Scribbling on Trees (2009) was written at the height of my teenage years and documents a great many firsts that were happening at that stage in my life. Love, heartbreak, independence and all of the highs and lows that come with it. I was seventeen when I first begun this collection and I finished it just before I turned twenty one.
(Officially, this was the second collection of poetry that I wrote. The first, The Space Between the Stars, that I started writing at the age of about twelve or thirteen, has long since disappeared into the depths of our old family computer. It was really just a collection of fumbling, mis-spelt experiments but perhaps one day I’ll dig them out and put up one or two.)
Scribbling on Trees
Missed in June
My sun stretched face
feels fat with sleep
Across the aching boards I creep
Gentle words help ease the soul
when bruisèd heart
is far from whole
In sleepy softness
I slip down
a tousled ring of curls my crown
Then droopy lashes
black my sight
He stands over my bed tonight
The space between sleeping and dreaming
The time before night after day
In these moments I find myself leaning
towards thoughts that I had pushed away
Here my words have a simpler meaning
and my worries file neatly away
My focus turns back to my breathing
and in darkness my thoughts start to play
It. My Metaphor
It sits patiently among the roots
while I swing on the rope,
it hugs the trunk
while I climb to the top most branches
It snaps at my heels
when they drag in the sand,
it troubles my pillow
when I just want to sleep
It lingers on the horizon
when the sun has set,
it peers through the clouds
on the stormiest mornings
Oddly it haunts me,
without it I’m lost,
it knows this, it feels this
so for now, it stays
(When this poem is on paper, the words are scattered all across the page)
letters and rubbish and ink
the pen ran out.
Scrabbling around without light or lens
in order to find something for nothing.
Confused by the lack of
clarity and density and noise.
The association of taste is synthetic
and unrealistic but comforting.
Simplicity elaborates detail
just equal lines or backspaces.
Words will out… eventually.
Just something that happens,
not a care in the world.
These beautiful moments
become timely unfurled.
The mess and the rubbish
all falls at my feet.
I marvel in wonder
at something so sweet.
The switch isn’t broken,
just hasn’t been pressed.
So I close my thoughts,
let my fingertips rest.
A slip for a second
means more than I thought.
I’m happy with tangles
so I lay here caught.
The shape holds more value
since I’ve passed the key.
And I smile in knowing
that it’s not just for me.
News on June 6th
She writes dizzy words of comfort,
lists empty clichés,
sits in manufactured darkness,
murmurs false intent.
Then spills, silently.
What does she know of this?
The Briefest of Encounters
Sitting at a late night station
trying to redefine impatience.
Wrapped in scarf
with mittened fingers,
contemplating cooling cinders.
Thinking back on turquoise seas,
memories of shaking knees,
freight that someone else could please.
‘You’re alright there for a moment’
Point of focus drops and blanks.
Zero, zero, twenty three.
Very little frightens me,
except for that which I don’t know,
a change too big to undergo.
Just one night later,
all has altered.
Decision made in words unfaltered,
words uncharacteristically cruel,
trying to hush the loving fool
who screams that I am in the wrong
‘well it won’t last long.’
But this time,
it’s been done.
Lazy Lovers Bare No Truth
Cards and yards and miles of trees
Paper boats in castle moats
Written words on woven reeds
Scribbled napkin, favourite quotes
Elaborate thoughts and dog eared creeds
The art of planting worthy seeds
Dreams and fears in hand eloped
Glassy water, full of salt
Cleansing pores with Indian spice
Comfort blanket forced to malt
On second thoughts, I won’t think twice
Write me a letter, she said and let me tumble into your mixed up world
Throw me through the clouds of your thoughts
Let me untangle the roots of the tree of your time
Give me the key to yourself and the needle to pick at the thread of your mind
Tell me the people that tipped and dripped the blood from your heart so I can watch the poppies grow for myself
Let me dance over your tracks and feel your footsteps beneath my feet
Let me trace the paper of your hands and lie in the light of the moons on your fingers
Let me tease a comb through the tangles of your truth and split the hairs of your conscious silence
Let the sun set across your green grass blades and give my shoots a chance to emerge
Falling at Forty Feet
Eyes across branches
and comparing castles.
Hours and minutes
drifting around rails.
The Eternal Struggle
Every possible task just becomes a distraction
Trying to think but the mind is in traction
Attempt to restart
This ridiculous notion gets straight to the heart
to be sure
Why can’t you just go
This is your education that you’ll overthrow
Read through it again
You’ve still written nothing
whilst holding the pen
For Gods sake
just do it
You need to get through it
I know that you’re lazy but also you care
You don’t want to fail
You know it’s your future you’re going to derail
Now come on
and stop writing this
Your email can wait
give the tea break a miss
There’s no other option
afraid that’s your lot
You’re writing this essay now
like it or not
Two pairs of heels,
some skinny jeans
and a gypsy dress to die for.
