With today being Valentine’s Day, it was easy to decide what type of poetry to take to the open mike last night. But so much of my poetry comes under the broad scope of love poetry, and it’s a genre that comes in so many shapes, styles and sizes that it was less easy to decide exactly which pieces to read. In the end, I chose a short set, which I hoped told some kind of story.For the blog, I’ve made a slightly different selection, grouping together a number of pieces I’ve posted before, a couple that have been published in magazines, and a couple that have never really aspired to do more than just lurk in my files.
They were not written to be a set, so the point of view changes from first to third person, but I think there is a narrative if you want to find one.
It’s there in the air between them.
As hands sketch fragmented curves,
fingertips graze its surface.
They worry it with words,
map points along the borders.
Their tongues taste the edges
of possibility until they find its shape
in the space where their lips meet.
The silent fanfare of the moon
scatters the clouds. Sodium globes loom
in oleander dark. Two pairs of footsteps
dodge round orange pools
on the corner
where kisses grow.
Watching shooting stars,
your arm around my shoulders
No need for wishes.
Skin to skin we lie
as dawn silvers the sky
beyond the cherry branches.
In the glass beside the sink
Things I do
when you’re not here: I stay up
half the night with Marlowe,
Smiley and other men
you don’t approve of, trying to find
distraction in their mysteries.
When I do sleep, I lie
on your side of the bed
so when I wake, it’s me
who’s missing. I talk about you
to the cat and hope she won’t forget.
I binge on carbohydrate
comfort foods then worry
about gaining weight. Feeling sorry
for the single cup and saucer
on the draining board, I let
the washing up pile high
to keep them company. I wear
the last T-shirt you wore
before you left, its fibres impregnated
with your memory; then I pretend
that sleeves are arms
and that you hold me
while I sleep.
I remember a summer evening
when you brought me roses,
stolen from a neighbour’s garden.
and listened to your promises
as you crushed the falling petals
Familiar 5 a.m.
rain on the roof,
a distant car,
and weight of cat
curled at my feet.
the small things: I want to wake up tucked
against your shoulder, feel muscles, sinews
tense against my skin while lips mumble
the blurred borders of night and day,
of you and me.
I want hot Sunday coffee, crisp white
sheets bunched to protect from burns,
and granary doorsteps that crumb
your chest as greased fingers slick
the cryptic crossword.
I want daisies on the lawn in clumps
of seven to fit my footstep, a universe
of dandelion globes and the chance
a simple breath can make it
any time I like.
On the station concourse, deadweight
luggage cannot anchor me. The second hand
ticks petals from a clock that thinks
in black and white of missed and caught,
of then and now.
There are raindrops on my face and I want
the small things.
If you’ve got this far and want a happier ending, you’ll find a love story with a far more positive slant in my collection Around the Corner from Hope Street, illustrated by Lance Tooks and available from the iBookstore or Amazon.