• Vol. 03
  • Chapter 01


Skin and bone, the boy thinks, as he carries the stool over to the cabinet. The stool has wooden legs and a cracked leather seat, but the cabinet is a tower of plain glass. He gazes up through the tiered shelves at the undersides of objects. The odd fish is still there, drifting beneath the ceiling, illuminated.
   In the adjoining office, behind a closed door, his mother goes on talking in a low voice. Mr Jerome will be leaning in to catch the words that fall from her lips. Every week, when Mr Jerome flings open the office door so that his mother may enter, the boy expects him to speak, but he never does. This morning he looked around the waiting room as if he were making an inventory.
   The boy climbs up on the stool. The fish is right under his nose now, no more than a fingerling, a sliver of sea-stone with a bead of red coral for an eye, resting on small trestles like a boat in a dry dock.
   The room has eyes too. Twelve of them in the curtain drawn across the window, two on long stalks sticking out of the walls, another in the blood-red pool of the carpet, lidless and glazed.
   He pinches the fish’s tail between thumb and forefinger and drops it head first into his pocket. Then he climbs down and takes the stool back to its place beside the door. His mother’s voice grows louder: he can almost make out the words.
   He sits cross-legged on the carpet. Shoals of sea creatures flow around him. He thinks of taking the odd fish from his pocket and releasing it into the current, but the door to the office could open at any moment, so he contents himself with tracing a path between the darting flecks with his finger. His mother’s voice continues to rise, while Mr Jerome’s thrums below it like an engine. It makes him drowsy. He sinks down and stretches out his limbs.

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The stadium clocks are sprinting down;
one second to go until the last time out
becomes permanent. I have been game-
managing with oblique slights and feints,
but now in the redzone I am fast revealed
to be a rookie, a specialist in small plays.
An eye flips up, a headset mic drops –
before the lashes I am to be coached:
The stars aren’t yellow penalty flags to
avoid; don’t be scared by this aperture
to explode into – to love is to play is to risk
is to win. I will scoop up your forced fumble
but I cannot wait if you want me only after
the fireworks of your current half-time show.



The beholder is in the eye of beauty: contained and separate like the first cold day of the year.
Up close, you see that the beholder has a tiny eye as well – a scuff, a dot-within-a-dot

small as the kiss of a needle. It does not blink. If you could look that hard, you might begin
to see your own eye gazing back at you with all the things you’ve seen collecting underneath

in dunes, the way we come to find ourselves everywhere & even in those things
we promised we would stare at properly to see them as they are, removed from us;

the dropped coin of the lake in wintertime, a street you can’t live on at dawn, a hill
you’re sure you’ve never climbed before, even the face you suddenly can’t bear

to be without, the soft shock of it, the bright iris, the disappointment when you
lean in close enough to see yourself, unchanging, held.


He Saw Red Dead Sirius in My Eyes

'A comet is a hairy star, "aster kometes", as they used to say here in Greece. Sirius is a dog star, and dogs are hairy, but Sirius is not a comet. That is how you know reading the stars is nonsense' he said to me.

'I still like to look at them' I replied.

'Oh, I suppose there is no harm in that, you just can't be looking for signs or stories, that’s all.'

I remember thinking that his face felt like a burning starry night, and I also remember thinking: 'He's right, but he is also wrong’. What I meant was that I still liked to read them, even if I knew the stories were not exactly true.

He was my lover at the time and he had launched a campaign against metaphors done to death. He used expressions like 'decrepit symbolism' or 'anthropocentric delusion and fallacious attribution of human characteristics to objects, animals, landscapes and phenomena'. And all the time he was right, but he was also wrong.

I wanted to tell him about the hairy yellow waves on his face, about what I could read in his eyes. There were times I wished I could stand before him and recite like Vittorio Gassman: 'Death will come, and it will have your eyes'.

I left him, eventually. He reeked of absolute certainty. Ugh!

He was succeeded by his opposite, as they often do. An elegant man of romantic disposition (in the tortured sense), truly degenerate in a distinct and distinctive French way, who suffered from, and shamelessly overwhelmed others with periodic bouts of cynicism.
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Rain on fur, one leaf watching, buried in the fall
prey to the fade of colour.

One leaf watching the dog’s slow seasonal twerking
mocking time’s incipient decay.

One leaf trembling as soggy mittens in small boots
wait to crush and kick.

One leaf watching, denying avarice, just pining to flaunt
fine foliage, hang out on the top branch

looking down on wet dogs, steal the light from
small boots.


Red Dawn

You are the apple of my eye
You are the worm
that bleeds for days

You are the vision toward the stars
You are galactic
fallout frenzy

You are the black hole dark abyss
You are the circle
that sucks and swallows

You are the rain drop helter skelter
You are the morning
drowned in manna

You are the sight that pierces backdrop
You are the blink
that blots the night out

You are the white that’s lost all color
You are the pale
entropic fade


Come on, let’s drink from a glass of stars

Let's get drunk on cheap pink wine,
I'm sick of genteel sadness. I want to
wade thigh-high into waves and

shake a fist: “Damn you up there
in your glittering milieu--
what do you know?

"Have you birthed a stillborn child?
Lost a son in Normandy?
Searched for a missing mom?"

Someone, please twirl me
on dull beige sand,
I want people to point and stare.

Sneering comets, nebulae--
come down here,
go toe to toe with me.


ante meridiem III: dear “how-silently-the-heart-pivots-on-its-hinges,”

i have a shrapnel desire for vagueness
because nearness is more than a shared
windshield worldview, because nearness
questions the practices of ellipses — spotlights
exclamation marks’ truancy — makes a wish,
but nearness colors daruma-doll’s wrong eye,
then proclaims that russian dolls
are so full of themselves

i have a shrapnel desire
for vagueness, there’s no
such thing as direct
communication — only faint
spiderwebs — tethering
the densities of yeast and
breaths of pith — people
don’t listen, they wait
for their turn to talk,
unsolicited adornment

i have a shrapnel
desire for vagueness
because clarity is
perishable — porous,
deeper than horse
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The Lens

It opens up vistas new
Freshens up tired modes of seeing
The world seen earlier by others;
The light-beam forms into a twinkling star
It lands up on the lens lightly
And the eye registers the facts around!
The surrounding beauty/ugliness
Created in the mind by the powerful lens;
Familiar/ unfamiliar
Sights, sounds, smells and colours
Filter down in a constant stream;
Images sacred/profane depending
On the P-o-V of the beholder
Spring up in the tiny orb
That can fathom the mysteries
Of the universe;
An awakening inner can see
The Prime Mover in a falling atom;
All sentient knowledge has its origins
In the eye---inner/outer,
The eye---
The primary source
Of all the arts and aesthetics and science!

