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 #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 #99 – Moon makers

Both of us talk low in the gaslight
our nerves tremble against the air
digging up ghosts from where we know they are lying
in the absolute darkness and the space between tears.

Embraced with each other we sway in the jaunt of the piano
where Hope rolls over the hill
we are two lamps in the small hours clinging to the half light
and the embers from the coal fire that settle on the sill.

You say “it looks a little more like love
now we’ve cleared the air”
all the hurts laid out before us:
too many for us to count or about which to care.

Even still, we hide from each other our deepest scars
as if a child can somehow learn the world from the womb
and so the time it has come and down on one knee I ask you:
with all the billions of suns up there, what make you of the moon?

JP Collins

A poem #98 – Call it change

Put all of the offices at the bottom of the sea
one-thousand metres or more down,
they do nothing up here but spread our darkness
they know of no consequence, no bounds.

Put all of this triteness in a canning jar
and shake it vigorously around,
break up the monotony of this endless terror
where the notes disconnect from the sound.

Put all these tired, old problems aside
cut them into their objective parts,
these serve only to distance us from each other
to drive good people of the world apart.

Put all these learnt “differences” that drift aimlessly
together so they are no longer estranged,
weave them into a beautiful, vibrant cloth
and call it change:
call it change,
call it change.

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 #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