Sell Me to the Crows

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I’ve walked these streets too long at night,

Know every broken turn,

And when I vanish in the light,

I do not feel it burn.

I’ve sat upon the table’s head,

And humbly served its guest,

I’ve listened to the words you said,

Responded to the jest.

I’ve followed you along your path,

And tried to guide you too,

My hands wrapped tight around your snath,

To carve a way askew.

I’ve made the choices that you feared,

Torn down the bloodied wall,

Then hid behind the paper scared,

Just waiting for the fall.

So lead me to the mountain high,

And sell me to the crows,

So I at last can see the sky,

And know what no-one knows.

 

© All original writing copyright Chris Nelson 2000-2019

 

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A Thousand Miles

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One thousand miles

One last roll

Wounded heart.

One final word

Lonely sound

Falling slow.

With tongues wrapped round the distances

Faces floating in the clouds,

We lick ourselves our wounds to heal

Turn our faces to the wind.

One frozen hour

One more lost

Broken time.

A hundred years

Shattered days

Nothing new.

With hope wrapped up and gift-tag tied

Boxed beneath a fallen tree,

We sit expectant like a child

Turn our faces from the dark.

One thousand miles

One more run

Gone to ground.

A thousand lies

Hand in hand

Come undone.

 

© All original writing copyright Chris Nelson 2000-2019

 

Silver Bullets

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We danced around our drinks

Like they were poisoned cups,

Dodging silver bullets

Which looked to cut us down,

Surviving each day

The best that we could,

Never talking of the ghosts

That haunted every corner,

The ghosts that lived inside

And made our shadows long,

We held our smiles through the day

Until our anger tore the dark,

The shadows now the best of us

The tears we locked away,

And still we dance

Our shapes against the sky,

As if the truth will fade

And we will be unscathed,

Dodging silver bullets

We keep within our hearts.

 

© All original writing copyright Chris Nelson 2000-2019

 

Catching Flies

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She moved like a veil in the breeze, delicate and fragile,whispering her love between the clouds as they passed like strangers on the shore. Wisps of her hair, now chestnut, now russet, brushed the silent air, painting it with rainbow hues that scattered their love like angel feathers. Behind the cobweb curtains I shuddered, afraid of catching something that I could never hope to hold; something far beyond any expectations I may have held. I shivered, my fear the cold against the warmth that swarmed around my like an excited army of bees, hungry to feed on the sweet nectar which seeped from her every pore. Stolen glances were always enough: enough to shroud the fear of loss, of letting go what could never be held; enough to feed a dream in which to live, a fortress which I could build and rebuild as I chose, strengthened by a look or an over-heard word.

She floated, dancing on water, drifting ethereal from plane to plane, never resting for too long in any one place. Her voice, the words she spoke, swirled across the land like a nurturing blanket, and I knew that wherever they landed new life would emerge – beauty in the wake of vacuum. Her words touched my ears, kissing them gently like a dying friend, and that was enough.

If only I had known that they had been all for me.

 

© All original writing copyright Chris Nelson 2000-2019

 

Little Victories

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Such insignificant specks

On a tiny rock

Lost in time,

The edges of a space

Incomprehensible to all,

And yet how we cling

With unyielding grip

To our little victories:

Whose was the book,

Who wrote the word.

Who owned the sand,

Whose was the voice.

And who had you

In the dark.

We made our machines

To number our days

Each hour, each minute and less,

And hoped they would freeze

And hold us all there

In the moment we called our own,

We built us a place

To which to ascend

And find all our victories again,

But as dust on the wind

It was only a dream

Forgotten, as fleeting as breath,

With open-hand then

No reason to hold

Each moment a moment for one,

We let go the fear

Immortality’s hope

Built on victories so frail and

So small.

 

© All original writing copyright Chris Nelson 2000-2019

 

Green Swallows Me

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With the wind at our backs,

And hope in our sails,

We left these dead shores,

To mariner’s tales.

And under your watch,

We found ourselves led,

From cold weathered deck,

To comfort of bed.

 

I charted each course,

And marked every night,

Kept count of those lost,

Or stricken by blight.

I conquered the tides,

Or so it did seem,

Kept buried the fears,

Held fast to the dream.

 

And this ship will go down,

And all hands will be lost,

And the blind will still swim,

As the green swallows me,

‘cause I never knew when,

To let go.

 

We welcomed each shore,

Set foot on the sand,

And offered our gifts,

With quivering hand.

Whilst still in our ear,

The whispering wave,

Kept pulling us back,

This wasn’t our grave.

 

I clung to my map,

With bullish resolve,

As each new horizon,

Began to dissolve,

I saw myself then,

A mast that won’t bend,

A rudderless ship,

On a course that never ends.

 

And this ship will go down,

And all hands will be lost,

And the blind will still swim,

As the green swallows me,

‘cause I never knew when,

To let go.

 

© All original writing copyright Chris Nelson 2000-2019

 

Arm Around Your Waist

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Arm around your waist

Snakes like a disease

Fingers seeking flesh like clean air

And welcomed like a cure

Love’s touch draws patterns in the sky

Dances like the pure

Swirls curls with kissing clouds

And gathers in the shadows

Holds them close love’s cherished thoughts

Carves out cliffs with initialed tags

Brings the ancient to their knees

And boughs will bend to touch the ground

Before love’s floating fire

And all of this

The sweetest curse

A time that lasts for such

A fleeting eternity

Yet burns a hole that will not heal

Above our heads

Beneath our feet

An arm around your waist.

