Friday, 12 October 2012

Poem here:

page 39

Sunday, 12 August 2012

“When I am a granny I will still wear skinny jeans”

Help me down the steps while I smoke some cigarette with my good hand. There is nothing graceful about death. Go ahead and pump another Cheeky Vimto into these dull veins. Blue and purple lines run down my legs and intersect like ready-made fishnet stockings. My teeth are like stars – moving further apart and slowly fading away. There is freedom in death; as you approach each other; face-on and with a wry eye; oh right, you old fucker, like that is it? and you make a move to shake his hand, but as death leans in you pack a load of full-on arthritis into his smug, limp jaw and flex your boldest V-sign all over his fallen, incomprehensible body. No-one wants the future, it is nonsense to work towards it. My arm's out of action for days after that: can't keep a firm grip on my bingo dabber. Huge red dots in the spaces between numbers. Hard to see what I was getting at; which dots were intentional, which merely another fall. Of course, no-one wins bingo that way and people ask what I'm still playing for. I tell them all I really want is to be in that big room with a thousand other losers, occasionally smacking my enormous pen down onto meagre scraps of recycled paper, and that I don't give a shit really which numbers I mark because we're all bound to lose in the end: it's entertainment enough just to keep my wayward body more or less upright on this cheap plastic chair. We're all at it, wavering about, veering this way and then that, it's enough to make you believe there's a giant-handed god employed to give the world a good shake each night and stir up all kinds of trouble. The world becomes a kaleidoscope of memories and bowel movements after a certain age. I get hand-me-down clothes from my growing-up granddaughters. Time moves so fast, if you let it. They tell me I look ridiculous sauntering about in red stilettos, halternecks and skinny-fit trousers, but I feel ridiculous inside this decrepit, spent excuse of a body, so it seems quite apt to mock it a little. The ageing process starts to wear thin after a time: first, you're impatient to grow up, then you grow out of it. Death starts to wear thin after a time, hanging around like a possessive lover. You style your hair, eat healthily, wash, perfume, massage; but still, he's there, lingering in all your crevices, trying to catch your eye. Death follows where he is not invited and shouts when not expected. Neighbours bolt each time another used-up body tumbles down. And I'll get down these steps if you stop rushing me; there's wind in my beehive yet, and many a young gent has this walking stick still to chide. Death, you will not be out with me this evening, you will not link my arm or sway softly by my side. I am dressed to kill, not you, it is my glad rags, not yours, that will be stopping traffic tonight. There is nothing graceful about death, nor the friendships with it one is forced to forge. Take acceptance; a gradual withering of hope and heart, a shrinking of the skin back into one's own skeleton, an apology to our brave new world for not keeping up or moving on; a lowering of backs, a groundful of noses, cells open wide, ready and waiting for the affliction that might finally allow us to breathe out and close our eyes. Or denial; which builds inside, as ill-fated as our entire lives, like trying to light a candle to hide from the night. Then there's dread; a useless mode, as, if we were any kind of proper human, we could have stopped being scared a long time ago; life minced no words, we did not use beauty cream, we saw blood long before the gods invented TV. And emptiness, the sweetest crime, as close to nothing as one dare to lie; an open sky and not a glimmer of nostalgia in sight; nights with no dreams, children whose names you've forgotten or distanced yourself from, mere tags for those more truly alive. Shock and anger come in waves, as surges of new red blood cells, unable to understand the state of the body into which they have been deposited, try in vain to fight. And rebellion, death's most capricious child, all skinny-jeaned, rouge and sultry eyes. She will not go lightly this one; with a handbag full of short change and lottery tickets, she pisses herself down the wedding aisle, crippled with laughter and time. She steals death's motorbike and into the unpredictable sunset she rides. I am down the steps, I crush the cigarette-end and I thank you. I'll be fine on my own from here. I hobble off inappropriately dressed into the shadows and the city lights. The night is wild and dangerous, yes. But fear not. Time is on my side.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Feel Little But Terrible

I stand out because I am very bright and I am split into a number of different parts. I stand out because I am the only vertical structure on this plain. My tip stretches up into lower atmospheric pressure and my peripheries flutter in the wind. Yes, I am a bright and wonderful thing.

