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…

30 Steps [with audio]

The city is drenched in gold tonight
the sea is wrapped in silver, like my temples
my hands feel older now than ever
but my mind is so much surer
than back when I was younger

I’ve run from love when it got tough
my hair was bleached in boiling light
I helped as many people as I could
my thoughts were darkened in the wilderness
felt alone in crowds of smiling happiness
I learned to speak, to see, to feel this reality

I’ve understood, been understood
I’ve compromised, been compromised
I’ve judged, been judged
Fairly, unfairly

There has been a heaviness in my limbs at times
and there was a divine light that shone
from somewhere I never knew could be in me
I wronged and cheated with a pathological absence of care
which boomeranged around and sunk me in the end
it’s rough to open your consciousness to reality

Siblings, parents; undulating friendships
the push, the pull of love and life
in trying to align the poles in me
I was blind, but thought I was seeing
I was blank, but thought I was saying something
the painted stones I carved, I threw them out to sea

I’ve deceived, been deceived
I’ve contradicted, been contradicted
I’ve believed, been believed
Justly, unjustly

So; I take off my shoes
take out my headphones
I want this wave to wash all over me
The short hand, the long multiplications
I laid out all my working for you to see
trying to crack the code of something real
the combination of what is me

I’ve been taking thirty steps away
from where they forged my heart
I’ve been taking thirty steps toward the tide line
where I etched my childhood
drew a line beneath it and paused to watch…

The waves of youth lap out
the waves of youth
the waves
the…

[Written on the eve of my 30th birthday]

Cinema Child

Standing on the sand, I watched the boats afloat
I thought to myself; I must look right
cinematic, brilliant, deep, mature
all eyes were on me, because I stood out
how they must love me…

As those ships drifted by, I’d be thoughtful
roll my eyes, look to the ground
with all the girls watching my ticks and style
I was sullen, moody, sexy, smart beyond my years
they’d love me…

And standing by the waters edge I’d smile
those girls would find me in my tent that night
strip me down and pick me up, I’d be lost
I’d be so ready for the feelings I imagined
I’d be lovely…

Standing in the surf
I stole the show, all the people loved me
they loved me, even if they never said
or never looked… or never came…

And as I grew, I learned to see
I was just a boy, staring at the sea
a head of daydreams, ideals and fantasies
my image really; just childish, introverted
completely unapproachable

The girls, they didn’t come to me
I just stood on that shore by day
and ran through tall grass and summer rain by night
watching the waves from rocks and heights

My pretence, my best defence
the only way I ever felt okay
trying never to admit
I was young and lonely
I was so young and already so lonely…

[2003]