Thoughts on a park bench

Time stopped for a moment as the old man watched the children playing their careless games around him. They were untroubled and free, and he remembered when that was him, running wild in crisp autumn light. And just like him, he knew these children would grow old and experience unspoken pains, loves and losses.

But there would always be more children to take their place. New faces playing old games – a reminder of life’s unending potential. And he promised himself that when time started again, as it always did, he’d walk gladly into it with new eyes and an open heart, wiser than before.

Your Decay

Your walls stand weak against shadows that spread,
Warping your contents beyond all meaning;
The flakes of your past feeble from leaning.
I see it amongst you; within the dead,
It makes and becomes you like pure black dread.
Your floor starts to creak like heavy lungs heaving;
The wild echoes seamlessly convening,
Till darkness fills all of where you may tread.
But I will be there and forever stay,
Fighting your shadows with all of my light;
I came for a reason to gently lay,
Rest your fear and ease your darkest of blight.
Shadows become lucent; your night to day,
I’ll give you that hope, that passion, that fight.

The Frame

Resting against this pure white, sturdy wall,
Is a frame of glass, cheap plastic and grime;
Clinging to images of a lost time.
An inscription engraved in listless scrawl,
Of illegible letters used to haul
Back to moments that reek of the sublime,
When stood against walls that flattered its’ prime,
Unburdened by conscience, never to fall.
It frames white thoughts that may never have been,
A raging spirit that was never seen.
Dreams so often promised; never fulfilled.
Something to reach to; heavily instilled.
But amongst it all is a tiny clue,
An image within, of someone: it’s you.

Wasted Votes?

Written for The Green Party | Published 22/05/15 | http://sheffieldgreenparty.org.uk/2015/04/22/wasted-votes/

We see it so often – regular voters wary of a party they don’t want in power, therefore choosing to vote for their most preferred of the larger parties. On paper, it seems like the most logical decision. Why waste a vote on a smaller party with no chance of gaining power and having to spend another 5 years under a party whose manifesto goes against everything you believe?

While this may make some sense, it is nothing but a quick fix; making the most of a political system in desperate need of a shake-up. Parliament today, generally speaking, offers no real democratic discussion and a total lack of representation of what regular voters actually want and care about. There are simply not enough opposing views and individual voices there to influence Labour and the current Lib-Con government.

UKIP’s rise in the past few years has shown, for better or for worse, just how a small party can begin to influence big party politics and therefore grow as a result. They have managed to make immigration one of the key topics of debate in parliament. The Conservative-led government has adapted their policy to suit this zeitgeist and hold on to voters that may be swayed by Farage. UKIP  won’t get into power come May, but they’ve certainly left their mark, and will no doubt get the referendum they’ve demanded for so long.

Imagine this for another party. Imagine if all those potential voters of the Green Party, for example, decided not to worry about wasting their vote and to choose the party they really cared about. It may not happen instantaneously, but it is entirely plausible that the big parties will one day be absorbing the policies of the Greens and other parties too – and that can only be a good thing.

We need broader representation. Democracy is about everybody having a voice – not adapting that voice in fear of the least favourite man getting into power. Whilst the First Past the Post system really does inhibit smaller parties, encouraging voters to vote honestly and not tactically will certainly help give them a voice.

Glove

You’re watching your father’s car roll away from the drive through the slit in your bedroom curtains. He didn’t even know you were home. You’ve been hiding all afternoon. You draw in a determined breath as you clutch your slim wrists, hiding the mark. You’ve always been so slim, leaving you with that feeling of not yet being complete – a feeling you hid from all but me. Your physical awkwardness is charming to others, yet you’ve always seen it as a source of embarrassment.

The first day we met, I could see you sink into yourself almost immediately, protecting whatever it was that was inside. You spoke with such refined care, as if you were subconsciously spell-checking yourself at all times. I found out later that your politeness had been forced into you from an early age. Not just the ‘please’ and ‘thank-you’s’ that we’re each armed with from the moment language begins to form at our lip – yours was so intense that it became a shield to hide behind. Etiquette was etched into you so hard that today I can almost see the scars of it on your skin. You’re afraid of being found out, of having that paper-thin layer of poise peeled away that would inevitably reveal your true self. Your outer-strength is a white lie that hides your inner fragility. And that’s it. That’s your biggest flaw, that you hide that fragile perfection that makes you so beautiful.

I know you though, and I’m so grateful for the fact. I know that beyond the carefully constructed social life your family and peers create, beyond the politeness, the airs, the graces and the pristine house you live in, that deep down you celebrate the feral – the wild and the free. I know that this presents itself as a need to be outside at every opportunity and it was that need that brought us together.

