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

 

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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

 

Too Much to Lose

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Too much to lose

Too much to lose

Can’t leave you now

And let you bruise,

Too much to lose

Too much to lose

Don’t want to fall

Or have to choose.

 

Waves come,

Crashing through the walls

I built in sleep,

Feel the tremors rise

I cannot close,

My eyes.

 

At night,

Even though I feel you

Close to me,

The nightmares take control

I cannot shake,

Them free.

 

Eyes wide,

But I can’t see a way

To end this fear,

Which burns within my chest

I cannot still

The beat.

 

Too much to lose

Too much to lose

Can’t leave you now

And let you bruise,

Too much to lose

Too much to lose

Don’t want to fall

Or have to choose.

 

Sometimes,

Even when I talk

Myself to sleep,

The demons still have hold

I cannot talk,

Them down.

 

Would I,

Give all that I know

To choose the time,

To open up the door

When I had served,

My time?

 

Or would I,

Close my eyes once more

In silent prayer,

To gods I cannot trust

To beg to keep,

Me here?

 

Too much to lose

Too much to lose

Can’t leave you now

And let you bruise,

Too much to lose

Too much to lose

Don’t want to fall

Or have to choose.

 

© All original writing copyright Chris Nelson 2000-2019

 

Afraid

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Afraid

Of the night

The truths that hide in the shadows;

Of the day

And the light that reveals the flaws.

Afraid

Of the sounds

Which fill the rooms with laughter and tears;

Of the silence

And the demons which it feeds.

Afraid

Of the crowd

The sense of estrangement which grows;

Of the solitude

Which settles like an unfriendly ghost.

Afraid

Of inertia

Trapped in the mire of eternity;

Of change

And the loss of the ground beneath.

Afraid

Of the page

Its whiteness screaming in my ear;

Of the words

That give away far too much.

Afraid

Of death

And leaving so much left undone;

Of life

And all the doors left unopened.

Afraid.

 

© All original writing copyright Chris Nelson 2000-2019

 

A Farewell

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I thought of you then, on the day that I left, knowing, despite the words, that we would never meet again. I thought of you as I sat in the darkness, as the Sun dipped like a dying friend beyond the horizon for what might as well have been the last time. I knew that I, like the errant Sun, would rise again, but that neither of us would ever be quite the same: the Sun would burn fractionally less brightly, its gaseous source ever so slightly diminished, and I, with less reason to rise than before, would begin to become a shadow of myself. I thought of you and the words that we had shared wondering if you had ever truly understood my meaning. Had you thought of me as a friend or merely an acquaintance, and had I ever truly understood what lay behind your eyes? I thought of how close I felt that we had become, our shoulders brushing against one another as we shared a joke, our laughter spreading its roots between us connecting us forever, or so I had imagined. But did you leave me behind along with all the other artefacts of work when you closed the door behind you and returned to your home?

I thought of you and wondered whether I had been too obscure, too subtle in my words and looks, for you to see me. And what exactly had I felt? Was this a connection that I felt that I had needed or something that had burst upon me unexpectedly and had opened a new door which whispered quietly for me to go through? Perhaps the moment had come for me, after a life of living at a comfortable distance from the edge, to finally take a chance, a risk. But, of course, caution is a powerful bedfellow, and, by the time I had recognised the chance, if had closed its eye for ever.

I thought of you then and wondered if you had ever lain alone in the dark beneath the Summer’s heat: I wondered if, like me, you had lost yourself to imagination; and I wondered if you had ever found yourself with your hand between your legs, wishing its fingers were mine.

 

© All original writing copyright Chris Nelson 2000-2019

 

Alone

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And the pages turn

And the numbers fade

Like they always have

And they always will

Wiping clean the slates

And erasing words

Hiding the faces

And fading the names

And we all look back

As we always do

Try to see the things

That were never there

And when out of sight

Means we’re out of mind

Did they really mean

Anything at all

If for just one day

We could see it all

Touch the ones we know

See if something’s real

Or just shy away

Like we always do

Afraid to make the move

To hide and die alone.

 

© All original writing copyright Chris Nelson 2000-2019

 

Underneath the floorboards

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Underneath the floorboards

Where the downstairs people lie

With their clay-heavy hands

And their hollow eyes blind,

Underneath the floorboards

With the roaches and the dreams

The lost coins and the fears

And nothing more to buy,

Underneath the floorboards

Where I cannot find my sleep

And all I taste is dust

And all that breathes is death,

Underneath the floorboards

With the grammar and the text

The stolen thoughts and smiles

That’ll never rise above,

Underneath the floorboards

Where the downstairs people lie

My feet between their teeth

The window out of reach.

 

© All original writing copyright Chris Nelson 2018

 

On the Roof

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I used to live

Up on the roof,

And trick myself

I knew the truth,

I’d smile at those

So far below,

And think of all

They’d never know.

 

I used to live

Upon the stair,

And never think

Of when or where,

I’d watch the days

They’d come and go,

And rise above

Their ebb and flow.

 

I used to write

My name in ink,

So those who passed

Might stop and think,

I’d leave my mark

On buildings high,

To mark my presence

In the sky.

 

I used to live

Upon the ground,

My voice silenced

Without a sound,

And all the things

I thought I knew,

Shattered broken

Now cast askew.

 

So now I live

Beneath the floor,

The game was missed

Forgotten score,

And when I look

Up to the sky,

I see the lost

The ones like I.

 

© All original writing copyright Chris Nelson 2018

 

Pitted Roots

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His eyes the pitted roots

Pinned like a steeple

Beneath the fearful soil

Watching as the cracks began to grow

Their snake path trails

Lost too soon

Beneath the baking sun

Its twisted kiss reaching out

Like the first birdsong of summer

Its death-winter words

Masked behind the sweetness

Its melodious hum

Rising from the fallen ash

Dreams like smoldering flakes of paper

Flicker brief eye shadows

Burst like wishes in the light

Invisible they slink back between the cracks

Dust-filled shoes trace marks upon the sandstone

Weather-worn features carved smooth

Like the drowned as they slide

With graceful elegance beneath the waves

Hands puffed soft

Like a newborn babe already dead

Eyes innocence wide

With knowledge of every unwritten word

Wishing for things that could not be

A second sight that withers falls

Like death-head petals

Velvet-soft caressing cheeks

Their stain blood-brown upon our skins

The mark of the condemned

Silent executioners move within us

Haunting the places we call home

Biding their time until we no longer feel

The pain

Our eyes in resignation raised

To see between the cracks

Too late to pull

Our pitted root souls.

 

© All original writing copyright Chris Nelson 2018