A sensible budget,
and a burning hole in my pocket.
A flurry of phone calls,
lunch and two dinner dates,
and biscuits by the barrel.
and not enough hours.
A possible change in colour,
a space of my own
and brand new salt and pepper pots.
Hearts and Butter
On that evening I felt
as I looked at that face,
the light fall upon
my own soft empty space.
It was done without knowing
I could not note the start
but what I had done was
cleared space in my heart,
left a neat little dent
when I’d pushed out the clutter.
Now I’ve stuffed it back full again
my heart, with butter.
Something so natural, so pure
smiles at her through the tunnel.
An eagerly anticipated journey
she is finally ready for.
No thoughts, no words
just waiting at the station.
Wrapped up against nothing but the elements,
she wants to take this track.
He understands her, yet knows
nothing of who she is.
Together they stand alone.
Unfamiliar is not feared.
Where do you go when you don’t want to be anywhere?
You’re going to one place but you’re coming from somewhere else
and actually contemplating ending up somewhere different entirely.
As for direction you have no concept
because it’s dark and you’re travelling backwards
or perhaps that’s just the direction you’re facing
and you are in fact moving sideways.
Try walking one way and you get the wind in your face,
turn the other and there’s smoke in your eyes.
I will follow my feet and my fingertips.
To My Thoughts of You
Wrapped up warm to fight the frost
of a smoky Sunday sky.
With cautious thought I debate the cost
of hours and minutes spent and lost
in the blinking of an eye.
Clad in shades of rusty locks
is a new found honey crown.
I think on towers of ticking clocks,
when doors are open no-one knocks
but from windows they do look down.
In the distance, a world away
a night out on the tiles.
Limitless letters and lines portray
what battered lids try not to say
but I can see for Miles.
A Handful of Puzzle Pieces
I see it
and I smile tears
The clock makes for surreal fears
A mindful matter
or budding seed
Though thought part of a dying breed
With swift recovery
A spark could make a flame rekindle
A Russian doll
or new guitar
Hot air balloons never get that far
and teaspoon brandy
A woman needs a bear kept handy
A research paper
or open shut case
There’s a time for everyone to have their place
He won’t listen or talk
You can run, he will walk
If you write things in chalk
then mistakes can be made
You’re paying, he’ll wait
He’s not early, you’re late
but best not to tempt fate
and find someone else too
When you’re ready, he’s not
What you said, he forgot
but it wasn’t a lot
so perhaps start again
He still knows that you’re there
and you’re not being fair
besides what do you care
it’ll all end in tears
Late Light, Legs and Lashes
What do you do at 1.26
when it’s hot and you’re tired?
Jaws click, tongues twist
and ruffles tussle over a once white case.
What do you do after the fourth episode
when it’s late and you have work tomorrow?
Legs burn, eyes water
and hands tonight stay soft and still.
What do you do with no answer
when you’ve gone all out without putting much in?
Knees bend, lids close
and evening thoughts play out beneath the lashes.
The Library Trees
Unimpressed at my wasted day
I try to wash the thoughts away.
My sunshine shadow, I cover with powder,
the voice and the name seem to keep getting louder.
A newly familiar speaker makes sense
saying why not enjoy my time on the fence?
I cannot paint pictures
don’t want to sing songs
and have too many chains
where my locket belongs.
I want to go back to the library trees
and play in the grass
without grazing my knees.
Built From a Thousand Nine to Fives
I leave my feet on the mat
swollen and tired from being stood on all day,
I take off my chest
and hang it on the peg
where it collapses, exhausted from the artificial inside air,
I discard my hands in the kitchen sink
along with everything else I have touched today,
my legs find their way upstairs
and crumble into a heap on the bedroom floor
too exhausted to even think about getting up tomorrow,
my arms reach up towards the ceiling
before tumbling down onto the covers of the bed,
searching for a space of their own
away from tea stains, deodorant marks
and the faintest hint of cigarettes,
my face remains for a while in the mirror
until it is thrown, unceremoniously into the bathroom bin,
I leave my shoulders to sink down the plughole of the shower
as I spit my teeth into the drain.
What is left of me finds its way over to the bed
and as my eyes roll off onto the pillow
I enjoy the weight of nothing
What do you do
when that all too welcome feeling
comes creeping softly in
and then quickly sends you reeling,
you catch yourself keeling
then end up sort of kneeling,
still, you wonder if it’s best
just to lie flat on the floor
You tell yourself perhaps
that it was maybe just a stumble.
Having just rebuilt defences
it’s best not to let them crumble
but the argument’s a mumble
as the fingers start to fumble,
still, you wonder if it’s best
just to leave the thing alone
Your mind, it seems is made
despite your shoulders best advice.
I proved you wrong before – protest,
why can’t it happen twice?