Catherine Wheel


This isn’t me trying to be funny. I never got to ask you your name, so I had to be inventive. Disclaimer: being inventive is not my forte. Further disclaimer: I’ve never liked fireworks — I much prefer a slow burn.

Light at arms length.

There you were: stood on the opposite side of the circle; a sparkler in the midst of a hundred damp squibs. What were you etching into the biting air with that white light? Maybe your name? I tried to follow your tracers, but you were too fast for me. For a second, before the main event, our eyes met; a dazzling moment that lit up the the dark, muddy field. But, when the show began, we fizzled out.

Stand well back.

I thought maybe I’d find you again, once skies returned to darkness. But there was only thick smoke. The ghosts of a thousand brief lives creeping around us.

Health Warning.

I’m thinking of you as they load me onto the ambulance. Asthma and smoke have always been a volatile mix. As the oxygen penetrates my bronchia and I can once again breathe, I close my eyes and try to remember your face. I always have a little hope. Maybe, when we arrive at A&E, you will be on duty. You’ll hold my hand, ask me how I’m feeling, and your eyes, as blue as touch paper will meet mine. On your breast pocket, there will be a small badge displaying the only name I have for you: Catherine Wheel.



I stared at it for quite some time. It looked like a big eye in tomato soup with noodles: those chopped noodles you get in canned products. It made me wary of approaching the fridge. It looked like it was guarding the door.
“Do you like it, Daddy?”
“Daddy loves it, Shelly,” Diane said with a straight face, then turned away and talked into her palm. “Just look at his face.”
I generously took the muffled snorting as a fit of coughing.
“It’s…” Should I lie outright? Should I find something positive to say about it … or should I tell her honestly that it was a regression from her previous art homework? I looked her straight in the eye, into those angelic, trusting features and forced a smile. “It’s bright and wonderful … just like the real thing.”
The smile she returned was like a rank of halogen spot lamps.
“Where did you get the notion?” I valiantly ignored my wife’s sniggering from the back door. Diane had suddenly discovered the need for a ‘bit of fresh air’.
“The school took us in a big helicopter over the last crop circle, see?” She handed me a laminated card rectangle.
I was about to be annoyed at not being consulted over the authorisation for the flight until my eyes recognized the card for what it was.
“Diane, come see this.”
She stepped further out into the yard.
“No, seriously.”
She must have read my tone, because she came in, the laughter washed away by concern. She moved to stand at my shoulder as I grabbed her hand with my free one.
Together we stared at the aerial colour photograph.
“Shelly, dear,” my wife was able to ask evenly, “where is this … exactly?”


Do you know you are a star?
last night i saw a sun shine in your eyes,
it said here is a hero
the future of tomorrow

Do you know you are a star?
you yes you my child,
though in your eyes i see sorrow
in those eyes i also see a better tomorrow.
Last night i saw a sunshine in your eyes
that told a tale of a future very bright
and it was accompanied with a smile.



You want me to float still among lily pads and be burnished to life only by you because not everyone understands. You want me to warm you but scatter ashes of misconception around me instead. You want me to be the bronze cast phoenix that rises only for you. You want to temper me with your majority. You want to build me an altar or a pyre depending on what you create of my mood. You want my skin to be oh so sensitive to you. You want me ground into a spice of ginger that flames and soothes you. You want an eye that only closes with blushes of silence when hearing your words.

You want an effigy of me.
I want to pierce your retina with tattoos of my red-golden dreams.


The star within

Nothing but splinters of light, we are.
Sun spot activity that shapes the hurricane's eye.
Little sparks of madness in each pupil, we are
searching, searching, searching
for that one star
stuck in the mind's eye.
Oh for the dark matter,
for the vanishing
of such a glitter,
oh for the dark
of the matter.

Burning Reminder

Star, glimmer, asterisk
swimming in the gleaming
sea, that second hand tick
our time is turned back to

A single red eye floating,
image of then, was she tired,
was she bestial? Was there
an animal inside, and is there
still a crimson creature buried
beneath the polite surface?

A shock of flaming hair,
a fox-faced resolution, no
name recalled, just one
burning eye reminder.


My North Star

She arrived complete, with scars and mannerisms we did not understand. At first timid, but soon filling each space she entered. Unfurling. Attempts at deciphering her just brought more questions, darker suspicions.
I had known immediately that she was special. Saw the star in her red eye, it flickered and flared at me. It sealed the deal. I fancied I recognised her as one of my own.
Each time I left the house, she cried. Returning I would find her curled under a table at the back of the building. The star in her red eye winking from the depths of her lair.
At dinner, she separated her food before she ate it. Calmly unpicking each meal, before she devoured it in huge gulps; as if it might be taken from her.
When the sky filled with fire and the death comets blazed, we hid under her table, out-waiting the storm. In the black morning after we emerged to a toxic dawn.
We wrapped ourselves in layers doused with the last water from the tap. She led me through the maze of carnage. We fled the aftermath. Out of the city. To the mountains, then the forest. My feet and heart bleeding. All left and lost behind me.
She had sought sanctuary here before, it seemed. Never faltering she forged ahead into the wild wastes and tundra. Teaching me, as we went, how to get by.
The star in her red eye is my North Star now.

Nighttime Run-Thoughts

Puffing, I run a loose lap around the ring road,
Imagining a loose lasso looping around your heart;
But, of course, the slack rope slops sulkily to the ground,
With an air-whoosh-through-dust sound,
Uselessly broad, hopelessly forlorn, nowhere near
The distant dot of you.

...Not, I think, unlike the semantic structure
Of the words I have for you.
Look how they limply fall to the ground!
See how far from truth they land!
Ensnaring little-to-no meaning as they tumble out,
And dribble down my chin.

Like the bounding wall of an atom,
A limit illimitably and ridiculously far
From the thing it takes as centre.

