Unwakeable You


When you wake, and your hair is an unmade bed;

Barely to drift open your dreamful eyes,

Feeling the perfect roll of your breathing rhythm

Silently lower the valley of your torso;

One arm, effortless arches over your head

Almost mid-yawn, revealing your bicep,

Your delicate underarm, your charming proneness,

Untouchable in vulnerability.

You’ve been poured there like drapes, silk sheets onto the bed.

Catlike you found yourself there, and curled there still.

I trace your jawline, testament to symmetry,

Face to the sky as a monument for peace.

Lips parted, a promise; petals to morning dew,

Opening with the breath of nature, unwakeable you.





That night, we dragged our rickety auditorium

Of folded chairs beside the rickety pyre,

Like a bunch of daft old bastards by the prom:

As evening set in like a creeping sort of mood

Despite ourselves, we got the fire going.

We’d dragged logs like dead men’s bones to the heap.

I’d brought sweetened whiskey, its harsh delicious kiss

To keep the heart’s hearth burning as cold set in.

And in any case, in whiskey there is wisdom:

We got the match, snapped it to fierce attention,

Dropped it down like a statement of truth.

First, one trickle, a finger of smoke curled up;

Then soon, more like a genie emerging, unfurling;

Then soon a weather formation, a billowing thought-form

Egregore of collective wishing, the fire-smoke grew.

Flame-heat and booze-heat kept our faces glowing.

We cradled our bottles and crudely plucked off lids

With our teeth as we watched like leery old men

The half-naked dancers, obscene and licking flames,

Teasing and quivering flames which paraded before us,

Ogling with our bleary eyes true youth, in ripened fire.

The whiskey bottles danced reflections, even,

The very glass seemed to shiver and melt in the light.

We laughed at nothing, sang for no real reason,

Brash giddy flames were leading us astray:

We basked in its playful, unruly company.


Recent some dear friends of mine invited me around for a bonfire. The summer is losing grip of its reign over us; long nights are coming in, like the cold waters of the tide. So we made our own heat, our own summer, our own light for the evening. It was really rather nice. We drank a LOT of spirits. It was great. 


Watch the Fire Die


And solemnly, we watched the fire die.

It settled in the memory,

Glowed dark,

And silent, we have watched the fire die.


Grey coals aged black, nestled

Like a host of ancient eggs, nest

Of children who never hatched.

And softly, we watched their homely fire die.


Stoke the last of them. Bring out that last

And shortest-lasting heat

Which lonely glows itself into its heart.

Then saintly, in solace, please watch the fire die.


Scrape rough the last. Drag out the night’s long last:

And settling all, we have watched the fire die.


The Marbled Night


A draft poem, inspired largely by Kate Bush. 


The marbled night returns itself to me,

Both milk-white and mood-dark, it renders up

All thoughts of constellations in my heart.

Past longing hours and woods of leafless trees

The marbled night returns itself to me.


The evening has been drained right to the cup:

All colours wane, and nuance tends to please

All thoughts of constellations in my heart.

The truant night receives, as finally

The evening has been drained right to the cup.


I’ve lived whole lives to waste such nights as these,

To capture freedom with a felony.

All thoughts of constellations in my heart

Are fires dashed ‘cross the sky, a grace of chance:

I’ve lived whole lives to waste such nights as these.


The marbled night returns itself to me,

The true night and its wonders to entrance

All thoughts of constellations in my heart:

And as the promised hour is mine to seize

The marbled night returns itself to me.


Ode to a Wineglass


She has lips, like a promise, subtly curled;

Yet firm in hold, such promises to keep;

So wide and red, a secret yet unfurled

Ringing a perfect coloured note, writ deep.

The waist, some say, is pinched in neat too tight,

Held light in one hand like all love affairs:

Deep wishes for the lasting of the night.

Instead I find her body deep with cares.

So deep with the red-breast heart of dalliance,

The scent of her unravels me like lust.

I dance in her, so rich with her to dance,

Her taste of lush deliverance and dust.

Yet soon my lips are tainted by the touch

And taste of someone whom I love too much.

The Leak

Of our cream-coloured home, in the room

Below, the ceiling formed the shower’s shadow:

One greasy streak across the dappling

Above, an unimpressive Rorschach blot.

Underneath we tried our herbal teas,

Considered inviting guests, read by ourselves.

Upstairs we washed, as regular as clockwork;

Downstairs, the silence of the living room,

With every spoonful so we also fed

The flatworm of Damocles above our heads.

If I spilled red wine on the carpet’s peace

I could scrub with all manner of bleaches:

We could not scrub the stain out of the sky,

Out of the wood, like rubbing off its grain,

Any more than scrub out rainy days.

And when it leaked, and finally our stench

Was returned to us in pitter-patter, relieved

At the crisis we unknowingly expected

We found the number for our home insurance

And in six minutes resolved our immediate nothing,

Never mentioned it, and drank our disgusting teas.  

Unlike my recent post, Reaching a Clearing which can be found here – https://jrhgreenwood.wordpress.com/2014/08/13/reaching-a-clearing/ – this poem focuses on the situation whereby you simply choose to ignore the growing problems of your life. The shower continues to leak; the blotch on the ceiling grows and metastasizes; structural integrity of your very home is jeopardised, yet you are willingly blind to it. 

I think this is closely related in theme to the project on which my good friend Jac Green and I are collaborating. 404 is a piece of performance poetry we are working on with GP, a group of amazing young artists living in Lincoln, which explores the stalemates which we find ourselves in throughout life, to which we have arrived almost unaware. I strongly suggest that you check out Jac’s blog, and particularly her teaser post regarding the project, which you can do simply by pressing onto this link and letting the internet do the rest of the hard work for you: http://jac251.wordpress.com/2014/08/09/the-beginnings-of-404/

Reaching a Clearing

We’ve reached the parting of the trees,
Sweet mists now wide and thin:
The heart of me is free to ease
The passing of our day.
Through twists of branches you could seize
My soul and keep me in:
But love, dear love, now far from these
Dark woods, you cannot win.

Safe held in lush obscurity
We could not find our way;
Kept winding, kind, lost surety
From where we did begin.
In your fierce woods you lured to me
Rich shadows of delay:
But love, dear love, from forests free
I know I cannot stay.

We have all probably found ourselves at a place where we look back on the last few weeks, months or years and finally just admit that we made a mistake. We reach a clearing, in a metaphorical sense leaving the woods behind, but also figuratively in the sense of “clearing out” what came before. It can be painful to end a relationship in this way, of course it can: but it is better, perhaps, than being lost in the dark but beautiful woods, lost forever. Or maybe it isn’t. I don’t actually know.

This piece is inspired greatly by Keats, Shelley and a fistful of Romantics. As ever, though written as an original piece (hastily about one hour ago on the bus), I confess to, and delight in, the palimpsest.