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Outside Looking In Poetry and Pictures

by Bernard Young

Outside Looking In Poetry and Pictures

by Bernard Young

Š 2012 Bernard Young. All rights reserved. Bernard Young has asserted this right to be identified as the author of this work. Copying and distribution of this PDF other than for the personal use of the person who purchased it to read on Computer or eReader or Tablet is an infringement of the terms of the copyright. Published by Karen Cropper First published in Great Britain 2012 Printed copy available from See: Unless otherwise stated on the page all images by and copyright to Bernard Young Designed and typeset by Karen Cropper, Manchester, UK Cover layout Karen Cropper, images copyright Bernard Young.

Contents Embryonic

He Drinks, She Speaks

One Bird Outside Looking In In The Dark I Call Your Name The Night Bench We Had To Have The Truth Nothing But Virtual White Lie Start. Stop. Not a red herring Baggage Return Mrs Who Toothbrushes Where To Draw The Line?

Just Desserts Chocks Away Hooked... until death do us part? Is Gin A Good Idea? Have you ever been left wondering BIG The Present Nice One Little Room and the Biggest of Plans Night's Dreamy Trees Dream Perhaps? Duck Deep Water Great Night Last Night The Rain Came

Not A Fine Line Past It Enough Disconnected Get In Touch With Yourself Heavy Driving Rain Guilty Wonderful Weather Them Not Driving Miss Crazy

Be Vague Who's There? Us How Long? To grab the ball and run with it White hair. A stoop. A stick. R U Acting Your Age? Poem For A Gentleman Another View Love

Embryonic In The Beginning Was The Word Early stages

Taking shape May take ages I must wait Words emerging Fully grown Happens rarely With a poem

One Bird Emerging

from the night into morning light I marvel at the sight of one bird's flight. It is as if I have not seen this miracle a thousand times before. I am in awe.

Or dreaming still?

Outside Looking In I've stood on the inside looking out. But this place had a different owner then. We were staying here when her depressed brother showed his face. It was difficult but we tried to jolly him along. I'd known him have a severe case of the blues before. He'd often be a closed shell that would open gradually and, in the space of a day or two, he'd step outside of his troubled self, or at least hide that troubled self, and face the day as do other men. But this is now. That was then. Though I'm back in this haunted place wondering if there was more we could have done.

In The Dark In the deep dark everything seems possible is possible until you lurch to the loo about half past two and find yourself looking into the deep dark truthful mirror

I Call Your Name She heard her name. 'I only have eyes for you,' said the sky. And meant it. But then the clouds came.

The Night Bench This is where my neighbour sits when she can't sleep. Which is most nights. There was snow on the ground this time last year. That didn't stop her. I recall waking to not a sound. Waking to that peace you get

when snow has fallen or is falling. She saw me at my window and raised a hand. Lifted it as is if she was holding a glass, beckoned me with the other hand. Inviting me for a drink. A drink in the snow. I would have gone but knew that bastard of a husband she had, still has, wouldn't understand.

We Had To Have The Truth Oh, we just had to have the truth It had to come barging in Like a bloke at a pub quiz Who always has to win We had to have the truth It had to raise its head You woke up in the morning And it was there in your bed Can't the truth be locked up Away from her and him Imprisoned behind black padlocked gates In the basement of somewhere grim?

Nothing But The truth is, yer Honour, it's all his fault. He caused me to have these feelings that made me do the things I did. Before him I'd been asleep. He woke me up

and for a time I turned into a monster. Always hungry. Huge appetite that couldn't be sated. But I'd waited years to get my fill. And boy, did he fill me! So when he said that was it, and moved out, I moved in. For the kill. So yeah, yer Honour, that's the truth. The truth is I killed him. And it's all his fault.

Virtual Let us take this moment

And fake the way we feel Truth is not an issue Let's pretend that this is real Tell me lies, why don't you Say the words I need to hear I know that you won't mean it But tonight I do not care

White Lie In another place

At another time

at another time

in another place the impossible snow would be falling.

this rain would be falling as snow. Instead of forming puddles

A million excuses would cover the ground.

it would be filling the drive

All of them plausible. All of them pure and simple.

and making getting to work difficult and making getting to work impossible.

I pick up the phone: 'This snow is making getting to work difficult.'

I'd be out there trying to shovel it away

'What snow?’

but as any snowman would tell you: 'It's just no go.'

'This snow is making getting to work impossible.’ 'What snow?'

I'd be phoning up and saying: 'This snow is making getting to work difficult.'

I'd be ringing up and saying:

'It looks as though

I won't be able to make it today.