It occurs to me that my lasso loop around the town
May as well be a shrinking noose,
And my muscles tighten as I tie the knot.
But, untying my trainers, I put those thoughts to rest,
And, exhausted, I put the kettle on, a little less depressed.


Northern Star

Here the pores of your calm, sanguine face
are jewelled by the stars in your eyes.

The twinkling, far-set, Northern Star
pin-prints the seat of your mind.

Your soul tries beyond hope
and strives with ever-new purpose.

Meets my eye, is unified by acceptance
realises the arc of inspired searching.



Eyes beat like a heart if you look close enough. A blue pulse, a brown tremor, a green quake; blinks of motion that tell a story no differently than a book, song, or a flattering eulogy might. It’s there, the answers we seek, beneath the lids, a riddle hiding like a bashful pearl.

Our skin and ego demands attention. Society says don’t ogle, don’t leer, don’t use your eyes as a weapon. Stare hard and you’re a creep, a threat. A transfixed goon. But we secretly desire affirmation of our beauty, our vanity. How dare you, we say, when the wrong eyes find us. But there’s always a sliver of a smile behind the indignation. Don’t be rude, you neanderthal! But does my new haircut look good? Is my new exercise regime working? We condemn the catcalls conceived in the eyes and birthed by the mouth, but we crave the glare. Or like my father always said: we can’t be seen if no one is looking.

Mary broke my heart with a glance. At the dinner table, between bites of lasagna, the boredom in her eyes breathing, breathing, breathing. My boss telling me I’m a valuable member of the team, a lie throbbing in masculine sapphire. Little League games as kid, me looking at the bleachers, my father peering at halter tops and the bottom of a can. If you gather all the eyes from your past, hold them in your hand like a sick bird, feel the rhythm of their truth, you will see hurt and shame; acceptance and dismissal. You will see the evolution of self. You will see a map of choices. You will see the only pair that matters, the pair found in chapter one.

They no longer dance, those addicted eyes of hers. On the shelf, preserved in glass, dead and drowning. Always staring at me; always locked onto my forgotten face. Am I handsome, mother? Am I a catch, mother? It’s all there: the delusion, the desperation, the longing, the story of me, of us.

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Reach Out with a Spiral Arm

It is when you smile that I am most able
to remember your true origin, where it is

you've come from: we're made from star-
dust, atoms swirl within us, each a minute

solar system with electrons in its planetary
orbits. You are a galaxy. You are complete.

There are spaces in you that I cannot see,
black holes, parts of you that once burned

bright but have decayed and swallow up any
light that comes their way. But they are not

the sum of you, they are only parts. And,
inside you, other stars are yet being born.



The singer/songwriter Robyn Hitchcock would switch easily between acoustic and electric guitar during the 1980s like a semi-detached suburban Neil Young. Eye is my favourite of his acoustic records from that time; my favourite of his electric records, with the Egyptians, Element of Light, has a song called “Winchester.”
I lived in Winchester from 1977–1982.
The singer/songwriter Robyn Hitchcock is playing at The Railway in Winchester tonight, Monday 2 November 2015. He first played Winchester in 1978 with the Soft Boys. The website of Oliver Gary, who wrote about music for the Winchester Chronicle at the time, logs the gig as taking place at the Winchester School of Art but I remember it being at the teacher-training place, King Alfred’s College, on the other side of town.
The singer/songwriter Robyn Hitchcock went to school at Winchester College.
If I was in Winchester this evening I would probably go to see the singer/songwriter Robyn Hitchcock play The Railway. But according to the Google Maps’ directions I am 192 hours drive away from Winchester. without traffic, and I don’t know how bad that might be in Chad, so I’ll listen to Eye, instead.
The singer/songwriter Robyn Hitchcock is very tall, has silver hair, and is given to wearing loud shirts in public.
I went to school in Winchester, but not at Winchester College. I also went to college in Winchester, but not at Winchester College, which is a school, not a college.
The singer/songwriter Robyn Hitchcock went to art college in London and often produces the cover artwork for his records. The cover of Eye features a representation of an eye produced by the artist Robyn Hitchcock.
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At church this morning,
in the eyes of a bug
I saw the boy
I wanted to marry
as a girl

of fifteen
lying flat
in a burning sand pit
where the same boy
ran at horse speed
to triple jump
or long jump

as many other girls
my age and younger
stood wanting him
in the same,
childish way

a husband
whose name
we scrawled
next to ours
in corners
of History

and in a blink
the bug was gone

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The reason you know not
Who you are and where
You’re from is
Because you never cared to know
Not because
History was not made
And I will tell you
What the all-seeing eye saw

One starlit night in the past
The sun appeared and baked
Souls to dust
And those that survived flew
To neighbouring cities
As refugees

Your father was amongst
The survivors
He was the child his father
Hurried to the boat before
The scorching sun met him
And his mother – your grandmother
Raised him alone in diaspora
That’s the reason you’re the only
Coloured kid in your class
Because your mother is white
And your father as you know
Is black


Eye of the Beholder

I still remember it as though it happened yesterday. There was no celebration, no small gathering of faces young and old; everything happened under the thin cover of nightfall where a smattering of stars broke up the black canopy overhead.
I remember being roughly woken; a middle-aged man’s hands threaded with veins the size and thickness of sailor’s ropes digging themselves into my shoulders.
‘Come now, wake up Rainie. Now is not the time to sleep.’
I woke to a world suffused in darkness; the clusters of tents around me still zipped up, hidden away from the watchful cataract eye of the moon. I climbed to my feet and pulled a threadbare patchwork shawl around me – a parting gift handed down by my near blind mother. It didn’t do anything; it didn’t make me feel any warmer or safer but it was a comfort, albeit a very small one.
A battered olive green truck waited in the near distance, its engine sounding like a pained guttural caw. I shivered and shrunk back into my hole-ridden shawl.
‘Rainie, come on. What are you waiting for?’
I did not recognise the gruff man’s voice. He must have been one of the seniors, barking out orders the same way a stupid dog barks at the moon. The ground was nothing more than sand and grit, clouds of terracotta dust swirling into the air.
‘Now Rainie! Everyone’s waiting.’
I couldn’t help but notice the irony in his words. I looked around and found only loneliness.
And then a firm hand jabbed itself in the centre of my back pushing me towards the cawing truck.
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The colours caught my eye, captured they transformed my vision
The bright sunlight glinted on the leaves fluttering down in the light breeze.
I squinted and with half open eye lids the colours united as one.
I blinked but to no avail.
The orange glow filled my vision.
Dazzled as thousands of golden burnished
shapes united as one.
I was completely helpless, unable to break free,
hypnotised by the spell cast upon me.