My feet are carved into ancient volcanic rock, hardened by time and the loss of an internal heat source, black and unable to move. The heat inside my own body has escaped, important parts of my memory have become gas and risen out of my open mouth. There was a time when it was too hot to purse lips, and in that climate this had to be my fate.

My feet are smooth and the nails on my toes have been blown away. I have covered some parts of the nearby ground with extensions of my toes. It is hard to tell where this rock turns into ground and where the ground becomes me. I am blacker at the core but it fades out so slowly that the change in colour is difficult to see. My eyes are small planets that eventually rotate. My arms are dead rags in the wind.

There is a thin red line, far away and sporadic. I keep time by it. It rises and sinks. It is often tall and dominant. It is sometimes faint and weak. From its edges seem to tumble swarms of tiny particles, small red dots with pointed tops and rounded bottoms. They fly out in organised trajectory; they hit the ground, they go to sleep. The line provides me with a landmark; it gives me pit-stops wherein my temperature jolts a fraction and I am remind of the possibility of change.

That thin red line, it keeps me. Change is a slow slow thing.

My fingers have become thinning scraps of cloth. Gold leaf has lost itself to gravity and to the movements of sand. All my embellishments are stirred up in the shifting ground. There are parts of me all over. There are parts of me still able to hunt for greater things. My failed grey element-like-cotton, it feels nothing, but notices spaces between the weaves. I remember when there was fusion and when chemicals reacted.

My fingers are loose. They have almost finished being fingers. They are relics of things that once were together but are now misunderstood. The cotton coming out of me, it has almost finished being cotton, it is turning into methane or nitrogen or some other thing. A cloud rolls past and something like my fingers flap, independently of each other and of other parts of themselves. Something like a rock, something like a rock that used to be something which was more like me, is the only vertical structure on this plain.

I see heatwaves rising off the thin red line and I remember also being so volatile. I want to shout to the line, tell it to rise and fall more frugally, tell it that before too long it will be spent like these old mechanical models now lying motionless around my steadfast feet. I want to tell it about my molten knees and how these small machines with wheels were once alive with industry, pinching at me, taking portions of young red heat away from my torrents and into their snapping mouths.

I used to believe I had killed them. When I began to harden, when I saw them gripping each others necks with their beaks, I believed it was due to me that they were also slowing. I believed it was my substance in their mouths, travelling throughout their hinges, that was clogging up their vital moveable parts. I blamed my own heating and cooling. I blamed myself for letting them at me, for not collapsing immediately and flattening into the plain. They slowed faster than I and I wanted to reach over and shake myself out of them, but by then my hems were already scattering and my arms had begun turning into streams and falling apart.

Their bodies are lying around me. I try not to look down. Once every orbit my eyes do spin that way but if one of the moons lines up just right I can hide my pupils in the seas. I try to blame myself because I want to affect something, I want those mechanical bodies in that position because of me. I try to blame myself but every thought I have turns to gas and escapes.

My thoughts are the shape of clouds. They hang in the sky above me and float down as liquid methane on my face. They slide on and off my shoulder blades and collect in puddles around my feet. The ground below me is a strong river of methane. It flows hard and fast, well into the solid rock that might or might not be me. It creates canyons between my legs, giving me the illusion of being taller while not improving my ability to see. I stare at the thin red line, so far and yet so important. It reminds me of heat.

The methane flows and it is cooling. My ankles get thicker as this fast material dies and becomes me. The thin red line is expelling its bright thin redness. It is vivid and the loose flying particles appear to be growing in number. I do not feel bright and wonderful. I know that I am but, staring at this red line in the distance, I wonder if it is not becoming another vertical structure. I think about not being the only thing on this planet and my thought turns to gas and floats away.



