I’ve always loved poetry, even as a kid when my mum would read some of her favourites to me. “The Listeners” by Walter de la Mare and “Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening” by Robert Frost were highlights for me.
A poem, to me, is a lovely way of distilling down and sharing a thought, a scene, a sense or an emotion, that can go straight into someone else’s brain – and make them feel something.
I used to write lots of poems. From about the age of 16 until I was 30. I had a big A4 Black And Red hardback notebook and and I put them all in it. There were around 80, I think. A lot of them were overblown nonsense but some of them, from what I remember, were quite good. I liked them anyway.
And then I lent it to a friend of my then-wife who expressed an interest in them. Shortly after that, we got divorced, and I lost touch with the friend – as happens in the sad attrition of a divorce – and consequently lost my book.
I don’t really get attached to things – they’re just things – but I really do miss that book.
I salvaged three of them – I’d emailed them to some friends before the book went AWOL. This is one that I wrote in January 1996.
It’s no distance at all to that night
Where I always sit, formal and nonsmoking,
Your head on my shoulder,
Your mind gently dreaming.
The bar’s lights and darknesses move about me
And I couldn’t care less;
All these people, loving, arguing, not-loving:
The warm-up act until you wake.
Then you do, rubbing your eyes,
Blinking and smiling up at me, still a bit sleepy,
And all at once I’m fluent in nothing much
Except legerdemain gestures and ho-hum secrets.
So I tuck a random red curl behind your ear,
Excuse myself and wander, covertly drunk,
To the bog.
Where I’ll piss in the sink by mistake
And talk to myself in the mirror
About an algorithim of what to say
And exactly the right moment not to say it.