Welcome To Visuals and Verbals

Artwork & Writings of John William Brown
Painter, Poet, Dramatist and Performer

Friday, 28 February 2014



A Short Love Story in 28 Sonnets


she sat in her car looking straight ahead
tapping her steering wheel to her radio
a silent singing to her stereo
well-dressed coiffured and off to earn her bread

i had been woken early by a front door slam
hence in my kitchen looked down and saw her pass
slowly with happy song in the traffic jam
a person of position stature and class

next day i set my alarm once more to see
and though she had given no first or second glance
i still gazed down for her through my double-glaze

a voyeur lover watching so caringly
i loved that silent song and that finger-dance
i have not seen her now for several days


i have not seen her now for several days
though i still look my interest has slightly waned
yet i cannot change the error of my ways
my daydream says ‘nothing lost and nothing gained’

my cliché mind pulled me back to gaze at that hand
her finger-dance that traced my attention there
that joy i saw in her face as she wordlessly sang
to a line of broken thought that took me elsewhere

and i was back-tracked almost fifty years
to someone stood on a platform and left far behind
she is holding back her hair and her stubborn tears
while i pretend no care and set my young mind

and through my kitchen window i now recall
we walked down love lane passed the prison wall


we walked down love lane passed the prison wall
then through back lane i knew and so did she
i did not really want her there at all
but she would have her way came silently

she glanced at me and awkwardly as planned
i got onto the train with nothing to say
i made a casual gesture with my hand
she did the same and then we looked away

one moment less and i stepped back from the door
the window strap was up the window down 
i leaned out to guiltily catch her eye once more
but she was staring down towards the ground

i tried to speak but could not mouth goodbye
the train began to move and i watched her cry

unsuspecting blue

the train began to move and i watched her cry
i could not hear her through the noise and steam
but saw her shoulders shaking her small frame
i see her now as the traffic passes by

i shut the train window sighing cold relief
alone in the carriage glad no one else was there
i sat beside a window looking east
thursday thank god so i didn’t have to share

the rumbling lulled me further away and more
outside in unsuspecting blue dark cloud
in layered waves of black and grey crept in

storm’s silence seemed dumbed by the engine’s roar
then on my window the pelting sleet hailed loud
“let me in! damn you! damn you! let me in!”

close call

“let me in! damn you! damn you! let me in!”
her face was pressed against a small square pane
of that solitary safe red telephone box up in
muswell hill or was it off crouch end lane?

no maybe it was nearer hampstead tube station? yet
where does not really matter much at all
except to know that we had been caught in a squall
me dry in the box and she outside getting wet

i teased her for a bit then let her in
i almost left it too long our first close call
she smiled with bright grey-green eyes i with a grin
she seemed at ease while i was not at all

a storm and a train a whistle’s sharp alarm
she reached and touched my cheek her small rough palm

nothing more

she reached and touched my cheek her small rough palm
and now as i watch the traffic slowing below
she touches me still though I do not want to know
one wishes to not recall if one has caused harm

a lonely station platform and of course the rain must fall
he gets down with his rucksack he slams the door
she meets him in the ticket office hall
she puts her arm around his waist no more

i step out at her station the sun is hot
i book a room at the station house hotel
she waits downstairs my hotel room is bland

they visit her parents he would rather not
the parents direct yet polite and treat him well
beneath the table cloth her small rough hand


beneath the tablecloth her small rough hand
i am nervous so it is hard to eat my meal
i am sat with awkward judgement and i feel
i am treading water am running shifting sand

her father’s a warder has been tasting prison food
he finds it and the prison inmates vile
i wonder too if he also finds me crude
his talk is terse i listen with fixed smile

then through the back gate passed the prison wall
love lane back lane i know this town too well
i am held estranged in its bleak and gritty charm

my hotel room is narrow dank and small
i close the door as if to my own cell
her small rough hands still rest upon my arm


her small rough hands still rest upon my arm
i turn to my window again to watch for the car
and distance myself from past thought and alarm
that finger-dance has become my hope’s lodestar

the car has not been seen for several days
nor that hand that played that wheel that turned my mind
that called to memory that passed lost phase
that forming transience that i cannot find

all loss seems held in mind consistently
though taking an altered view can sometimes bring
one casual gesture to change almost everything
one silent song can fill eternity

i stepped down off the train with my rucksack
small rough hands on my arm still call me back

small rough hands

small rough hands on my arm still call me back
how can a touch have voice or even a past?
this presence so present so hauntingly steadfast
reminding me of that everything that i lack

a prison life of form is this ageing cell
this emptiness i feel so solidly
this shallowness i know i know too well
that fullness that was shared so fleetingly

on quiet nights i walk your northern town
slow walking-silence held in each footfall
through back streets where the dirt sleets pouring down
on love lane back lane and painted prison wall 

a train of thoughts that runs without delay
two small rough hands two hundred miles away

