The Pretty Ones

July 26, 2012

The pretty ones get off at Highgate
And head home, up the hill
To their little terraced houses
Where they sit alone at sash windows
Twirl their hair, sigh and stare
At the world passing by below.

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One Year On

April 15, 2012

Lie in a dark room
With music colouring the walls
And a city humming below

Happy with nothing
Content to speak or not speak
And sleep only a little

Trace a line on skin
To stretch time into the dawn
And repeat

Then see, one year on
Five days will go missing
Lost to happiness

Across the aisle of the underground train
The music begins to stray from her ears
Staggering, weaving, it falls upon me
Not hard, not in anger; it is familiar
I know the peaks, recognise the refrain

And I watch as the corners of her mouth
Curl just so slightly with the sound of it
And her hands clench in some kind of caress
As if perhaps the heat from an old love
Has kindled life anew within her bones

Her smile growing now, as mine must be
She rises slow, rights her skirt and waits
Patient and calm before the doors
And I search for the music one last time
Listening for the traces as she goes

But I find, in her wake, the tune remains
And for a second it seems like a dream
Until my smile lets way to laughter
As the source becomes clear: not her at all
But a man, a few seats down
Across the aisle of the underground train

Thoughts Turn West

March 13, 2012

As the sun falls away
Our thoughts turn west
To a derelict house
And an uninvited guest
To the empty hearth
And the cracked chimney breast
To the broken windows
And a heart repossessed.

How little I care for the homecoming
For the parade
How unwelcome are the welcomes
Of those who remained

Unworthy of this pageantry
The deeds we’ve done
Unsuited to the revelry
To the fun

The crowd, with voices raised,
In celebration, in song
Remind me no more of glory
Than a right recalls a wrong

So wave the banners if you must
Sound your triumph call;
I care little for the homecoming
Or for coming home at all

Vertical Creases

February 24, 2012

You seem to be
A girl curious and free
Without a care to weigh upon your brow
For sometimes a series
Of faint vertical creases
Appears there in place of a frown

I first heard this poem in the TV show Breaking Bad, and it really clicked with me. I love the rising tension and frustration of the first half, and the relief and sudden peace of the final lines. Simple and beautiful.

When I heard the learn’d astronomer;
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me;
When I was shown the charts and the diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them;
When I, sitting, heard the astronomer, where he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room,
How soon, unaccountable, I became tired and sick;
Till rising and gliding out, I wander’d off by myself,
In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,
Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars.

Walt Whitman
Leaves of Grass (1900)