The Eye

Jack walked down each aisle of paintings in the Museum of Light, but nothing caught his attention until he noticed a crowd and gently squeezed his way through to see what all the fuss was about. Before him was an eye with a deep orange background, a white star surrounding its cornea. Rubbing his chin, he stood in thought.

A woman neatly dressed in a black pants suit and high heel pumps approached Jack. He couldn’t help but notice her enticing figure and blond hair gleaming in the sunlit room.

“What do you make of this?” She asked.

“I put some thought into it. You see, no pun intended, the eye can visualize many things. I believe this particular painting; the eye symbolizes everything and everyone around us. The bright orange background depicts what and how the eye conveys the situation. At least that’s what I get out of it.”

“Huh, I thought it was just an eye with a pretty background. By the way, my name is Danielle.”

Jack extended his hand.

“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Danielle. I’m Jack. Would you like to get out of here and go to Cafe Molino’s for coffee?”

“Sure, I’d love to,” she answered with a smile, her teeth perfectly white. Jack ogled.

They walked past the crowd and once they left the museum, the eye was never spoken of again.


The Angels, They’re Falling

I wander the streets at night
protected by cigarette smoke
and the sky is purple grey
and there’s
orange rain
seeping down and
going splat
against the pavement
as if it were almost
before it hit.

the eyes shift rapidly

to and fro
all the eyes
the man selling coffee in metal pots
the lady with two kids and a baby
and almost no teeth
on the side of the road
panhandling miserably
the cats and dogs on leashes
the rats scampering down the sidewalk
in search of
rotten meat
the bums
soaked to the bone
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Unwanted heirlooms, this
melancholy inherited
- I passed it on
along with discarded misfortunes
and empty cartridges of self-pity

My eyes bask in the glory
of finding themselves open
to the day, to dawn, to the stars
that follow the day down
to its crimson plunge and the trees

now undressed; the wind
that summons chimes and chances
(I've once been to a bridge
tied up with locks) and now
I find in me the part that's open

Like an envelope torn, a door or a can of beer
The letter, the hallway, the fizz
The words, the view and the thirst:

Pathways cleared by the fire of the new.



Mites crawl across apricot skin
On the day of their resurrection
Sweeping across familiar terrain
Beginning again in the pits and troughs
Of a desiccated life
An unstoppable march
Of colonial tendencies
Impervious to poison
Their numbers swell
Unseen by an eye
Which burns and itches
Becoming a red-rimmed sun
On volcanic slopes

The Pupil

She is caught by the eye in an awkward place.

The child is grabbing her by the eye, making her look.

Children open their eyes immediately. Some animals take months.

* * *

I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless.

* * *

All night they look at each other’s eyes. She can see nothing at first, nothing beyond the catch of her own eye.

The child is new, curled so tight she thinks she could wrap him around her wrist.

This is how they spend their first night on earth. To be clear: it is his first night not surrounded by water. It is her first night caught by the eye.

* * *

Moses was 120 years old when he died. His eye was undimmed.

* * *

Later on, they will go about their lives quite separately.

She will work on her papers, he will move one car next to the other.

* * *

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Fire and stars

You never liked that crisp crackle, those spits and puffs, that smoke, those streaming eyes. You never liked fire; I guess it came down to that, though I hated to admit it. To be against something so human, so fundamental. One of the four elements. To hate it, the way you did. It wasn't fear. It was more a detachment. At the bonfire the other kids shrieked and yelped and danced around like sparks. You just stared into the distance, dreaming, probably wishing you were at home watching nature documentaries.

You liked the ice, you liked the sea. The wind and the sky, the clouds. Thunder and lightning. Now lightning did scare you, just a little. But it was a thrill, an adrenaline rush. A good sort of fear, if that can exist. Another thing about which I tried to kid myself.

I wanted you to be like us. Feisty, saucy, a risk-taker. I wanted you to stare into those flames and see so much, so many possibilities for life and death and resurrection, for the world, for the future and the past. Stories, legends, queens and princes and elves and dragons. But you didn't. You looked up at the stars, always with that air of nonchalance. You tried to find patterns. You were a woman of silence. There, I admitted it. I didn't know what to do with you.

When you hate someone it's easy. When you love someone it's easy. When you just don't understand someone at all, how they think, who they are, what they see and hear and feel, it's impossible. I did my best. I tried for a decade to get through to you. Then, on your tenth birthday, I gave up. Not in a bad way. I just realised it wasn't working, I needed a new approach. So I left you, hoping you would crawl onto my knee and pour out your deepest secrets and fears. You never did, of course.

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ocular justification

within this
autumnal gaze an
asterisk of winter’s
soon pivots the eye east
toward arid stares
and moments of
rhythm’s elegant whisper—

nothing here is a
hallmark of original
contemplation, but

more so diligence in the
temporal satisfaction of annual’s
arrival of depiction through

the language of weather’s syllabic

to notice is to have jazz in the openness
of hands’ dexterous beauty and

within distance the eye’s focus
regains what was truant during
rest’s anonymous visitation:

shape, or
the corporeal contemplation of
why the body only bends upon
the stare’s stringent articulation


The Big Picture

“But is it art? It has no concept of grandeur, it is just infantile daubing” he wanders around the exhibition, stopping in front of the paintings every few steps. The couple standing by the painting just ahead of us turn to look – he pretends not to notice them, but I know that he was aiming for some reaction. The woman looks beyond him to me. I am walking slowly, trying to look like I don’t belong to him. I catch her eye though; the look she gives me, the fact that she is aware I am with him, suddenly makes me shiver with shame.
Of course I don’t belong to him, but being with someone for a long time can create a sense of dependence; and, of course, you can’t be happy with someone all the time. I am sure it happens to a lot of people. Maybe.
I don’t get to choose this stuff as I really don’t know anything about art, or even what I like in the way of culture. He always chooses, and once again I know that he is dissatisfied with the choice – he is always unhappy. I am resigned to this, but suddenly I feel angry on behalf of the artists who have given something of their souls to create these amazing imaginings.
But what do I know. I used to try and ease him out of his moods by pointing out things that I found funny, or pretty, or moving – but he knows I am ignorant and crass and my opinions are not informed, so my observations didn’t help. He does like to make sure I know how woeful my contributions to our outings are. Does he measure himself by his definition of me, so he can feel himself to be more than he actually is? The look from the woman has unsettled me. Read more >

Starfish love

Your love is like a starfish
in my eye.
Glimpses of real life
-arms, feet, colour, feelings-
appear distorted by the reach
of your tentacles,
which cling and suck on my iris
until everything looks like the sea bed,
grey, lifeless (apparently).