Yesterday, the urge to draw. A crude cartoon of a leprechaun on the wall over a bar, and the urge to take its shape. A hand that nearly formed something. Small marks of indecision on lined paper. Moments we do not forget because they might tell the truth if we keep them tender. A message that cannot be deciphered but does not escape. A death throe from long ago. Muscles still alive. The child forgot to write anything down: little more than the hint of one small finger pointing upwards at a forty-five degree angle - up to where the adults are.

A hand that drops a pencil and points for decades 'til it hammers its nail into an eager grave. The uncertain replica of a hat by the margin of a page. A body too scared to shake. Foreign words mean less with age. A tongue vibrates and I stick my pen in. Ink into the heart of things. The spelling didn't matter anyway.

A small child tugging on the coattails of dead Victorians. The Golden Years captured on b/w reels. Laughter rising along a staircase. It is better to lie down when the wind blows. There's fire in the mountains. I have my place in the cold air that is pulled toward combustion. There is closeness and there isn't. We look at the clock and live by a series of assumptions.

A picture-frame, and within it the picture of a small child pointing. The sun casting prolonged shadows into the immortality of the young child's face. Time creases paper; old arguments die hard on the glass inside the frame. Nobody really looks when throwing glances. The child dreams on and on while the colours fade. Knuckles stiff from repetitive motion: ten pound notes piled up and knocked down. Bellies curved with good times and forgetting: words learnt at the age of sixteen: practice makes perfect again and again.

And one crude leprechaun is all it took; for one split second of so much of everything. On my page lay a hat of questionable proportions, and a few words of gaelic; useless and beautiful; something to cling to; the shapes of letters:

Thursday, 12 July 2012


It is impossible to imagine people until they exist.

I see hundreds of trees. Only the burnt ones hold my interest.

I point at grains in the rocks and pretend to understand, because then it doesn't feel as if I am wasting my time.

Geology reminds me of your hotel room. White sheets like platy crystals spread out over hopeful arms and legs.

Four thousand kilometres.

Memories of former transfigurations give rocks their flavour. Eyes wet in the morning make certain surfaces appear darker. Clouds roll over the peaks of hills. A face disappears upon take-off. A phone rings somewhere in an empty house. Windows break. A rock in the fireplace (it cannot be touched but is not on fire). Falling stones reshape the earth. One circle in place of another. On that which moves too quickly, nothing can grow. I want to see the detail of the ocean.


Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Alexander Graham Bell is kissing Mabel

We are all belly up. Alexander Graham Bell is kissing Mabel. I am criticised regarding my choice of font. If I can avoid making a decision, I will. The pattern in the coral repeats. I hold it in my hand and try my very best to imagine. One hundred watt light bulbs and the resulting strain on our faces. I miss you. It grows dark here with increasing regularity. We are defined by all the things we say we like or do not like to one another. Time moves slowly when you wait for it. Take back everything and keep it safe somewhere. I only want to look at pictures of your eyes: that way it won't feel awkward. The things we are attracted to change to fit our needs. Say something beautiful and spell it like you mean it. The sound of air escaping. This is the oldest I have ever been. Distant conversations offer a sense of belonging. I leave my bedroom door open when I read. Cupping my belly with my hands makes me feel so tiny. So strange how we can touch ourselves. I would like to sleep in a ball with six people closely breathing. The night isn't dark when it is warm and human.


Monday, 26 March 2012

The Fly

It is the fly that is manic, reeling about in 3-dimensions, while I, the greater animal, sit in stillness, contained inside the parameters of my own composure. It is the fly that is mad; air-crazed wild longing for more space while I, the superior organism, sit here doing crosswords as my muscles atrophy. The fly, insane with desire, smacks its small body against the sheets of glass we erected to better control things. The ducks are fat with bread and service. The cow snacks on garbage. The moth heads towards an artificial moon. The fly, circling for some 30 minutes, distance divided by body size, has walked Land's End to John O'Groats some hundred times, while I, the top of the food chain, sit flexing my brain and index finger, blinking. Keyboards with half the letters missing, soft heels, untested hypotheses, love songs that mean nothing, the absence of vowels, avatars, systems of measurement; this is what they'll uncover as they sift through the limestone. It is the fly that is mad, with its instincts and impulses, slave to its body, futureless and free, while we, the accumulation of all evolution, classify another sub-group of mental disorders and drink tea.


