Stay positive, stay strong
Unyielding, unflinching
Or neutral, an even keel
Even slightly despondent but never negative
Down, despairing and distraught

Your chest barely moves as you sleep
I turned over and stopped
Paused, checked to hear you breathe
We’ll say it’s the nicotine

Withdrawal, the cleanse
The cold hard look in once bright
Eyes, fixed on you and reading right through
Every word, line, chapter, verse

To the core, seeing nothing more than
A stiff stone where a flame once burnt
Brighter than a thousand analogies
And shining like a tired metaphor

Breathe, stop, calm, control
Repeat, breathe, stop
Stock still, hand on heart
On hip, on the hilt of your sword

Wearing words as weapons
Without a shield of faith, fortune
Confidence or self belief
Attack is the best form of defence

Lean in, put your best foot first
And hope you don’t catch a glancing
Blow, little dancer
Cute as a cat yet far less fast

Intake, pause and open your mouth
Then realise that real eyes see real lies
And you really have nothing
Worth saying, that hasn’t been heard before
Wrote before, conveyed before

In far finer style than anything you could compose
Succinct, snappy sound bites
And quotes you could see
In calligraphy on a stone slate

Four hundred years from now
Yet your words will never be
Anything more than small spaces
On small bookshelves

Shown off by an aunt when she welcomes
A friend, for cake
Coffee and comforting words
About the latest little problems
In all our little lives

So breathe, stop, calm, control
Repeat, breathe


Let’s be honest
He said, she said, they all said
As I sat there flipping that coin
Nonchalant and repetitive

You never wanted any of this
Its not how you planned
What you dreamt
What you thought and where you
Imagined you would be
Could be

When you stood so proudly ten years ago
With dew glistening on those fresh white wings
Spreading out behind you
Feeling the breeze on your face
The wind in your hair

And now the sand in your eyes and ashes in your mouth
As you clamber through the dirt
They lied to you when they told you that those
Crisp feathers were for anything other than decoration
Ornaments laden with sentiment

Yet you were the only one who didn’t see through it
You must have done something wrong to end up here
Hard work and humble pie makes a man into
A mouse

A snivelling, sniffling rat
With a scabby fur and mouldy tail
Those crude pigeon wings strapped, taped to your back
By capricious kids and the cackling fat masses

You never wanted this
Or saw this coming, creeping and climbing
Declining like your health and mind
Wrapped up, trapped in that bone skull shell

Heck, I know what I want
But how to get there
And where there is
Will always escape and elude me

I’m far too old, far too soon and so far from
The goal, I’m kicking it about
Playing keepy-ups by my own corner flag
Flung far back in defence
Too cautious and still sat soundly on the wrong end of a five nil thrashing
I shake my tail and wonder

Where is the cheese
Far beyond several false doors, buzzers, shocks and strong lights
Far too far for your furry white snout
Far too far for my pasty white self