking the blackness of North East country roads
I’d flick the headlights off
hear the girls scream
then back on and we’d crack up laughing

In our town, there wasn’t much to do
but wander looping streets
haunt the park outside of college
blow house to house, see who was home
or spend it lying in your bedroom laughing

When you and Chris split, he handled it okay
drank too much a week or two and then
got a little down but everything went on
still way too soon for Mike to tell you
so we all sat as friends and laughed

Back then, I couldn’t think of much else but Jenny
but I loved the way you’d say my family name
still hear it ringing from the depths of memory
standing with you in some sticky bar
and you collapsing into Mike laughing

They were gentle times, good times
before we were scattered wide
I don’t think I saw or thought of you that often
twenty years just paced before our eyes
how I hope you kept on laughing

With your man, your son
your life carved out somewhere…

On a Brighton beach, one weekend this summer
Mike was chatting, said ’the cancer took you’
and nothing more to add to that
just taken – that’s all he knew
there on the pebbles, I stood, winded and weeping

Just taken – nothing more to add to that

Jordan, it was laugher, laughter
of you; that will always be my memory
sweet laughter, laughter
and the way you spoke my family name…

[2018]

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Is It Cold Where You Are?

All this talk of cut cords, severed alliances
assuming of an adultness of understanding
a rationing of feeling
where one side metes out their emotions
only experiencing the right and sensible sensations

And so I forget to ask
is it cold, where you are?

All this presumption of absolutes, burned bridges
there being no way to return to stir this into a mess
a wall of arbitrary time, slotted days upon weeks
to hide the vision of what once shone so stellar

And so I forget to ask
is it cold, where you are?

All this forward thinking, predictive dreaming
pushing eyes and minds to see something not yet shown
clawing the edges of a still concealed future
an impatient Christmas morning of wild new opportunity

And so I forget to ask
is it cold, where you are?

Selfishly distracted, by the glowing halo of tomorrow
buoyed by a sense of feeling strong and free
my mind gets wiped, all compassion corrupted
when really I still care
and will wonder about you always

Is it cold, where you are?
and if it is, is there anything I can do?

If it’s cold where you are
is there anything I can do?

[2011]

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Hunger Hill Farm

Darling, where have I been?
I’ve been out driving
I’m driving again
down Summer lanes at night
in the faded light
like I used to
when I was young
back before I knew you
back before all of this, now

I’ve been out driving
where my mind is freed
I can think, but I don’t have to
just keep the car on the road
along I go
the music playing loud
louder than you’d allow
how I so love to hear it
feeling the place and time
like it is an ancient place and time

Where I’ve been is really ‘when’
I’ve been back to where I fell in love
with a life so open wide
with so much opportunity
so much I could have been
and though the car was empty
I swear I could hear my old friends talking there
voices coming from the back seats
and they were laughing
how I’ve missed that sound…

I’ve been out floating
through those streets and villages
beyond the commuter-belt handcuffs
hurtling down a slick-black river of road
sometimes, I stop the car
in the ditch by Hunger Hill Farm
I lie on the metal roof
watching the stars
timeless, unfazed, above me
like we did when we were younger
like when I first met you…

Sometimes, I imagine you’re beside me
but the ‘you’ when I first met you
so free, so open, so in love with everything
and she whispers in my ear
‘All of this is ours
whatever we may want
we may… yet… be…’
and I smile with shining eyes

I’m sure I loved you
I’m sure I loved you then

Then slowly, I drive home
you hound me for where I’ve been
complain about your day
as I open my first beer
imagining I’m still out there, somewhere…

I’ll always be out there
a part of me
will always be out there
somewhere…

[2009]

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