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.


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.


clutching at straws

2007-08 049 (3)

Holding broken straw

Clasped tight in hands

Golden broken strands,

That don’t add up to much

Couldn’t if they tried.

But so hard were they to win

Next to others’ gilded things,

They’re both a great deal

And a great deal of nothing

Just a poor-man’s stuffing.

26 Poetry

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.’



Human Acts

Clean, crisp ice cracks

A frozen wasteland, cold, clean, deserted.

The lake is thick with ice, I push my heel into it; a crisp crunch. I make my way, precise across the lake, and with each movement the ice begins to fissure. To splinter. I can see dark water through these small wounds.

These tiny cracks build and build, one after the other like a burgeoning river recreating its source.

I set my heel once more and the fissures tear through the surface at a rapid rate, they rip; the ice splits and sinks.

And I fall.

I plunge beneath the surface, sink cocooned in the cold.

There’s a clink as the ice closes over my head.

I flounder, I beat my hands bloody against the ice.

I twist, turn and scream silent in an echo chamber where no one can see or hear me.

I realise I’m not drowning in water, I was never stepping on ice.

With every beat of my hand against the surface, dark black blood pulses round me, oozes out of the surface, through the cracks, as I harden the bruise, as I spread the tears, as I rip through the surface, as I strip the body to get to its source.

I leave pain in my wake.