The ocean welcomes,
makes hollows for bodies,
you are caught in the pauses.
The space between us no longer five feet,
the gap a step too wide,
and I am on the wrong side.
Words are not needed,
are carried away on the waves.
Tonight you will sleep with salt,
will feel the water as it washes yesterday’s grime from your mind.
The sea knows you, reads the weakness in your knees,
follows the lines of your face,
sees the story in your eyes,
and rolls onwards.
Robert’s a story magician,
pulls tales out his hat,
has tricks for every year he’s lived,
each place he’s been.
He deals another story,
shrouded in mystery,
hidden beneath velvet cloth,
waiting to be revealed
by deft slight of tongue.
Blink and you’ll miss it.
A hint of humour, a glint in the eye.
And the punch line is delivered,
then disappears under his cap.
He waves magic hands,
we perch on the edge of our seats,
with baited breath.
Wondering where he’ll take us next.
This poem is about Refugees and Asylum seekers and was written for Newcastle’s City of Sanctuary award…
People fleeing danger simply want safety,
for the past’s become a movie on a loop in their memory.
Fleeing crisis is not a choice,
not a case of where can I go to sponge.
It’s not a holiday booked weeks before,
not a destination they’ve been dreaming of.
They’re not planning how they’re going to cheat the system,
they’re planning how to live.
They’ve come empty handed, and hope is all they have.
They’re frightened, they’ve left so much behind.
Leaving is not the easy option,
they’re running from fear.
Is it so hard to be human,
to help another who has fallen?
Why is it that the poorest countries, take more people in,
have the most open borders?
Are we so removed, so afraid of pain,
that we would deny those who have nothing?
I’m not one for religion, but surely those who can
should share something?
Never mind that they don’t actually take our houses, jobs or council tax,
never mind that politicians and media hacks,
play games and lie about the facts.
How would they like to live on less than five pounds a day?
If someone stands before us,
it is the least we can do to offer sanctuary.
The least we can do is offer sanctuary.
I, being short of stature
always looked up to you.
A childhood habit
I never grew
You were friend to all
looked down on no-one.
And somewhere, round about your shoulders
there was an unspoken understanding.
Summer is a promise made at dawn,
beckoning bronzed skin. It is open skies
which always seem to smile. The pull
of the sea as it unstitches its seams.
Summer is gulls that call to morning,
before it has even begun. It is warm rain
on shoulders that will not fail.
Summer drifts, its truths revealed.
There’s no rewinding the sun.
Dandelion clocks let free their second chances.
In salty spray pink petals drop.
The forever of summer is caught in autumn’s spell.
Chased by an umber wind, just passing through.
Night bathes in the eye of the moon.
She met circumstance. Shook him by the hand.
Offered a drink. It was declined.
“No need,” he said, “no time”.
“So what’s the plan?” she asked, in innocence.
“Plan?” he laughed, “You presume too much”.
And off he scuttled.
Following, she noticed seasons pass,
till all was white.
Then he gave her brush and canvas.
Autumn brings gifts.
Lays them at her feet.
A golden offering.
It plucks leaves from trees.
Weaves a dappled carpet.
Turns moisture to mist.
Turns green to bronze, to russet, to red.
Autumn kneels before her, arms outstretched.
Drawing warmth from summer’s fading breadth.