Things we lost in the flames

It skips a beat,
Drops a stitch,
Is an utter bitch.

Wind it up,
Tighten, twist –
Manage that mis-chief,
Get it under –

Redefine it,
Scratch it out of your mind
Reclassify, Re-calcify,
Despise it.

It’s still lost, or never was.

The past always burns,
While the present always yearns:
For the things we lost,
In the flames,
And the things the fire might come to claim.

But we have hopes for the future,
She calls –
Round corners,
And whispers –
At shores.
She’s prepared to knock at solid oak doors.
She says maybe,
Not always,


Scorched Earth

So, how’s your year been?
He wandered past like he’d appeared from a dream.
She narrowed her eyes and fixed him with a look he couldn’t quite place.
Were there highs and lows?
Were there joys and sorrows?
He waves overhead where a quarrel of sparrows soar and swerve.
Perhaps you saw great sights of great wonder.
Perhaps, she spits.

I’ve watched epic tales of chaos and disaster,
Endlessly on screens and through glass,
To disappear and reappear – in new threats
Ignored, downplayed and lied away.
I’ve seen the predicted come to fruition, just as they said.
Just as they said –
Like it were newsworthy.
I’ve seen them ignore Death – when it stands scythe ready –
in their eyeline.
But it rarely cuts down the self-serving.
I’ve seen the real world – behind the mask.

I’m not gonna bang my pots and pans at my doorstep.
Not that I ever did.
I’m not gonna take a fixed walk down a dark path.
Not that I ever did.
I’m going to sink to my knees
and scream.

They say how’s your year been?
Were there highs and lows?
Were there joys and sorrows?
Can you line it up in neat little checklists?
Did you bake, make, consume, achieve?
Are there improvements that can be made? Fine-tuning for the year to come.
They want joy when all I’ve got is a Glasgow-smile.
All I can say is I survived.
I held out till the finish line – only to learn there was more to bear.

Was there patience and despair?
And fear and fear and fear and…

Are your synapses fried?

Might you burn down a green field just to see the dust-cloud rise; the smoke.
Just for the distraction of the all-consuming destruction.
Watching that clean break from choking reality sanitizing everything.
The roaring fire – so close – so easily spread
Across thresholds.

I’m not gonna bang my pots and pans on my doorstep.
Not that I ever did.
I’m not gonna take a fixed walk down a dark path.
Not that I ever did.

Provided I have a voice,
left that can draw a breath,
that’s not bereft or ,
washed away like pebbles to sea.

I’m going to sink to my knees and scream.
I’m gonna howl into the motherfucking wind.
That’s how my year’s been.


No sense of beyond

The road is black like treacle, the moon barely casts across this darkness.

There are just shadows and shapes. Woodland, trees, bark, a stone wall I can drift my hand against, feeling the coarse workmanship against my palm.

Can I sit in this nothingness?

In this darkness?

Sling my legs over the stone, pull myself up crosslegged and sit here without a sense of anything beyond.

The road goes nowhere that I can see. The woodland is dense, and in light and summer the trees’ll be green and will reach out for emerald blue sky, unencumbered by this  – heaviness. Maybe a sleeping bird hides in a pilfered nest, and in a new season it’ll emerge with a brood.

But for now it’s dark and cold.

Now, the trees clutch their remaining leaves, hold them close so to not let them join the piles at their feet, that become mulch and earth under my thick soles.

I can’t see past this darkness.

This road that winds into the horizon, under distant moonlight, these trees, this stone.

Can I sit in this nothingness?

In this darkness?


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.


Fiction Poetry


Here’s the church,

Here’s the steeple,

Inside are the funeral people;

Outside stands the bride who starts to curse.

The priest is no hostage-negotiator,

He’s a spitter.

The groom’s had enough,

he’s a quitter.

But the guests aren’t going without a fight.

They’ve taken the cemetery.


It’s one in, one out.