You know for now this will suffice
just let it in to break the ice…
but still you wonder if it’s best
to wander just a little more
Old, New, Borrowed and Blue
– a mismarriage
Old wounds heal
Books are bound
Feelings are forgotten
and pain fades away
New promises are made
Train tickets are torn
Words mean different things
and potential spills across pavements
Borrowed hearts are returned
False faces fall
A castle is reclaimed
and time is taken back
Blue eyes are looked into
Fingers fall on fading locks
A distant memory fuels a future
and past and present walk hand in hand.
Something for the King at Christmas
A hazy halo shines out of the mist,
its lonely lamplight spilling onto the street.
Warm breath lingers in fleeting clouds
and hands retreat quickly to innermost pockets.
The trees have surrendered their crowning glory,
remnants of which line the puddled pavements.
Reflecting the moon with its wood smoke shadow,
tucked away from the cold by a blanket of stars.
A Cup Of Unfaithful
You get hurt, you get angry,
maybe drunk or you cry,
shut out their name
without saying goodbye,
try screaming your thoughts out
or speak them though tears,
contemplate time to recover,
wash out their taste
and get rid of the scent,
claim back the things
that you left when you went.
Drink too much tea
and get headaches from crying,
consider how long
you’ve been subject to lying,
call and ask questions
to fight for your case
and prepare once again
to have streaks down your face.
Then picture the scene
as you try not to sleep,
the glittering blur
of his hands and her feet,
on the very same sheet
that you slept on
just days before.
Get angry, get even,
feel desperate, alone,
fight off the stranger
now living at home.
Dress well, look pretty
buy beautiful things,
think ‘what will happen
if maybe he rings?’
Call, just to talk,
hear the voice not the name,
whilst withholding blame.
Battle in silence
with what still hasn’t gone.
Finish your unfaithful tea
and move on.
Hands still shaking
from a lactic surge
From my body
that familiar feeling I purge
But slowly a new one
begins to emerge
Is this the right train
It came about one autumn day
when the bastard called me up to say,
“Thing is my love, I’ve been playing away.”
So that was the end of that.
Of course I cried buckets, for several weeks,
(the usual sobs and moans and shrieks)
‘till there was nothing left running down my cheeks
and instead I turned to anger.
I screamed and ranted like never before,
dropped various breakable things on the floor,
dubbed my ex’s new plaything ‘the sparkly whore’
and by then it was time to move on.
But the stress it would seem, had taken its course,
my eyes had dark circles, my voice had grown hoarse,
then to top it all off, my own negative force
had made me allergic to fruit!
What a thing to find out you can no longer eat!?
Not walnuts or shellfish or some kind of wheat
and all because someone decided to cheat.
(I refuse to believe it’s coincidence.)
So I cut out fruit and that was fine.
“I’ll have vodka, straight up, without the lime”
but my stomach appeared to have not healed with time
and the next thing to go was dairy.
No more chocolate or cake or my favourite cheese,
goodbye to my milky coffees and teas,
bought a self-help book called ‘Lactofrees’
and cursed the day I met him.
So here I am, no dairy or fruit,
I’m a vegetarian too to boot,
this unfaithful diet is really a hoot
but I’m still sick so now goodbye gluten
and a heartbroken diet should have lots of cake,
plus toast and biscuits to sooth the ache
but the sort that I’m forced to eat now are fake
because rice flour just isn’t the same
“You won’t know the difference, it tastes really nice.”
They lie, I’m fed up of tofu and rice.
If only I’d listened to their advice
she thought, sipping her skinny soy latté
But we’re over him now, my diet and me,
even though I’m still pretty-much-everything free,
I actually quite like peppermint tea
but I have lost my taste for boyfriends.
There’s only so much one person can take before they stop giving.
Equally there’s only so much you can give before you stop taking.
One of the hardest things to learn is that there’s only so much love can do.
There’s only so much a person can give before they can’t take denying that any more.
There’s only so long you can go on pretending not to care,
ignoring the fact that someone broke down your door, smashed through your window, ripped off the lid of your box and got so deep down inside it that you thought they would never come out.
There’s only a certain amount of time before the light falls onto that sort of situation,
a light that shines from an unnaturally objective perspective.
There’s only an element of truth involved
but what appears to be an endless offering of alternative interpretations.
There’s only so many you can listen to before you stop hearing them. Not that they aren’t of some distant comfort
but there’s only so many times you can say a word before it loses all meaning.
There’s only so long you can look for reasons before they stop presenting the opportunity to be found.
That then would seem to be a sign that there is nothing left to look for,
that boxes get broken, windows are smashed and doors can be forced off their hinges…
but there’s only so long you should sit in a draughty house before finding someone to fix it.
Second First Steps
First, just words and open smiles,
a cosy corner with drinks and questions,
then further feathered communication
and a new respect for lengthy patience,
then a bigger picture with nothing to pay,
ideas form when two heads come together.
Twice confirmed but left wanting more,
with a new found love for lack of direction…