I try to peel you off
but you have
on my eye.
Your flint-black tentacles snap off
before growing back

With cunning stealth
you prise me open
and ooze into me,
consuming me from the inside,



The fox slinked through the streets unperturbed by the drunken, singing stragglers veering across the damp pavements. Her paws pit pat pattered on the crème slabs of Sandringham Road as she darted in and out of front gardens and communal patios, the human beings that usually occupied them fast asleep or far away engaged in gluttonous acts. The city was so peaceful in these moments, the roads no longer veins of pollution and possible death but avenues, boulevards down which animals and humans could parade with their tops off, the cool dew of the approaching morning bunching on their chests. With the human gaze only intermittent, it was left to the swivelling spherical cameras hanging from innocent-looked poles to monitor the fox as she did her nightly reconnaissance, sifting through the discarded cans of Skol and silver bullets of nitrous oxide to find the good stuff. On this damp, peculiar and unnerving night, peculiar because of its unseasonal warmth, unnerving for the indication of impending ecological disaster, the fox was cornered by a strange figure. The figure was lit from behind by the fake orange of a replacement streetlight bulb, his face in darkness whilst his receding hairline was perfectly lit. Fucking foxes, he snarled and stamped his foot against the slick slab of pavement. The fox stood her ground, quite accustomed to human proximity and she merely waited, waited for this moment of visibility to pass so that she could be left to her devices. I see ya trickster, a Reynard of sorts perhaps PERHAPS! I’ve seen ye in anthropomorphic form at the Railway Tavern, I ain’t mistaken! He stumbled to one side, the sole of his frayed Doc Martens seemed to suddenly try and throw him onto his arse, revealing the side of his face in the harsh counterfeit orange of the streetlamp. His face seemed burnt or at least disfigured, perhaps (once again) discoloured but the fox could not see clearly in this light. What was clear to her though was his eye, for he had only one, the other merely a pocket of scar tissue. An eye. Read more >


The room will still be here.
Allow night to close your eyes.
Every mote has its anchor

and all is undisturbed
by the whimper of your breath.
Everything is still

in orbit, the neighbours
inhabit their alien worlds,
tracing their constellations.

But I have a crime to report.
I have been robbed of you,
locked behind marble lids.

Sleep makes poor creatures
out of all of us. I must go
and commandeer a rocket ship.

I'll sound the alarm.
It is the only way I know
back to you eyes.



The universe is not always black.

The dwarf star sun seethes
yellow, intumesces to giant red

and marigolds fire in the heat, hot
petals wilt for alien bees buzzing

by the eye. The big eye barges
on an orange river of soylent faith—

Big Brother watching with
red anger and yellow courage.

Tennessee is on the orange brink:
color-blind blue and gray mixing

on the spray-painted field, blood
-shot eye hanging above Earth.

This is what remains: Seeing
yourself seeing the tainted truth.

What do you see? Me
in orange? Or is it just the color

of skin under the wrong sun?
Maybe it’s my blood—not red

but orange with hope. Not alive
but not dead. I see you, too,

in the hymn of forgotten colors.


Under Fire

"The Beano King stood empty, all manner of seeds had drifted towards Wednesday and life existed only in the rivulets of...of..."
Shawna looked up from the napkin she was writing on, Lille continued Shawna's train of thought,
"...of yesterdays robotic melody?" Shawna screwed up her nose.
"...robotic melody I like, but not for this poem - it's more like '...of speechless form,'" Shawna said, scribbling it down, seemingly happy. Full stop. Poetry was like the family she never had. A completion. Full circle. A start, middle and end. She'd only experienced a start when Dad walked out and left her to eat rotten meat sandwiches from the fridge. Middle means all that family and job stuff. Right? What about end? Poetry had only happened to her since they ran, and they were still running, until they ended up here. Shawna was eager to move on. Lille shrugged and picked a spot on her arm.

Lille was thirsty and found a cola can, she peered inside, sometimes you have to watch out for cigarette butts. Shawna gazed around the empty Beano King, it had closed at 11pm, the windows were still running with condensation.
“Lille, look at the windows - looks like they’re crying.” Shawna said, so Lille sauntered over to the biggest window and drew a massive smiley that ran immediately like wet mascara.
“There.” Lille said.
"Life always seems to be about running doesn't it? Running from age, running from people, running from..." Shawna paused.
"Yourself?" Lille added.
"I like that." Shawna was pleased, it fits - start, middle and end. The Beano King sign swung outside in the breeze, the big eye looked like it was winking.
Read more >



Keep an eye on this old heart,
It lashes out like dogs at babes.
Oh, keep an eyes on this old blood,
It surges like a swollen stream.
Oh, keep an eye on these old nerves,
They bristle as if trees aflame.
Oh, keep an eye on this old skin.
It cannot hold them in.

Keep a heart on this old eye,
That it might look,
Towards the sky.


Soldiers of Fire

Your hatred is a solar surge
of ruby redhot
venomous verse
your riotous rhetoric burns
violently churns a
galactic interstellar soup
of heightened emotions
revolutionary contortions
masking your true intentions
destruction for hire
the soldiers of fire

Your ruby rage simmer
lava lashes searing glimmer
your volcanic voices
echo to influence and collect
a willing following
a brainwashed lost sect
ready for earthly cosmic
clashing causing
humanitarian knashing
foolishly yearning to inspire
the soldiers of fire

Your crushed humanity
no excuse for
senseless insanity
aiming to please a
false godly entity
wake from your
Read more >



If the sky would ask me to bow to a tree
and said for it held the deepest roots,
for they reached to the doors of my heaven,
I would ask to be shown the face I know
that should identify me the light at the tower
where I would stand, and listen to the cry
of a mother for her headless child, body
cage-less, on a spear where a noor would go
further through the curtains to meet with God;
there I’d bow my head after the names told
for me to follow the scents of hanoot and kasturi,
and breathe in the expansion – the donors castaway –
as I wait for my horse to take me to the tree
of the coolest shade, my lips drink the sweet
nehel from the hands of my master; there I shall
see my eyes exalted for having cried
in remembering yours.

