The Ballad of Henry Hughes

There once was a girl
from north of the border
who sent me money by postal order
and though I couldn’t wash her pans or pots,
touch her blankets or door knobs,
she touched my life from miles away
and I miss her
like it was yesterday.

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© D. Archer. January 2016

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Adrift

The course to sail under the same stars
in time, unfolded,
never to be ours;
who pushed
who pulled
is immaterial now;
at the end of the day
we both drowned.

© D. Archer. August 2016.

Sketchbook

Has it always been like this?
inside this low, living headache
where everyone is closed or taken;
where the pressure is blinding
and the quiet assumptions are the worst.

The mirror lies,
I’m not the only one in this room
as the argument begins
“What lies beneath my ink stained skin?”

Music plays in the other room

The past gets heavier every day
for the man at the back of my imagination
who put the last of his heart
in a newspaper boat
and set it adrift on an unknown sea,
waiting to be rescued,
wanting to be held
like the love letter you’ve kept all these years,
the one you read when no one is watching,
the one with your tears
trapped in the discoloured crease.

© D. Archer. October 2015.
Photograph © D. Archer 2015

Birdsong

From the wrong side of the slow burned bridge,
at the edge of the rook black wood,
where giant thoughts used to dwell
she makes no plans for tomorrow
as she picks flowers for her daily grave.

The house, quiet as a failing marriage
stands alone in a bleached, peeling memory
under water coloured clouds.

She weeps for the summers passing,
the shortest of shadows
and the length of his kiss.

© D. Archer. March 2015.

Anonymous

Love lies in the roughest sea,
in the smallest hours,
in a one oared boat,
not in the anonymous promises
of those that lure in calm waters
as sirens circle in the undertow;
soon the unwinding begins
the rope that proffers salvation
forms a seductive silk noose around your neck
and be it by category or allegory
the search for your lungs in another
will only one day leave you
out of breath.

© D. Archer. January 2013. Tweaked in February 2015.

The dawn bleaches out the dream

Twice I have held the world in my arms,
in November and late July,
before the carousel slowed,
before the photographs fell silent.

It’s not the presence
but the void,
it’s not the new
but the old I watch
hand tied and dumb
through a window ajar
but not enough to grasp.

We walked a fine line
between memory and lies
when nothing was wrong
everything was hidden
just beneath the surface
tension and tears lingered;
all memories now,
smaller than the space between rain,
made colder by an arm’s length.

© D. Archer. January 2015

Mirror mirror on the page

I broke into your mirror
and spent hours under your words
where you sentenced me to be forgotten
just as pages turned,
while you remained elusive
as the corner in a circle
as the sunspot in my eye
I remain a fool for chasing
the shadow of a love
that I know
long since died.

© D. Archer. September 2013.

An archipelago of memories

On laboured nights such as these
life is a slow death,
memories and lies entwined
like leaves that fall
in ones and fours
to cover and colour my unkempt mind
where even the small memories are fading
so I set them free to a listless wind;
I have no use for them any more,
I care not which rise and fall
for we will all be but memories in the end
befouled by some, all by time,
on laboured days such as these
life is a slow death
and I stand loveless in its shadow,
forgotten, whilst still alive.

© D. Archer. August 2013.