FOR MORE PHILOSOPHICAL LETTERS SEARCH THE TAGS. In the meantime, remain aloof and detached. –  Paul


Love letter # 456

The beauty of it is subtle. Light slowly creeping into a room. Scent of a flower rising in the air. A gradual emergence of change, of anticipation. There’s a Japanese word – fuubutsushi – look it up; it describes how I feel now that you are on the scene. It is the first evocation, unexpected but nonetheless tangible. My life is making space for you.


Love letter # 616

“I’m not opposed.” you said. How was I meant to proceed after that? Sure, it was consent, an allowance, but it wasn’t even lust, let alone love.

I had courted you, and in the process my desire had deepened beyond affection and into genuine care. And then…a first kiss. My body and heart on fire. Yet, beneath the surface of ardour…a hesitation. Not so much a recoiling but an absence. I wanted you; but you were merely prepared to acquiesce, as if my advance was something you had priced into the equation. A fee for ongoing allegiance.

After I got over the slight, I understood the awful subtext. It was clear you liked me – that you found a form of refuge in my company – and, after a couple of kisses, that although you did not share my desire, you would, if pressed, nonetheless yield. Even in my rush of blood, I knew what the cost of consummation would be. For both of us.

I do not claim a saintly mantle, nor offer to liberate the oppressed, but I know what I want. To be loved, not just be permitted. For there to be hunger, not mere feeding. More than that, to know that I have not added to the store of unsatisfactory bargain. I do not wish to be the next notch on the bedpost of ritual disappointment.

I wanted your body, to wrap it, stripped and sweating, in my embrace. You may not have been opposed…but I was. Perhaps this is normal for you. Offering your body up for the promise of connection. Sex as transaction. I’ll admit I was tempted; but when examined, even temptation could not obscure the brute evidence.

So I have withdrawn. Maybe this is a weakness in me. An absurd, romanticised naivety – flinching at the raw animal exchange. Or vanity. Bruises on the ego of virtue.

Either way, I shall not ask again for your touch. For I do not wish you to accede, nor I to discover, too late, that the tenderness we both want has been replaced by its more vigorous imposter. Leaving us empty, and even further apart.


Love letter # 483

After all is said and done, I prefer to be near you. If you feel the same, let’s just keep it that way. What other reasons do we require?

Love letter # 513

Perhaps I do not know what love is – this complex, convoluted feeling we sometimes conjure – but I am certain that, whatever the philosophers say, I love you.

Is it a dream, a hormonal mechanism, a justification of my innate desire for validation? Will it fall apart under scrutiny, dissolving into observance? Are you my ritual partner?

However prosaic things appear, perhaps there is still chance for the poetry of suspended disbelief. If we call it into being by faith alone, at least it shall be of our making. Even if it be futile, still it may be wondrous.

Is this then, our love revealed? Weaver of song, transformer of night. I cannot say for sure where it may end, yet I can promise to begin. For with this trembling step I…

Love letter # 808

It was so simple, and because of that, altering. Sitting across from you, the space between us an ordinary distance, feeling as though an entire ocean was moving. An immensity contained within the easy reach of a hand. The unspectacular fact of two people at a table…a canvas, upon which our imaginings are thrown. The invention of us.

You sat there. Still. Quiet. Only your eyes, the atoms of your scent, the whispered circle of your breathing. Presence on the verge of absence. You were a blank slate, and I duly projected. Onto the surface of your silence I smeared the ramblings of my desire. Because the emptiness will always be filled, most often with the migrated self.

Now I see the love I created with the lush cinematography of my longing. You were the beautiful mirror – reflect, refract – and I the willing believer of lovely mirages. Is this the truth of our vaunted love? The other, filtered through self, such that in our ardour we consumed the analgesic staples of fiction. Are we the lovers of a romantic graffiti?

Perhaps, stripped of cliché and poetry, this union of ours collapses to empire. As though, by some expansion of territory, we Romanised the tramontane wilds. Our question is whether, suspecting this, we desist. Can love recover from the habit of dominion, or does it wither at the first cry of revolt?

Let us sit without ceremony and peer into the void of the other/lover; and from there, endeavour to see what, if anything, lives beyond the citadel of self.

Love letter # 374

Though I can see you on a screen and message you whenever I choose, you seem so far away. Two dimensional love is not enough. Emoticons don’t cut it. Even phone calls ring hollow. Physical distance, I fear, may one day become emotional distance. Our intimacy simply forgotten. The sense of you – touch, taste, scent, sound – reducing with each click to abstraction. Until we are lovers in name alone; sustained merely by a theory of togetherness. Evaporating in slow tandem, inching out of orbit. Now a passing satellite…now a thumbnail sun…now a far off speck of history. Does it feel like this to you too?

Love letter # 2020

This could be the best thing that ever happened to us. We might remember why we love one another.

For the anniversary of stars

A glance at the screen, a date in the corner; and just like that: thirty years. The gap between waking and dreaming. A space hollowed of promises. The tender hook, still fast. Timeless.

Remember how it rained that afternoon. How the evening was soft; lambent as the rings changed hands and the waterfall sang nearby. Honey in the afterglow. The whole world was ours…except it wasn’t. Yet, what matter that we knew so little when we had it all? For even in the dryness of hindsight, the desert remains in flower. I give thanks at the gate of its immensity.

I wonder – who were those lovely figments, can they really have been us? A mattress on the floor, milk crates for chairs, the part-time wages of young belief. Four walls and forever. The sanctuary of twin desire.

Now, in the unimagined future, the banality of distance. Wounds grown over. Fissures cleansed by time. The neat separation of adults from the bloodied whorl of sweethearts. We wipe the dust from the memory of temples, that we may regard them as rooms. Everything still in place – transfigured. How beautiful is the landscape of eternal stillness and ceaseless journey?

That we may have nothing more of our troth than reminders has not put out the stars. I see them in the blackness and they are my compass. May they guide you likewise. And in another thirty years let us look upon these cool, faraway fires and see aglow the still wondrous light that once sparked in the gaze of lovers.

Love letter # 713

You were a white blonde child; now you’re honey brown. You were a lissome youth; now your lightness takes a different form. I cannot hold you as you were – except in the trap of memory – for you are not the angel of yore, you are the fractured and complex beauty of now.

If I should love only ghosts, I should do so alone. Were I to hold a flame that only perfect skin may know as warmth, then cold be the room in which I stand. For you are not who you were, nor who I conjure in the fantasy of recollection – because I can hear you breathe, touch the one you have become. It is you who rests besides me, who will wake in my dawn and shine through my day. It is you. After all. You now.

Love letter # 423

I do not claim to know. Rather, I hope. I interpret what I believe to be the signs, yet I cannot know if I misread, or if my misty eyes are blind. However, in the light of such uncertainty, I ask myself this: how will it be if, years from now, I am still wracked with wondering? Which is the greater risk – knowledge or regret? ‘No’ may be a torment. ‘If only’ might be worse. And so, across the space between your heart and mine…this, the leap of declaration. For now I am pilgrim. Ready to arrive.

Love letter # 484

You fan the flames that I cannot explain. You ignite stars that make nights into days. But I love your sadness most of all. That heavenly breaking, temptation to fall. The clunking of doors and the creaking of boards. Dust on the mirror and drafts in the hall. Like rain in the summer, such unlikely jewels. This polish is scratched up, yet so beautiful. Shall we dance in the hush between siren and song, or make like we’re flawless…so shiny and dull?

Love letter # 699

In you, astonishment. The miracle of the other mirroring self. More than that, making self. You, the architect of me. The space that defines the point. The eternal, coalescing into now. The beauty of the particular, and the awe of the universal. As though I knew you all along. Call and response. As if the you and the I were the one and the two. This, our loving, the helicopter view. The melting and the reforming. The very action of being. The magnificent arc of our unbecoming. An apotheosis. A counter-intuitive divinity of oblivion. Oh you…I am.

Love letter # 642

You are doubtless wondering why I haven’t made a move on you. Perhaps you think I am not interested, or that I don’t ‘bat for your team’. Neither is true.

The fact is, I have dreamt of your touch for months now. I have imagined all manner of scenarios in which we are lovers. More than that, deeply, richly and fantastically in love. All the usuals; and maybe even a little more.

Now, I realise, you could think me a coward. This may indeed be true. I would call it prudence. Caution. Terror. I look back on the record and see a string of false starts, busted hearts and numerous no’s, and something inside me shivers. It’s like vertigo. Every instinct screaming at me to stop. Self-preservation kicking in big time. I know this means I’m missing out on the chance for something extraordinary – but until now I have been prepared to wear this cost.

Besides which, don’t we already know that this romance thing is hormonal fantasy; that the rom-com model of love everlasting is tissue box bullshit? Why would any sane person seek to measure themselves against such a ridiculous standard?

So, whenever I am awash with you, (which is often), I ask myself this question: what could possibly make this one any different? I have crashed at the altar of this promise so many times that I am effectively apostate. To be a pilgrim once more seems like a ritual of self-punishment. I mean, why would I?

You might say this is simply a well-articulated defence. A form of excuse. I will not deny that both are factoring into my decision to send you this letter. Partly, it is also true that I am hedging, trying to smoke you out. Reduce the gut churn. Save the fingernails.

I know it’s a little sneaky doing it this way; and I apologise for not making my feelings known either earlier or in the grand romantic fashion. But please, understand that even this is like jumping off a cliff for me. Because it could all end right here. Or begin.

Love letter # 412

I write this to have it said. To give it the shape of language. Tomorrow I may think it mere venting but today I am impelled. Emboldened by your absence; or rather, by the ways in which I have lately been reminded of you. The circles around me, the orbiting others, the noises they make, the poses they strike.

They are not you – perhaps this is the nub of it. They don’t have your eyes. Your truthful voice, your subtle knowing. Theirs is a show, something they don’t mean. Words are just that – sounds with no follow through. Their spectacle of kindness is an act of violence in disguise. They approximate the rituals of understanding, but it is little more than pity, or worse, control.

I speak with them, nod and smile, raise my glass and wonder where you are. Knowing you’re not anywhere. And that I am truly nowhere with you. For here is a shell of a place.

So I walk with the marionettes, acting in their drama. The empty performance of time filling. Motion as distraction. The gestures, the lies, the denial. And so it goes. On and on. Thinking impossible things. Knowing it could have gone another way…but it didn’t.

This then, the outcome. Result of our choosing. We thought we knew better. Turns out not. Yes, this is why I write. The intolerable scourge of mirrors. No, these are not angel wings, just the dust of costume. The plain mask of skin, obscuring the reality of blood.

Love letter # 415

So the fantasy is no longer viable. The ideal ‘us’ revealed as a construction; mostly of lust and other longings. It kept us going for years. Until recently. Now its lustre has cracked to texture, its flame dwindled to flint. Yet what if, in waking, we discovered something more potent than hormonal dreams and daily habit? Suppose we opened our eyes to find ourselves in a sparse room. No decorative flourishes – just us. What then? What now? Will we recognise one another and like what we see? There is only one way to find out. So let’s wake up.

Love letter # 369

Please do not be fooled by my hesitation, or by any apparent coolness. I do like you. Actually, a little bit more than like you. It’s just that, until now, I have stopped short of obvious display; preferring the safety of hints. It’s not that I don’t want you to know, it’s that I don’t want to hear no.

You might think this weak – perhaps it is – but lately I have decided not to lay myself bare in the way I once did. The reasons for this won’t surprise you. Serial rejections, of course, but also manipulation. My feelings used against me.

But that’s not all. I have become content like this; by which I mean single. It is cleaner, easier; and while it may be less colourful, less urgent, it is also less dishonest, less compromised. More than that though, I have abandoned the dysfunctional delusions of need and romance. So however much I like you, want you, I will not sell my soul to stand at your side. I will not beg. Neither shall I submit to games or tests of valour. The lies of courting would insult us both, so let’s not go there.

Basically, I’m too tired and old and jaded for games – and maybe I am too bruised for the battle of pursuit. I just want it to happen or not happen. I know I could have written you a more poetic letter, made a more classical gesture, but if I’m honest I would much prefer it if you turned out to be the kind of person who responded to a letter like this. And this is the best way for me to find out.

Love letter # 410

I am writing to thank you; but also to apologise. The latter is because I am breaking my silence, the former is because you give me the only reason to do so.