The Star In My Eye

You ask who was Themba Nkosi? Who told you that? You shrug your shoulders.

Alright, my daughter put down that hairbrush and come and sit on the floor between my legs.

You place your hairbrush on the dressing-table and move away from the cracked mirror.

Your hair is in tangles. If you don’t mind, can I run my fingers through your knotted hair.

You nod your head and smile; my fingers rake through your curly hair, your scalp is warm under my finger pads.

Themba Nkosi was my son.

You frown, your olive-skinned forehead puckers . You’re confused but you choose to keep quiet.
It’s a deep secret that the family has kept to themselves. He was only a week old when we gave him away – you were not born yet.

You are probably thinking of why we gave him away. It was because he was different. How different?

He was black.

When I pushed your brother out of my vagina, the doctors and the nurses were appalled.

Read more >



If you saw Jason, the first thing you'd think was....nothing. You'd probably look down, swipe left, swipe right, maybe attempt to settle an argument with yourself concerning a nine pound bowl of noodles.

He had no friends, no social life, no Facebook or Twitter account. No numbers saved, no family, immediate or extended.
He had his drugs, only his drugs, his bad, bad drugs.

Jason would seek out stories about new deaths from strange drugs imported from dark laboratories.
He'd track them down and buy twice, triple the dose.

Then he'd Mix them, adding alcohol, cleaning products, paint thinner, glue.

...a pee-pie, a pee-pie. There was a pee-pie: the words, round and round. He wondered if others could see them, streaming across his pupils like advertising.

He'd imagined the din would dissipate, time eventually dragging the slider down.
It hadn't, if anything, the noise was getting worse, interfering with his ability to connect.

He'd considered taking more, lots more. But every email had snapped straight back: unable to deliver.

Jason stared out, all the way to the edge of himself. He was circular, edged with red and perfectly flat.

Delightfully, the drug had left him with a clear, magnetised capsule of lucid cognisance. He felt air molecules on him like flies and knew he was never coming back.



The tear waterfall was clouding my vision. Rods and cones unable sufficiently to cohere so as to penetrate the watery refraction. Contorting your face so I can no longer adjudge its mien. My wrath diluted orange. Eventually the cataract dries up. I hate that you can do this to me. I wipe away the tears and mucus. You’re smirking, a mischievous spangle in your eye. How can you remain outside and unsullied by all this? You tell me there is always a place behind the waterfall, a crevice to wait out the storm.

In the Middle of the Summer Triangle

Guns encircled August wheat; detachments
stepped in, beating. Perhaps the collie was dim,
nothing hid there but hissing shadows, in him
and in the wheat. The elms’ long shadows spoke
supper time; the men relaxed, broke barrels,
stepped out. In the lane they were familiar
with each other; gossip of auctions and women;
a held-back sense that who they could see
was not all who was there. At top field, g'nights.
And in the sight of each man going his way,
at the border of it, cutting across the livid
ambits of his perception, the extra
man: liar, peculiar, vulpecula.

No Second Chances

Underneath the ebony branches
Fate doesn’t grant second chances.
Padding deserted winter road
shrouded by banks of diamond snow -
progress dictated by midnight winds
and the faraway beat of robin’s wings.
He is senses and instinct
nose detecting fresh death stink.
Stoops to lick unlucky remains
squishy pile of zombie brains
Omnivorous witch brush
tongue laps sticky roadkill mush
The rumble in his stomach fades
raises head to the moon and brays.
Headlights from a speeding car
mesmerise Reynard in a hail of stars.
Underneath the ebony branches
cruel Fate grants no second chances


Stella wasn’t the sort of girl a boy of my age would normally go for. Catch a falling star, my mate Vince used to jeer. Out of jealousy I thought.
For Stella was like no other girl. And I knew she was falling. Was aware from the outset that what goes up must come down. I could see that glow of hers might be a little too bright to last a lifetime. Looking into her eyes that first time I knew there would be cloudy nights as well as clear bright days, but no matter. I had been touched by that spark of life in her that seemed to come from the centre of the universe. As if Stella had been there at the beginning, and had travelled through time to find me, to light up that grey winter of 1958. Had come from nothing to be everything to me, all of life – and more.
        Stella blazed brighter than any girl I’d known. Any girl I would come to know.
        On dark days her eyes told you she knew more than you ever would of the pleasure and pain of life. She was both an old soul and an innocent child. One who, on a good day, shone brighter than Venus on a clear summer night.
        There are times in life when you know that suffering must be part of the package; I am at such a time now. Stella was my guiding light on that first illuminating trip, that essential rite of passage to adult world.
        From our first embrace (we used that delicate word back then: a warm, tender word I’ve always held dear) I knew instinctively that Stella would teach me all I needed to know of life; what it is to love, to suffer, to face death. I knew it the following day, when, rounding the corner from my home, I saw her hurrying towards me. Hello Sunshine! she called out, running to nuzzle by neck with her nose: the tip was as cold as ice. I can feel it to this day. It was snowing I seem to remember.
Read more >

The Star-Eyed Girl Speaks Before Dying

We knew she’d never stay.
Even with eyes closed,
she radiated and made
Sister Cora clutch her Rosary
and plead with the Virgin
to send the star-eyed girl away--

not to Hell, mind you,
but gone like Father Martin
whom the girl drove mad.
Last we heard, he was in Mexico,
desperate for forgiveness,
praying the whole night through.

Her eyes wide open, she spoke:
There will be an end
and you will wish for me.
Then she fell, lifeless, to the grass.
Sister Cora gave thanks, some sighed,
and I picked up my cross that broke.


Love in her eyes

Linh stood straight, face forward, and stared at the flag. The golden star sparkled, reflected in her dark eyes. She was beautiful. I tried to keep her face in my gaze but the Colonel was watching us. My eyes could not flicker or shift from the flag. I loved her but she loved the party, she loved the flag, she loved our country. I had tried to find the words but she was not ready for love with a person, or a person like me. I could not compete with her love for a people, for a country under attack.

