UNBOUND | Six Poems by Kevin Graham


By Kevin Graham


You ask for clarity so I set 

a glass of water on the counter, 

look at the clock and count 

backwards from a hundred 

with my eyes closed, listening 

to you breathing very slowly 

from a few feet away like a ghost. 


I recall long forgotten things 

like crawling into the bole 

of an oak tree and drowning 

in sky-leaves, their sound and sway 

like water spilling over rocks. 

When I open my eyes 

you’re no longer there. 

Kevin Graham


By Kevin Graham


Thunder in the night, gods 

shaking the pillars of ordinary clouds. 

All manner of speaking lifting 

from the room’s close quarters: 

stale breath, dusty carpet, curtains 

going nowhere except the past 

with its reek of Rothmans 

when I press my face to her dress 

to find out who she was. 

Her Spanish guitar’s poised 

like a magic trick – notes 

fly from her fingers. 

Photos wait in the oblivion 

of dark wardrobes 

like the hole where they’ve razed 

our local to build apartments. 

I hear her whine from the next room 

like a puppy, lightning briefly 

streaming through the cracks. 

The flashback’s real as a horror 

playing over and over. 

She is small as a pumpkin, 

curled up at the foot of the bed 

sucking her thumb, talking 

nonsense. I lie down and stroke 

the back of her hair, whisper 

all the nothing languages. 

Kevin Graham


By Kevin Graham


The thumb-sized bee at my ear 

sounds like a lawnmower 

in miniature. I’m blocking 


the sun with a leaf so its ribs 

shine through. The blanket 

underneath floats. 


I wish I was here all the time 

with you among the poplars, 

getting round to the business 


of living. Time sticks to our skin, 

leaves a haze of green 

where we flicker into ghosts. 

Kevin Graham


By Kevin Graham


You found a finch once 

with an injured wing and lowered it 

into a shoebox in the shed. 

Animal-smell wafting among 

the rafters, transforming 

that box of air. It disappeared. 

Lost down the corridor 

of years and yet you cling on, 

spy its flight from branch 

to branch in buttery sunlight. 

Backwards looks, the past 

so still and lifeless. Finches, 

chickadees, elemental sky. 

The mind’s map flickers 

like a wing. Time enough 

to sit and wait for it, that you 

might rise and go to where 

it perches on spindly legs – afraid – 

hold out a finger and weigh 

its fledgling heart against your own. 

Kevin Graham


By Kevin Graham


Mountain ash, leaves turning 

in the sigh from the sea. 

We’re sick of wearing masks 

and want to run like the stream 

at our feet, eavesdropping 

on total immersion. 

We play Frisbee, cover each other 

in cut grass as if we ourselves 

might be growing out of it, 

flowering in the midday sun. 

Panic waits in the wings and yet 

an inner wave stands for logic, 

holding fear at bay. 

We’re looking out for each other 

in minutes that expire 

like thoughts when news stops 

and hype regresses into white noise. 

Birds poke in the dark 

looking for fruit, love’s riches 

found in such small detail. 

Kevin Graham


By Kevin Graham

The irreparable gnaws with its accursed tooth  – Baudelaire 


You push the glass door back 

and step into clarity that drapes itself 

without fuss over your shoulders. 


The sky’s a pink and orange dream 

throwing up chimneys, years 

that have led to this point. 


A light reprieve as the party hammers on 

and smoke settles into pores 

that can’t unlive the rented house 


where sods burned and hail 

drummed the roof like bullets. 

There, he’s still breathing, his smile 


spreading like frost on the pane. 

The future coughs in the dark. 

This icy remnant of love 


is useless and yet you lean against 

the pebbledash to think 

without foreknowledge.


Back inside, he stands by the fire, 

face half gold, half in shadow, 

treading silence.


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Photo credit: Kevin Graham