The bare truth of the matter is that our brief exchanges – your smiles, those hugs you give me, the touches – remind me. They are, shall we shall say, the solitary snowflakes of a barren season. They represent the only thing vaguely approaching the kind of attention that I have almost forgotten. For even if the effect melts away and is unintended, it is a beautiful dusting while it lasts.

But I am no fool, no mad hormonal fantasist. I know you are simply being friendly – but if sometimes I seem to lapse into a foggy bumbling clumsiness it is because when you are next to me my composure turns to slush. I think perhaps it is simply the fact of being seen, being even briefly selected, (so unusual of late), that breaches the wall of compromise I have so carefully constructed.

And really, here it is – the ‘why’ of this letter. It’s a plea to you and a warning for me. Not so close. Not unless.

But then again, maybe even that would be too much.

Love letter # 366

I never really stopped loving you. Didn’t get the chance to. Which leaves the memory of you relatively untarnished; still lustrous, still the nigh miraculous possibility. The drudgery of years and the cooling of fires never applied to you. You left before ordinary set in. Maybe that was prescient of you.

In the silence that remained you quietly flowered, such that, though I have neither heard from nor seen you for many a season, you are today the ever-fruiting branch. All blossom and sugars. Every day resplendent in sunshine. The perfection that, as we both know could never be sustained by real human beings.

Yet perhaps I would trade this fantasy for an hour at your side. For a word. For questions answered or rendered irrelevant. Because it may well be that the flesh and the blood, the skin and the scent, your breath and your form are all the more wonderful than these gossamer dreams. Are we ready for our manifold flaws? For who and what we are? For the death of desire – or its reboot?

Maybe I’ll never know. Or you won’t care and it won’t matter. This could well be a waste of keystrokes.

Unless of course…

Love letter # 420

Hey, this might be little more than a ‘friends with benefits’ thing but we can call it love if we want. After all, it is just a word, a symbol of something shared between people, an indicator of something more special than the merely average or convenient. Sure, we can shy away from it if you like, if its association with adolescent fantasy and/or the various ‘isms’ and ‘ologies’ bothers you, but I for one am ready to use the so-called L bomb. Because really, when I strip out the external noise, I do love you; if that’s an okay thing to confess these days.

Love letter to the girl in the beautiful dress

I noticed you earlier in town. I was idling over a long black, not really doing anything, when you emerged from the city throng, like a vessel long ensnared beneath, afloat at last. Bathed in light.

We did not speak. Nary a glance was passed between us. You just sat nearby, took out a notebook and, deep in thought, scratched out whatever was on your mind. Nothing spectacular. No toss of a golden mane. No curvaceous swagger. But oh what a beautiful dress you had on.

In truth, this is what I noticed first. The gorgeous flow of light floral patterned material. Hem just above the knee. Showing off your lovely form, accenting the cool alabaster of your skin and the lustrous sable of your long hair. Truly, you cut such an elegant figure; so subtle, with a femininity refined and assured. How you stood out from the parade, floated above the commonplace slurry of fashion trash. Such a glorious, understated enigma.

And then, a few minutes later, your task complete, you got up, paused as though to take stock, and walked away. Within thirty seconds I had lost track of you, the fleeting vision of your grace, subsumed once more. The girl in the beautiful dress – swallowed by the drab, city street heave.

Of course, you will never know. Truth is, you will likely never think again of those slow minutes this afternoon, when your pen moved in swirls and the eye of the beholder was entranced. You just went about your day, never knowing that, hours later, a trace of your splendour would still be flowering in the heart and the fancy of a man you will never know. That the mere sight you, in that simple, fetching dress has left the imprint of beauty on the world.

Love letter # 418

It has taken until now for me to write and send a love letter. There was never really any point before; not for someone like me. Not for the awkward, unattractive kid. Not for the one with glasses and blotchy skin. Not for the man without the flash of wealth or the shimmer of apparent success. It may sound defeatist, even corny, but guys like me get routinely overlooked. I cannot even recall the last time a woman showed the merest flicker of interest.

Why am I telling you this? Am I out for a pity fuck?

Maybe that’s what you’ll assume – I can’t control that – but the truth is that you of all women I have met in the last few years suggest something other than the normal ‘friend zone’ confinement and outright scorn that I have become used to. Perhaps it’s you who will finally see past the immediacy of my supposed ugliness, you who isn’t dazzled by the shiny object alpha, you who won’t insist on the ludicrous hero myth.

I am taking this risk because … well, apart from having nothing much to lose, I would love it if your warmth and kindness, if our connection, was real. Not just a token act of convenient civility. Not simply a cup of tea. Something more. Deeper, more shot through with fire. With recognition.

In order to ask this, to put this out there, I am of course prepared to sacrifice what we already have. To witness your vague disgust. To be summarily dismissed. None of this will kill me – it’s what I’m used to – but if you should break the mould I would show you how to fly.

Love letter # 584

I look around – pugilistic presidents and pitchfork mobs, demagogues and ideologues – and it seems easy to retreat. After all, humanity is just the latest apex predator awaiting immolation and extinction. Poking phones and pouring plastic into sea. Shopping till the sky caves in. Jamming up the cave with junk. Marketing the multi-coloured lobotomy of their own destruction. This year’s must-consume suicide smoothie! But then I look at you.

Then I watch your sway. Flick of your hair. Lustre of your skin. The blood warm magnetism of your sinewy sculpture. And I remember the taste of your heat on my tongue. The urgent power of your hunger. The crush of ecstatic release.

Here then is my haven. The valley after the peak. The quiet begat by maelstrom. The simple sanctuary of the gaze that truly sees. The uncluttered interstice, where beauty may be beheld and we ourselves may once again be beheld as beautiful.

For it is not the abstraction of a bipedal simian swarm that moves me – nor their shiny fetish objects and narrative fantasies – but the tensile strength of your hand. The bony twine of your fingers. This is why I’m still in the room. Because you are the proof.

Love letter # 372

It’s the glorious folly of it that attracts me. It’s because it isn’t strictly sensible or grounded in so-called reality, because the risks are so enormous, because it invites such suffering and disappointment and courts at every step disillusion and potential bitterness. Even though we cannot say precisely what it is and it so often founders upon our fears and frailties, we venture into it anyway. And although we can dismiss it as the necessary trick of our genes, the sucker punch of evolution, still we love one another. Still we declare it, sing it, rejoice in its frequently broken promise of extraordinary and transformative deliverance.

For love, like hope and faith, allows us face the void, to find meaning in the wake of futility. To render the brute and nigh mechanical business of continuing worthwhile. While we walk along this path, knowing full well where it ends, we can either do so in terror and denial, or with hubris and conceit, or – with our quixotic love tilting at the windmills of inevitability – with an eye for the awesome and utterly fragile beauty of it all.

In this way, love is also a kind of defiance – not an arrogant denial or noisy protest, but rather, a grateful embrace. Because it is not the end that love defies, but the fear of its approach. If we must finally fall, and stumble badly before we get there, let us be together while we do it. Let us be alive as we go. Let us face the clock that counts it all down and say: you are measuring time, we are loving it. And to the very edge of darkness we shall bring the beautiful light.

Love letter # 455

Why do I love you? What is it that makes me put you first? Why, of everyone, is it you – and what drew you to choose me? Do we mirror one another? Validate each other? Have we agreed on a mutual fantasy? Does it matter?

When I look around what I see is a world plagued with viral selfishness; humanity engaged in a short-sighted suicidal spiral of hubris, fear and control. Destroying each other for pride and possessions. For petty gods and gold dust. Little wonder you are my harbour. My village quietly tucked away, out of the line of fire.

Have we built a wall around us? Are we in hiding? Is our love a kind of morphine? When I kiss you, does the pain go away? Shall I let the madness clamour on because in the stillness of the night you will enfold me once more? Are we blind, such that we may love?

When I think of us I see children. We come together in make believe to play the game of belonging. We build forts in the garden with sweet words and fine intentions. We hold the rest of the world at bay with our tender, tenuous faith. We look into each other’s eyes because what we see there is what we most want to. Ourselves as innocent.

Love letter # 351

Suppose I loved you in a way that wasn’t hearts and flowers; that did not accord with the staples of Western romance? Would you still recognise it? What if I never said that I wanted you to be mine, or I yours? If I never ask you to marry me or speak of us as a couple, or refer to you as my girl, will it still feel like love to you?

I only ask because I am wondering if we mistake the trappings and rituals for the thing itself. Do we reduce our love to spectacle? To signs? Indeed, does it make any sense to speak of love without some form of display, without the act of loving? For it may well be that the love unshown is the love unknown. That love is more than a pristine idea.

So, how can we do the love most truly, without the distortions that the fear of breaking so often manifest or the kitsch of chocolates? This, lover, is our challenge. Are you ready?

Love letter # 585

Her wish was futile; but she made it anyway, just to see how it might feel to be near you.

Love letter # 434

I understand that you have been expecting me to get back in touch. Our catch-up last week was such great fun. We got along so well. We connected. Or so it was meant to appear.

For a few minutes – and only for a few – your fawning, ego stroking act was working. It almost looked like you actually liked me. If I only could believe all that unwarranted hyperbole. Those ridiculous compliments. If only I could ignore the obvious signs of fishing – of you flattering me into your fold. Luring me into your influence.

I wonder now exactly what your objective was. Why you thought I might be fit for purpose. Why you believed I would fall for it.

Was it that barely concealed female chauvinism that so routinely passes for progressive liberalism these days? The idea that as a male I would simply not be able to see through you? Ah look, here’s a dumb little man; I’ll just laugh at his stupid jokes and pretend to be impressed by his so called smarts. Maybe I’ll giggle a bit and flutter my eyelashes. Do my simpering girly act. That should do the trick.

I’m only bothering to say this to you because, between the lines of your naked, egregious Machiavellian cynicism, I did indeed see something of great beauty. Or was it great pain? Perhaps even despair? Indeed, it could well be that I am simply reflecting your bruised attitude back at you. Your wariness, forged by wounds. Rather like my radar for manipulation.

I am too old for games. I no longer have the desire to be played or to play others. I am, instead, ready to love. To see and be seen. If you have not already deleted this message, or thrown up your shield, maybe it means that you feel the same. Or may one day wish to.

Love letter # 451

I am sending you this with some reservation; not because I harbour any shame but because I realise that the culture of suspicion we currently live in does not really encourage us to express ourselves in this fashion. Especially one as old as me to one so young as you.

However, I am not writing to gush ridiculous, besotted fantasy or furtive lust but to remark upon something that is truly wonderful about you. In fact, not just you, but your boyfriend also. In short, when I see the two of you together I am filled with a kind of sunshine. There is a palpable beauty in the air between you. Simply to know that such a thing still exists is, for me, cause for a kind of hope.

Now I’m not so nostalgic and rose tinted as to accuse you of being perfect. Surely you two have your troubles and most likely you keep them well out of sight. I imagine also that you and he are prone to same excesses, shortfalls and denials as the rest of us. Yet what a treasure it is to see the light that passes between you and the tenderness that beams in your lovely smiles.

Whatever the future holds for you – either as a couple or individually – please know that the gem you share is not only rare but a thing of both power and grace. You may well lose it at some point – none of us can ever be truly sure about these things – but I believe that simply to once have held it your hand will carry you both forward when times are darker than they are now.

You are indeed the lucky ones and I pray only that you extract every last nuance of joy and understanding from the good fortune to have formed such an obviously beautiful union.

Love letter # 357

Love is one of those words – ideas, tropes, clichés – that gets misused all the time. Mistaken for lust and ownership, dependence and habit. We have, I’m certain, each been guilty of all of the above. Yet still we remain, despite the inadequacy of words and the grind of years. In spite of all our flaws and everything we’ve been afraid of. Having outlasted boredom and survived the temptations of wandering eyes.

Why? How? What for?

Or maybe the reduction of so-called ‘answers’ makes them an irrelevance. The analysis pointless. The resulting labels little more than catechism. Indeed, perhaps it does not matter if we love one another or not – only that together we are both better. Stronger, truer, more able to deal with the world. Better equipped for time and uncertainty. For the commonplace and complacent cruelties that swirl around us. For the act of living and the odyssey of dying.

In some ways this isn’t really a love letter at all. But whatever you call it, it is an acknowledgment. A thank you. A form of ongoing pledge. My feeble paean to you. As good a promise as I can ever make and as humble a troth as I suspect you would likely accept.

Or shall we just call it love – and leave it at that?

Ode to the checkout chick

I know I’m not the first single, middle aged guy to be smitten by the shopgirl thing – and I’m sure I won’t be the last. Especially if the girl in question is as gorgeous as you.

It’s true I barely know you – just a name badge and beautiful smile – and I’m guessing that I’m not the only customer you charm with your bright and bewitching eyes; but I always love our random minutes together. In fact, the first thing I do every time I enter the store is to scan the space for you, hoping you’re rostered on, hoping it’s you I’ll get at the checkout.

When the grocery gods are on my side and I’m standing next to you, trying not to say something totally stupid and embarrassing, I always notice the rings on your fingers. And the playful spark in your gaze. The flirty tilt of your head. The curves that your uniform can’t quite hide. But also – something deeper. A person. A soul inside.

On occasions I have wondered if, in some small and discreet way, you are reaching out. Looking for something more. Daring me to cross the invisible line between us. But then I walk away and I’m sure it’s just a game.

I know why I’m playing it and I’m pretty sure why you do – but just in case I’ve got it wrong …  I am here. Should you ever.

Love letter # 319

Solstice. Winter. The darkness in its pomp. The daylight shivering. So far from you. Wanting so much to lie upon the damp earth and be consumed. To sink into the soil, feed the naked trees. Give my life to something greater. Greater than my futile pride. More beautiful than my ridiculous vanity. Something like the love that still lives inside me.

In this frigid grey I see you so clearly – turning your head to smile back at me – your eyes so warm with tenderness. That knowing laugh of yours. The way you hinted at deeper and more wonderful things. The permission you gave. Not to do what others do. Not to want the folly of gold and glory, or the shallowness of wisdom. We never asked to be feted, nor approved of. We only ever wanted the unblinking and egalitarian oblivion of the light. To have all the shit washed off. The walls destroyed. To hear the music wherever we went.

Amidst the bare knuckled trees I linger and in the thickening dusk I call across the impossibility to listen out for the echoes of your astonishing beauty. I breathe in the viscous wet scent of fallen leaves and rain drunk dirt. I hear the song of celestial time – its overwhelming and magnificent simplicity – and I am ready to whisper my assent to the immensity. If only to be nearer. To you. To us.

So now I shall close my eyes and in a blink of blackness the wheel will have turned – and in a heartbeat the light will have come back to me. And I will not be here.

Love letter # 461

Of course this is a bit ridiculous. I mean, it’s so out of step with the modern age, isn’t it? – all this still loving you after all this time. I can almost see the look in your eyes, the shake of your head. Why don’t you just stop!?

Why don’t I just stop what? Thinking of you with tenderness? Feeling that incredible wave that first came over me when we were together? Understanding the irreversible knowing of love?

I know, I know – but what is love? Isn’t it just a kind of poetic selfishness, a euphemism for hormones and evolutionary imperatives? Maybe it’s those things as well, I wouldn’t doubt it, but here’s what it also is – for me at least. It’s that breathtaking connection; the one makes it seem, just for a moment, like you are breaking from the cell of the ego and really seeing the other and, in that, something profound about the nature of self.

So of course I still love you – how could I not? I still love all those who wandered into this channel, who opened the floodgates. The teenage siren of misty eyed memory, the undergraduate beauty I swore I wanted to die for, my ex-wife … and you, the one who blew the covers off everything.

I’m saying this to you now just in case. Because we never really ended, did we – it was just that drifting apart was easier, more sensible. The terrain never burned, it just got vacated. Left behind like something a little too difficult.

I fully get why this might appear absurd, even a bit crazy, but the kind of thing we had makes it worth the risk. Maybe I want you to unequivocally say it – the last rites and all that – but what I really wanted say was this: the light is still so dazzling and beautiful and humbling some days that I would rather risk the shuddering finality of no than the unbearable idea of if only.

Love letter # 350

We are, both of us, old enough to understand that some things can’t be fought – won’t be solved or made better with either wishing, ideology or just ‘going along’. It’s true, I could simply use you for the sex and kindness you are offering; but then, what happens when the deed is done and the generosity starts to seem one sided? And what kind of person would that make me?

Much as this moment is awkward, awful and a wrench for us, in a month – six months, a year – we will both be glad it happened this way. I realise that this is an easy and perhaps righteous thing to say but I also think that you know it’s true.

I will not apologise for not being ‘in love’ with you but I will say sorry if I inadvertently gave you hope or caused you pain. Maybe I tried too hard to be kind and, in indulging this weakness, I twisted the knife much more than it needed to be. I tried to limit what I knew had to be your suffering because, selfishly, I wanted to limit my own. I do not claim noble self-sacrifice as a motivation.

Yet neither do I wallow in the vain drama of middle class guilt. We are, none of us, perfect or above reproach, especially when feelings are high and desire clouds our judgement. I know that you came at this with the best intentions – with love, compassion, openness, good humour and a giving attitude – but if anything we are both at fault for failing to best manage the mis-match and losing our beautiful, extraordinary friendship along the way.

Love may well offer us everything we wish for but in its brightly shining eye it also blinds the mere mortals in its sway and asks us to render everything unto its power. We are but two more fools paying the price.

Love letter # 322

There are so many reasons to say no. Like the world. And bruises. Like all the busted myths we no longer believe. And the fact that it’s easier to be alone than to contemplate another wound. Cos we’re so over scars, aren’t we? I mean, who needs the drama. It’s just so fucking teenage. So vomitously Hollywood. No one in their right mind buys that rom-com, soulmate shit anymore. Least of all you and me.

So walk away, my cynical star. Turn around. Go home to your cat. To fucking Facebook. Me, I’ll just stay here. Bottle of red. A thousand songs of heartache. Bleeding like a river, despite all the clotting agents. But they’ll never break our hearts again, will they? Oh no.

For even though it melts me just to look at you sometimes, I’m far too cool and together to let it all become something as absurd as love. Not in a million years.

Which is just how you want it, right?

Letter to the random Chinese girl on the 96.

You will never know this – but by the accident of collision you breached the perimeter. Touched me. Gave me a shiver that I was not expecting. That has given me pause.

You will not remember this – but you sat next to me. Your arm against mine, our shoulders brushing, the smell of shampoo in your long black hair, the satin sheen of your stockings, the little curl at the end of your painted lashes. Almost imperceptible breaths.

I could never tell you this in person – but you squashing into the seat next to me not only made an ordinary tram ride memorable but made something else plain. The human warmth of a stranger’s forearm, an inconsequential intersection – yet still the sexiest thing that’s happened to me all year. It is this I took with me when my stop came.

You did not look up. Not even flinch. Just kept stabbing at your phone. WeChat. Instagram. Smiles for the things that meant something to you.

I can still imagine the softness of your mouth – the impossible aching quietness of a sigh. Gentle like those little breaths of yours. These, it’s true, are the chimera I dance with now. Invisible hands. Intangible motions. Whispers not of your uttering. Promises neither made nor unkept. A gorgeous Chinese girl on the 96 – sitting next to me in a pool of spring sunshine.

Whoever you are.

Love letter # 476

If we were younger we would be together by now. We would have found out. Now, we hover. Trying not to love. With no wish for bruising. Nor drama. Awareness as a form of inertia. Acknowledgement. Polite conciliation. Love within acceptable limits. Perhaps just enough to be torture.

But no – were not doing noble denial. We’re doing fear.

Neither of us wishes to break, yet both of us know we’re only half a thought away. Still, we cling to our slender edge. Because a stubborn fire is apt to burn the air between us. Fuelled by something in you and me. Something I can’t name. But am.

But what if we stumble from our great height? What if we fall?

Imagine right and wrong didn’t matter. Suppose this was all we had. To love one another. To find a way. What then?

Love letter # 1000

Let’s call this the end, shall we? Pack up our dreaming and go. Leave the scatterlings behind. All the odds and ends of our years. The ashes of our love and the exhausted batteries of our resistance to time’s inevitable and heedless smear of dust and forgetting.

Once we had a thing – a pact almost – an understanding formed in similarity. Together we held off the ravages of the world. Though we were surrounded by the stupid and the selfish, the vain and the righteous, there was a shield around us. A force we steeled with our dark hearted passion. With our particular and idiosyncratic take on the madness. Outside, cruelty, fear and denial reigned – but we dwelt in a house made of love. It was the only place we felt safe. The only room we were allowed.

But it is shattered now. The world has crushed its lovely walls to bits. Shaken us from our idyll. Made it plain that we have never, and most likely will never fit. What we hold sacred, the world thinks naive. And that magnificent fire we stood by – even we have fled from the intensity of its flame. As if somehow the dark and the cold would stop the black bells ringing in our ears. In our hearts.

Well it hasn’t, has it? For theirs is the music we will always dance to. Theirs the brutal beauty that sings from the heart of everything.

We have lived in the space where ecstasy and despair coalesce and we have surrendered to the awesome wave. And it was merciful. And we were blessed.

But we are alone now. All the gorgeous songs have turned to schlock. The promise to compromise. The golden light to stark white globes.

I really can’t be fucked with this anymore. Can you? If the banal and the dull and the unfeeling must triumph, let them celebrate their victories without us. What need have we to applaud their tacky tricks and trinkets? Pin the medals to their chests, load them up with gold, furnish their prisons with shine. Their gods are not mine.

Rather our foolish love than their heartless jargon. Rather the unhinged narrative of our silly little vision than the clear eyed blindness we once chose to see through. Even though it has brought us to this.

A letter from an invisible man

It happened the other day. A turn of the head. A beautiful woman walking by. Half a second’s eye contact. Thin polite smile. Then the thought: walking by. The weight of what it meant. For that’s what she will always be from now. Beauty that walks by.

I remember the first time I heard someone use the term sexual invisibility. She said that time had effectively de-sexed her. “I’m mother, aunty, confidant, drinking buddy, gym buddy, you name it – but never lover.”

Through this invisible yet ruthless wall of time I too have now clearly passed. They no longer stop. No longer seem to enjoy the attention I might give them. I am the bumbling imbecile they look right through – or at best tolerate for a few seconds. I am the pitiable, contemptable, menopausal idiot stupidly clinging to the last scraps of hope. The joke they laugh at the moment my back is turned.

All this despite the fact that I can see their beauty more clearly than ever – that I can love them more freely and boldly and truly. If in my handsome years I greedily took, now in my ugly time I have oceans to give. Yet now they sit inside me unwanted – dammed, penned in by age and its tell-tale perimeter fence of thinning hair.

Are porn, pity fucks and dating site shag hags all that’s left? The paleness of settling as opposed to the wildness of fire?

Or loneliness?

Either way, she walked away. Didn’t she? Blinked at you, took her next step and instantly forgot you. And none of the irony or poetry of the moment was communicated. She was the form of loveliness gliding by but I was just the sad arse man whose gaze lingered a little too long on the dream of beauty. I got caught. She escaped.

So now I surrender – and the sea of love that moves within me will save its mighty tides for fictions. For the swoon of songs. For the shimmer of cinema. For letters like this.

And the beautiful women – emerging and then instantly retreating into the torrents of an anonymous city – they will just walk past. Unknowing, uncaring. Until I no longer see them and words like these dry up.

Love letter to the world

Look around. What do you see? People scurrying. Planning, making, doing. Ticking off bucket lists and achieving objectives. Bettering themselves. Head down, bum up in the dense and detailed thicket of living. There is nothing inherently wrong in this. After all, we have such a tiny window of awareness that it makes sense for us to look out and marvel at the view. Because it is spectacular. More than that: beautiful.

So why are so many of us, (by which I mean virtually everyone I’ve ever met), afraid to feel – scared to really have feelings? The answer, of course, is simple and poignant. Because when we truly feel we are reminded not just who but what we are. Animals. Mortals. Thus, by denying how we feel – or that we even feel – we can continue in the pretence that we’re not going to die.

This is why, for the most part, we live in a world of intellectual edifice. Of command and control. Of self importance. Of supposedly higher purpose. We have made up a million gods to justify us in this grand folly, to externalise and somehow validate the twin fantasies of meaning and mattering. Everything from organised religion to the so-called New Age helps us to believe that we are here for some kind of ‘reason’, specially anointed with a sacred mission, engaged in a jihad against death, sustained by the promises of enlightenment and eternity. Indeed, this systematic externalisation of meaning powers the engine of our central denial.

