This Side of Closer



Back when you were a fascinating stranger,

Your lips, the way you held your head;

Your hesitating voice was lost on me.

I have learnt this mannerism, by now, but still

It thrills me just to see you speak to me.

These sights I’ve seen and dwelt in: however so,

The more I’ve seen the less I’ve felt that hold,

Not without love but less in fascination.

It’s held so close that somehow, you forgot.

I’m held, but not beholden: it’s funny, no?

Perhaps I’m just imagining that loss,

And being lost on you: I fear it, though.

I fear this is the second side of closer,

The lowered defence that welcomes, in its way,

By holding no resistance: and holding not.



Of this parish


The audacity of it: to compose one’s own epitaph.

I shall be lucky so much to choose my spot,

If they even find me: but imagine the matriarch,

Her long-held life inflicting chiseled words

And casting stones about her, only in death

Still keeping both. For her it may have been

The final breath, a whisper set in stone,

Mother Forever. But in its secret truth

It is the sole discretion of the mason’s client

That shuts that mouth, lowers her lids and,

As the mason poises his chiseled words,

Plunges the nail.




Boys will be…


Do you remember, how we were boys? Not even

Three months ago, I’m sure we were only lads:

Drunk as lords and pissed as paupers, us.

At the pub, you held my hand in the darling fire

To prick me awake: you held my hand so close,

Just daring me to feel that flesh again.

That night we walked on brick walls by alleyways

Like trapeze-teasers, dancing with our deaths

(Or perhaps grazed knees, in truly boyish style).

Do you remember, having sod all to do?

Aware incuriosity will kill you,

That risk is all? The tightrope-dancing, home,

You right ahead of me, daring us to rush and

Shouting at the stars, “There is no God, I say!

I do not believe in someone else’s Heaven!”

Then walking home, boyish, under them – unaware

Of the benevolent, answerless silence above us.

Tell me a story, please


Tell me a story, please: of the proud young prince

And the monstrous lady, who made him golden, fine.

Read me a page of your book: then perhaps

I’ll open mine.


Sing me the moors, incarnate ancient bark,

Defended forests. Tell me not of one land

But the worlds you knew: and down that hidden track,

We’ll hand-in-hand.


Torchlit under covers, steal with me

The wealth of Titans, the songs of sirens, sung:

The words of legion, the long-forgotten cry

Of ancient ones.


Tell stories to this proud young prince, until

He’s half-asleep: and lend your dreaming vision,

So that full in sleep and wonder will he rest,

And those dreams rest with him.



For Blair: for the stories you tell, and the stories we’ll make. 


Ideas are not owned


Ideas are not owned: at best one rents them,

Taking a lease of inspiration: or they’re met,

And their lucky friends will boast their first acquaintance,

Perhaps take the first dance, relish their affair.

But good ideas are social chameleons

And will blend themselves ingeniously elsewhere.


Rubicon of a Tear


A drop of water crawls, hesitant, down the windowpane

As a spider might. Surface tension holds

A globe of it in place just long enough

To lend its shape. You know nothing of this, just as

You do not know it tenderly holds to

Its promise, its mother’s orb: just as you do not

Understand that light must be invisible

Until refracted; it is both beam and wave,

Particulate, yet passing in its time.


Small journeys teardrops make, down window panes.

But the Rubicon is only a shallow river,

Promise misunderstood, yet bandied much

In conversation like a point of fact;

And despite your rhetoric and all your cries,

Was never wide.



Cry me a river. But this time, make it the Nile. Much more historically important. 


L’envie en rose


There is something to be said, for tinted glasses.

Rose-lipped frames, perhaps: or something less

Demonstrable, more seeing than sought-out,

A filter for the lens-eyed, or the sordid.

A taste of light through pink, the touch of white

Through roses, the taste of salt through water:

The pewter kiss, when draining a metal cup.

Flavour comes as much through want, as lips.



Just as “it’s not just what you do, but the way that you do it”: there’s much to be appreciated in how we enjoy life’s pleasures, as much as the pleasure itself.