When We Return

you probably love that I wrote this all about you
thank you for the years, I wish we could have had more

Grief, Awake


When his name is spoken
there’s this moment of clear
then the empty is broken
I remember he’s not here


There’s this moment of clear
when my eyes first feel the light
I remember he’s not here
lie unsleeping at night


When my eyes first feel the light
a new reality unfurls
lie unsleeping at night
around me memories swirl


A new reality unfurls
griefs sleeping beast is awoken
around me memories swirl
when his name is spoken. 


-----------------------

Heard by Gods


You entered rooms like a comet to Earth,

left a trail of dazzle behind you as you walked.

Around you, we’d bask in the shine, 

greedy heliotropes stealing your sun. 


And who could be mad at 

the stars for dying before we see them 

instead, we’d feel lucky 

just to have seen them at all.

-----------------------

Grass Stains


Summer, but the grass is wet

I lie back on a clover pillow

droplets cling to sun-bleached hairs 

bleeds into my clothes

until I’m pinned in place


I’m as greedy as the earth beneath me

absorbing more than I can handle

I spring up like I’m flowing

fling the water back into the air 

the grass reclaims what I took

I wait for the sun to shrivel me up again

-----------------------

Down the Line 


It was simple when

your voice was just a few

button presses away 

when our paths didn’t cross

the satellites connected us


Your name won’t pop up

in my new messages 

I keep your contact

safe beside our friends

you know you always have a home

worlds away


And down the line 

fifteen seconds of video

so I’ll never forget 

the way words sounded in your mouth.

-----------------------

King of Debates


I start fights with shadows 

of moments we can’t replicate 

screaming at someone who can never reply


King of debates, you won this one

concluded with the conviction 

I so admired in you


You left us questions 

stacked like books on a shelf

they’ll never find their answers 


If one were to topple over, 

send the others somersaulting to the floor

we might find logic amongst the broken spines.

-----------------------

Broken Constellation 


A group of stars

race to the earth

streams of laughter

like a roman candle

in the sky behind them


The brightest one

breaks from the group

lights up the planet beneath,

the others will follow

in light years to come


When it gets lonely down there

the constellations are a reminder

they’ll burn until their turn to fall

-----------------------

In Foreign Lands


I remember you in China

greater than the wall that lined the border

The Terracotta Army risen from rubble

soldiers in unison buried under time


I remember you in Italy

eyes of light reflected on Sorrento water

saw the heat-petrified bodies of Pompeii

at least they faced the end together


I remember you in my living room

propped against the arm of the sofa

now I pause in the doorway

sit in your spot to be close again.

-----------------------

An Indifferent Sky


It’s insulting for me to cry

about the things I used to 

everything should be insignificant

now that you’re gone


All my tears should be for you

laughter should’ve muted that day

what could ever be that funny again?


I still feel the slow bloom of peace

when I watch red skies tuck the sun into bed


Clouds, white or storm, 

stay on their path across our sky

perhaps one day there’ll be no guilt

that everything carries on.

-----------------------

Summer Downpour


The first chime of summer rain bouncing off the window pane pulls me from thought. I watch the rivulets on the glass. Two fat drops race to hit the bottom. They meander then plop, absorbed in the puddle below.


Not much of a summer, I think, before I can stop myself. The response like a reflex, I don’t mean it. At least this rain is honest. Sunshine is cheap. As if the light can send streaks over my eyes to block out the strange dark fog that lingers. 


I open the window to be engulfed by the scent of rain against the dry pavement. It spins me like a vortex to a place I’ve not been in a long time. The tinny sound of children laughing. Running with blazers too big, bodies too small. Puddles filling school shoes, they’ll squelch throughout last lessons.


Like summer rain, the relief from the smothering heat is only short lived. As each drip grows farther apart, I find myself wanting to stay in the downpour.

-----------------------


The Abbey 


The Park saw it all

grass trodden by the same feet, 

the footprints getting bigger 

as time trickled by 


The Cathedral witnessed unholy things

we sent sin into the Hallowed grounds, 

drunken laughter and tears 

echoed around the lake at night 


The Roman ruins stood through the years

a backdrop for our celebrations

crumbled remains most fitting

for the last time we were there 


We gathered the plastic cups, 

stuffed them into binbags,

we said our goodbyes 

left nothing behind 

indents on the grass.

-----------------------

Air Signs


Tears glow from the laptop screen

fairy lights across my cheeks

four AM in my hometown bed

in the city I pretend you still live.


Night air suffocating like the flames 

that would surround you only hours later

the crackles like static in my dreams

every night since you left. 


The curtains blew open in a 

windless night and for a breath

I almost reply with your name, 

but as the air leaves the room

the words slide back down my throat.

-----------------------

Tunnel 


Hold your breath when you enter the tunnel

don’t let it out until you see the daylight

what’s a couple minutes without air?

count the lights on the curved roof, 

watch them blur into one trail above

your lungs are growing impatient, 

held back from what comes naturally

urgency ascends up through your chest

tickles at your throat, willing the muscles to release

you’re not through yet, hold it for seconds more

defeated, you drop the breath from your mouth

the tunnel doesn’t end

-----------------------

Birth Day


Happy Birthday 

Three people posted on your Facebook wall.