As children we grasp at the world to know who we are. The world gives us a name. A place. We look to it at every turn to let us know that we’re doing okay. That we matter. That we are not alone.

As adults we like to believe we’re past all that. So why do so many of us remain desperate for ‘the universe’ to have a purpose for us, to chaperone us on a special, individually tailored journey to execute the dénouement of an apparently illuminating narrative? Perhaps with our cleverness we believe we can fabricate a way to ignore what we already know. That at the end of all this heaving and hauling we will simply die. Like every other animal.

And all of our empires will return to the dust from which they were first carved – and our finely crafted narratives will reveal themselves to be little more than paracetamol for the soul. Stories that we tell ourselves to dull the truly awesome fact of our utter insignificance.

For we are barely even specks in the ocean of everything. Our time is so brief and our impact so miniscule as to be indistinguishable from zero. We merely pop our heads up for a blink to cram in as much of whatever it is we can, before quietly – almost unnoticeably – sliding back into great nothing from which we emerged. As if we had never even been born.

Many of you will decry this as overblown pessimism, as a bleak spiritual defeat. Some will think it simply lazy; an excuse not to care. Yet for me it is the most brutally beautiful, profoundly liberating, powerfully humbling acceptance I have ever known. I have surrendered to it entirely – not just with fancy sounding philosophy but with my blood. With my raging, irrational heart.

I don’t matter at all. Absolutely nothing does. There is neither reward nor punishment. Nor even judgement. Not failure, not wisdom, not permanence. The rain shall fall upon the just and the unjust. The mighty shall make bones as beggars do. My life isn’t ‘about’ anything. It just is … until it won’t be.

When I feel this I am free. Free to love you any way I chose. Free to make it sing with beauty. As though we were dancing in time.

Because I have accepted full responsibility for every hue of meaning I seek to colour my time in with, the external pressures have melted to nearly nothing, leaving me at peace to do with the minutes and hours I have left as I wish.

Which is to feel. To love. To know beauty. Be an animal. Walk that slender wire slung above a sea of nothing; knowing I must fall but curling my toes around the twine just the same.

And you can do it too. Let go of fear – because fear won’t save you – abandon the delusion of control and the righteous conceits of wisdom and stop searching for enlightenment or happiness. Yes, the ‘journey’ does come to a breathless climax – but you already know what the ending is. And you will get there regardless.

I do not say this to bring you down or to prove an existential point of order. In fact, I’m saying it because of late I too have begun to be afraid of the way I feel. Of how vulnerable my feelings make me. How exposed. How old. Tick, tick, tick …

Because the broken heart will say aloud things only whispered elsewhere.

Whoa! I hear you say. Hang on there! Broken heart? Isn’t this meant to be some kind of spiritual tract? Well no. Didn’t you read the title?

It’s love that’s driving this. An intense, possibly unrealistic, quite probably masochistic hunger for connection. Recognition. For the sweet and restful silence of knowing – and being known.

In the absence of gods and mandated missions – in the space left behind by the dissolution of meaning and the dethroning of destiny – I believe we only have each other. Fragile, foolish things that we are. Warm blooded, socially bonded mammals. Just us. Nothing else. So, even though I have lately been scared off and badly bruised by the masks of coldness that so many seem to wear as a matter of course, I am trying hard to retain the courage to keep feeling. To be open to you. To have a heart worthy of the giving.

Again, I hear you say: but why ‘us’ – why not just me? Didn’t you just say that I am the true source of all meaning and narrative in my life? Well yes. But you’ve read the title again now and you’ll probably have guessed that what I mean to suggest is that I cannot be without you. Because we are not alone – we just live in a culture that encourages us to forget this.

However, the prevailing and disempowering cult of self is easily exposed by the hard wired reality of us. Sometimes this is to our detriment, (pressure to conform, misguided notions of honour, the constant seeking of approval), but at others it is to our benefit, (love, compassion, humility). It is of course the latter to which this letter refers. For these I have freely chosen. These I feel will help to make my journey back to nothingness more meaningful. More beautiful.

Sure, I’ll be just as dead in the end – but I will arrive at the cusp of oblivion having known your arms around me. Having felt your soft kiss on my lips. I will have looked into your eyes and seen the calming presence of acceptance. Of a soul not so different from my own. And none of it will mean a thing or change a jot – except for you and I. (And maybe some of our friends.)

Or … we can choose consumer goods – be they physical or spiritual – and we can maintain our relentless pursuit of status and righteousness. We can continue the pointless struggle to create permanence where there is none and put our faith in the abstractions of ideology and self improvement. There is nothing superior about us feeling our feelings or accepting the blank stare of mortal, animal fact. We can live in denial if we want.

But do you? Really?

I’m not expecting you to answer. That’s not why I’m asking. I ask because I love you – and because it would be equally wonderful to have you love me back. For then we can walk to the line together. Not because it will save us – but because it will be beautiful.

Love letter # 429

Though my intellect is telling me to detach – to move on, to understand this as just another in a long line of delusions – something in my heart will not let it go. I get that this is all a result of base desires and fundamental character flaws and that the romance of finding another soon devolves into a mundane negotiation over this, that and the other – but still I am not prepared to give this up without some kind of fight.

I apologise for pretending not to care that much – for looking like it was neither here nor there to me. Actually, it means almost everything right now. And so do you. The truth is I love you; ridiculous though that might seem.

I have practised in my head the way I would say this to you but I will confess that I find it easier to write it down. Truth be told, I feel that if I saw you now I would simply melt; or at least my façade would.

God knows I’ve tried to be cool about this – but really … I am ablaze.

Love letter # 279

Each time I convince myself not to bother – reason one, excuse two, etcetera – you turn me round. Whenever I find myself walking away, you argue me back. Not with pleas or promises but with the irresistible power of your beauty. For though I see and feel all the obstacles stacked up against this, I also see your eyes. More than that – something deep and bordering on eternal. Something akin to the possibility of home. Harbour.

Yet maybe one day soon I will walk away – and this current determination will founder upon the rocks you withhold – but until then I will try to face you, to hold your gorgeous gaze a moment longer. To pick my way through the shadows by the light we can still both see by. To knock upon your door.

And for it to open …

Love letter # 304

We can do this, you know. All those external voices, the ones proffering their usual array of pre-digested objections – family, honour, class, culture – these are but the declarative choir of history, the pent up demand of billions of disappointed souls who said no and who now wish us to repeat their timid capitulation.

But why should we? The pressures that come from outside; they are abstractions. A catechism repeated by those in search of what they believe is a kind of safety. Well sure, there is a kind safety – but we the living are already guaranteed the hassle free rest of oblivion. I wonder then if we just might risk some dynamite before the whole damn thing crashes down. Do we have the guts for such fires? Do we have the steel for love?

If you can plant this tiny seed with me now then perhaps – sometime soon – we will find a little flower on our path. We will hear the song that breathes beneath the clamour. Sigh the sigh of oceans moving. Know the thing that only lovers know.

Though there is a world of expectation waiting outside, inside we can feel the difference. They have words – we have the spark they’re all talking about. What would you prefer?


Love letter # 450

You could well be the most beautiful person I have ever met. You might be the one they call ‘the one’. This is what drives me to want to know. To try. To fight for you.

I take on board the possibility of abject failure – call it rejection if you like – but I would rather gamble on that than take the chance I might wake up in five years and wonder if I let you go too soon.

So here I am – saying it.

It’s your turn now – and I’m all ears and butterflies.

Love letter # 432

Forgive me if I’m being blunt here – but what is so terrifying about love? Why have so many people closed themselves down? Why have you?

Of course you can get hurt. Yes, it can bleed. No, the Hollywood fairy tale doesn’t come true for most of us. Yet what would you rather? A half dead life?

Sure, pile up your excuses. Heard ‘em all before. Almost always, can’t is a veil for won’t – and sensible is a proxy for fear. As for the input of others – the naysayers, the blackmailers, the ones who think you’re their object – why does it have any power?

I understand caution. I know the risks. But y’know what – the risk isn’t all on one side. Saying no is also a gamble. Will you bet on the loneliness of the closed off heart? Will you take the risk of regret, of wondering whether…?

We’re all gonna die, my love – and none of this shit we take for success or wisdom or honour will end up meaning anything.

Only the night I spent in your arms. Only the time we truly saw each other. Just that gorgeous thread between us.

This I would treasure with all of my blood and every beat of my vulnerable heart – with the very core of me – for the clock that counts my days is the meter of my love. And I would risk its tender strings to know you. To be included in your light.

But I will not pledge it for the greyness of safety.

Love letter # 523

We’re both adults – we know how these things tend to go. So yes, it’s true, I am holding back.

Of course I wanted to hold you. Kiss you. Love you in every conceivable way. I saw the universe unfolding in the darkness of your eyes. I saw us dancing in five years time. Heard the music in my head. Felt the thunder in my blood. The fear that runs crazy in a heart held together by the knotted wires of will alone.

Forgive me if I am speaking out of turn here – but I think it’s same for you. We are both pilgrims walking the earth in the thrall of redemptive beauty. Broken angels patching up their wings. Bearers of light throwing shadows all around.

I guess I just wanted you to know that it’s okay. We don’t have to do this. I shall not judge you for the trepidations that belong to me. Your hesitation is mine. Our uncertainty unites us.

What If I loved you? What if I burned? What if you smiled in return?

Love letter # 321

I recognised you in the gaps – the tiny spaces left between busyness, bubbliness and booze. Your dark heart, shining like a beautiful star. The one who yearns, who dips and soars, who wants something more. I saw her in the silences, in the way her eyes sometimes pierced the innumerable distances. Lonely, wondering, full of extraordinary fire.

She is the one I have not stopped thinking about. She is the one I would fly across the sea to meet again. To dance with her, slow and soft. To let her know. That love is the way – dangerous and dazzling – to heal the wounds of self in the mirror of the other.

Love letter # 334

He sits waiting by the window at his favourite café, looking at his watch. She keeps her phone by her side, wondering when it will ring; startling at anything that sounds remotely like it might be him on the line. Now they both know what most of us come to know – the longing that will not be matched, the lover’s call unanswered.

For you and I this was the gateway to compassion. The dark hour that eventually dawned as the brightness of light.

Could it be that the kiss which never lands is the best kiss ever? Perhaps it is only when we starve that we come to see the true value of feeding. Because when I was alone in the night I woke up to real beauty of your arms around me.

Maybe, through the agency of their yearning, our nameless young lovers will melt down their hard and prideful exteriors and make their newly softened skin ready to receive the next band of life-giving rain. For, as we both know, joy is the bloom of sorrow.

Love letter # 373

This is for all of us – the great unremembered. The ones who shall end in dust.

In this universe of time we are but sub-atomic flickers. In the crush of history, we are the buried empires – the nameless bones – the unrecorded particulars. Less than forgotten. Barely distinguishable from the great nothing.

And when we have all vanished, the world will turn without us – its epic circles bigger than anything we could ever fashion. And it will turn as though we never were.

For we are but the small and lonely watchers. Lonely but for you.

In the shimmering sea of everything, we the tiny swimmers gasp for life – trapped in the cell of the self – looking out to the void – somehow knowing that we too shall be seen. And by that very act of seeing, created.

Just as it was in the beginning – when The Oneness became The Twoness – when The One made The Other in order to make itself.

Because down here in the dirt – in the almost infinitely minute world of you and me – the same great symmetries apply. I am nought without you.

Though it may well be true that eternity moves as it will – unruffled by the arrogant bluster of my striving, deaf to all my self-seeking noise, thankless in the face of all my apparent wisdom – the quiet and graceful mathematics of the universe will be rendered nigh divine by my overwhelming love for you.

Because of you there is music. And boundless beauty. All the nuanced strains of joy and despair. Every exquisite detail imaginable. You, my grain of sand, I shall adore – for in your fragile hands absolutely everything shall be held.

Though I may gaze into a cold infinity of stars it is when I wake in the night – you by my side – that I sense the splendour of things. That I truly am.

When even all of this is ash and silence and we are not even scratches on the skin of time, at least I will have loved you – and by my love I will have apprehended the fathomless beauty. That single, sustained, everlasting note of music which – when heard – becomes the song of being. To which I will have danced with you.

For if ever I am – so too are you.

