poetry

thought closet

fix your thought closet
some hangers i will not reveal

yesterday i lent you a green one
its shoulders bent on the ends
plastic ones bother me, the
curled head juts out, with
the eyes of a mother.
she looks for laundry.

i look for a jacket to hide
my feelings. neither of us win.

the cupboard will outlive us.
heavy sweaters
pressed t-shirts
and a lego man
are all shards of stories.

the closet remembers, and
creaks when it closes.

 

 

PhilosopherPoet

Standard
poetry

A stranger’s bed

for Sarah

We lay in a stranger’s bed.
Just the two of us, an old
painting hung behind our heads
and listened to the stories, my
awkward hands, limp on the mattress.

I watched the freckles dance on
your face when you laughed. Before bed we
both removed our glasses.

Between sentences we studied the other,
our naked faces learning a new
language. All over again.

On the second night, I was worn
down by work. Your voice trickled
in excitement, turning each page of intimacy.

I tried to stay awake and listen to
your stories. My eyelids rocked open and
shut like an old boat.
I did not make it to the end.

I asked you in the morning about
it. You said I slurred a sentence like
a sailor, and then nothing.

You turned in the current of duvet, and
waited for waves of sleep.

 

PhilosopherPoet

Standard
poetry

Mantra

Dream and laugh like a river.

Sing around the throat
of a fire.
Shout at the moon, because
she is your sentinel.

When you cry the river will
carry your tears away,
from the current of memory.

In anger I hurl my fists and
fury at the mountain.

He watches me through the
history of my words,

and accepts the challenge.

 

PhilosopherPoet

Standard
poetry

The Dinosaur

for my mother

I coloured in a dinosaur, at
the age of ten.

I selected five careful pencils and
put them all in a row.
Sharpened. The heads of fences.

I gave him silver claws, and a
dark green body. The colour oozed
into the page.

After an hour I had carved him
into a story, into my mind.

The teacher wafts around the
room, stacking reptiles into
an old palm.

A few days later the news broke.
I won the competition. My mother
chortled her praise, while she cooked
with a bent back.

I dreamed of art lessons
I won. Excited and curious. (I think
it was the silver claws that did it.)

I never collected my prize. I still
blame my mother. Only now I see
her lack of hands with two boys
bubbling in the house.

I wonder what she did to breath
back then. I think it was the piano.

I rocked in my dreams.
My mother stroked the keys, because
it cooled her head down.

It was her language.

 

PhilosopherPoet

Standard
poetry

Sheffield

 – for my father –

I remember the
medicine bottle.
A spiral grows from the
plastic cap, like DNA.

You used them for
hooks, sinkers and
swivels.

I dug through your red
bag of tackle, rolled
like a scroll.

Velcro cracks as
I peel it. Grains of
beach sand dance on
the plastic skin.

My fingers skip like an
excited jeweller. I hold
a grey weight in my hand.

I looks like a battered pyramid,
scars and scrapes
drawn into geography.

Under the butt there is a
metal loop to tie your line.

“This weight is for the sea.”
My father’s voice turns the
tide of my thoughts.

He tells me the pointed end
digs into the sand.
It holds the bait
that flies a bloody flag.

I finger 2 long
lead weights. dead weight.

Ten years on I can still
feel those dense shapes
in the oyster of my palm.

I can feel the smile spill
through the shrub of your beard.
I can smell the scent of a wooden path.

Brown arms become bronze,
Sea and sweat stick to our stories.
Have I become a fisherman?

Well, almost.

 

 

PhilosopherPoet

Standard
poetry

between the two of us

you are like the wind on a
mountain, your voice is supple.
it weaves through my old furniture
in the house.

my heavy pauses frustrate you.
when I plod from point-to-point
you are already riding rapids
in the rain.

I don’t think it will work out
between the two of us. I sit on
my sofa like a comfortable crab
your hands dance towards the
ceiling, parting curtains
hanging paintings

your fingers stroke the pulse of
sunlight, and my
eyes are buried in a book.

 

 

PhilosopherPoet

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Articles, Reviews

words for my father

Father Ballam hooking a big one.

My father is a warrior on many levels. He has risen up through the blizzard of a divorce. He soldiered through his own dyslexia and the currents of a busy family to conquer his Masters in Philosophy. (I better have another drink here this is starting to sound like a damn eulogy…and the bugger is still alive!) Allow me to reel this story in, the way one would clasp the steel nub of a coffee grinder’s arm. I can sum up my father in three words…

Fishing. Philosophy. Ideas.
These are the forces that drive him. They propel him onto the cold mud of a riverbank or into the furnace of concepts jostling in an academic paper. I know when he starts his 5 o’clock mornings ( a ritual the family has grown accustomed to), he first rustles around the kitchen like a wise old badger. To make his coffee he doesn’t turn on the kettle. Instead, he puts a pot of water on the stove and waits for it to boil.

Having a pint with the old man.

I remember being an angst-fuelled 23 year old telling him, “But that takes so much longer!”
He looked at me, a warm smile filling his eyes.
“You do not live with a woman and small children.”
His sensitivity, back then, baffled my own immature mantras. His modest income meant the houses he occupied where no mansions. In a nutshell, he would rarely give up his morning routine and at the same time…restrain himself so the family got enough sleep. Allow me to get back to the badger and his early morning.

My father in his element…or The Element perhaps?

Coffee in hand, he trundles to his favourite chair in the lounge. (If you read as much as this intellectual mammoth, you earn the right. Or perhaps, the chair finds you?) He sits down with a big red book of Rumi (a Sufi poet). It’s the perfect blend for him, mysticism and metaphor.

A gentleman always tells the truth. He allowed me to reel this fatty in so I could experience “the rush”. I compromised and said I’d take the photo as his hands were still full of fish!

Over the years poetry and books kept the two of us together. Much like a weekend for him, alone, pours cool consciousness back into his bones. He may not believe in a god, although he will make an effort to crawl back into nature to get in touch with something close to a Divine. Whether it’s internal or buried in the ripples of a rise…well, that remains to be seen.

Having another pint!

I love you Dad. Happy Birthday!

 

PhilosopherPoet

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