I lost a city

I lost a city-
Cast out without pity,
It grew flesh and blood over the bones I loved.

The rib cage became lived in,
It bloomed with arteries that grew clogged-
Its fetid heart beat black with
Choked cholesterol ridden blood.

I knew it when you could see for miles through its scraggly bones
Imagined dressing it with your own topography –
Hanging fairy lights and draping scarves on dry bone,
Gardening in eye-sockets,
Making blueprints for internal structures,
Plans dependant on shifting sands-
That shifted,
Then turned to quick.

Now I’m on the outside imagining
The innards of a place that no
Longer exists.

It’s created a fuller being without me, I’m a foreign body
Expelled –
A failed memory now a daydream,
A place I’ll never be –
I’ve grown away and you’ve grown
Up, around and apart from me.

Human Flow

Interlocking fingers of
Wire, coarse and thick,
Wrapped, bundled,
Spiked and spiralled,
Mile on endless mile.

Like pylons in the desert.
Searing the land:
From skyline to eyeline.

Endless divide.

Binding you to –
one side –
And me another.

Parallel lines drawn in dirt,
sand, snow, grit,

Saltwater laps the edges,
Melted ice blurs the bounds,
To the land I’m allowed to stand in,
The ground I am owed,
It can’t be bundled up and carried on my back.
Once they spit you out,
They don’t take you back.

My fingers catch in the wire,
Your gun butts me out.

The world behind me burns so hard
It’s ash
The world in front
Is caged.

The lines are drawn.

No man’s land
Is what I own.

By the Sea, standing still

Two feet spit with flecks of sand:
Shells and stone ground down –
Perhaps whipped from that,
Cliffside far ahead, beat hour after hour-
Century after century,
Till they were swept ashore,
As crumpled pieces:
That cling to everything.

Ground into ever moving

Pausing to hear the silence between –
The howling waves’ crash
As sand slinks out between the toes,
Icy water laps and pools,
Soft surf with the sting of salt,
Fades in and out
Heels are firmly gripped
Pulled down.
As everything crumbles.

The sun sinks in the sky
A red haze, a strident blur
Low tide leaves a quarter of the beach intact
For now.
Everything spins fast out around
The feet on the shore
Change is in every ripple.

It’s background noise:
There’s nothing but the sea
And the sand
And the cliff
As the water tracks back and forth
Crumbles the solid ground
you stood upon.

Blank Canvas

The cement is fresh, clean and thick,
You can leave drifting prints,
Feet, hands and any passing,
Writ large, or small,
Poignant or plain,
Beautiful or tragic,
Abstract or visceral.

You could tap-dance to Shakespearean sonnets,
Illustrate the hypocrisy of a binary system,
Carve a caveman’s treatise,
Sketch barn owls’ eyes,
Smear jaunty barbs,
Or daub thoughts from the inside
Of your brain.

Stand too long in this,
This clean piece,
This fresh start,
This promise,
Becomes an anchor
As you sink,
With every passing thought:
Of what could have been,
What marks you should have made,
What better thoughts some other would have had,

On and on,
You scrawl through every reason this could be a pitfall,
While you sink right through,
Leaving nothing behind.

It all having been in your mind.



discarded metal unloaded
Bullets from a smoking tongue,
Heavy in the air.
People listen-
Hear them clatter,
Spent –
The hordes don’t scatter;
But feel and inhale the reverberated spatter.

They take heed;
Spit them at a pulpit,
Hurl them on a pyre.
Black them out,
Glorify their ire.
Make them creed and council,
Scratch them through,
Take them as an affront.
Slap them together for a kidnapper’s stew.

Yet the weight of your hate never comes back to you.

It builds and flows,
Cross comment currents that scream,
That whistle through the wind,
Whine and moan.
Till they become:
The only conversation known.
Again and again.
The storm inhales them,
Turbo-charged fuel for “collateral”

You stand in the eye of it all,
Your views strewn.
Lies or truth,
Facts or falsehoods,
Matters little.
Power backs your endorsements.
Blockades reality.
Screens or Foxholes:
You have an audience.

The tornado carries the believers,
Lifting them buoyant as they bludgeon,
One leg dangling free;
At any point,
A sentence can plunge them into the sea.

While you stand golden,
In the centre of –
A three-mile island.
With your smoking tongue,
Never tied,
Ready to spit bullets-
And lies.

Out of Sight

When you’re down, you’re down,
When you’re out, you’re out,
Out of sight.

When you’re beaten, you’re beat,
When you’re bludgeoned, you’re bloody,
and down,

When you’re down, you’re down,
When you’re out, you’re out,
– Out of mind.

Down and out.

But you bleed,
like train tracks,


Down, down
Down and down
Down and out
Under and under
Further and further

Out of sight.

Till the dams burst
Till it ruptures
And the crash comes.

And the world above sees you
surface, for a second.


In sweaty, blood-speckled, tear-
stained flesh.

For a glimmer.

They see.

Will they see you tomorrow?
Will they still sweep you under-

The rug

Where all those others lie


Like train tracks,

Down and down,

Out of Sight.