Years later I heard that after leaving the camp she had crossed the border with a team of comrades. They caused the enemy such great losses that the invaders sent in the fire bombers. I heard that Linh was caught out in the open, away from the tunnels, and her body was never found.

Now I sit drinking iced coffee in a café in a city in my country, in a country at peace, in a country where the invaders were thrown out when I was still young. Now I sit here in a café in a street named after Linh, my Linh, though she was never mine, and I think of the young girl with the stars in her eyes, with the love of her people in her eyes.


Twinkle in the eye

Oh there he is, running up the staircase
Late as always he is and it makes people gaze
Me sitting in my class staring out the door
As other guys enter I say no no, just just one more
And there as the teacher speaks I sit and imagine
Me and my guy dancin for a song that’s in Latin
End of the song there he goes down on his knee
But in the real scene here he pulls me back when he says excuse me

And that’s when I see a twinkle in the eye, little twinkle in his eye
I fly fly very high
Higher than the skyscraper in Dubai
Seeing the twinkle in his eyes

Walking past me without a glance he brushes my ego
To the chair next to some guy and says “hey amigo”
Listening to my ninja-self saying “hey let’s give it a whirl”
And so I turn to see the corner of his perfect lips curl
Felt like he wanna say “hey baby girl”

That’s it, that’s when I have that
Twinkle in my eye, a little twinkle in my eye
Feeling all shy
With a twinkle in my eye



I watched the sparkle in her eye
be overwhelmed by bacilli;
and though I knew it to be serious
had faith that we could vanquish cereus
and later laugh, once we’d ticked box in
which she countered enterotoxin.

But she, too proud for diarrhoea –
food poison’s cohort – my sweet Leah
resolved to seek, though more than rare,
one who’d give hospital care;
and in my meek complicity
I drove her to the A&E.

And when she raced from seat to toilet
making sure she would not soil it
I whispered in the doctor’s ear:
explained that it most mostly fear,
and that she’d bounce back like brand new Rebo
if he’d but give her some placebo.

But her time among the sick that day
exposed her to MRSA
and her dearth of norm resistance

magnified its vile persistence.
In absence of some panacea
I lost my love, my prideful Leah.

Read more >



They picked me up on Petrovka Street in the dead of winter and I was glad to go with them.

Kudryavka they called me, though there was one who refused.

“No names” he insisted “Never names.”

And I noted the blue of his eyes, pale as the pond ice in Izmailovsky Park, and just as hard.

But his meticulousness intrigued me. The way he searched and questioned and measured. The way he noted things down and nodded occasionally, “Interesting. Interesting.”

So I gave him a name. Mister Chelovek. Check. Check. Check.

Every day he checked. Probing me, prodding me, measuring and watching.

“Just what is it you want to know?” I wondered.

Though I too learned some things. As the spaces they enclosed me in grew smaller, ever smaller, I understood what freedom is and I longed for Petrovka Street.

“Interesting” he said “Interesting.”

Then one November day when they had learned enough, they strapped me down and sealed me in.

His face appearing briefly through the glass, his palm pressed against it.

“Goodbye Kudryavka. Goodbye.”

Read more >



if you look closely,
my starry sister shines,
and so, at midnight
I stand beneath the trees
and, loosing my coppery hair,
let myself pelt.

I slip, easily,
into my other skin;
luxuriating in my russet fur;
intoxicated by the scents
of the night.
Leaping the fence
it’s time to run,
truly wild,
and dance with my lover
on the moonlit hills.

Slinking back, sated,
as the first tendrils of dawn
creep along the horizon,
I shed my coat
just inside the back gate
and raid the hen house;
hungry for boiled eggs
and well-buttered toast.



they told me i
had myopia and

added that it was genetic
just in passing

leaving me to ponder about
what else i might

generously inherit;

so i wore my non
rose-tinted glasses

and saw the world for
the first time –

my prejudice is now
a star inside my retina.



Spark, fly, sparksfly
in directions I have always remembered
but never known. There is a broken island
at the corner of my eye,
melting, mending, molding itself
into (w)holes, halves, wholehalves.
These are deserted waters.
To what end will you trust the sailor?
The fallacy is not in your navigator;
it is in navigation itself.

The Eye In My Pocket Is Burning Holes

I find the eye in your drawer
and keep it for myself. No normal eye
no ovals, flecks, scars, eyebrows. A broken eye.
Carved and etched, ripped from sockets,
bleak dribbling, its last owner once cried,
it is a testament to your obliviousness.
So I take it.

I carry it around in my pocket, walk the loud
streets. These people do not know me.
The bricks on the ground, running into one another
colliding jaggedly, the eye rattles in my trousers.
I don’t know why you have it. You will never
tell me. The eye is dangerous, your secrecy
has intruded on my destruction.

I hide myself away with your stolen eye,
pile wood against the doors, set the place alight.
Wicked, dancing, evil flames, one day engulf me
allow me to wind away with the smoke and ash,
a flake in grey-stretched autumn skies.

I have locked the doors to the labyrinth.
I can hear the minotaurs singing.
I take the eye from my crumbling pocket,
trousers nearly gone away, ash. I look at it.
Stare back at me, blink and say something
with that look.

Read more >


Faded Pencil Marks

I never knew you, the names on my mother’s family tree:
Michigan farmers with their wide, neat fields,
and the farmers who did not farm,
the grandfather who drank
and bet on horses and never
won enough to cover his debts.

or the great grandmother who chased
my great grandfather around the kitchen
with an iron frying pan
and threatened to cut off his penis
in his sleep if he ever hit her or the children again.

or another great-grandmother,
a beautiful woman who sang to herself
as she passed work-weary farmers.

They raised their heads to her and tipped their hats
imagining prim skirts crumpling
like watery silk beneath their wandering hands,
and her hair, straw bright, spayed on their pillows.

At 17, my grandfather found her, his mother,
hanging from a rafter in the basement.

After reporting to his father
he never spoke of it again.

Some in the family say she killed herself,
others claimed her husband killed her. Everyone agreed
Read more >



Oh Blubber, what cha gonna do now? Take your gun and run through some one else's world and shoot it up?