futile gestures

two small rough hands two hundred miles away
hold on as fingers tap a steering wheel
and from a train five decades back thursday
two casual futile gestures and one weak smile

there are rings in a tree like ripples on the sand
traced like silent echoes of a song in traffic jam
a transient connection in one door slam
that woke me from my sleep into this dream

this fallacy this memory of change
such ifs? what-ifs? buts! lies and changing doubt
all storylines that give a life false form

this verse in conceit must try to rearrange
but verbal deceit cannot edit darkness out
a train up north is heading into storm


a train up north is heading into storm
i strive to save my sensibility
now lost to layered clouds’ propensity
to swallow unsuspecting blue make form

clouded stirrings break across my mind
unconscious loss some need for clarity
forebodings of a fullness i will not find
joy’s spleenful innocent disparity

passing storm will thrash a train’s sealed pane
far and near in clouds i seek her face
my altered clarity prevails awhile

i am heading north upon the mid-morning train
storm has gone that past life i replace
i step down to the platform and her smile


i step down to the platform and her smile
i have waited for this moment for too long
this chance to change to go the extra mile
to rewrite what i am and right my wrong

i step out of myself and i become
you move to me i slam a carriage door
i smile you come towards me in a run
your arms around my neck feet off the ground

so light i lift you swing you to and fro
tears well into your eyes i am as you deem
somewhere in between that and my own dream
and all of this and none and all i know

a train slows to a station one time more
i step down to the platform slam the door


i step down to the platform slam the door
weekend off work we meet at gospel oak
the station near the heath we laugh we joke
we race uphill then hold hands tight before

we rush the other side screaming insane
we rest beneath a large oak gnarled and burled
dead older oaks pollarded show their grain
your brightness darkens wood shade heavy world

you finger-trace year-rings in one dead tree
i watch as shadow falls like granite stone
your words hard broken circle distantly

i hear your voice you ask me visit you
i am leaning back unknowing what i will do


i am leaning back unknowing what i will do
i am on my bed dull faded hotel room
i challenge to myself tell to ask of you
come live with me in london make our home

come back with me or let us end it now
i run it through my head time after time
i change it into quatrains to make it rhyme
it still sounds far to blunt no softening blow

procrastination enters an aching day
burrs my sharpness dulls my mind and how
a distant coldness furrows on my brow

i put it off i want it to go away
you arm in mine rough hands on skin head down
estranged we walk the backstreets of your town


estranged we walk the backstreets of your town
this time it is midday and so we go
into a pub you say something i should know
the saloon is ‘men only’ so you turn around

you draw back i insist we break their taboo
‘act londoners’ i say ‘they’ll simply think -
fools with their london ways bring them here too’
i leave her at a table to get the drink

i return with two beers and a cocky smile
and all the time you staring at the door
small fingers tapping out a table-dance

we drink our drinks you are nervous all the while
‘down south you’d not not take this shit for sure’
i let the moment pass give up my chance

seize the day

i let the moment pass give up my chance
meanwhile as all these rewrites fall apart
before in london after your northern depart
i needed to get away a boat trip to france

instead i spend my next weekend in deal
i wanted to run the beaches the cliff top field
walk the coastal path-edge try to feel
but i had no resource for such to build

instead i watched the tide come in then fall
i walked the rippled beach as it went out
and missed you wished you here to hear the call
of herring-gull terns small gulls turn about

i sat and watched the ferries cross to france
i wished to seize the day to take my chance

procrastinate and die

i wished to seize the day to take my chance
instead i froze to procrastinate and die
in habits that retire as fast as they advance
fear of sharing impairs shares a silent lie

along the sunny streets of your home town
he laughs and jokes pretends and hides his mind
you know he knows you sense what lies behind
and is telling you something he’s holding down

she looks up to me with a quizzical smile
she says what’s wrong? what? i divert my reply
nothing she shakes her head we are double-bound

he stops he looks into a shop window awhile
lhe ooks through your reflection you hold his eye
she turns her head away stares at the ground


existential games

she turns her head away stares at the ground
the train began to move i watched her cry
silenced by rain and steam without a sound
desirable i lose her i deny

the sky’s engulfed black layered grey storm cloud
i damp down feelings through the window frames
my effluent stupid existential games
out of my depth youthful indifferent proud

to inundate with recall is to dream
the past is afloat so i dive into the known
i will wash it away wave it goodbye it has gone

i’m a sinking shipmate of fools so it would seem
held down by small rough hands and my undertow
i could drown or could drift out of right and wrong

romantic cliché

i could drown or could drift out of right and wrong
but i am caught in my romantic cliché
i need to dream tell tales then wander away
into real worlds of nostalgic silent song

to finger-dance or walk along a strand
to count rings in tree-hearts’ imagining
a million destinies yet to be planned
past lives brought into now and new becoming

perhaps i dream that in a passing car
that memory of someone else is in fact
that same person herself now driving by

