I miss the boy I almost knew;
Learning your neices and nephews,
Your work times, your curfews,
Your habit of having me hold you
In my head from across an ocean,
You impressed me more than any before,
And most of all, I feel our walls
Aren’t quite secure… I’m glad we happened.
I like it when you creep in my thoughts,
Remind me how you now have Manhattan,
In your palm. God, you aren’t half something
Even with miles of water and shore
Between us. We had a bridge built,
I lit the torch… and you are achieving
All we talked about nine months ago.
I love that you exist.
And I suppose you really ought to know,
You’re the boy I almost always miss.
My father’s words are always either
Lightning or kitestrings,
And I tie my hopes to both.
Last night, he spoke
I buried for safe-keeping.
The praises he sang
Were sweeter than apples
Coming into season.
When he’s patient
He’s a stranger
Who I’m always keen to greet,
But I’ve inherited his temper,
And I am sorry. So is he.
His car sheds frost like rubbing sleep
From exhausted alloy bones,
He clears the windscreen with his sleeve,
He rarely ever checks his phone,
He replies monosyllabically.
I don’t know what he knows of me.
I understand that he operates
For my benefit, but there is so much
Hidden, or forgotten, or neglected.
I tiptoe into conversation with him
And savour the connection.
I wish I knew what makes him rain.
I could perhaps lessen the pressure then.
He’d withdraw the storms of his thoughts,
That fall always in sighs and asides to the floor,
He couldn’t ever just talk the issue away,
Instead he hurricanes.
I swear the atmosphere changes,
Dependent on whether his weather is dangerous,
But for now, there is such safety in light winds;
Perfect for kitestrings.
Let me set the scene,
A crowded office, a bustling street,
Even a bus stop or school canteen
Has seen and been a witness to
This crime of unsettling frequency.
The problem tends to begin and end
With words not meant to cause offence,
But which are shared without a care
Or consent from the recipients.
You can argue compliments
Should be welcomed, whenever they are sent,
But see the vital difference is
There’s a person behind those tits.
A person who probably didn’t wish
For your opinions, stares, or wolf-whistles
As she goes about her daily business.
Think for a second, if you will
Of how this woman truly feels.
And if you won’t
If you’d rather,
Eye her like meat
Hung in a larder,
Then watch my words
Grow sharp and cutting,
What else can I do?
Other than putting
Prose before bros.
All your ignorance shows
Is you’re too immature
For a woman who knows
Her worth and your thirst
Are very different things.
Pavlov’s dogs hear bells ring,
But you salivate at the very sight
Of girls dressed to impress
Heaven forbid, they might not want
Your leers and cheers, your ‘come here often?’
You’re genuinely surprised when you find
Drinks thrown at your eager eyes.
I’m a fan of the walk of shame
Of the man shot down in the bar again
Back to his friends who’ll all complain
As their evening passes in glasses drained.
Why is it me they always ask?'Why is it nice guys finish last?'
Why is it they can’t simply grasp
That a woman can say no.
When I sigh
And even begin
To argue her case,
They stop listening.
They roll their eyes at human rights,
Like 'here we go again.'
Well, here we go again,
You call yourselves men, well
I hope you mind that I’ve put down in words
Your inappropriate gropes, what I’ve overheard
In the middle of Geography, of all the classes
Passing judgement, like yours matters.
I’ve learned what I’ve needed to
To give you what you deserve
If you have the nerve
To live in your Mother’s house,
Then you can call a brother out
On his misogynistic,
Utterly primitive behaviour.
Don’t wait for it, be the changing tide,
The winds that shift,
Arrange the sky
The clouds that lift
And make a difference.
Go the distance.
Being ‘just a friend’ isn’t commiseration,
It’s a wealth of opportunities
To be the man you’d like to be.
Make yourself known
In the ‘friend zone’
As someone who understands
If nothing else, remember this,
There’s no shame in being a feminist.
There’s already a future pumping through my blood,
And jumping to conclusions has never felt so good.
I can’t even keep the secret safe,
I took a leap, I seized the day.