His car is out of sight now. Quick, gather your things and get out. Grab that glove from your bed. When you find the other one you’re going to want to keep your hands away from the chill. Your heart will be cold enough on its own. That’s right, sneak out of the back door, just like you always have. The woods are only a short walk from that huge garden of yours, that great expanse of strategically placed flora and stone that I was never able to enter. I belonged in the wild, away from your life.

Oh, you’re running? Mind your step, the trees are growing thicker. You don’t want to fall. Surely this is the worst time to draw attention to yourself by doing that? I’m sure you’ll be fine though, this route must be second nature to you now. ‘Second Nature’. That term carries so much weight when linked with you.

Look, you’re nearly there, the river is getting much louder. It was so fast this morning, don’t you think? A bit too fast. You’ve always loved that river though, the way the flatness of the land around it causes it to spill over at the slightest increase in rainfall, turning the floor of the woods into a mirror that makes the trees infinite.  You’ve arrived at last, catching your breath as you tread carefully onto the small pier built for fishing, but that you’ve never seen used for purpose.

This is where we stood.

How many times have we met here, spending hours just talking and listening in turn? I think we both lost count at exactly the same moment – the day you opened up to me at last, tears streaming down your cheeks. I held you so tight and felt you relax in a way you’d never relaxed before. But we could only be friends, you made that so clear. Somebody like you just couldn’t be with somebody like me. You never said that exactly, but I knew that’s how you felt. Why did I accept that? Your family had status and that couldn’t be threatened. By letting yourself be your true self for once, you were risking your name, and what was more important than that?

Step just a little further, there’s your glove! It seems so strange now laying there at the edge of the pier, doesn’t it? A lifeless hand clutching onto an already forgotten memory, so close to joining the racing current below. It’s still dry though, at least. You can wear it, untainted. You’ve hidden the evidence by placing your hand through it. You’re safe now.

I’m watching you as you turn away from the river, I know you won’t look back. But is it fear that stops you or shame? Guilt perhaps – three very different things. Who would have thought that just three hours ago I was stood here with you, feeling your heart race as your breath warmed my neck. It was you that kissed first, don’t forget that. It was you that reached your hand under my coat to touch the skin on my back. I was just reciprocating. I could feel your desire. I know I took it too far, but you didn’t need to push me away. Especially here. You knew how fast the water was, how deep it had grown over the course of the winter. But you pushed. After all, pushing away from what you truly wanted had always been in your nature. Second nature? I’m not sure which came first.

I’m gone now though. They’ll find my body eventually. You were too scared to jump in after me and certainly too scared to cry for help. Both gloves are on your hands now, you’re protected again. Nobody will ever know it was you. I just disappeared. You’ll be fine without me. Rebuild that paper-thin shield and move on. Go back to pretending that you’re somebody else. The garden is safer than the wild, after all.

Phase

It’s just a phase she’s going through, they’d whisper in their bed.
     but she seems so happy, he said.
It’s just a phase she’s going through, proclaimed father to father.
     but she feels so free, they said.
It’s just a phase she’s going through, they’d tell the family at tea.
     but I’m in love, she said.

She watched them watch her, in their disapproving scorn,
This, she knew, was not the reason that she’d been born.

Maybe she felt different,
     like she didn’t quite fit.
A fly on the wall in the game of freedom,
Daring to swoop amongst it,
     where the family couldn’t see.

Well, they saw the phase, that’s true,
     but they forgot to look at you.

I live my life in movie scenes

I live my life in movie scenes.
A childhood spent wrapped,
In a bright red cape,
With dreams of flight within my means.
….
“Use the force” they’d say at church;
It’s real if you’ll only feel it.
Well the force was weak it seems, in me,
There’s something else that I can’t quite see.
….
Playground battles crying “Rufio”,
Lost boys in their bliss.
And like in every coming of age,
We’d clash into clichés and miss,
The fact that we were
Kings of a Summer,
That couldn’t carry on.
….
Unspoken romances in a hotel room;
A simple touch of affection.
What did he whisper?
And does she know,
That the love was Lost in Translation?
….
We heard all about,
The blameless vestal’s lot.
But the Eternal Sunshine,
in your Spotless Mind,
Doesn’t mean that I forgot.
….
A head filled with a fantasy,
Of going back in time,
With no DeLorean to drive.
So I’d stray into American Beauty,
Where I was destined not to thrive.
….
But the movies always end great, right?
The credits roll and they turn on the light.
….
So this is How I Live Now.
I’ve left my seat,
Into the day
Enjoying the real,
Letting the pictures fade away.