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 #84 – Living for the weekend

Forgive me if my reaction to your statement
seems a little queer,
but living for the weekend
is only fifty-two times a year.
What do you do with your time
in the remaining two-hundred and sixty-one,
if you do not allow yourself
to have any fun?
What is it that stops you
from using the in-between 5s,
and prevents you from making
the most of your lives?
Is it pursuant
to increasing your money –
the magical numbers
that make all things appear “sunny”?
Why, for your salary,
must you slave
and waste all your time
and all of your days?
For the earth is beautiful enough
without all your workings,
and more often than not
you both suffer at the hand of your hurtings.

JP Collins

A poem #64 – Short-tempered

I have become increasingly short-tempered with life,
but what has caused this anguish and grief?
Is it the billions of stars above our heads,
to which most pay no heed?
Or the sickening, pathetic actions
of the extremist religious creeds?
It could be our working life,
and our incessant administrative need.
Or perhaps it is our requisite for riches,
and the impending greed.
Maybe, it’s just what we’ve done here under the stars,
damaging the earth, and the air we breathe.

JP Collins

Quiet musings… day #3

What I have for breakfast in the morning: Bran Flakes, with part Soya milk and part skimmed milk because there isn’t enough Soya milk to cover. They can’t call it Soya milk because it’s not really milk, so they call in Soya Light because Soya bean juice doesn’t sound that appetising. I have been using Soya Light for two months now because I like the taste of it – I swapped from milk because my osteopath suggested I try it for a few weeks to see if I am intolerant to dairy.

What I am not intolerant to: Dairy.

What my head says to me this morning: I’m still hurting you. It’s not stress. It’s not a tumour. It’s something else, but I won’t tell you what it is. It’s been four months now but I’m still not going to tell you. I feel frustrated, like it’s blowing a childish raspberry at me.

What my wife says: Go back to the doctor.

What I worry about while chewing my fingers: Losing my job because of my illness and the relaxing work loads.

What I see on the drive to work: That schoolgirl who walks as if she has a second brain that controls the lower half of her body; a brain that has fallen out with the one in her head and no longer talks to it, but does something different just to spite it so that from the waist down her body twists and turns in the opposite direction to her upper half as she walks. Everything about her is uncomfortable; alien. I think that she’ll have muscular problems and maybe joint problems when she’s older.

What I do when I get to work: Make a doctor’s appointment.

What I think I’ll say to me wife if we go volunteering in Africa: Let’s stay, we make a difference here. Fuck our life back home, fuck it all away. Let’s stay here and help these people. Let’s dance with those we have helped and who are now fit and strong again, our feet beating down on the skin of the earth. Let’s stay here, please?

What the doctor says: Go and see a neurologist.

What I am doing: Concentrating on writing, so that I can put flesh on the bones of my dreams.

What happens on the drive home: I go past an old friend’s house who normally has his car in the driveway but today it is not there and his parents have left no room for it by the way they have parked their cars. I think maybe he has left home sometime since I last saw his car parked there, he has his own place know, experiencing his own things and living his own life. I hope he is happy because he used to have a problem with drugs and he’s too nice to ruin his life hanging around the people he took them with.

What the cats want: One wants cuddles, one wants food, and the other wants to be left alone atop the fridge where the compressor’s operation has created a warm spot.

What my wife and I do: Laugh at how Luciano Pavarotti sings La Traviata because we think he sounds like he’s singing “oh elephants yes!”, instead of singing about drinking from the joyful cup.

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

A poem #6 – Some space to breathe again

Shower, shit , shave, everyday, it’s all the same,
endlessly looping frame by frame.
Shirt, tie, shoes shined,
a badge so I don’t forget my name.
It reads “insignificance”,
but what’s the difference anyway?

I ponder my life’s choices with a sting of regret,
and pray for a dosage to make me forget.
The same job, the same commute,
tired dreams, the same pursuit.
The grey rut in which I’m stuck, I yearn to buck the trend,
I yearn to find my happiness, some space to breathe again.

Office, desk, slave, everyday, nothing’s changed,
revolving bleakly day by day,
Clock watching, slows the time,
a mirror so I don’t forget my face.
insignificant, unrecognisable,
what’s it matter anyway?

I sit anxiously, yellow fingers, shaking, sweats,
bent almost double, choking on a cigarette.
The same pub, the same walls,
lower heights, the same falls.
The time has come to make a change, I yearn to buck the trend,
I yearn to find my happiness, some space to breathe again.

JP Collins