I smiled at him and felt nothing
Fierce or fervid, in fact I’ve faced
What’s left of my regrets,
But I’m too desperate to connect
Now, I have my friends invested.
By chance you could be a contestant,
But I hope you’ll come out the victor.
We could paint the bigger picture.
‘Could’ has never felt so vast
I could have found something at last.
But if you don’t want to reply that’s fine I really don’t mind you take your time.
You’ve taken mine
And my mind
Too far out
I seem to have forgotten now
It’s time I told you how I work,
I fear I operate to hurt.
If I’m going to want at all
Then why not orchestrate the fall.
'To love another person is something like prayer and can't be planned,'
But I’m choosing to pursue you and I’m choosing wear to land.
How typical of me to trust you without asking.
If love is a hunger then I’m tiring of fasting.
I emptied the fog out of my head;
I swept the mist from the depths within,
I let the clouds shrink and thin and then
I forced the smoke from out my thoughts,
The glow, the haze that covers all your sins,
Your many sins.
My medicine of forgiving anything
That threatens our little eden’s leaving
Me cold and shivering.
Once I’d cleared my mind of all its filters,
There sat the pedestal I’d built,
There you were, with your eyes that kill,
On a throne of excuses, lies and still
I fall at your feet.
The question is whether I can meet your stare,
Look into that darkness and admit how scared
I am to love you,
When your heart is as black as midnight
And the blood on your hands looks like mine.
You’re all that’s heavy,
Smoke and leather,
Gravity pressing things together,
Held down under perfect pressure.
You’re the cause of stormy weather.
You’re the voice that left,
The pause and breath,
The force that cleft
The cliffs and crept
Across the coast,
Where swifts chase
Insects, diving low.
You scared them off,
You brought the froth
To the current’s ebb and flow.
You’re the sweat
Where fingers met
A sorry cigarette.
The tip is wet
Where lips kept
All the wishes
Not voiced yet.
You’re an excuse I have.
Perhaps, the last, at least
Until the clocks went back.
With that lost hour
I loosed my grasp
On all the loneliness I had.
You were a plot twist,
A call missed,
A listlessness between
You set my wrists
Alight like ships
Desperate to sail
These shifting winds.
But now I settle.
You were metal,
I was something weak;
A petal in a breeze.
We’ve reached level
Ground. I’ve found
I don’t need to plead.
I’ve given you too many verses,
And worse than that
Built little churches
Around the faith
Now fading into
Psalms and hymns,
Remembering all that almost was
When I let the plot twist get me lost.
You were as warm as whiskey, once.
We were as thick as thieves’ spilt blood.
We woke at dawn, I made us tea,
I saved your yawn in my memory,
And now it’s coming back to me…
Last time we met, I said
Under my breath, 'let's
Be satellites, not islands,
I’m not content to live in silence.
All a year apart has taught me
Is I’m still not ready to let you leave.’
Last I heard, you’re doing well,
I’m glad. I spend weekends spelling
Out what I thought we had, but yeah,
I just want a bed to sleep in,
I just want to have you breathing
Next to me, our legs entwined,
But not tonight… another time?
No? Oh well, I suppose,
I’ve accepted eleven more months alone.
Better make some more room in my poems
For when I remember the lovers I’ve never known.
I heard the clouds choose the weather
By blending all our moods together,
Waking early, with a palette of pain and bliss,
Contemplating, then colouring the emptiness with
Crushed sunsets and greyness and morning mist.
Take the sky personally, because it is
Your heart that decided the shade today.
You are part of something bigger than your body can contain.
Your feelings can be as vast as the horizon,
Your love and sadness are written in the skies.
I suppose, in winter, the air fills with sighs
That fall as softly as time drifting by.
I’ve been almost as brave as I can be,
And, to be fair, in a way, so has he.
