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I haven’t called you a sanctuary
for a little while, but you are
the three hours distance, that space
the open sea air and the lapping waves
are enough to afford me breath
are enough that I can live
my coast, my recovery
from the landlock I lived in
for twenty-two years
so if I work too hard – if I don’t see you
dear city, let it be known
you are still sanctuary

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Drowning

I love you when you’re drowning -
pretty face with blue cheeks
eyes popped out in a new series
of late nights, stained shirts
early mornings missed and
papers left unread
burst veins left you bloodshot
crying, crawling, nails snapped
breathe in the water, suck it down
you’ve never been prettier
than when you drown

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Brighton

Dearest town, at this time brighter
somehow in lights and trees
I’m fascinated and still, I cannot
leave. Every town is lovelier
with crisp air and a little beer
and god, the clear night sky
I haven’t seen stars since
the last time I lay drunk
and looked up from my pebbles
dearest pier, I’m glad you’re here
and I have not become jaded
with time and with closeness
thank you, again – for a night
I could not have had back north

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Last Christmas

Last Christmas I fucked up, didn’t I? I left for 20 hours at a time, I left to get money and to drink and to be with people who just don’t give a shit. And I left one time, didn’t I – only to get beaten and bruised and left all used and I still cry, I do. Daily if I hear an accent or feel a shiver that makes me remember, I die. I fucked it up, I let writing and reading slide and I let myself leave. This Christmas I swear I am there – from November til January I am here. I am writing and reading again, I am safe again. Lover and family, I won’t abandon.

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Wintertime

The sun might yet come and I see it, sometimes
over tables and chairs, through glasses and mugs
but not here – not when I am free or alone
not in bed, not on the beach – it’s dark, still,
even with the sailboats and the deckchairs
winter is harder than autumn, in ways
but in christmas dinners served and lit-up lanes
we can find a little comfort, still

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Autumn

I should tell you I
haven’t made time to write
I’ve been hiding -
making up my mind
and the leaves have still
been dying

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On the Road

So I went cross-country, cross-my-country
cross our teeny-tiny dark little country
from South to centre and to the West
to find something, maybe, that wasn’t
found at any destination – but on the road
and I read On the Road, too, and rather
than enlightening, I found it annoying
I mean well done, for romanticising
a lack of any editing or money, for that matter
but okay – I took something from it. Okay.

I took away that the road is a place to be
and that in the passenger seat, a friend beside me
drinking in every tree and turn of our country
I found a few words inside me on the train
and I blurted them out quickly before St Pancras
North Somerset took us West, and its roads
took me home. I spat up a few words here and there
and I felt a little safer in my own body
when I came back South

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