Do they know you’ll never read them?

Or was it written in hope that you have

Wi-Fi wherever you are now?


No embarrassing pictures,

no thankyous to send 

again, I’m reminded

I won’t see your hair grey. 


Should I have a drink for you?

Or will the alcohol snatch me down

further into the bottomless sadness

where I had to make my new home

under the surface. 


So, how’s your first birthday without us?

no more wrinkles on your face 

I hope they play your favourite song.

-----------------------

Is There Someone with You?


Are there still things to bring out

the groove in your cheek or those 

creases that spread from

your eyes to your ears


Is there anyone to feel that 

strange fizz in their chest 

when they make you laugh

proud to have coaxed the sound up your throat


They told me to make sure

I had someone with me when they called

but all I could think was 

why weren’t we with you?

-----------------------

Sleepscape


On a rooftop I’ve never seen

surrounded by faces I conjured

the sky circles through hues like a party light

sun trampolines off of the windows


I shield my face from the beams

dodge them as if they’re lasers 

they follow my path to the edge

I stop on the border between roof and air,

my toes lined up with the brick


I step onto a passing cloud

its white grip tickles my ankles

I watch through eyelids

my heart water vapour in my chest

eyes open, and I see him


Like a mark on a white shirt

he’s the strangest thing in this place

he smiles, a tear drips from my cheek

dissolves the cloud beneath my feet

I hurtle to the ground, a comet

-----------------------

Celebrations of Life


There’s two marks in my diary

both with your name 

the one that fell into conversation

like any other word 


But now that sole syllable 

staggers out of my mouth

with the infinite weight 

of all left unfinished 


22 years and 2 months apart

now the first mark mocks the date

there’s no celebrating your birth

when you chose the opposite 


And like a marker through

every next day to come 

you never got to see 

this year’s calendar. 

-----------------------

Language


I’m learning another language for you

one where your name can’t be written 

so I can go one day without seeing it 

and maybe then this headache that I’ve had

might disappear somewhere in the characters 


I try to immerse myself in 2D worlds

one where things that should not fly can, 

but even between rendered trees you are the wind

snapping the leaves from their spindled arms

falling before autumn can even arrive 


Like a bruise you spread a darkness across everything

as if languages could keep you out of my head

as if you cannot crack through fantasy dimensions

I’ll create the sounds just to say your name again.

-----------------------

Missing God 


I think I found a god

with gel-spiked hair 

and a crater on his cheek 

that deepened when he smiled 


He slummed it with mere mortals

danced through us like rushing water

swept us into his stream 

only to deposit us in a field in August heat


His believers stood empty,

for us one last divine test 

he scattered himself before us 

into everything we see.

-----------------------

Dark Fruits


The sauna heat of British summertime

wiped steam across the pint glasses

condensation dribbled down our fingers

sticky from the sugar-thick drink


On the precipice of growing up

still using passports for ID 

we drank because we were allowed, 

felt older than our eighteen years


We laughed the way people do

when they know things are coming to an end

but think they have the promise of returning.

-----------------------

Non-Fiction


Tell me it’s a tragic ending

I’ll put the book down and find comfort

in the pages that came before


Show me it’s a sketch

I’ll find an eraser that leaves no trace

of the pencil lines I rub away


It’s an ongoing series

words still fumbling together 

one less character on the pages


It’s permanent ink 

I rip up the paper

but in the pieces I throw like confetti 

the marks remain.

-----------------------

One Sided Joke


Now I’m the only one 

that will see humour in the alcohol content

of the herbal remedy I sometimes

take to slow my breaths


My sides are unzipping at the irony

that even if I drank the whole bottle now

my chest wouldn’t let the air out


Will you laugh along if I launched everything

into this colossal tear in the air 

that grows and engulfs and takes and burns


Maybe I’ll stand in the windstorm 

so I can kid myself that the

whistle rush past my ears is your voice. 

-----------------------

If We Weren’t Young


I would step through the door

kiss you on the cheek 

that strange closeness 

real adults are okay with 


And find joy in the things

that used to shudder us with shame

those flat jokes

only parents seem to laugh at


Seeing you would be 

stepping off a plane after a trip

I could see volcanoes and waterfalls

but you would be where I belong


If we weren’t so young

I might’ve told you that I loved you

you would’ve known how I meant it 

I retracted the words


I thought there was time for that.

-----------------------

Summers End


September breathes out

scatters leaves like pills from a bottle

dressed up in the colours of sunsets

to hide that they’re dead 


Autumn-stripped branches

exposes between the gaps

no coat could protect me

from the winds that cut through


Endings choke my lungs

my goodbyes like barbs in my throat

I say them, but they leave holes

from my chest to my tongue

-----------------------

Grow Around It


It’s heavy now, it won’t always be

there’ll be laughter without shame

I won’t be angry at sun beams 

I’ll hang up our photos again


There’ll be laughter without shame

I’ll celebrate our shared years

I’ll hang up our photos again

there’ll be nights without tears


I’ll celebrate our shared years

but sometimes you might not cross my mind

there’ll be nights without tears

I’ll realise that it’s fine


Sometimes you might not cross my mind

still, some days it won’t be easy

I’ll realise that it’s fine

it’s heavy now, it won’t always be.