Love letter # 311

Today I was trying to remember. What was life like before you? Who was I? I understand that this sounds melodramatic but when I think of all the changes that swept in with the storm front of your arrival, I realise that there is no overstatement in those questions. (Pardon the pun).

Loving you unbound me. Deconstructed me. Asked everything of me. The old me was put to the sword – not by you but by my reaction to you. Once uncorked, that flood of emotion and realisation had its own inevitable momentum. It carried me here.

So yes, you are right. I am not the one you fell in love with – or even the one who fell for you. I am the one you see before you now – the one remade by the closeness and the elusiveness of your incredible beauty.

I wonder now if you would say the same.

Love letter # 378

I wonder – do I stand a chance with you? Is there a way for me to get through your many layers of defence? Or are your reasons really excuses – fear in the guise of determination?

We both know that when someone says they’re not looking for a relationship what they really mean is that the right person hasn’t come along yet. This is what frightens me. That for all our closeness and the ease we have with one another, I am doomed to bounce off the steel of your singledom. Until someone else gets through.

So be honest. No sugar coats. None of this ‘I really respect you’ nonsense. Tell me if there is a hope I can reasonably cling to – if there is a chink in your armour with my name on it. But more so – let me know if there isn’t – because I have love to give; and I will not give it to a wall.

Love letter # 293

There are things beyond my explanation – or at least, my capacity to explain. It’s just that somewhere along the line I began to notice you in ways that were more intense and uncomfortable than I bargained for. Not my intention certainly; but I have to be honest.

I’m only saying this now so that you can have an answer to the obvious question waiting behind your eyes.

Yes, this is why I have withdrawn. Why I look down at the floor. Why I make lame excuses and leave early. Say no to the drinks. Because I cannot bear the thought that this wave building up in my blood might burst through my skin and spill its crimson tide everywhere.

Also, desire (or love if you like) has turned me into an idiot on so many previous occasions that I am afraid that at the mere sight of this much stupider, needier version of me you will turn on your heels. Or worse, turn to scorn.

The poets and dreamers may extol love to the heavens – but for us flawed and fragile mortals it is often the destroyer.

So maybe if you give me time and space it will pass and I will be able to act normal around you again. Until then, forgive me my gut wrenching fear of rejection. It is a folly, I know, but from my vantage point it is a lesser sin than those almost certain to be committed by the amorous and thwarted suitor I would become if this passion gets out of its cage.

Love letter # 309

It is not that I am especially broken – nor particularly wise – just a little wary. More than just bruises. Deep fissures; some of which have turned to a kind of freezing trepidation. Which makes me look at you with a mix of terror and desire. Tenderness and suspicion.

This could be the legacy of time or the ‘take-out’ of what we call failure. After all, who amongst us wishes to suffer more than necessary?

Yet for all that … you. Beautiful and present. A fire to warm through the ice of disappointment. To set the rivers running once more.

Forgive me if I appear to falter. Tis not a lack of wanting. Rather, the natural hesitation of one who wants too much.

Love letter # 407

I hereby acknowledge the downside to my capacity for and desire to give and receive love. It has led me into serious misjudgement and involved me in psychologically damaging relationships. Furthermore, it has allowed poisonous opportunists to manipulate and abuse me. My affections have been toyed with and my openness and availability have made me vulnerable to users and liars.

For most of my adult life I have been repeating a relationship pattern that has been unfulfilling and ruinous. This is entirely my doing. My fault, my issue, my addiction. Indeed, much of what I have called love has in fact been neediness and approval seeking. A band aid for a pain lodged deep in my history and enshrined in my self-talk.

So now the time has come for me to write a love letter to myself. To take back the love I have offered to so many undeserving others and return it to the core. Not in a vain or protective way – not as armour or self-serving bias – but as nurture. As recognition. As a form of dignity.

There is no bitterness or reproach in this gesture – simply an honest appraisal. It is time to flip the dynamic. Instead of making myself struggle uphill to earn a little self-honouring and giving my heart away too easily to others, I’m moving the goal posts. From this day forth I shall make it my goal to love myself more easily – more compassionately – and to make others prove their worth.

If my love has been a cheap trinket until today, from now it shall be a jewel. Precious and of inestimable value – and not lightly or reflexively given away.

Love letter # 247

Because we were together, nothing else mattered.

I am sure we now both find that sentiment a little far-fetched and adolescent. Having worked out that what we really wanted to put our efforts into were money and achievement and status, we naturally drifted apart. No little wonder there.

So now we have a house of dust covered trinkets. Business cards with egotistical titles in tiny print. And loneliness.

The thing is, today – with the sky a perfect blue and the breeze soft like the look you used to give me – it struck me that we were right all along. If we were together right now – strolling, doing coffee – and we could throw off all the myriad millstones we both chose to carry around with us – sideline the built up bitterness of history – it would become true once more.

Just being near; that would be our greatest treasure – and we would have our freedom back.

Love letter # 230

I realise now the extent to which you lied to me; the manner in which you ruthlessly manipulated my affection for you. Of late, I have been very angry about this – furiously imagining encounters in which I get to hold you accountable. Yet I know too that I allowed it all to happen. If you were cynical, I was foolish. In this way at least we were a good match.

However, I have not sent this you in order to confront or insult you. I am old enough to know that cruelty is most often the result of earlier cruelty. Your lack of respect for me simply reflected the disrespect that you have been shown. Even more so, the lack of respect you have for yourself. I was simply a dog that you kicked. A dog that said kick me.

I am writing instead to acknowledge the folly of my optimism and to remind you that in the end the truth always emerges – and that games and lies have a way of destroying those who author them.

Of course, my saying this will not do me any favours – perhaps it will simply heighten your belief that I am weak and overly emotional – but I pray that you will remember it and that, one day, when thoughts of me are a million miles away, it shall give you pause. Not simply to spare some other love blind sap but to lift the veil of bitterness from what I still believe is your lovely heart.

We all have bruises – but there is nought to gain from inflicting them upon others. For our pain is not reduced one iota by the pain of others.

Love letter # 339

It is arresting – humbling – to catch yourself hoping when all rational expectation is long dead. In spite of all my previous declarations and determinations, a stubborn candle burned. Little more than a slurry of wax smouldering in a dim corner of fantasy. Yet still alight.

For desire pays no heed to evidence.

So what is it I desire so madly? Surely not just you – for you are merely a man – a wreck like me. Tangled up and tarnished.

No – that tiny fire burned for something I wanted more than the veils of sanity or respectability. More than family. Than being right. Than you.


Not just the idea but the experience of being a part of something bigger than the self.

And its wonderful corollary – the end of loneliness.

Love letter # 224

To live is to share; this is what I now realise.

All my previous striving and apparent achievement gave me nothing that was not simply vanity or distraction in the guise of victory. In my pomp I rattled around in a room of echoes – hearing only the narcissistic babble of self. And even in my supposed glory I came back to an empty house – woke in the cool arms of silence. No, not even my trophies gave me any joy. They were simply lonely spoils.

But now there is you – and when I am in the thrall of beauty, I see it reflected in your eyes. When I wake in dead of night, it is your adjacent warmth that soothes me. Brings me back. And even in the deathly quiet, the sound of your breathing.

For I am not here to be right. Nor to be admired. I do not require a kingdom and I have no need for treasures. Nor the tired dust they are wont to gather. I am here to love you. To share everything. To be at one.

Love letter # 282

When you came into the room unexpectedly last night the calmness that I had felt all day dissipated in a heartbeat. That same heart was suddenly in my throat. Sense of calm replaced with shudders. It’s why I fled. It’s why I’m writing this.

Also, I feel it is only fair that you know why I am doing this – why I appear to be reacting in such a ridiculous and extreme fashion.

I have accepted your decision – and I also acknowledge that you have been open and upfront about your position. Likewise, I have pretty upfront about mine. For a while I think we both tried really hard to make our two desires live together – but it appears they will no longer do so. I know that we are both suffering now because of this and I apologise unreservedly for bringing this to a rather unfortunate head.

If I could see you and not be suffused with a mad tenderness – touch you and not be on fire – hang out with you and not want to spend the night with you, this would not be happening. But I love you; and every time you are near this feeling flares up in me. It is beautiful and warm and absolute. It brings both tears to my eyes and joy to my heart.

Yet I will not hide or dam up this capacity I have for loving – and having offered it you so openly and repeatedly I feel that it is time for me to let the idea of you go and move on. And the best way for me to move on is for me not to have you near. Not to be reminded – or inspired to foolishly hope once more.

Or to sit at your side wanting you like crazy but satisfying myself with mere crumbs. So I will not be the good little boy who shuts his mouth and sits on his hands and cheers from the sidelines when the woman he loves takes her heart and her body elsewhere – as one day you surely will. I have too much respect for myself now for this craven remaining.

But is this worth giving up the obviously beautiful friendship we have begun – the obvious connection we have? The answer quite simply is yes. However much I will absolutely miss you – and I most certainly will – being your so-called friend, looking but not touching, loving but not being loved … this will be far worse. Torture, in fact.

You see, I have been in this position before: done the right thing, tried to put my feelings to one side, put the other person first – and where did it get me? Damn nearly mad; and most definitely damaged.

I will not do this to myself again – not even for you, beautiful girl.

So when you see me running – acting like a complete fuckwit – please understand that it is not out of cruelty or spite or even stupid male pride – for I would gladly surrender any vestige of my vanity for the splendour of your kiss or for the thought that you might love me. I hide because it is too painful not to. Because I cannot look at the face of loveliness without wanting to burst.

And anyway, why would you want to be ‘friends’ with someone you know wants to be with you romantically – wants to wake up in your embrace? What could you possibly gain from knowing that I was just putting on a fake smile and ‘behaving’ myself? It would be a cringeworthy spectacle for you to have to endure.

I would rather you think me an overly emotional, obsessive idiot than come to see me as weakling fool who sat meekly at your feet like a little dog. I will sooner set fire to this melodramatic mess than wait for it to eat me away.

I also want you to know that I really did try to head this off at the pass. I made several attempts to distance myself from you. I sent you letters about it, remember. I made it as plain as I could. I knew, ages ago, that we would either be lovers or strangers. Now I think we both know the answer.

I cannot finish this letter without saying once more what a truly beautiful soul you are – and how I have treasured my times with you. How lovely it felt when you reached out and took my hand. How deeply I respect your patience with me and your moments of genuine caring. However upset I am sometimes – and whatever nonsense I might blurt out in pain – I have only love for you. It sits with me even now. Melting me. Making me wish I was not typing these damn fateful letters.

However, I do believe I tried my best. Perhaps time will reveal me to be wrong on this account but right where I am now I will not pretend. In love there is no consolation prize – at least not one that I am willing to accept.

And so on that note – I bid you farewell. I will let you go and I ask only that you allow me to do this. I may be a fool – but I am a fool who loves you – and this is why I am taking this action.

I do hope this makes sense to you and makes this little difficulty less of an inconvenience for you.

All my love – as ever


Love letter # 272

Life, it seems, is a series of risks. We wager everything on the delusion of success or on the fallacy of profit. Many of us place our bets on failure and take the chance that trying to avoid pain will make us happy. Or at the very least, minimise the odds of heartbreak.

But I will take the risk of possible tears for you. I will gamble that by loving you I might one day crumble. For I would rather fail at beauty and connection – at tenderness and affection – than succeed at coldness and fear.

If my heart is to bleed, let it shed its blood for the sweetness of your kiss – for the heady pleasures of resting in your arms and waking by your side. Let the tears I cry be for the memory of our love – not for the emptiness of wondering what might have been if only I had summoned the courage to try.

I would sooner die for you than for some misplaced and pointless sense of pride. Much better to be wrong about the touch of another, than absolutely right about the awful hand of isolation.

And so tonight I put it all on the line – so that you and I may have the chance to taste the joy that we both seek.

Love letter # 275

It seems we all get stuck on semantics. Boyfriend/girlfriend, partner/lover or ‘just’ friends. Yet when I think about what it is that I want to share with you, it’s definitely not a label. In a way, the so-called relationship I wish I had with you revolves around some very simple understandings.

I would have it that we commit to seeing one another regularly, to being emotionally and physically intimate and to being faithful. In turn, I pledge to be honest and available – to love you first of all and to let the whole world know this. Be my number one if you wish – and in return I will gladly be yours.

You can call it what you will – but I shall name it love and give it to you in absolute abundance.

