'Cooling Towers' by Tom is Write Out Loud's Poem of the Week

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The new Write Out Loud Poem of the Week is ‘Cooling Towers’ by Tom. It’s a poem that looks back at a young relationship. He has said of writing poetry: “Over time it became an essential way of working through sadness, confusion or as an expression of joy.” His greatest source of inspiration over the years has been Leonard Cohen. He says that "very few people who know me know that I write poetry", adding that he has "never felt entirely confident that there is an audience for my scribblings; a feeling that posting on Write Out Loud has been slowly and happily eroding".


How long have you been seriously writing poetry and where did your initial interest come from?

I remember very clearly the first thing I wrote one Sunday afternoon when I was 15. At the time, I didn't really know what it was or where it came from but there was something incredibly satisfying about filling a side of paper with my scrawling thoughts. I casually kept on; slowly finding that putting things down in writing helped me understand what I was thinking and feeling. Over time it became an essential way of working through sadness, confusion or as an expression of joy. And also as a means to try to comprehend the perspective and actions of other people - putting myself into their place and writing poems from their point of view is fascinating to me and has produced some of the poems of which I'm most proud. Twenty-one years later and I still feel compelled to write when I can but I no longer feel I have the time to pore over every line and every word the way I could in my 20s.


Have you performed in front of an audience and if so, how did it go, was it successful and have you got any pointers for new poets performing live.

I've never performed in front of anyone. In fact, very few people who know me know that I write poetry. I do recite and record my poems sometimes and have posted a couple of recordings here but have never felt entirely confident that there is an audience for my scribblings; a feeling that posting on Write Out Loud has been slowly and happily eroding.


Can you name only ONE poet whose work has inspired you the most?

My inspiration always has been poetic singers/songwriters and it wasn't until later on, when I realised that the moving lyrics they were penning was a form of poetry, that I even took notice of poets. Over the years, I've drawn (stolen) more ideas and inspiration from Leonard Cohen than perhaps anyone else.


At your last supper, who would be the other four guests (living or dead) around the table with you?

I'd love to spend a few hours in the company of Joni Mitchell, Carl Sagan, Chris Morris and Hunter S Thompson. I think they'd guarantee some deep, mind-expanding, hilarious and insightful conversation.





by Tom


Parking the car

out by the cooling towers

breathe the quiet in

lit by the moon

not going anywhere


Thinking on

all those sad miles behind me...


Remember when we were nineteen

kissing in the back seat

tucked into the kerb

lit by our lust

not going anywhere


Thinking on

all those mad miles behind me...


When we were nineteen

everything was a fire

everything was flame

but everything evaporates

like steam rising


I've driven up this road

and come back down again

not going anywhere

not the silver in my hair

nor the lines around my eyes

not going anywhere


Thinking on

all those bad miles behind me...


Sitting in the car

flicking the headlights on

and off again

when did everything evaporate

like steam rising


Not going anywhere

forehead against the steering wheel

tears bursting on my knees


'just kiss me

just kiss me

in the backseat of my car...


We usually post a new Poem of the Week every Sunday. From next week we are shifting POTW day to Monday.  


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Fri 27th Oct 2017 16:33

Thanks everyone for the comments and support. Thanks to Graham and WOL team for nominating my poem. I'm really honoured. I've been posting here for 8 years and have always felt very encouraged and supported by other members to continue writing and sharing. Looking forward to seeing what will be POTW next! ?

<Deleted User> (18118)

Thu 26th Oct 2017 20:58

Loved this poem the first time I read it and I am so pleased it is Poem Of The Week.
Great work.


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Stu Buck

Wed 25th Oct 2017 06:59

this is my favourite kind of POTW. i hardly ever read past the first line or so of 'relationship poetry' (my own snazzy phrase) and had to bring myself to read this through. i found it hugely rewarding once i did so, and thats what POTW does i think. lovely piece.

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Rick Varden

Tue 24th Oct 2017 23:09

Great work here Tom, brought back many memories for me of the 60s. Many thanks

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Jane C. Steele

Mon 23rd Oct 2017 20:37

What a lovely atmospheric poem. Paints a picture on several levels.
Really bitter/sweet.

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Graham Sherwood

Mon 23rd Oct 2017 10:12

This poem had that something special, that left as much to be imagined as it did explained. We want to know more but realise we never will. Just a clever piece of writing.

great work Tom

<Deleted User> (13762)

Mon 23rd Oct 2017 08:35

Well done Tom, enjoyed reading this last week and good to catch up with it again here on the front page of WoL.

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Martin Elder

Sun 22nd Oct 2017 17:46

This is a cracking poem Tom. I love the whole metaphor around the cooling towers connected with steam and water.

Thinking on
all those bad miles behind me

is such a good link to the poem

Marvellous stuff sir, congratulations on POTW

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