'This snow is making getting to work impossible.' I'd be calling up and saying: 'It looks as though I won't be able to make it today. Maybe tomorrow.'

Maybe tomorrow.’ 'Tomorrow?' 'Maybe.'

Start. Stop.

You start. I stop. I bottom. You top.

I laugh. You cry. You hello. I bye.

You whisper. I shout. I in. You out.

You leap. I flop. I start. You stop.

Not a red herring

Troubled darling, troubled All that has gone wrong in our colourful lives we have brought upon ourselves. Rather than meet mine you proffer your fish eye to all who pass by. I may be feeling unwanted and tense but I am not fishing for compliments. Let us accept that we are swimming in opposite directions and that I am troubled, darling. Troubled.

Baggage Here I am Luggage in the rack In my seat Heading down the track I've left a note To explain Why I've caught The morning train Here I am Luggage in the rack A smile on my face Cos I ain't coming back

Return Disappearing. Destination Watching

Fast. Backwards Heading

Mrs Who

He arrived from nowhere on Valentine's Day. Burst in on the party brandishing a bunch of flowers and a sonic screwdriver.

Not a crease in sight.

He proposed there and then. Down on one knee in front of the whole gathering.

And yes, reader, of course I married him.


A familiar and a welcome sight. It means the day has started and you've survived the night.

Where To Draw The Line? She wakes. She is being kissed. A hand in the small of her back presses her against the naked body

of a man who tells her she is wonderful. He kisses her again. She is in the shower. Soaping herself. She feels his hands on her waist. He kisses her neck. She turns and he kisses her mouth. Again. And then again. She is in the supermarket. She bends to check the washing powder prices. She feels a hand on her bottom. She turns. He kisses her.

His hands are everywhere. He says, 'Be mine.' Other shoppers stop to stare. She wonders if now is the time to draw the line?

Not A Fine Line This is not a fine line between what is happening now and what happened before. It's the last straw.

Past It Past holding hands Past kissing Past smiling Past hello (Approaching goodbye) Past any physical, mental, emotional contact Past anything in any shape or form imaginable that could be mistaken for love So I suppose a fuck is definitely out of the question then?

“Enough is enough,"

I wanted to yell

she said. Calmly.

Encore! Encore!

But firmly.

but knew if I did

I had to admire

she'd hit me

her assured authority even if I didn't like

with the old adage

what she was saying.

that less is more.

My own hunger, desire,

So I didn't say another

was still in the stalls applauding wildly.

Disconnected I called myself up early today But then I hung up I'd got nothing to say

Get In Touch With Yourself "If you dial 1049 you will hear a voice

it will be mine So make your request State your demand Whatever it is I will understand No need to act Or strike a pose You're in a world Where anything goes" I picked up the phone

called 1049 I listened to my voice on the end of the line

Heavy Sometimes the unspoken words hang heavy in the air. You wish they were not there. They crush you.

Driving Rain After a text like that who would feel like driving? Best to sit, in the car, in the rain, and wait for the storm to abate. Best to let the thunder in your brain ease and allow the tears on your cheeks to evaporate.

Guilty Those clouds have been threatening us. All day. I'm glad the police arrested them. No trial necessary. They're guilty. Cart them off to jail. Throw away the key. Allow the good, honest sun, the freedom to shine down on you and me.

Wonderful Weather In the middle of my holiday we met.

Beneath it we were close. We stayed dry.

It was a typical summer's day. Wet.

I kept a careful eye on the marvellous sky.

She had a big umbrella. Blue and white.

I thanked the Lord for each welcome raindrop.

She said, 'You can come under it if you like.’

And prayed that the rain would never stop.

Them Sometimes they glide past us in their sleek cars and shades. They gaze out at us but do not see us. Occasionally we get a glimpse of their impossibly glamorous faces and know that they are going places. Then we crawl back under our stones

Not Driving Miss Crazy I'd like to give this pair a happy ending as they head out west in the blistering sun. He's not driving her crazy prattling on about his pride and joy; the motor he dreamed of owning since he was a boy. And she doesn't object to all the time he spends washing and polishing it and tootling around in it at 30 mph.

So they drive to the future where life speeds up and computers and mobile phones are invented and sleeker cars with bigger engines rule the roads. They move forward to the happy ending I have waiting for them where he will propose, I guess, and she will say yes. And they will live happily ever after. Because, on a sunny Saturday, I say so.

He Drinks, She Speaks but he doesn't hear her words all he can concentrate on is her lips her shoulders her bare arms the black straps

and the way she leans in towards him exposing‌

Just Desserts

Eventually our appetites were sated. Then came some spooning.