Love letter # 234

“When you let yourself be wrong, then you will know the truth.”

I am not sure if this is an old saying or not – but it makes sense to me in our current circumstance. I do not for one moment believe it will make you run into my arms – as I wish you would – but rather, I say it because I see that your pride and stubbornness are stopping you from having the love you deserve and the happiness you wish for. I know that you have been hurt – as I have – and I understand that the timing may not be quite right for you; but it strikes me that the wall around you is more like a prison than a salvation.

I see in you the common fear of pain – the one we all share to some degree. I am sure that you feel that to allow yourself to be vulnerable again would simply open you up to further abuse and heartache. But those who are impervious are joyless – and those who deny weakness have no strength.

You have such a beautiful kindness in you, my love. No doubt this is why you have been so hurt before. My fear is that you are retreating into hardness and suspicion as a way of negating your capacity for both pain and caring. I understand that it is too late for me but it bothers me that you may well one day shut out the one who truly is right for you.

There are so many things that I wish – for you – for you and I – but I know that the way things are right now make these things improbable. Perhaps impossible. And oh how I wish I was wrong.

Love letter # 284

We appear to live in a world that has little time for real love. Romance and sexualised obsession – yes – but that more subtle and profound feeling of care and deep desire – less so. I sense this so-called sophistication in your urbane stand-offishness. I think perhaps this is the fear of emotion in disguise.

No doubt this is why my feelings for you seem so over the top. They conflict with the cult of imperviousness that prevails these days. We speak the language of ‘being in tune with our emotions’ but we most often use it to talk down and cover up how we feel.

I have been as guilty of this around you as you have around me. But now I simply cannot abide the constraint. I think about you all the time. I dream us together. I imagine the tenderness we could be sharing.

At the risk of terrifying you with my primitive frankness; I love you, I desire you and I absolutely want to be with you. And even though I will cut myself to pieces waiting for your reply, I say these things without fear because the polite, evasive, non-committal style we have adopted up until now is no longer an option for me.

I will accept your rejection before I will slink off into the future never knowing if I had a real chance with you. And I will sport the bruise with honour, knowing that the finest of human qualities – namely, the capacity for love – did not lay dormant in me and did not bow to cowardice or fashion.

Love letter # 218

The end of isolation and bitterness does not lie behind a wall – it rests in the arms of love. The demons shall not be chased out by darkness – they shall be banished by the light. It is when we allow ourselves to be loved that our fear and mistrust finally dissolve. For the past cannot withstand the presence of powerful tenderness. Because all of our wounds can be healed with a kiss. And this I offer to you, my lovely friend.  xx

Love letter # 466

How would it be if I did not love you? Easier for you – for me? No guessing left to do? No diplomatic tip-toe?

If the sight of you did not fill me full of longing and sweetness, if you were not the first thing I thought of every day, if you were not the staple of my dreams …

But you are.

I have tried, out of respect, to deny this – to keep it hidden – but we both know it has broken its banks. When we are together now, as circumstance sometimes forces us to be, we end up drenched. You with the awkwardness of my unwanted attention – me with the lovely inundation of your exceptional beauty.

So this is why I am leaving. To save us both from the flood.

I will miss you – but in time that will pass and you will become a rose tinted memory. Someone whose glory will never fade. A girl I never grew tired of. I can but hope that I will linger in your recollection with a tenth of such fondness.

Love letter # 386

Why do I grasp? Snatch at? Investigate? Suspect? Because I am afraid. That you won’t love me like I’d rather you would. That really – you don’t care.

And why do I want you to care? Because when we are loved – truly – we bask in the untroubled light of our own possibility. We are at our most magnificent. Cleansed of doubt. Cured of our fixation with the endlessly detailed and distracting dramas of empire and trophy. For it is to which we ultimately surrender. Love that is our fire.

And I would like to make such a flame with you.

Love letter # 244

It is the light that makes the night seem darker – the black that makes the bright seem wondrous. These two are dancers. They move as one. I know this because I love you. And because I have this crazy feeling, I can see clearly that you don’t.

I could be sad about this – and sometimes I am – or I could be silent – which until now I have been. But I have this insistent flower inside me and it opens up whenever you are near. And it fills every corner of my body and colours all of my various imaginings with a radiant warmth and an almost oceanic compassion. As though I could love the whole world. Like a star is bursting in my heart. Pouring forth its beautiful light.

How could I ever keep such a thing locked away? Why would I not give this flower its share of the spring? For even if it airs for just a second, in a few foolish words, it will have brought more love into the world. I feel that maybe something of it might ripple out, far beyond you and me, and be of some comfort – perhaps even some joy – for those whose names I do not know but whose love I am presently alive with. I want to say it – type it – because one day, long after the supernova, the light will arrive across immeasurable distance and bathe some cold and barren rock in glory. And your incredible beauty – and the love it has ignited in me – will not have burned for nothing.

Love letter # 324

After all our noise and triumphalism – when our empires have fallen and our vainglory has come to nothing – it is the smallest things that sustain us. The simple warmth of human contact. Of hello. Of the smile we give one another. Or the smooth and lovely feel of your hand in mine.

So much that we cling to is delusion. Our sense of control. The idea of ourselves as the centre of everything. The hubris of believing we can conquer time. Perhaps even the notion of love itself.

But when I see you … what else is it that I need to believe? For even if I am just a gene machine – an animal with stripes on itself – the simple, uncomplicated fact of your caring for me – and of my adoring you – will see me through the night and bring into me the light of day.

Love letter # 296

I am not a linear narrative, nor a hero on a journey. I am simply living. Messily and haphazardly. I am neither a robot of destiny, nor an avatar of God. I am but human. Flesh and genes. An example of passion and folly – but with an eye for something called beauty. And even though it will come to nothing in the end, I choose to love you still.

Love letter # 222

The ever moving stream. The ceaseless churn of cycles. The great and silent wheel of everything. This is what we share.

We are but the name of the eternal. The splendid details. Flowers in an endless sea of beauty. And as they sway, so shall we.

Just as we are close, so shall we be distant. As long as there is a fire, there will be ashes. For the glory of the night is surely followed by the eye of the morning.

Love letter # 356

Why? Because it feels so good to care. Because I am a fire when I love you. For when I am most animal, I am most angel – and to wrap my arms around you in the sweet quiet of the night is to seek an audience with the light. Because when I love you this way, everything is in its place – and beauty is everywhere.

Love letter # 289

Joy and sorrow are the twin lodgers of my two roomed heart. They are the on and the off – the song and silence. They moved in when you did. They are both the light of your nearness and the shadow that it casts. The promise that you bring and the love that you withhold.

I am full sail when you arrive – a shipwreck when you leave. Determined beforehand, succumbed thereafter. Every guard I take against you – so easily circumvented. For beauty is the undoer of resolve – the rhyme that shatters reason.

Would that I could be strong; shut down those rooms – kick out those imposters. But no. For they are as my blood – the very river of my being – and I am the beat they proclaim. Even were I to discard both the drum and the stick, time would still be kept and it would still be the ever steady measure of my love.

Love letter # 146

This may surprise you – but I wanted to. I ached to. But I just couldn’t. Didn’t. Too many barely healed wounds. The heaviness of history. Net result – I was just rooted to the spot. Not able to form the words, nor make the move. Easier just to walk away and have you wonder what planet I’m on. Better that you think I’m weird or, God forbid, nice. Probably you believe I was afraid of your saying no; but that wasn’t it at all. It’s yes that scares me. I wouldn’t even know where to begin with someone like you – let alone contemplate the soap opera of separation. So in the end my desire for you would not have been enough and to foist it upon you would have been selfish of me. Simply the fix of your kiss and all the unmending that would surely follow. For there is no such thing as no strings – not when the heart is involved. And mine is.

Love letter # 157

Today I looked at you with brand new eyes. Had I not truly seen you before or have you changed? Perhaps the answer to this is academic – because all I know for sure is that when I saw you today I was unexpectedly breathless.

Sometimes it is not the first impression that counts – but the realisation that comes after months – years – of knowing someone. This may well be the truest love; the one hatched from the seed most deeply buried. The one least likely to be based entirely on hormones and fantasy.

I walked away from you today – my head shaken, my heart stirred – and I wondered how for so long I had overlooked such obvious beauty. Was I blind or were you hiding? Again, the answer here is less important than the stunning, simple fact of our abrupt uncovering.

So what will we do now that we have scratched away the film that kept these feelings under wraps? Disappear? Deny?

Or discover?

Love letter # 207

We both know the odds. The statistics say we’re almost sure to fail – and we both have nicks and cuts to bear witness to our past mistakes. I’m sure we could sit up all night comparing them. Yet perhaps we should not be afraid to lose – but rather, be bold enough to win. Whatever win means.

Yes, it’s a cynical world – and we’re both cynics. Neither of us really buy that romance shtick anymore. In fact, that Hollywood love story thing is way past its used by. But that’s not the only kind of love – and I have no desire to live in fear. Instead, I have a desire for you.

This could well be the beginning of another misadventure but I still have room for risks and bruises and the circle of tender arms around me. I am willing to say go – perhaps just for the thrill of your kiss, perhaps for something more. Are you?

Love letter # 291

The wellspring of my fortitude is the river of my pain – and the light that I see by is the thrower of my deepest shadows. It is you – my dawn and my night. And your blessed kiss – which is my succour and my suffering.

When we love we open the gates to the vast and contrary flood – to the wisdom that knows nothing – to the idea that is not an idea. It is not an attainment but a surrender. I have neither won you, nor been claimed by you. I have simply allowed myself to fall from the sky with you. Like rain. Like settling dew.

We are the pearls of accident – the darlings of just because – and ours is the blind divine.

Love letter # 239

This is what I don’t get. You smile, you let me touch you, you even hold my hand. Damn it you even seem to care. Then I open the way for you, show you I’m responsive, ready to take a risk for you and … you shut down.

That’s fine – you’re allowed to. You have to do what’s best for you. I get that. I respect that. It’s even okay if you just changed your mind – but please, don’t pretend not to know why I’m a bit sullen and withdrawn. I have to protect myself; just as maybe you did when you realised it was all about to happen and got scared.

So here’s the deal: if I respect your right to abruptly switch off the sweetness, will you at least acknowledge my reasons for not being Mr Happy & Wonderful around you and tending to my bruises instead.

Love letter # 172

In the autumn of your ardour I am already starving. The tide has turned. Inexorable momentum.

And today – your scalpel tongue. Almost vivisecting. Leaving a bruise.

Things are different now. The space between us has changed. Light has become the memory of light.

And we cannot change each other back.

We’re here now. What next?

Love letter # 153

When you say that I keep secrets, you are right, I do – but the silence that I hide behind is the awful sound of shattering. I feel that if I were to cry that I would never stop – and you might drown beside me in that mammoth sea. Even the creakiest craft is better than that.

So much remains to show you – so many things to say – but there are things I cannot whisper, things you cannot see. Ugly things. Stupid things. Storms I can’t control.

So yes, I have chosen to obscure and exclude. Parry and prevent. Veil and veer around. Partly because I fear your appraisal. Mostly because I dread the tides.

I don’t want you to see because then I won’t have to look. Your knowing would be the end of my denial – and that is what keeps me afloat. I know this is a tinder castle, ready for the fire; but these slender, matchstick walls are the difference between what we have left and what we will surely lose.

Knowledge isn’t always power – and the truth is often a bully. There is a price for everything it seems – so I pay a toll in shadows to keep the light alive.

You can force it out of me if you wish. Most likely I will yield. The question is: are you prepared to wager what you have for what you think you might receive? Perhaps the value of a secret is in its keeping – not its revealing.

Love letter # 118

The year is strewn with anniversaries. It never used to be that way. I used to live outside of the measures – or so I thought. I called myself an arrow – not a drum beat. Now I dance in time.

I used to scorn days like this – until last year. I was still in the city. Couples everywhere. Why did I go out that night? To be with you – or to leave you at home?

I went to look at lovers. I may not have been aware of it but I wanted to see that thing – that thing that lovers have. Their warm, hot melding. Their allowing. The thing I had with you – which I had never known. Abjection. Diminution. The opening of the veins. The rapture. The true sense of another. The overwhelming light of a greater power. Not a God necessarily – something more primitive. More like the very grit from which the idea of me is constructed. Something before ideas. Not a noun. A verb. Like a river. Like a rainstorm. Like the primal pool of sex.

