The Feelings

the feelings:
hide them away.
sweep them under the carpet.
anything but deal with
the implications
might be too heavy.
sunlight might degrade them;
better keep them in the dark.

a sentence
said many times before
somehow seems to mean more
unexpectedly,
but was i tripping?
did i imagine the telepathy?
in that suspended second
we’re strangers to ourselves.

for a minute i’m sure
i know the score
but the mind is a black box
so i guess i’ll never understand.
wish i could ask the algorithm
what i’m feeling,
put a shovel in the soil
and unearth the meaning.

it’s the end of the song
and it’s perfect,
hits different
when you’re alone.
i’m on another planet,
mind on another plateau.
goosebumps:
he gets it.

You Were Never Here

You were never here.
It must have been a dream.
I didn’t shed a tear.
I took one for the team.

You were never real.
My mind was playing tricks.
I thought I saw a ghost.
I was looking for a fix.

You were just
another absentee,
reinforcing all
I’ve come to fear.
The things you said
were just a set up
for the punchline
where you disappear.

Your profile was redacted.
Your face was never clear.
You left the role you acted.
You were never here.

I took evasive action.
I stayed on an even keel.
I made a shortcut out of town.
You were never real.

You were just
another illusionist,
making your exit
in a puff of smoke.
The atmosphere
grows ever thicker
and it’s harder
not to choke.

I wiped you from the records,
forgot how you made me feel.
In the end, it’s almost like
you were never real.

Now I sit here waiting,
waiting for the fog to clear.
And if anybody asks me,
you were never here.

Waymarkers

Wandering,
watching for waymarkers,
trying to find my feet.
The weight of all I could be
crushes me with its
uncertainty.

I fear I am shackled
to a destiny
beyond my control,
committed
through no choice of my own,
curtailing my liberty.

Grappling,
I go against the grain,
swim against the current.
I set myself on fire
just to prove that I am
free.

There is a tangle
of loose ends
in need of tying up:
a nexus of possibilities
in need of condensing down
to a single reality.

Pondering,
impatience pushes me
to complete the puzzle,
rushing toward a resolution,
spoiling the ending
of the story.

In my insecurity,
my position is tenuous:
craving reassurances,
seeking stability,
cementing my status
lest it slip away from me.

Introspecting:
I is a capital letter
and every decision
is hard bound –
an existential threat
to my identity.

How far must I climb
before I break
the crest of clouds
and can look
back on the mountain
philosophically?

Backdating
my appreciation of beauty,
re-contextualising
the peaks and valleys,
sunshine guillotines
carving me.

Fires don’t dream
of self-immolation.
I summon the courage
to keep the faith
that the path will clear
so I can see.

Nocturnes

I’ve been guarded
for your sake
as well as mine.
I fell into a hole
that opened up
for a time.

I’ve been trying
to reach out
from inside a void.
I was trapped
between two sides
of the same coin.

In the nocturnes
my shadow overtook me
and it felt like
the end of the world.
In that moment,
we’re wound in tight
and we don’t come
unfurled.

I’ve been trying
to fit a square peg
in a round hole.
A scarcity mindset
had me digging for
fool’s gold.

In the neon black
a spirit overwhelmed me
and it felt like
meeting an old friend.
In that moment,
we’re propelled on
toward a future
with no end.

I’ve been praying
that the chaos
cuts apart my zen.
I had to let
the engine cool
to start it up again.

I’ve been listening
to the silence
of the machine.
I remembered
the reality is better
than the dream.

In the dark sunbeam
I skip octaves,
improvising, racing
to the next note.
I keep finding
evidence of you
in every verse
I quote.

Bavarian Hills / Welsh Waves

Bavarian hills
rolling,
rolling past me,
receding from view,
and when they vanish,
it’s hard to believe
they were ever there.

Not like Bernard,
my stopwatch
never seems to work
and the horse is always
before the cart,
ignoring all requests
to slow down.

