Writing Poetry and The Valentines Day That Broke my Heart

It’s a long time since I sat down with a pen or at a keyboard and wrote a poem.  I haven’t really done it since I left Uni.  I only just realized this recently.  I hadn’t considered the dearth of the poetry I was turning out, because, as far as I know, I hadn’t noticed it until a couple of weeks ago.

There was no conscious decision not to write poetry any more.  It just happened.  Like a person doesn’t decide to sink into depression or to get really into Game of Thrones.  You just look at it from a distance one day and you think, shit, that’s happened.  For me, it was when a poet I’m working with, Eve, asked me what I was working on at the moment.  It was all novels or other people’s work.  The sequel to Saving Time, an adults fantasy whodunit set in a sort of frontier town, another competition book.  Then she said to me something I wasn’t expecting.  “No poetry, then?”  and it really threw me.  I always considered myself if not a poet then someone who writes poems.  But she’s right.

No poetry.  And I though back to the last poem I’d written.  It was on meeting my friends brother, Garrad.

It was called Your Brother’s Eyes

I sit here looking at you and try not to stare.

Trembling tea cup

Trembling hands.

I can’t take my eyes off you,

And I know that that’s so unfair- you are you.

A stranger.


Like a portal back in time.

Like a mirror leading to another reality where he’s still here.

Your hair is longer,

And are younger,



Your mother fusses,

Bringing biscuits and cake and asking questions neither of us had the answer to.

My God, you’re like him.

You clutch your mug in both hands,

Like him.


And you look back at me, and try not to stare.

Trembling tea cup

Trembling hands.

Your eyes are too much,

And I know that that’s so unfair- you are you.

A stranger.


But those two, too familiar eyes.


I messed about with that one for months.  longer, probably. That was the last poem I ever worked on.  I didn’t even think about it.  There was no decision to stop writing poems.  Perhaps I should update it.  Break the cycle.  Garrad’s brother was my friend, Dean.  I loved him.

His mother and I used to sit and read through his diaries, before she too, died.  She went on valentines day as well.  2013.

These are my notes on his last ever diary entry:

“12th of February, 2007

Today has to be the last day.  You will read this.  And I am sorry for everything I have written about you, but I am not sorry that you can know.  I am not sorry that you made me write all of these things.  I have tried to find all my diaries for you.  When you can bring yourself to read this.

This is the best time, but it is also the worst time to die.  They are all happy.  I am happy.


I remember this day.  I was out with my house mates and another university friend the night before.  It was late.  Mat called me and asked if I’d spoken to Dean yet.

“What?”  I asked. “Why?”

“He called to tell me he loves me.”

In the early hours of the morning on Monday the 12th of February, 2007, Dean took a massive overdose of various painkillers.  Irene found her son and called a neighbor to carry him to her car.  He was in hospital less than 10 minuets later.  When he came round, briefly, two days later, he was in such agony that he had to be sedated for the last hours of his life.

On the morning of valentines day, 2007, Dean was pronounced dead.”

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