Chocks Away We took off We didn't worry about landing with a bump

Hooked... until death do us part? Well, truly Well and truly hooked They're in the church The reception's booked But, like fish out of water they're gasping for breath They've got stuck on that vow about parting and death

Is Gin A Good Idea? As she was trying to leave the flat I was hanging on to her ankles. I think I said, 'If you go I'll kill the cat.' Of course, I meant to say, 'If you go I'll kill myself.' 'Pathetic!' was her last word as she kicked me away. The cat was half way through

when she unwittingly slammed the door on him. He loves her too. Right now I need a slug of something sharp and wet. And then I'd better call the vet.

Have you ever been left wondering how you ended up there? There, in that position among the craters and the holes of your existence? Alone. You're looking for that buried bone. You're thinking you should have known (at your age) better.

You're thinking, life is a bitch. You're desperate for a reason to wag your tail. You're still hoping someone will throw you a stick. Teach you a new trick. And, even as you howl, you're thinking you fucking well deserve to have your day.

BIG On a big day you need a big drink. If it's a day when just a call could change your life you might want to sit down and drink in the view. Soon, things, might not look the same to you. They might seem better, bigger, brighter, which is quite a big deal or your world might be abruptly drained and all your hopes and dreams seem suddenly less real which, again, is a big, big, deal.

The Present

But oh, darling you're drawing me in

No time like the present

then moving me out again

No present like the time

Moving me out again

You wrap it up You hand it out

No time like the present

And the moment is mine

No present like the time I take the here

But oh, darling

Accept the now

you're picking me up

And the moment is mine

then putting me down again Putting me down again

But oh, darling you're drinking me in

No time like the present

then spitting me out again

No present like the time

It's a gift

You're spitting me out

You give it to me

spitting me out

And the moment is mine

spitting me out again

Nice As I called in at the Corner CafĂŠ a nasty customer was just leaving. It was a nice day. Sun shining. Birds singing (I expect). A good time to sit and reflect on my life. (It was a veggie sort of place. John Martyn playing on the turntable. Yes! Turntable. Vinyl. Racks of records to browse through). I ordered tea and cake. A generous dark slice with Guinness in it. And then I heard a man's laugh. It went on and on. And on. I joined in. Then everyone in the cafĂŠ (5 of us) began to laugh. Wildly. Insanely. But gradually our laughs were exhausted. But not him. He laughed loudest. And longest.

* Title and poem inspired by lyrics from Elbow’s “Weather to fly”

One Little Room and the Biggest of Plans* Within these walls a plan takes shape Within these walls we escape Within these walls hopes are high Within these walls we learn to fly

Night's Dreamy Trees After the weekend you've had you know that the sensible thing to do is sleep. That moment passes and night's dreamy trees keep you wide

awake. They rustle their papery leaves. Persuade the night owls into flight. You hear the beating of their wings. You know that they are

calling to you. Too-whit, too-whoo. Too-whit, too-whoo. Too-whit, too-whoo.

Dream To beach the boat and make our way around the harbour until we reach the high house overlooking the sea would, I think,

Š Caitlin Young

be good for you and me.

A weekend away from the world and its woes? We could find out how the land lies. Dip our toes. See how it goes.

Š Caitlin Young

Perhaps? Perhaps that really is a mountain and not a molehill? Perhaps we can cross that bridge when we come to it? Perhaps we can sit under that tree? I can read to you. You can read to me.

Duck! I was admiring the whiteness of him and his orange beak when my thoughts drifted back

to the time I tried to sneak out of Wanker Wortley's chemistry class once he'd taken the afternoon register. "Duck!" I heard. Too late. The blackboard rubber hit me hard on the back of the head

and sent me flying. Briefly I felt myself floating. His voice anchored me. "Detention Young. Tonight. One hour." "But sir?" But there were never any buts. Rules were rules in Grammar Schools. Blackboard. Rubber. Back. Of. The. Head. The bastard wouldn't get away with it these days. Back then we hadn't a clue. Today we'd sue.

Deep Water Sometimes I forget I'm in deep water. I surface. Feel the sun on my face. Delicious air. I gulp

For seconds, sometimes minutes, I refuse to drown.

Image Š Karen Cropper

it down.

Great Night but as we left I began to feel something was not quite right and wondered if it was only me who knew we were wading through a liquid floor and that once again the world was turning all Sgt Pepper and Lucy in the Strawberry Fields Forever...

Last Night The Rain Came And I closed my eyes to it. And I felt It was a steady drumming

weary and frightened.

in the dark. And I fell asleep to the sound of it. It was a presence. A humming in the air.