Hindsight was 20/20
but it got blurry:
optical flow.
Torrents battered
against the windshield,
a barrier against the
elements.

In the cold light of day,
nothing is any clearer.
The rear view is cracked
and the windows are blacked.
The mind is a to-do list
with no space for
reflection.

A barrage of distraction
and ill-considered
confirmations
clutter up the schedule:
the anxieties of a life
full to the brim,
overflowing.

Still, I march on:
well-oiled automaton,
capitalism baked
into my gait,
striving for efficiency,
shaving seconds,
plugging holes.

Off the grid,
I turn off the channel,
wipe the calendar clear,
wave my hands
and watch it disappear:
room to breathe
for a while.

A wide open beach
is a wide open head
as the air rushes in
to fill the gaps,
sand between toes
and wind whistling
past synapses.

Two aeroplanes
harmonising,
duetting in the sky,
casting reflections
on the sea.
Forgotten feelings
swim to the surface.

Protect your peace
or war will be waged
upon it.
Clear the debris,
and prune the shoots
for new growth;
make space for yourself.

Welsh waves
break against the beach,
and I hope they clear
the clutter in my head,
the push and pull
of the tides
in my mind.

Unmoored

I have become unmoored
and to my surprise,
I am not lost.
The centripetal pull
of my omphalos
has faded.
Now I am free to roam
and navigate
these choppy waters.

Becalmed so long
in an ocean so still
and so far from the shore
that I forgot I was
at sea at all.
For a time, I indulged
a facsimile of peace
to avoid the pain
of growth.

Now I sit inside
a new atmosphere of
possibility.
On the crest of a wave
that crashes out in
all directions,
I hold on and try to tolerate
my powerlessness
to steer its course.

Destiny stepped in:
I accepted
that I could not know
whether the voyage I charted
led to salvation.
My spirit was starving
so I took the plunge.
I threw away the life jackets
and blocked the exit hatch.

Somewhere in the storm,
I feared
I might disappear,
that I should turn back
while I still had the chance.
To rewrite your mythology
is a kind of death:
the ego doesn’t know
it’s a phoenix.

I found strength,
drew upon reserves
waiting to be drawn upon,
bristling with impatience
for shirking
my duty to myself,
but no matter my tardiness,
I made it here
in the end.

Coming up for air,
I am reborn,
as who I do not know
and maybe not so different
as I would like to believe,
wide-eyed and
high on experience.
But there’s no going back
to where I started from.

Slow Dancing

Trapped in this prison cell,
I am my own warden
and I threw away the key.
Slow dancing by myself
with these four walls
closing in on me.
 
My universe got smaller,
the skyline shot up all around me,
the sun was blocked from view.
The present was unbearable
but I bore it all the same
because I had to.
 
Voices calmly crackle
and it helps for a second
just to know that it will pass.
What Einstein failed to mention:
time goes slow
when you want it to go fast.
 
Remembering the headlines
that caused an avalanche
in my head.
Facts and figures triggered
flashbacks of a darker time
as I lay awake in bed.
 
Now I am the leper,
a fugitive on the run
with tragedy in my breath.
Caught in the crossfire
of blinding lights,
lungs filled with death.
 
The city is ravaged,
a war-torn wasteland
through my eyes.
I step out for my sanity;
others stay as long as
they feel they can survive.
 
There’s a gauze
stretched over the world
and the atmosphere is thick.
Swimming in dysphoria,
a solitary ripple could
flick the switch.
 
Anxiety is an alarm clock,
the Alexa that whispers:
this time it’s for real.
The boy who cried wolf
was bound to get it right
with enough spins of the wheel.
 
Now I am an insect
preserved in amber,
begging for fresh air.
A swallow singing
sticks in my throat,
reminding me it’s there.
 
A flicker of freedom:
the clouds begin to dissipate
as soon as I stop staring.
But the tree will need uprooting
to shed the weight
I’m bearing.  

25 and 0

25 and closer to 0 than 1:
the numbers take their toll.
The score says I’m ahead
but I switched sides.

