A poem #106 – Foxes

Somewhere behind
those towering properties
on the Balls Pond Road
a fox cub is learning to survive
on an industrial fire escape
where it came to know its home
not venturing from the spot
where its mother gave birth to it
dumping it out into the world
onto the hard metal grating
it’s fur catching always
in the mesh
where fear and hope collide
at the juncture of a hard truth
amongst the scraps of scavenged dustbin food
Mother hasn’t returned in days
her three remaining legs
never carried her far
not then, and not today
and out in the cold
in the wet storm gutter
a faded red and brown, deflating shape
merges into the earth
and the litter
as it builds up around it
cast away unwanted
until the Council men come
and clear it away it with their shovels
plastic mingled dirt
blood and bone and all
in a black plastic bag
no farewell, no burial
slung onto a truck bed
to join the city’s rejected things
no reply as the fox cub calls
from dank metal stairwells
no tears
no dreams.

JP Collins

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A poem #105 – Salt of her sea

It is always so lovely
when we speak
but she prefers salty
to sweet
she said I don’t know now
I am struggling to see
how to let this sweet taste be
said walk a mile
be with me
suffer my storms
drown in the salt of my sea
gladly would I go with you
so gladly

What a feeling to be
what you want to be
she called this feeling “freedom”
but what I had wanted to be
changed in a moment
in a week
as do the tides and the seas
in the Moon’s wax and wane
I am Autumn mourning for Summer
and Summer longing for rain
gladly would I come for you
and gladly would I change

When she left me
she was exactly as when she came
but it was I
who had been affected
it was I
who had changed
so as the moon it pulls on the ocean’s quilt
she continues to pull on me
and here I am
wanting to spill myself from the mouth of the river
into the salt of her sea
gladly would I go to you
swimming happily
but it cannot be
for I have made my home in sorrow
it cannot be
it cannot be.

JP Collins

A poem #104 – Tide

And so for the last time the tide it ebbs away
it should have brought so much life and joy
but instead of bathing in the richness of its waters, under the setting sun
we wasted too much time in wishing it would stay
Edging slowly out into the waves
hesitant and fearful, and hopping to avoid the cold of the first swells
by the moment bravery took us in its arms, the waters were waste high
not noticing they were already leaving us, simply slipping away
returning to the beach, the night draws in around us
the old moon on the horizon hangs heavy amongst the clouds
And through our wet clothes the cold wind bites like dogs at our skin
in the midnight air, for the first time, feeling something
all is done but to lay down on this sandy bed, giving consideration to the myriad distant stars
full of regret that we tiptoed shyly out to the edge of our world and not one step beyond it
and that we did not at first dive in
to drink in its richness, instead of standing on the shore and watching it pass.

JP Collins

A poem #103 – Love song 

Moonrise grip
tideway slip
firm and cool
‘gainst the bare brick wall
on this the longest
of summer nights
beneath the veil
of waning coastal lights,
that same way you kissed me, then
that’s how I kiss you.

Red leaves crisp
under rising mist
hats and scarfs
along woodland paths
all in song with
Nature’s wish
under the canopy
of Autumn’s kiss,
that same way you held me, then
that’s how I hold you.

Cold air rings
deep lungs sting
calm and slow
in dusting snow
on this the clearest
of Winter’s days
amongst the still air
and vastness of the bay,
that same way you spoke of me, then
that’s how I speak of you.

Budding yawn
rose-fingered dawn
fresh and sweet
with temperate beat
on this the day
in waking spring
new arisings
all Godly things singing,
that same soft voice that sung, then
that’s how I sing of you.

JP Collins

A poem #102 – Pleased to see you

It shames me to say
no good thought of you
has passed through my mind
since the first day
when parted ways.
Your long hair flowing
like the mouth of a river, down the bedside
and mine like the red torrent of the sea
where they should have mixed together there was instead
me not knowing, you not loving
anything
more of me.
Tiny fingers outstretched
in search of your skin
to feel the blanket in which we swaddle the world
to take the sting
from the bite of its being
but, instead:
nothing.
You asked if I was pleased
to see you, when we did
long afterwards, meet
but pleased is a happy word
sullied by the whispering slur
and I left my happiness
long ago at your teat
swept with your uncaring hand
to grow amongst
the kerb-line weeds.
So, no, I am not pleased
nor happy or aggrieved
but, the endless growings of
the motherless grey
and the numbness soaking
through the void between.
Standing here now
two adults again greet
I see that you too have taken the bottle
from it still
you drink most deep
always only, just a babe
with ruby-red flushed cheeks.
With old fingers now, shaking, outreached
to two rivers battling at the mouth of the sea
where they should have mixed forever
but still in the chop, bereaved
it is you who requires most the weaning
from the milk of the bottle
much more than me.

JP Collins

A poem #101 – Grace

Grace works out of one of those highstreet coffee chains,
the acceptable drug the world adores
in this quiet town of warm hands and cold hearts
between the myriad of vacant stores.

Living her flat-white life, built on skinny lies
where the stale musk of spent grounds percolate in her brain
as she holds out her hand, forces a smile
and passes him the change.

She wonders if enough people will come through that door
to keep them both alive
she hasn’t seen the inside of a church
since the day her mother died.

All of her belongings fit into a plastic bag
she say’s it’s homely, as it rustles in the rain
on it, her purse still has its price tag
in case she must return it one day.

Her hope’s like the lamp struggling
for breath beneath the fog
but life is at its most bitter
at the bottom of the cup.

The hours just grow longer there
the same old people come in for a seat
She studies at the college of “how to be a fucking machine
on a course that she’ll never complete.

In the back-room locker lies a misplaced gift
from the man who is one half of her, who’s spent his life overseas
Alongside is an empty box from those boys who left straight afterwards
instead of getting down on one knee.

She takes the bus home from work
and wears the same pair of socks for a week
As the cigarettes burn they stain her fingers
and make her lungs grow weak.

The day-to-day grind in that lamplit town
spent mostly in disbelief
Where aspiration is the unresolved, hanging chord
and gratitude gets stuck like food between teeth.

Where beauty is sold to both the young and the old
in plastic wrap for a single-use dream
with a forced smile and vacant eyes and open legs for one night only
pouring out the pages of a magazine.

JP Collins

A poem #100 – Moon makers (reprise)

Our voices are low in the gas fire light
the orange glow from the three bars
mumbles soft, somber, and slow tonight
The shadows, still, in the corners fall
where flames in passions past
danced high up the walls
We sold our desires by an inch of a candle
and now we are paying over the odds
I wish we had shared all of our truths
while our voices could still speak of god
Now the white maiden dress
browned in the dirt of experience
and washed with the milk of Moon tea
No song no more from that old piano
where the ash from the coal fire
settled on the keys
And on this the passing of the last day of Winter
the birds in her heart will take their final flight
There will be no words to the ear, no note on the night stand
only half a bed and half a man of untold scars
at the break of this last spring’s light
A toast, then, to the good times
and to the hearts that ran so free
we’ll dance to the jaunt of our old bones now
and the bleak and fading mind
that’s welcomed-in the grey of the sea
And when the bed is cold and the gas fire waned
I will look up through the night to see
amongst all the million suns up there
the moon is where you’ll be.

JP Collins