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 #97 – Unfulfilled dreams

A song about silence
sung from the wings
to mourning pews
piled high with abandoning
The note was struck
the piano rings
footsteps fading
in the cowering din
filled with “I can’t”s
the still air stings
sharp and prickling
against the skin
the prayer book open
the pages singed
by the dying flame
of unfulfilled dreams.

JP Collins

A poem #92 – Our nightly song

The things unsaid
as we lay in the bed
between the delicate knowings
of right and wrong.
Feelings reborn,
leaving us torn
together
but not as one.

Dream’s liquid displaced
steeped and disgraced,
forlorn under our
moonlit tongue.
In silence we fight
wordless in our plight,
in loveless turns
against the fabric of our nightly song.

Though, waves maybe lapping
as she is now sleeping,
the storm
is yet to come.
Once gentle tones
the steel quietly hones,
her syllables sharpening, in wait,
against the rasp of her tongue.

On eggshells we tread
as we lay in the bed:
constituent parts
of a broken sum.
This marriage scorned,
too hastily mourned.
Our shame is so evident
in the light of the morning come.

JP Collins

A poem #91 – Strange fruit

They build the balustrade
off the back of all Man’s failings.
Strong enough to hold the rope
and the enormous weight of consequence,
and with your arms by your side
you’ll feel the hemp-woven toll.
The balustrade is always strong enough
to protest your shivering throws.
But if you ever stand up there, be still
you will know in that moment, you have all control.
Real control.

What strange fruit
to be hanging from the stair,
where a selfish act was found, you’ll say,
in the place of a prayer.
You couldn’t see it through the mind’s blindness, but we cared,
All of us cared.
What strange fruit you are
hanging from that stair.

They build that ledge
on the other side of the railing
wide enough only for your heels
and if you stand over that river
with your arms stretched out wide
you’ll feel the water cleanse your soul.
The ledge is always wide enough
but not for your toes.
If you ever have to stand up there, be still,
it will be the only time you ever really take control.
Real control.

What strange fruit
to be bobbing in the water,
where a selfish act drifts away, you’ll say,
no clemency, no quarter.
‘Jump you coward!’ yell the gathering crowd, let loose the mortar.
And where the tide gains a son,
a mother loses a daughter.
What strange fruit you are
bobbing in that water.

JP Collins

A poem #89 – Nothing at all

Nothing works anymore.
I once had the parameters in “tight”.
It was all working right.
Then the humidity started falling out of range,
the extractor fan stayed on for days.
It’s not the only thing that can’t cope with change.
The tap drips constantly in protest.
Limescale tarnishes all that was clear, and it’s always in jest.
I once had reason present in my mind.
I was able to fight.
The Water Board came round and shut the water off,
the tap ached as it stopped.
It’s not the only thing that aches in this box.
The floor is bare, a splintering trap.
Newspapers used to fall on the mat.
I once had soft oak, and friends to invite.
It was all lit dreamily in the soft morning light.
Then the sun died and the clouds pushed through,
now the floor is barely a floor anymore, it is barely anything at all.
The wood is wet with my tears, for I am like to bawl.
It’s not the only thing that is nothing at all.
The lamp flickers and hums like a wasp is caught in the shade.
This is the din
that I have made.
I once had everything in its place.
It was the finest of tastes.
Then the disconnecting silence filled the halls.
The lamp stopped humming and it threw darkness up the walls.
The telephone doesn’t ring,  nobody calls.
These are not the only things that have become this small.
These are not the only things that have become nothing at all.

JP Collins

A poem #88 – Go steady

She said to me “Son, go steady,
you are not yet ready
to sing this song.
Unclench your fist, bite your lip:
some men are better with words
than they are with bombs.

“Blood near boils in the heat of a fight;
and whilst you are right,
you are wrong.
Take a moment, catch your breath:
the measure of a man is in how he moves on
from the thing that’s already done.

“Where a mother has a right to mother,
don’t stay always under this cover:
even weeds grow in the shade.
But instead,
know when to love and when to leave,
know when to smile and when to grieve.
Know when to hide under the pain,
Know when to break into a million pieces:
many a good thing from broken parts
can be made.”

JP Collins

A poem #85 – Mighty horse

I have fallen from a mighty horse
whose name is providence.
Muddied by this bitter-tasting truth,
I am the lowest I have ever been.

I have fallen far short of the mark,
and its function was only to breathe.
Where joy finds its home in the heart,
all its worth is lost on me.

I am stumbling into the blankness of the page,
what writings there can I leave?
Where the heart pens its deepest wants
no able eyes ever see.

I have fallen from a mighty horse,
the rider was all I ever longed to be,
but now I am crossing over into the night
and the night is crossing over into me.

JP Collins