I saw a rare bird.
I felt the urge to shoot it dead
but I held my nerve.
I kept my cool.

Sometimes I think
I should have pulled the trigger,
blood and feathers
drenching us in crimson.
 
Those let-it-happen
sweet dreams of seconds
saturated with the struggle
of letting go.
 
I felt the pull of the universe
but I fought the tide
taking me to you.
I spent all my willpower.
 
How good it would have felt
to throw away the fight,
follow the current,
and forget the consequences.
 
But once the moment fades,
another one is waiting
right around the corner.
There is no escape.
 
Cultivating virtue,
I ostracised my baser self,
depleting my potential,
wasting my time.
 
On the moral high ground
I caught a chill
that self-denial can’t thaw.
Sacrifice won’t keep me warm.
 
25 and closer to 0 than 1,
but would I feel infinite
with numbers on the board?
I guess I’ll never know.

Only One

A taxi driver reminded me I was 
mortal. This life is
the only one I’ve ever known 
so it’s easy to forget that
it’s precious.
Abundant but priceless:
the usual rules don’t apply 
when you’re talking about
everything.
 
Superstition sowed the seeds of
solipsism. This life is the only one
I’ve ever known
so it’s hard to think that
it’s not special.
I seek fame for validation
of my divinity,
then reject my grandiosity;
meditate on my mortality. 
 
I fell for the reflection in the
mirror. My image is the
only one I see,
so it’s hard to believe that
it wasn’t meant to be.
Faith in fate brings reassurance
that this narrative 
will end in a blaze of glory:
a hero’s denouement.
 
Rebellion is curbed by
self-consciousness. Being
the only one is lonely,
so it’s easy to see why so few
reach the top.
I idolise the übermensch
but find comfort as the everyman,
succumb to conformity
while aiming for the galaxies.
 
Vicarious voyeurism steers this
vessel. This body is
the only one I’ve ever owned
so it’s hard to shake the feeling that
they’re watching.
We flaunt our peacock feathers,
amplify our sound,
all to attract their gaze,
then hide when our cover is blown.
 
Silent, we float in solitary
space. Connection helps us
remember
that we’re not the only ones
suspended in experience.
Hands outstretched,
we bleed just to make contact,
we martyrs to the solitude,
searching for an end,
searching for more than
only one.

Lens Flare

Looking through the shutter of my mind,
I am the statue in the time-lapse.
The cars blur past me.
The panic rises.
I freeze.

The timer counts down the seconds
of every moment ever precious.
The flashbulb blazes bright
then fades to black.
Say cheese.

Can we call a timeout?
I want to exist in this snapshot a while longer.
Could I be doing more?
Nothing feels like the best thing to do.
Life is full to the brim but it’s passing me by.

How many shots do we get
until we have to admit that it’s over,
that we’ll never get the perfect picture?
Every moment grows ever heavier
as I try to buy more time.

The darkroom down below
prints stills of the regrets
that will adorn the gallery walls
when the shutter closes for the final time,
warning of my future failures.

And in my mind’s eye,
paparazzi cameras point at me:
portals to another reality.
They write my biography
and I read it, I believe it.

With his lens, I imagine
the photographer condemns.
I tell him to stand aside:
I felt what I felt
and nothing has to be justified.

Can we avoid their angles?
I see my image in their mirror.
Can we stand apart but not alone?
I resent the rules of the game they play.
I cut off my nose to spite my face.

Filter set on sepia,
we live in a photo collage
on a timeline in this
thin slice of history
we’ve been apportioned.

All the photographs never taken
for fear of their reception
are burned onto my retina
but still, my finger freezes:
the light is never quite right.

The ticking of the timer
is louder every passing year,
the hourglass emptier,
and I’m still out of frame,
trying to pick a pose.

Will we ever learn our lesson?
The photographer is doomed
and so redeemed
by every scar and mote of dust,
the patina on the bronze bezel,
every sunbeam scattered
across the lens.