or am i taking all of this too far?
but then? what if this storyline has cracked?
she turns her head i catch her grey-green eye

conflicting feelings

she turns her head i catch her grey-green eye
in one eye-blink i am caught know i belong
and such a banality becomes my sacred song
more precious even than me myself i

in another time this idea would seem absurd
and without number i should submit it to nothing
yet both ideas are unformed have been hardly heard
mere unsettling feint whispers not yet made thing

and as i catch her eye they all fall away
are overwhelmed by what needs to feel true
the here and now as i try seize the day
as clouds engulf an unsuspecting blue

needs seek to feel secure yet unconfined
so two conflicting feelings hold my mind


so two conflicting feelings hold my mind
one fed by free data one by control
while i am torn by both held double-bind
and also once removed above them all

the world of either-or seems falsely constrained
the ‘is’ goes on beyond either these two
i am freed by this thought yet now restrained
by thesis antithesis synthesis too

all bifurcates while the rest of life is unmoved
it goes its own way in storm and wind and hail
though absolutes remain they are far removed
the relative is where i will prevail

she takes my arm i walk her home again
the smell of her hair is released by wind and rain


the smell of her hair is released by wind and rain
a scent like gold it transports me back in time
to a bakery and in passing it i find
feint gaslight shadows of us both remain

a jeweller’s clock it beckoned seven-thirty
alone together we are running for a bus
a busker sings his torn donkey jacket is dirty
the bakery smells are golden but on we rush

a gaslight once stood here on the bakery wall
now there is barely outline of where it had hung
we stood beneath it and kissed do you recall?
both melding warm in gas-lit shadows flickering

“more fares?” my cold kiss shudders on your cheek
the shadow is gone i passed there just last week

bare outlines

the shadow is gone i passed there just last week
the baker too is gone no gaslight gleams
i held your face its tears about to break
“take courage!” too boldly old beer poster screams

can you recall the moment that you went?
i have no recall no memory that is clear
was it by coach? by train? in your parents’ car?
just one last hug your hair was damp with scent

i smell it now but that was days before
the routemaster bus to work on your final week
i took you to the stop last time i am sure
“more fares?” my cold kiss shudders your cheek

i wave goodbye a pavement shiver smiles
we are nothing more than shadows bare outlines

bacon and eggs

‘we are nothing more than shadows bare outlines’
i am thinking as i lay back on the bed
i look along the bare hotel room’s lines
another dreaded day to face ahead

cold-water-wash-down shave small bedroom sink
i hear the traffic slowly pass below
and still i have not said the thing i know
must yet be said i don’t know what to think

downstairs i stare out through the sunny day
across my bacon and eggs that i cannot eat
i wish to be in a future time away
today is the day and this hour is the time we meet

and out of my kitchen window i can see
she sits inside the car looking up at me


she sits inside the car looking up at me
her father in the driving seat no smile
he does not like or trust me why should he?
i have not liked myself for quite awhile

the day is a haze and a blaze and a river walk
it’s a bleak car park riverside and industrial
the water is flowing fast and we do not talk
intense intent what won’t be said at all

parental prison house the evening we eat
every single mouthful chokes i cannot wait
till we are upstairs alone so that i can speak

my words cold granite they quake our eyes don’t meet
i ache to take them back but now it’s too late
she is weeping as i watch the thing i break

one last call

she is weeping as i watch the thing i break
i get up to leave the room i go downstairs
her mother rushes passed “you! wait!” she glares
so i wait at the front door for how long it takes

i get it full and fast when she comes down
but your father? where was he? i cannot recall
estranged we walked the backstreets of your town
back lane love lane white painted prison wall

you came to see me off back to the train
i did not really want you there at all
but you would have your way and silently

long platform at the station first slight rain
your teardrops mix with raindrops one last call
follow your heart you say so quietly

oriental plane

follow your heart you say so quietly
same words when i leapt from a slowing train
the braking wheels still screeching noisily
same words now washed away by falling rain

the hiss of rain and steam as we withdraw
you look up mouth those words as in a sigh
i step back then i lean right out the door
you are looking down i cannot say goodbye

now looking from my window i watch you pass
i had not seen your car for several days
a door slammed loudly it woke me up to you

you have changed you have position stature class
i dream on watch you through my double-glaze
the oriental plane against stark blue

follow your heart

the oriental plane against stark blue
is empty now its red leaves scattered round
birds serenade the traffic peck the ground
as one more slow car edges into view

and it is you your finger-dance once more
you stop i wave a gesture through years and while
she looks up at me with a quizzical smile
i leave the room i run slam my front door

follow your heart were the last words you said
i followed it to your car with all that it takes
to seize the day from all my fears and dread

you have finger-danced my heart and how it fled
right off the kerb as i heard the screeching brakes
she sat in her car looking straight ahead

© john william brown February 2014 - Norwich UK -

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