So how has it been a year since then? I guess I must have blinked.

Love letter # 246

So this is the letter I swore I would never write – the one where I ask you outright – because ambiguity is no longer tenable.

I understand what it’s like to be unsure – and I see that in you. I’m also old enough to know that the ones who push are almost invariably the ones who lose out. These words, I realise, are me putting nails in the casket of my already absurd wishing.

But still …

I cannot live on guessing, on half signs, on maybes. What kind of fool agrees to subsist on optimism and changeable winds? I would rather sink than sail without compass. Let me drown instead, rather than swim for no good purpose.

You think I’m being dramatic, don’t you? Well yeah – I guess I am. Maybe I just can’t hold my breath any longer.

You can’t pretend not to know how I feel – what I would rather. You see my foolish, yearning behaviour – you forgive me for it regularly. Please do not condemn for wanting, for asking so directly. Just say no. Delete me. Make it impossible. Then I won’t dream.

I know I’m being selfish here – childish even – but I just can’t bear it any more. I’m afraid it might turn to bitterness if I linger. This way it will just be sorrow and – when that passes – beautiful remnants.

So yes – finally it comes to this – miracle or liberty. Pick one. Don’t be afraid. Either way, I will love you undiminished; and all that will end is the game.

Love letter # 1001

And now … I am awake, surfacing in this breathtaking vastness, in this desert of the self. I dwell on an island … infinite strandling, and everywhere I look I see the impassive, impersonal ocean, the matter of fact space that divides us … and the years creak like an old boat.

That little moment that never was, that we never held in our arms, its distance from here is not even measurable in time. We must be two strange fools to have acted like this, my love. What hideous complexity kept us from simple tenderness? What hubris from the gorgeously flawed love of sinners? A famous saint once said that complete abstinence was easier than perfect moderation. Was that it? Did we sense that this fire would make ashes of everything?

{This letter is an excerpt from a play called The Angel Of Loneliness.]

Love letter # 198

Everything is about the self – but the self is no longer enough. I guess that’s why I’m here, tallying up the reasons to care. Looking at you, wondering if … I am not asking you to cure me of my vanity – that is not within your power – I am simply hoping you will let me love you. And if you do, I shall let you love me in return – and then perhaps we will both have reasons – something more than …

Love letter # 158

Some might say it’s for the best – and maybe hindsight will reveal it to be so – but right now I can’t believe that. Today it seems like haste and hurt, like too hard. Sure, we are safer in our private cocoons but what kind of life is that?

Then again, maybe none of that matters. All that noble lover’s sentiment – perhaps it’s just the opiate of willing delusion, a narcotic trick of hormones and hope. Would we be happier if we never believed – never had to un-believe?

Part of me wants to kick and scream and fight but the quiet voice in me sighs tired assent. The wrecking ball is through the wall – our lovely bubble leaking.

We tried – didn’t we? I know I did – even if you think I didn’t.

I am numb – three quarters disbelieving – cut. You may say it was inevitable – I might even agree – but I still don’t have to like it. This is a cold house indeed, without you in it.

Love letter # 327

I saw what happened tonight. You walked into that room, mask in place – your persona so charming – everyone smiling. I watched as your lips formed the words – but I caught the corner of your eye.

You were like an actor in there, following your director’s orders. Say it like you mean it. Like this, like that. No one will know. No one wants to know – because nobody really gives a fuck. Yeah, I see your barely disguised disgust. You play the game without believing it and you wish you had the guts not to. Behind the painted smile: concealed weapons.

When you came outside I recognised the tiredness in your breath – your unseeking gaze. Please don’t see me. No more fucking questions. So I finished my cigarette and let you be. I get that you like the quiet – because the silence is an absence of bullshit.

Perhaps you’re thinking: who is this vain fool pretending to know me? But at least I’ve got you pinned for a liar.

Most people live life like a vanity project. You’ve done that, I can tell – but now you’ve grown up. At some point – maybe not so long ago – you came to the inescapable conclusion. You know the one.

Even glory becomes a pile of bones. Beauty turns to ash. And no trophy on earth is worth even a single drop of love.

That’s why you came outside – and why I’m saying this. Because if I’m wrong it won’t matter. But if I’m right …

Love letter # 295

You were the love of my sadness and we were the lachrymose twins. How my sorrow loved you; sought you out in the throng. I saw your black star shining – jewel in the darkness. We fashioned beautiful little tears by its stark, dark light. It was like a dream. But then I divorced the despair; saw it for what it was. Not a wedding band. A shackle. Now what about you? Whose ring do you wear?

Love letter # 120

It is not simply because you are 800 miles away that I miss you. Without you near I find I am trapped inside my thoughts, my own awful, wordy conceits. Leave the ego alone and it will vainly consume the day, leaving only an ache for the night. When I can reach out and touch you I am saved from the unblinking tyranny of the self. In loving you, I breathe, I look outwards, I give. It is my blessing to know you – my misfortune to be so far away.

Love letter # 114

You can say it often as you like – I still won’t buy it – because the fear of pain is the fear of joy.

Okay, so you don’t want to get hurt. Who does? It’s just that we don’t get a choice. Every lover has a broken heart. Every lover has open veins. Only the bloodless never gush. And that’s not you. I can sense the yearning in your hands. Even your breathing gives you away. There’s a fire inside you, cold actor. It’s a flame in your eyes.

But sure – keep up the pretence. Talk yourself into loneliness. Like that’s not gonna kill you. When you’re sitting in your silent room satisfying yourself that you never got cut, look around you. You hear that emptiness? What you gonna fill it with? Victory?

I will spill every drop of crimson to see just a pearl of yours. Throw the doors wide. Unfurl the flags. Are you hearing me?

Love is like the ecstasy of surrender. Please don’t fight it. The fort you build to keep it out will only lock you in. And then I’ll never have you … And that just won’t do.

Love letter # 188

Your fear comes pouring off you. It’s frightening. And such a waste of time.

I was in your shoes once. It was awful. I took someone’s love and turned it into the burden of proof. No wonder my fears came true. Don’t do this to yourself.

These things do not bear cross examination. Love is what you allow – not what you force. Let go; and it will always be here for you.

There is a simple rule at work here – push someone and they will surely fall over. Me – I would much rather stand beside you. Much better plan.

Don’t let your fear eat you up, feed on what’s before you. It will sustain you if you let it.

Love letter # 160

What starts as a whisper ends in silence. Where there is a seed, dry leaves. I did not see you coming but I know I will bleed when you go.

The ghosts of the future are hovering in the lighted dust, portentous little sighs. Even in the thrill of this, their hatchlings are playing.

It’s true – we are in the springtime, everywhere fruit and flowers, the world lighted up. But we know what comes next. We have each watched charm turn to anger, summer to awful shivers.

I look at you now and I feel like I could crack open the order of things just to make the autumn shine like this. When this wonderful romance grows old I pray that it blossoms into love. There must be somewhere between tired and inspired where we can be happy. Let’s look for that place. We may as well.

For is it not loving better than its alternative?

Love letter # 155

Now that we find ourselves here I’ve had to ask myself: what does it mean that I still love you? – because experience tells me that love is often what we settle for. I see all your cracks, your quirks, your blatant inconsistencies. And you see mine. There is nothing heroic about us; we are just children growing old.

But what of this inevitable slide – is it really that bad?

Suppose instead of wishing you perfect I just love you how you are; accept imperfection as the price for offering it in return? We could simply love each other because. Does that sound like a plan?

I guess it’s either that or … and I don’t want or.

Love letter # 53

Sometimes I don’t know what to say to you. All my words have turned to time bombs; and with all these eggshells around I’m best off quiet.

If you cannot accept what is before you, I cannot force you. I wish you could see it for what it was – then you would know for sure. Then I wouldn’t be writing this.

Love is never proven because it is not something measureable. It is exactly like faith in that regard. It is the very act of believing. It is something we do.

Though I have chosen to give it, you must choose to receive it, for a gift unopened is just that – a box in gaudy paper, a thing left to dust.

And love is not like water; it will not form a lake behind a dam wall. It will carve another river.

Love letter # 215

The moment you put a fence around it … do I have to say? We both know you can’t command love. We both know it won’t be bullied. Love is the remnant child playing, making up worlds. Love is the creator.

So don’t keep asking. You don’t have to. What’s given is given. I love you – and there’s an end to it. Do not ask me to prove it because I will gladly show it – but not on demand. My love is not a whim of your fearing.

Let me love you as I can. It may not be ideal – but it will always be love. Always a light. Always. You just need to let it flow. And if you jump in it will take you to a most beautiful sea … and that’s where I’ll be.

Love letter # 115

The world rattles, noise outside, busy with itself – but when those bright lights lose their lustre the rush is just an hour, a pretty, distracting drive by. And try as it might the clatter cannot cut the thread.

For there are things that hold us together: the long and lovely narrative, the bittersweet anchor, the subtle undertow. Things louder for being quieter; like the turn of your head, that certain gesture, the way that years fold down so acutely to moments.

This is what we sleep with tonight; this is what we wake to. Our heritage, the memory that stirs in our blood, the flowers growing beautiful in our garden. We are rich like the earth with dirt and history.

I am moved to wander in the ancient mists with you, to walk quietly and forever. And I shall breathe the same air as you … and know.

Love letter # 177

Even if it’s an illusion … well, it still feels good, don’t it? I still get a shiver when you touch me. And if you decided enough was enough … well, I don’t wanna think about that.

There’s enough ordinary in the world – we should grab whatever amazing we can. Sure there’s a price; but even boring makes you pay.

I’ll buy into a dream like this any day … any night – just as long as I don’t have to wake up alone.

Love letter # 184

I know we’re all too cool these days to use the ‘L’ word. I mean, commitment is so passé, right? And why limit yourself?

Do we say that shit because we’re afraid or do we really believe in this cruel cult of self, this so called empowerment that’s really just vanity in skinny disguise?

Maybe I care too much to be cool. Maybe it matters to me what happens to you. And get this – I couldn’t think of anyone else I’d rather wake up next to. I don’t need a million options. When you are near to me, your kiss is all I could want. And I am freer in your arms than anywhere else on the planet.

I guess that means I love you. How uncool is that?

Love letter # 50

I will confess, my love – a measure of fear. I know you feel it too. We have both lost blood before. I wonder if there is any more.

But I love your kindness, the knowing laughlines at the sides of your still shining eyes. You still sparkle – and scratches fade away. I would be a fool to walk.

Yet even if we take little steps – they are steps. And the future? We’re all going there. Maybe I could ride with you.

Love letter # 202

I love that we’re so corny. It’s like clit lit. The two of us drifting – perhaps even pleased to do so – until …

And all the cheesy shit is true: accidental, out of the blue, bloody incredible. It makes me smile just thinking of it – as though I’m reading the worldwide smash. Carried away.

I guess the challenge now is to change the ending.

Love letter # 103

The big sustain at the end of the song. Music still … but fading. And then? The silence before the sound. Memory. Everything as soft as vanishing. And then – in the beautiful quiet … you my love.

Love letter # 383

We don’t have to say, do we? This doesn’t need a name, does it? Surely, we can just be together for as long as we want to be. If you like being with me and I like being with you, isn’t that just fine? (I guess we both have our questions.)

Basically, what I think is this: if we try to own this it will turn sour in our hands. We build a wall around loveliness only to make it smaller; and I want this to be huge.

This is our lucky treasure – and look, here are some feathers we plucked from the breeze. We can make wings or we can make chains. What would you rather?

When I wake up tomorrow I want you next to me. If this would please you, it would please me. If life is a journey I will freely admit to having no idea where I’m going – but I’m more than cool to get lost with you.

I say: dance while the music still plays, kiss because you want to.

I will shine a light for you. Will you walk in it a while and make believe there is no such thing as darkness? I will.

Love letter # 175

What if I asked you not to contact me again? Would that surprise you?

You must know hard it is for me to play at being friends. Trying to confine myself to the shallows when I have been in the ocean with you is its own curious kind of drowning. I leave you feeling asphyxiated. Every time.

If I was any kind of man I would shrug it off – be thankful you still care – but clearly I’m not. I walk away loving you. Wanting you. Every time.

And then I push a little, to see if I can find a spark, and you back off. Then I retreat, burnt, and you come forward again. And so it goes … two hearts in a loop, never quite touching, never quite breaking. It’s classic.