Blind Cut


Hyper-reality of the 2am insomniac

Out stalking in halogen-lit highways.

Cars zoom past, their lights narrow and fade


Cowboy hat askew

Catching a nicotine burst:

Paper fizzles, heat buzzes,

At fingertips

An instant. A flash.

Piercing through the pinhole –

The dance of the light lantern

Inked onto eyelids

Carved into retinas

Stained into dreams

Fades like a puff of smoke.


Part of the 26Prints project with Eames Fine Art, based on Sophie Layton’s piece ‘Tabernas.’


26 Prints: First Draft

tabernasRight now, I’d like to be sat at Eames Fine Art Studio, a cup of coffee in my hand, a swell of art works on the walls, while I survey my art piece and scribble furiously into a pad. About a month ago, I was tasked with writing a sestude (62 words) for an artist’s print, for ’26 Prints’ a project with the Writers’ group ‘26’ and Eames Fine Art Gallery. I was wonderfully offered the option of either taking the artist’s print home, to hang on my wall, or to return to the gallery and luxuriate in being a writer. I chose neither option and instead, as I finesse my first draft, I’m surrounded by a mixture of clutter and laundry, while recently being pulled away to wash horse urine off a cat. I do at least have the cup of coffee.

Back on January the 26th I made my way to Eames Fine Art Studio, for my first 26 pairing evening. I’ve worked on several 26 projects before – 26PairsofEyes, 26Lies and my own creation 26Twits; but I’ve never been able to attend one of their pairing evenings before. 26 allows for writers, largely copywriters, to write something entirely different from their working life projects and puts together, usually, 26 writers with 26 concepts to write 62 words.

The evenings always sound like great fun, with the drawing of your piece usually meaning the pulling of a piece of paper from a hat, with drinks and chats with fellow writers and artists. The journey for me to get back on a weekday from London however, required a bus, a tube, a train, a 20 minute walk and then a car journey, which means often this isn’t particularly feasible. For this event I left a few hours early from work and made a long wander towards London. Before I left for my train, I discovered I hadn’t brought a notebook and pen with me, so picked one up on route. In a couple of cafes, and on the train and tube I finished Han Kang’s Human Acts and scribbled notes, in this new notebook, for what would become my Human Acts poem.

The 26Prints writers and a select group of artists gathered at Eames Fine Art Gallery where 26 artist’s original prints had been wrapped in silver packaging and numbered. We writers and artists hovered and nibbled from the table of cheese, brownies and wine.

I struck up a conversation with one of the artists, where I helpfully mentioned the previous 26 projects I’d worked on where I didn’t instantly click with what I was paired with. There was the quote I found jarring and a portrait that was austere, this seemed to make her wobble, how would her writer relate to her work? Of course I said, the very fact that I didn’t instantly gel with the works I had been matched with before had made me work harder, and approach them from different avenues than I might have otherwise. I think I won her over.

A hush fell over the room as the elaborate selection process went into full swing. There was a silver bowl of bingo balls each inscribed with a letter, these letters matched up to a list of names. When your ball was drawn, you pulled a number from a hat to match you with an artist.

My name was called first. I rifled in the hat and pulled out a number 7.

The silver paper was drawn down to reveal a print by Sophie Layton, the artist I had been badly reassuring earlier. When the rest of the pieces had been revealed – a spattering of Picasso, Rembrandt, Matisse and more modern living artists, I got to speak with Sophie about her artwork. It turns out the print had filmic leanings – named ‘Tabernas’ after Spain’s Hollywood outpost and composed of two prints from films – ‘Drive’ and ‘Paris, Texas.’

To me it seemed to be divided almost like a giant clapperboard, and was split with light and Edward Hopper-esque colour connections; neo-noir in print. A magic lantern frozen on paper. I felt a whip of energy from being linked with filmic piece, an artist I had only just spoken to, and being picked first.

I love film, have studied screenwriting for several years, culminating in a year’s Writing for Film and Television diploma at Vancouver Film School, and the previous weekend I had been attending a Writersroom with screenwriter Barbara Machin.

I already had words to scribble in my notebook.

Each of us signed our insurance forms to take the piece home, one woman was going to be walking a Rembrandt down to Camden, although she might have considered the bus, with the sudden weight of a well-known print on her arm. Others, meanwhile, were taking taxis with Picasso, and reconsidering their home insurance policies, or dashing for trains their artist’s work in hand. After signing my life away, I tried to lift my print and stumbled at the first hurdle. Regardless of whether I ordered a taxi to the train station and then another on the otherside to the parking lot, I couldn’t see myself getting home with this heavy print. I wasn’t even sure it would fit in my car, or where it would stand in my home.

I had to make my excuses and scurry home with the image captured in my mind, rather than hanging from my wall. But I found myself writing reams of images and ideas in the same notebook that I’d scribbled in about ice and blood only a few hours earlier.

Now I’m surrounded by mess trying to streamline my thoughts into a willing first set of 62 words for the first draft deadline.