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 #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 #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