I wish there was a remedy …

Ah yes, there is. This one. The one that does the least damage to you and gives me a fighting chance. The one I’ve been afraid of.

I will miss you dreadfully. I will wonder every day whether this is right; whether there’s some compromise solution I simply refuse to see. Maybe there is – but I just can’t swallow anymore.

I need to breathe and you need to be free. You owe me nothing, my love – not an atom – but if you could let me vanish … I would thank you forever.

I love you, of course. That’s obvious. That’s why we’re here. That’s why this is the full stop.

Love letter # 187

Is there a reason we can’t be together? And is that reason greater than love? What an amazing tomorrow it must be to render tonight impossible. We have walked away from beauty because someone says there’s something better. Maybe there is – but I could love you while you looked for it.

Love letter # 70

I chose the fire. Now look. Burnt.

Does it really matter how I got here? I’m here now – wishing maybe I wasn’t – knowing I should be. Yet even though it was my ultimatum, the nights are still empty and I long for them to be filled with something akin to your nearness. The handbook says I shouldn’t but I would still kneel for the approximation of your kiss.

Now that I am here in the dirt, what matter the heights I fell from? Explanation is a palliative; and a poor one at that. I might spend all night dreaming of you but in the morning you will still be gone; and there will be a space beside me, a gap in everything that you once filled with your light.

I chose this cold. Now look. Shivering.

There is nothing we do that does not cost us something. The price we paid for love was the end of love – and the price I am paying for this conclusion I have so wisely engineered is that love has yet to reach its end.

Time, I am assured, will take some of these things away. Until then … well, I think we both know. I may be strong enough to accept this outcome but not so tough that I would not wish it otherwise.

I chose this knife. Now look. Cut.

Love letter # 100

How do you cram into mere words the things that are oceans inside you?

Will this letter sound mad? Unreasonable? Will you think I’ve lost it? Probably – but there is always a reason for these things; they never come out of the blue. We all live in a world that is both real and imagined; and although I do not pretend to know precisely where the line between them is drawn I do know how I feel – and what I must now do.

Until recently the fear of seeming overly emotional – of scaring you off – has kept the lid on. That and the ridiculous hope …

But you said something the other day … and I knew for sure. In a way, it was almost a relief. After nearly three years of being patient, of being optimistic, it came down to something sharp and undeniable – and no amount of wishing it otherwise would make it go away. The world I have imagined since we first danced together in 2008 has yielded to the real.

I know that I could let this pass and things would just roll on between us; you keeping me at arm’s length, me putting up it – but  it would be a lie.

You will say: why can’t we just be friends? But what is a friend? Is a friend someone who sits on his hands, who chokes down his feelings, who looks the other way? Maybe – but I am not that kind of friend. Not anymore.

You will say: why can’t you just get over it? Well, here is your wish coming true. This is me having the guts to get over it. I know that you cannot – will not – give me what I want; but so too I cannot – will not – live on what you give. Yes, it would be a whole lot better if I didn’t love you (obviously) … but look at me.

And you – what use have you for a man who is not man enough to do what he knows is right?

It’s not that I’ve stopped wanting you. My love for you fills up every corner of my being. I think you are wonderful. But I know you do not feel the same; and you never will – and hanging in your shadow with baleful eyes certainly won’t change that. No one ever loved a beggar.

Of course it is my ardent wish that today was not today – that tonight we could dance like we used to. But like the song says: wishing never helps, wishing never changed a thing.

I get that you have reasons for your choices, that you must do what is best for you, that you can only love who you love – or not, as the case maybe. I have no quarrel with that.

But what kind of fool would I be to keep hanging on? Surely there is a point at which optimism becomes delusion? And if I’m brutally honest – and I add up all the positive signs … honey, they amount to nothing.

Yet there is no acrimony in this. Sadness? Yes, of course (I will not pretend) – but bitterness? – not a jot. I honour the beauty you have brought into my life. I thank you for the lessons you have accidently taught me, for the things you have inspired me to write. I am much the better man for knowing you.

So why am I doing this? Why can’t I just accept things the way they are? Well, that’s just it, I do accept things – it‘s just that I absolutely hate them. It has become intolerable for me to sit at your side and pretend that we are ‘just friends’. We are anything but ‘just’ – it’s always been deeper than that.

You will probably think I have overstated things, that I’m being too dramatic. You might even think that I’m drunk. Nonetheless, I would rather put up with the hurtful hearsay that will doubtless come back to me through the grapevine than spend another night locked in distant orbit around a beautiful star that will never shine for me.

I am prepared to accept your scorn and/or complete silence for having sent you this letter. Think me stupid, selfish, immature, needy, irrational, whatever – for even if all this be true, tis nought compared to not being with you.

Each of us wants something in life (even if some people pretend not to) and I want you … No, I want us.

But no matter how much I want it, it will not be – and so, in order that I might live on more than crumbs, I must have the courage to move on. I must also be honest with you. I cannot keep this fire hidden. I would rather it went out. For even the darkest night must kneel before the dawn.

If you are still reading this, please forgive me. My love is eternal, my pain threshold is not. I have tried but at long last I have failed. If the sound of your voice didn’t melt me completely, if the promise of seeing you didn’t keep me awake at night, if I could somehow not love you; maybe I wouldn’t be writing this.

But here I am typing, crying, trembling. Need I say more?

The door is always open for you but you must walk through it, not simply knock and run away. I cannot answer the bell to emptiness anymore.

Perhaps more than anything I want this letter to flick some deep switch in you, to be the thing that finally makes you realise – but even I’m not that stupid. I have prayed too often for miracles to have any faith left.

At the end of the day I have all this love and it wants to be given – but ultimately it is yours to accept, not mine to force.

And so, in its place … absence – getting over it. Just as you would have wished.

Love letter # 164

I know what you’re thinking. Here he goes again. I always felt we broke up for the wrong reason.

It was fear that finished it; not fighting, not betrayal. You didn’t even get a better offer. You just got scared. To you, being with me – with anyone – was like a prison. The idea of giving up your freedom was too much. “I can’t be close,” you said. “It’s easier with strangers.”

I know this because I once I fought off a wife who loved me. Until she left me. Perfectly free. Absolutely alone. For a while I revelled in the space. Then it became empty. Sure, boxes got ticked, but what for? … Victory won’t hold you tight.

And then I was incarcerated – in the self – stranded in the ever-present me, racking up points for nobody. I drank some damn fine wine – but no one was there to share it with me and in the end the taste was almost sour.

For love is our greatest liberty. When we love we give back to life. Our love lets us know at least one thing for sure.

So yes, I will go on about it – and I won’t stop – not until the breath is taken from my body. And though I may be cut to shreds for my stubbornness, I will not shirk from scars because I would give much more than a little skin to wake up next to you again.

Love letter # 3709

Not so long ago, we were fantastic. You dazzled me, I dazzled you. Then, somewhere along the line, wonder became humdrum.

My erstwhile charms are now painful to you. The mystery I once possessed has been replaced by hairs in the basin. And your tipsy laugh makes me cringe. We are an old couple now, lingering in domestic discontent. How easy to make for the exit.

But stop. What is this?

Why is that when I think of you with love I still feel it like gravity, right here in my abdomen, a gorgeous, strong thread attaching me to you? A cynic might say, oh that’s just habit, and they might be right – but I don’t care. Am I not addicted to you for good reason? Are you not the taste I desire?

Perhaps we are foolish to compare ourselves to the unreal lovers in songs, to perfect movie couples. Are we so greedy as to always want only the beginning of things? What of this rich and complex middle – is it not fertile like a forest floor – the good with not so good – beauty through damp imperfection?

We could grow up anytime we wanted. We could stop being petty right now. We only have to say so. This is not a prison. Look! Doors aplenty. Walk in? Walk out?

I have no final position on what love is – you could blow any theory out of the water anyway – but I do know that we have a choice here. You, me, we? What’s it to be?

You should know by this what I would prefer.

Love letter # 22

There may well be a god – I cannot know – and some grand purpose may well have been assigned – but this would be news to me. People talk about ‘life lessons’, about ‘meant to be’ – I do not claim to understand these things.

But when you’re near me …

What is it that I am supposed to know, other than to love you? Tell me what higher thing there is. If this world is a machine and we are just genes and everything beautiful is an illusion – stupid me, I’m still a believer.

Because you are the stars to me …

I am no saint, no seer, just a man who loves you; and I have nothing more to give than this. It may not be wisdom – and it is surely not riches – but like the rain … it can bring flowers.

Love letter # 12

Someone said it again the other day – oh, you two are so good together. Naturally I had to wonder if she was blind. Are these cracks not visible?

But then I stopped.

She wasn’t being naïve (she’s a little too old for that). Neither was she simply filling in blank air. She was recognising something that we are danger of forgetting. There is a golden thread between us – I can feel it tugging on my conscience. It’s reminding me to get over myself and take note of the riches I have.

Whenever I whinge or snipe I know it’s not right. I know that a dirty dish or a wrongly folded towel is not a hanging offence – and I understand that the current that once made you want to touch me all the time flows more sedately now. In truth, these are barely splinters – and I will never let them splinter us.

Yes, let us break up if we must – but for something earth shattering – not just tiredness or fusty familiarity. We’re so much better than that … everyone says so.

So until that apocalypse breaks over our thick heads, I suggest we listen to our friends this time. I for one can guarantee you it’s not too late. And even if it was – I’m sure I would still wait up for you.

Indeed, I daresay I would wait a lifetime for you.

Love letter # 93

Why am I still hungry? Because I am not satisfied.

And why am I not satisfied? Because I am starving.

If I could live with the love you gave rather than pine for the love I dream of taking – then I would be bathed in light right now.

This black night – it is nought but my wanting.

And this hunger – it is nought but a failure to eat.

I will not cry out in the darkness for your hands to hold me – I will reach out instead to you, my love … and give of everything.

Then I Coould Dream

I look back now and I wonder what I saw in you. I wonder if I saw you at all. Maybe I was I blind. Maybe I was staring at a mirror.

Was this what I wanted? Or just what I came to accept?

Perhaps I know too much about you. Maybe I don’t know you at all.

Did you lie to me all these years? Did you say the words? … Did you let me?

I look at you and I see you there – dressed in the remnants of my desire – just as I wear the faded skin for you.

But now these masks hide nothing – not a single line – and all that’s left is all too real.

I wish we were strangers – for then I could dream of you again. It was much better that way.

At the end of the day, even the angels turn out to be ordinary. Oh well.

And now all my desire has come down to this – waiting in this room with you – waiting for the cue to leave.

If I said I was ready – right now – in the very next breath …  would you?

Would you?

[This letter is an extract from a dance theatre piece called ‘An Incomplete Map of Desire]

Love letter # 42

Now that I have woken up it is abundantly clear that you are using me. However, before you yell out in protest please note that I am not bothered by this. I have no wish to cast stones. We are all sinners, one way or another – and I am yet to meet a single saint, least of all in the mirror.

Now that my eyes are open I am free to love you without the bleary fuzz of early romance. It is a wonderful thing to love in the fullness of light.

You are not the perfect girl – you are just the woman I adore. You can try to exploit my affections, you can tempt me with promises you will never keep, you can lie to my face – I will not be taken in. Nor shalI I surrender to bitterness.

You may think me a fool. Indeed, you are probably laughing at me now, scorning me to your equally cynical friends – but we are all guilty of bitching.

I say all this not out of some deluded notion of noble self-sacrifice but simply because I want you.

I too am imperfect. I too grasp and deceive. Maybe I’m even using you. Nonetheless, I love you in my own broken way and offer you my own skewed brand of dedication.

Perhaps you may still have a use for it.

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Great site. Lots of helpful info here. I am sending it to several buddies ans
    also sharing in delicious. And of course, thank you for your


  2. Hmm it looks like your website ate my first comment (it was extremely long) so I guess I’ll just sum it up what I wrote and say, I’m thoroughly enjoying your blog.
    I too am an aspiring blog writer but I’m still new to everything. Do you have any suggestions for beginner blog writers? I’d
    definitely appreciate it.


  3. Paul Ransom says:

    My blog writing suggestion is blindingly simple. Just start, trust your ability and write what you know is true for you. Rather than chase an audience, let them find you. Believe me, they will. Good luck. 🙂


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s