I could make him the villain,
But I’ve too often been the victim
Of my sidecar-heart,
Latching on to great things,
Letting them drag me far
Away, with engines
For brains and motors for mouths
That I still love to listen to,
But it’s taken ‘til now,
To recall the road is mine to pick,
I won’t be travelling as quick,
But with a dawn formed from my own
And a vehicle built with my hands and my blood
And him saying goodbye, and me knowing it’s good,
‘Til I find
Where I’m stood.
In thought, we fuck
Like starting fires,
Our young desires,
Like they’re acidic on each other’s skin
Like there’s still risk in loving him,
In films, we touch
Like it’s a secret
If anything happened it’s barely screened,
Because this flesh on flesh is scandalously,
And obviously, much too unique.
In fact, I fear
I’ll wake ashamed.
Like something real
Has been replaced.
And we’ll apologise
Profusely, leave like we’re nothing but
The spit left on each other’s tongues.
My social construct lost carelessly.
In future, if
I find the force
Overcomes the myth
I’ve built, my walls
Will fall silently.
And all at once, I’ll realise
There was never a perfect time
To find out it’s just another thing.
How do those harsh consonants sound in your mouth?
Those plosive ‘g’s,’ that dental ‘t’ taste as you spit them out?
It sounds like hatred,
As the sin
You’re suggesting I’m committing
In your ignorance. You think
Habit is a valid excuse
Well, let me tell you
What you’re saying, when you tell me
‘It’s just another word’
Is that rather than take the blame, you’d prefer to see me hurt
And pretend that’s my fault,
That insecurity you caused.
Well, let’s find something you can’t change
And decide that it’s a flaw.
Next time, you dismiss all the language at your fingertips,
You diminish your vocabulary to a word that doesn’t fit,
I hope you trip, I hope you choke,
I hope it’s lodged in your throat,
Just long enough for you to consider
What you were about to say and don’t.
That if someone is brave enough to say
That you hurt them
And you dare let them believe
That it’s okay,
That they deserve
To feel ashamed.
I bit the lip of a teacup,
And the pottery tasted like
Your eyes feel
When they graze my face
And peel the skin away.
I picked a piece of broken glass up
Last night and it bit my thumb.
It drew blood
And reminded me that
You still owe me love.
Not the perfect kind, but the type
You want when night is tightly wound
Around your throat.
You could thaw that cold,
Instead, we both sleep alone.
I’d dig my nails into pumice,
Pretend it’s bar soap
Pluck the courage
Up to scour all you’ve left off me,
All the smoke and black coffee
All the CDs, until we’re nothing
To each other,
Not friends or lovers,
Forget when we were brothers
I could start again,
But if I lose
Whatever I have left of you
Then I’d be choosing
To forget the greatest stranger I’ve ever met.
I read all I could,
Before I felt my stomach twist,
(It shivered in its chalk prison)
But to think I almost missed
All your words, your words,
Your peach and pink and pearls
On loops around suburban necks
In your (second-best)
Was your house full of laughter,
And if it was, what could be sadder
Than a (prolonged) silence in such a place?
Once your poems had come true
In the worst possible of ways.
And now you’re a hyperlink.
I clicked your name and heard you blink
Almost forty years ago,
As you turned an ignition,
But didn’t check the mirrors,
Or your seatbelt.
You must have just sat,
As your armour fell.
It didn’t fit anyway.
Did you kneel?
Did you wish for forgiveness? No?
Did you feel?
Did you hold the wheel and hope
The end would descend quickly,
Like children running downstairs to dinner?
Or slowly, like a housewife,
Doing dishes as it thundered
With a heart full of hunger,
Growing thinner and thinner and thinner.
I bought a band tee,
I had tea at 12.33 a.m.
I ate fried chicken as midnight stretched and settled in the heads of those still awake then,
I vowed to solve my issues,
Told myself that I can’t miss you,
This week I called him.
And he answered like he was only still awake for me,
He answered in smiles I could hear echoed on my own skin,
He answered and I know I’m not to take
These chances as him indicating anything,
I would gladly let him in,
Sit and sing and surely sink into midnight and fried chicken with him,
If he’d only ask.
And perhaps the time to act hasn’t passed at all.