 

© All original writing copyright Chris Nelson 2000-2019

 

Walk Away

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And when you leave

Don’t turn around

Or leave the door ajar,

Just walk away

Without a smile

Don’t look me in the eye.

I’ll strip away

The years between

And hold them in my hands,

The days we stole

Without a word

And meaning in a glance.

I’ll carve them all

Into my skin

The hours that we shared,

The joke we knew

Would always end

When laughter turned to tears.

So when you go

Don’t blow a kiss

To ease you on your way,

Just walk away

I’ll watch you leave

Through gently drowning eyes.

 

© All original writing copyright Chris Nelson 2000-2019

 

They Said

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They said the Sun would always rise,

The clouds would always clear,

They said the light would always burn,

Beneath the wall of tears.

They said that this was all a game,

The rules we never learned,

They said that they would hold our hands,

But never said they’d burn.

They said that we would have our day,

That waiting always paid,

They said that all of this was ours,

Behind their backs the blade.

They said that if we held out nerve,

The steel in our backs,

They said that if we learned to bend,

Our spines would never crack.

They said that when we heard the bell,

We’d know just how to act,

They said that when it came to this,

They’d never break the pact.

They said that time would be our friend,

And shield us from our fears,

They said the Sun would always rise,

And the clouds would always clear.

 

© All original writing copyright Chris Nelson 2000-2019

 

Coffee and Friends

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I had always believed that the city would never change; that it would remain a constant in life, a place to which I could return again and again, knowing that it would hold the footprint of my life forever. Yet now, as I sat in the coffee shop, itself now merely a child of an international chain which offered identikit refreshment regardless of location, I realised that I knew nothing of my surroundings. Monolithic buildings had risen and now towered above the remnants of a much older city, a city which seemed to hide its face as if in shame. Giant mirrored panes reflected sunlight, cars, buses and pedestrians alike. Leather-clad riders wove their motorbikes deftly through the traffic, their deliveries already cooling in their carriers, their reflections appearing, distorted and twisting in the glass, before vanishing from sight. The facade of the station stared out across the city streets, its advertising hoardings boring holes into passers-by as if they had some life-changing message to impart. I tried to think back, to remember the city of my youth, the city in which I had learned to become a man, the city that would forever be my home, but I could not connect my memories to the vision before me. The street names flooded back, each one triggering a recollection, a remembrance, and, yes, none of them had changed, but none was truly the same. It was as if, during my absence, the entire city had undergone massive cosmetic surgery: the creases and wrinkles that informed my memory had been smoothed out, erased, as if I had never been here before.

I sipped my Americano slowly, its bitter tang already lost to me, and wondered what had happened to plain coffee and the corner cafes which served beverages unencumbered by exotic language. Names began to form themselves in my mind, drifting slowly into my consciousness, begging for recognition, and, for each in turn, I formed an image of what I believed their physical forms had looked like. My accuracy in this task lay somewhere hidden in the depths of a memory which I was beginning more and more to doubt. I was, of course, secure in the knowledge that these people, these characters, had, at some point, come into my life. Some, perhaps, had stayed a while, may even have fallen beneath the blanket term of ‘friendship’, others would have been acquaintances, interlopers who came and went, leaving nothing but the shadow of their name. I had imagined each as being inexorably connected to the city, as if their very existence relied on that of the city. What, I wondered, would have become of them as the city as the city underwent its rejuvenation? Perhaps they had been absorbed into the very essence of the city, become part of its fabric. I imagined their eyes, eyes that I was unable to picture as physical objects, staring at me from the walls that surrounded me, eating their way into the heart of me. I could feel their presence gnawing at me, unearthing more and more names that had lain buried within me for years.

One name seeped forwards to the front of my brain, chalking its outline into my consciousness. It belong to one of those people who had had the distinction of falling into the category universally defined as ‘friend’. I had grown up with this friend throughout the now distant days of our schooling, and our friendship had endured the days of change when school life ended and the threat of adulthood reared its head. It was true that we had followed different pathways – he had plunged headlong into a world of employment and responsibility whilst I had sought to avoid such ties by attending the city university. We continued to drink at our usual haunts and waste our free hours with the same distractions that we had grown up with: it was as if we were children of the city and it, as any dutiful parent would have done, was holding our hands as we grew. And then I completed my years at the university, my now qualified status hanging from me like an anchor rather than wings, and the door opened up on my future career. At the same time another town came calling, your name on its lips, and you were gone.

Eight years. Eight years out of a lifetime. Eight years during which it had seemed unthinkable that we would ever not be friends; not criticise our local teams; not put the political world to rights; not drink away the long summer nights. And yet eight years disappears beneath the days as they pass by building walls behind which we can no longer witness the change that creeps silently all around us. Before I had even realised it, as life guided me along pathways that I could never have predicted, pathways that monopolised my hours, years had passed by and what we had once shared became nothing more than distant memories: memories that I could no longer trust. Memories that, for all I now knew, may be no more than figments of my imagination. Before long the city had shaken me off too and, under the guise of ‘career development’ my life led me to different cities, all of whom welcomed me like a prodigal son. Roots were cut and roads forgotten.

And now, as I drained my second Americano and watched the reflections of passing strangers appear and disappear in the mirrored glass, I wondered how much of my own life existed only as mere reflections in the lives of others. The faces that had drifted through my life had been no different to my own: they had come and gone in a constant state of change and I, who had thought that somethings would never change, had been wrong.

 

© All original writing copyright Chris Nelson 2000-2019