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
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:
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 #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

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

A Poem #81 – Films about those lovers

She’s making films about those lovers
that she’s lost along the way,
and somewhere in the scenes of fiction
she longs to add my name.
It’s clear when we’re down at the sea
I want to be on the ground –
she, sailing to another island,
where new love can be found.
When she writes those letters
her words seem to burn,
leaving no room here for me
to love or to learn.
My toes now in the water,
I feel her slipping from my hand,
standing on the shoreline,
as she swims away from the land.
Theres nothing more now
but a bobbing head in the swell,
and I return to the land that has trapped me
to die alone on the hill.

JP Collins

A poem #37 – Grandma

Old fingers, soft against my hand,
tales of sunshine from another land.

A friendly ghost to warm a heart,
from long ago, right at the start.

A life that’s been lived, a sun that has shone,
tearful rememberings of a longing tongue.

An empty space, where a man once belonged,
I beg, don’t be sad, now that he’s gone.

JP Collins

Quiet musings… day #9

What I listen to while driving to the house in Southampton with the leaking roof: Alice in chains; I think of the lead singer, Layne Staley, who died in Seattle, Washington, aged 34, from a drug overdose – Heroine, I believe. I loved listening to his music when I was younger and I remember now why I spent so much of my life doing so. It’s funny how nostalgic music can be, and sometimes smells too; they can take you right back to a specific moment, re-affirming the vividness of a memory. I smile – beaming – as the feeling of youth washes over me: I’m sixteen again, thrashing the songs out on my guitar in my bedroom with my friend, Richard; we call ourselves band.

What we were: Not a band.

Why I was smiling: Because in moments like this I feel free, elated, instead of guarding myself – guarding every moment and every secret so closely, so cautiously. I feel open to the world; I don’t feel scared anymore. I wish I could live the rest of my life in this moment, carrying the feeling with me in every passing second. This is the power of nostalgia.

What I do while using the supermarket self-service machines: I play that game where I try to swipe my points card so that the machine registers it in time and makes the till say “have you swiped your Nectar card accepted” in one sentence, instead of “have you swiped your Nectar card?… Nectar card accepted”.

How many times I’ve managed to do this flawlessly: Once.

What I tell my wife about the house that needs a new roof: I’ve been there before; the garage had burnt down a while back, along with all the belongings of their son who had died a few years ago. I told her I’d seen his school books amongst the ashes, and this was a difficult thing to see. I don’t think I could be a fireman or a policeman or a paramedic and have to see that and worse every day; hats off to them, I say.

What I think about the garage fire: I think we will love our children unconditionally, as if every moment is sacred – if we ever have any, that is. I believe life is precious, and you need to gather the best memories you can because one day your tangilble effects might be burnt off the face of the earth in front of your eyes and then all you’ll have left are your memories; I guarantee you won’t be expecting it either, and it’s always too late to do anything about it afterwards. It’s too easy to say “it will never happen to me”.

JP Collins