Bitter Vintage

I should be warm up in my bed,
Instead I sip on wine.
The whirling spinning in my head,
My thoughts will not go where they’re led,
Desires wasting and unfed
Call out to their kind –
And go unheard, and go unsaid,
And wither on the vine.

January

January, cruellest month of all,
April’s but a babe to bawl
While January squats, ancient, at the door
Dark, despairing at its core
Ready to pounce on Christmas mice
Ready to punish harmless vice
Forcing us to look long in the mirror
Where our failings could not be clearer
Before we are allowed into the light
We first must pass through January’s night

Anticipation of loneliness

Anticipation of loneliness
Holding back the fear
Longing for early closeness
Brush away a tear

In a dim bed, embrace
Time disappears in dark
Soft lips on invisible face
A touch of tongue, a spark

It is enough, no more
Settle onto outstretched arm
Warm breath heats the core
Unspoken spell turns harm

Out there time’s storms rage
Against our barricade of age

Dunbar to Waverly, 7.50 am

Light returns, the eternal theme
5 deer playing in the field
Every day we see them
As the train gathers speed

Across the rolling hills, verdant
The lonely mountain rises by the sea
A landmark, it shows our place
As we read our lives

Its peak catches morning light
Like a minaret calling prayer

Dark

That time
you know that time
The dark time

You stay up too late
You get up too tired
Neck stiff with frustration

The dark time is drawing
Drawing you
In

Time best spent in bed isn’t
Time spent burning candles is
Spent time burning

The dark time is calling
Calling you
Home

All the little birds

In springtime a girl’s thoughts
Turn lightly to her swain
And all of the little birds
Sing their sweet refrain

Toor-a-lie-lay
Toor-a-lie-lee
Fly away up
To the top of the tree

In summer a woman takes
A lover to her bower
And all of the little birds
Sing of secret flowers

Toor-a-lie-lay
Toor-a-lie-lee
Fly away up
To the top of the tree

In autumn a mother rocks
Her little babe to sleep
And all of the little birds
Sing of promises to keep

Toor-a-lie-lay
Toor-a-lie-lee
Fly away up
To the top of the tree

In winter the grey lady
Forbids the birds to sing
So all of the little birds
Hide their heads ‘neath their wings

Toor-a-lie-lee
Toor-a-lie-lay
Close your tired eyes now
And dream of the day

Oh Jacob

Jacob wrassled with an angel
He threw him to the ground
Said “Tell God I’m gonna get him
Next time he comes to town
I got a bone to pick
I got a few complaints
When he comes he better bring
His toughest troop of saints”

Oh Jacob, oh Jacob
I understand why
It’s hard to bear
To see a loved one die

Now Jacob was a big man
Swung a twenty-pound maul
Worked on the roads round Louisville
From summer into fall
He wed his childhood sweetheart
The love of his life
Then God came down and took his
Newborn baby and his wife

Oh Jacob, oh Jacob
See that tear in your eye
It’s hard to bear
To see a loved one die

Now Jacob he searched high
And Jacob he searched low
Jacob he search fast
And Jacob he searched slow
He searched all through Kentucky
And down to Tennessee
He said “When I find God
I’m gonna hang him from a tree”

Oh Jacob, oh Jacob
Your hammer’s gonna fly
I know it’s hard to bear
To watch a loved one die

One Sunday down in Knoxville
God was standing by a church
Jacob said “Now listen God
You’re in a world of hurt.”
God said, “You’ll see your loved ones”
And to Jacob’s surprise
God pulled out a .44
Shot him right between the eyes

Oh Jacob, oh Jacob
Is that you on the rise?
Going to meet your loved ones
In that mansion in the sky

Oh people, oh people
God don’t mess around
You come looking for God
He gonna shoot you down

walking down these city streets without you

I am walking down these city streets without you
Just walking down these city streets without you
And I haven’t got a clue
Where I am going to
Just walking down these city streets without you

I am lying in this lonely bed without you
Just lying in this lonely bed without you
There’s only one pillow
Where once there was two
Just lying on this lonely bed without you

I feel like I’m losing my mind
If you look close you just might find
Without the you
In you and me
There is simply nothing left to see

I am living an empty life without you
Just living an empty life without you
And my red beating heart’s
Turned a cold shade of blue
Just living an empty life without you

And I’m walking these city streets without you
Just walking these city streets without you
And I haven’t got a clue where I am going to
No I haven’t got a clue where I am going to
I really haven’t got a clue where I am going to

Still the World is Blessèd in My Sight

Grey-drawn and grim the early morning light
The oiled egg spits and curses in the pan
But still the world is blessèd in my sight

Where blackbird sings to set the garden right
Honeysuckle drips on rusted watering can
Grey-drawn and grim in early morning light

Coffee black and bitter as a lonely night
While soft egg yolks trace golden where they ran
And still the world is blessèd in my sight

Rain patters, blurring colours almost bright
But ticking clock dictates the workday plan
Grey-drawn and grim in early morning light

Key turns in lock, then turns back to lock tight
I see on distant hills the soft rain fan
And  still the world is blessèd in my sight

I linger, one calm breath before the fight
Recall a kiss back when this day began
Grey-drawn and grim the early morning light
And still the world is blessèd in my sight

2 for Halloween – part 2, “The Ghost’s Lament for His Former Home”

I think it’s been three hundred year
This house has almost fallen down
No one I knew back then is here
Where once was field, now there is town

Once children came and broke the glass
Spooking them helped pass the time
Then there was that lover and his lass
See, scrawleded upon the wall – his rhyme

What will I do when those beams give
How can I haunt a pile of wood
It won’t be fit for a ghost to live
I may have to go – this time for good

One day I’ll wake to heaven instead of dawn
I hope the spiders miss me when I’m gone

2 for Halloween – part 1, “In the Dark”

In the Dark

You never saw me, did you, there, in the dark room?

I was standing right there, by the window, watching you as you came in and sat on the bed. You looked – how shall I put it? – a little lost.

You took off your jumper and threw it on the floor. I almost went over, to pick it up, tidy it away, but stopped myself. What would have been the use, anyway?

You buried your face in your hands for a long minute. Were you crying? I took a step, the smallest, tiniest of steps, but then you suddenly stood up, and I froze.

You came to the window to look out over the back garden. A distant street lamp shining through the trees cast a complex illumination across your face.

I held my breath, then let it out when you turned away. You never saw me and I was only six inches away. If I had put my hand out and touched your face, would you have felt something?

You fell into bed with your clothes on, tossed and turned for a few minutes, then became still – so still. Until I saw your hand twitch, I wondered.

Now, asleep, I can sit on the bed next to you, and here in the dark, softly, soft as a memory, caress your fine hair with the tips of my fingers.