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

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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 #96 – Pound of flesh

From within the din of vagueness,
I will give it to you straight.
The change has long been underway
and we have all arrived too late.
The time to double down your chips
has gone,
along with our hope
our sense, our calm.
We did not inherit the earth
but instead shape it only with our pains
to hold it in our hands as clay
and disgrace it
for our gains.
Our cloying platitudes
cover a sea of discontent
drowning the balance of nature
that which Time will long lament.
You may have your pound of flesh
you may have it, blood and bone and all
and in the moonlight naked
all of us: accountable.

JP Collins

A poem #95 – The Space Between

The unfinished crossword
a catalogue of people
lost for words
concerned only
with flicking forward
feverish
to find the answers
Only to behold
in underlined bold
that their actions
have no reaction:
no hope
no vantage
In the space between
where the hammer strikes the bullet
the beginning
of a moment spins
unheeded
In the jaded present
in which we are unknowingly
dying to be
unplugged
Woven deeper
into the itching fibre
of the noose:
the un-scratch-able truth
Tugging at the cord
to pull the drapes
from the wall
A mounted plaque
under a stale tube light
addresses the Fool
‘All must die
and you are here
wasting away
every moment
of your life.’
To which a camera phone is raised
and a selfie made
and shared among the world
in a shameless
narcissistic
anti-social trade
In the space between
where the hammer strikes the bullet
the final throws
of a moment unborn
fizzles away
unheeded.

JP Collins

A poem #94 – Another winter

The clang of bottles being thrown
out in the back bar,
shattering the illusion of the moment,
lifting our eyes from the page.
The performance fades
and we are reduced to men and women only
sitting in the din of a crowded room, yet miles apart,
staring at a stage.
The performer, considered an artist
for a brief moment, until
in this humble awakening
the content of the songs become less
about the stories that drive them
and more about the complacency of our motions.
Repeating the “repertoire”
time and time and time again.
Proceeded each time by lessening quotients:
The inescapable clarity
of an ugly situation.
How dulled we have become with age.
The wallowing sage.
Yet, the stink of unconsciousness
still emanating from this woman
of uncooked mince
sitting to my left.
Plump as the sausage
pressing against its skin.
We are bursting to begin
a new nothing.
In the moment that
Wisconsin and Penn flipped their vote
We lost cabin pressure,
softening ghosts
as the tanner strikes the leather.
Feeling the sting
like the fix
from the needle scratching
to find the vein,
feverish and disorientated
about what this all means,
but knowing its volition
is to be a slow and deathly pain.
Stories spun endlessly
into rigmarole
until the term Brexit sounds
akin to those jokers
disparaging the mc’s word
singing “brap, brap”
round and around.
There is no thought,
there is no sound.
No feeling can ever be made of it,
where no sense is found.
A toast, maybe,
to the thickening sap
that fills our lungs:
the cripple in our lap.
To all songs unsung
about a willingness to leave
this place in which
we are no longer fit to breathe.
In my mind, reeling
and repeating
that it is farce.
It must be farce.
Convincing myself
as others have convinced us,
blindly, at the last
it is just another winter,
it will pass,
it will pass,
it will pass.

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 #90 -Sk:pp:ng needles

Feeling like the wasted yoke of an egg
spilling out into the pan.
For all of my faults and for all that I’ve tried,
it seems I’ve done all that I can.

How did it come to this?
It will take us some time to understand.
We were on our last print when the ink ran out,
you took “that tone” with me and I jammed.

Sometimes the camera captures the things
that the brain ignores,
I’m skipping needles over moments in which we were happy:
the moments that Desertion applauds.

JP Collins