Sunday, 25 March 2012


Trouble comes and its shape is unknown.
It is thyself she says.
But we have our doubts.

Trouble comes and its shape is doubtful.
It is the unknown she says, it is of that you are fearful.

Trouble comes and we greet it in the night.
It has snuck in because the door was ajar, because we turned all the lights out, because we left the dishes stacked up in a waterless sink, tried to forget until morning. It worries our necks with persistent tautology. We awake to red scars the shape of doubtful, self-inflicted fingers.

Trouble bellows. The noise interrupts our fitful sleep, vibrates weakly bonded eyelids. Eyes open to darkness. The heavy disappointment that follows a scream. We appeal to the sun. Eardrums ring with the sound of humanity. A bed the size of an ocean. Tides of sweat crashing against our shorelines. Lifetimes erode as the night bows out. And again. And again.




the wheel was invented so
we could keep coming back here

day turns to night and
that sweat isn't mine again

something in your face
pushes me back like a tide

a beach full of eyelashes

i'm running, collecting them
but only when the water is low
and i can't see your eyes
nor you mine

because then we wouldn't want to hold hands anymore
and all of the pebbles on the beach would turn to sand.


Friday, 20 January 2012

Scenarios II

Water Lens.

Man with soft wet legs is coming at me, dripping into the frame. I am all hydrogen, just sitting there and refracting him. There isn't even a suggestion in his mind of how I am making him look. I have two atoms of breathing fuel and if I could, I'd sigh deeply with it. The sloppy man looks so poetic, flowing, as if his life were an unbounded stream. He is coming at me, edges thicken. My environment blinks a while, my smooth dome is shielded then uncovered. The mass of man melts towards the foreground, he's all calm and dream like a fish in the ocean. He's coming at me and pink shape becomes hand, anonymous blob stretches out into finger. Cavernous deep expands into mouth. Carbondioxides and waste are projected all over me. I'm gone, assimilated. He has perfect edges. I envy him the clarity of his shape.


Monday, 16 January 2012

Finger Exercises


Facing a clear wall the anomalies are more apparent. When the view is busy, the dots sink into view. I am chasing them, they are chasing me. They are more inside my eyes than I am. They are more at one with me than me. Staring at a white wall, I can make them dance all over it. Black dots translated over one shade then another, always in sync, the same distance apart from one another, like a definitive scattergram of the precise points I will never see. I can sometimes see fine hair-like lines between the dots, only semi-opaque. I look up, I chase them, I follow them down. They appear the same colours as oil spills, with that rainbowesque finish - guiltily beautiful. They look like bacterias and other details. My eye is a microscope. They are shaped like The Plough now, now Pisces, and then lost. I look through them, I zoom out, I concentrate on the world, I get on with things. They look like spinning jennies late in the evenings, I am living behind a damp film.


The small head is turned, in retrospect the movement seems long and hardy. The child has grown, the parent shrunk. One second and the posture of the child becomes taller, more agile, an obelisk rising from meek jelly. One sharp impulse to check, and to both learn and bear the truth, and the child is no longer shielded beneath a heavy armpit. With the sun on its back and the terrifying wind behind its wheels, the child is on and on and up and out and neither puddle nor corner could muffle this sound. It is the sound of the speed of light, and the child grows quickly into this new body of motion. The child is leaving the skin of the earth, is off and away, as the stratosphere is but a rotation or two from here, and the parent waves, and the child does not notice the look of consternation on the old human's face, and the world is below - then above, then below - and the child flew through galaxies but now it is bleeding with its small hopeful head in the snow.




Plankton and faeces,
inside your Polo, driving
you to work and back.


"It is we that move
around a stationary sun!";
he said, and fainted.


Feel Little But Terrible - published in Solecisms magazine.

Another story published, hooray: