I remember how my hand fit into yours with welcoming ease and the warmth of your skin heated my tepid fingers as we walked along the beach
the North Sea was trembling with chilling intensity – as we skimmed stones plucked fresh from champagne-gold sand they wisped over waves their light friction warming the water and calming the sea
I told a joke about blushing lobsters and seaweed you laughed because it was so bad and the frame of your face lit up the dusky sky better than the distant hilltop fire beacons could ever hope to
I’m hoping this has all has gone to plan – that some years have passed – and our hands still fit each others that the message I buried in this bottle is not lost to the tide like so many other romances and we’re reading this in the spot where we sat and snuggled that night stargazing at the peach-kissed setting sun on the horizon
– because I know that I will love you forever.
Thanks for taking the time to read this poem dedicated to my beautiful wife, Christine.
Opportunity rasped repeatedly at my door knuckles bloodied, bruised and broken until they were incapable of knocking again I chose to open up once silence fell with head bowed I took it’s palms in mine and healed sores with words ‘Why didn’t you answer ?‘ Opportunity asked and in my mind the truth was told – ‘there are far more deserving than I‘.
Thanks for taking the time to read this poem. I hope you enjoyed it. If opportunity knocks, always answer because it may take you to places you could only dream about.
I remember the things I learned watching Grandstand on Saturday afternoons at my Great Grandad’s house like the rules of snooker, darts and horse racing how to pick a winning horse out the newspaper (look at the jockey) sound like Woody the Woodpecker how to use a mangle to dry out clothes still steaming from the old washing machine I found that snuff tobacco was minty and cured a sniffle that I preferred my squash diluted and scotch eggs and ‘black bullets‘ are the food of kings The most important thing he taught me and many others – was kindness.
Although Grandstand Saturdays came to an end I still keep what I learnt sacred in my mind and heart except the food I eat that.
Thanks for taking the time to read my poem. A little letter to my Great Grandad who used to have me round when I was a kid.
A September Saturday in 1995 the four a.m. sea air is salt-sour silicate sand shimmers under the after-midnight-blue canopy the waning moon a spotlight on discarded worm skins
I dig since I’m the youngest – because even morning fishing trips have hierarchies – success arrives after ten minutes of shovel and scoop we loot the fresh bait they can wriggle all they want we own them now
we march in early morning muteness preserving our energy until we can cast off and pour ourselves a flask-coffee topped with a nip of whisky
destination reached we pick our spots wisely or not our rods are set with hands stained with dying worm-dye
waiting for the first ripple or bend of pole the craic is quiet about the things men like to talk about as dawn passes over us
an hour passes by then three of five rods begin to quiver the ancient part of our hunter-brains spike our natural instincts
we let our rods sway luring in the line tenderly then reel rapidly drawing in a decent-sized pollock the crack of the baton gives me the first of a few fish caught before the nearby B&B’s serve their breakfasts.
After some further success we head back to the van our shoal are all fair sizes my pollock glimmering longest in the bucket but hierarchies exist and I may get landed with a small plaice but where there are hierarchies there are rites of passage and it’s the first fish i’ve caught so I get to keep it
I also get to gut all the catch my fumbling numb fingers dyed crimson by dead fish find their rhythm and I’m proud to be on the first rung of the hunter’s hierarchy.
I used to go fishing in Northumberland regularly, this poem is about when i first started out, I was 12. One of our neighbours took me with his friends, it was always a great experience.
We called the travelling funfair “The Shows” the same way our parents did when they arrived in The Wick late summer excitement that smelled of hot sugared doughnuts, flowing diesel and damp trampled grass the air was always a kaleidoscope of flickering lightbulbs and brightly painted plywood shrill screams of exhiliration could be heard over a mile away layered over a techno soundtrack thumping with the pulses of waltzer-spun teens and kids riding the ghost train anticipating the supersoaker squirt on exit sometimes I liked to play the bandits tuppence to ten-pence a go so nothing to lose really the games were good to – one night I hooked six banana-yellow ducks and walked home with six goldfish struggling to hold the punch balloon and pink-pillow candy floss in my other hand it was a great time to be alive amongst crowded smiles and double denim spending my paper round and pocket money like fun was going out of fashion and just the other day I saw an internet flyer “The Shows” are back this year travelling up and down the coast and although I’ll not see them I can taste the air –
the flavour of excitement.
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Instead of sleep in the early hours I sit and listen to the siren song of the starlings and finches at four am they gather on the dew-kissed fencetops when the delicate new day is climbing from grey earth to sherbet-pink sky and I wonder what’s to come in the next 19 hours before my head hits the pillow because – although most days are the same – like the dawn chorus everyday is different.
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I almost drowned once down near the mill swimming the current of the Coquet three quarters of the way across my legs lost power against the undertow I’m lucky Peck kept his eyes on me as the river reeds wrapped around ankles my head bobbing up and down like a braeburn on bonfire night and the rest of the boys jumped back in like working-class Hasselhoffs and pulled me to the side they were much stronger swimmers than me
a quick rest and pat on the back spitting up some of the river then swigging back some calming Carling the realisation – dawned on me – I had to swim back facing a new fear head on because backstroke was no good I’m lucky I’ve got such great mates we swam back together like geese fly – in formation – reaching the riverbank’s safety and although my swimming didn’t improve that day my character did.
Thanks for taking the time to read my poem, an autobiographical piece of my younger days.
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As teenagers we swam the river at 4 in the morning the cold pink pre-dawn watched us flail our underage drunken legs unsteady in the calm water feeble attempts to wash away the taint of cheap vodka, value cola and sleeping bag sourness
we were like calves breaking away from the protection of our parents arrogant and unwise to the world we thought we knew best but even the young Shorthorns upstream had more sense than us because they knew better than to bathe in others shit
I don’t know whose idea it was for all of us to jump in fully clothed probably Dave’s – he was partial to a plan – and vomit he was a puppet king of sorts living in the shadow of the castle
we were a sight walking the back lanes to drip dry crumpled kids carrying crumpled tents and crushed up sleeping bags stumbling home without words spoken the only sound heard was the clanging of dragging pegs and poles chittering out a slurred morse code that forces a gang of grins a simple message – ‘Same again next week’.
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