Uppsala Cathedral '92

I.

I have no faith, yet
in this foreign church
I find solace,
sanctuary.

I never expected
to need such a place,
but I sought it out.

A stranger to its ways,
I sit in silence, alone.
Its echoing ambience
embraces me.

City noise and bluster
muffled by centuries-old stone;
it welcomes and warms.

A refuge, I rest:
No more voices.
I can breathe here.
I can be here.

The sw...

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leedsuppsalaswedenlosshopeexilesanctuary

The Visit

I see cold barbed wire behind your blue eyes.
Your Verboten! signs are lit-up searchlight-bright -
scrawled artfully with a cartoonish smirking
skull-and-crossbones minefield warning:
“Step carefully…
No unseemly emotional transgressions threatened, please.
Nor unfortunate, unwanted love-struck doe-eyed yearning here.
That’s all in the past. 
Move on. It’s over. 
Clear?”

And my doomed ...

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leedshulluppsala

Possible Futures

Remember that night we sat in the car
on the ridge above the city,
listening to “our” songs on the radio
and looking out at the motorway lights? 
 

They shone in the haze like a runway
- exciting, inciting, enticing us to flight,
towards the adventures
of our lives.

Those lights stood dancing in the heat,
forming a shimmering orange arrow,
curving gracefully to a fearless infinity, 
...

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leedsm1

Wasp-Memory

Wasp-memory:
you prick me,
penetrate me.
You aim to injure
and damage me.

Yet this time 
I defy you.

I pluck out your sting - 
a ready-made red-ink nib -
and instead I write. 
I re-live the hurt you try to turn against me
and relieve it.
An exorcism in my own blood.

In this way
I defeat you.

© PAUL MARTIN 2022

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Look. Don’t Touch.


This is the door to my room.
This door is always locked:
I can’t get out.
They can’t get in.

And this is the window to my room.
This window is always locked:
I can see out.
They can see in.

And through this window,
I can see the world.
But I cannot touch it.

And through this window,
I observe everything.
But I cannot affect it.

Sun shines through this window.
I remain cold...

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The Last Of England

Cross-Channel ferry;

bright-lit bar, empty.
Just the acrid stench
of stale cigarette smoke
and half-full ashtrays.

Even the thirstiest of desperate drinkers
has abandoned ship tonight.

In the corner,
screwed firmly to the wall,
a black-and-white TV
flickers silently
to no-one.

The show must go on, though.
And trapped behind the screen,
unseen and unseeing,
fixed-grin idiot d...

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Vigil

January fifth.
The black car is almost here.
I wait
and I remember:

Early morning, deep December.
Phone rings;
heart sinks;
today, I know, is the day.
Exit day, the expected day: the day to say goodbye.

A rush hour slow-slog through thin and sickly dawn.
Idiot-bright festive lights fail to sense the mood.
Mother in the back seat – quiet, watching, alone.

A red light river – a sto...

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