And in the world behind my eyes apprehensive dreams occurred.

It was an influence. A pulsing in the atmosphere.

And I was scared. And I wanted to wake and be soothed by the sun.

It was a change coming. A shifting. A worry in the heart.

But I didn't. Couldn't. Didn't.

Be Vague You can walk through my garden ill defined You can be a vague shape

I don't mind You can be foggy and fuzzy blurred and blind You can be a figment if you're so inclined As you walk through my garden ill defined

Who's There? A presence A vagueness A shadow A blur

A hint A suggestion A notion A purr?

Us We have arrived for the awakening For the new beginning For the birth It is going to happen We know this We feel this We have arrived As one There is but one dissenter amongst us A blemish, a doubter, a scaremonger Who dares to turn his back On the future our future

How Long? So, you reach 40 and suddenly 41 comes along. OK, you can cope with that. But it continues. Your life is laid out like a tape measure. 42. 43. 44. Up and up and up go the numbers. You mark them off. Annually. With a party, a booze-up. Something special for each Big One. 50! Can you believe it? You have to believe it. It's true. You whinge a bit but consider the alternative. If the numbers are stopped short, if someone, as it were, cuts the end off

your tape measure, you'll really have something to complain about. Not that you'll be able to.

To grab the ball and run with it His radio. He turns up the volume a little. Just enough to drown out the sound of next door's Sunday morning orgasms. Please please me, oh yeah... That's an old one he thinks. Smiling. To grab the ball and run with it

To have a bit of fun with it To give it back when you're done with it That's the aim of the game She stood on the sidelines watching him play. Cheering him on. That's when she knew, she told him, years later, that he was the one. He remembers their Sunday mornings. Smiles.

The pitch is still there. Sometimes he goes and stands among the ghostly trees

To grab the ball and run with it

and recalls running with the ball.

To have a bit of fun with it

His heart beats faster. He pictures her young face,

To give it back when you're done with it

her cheers lost amongst the roaring crowd.

That's the aim of the game

She's smiling.

White hair. A stoop. A stick. I caught a glimpse of the future me. White hair. A stoop. A stick. I'm hoping I'll still have poems in my head and not be feeble and sick when I reach that stage. And be with a woman less than half my age! Yes, I'm hoping I'll still know affection and how love feels. And I'm counting on having the strength to beat off all the young whippersnappers who'll be snapping at my heels.

R U Acting Your Age? The stoop? A pretence. The white hair? Deliberate. I've gone for the distinguished look. I don't even need this walking stick.

And when I forget my lines? I'm acting, dear boy. I'm acting old. And everyone's fooled.

Poem For A Gentleman

The gates are closed. He needs them open. He wants to get to the other side. A train thunders past. It is full of faces he recognizes. He waves. They wave back. They are hurtling into a future without him. Goodbye, good man.

Another View

After the cars and the crowds and the streets and the trains and the buses and the timetables and the sights and the sounds

it's great to take in another point to view. Another view to point at.

I'm not sure I need too much reality. And I've had enough of all this grown up stuff.

I just want to read, write, eat, play guitar and kiss.


To hold a loved one's face and kiss in a public place is something I might have frowned upon

and been jealous of before I found love and rediscovered what a joy it is to kiss like this.

About the Author Bernard Young has been writing poems and ‘songs’ since his early teens. He is a poet and performer who works in schools. He has also published several books of poems for children.

This book, however, is aimed at a more grown up audience. All of the poems and images have already appeared on Bernard has been putting a photo a day on that site since June 2010, mostly with a poem too. is a photography site, so Bernard tries to get some interesting shots, but the poems are an integral part of his journal, and the interaction, support and feedback from fellow blippers has been invaluable in bringing him back to writing for adults. Also the discipline of writing something every day has helped him to rekindle his enthusiasm for his art. On his 730th blip he wrote, "So that's it. 730 blips (with gaps). I can stop now." He could, but he hasn't! For more information about Bernard, see:

Bernard Young has been writing poems and ‘songs’ since his early teens. He is a poet and performer who works in schools. He has also published several books of poems for children. This book, however, is aimed at a more grown up audience. For more information about Bernard, see:

Outside Looking In: Poetry and Pictures by Bernard Young  

Bernard Young has been writing poems and ‘songs’ since his early teens. He is a poet and performer who works in schools. He has also publish...

Outside Looking In: Poetry and Pictures by Bernard Young  

Bernard Young has been writing poems and ‘songs’ since his early teens. He is a poet and performer who works in schools. He has also publish...