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 #87 – Juniper

I’m not really sure how to feel:
this news, coming so late to my door.
It’s been eight years since they found you,
eight years, and soon to be one more.

We’d take trips to the cinema,
with that bottle you’d treat as a friend.
A cocktail without a dress,
always a means to an end.

Jumping over the wall
to pick flowers from a neighbour’s garden.
Entangled in the juniper bush,
I left you shamelessly, without a pardon.

Looking at your picture now,
it begins to slur and slew.
A single frame turns into a movie of us,
drinking to forget what we knew.

I brushed past the juniper bush
on that road just after the bend,
in a cocktail without a dress
sadly, Juniper’s end.

JP Collins

Quiet musings… day #1

What the bed said to me last night when I was asleep: You have jarred your back, I will try to comfort you but I can’t help if you keep shuffling around. Be still. Be calm.

What I do all night: Shuffle around.

What my head does today: Hurt.

What I take for my headache: Nothing, the pills make it worse. I hear they can give you headaches instead of relieving them.

Things I want my kids to know: All the things I do.

What I want them to be when they grow up: Good people.

Things I will never do with my kids: Take them to MacDonalds.

My thoughts when I tip my head back to gargle with the mouthwash, trying not to jar my back even more: That poor fly has been stuck on the ceiling for days, he must have landed there and gotten stuck on the condensation that forms there after we shower. He made all the effort to fly upside down and land there and look where it has gotten him. I should wipe him off with some tissue and bury him in the wash of the toilet, but that is no way to discard of something that once lived, not even a fly.

What I give my wife when I get home because she has had a bad day: Flowers, gerberas mainly, and two wooden reindeer for the TV stand at Christmas.

What she does: Cry, but smiles while she does it.

JP Collins

Photography #6 – Barbie Sez…

Barbie sez…

A return visit to the Hill Street Blues Coffee Shop, Amsterdam, brought us downstairs into the dimly-lit smoking room. A sofa full of hoodies light up their joints and slowly fade away into a thick mist of marijuana smoke. Extraction duct work runs along one wall near where I sit, and this, like every other inch of the building, is covered in graffiti and stickers and scrawls; I started to believe that it was holding the fabric of the walls together, the same graffiti and stickers and scrawls that were sticking urban society onto the face of the world, a face which some are desperate keep hidden under the hoods that live it. It was here that I captured this revolution against pop culture. Will you do what Barbie says? Or will you draw a hood up over its “ugly” head, and pretend it doesn’t exist.

Barbie sez


JP Collins Photography