I c the shapes inside your blood. Your circles and your stars, your boy time pranks and promises - the ones that never stick. Your crazy gold flecked reasons to b as quick as a trick and twice as funny with your smooth black hair and pants all the way from Mars. That's where the real men fly.

Your gonna have to run Blubber, and fast. The past is chasing u with legs of steal and hooves of a thoroughbred. It'll hunt u down and lay there like a stone of onyx and always horizontal and wide when your eyes r half closed. You'll have your arms wrapped round your future, your gun in your holster hanging to the right and there it will b, irritatingly bright and light and oh so heavy. U won't c it coming, but it will move into your future and sweep the fragments into a pile of gotcha gotcha na na na.

My advice? Squeeze your yellow tears to your toes where your soles will wash in their colour.

You're all out of rubber bullets Blubber.

You'd better run.


My Mind’s Eye in Autumn

Mists at the outer edges of my memory.
Flailing through a threadbare carpet of tears
seeking a lost regiment of friends and family.

Gathered together in November remembrance.
They are always there – conscious of my distress
or welcome signs of joy and happiness.

Showering me with poppy-red petals of hope and love.

I wait for answers from this gang
and view signs and portents greedily.
We are never apart in our apartness.

And I see their faces and hear their
voices as if from just across the hall.
We are symbiotic in each other’s company.

A rare manuscript of belonging on the right page.

I feel melancholic as befits the season
and rain penetrates my psyche with its
cold clingy and viscous quality.

I long for the sun to warm me.
I long to see familiar faces,
with their bright countenances.

Old souls colliding with the stars in their eyes.



Usually, I detest Parties. The invites arrive with startling punctuality. Not because of my popularity, but my family are in demand. My sisters relish attending or (sometimes worse) holding them. 'You are a joyless freak,' remarked one of them. Okay, when I was younger, I managed a few hoolies, by pigging on hot dogs, ice-cream and cokes. There's a downside to that!         However, one 'do' was interesting in a way. A great looking girl asked me to dance. Not that I can. Dance, I mean. Strobe lights were flashing, so maybe she didn't notice my pathetic moves. We shared a smoke outside and attempted a smooch. That was cool. The music stopped abruptly and a loudspeaker boomed through the windows.
        'Is there anybody brave enough to take part in extra entertainment in the back room?'
Cassie clutched my arm and pleaded with me to return. Reluctantly, I agreed.
The back room was dimly lit by one light bulb over a screen. Several people stood nervously waiting. The compere was my old enemy, Richie Brooks. When I started College, I was dead chuffed that he wasn't around!
        'What have we here? he shouted, 'Pete Fisher, come up and impress your girlfriend. Just step behind the screen'
I'll admit my guts were churning. I'd been had by that joker many times at school, but could never refuse with Cassie beaming encouragement.
        'Okay, Brooks I'll play your stupid game' I muttered.
With a theatrical bow, he ushered me in front, whilst one of his dozy mates drew the screen around us. On the floor was a long, lumpy, shape covered with a starry blanket. Brooks produced a scarf and blind-folded me. Yeah, I was nervy, as he shuffled me where he wanted and barked 'Kneel down and keep still!'
Read more >

Morning Coffee Can Be So Important

A tragedy happened to Willie
and Millie after years of marriage.
All their kids were doing well
and had nice families of their own

but tragedy struck one dawn before
Willie had had his morning coffee.
Millie was on her third cup and Willie
said Millie looked at him the wrong way

and Willie asked, “What’s that look
all about, Millie, what did I do now?"
Millie had no idea what Willie
was talking about since she

hadn’t looked at him in any way
different than she usually did.
Maybe she was stifling a sneeze.
It didn’t help when Millie advised

Willie to drink plenty of coffee
and they would talk it over then.
Willie said he had had enough
and he was leaving forever.

He packed his old satchel
and moved to a geriatric hotel
and sent Millie a letter telling her
to file for divorce or he would file

Read more >


All After

I remember the last time I saw you.
I didn’t.
See you in fact.

I sat with my head down
in a book
that is after all
how I usually sit.

All after
they’ll say that
‘Her and her books.
Wasn’t that something else?’

So, there I sat
head down.
And all of a sudden I felt a love
there is no other word.
A love.
A love by my face.

Cheek to cheek.

by my ear
a whisper:
“meet me there?
In a hour?

Read more >


A Clear Well Lit Prediction

Decades later and he STILL loved Big Brother.
His children loved Big Brother even more,
thanks to all the iPads and gadgets to propel the propaganda
straight into the headspace, fenced off from any other possibility.
Big Brother's image had been brought up to date, translated,
target-marketed to the point where that evil glimmer
had been made to look friendly, like a superimposed smile.
Everyone still drank from their cups of cheap gin, quietly unquestioning, unthinking that all the grotesque vulgarity
that lived behind that billboard, that concept,
could possibly spill forth one day
and the thoughtless populace would see the sickening Truth
that lay behind the mental-rapist mind
of billboard and regime.


"I always knew you'd get me."
He said this to her as calmly as he
could. Embracing love's lost
past and all it had to give.
Their lives were simple.
*No need to embellish
what is already great.*
This was his motto
and she lived by it because
she loved him. His eyes:
a sense of peace could
be found in them miles away.
They loved until the moon
died at daybreak, sweet and long.

"You have been my playground.
My resting place. My silver lining."
He smiled as he said these
words. She adored his lips;
the chemistry within them
moved her to serenity.
A great man, yearning for
small achievements in life
that including her hand in marriage,
and understanding time
& space.

Read more >


Where’s Your Crown, King Nothing?

No one knows this, but the Tyrannosaurus rex had elaborate cognitive faculties. He could think, reason, devise a strategy. You had to be pretty smart to survive in those days. Because he was such a cunning predator, he felt invincible. And that made him utterly naive. So when that big comet shot through the night sky on its way to wipe out every living, breathing creature on the face of the planet, every T. rex looked up and thought “Oh, look, a shooting star, now I can make a wish. I can make a wish!” How sad is that?

Stars in our eyes

I want to
inhabit you,
break dermal barriers,
meld flesh with flesh,
intertwine capillaries.

I want to
pump mingled blood,
inhale sweeter oxygen,
breathe in, out,
in, out.

I want to
hear the universe explode,
feel shiny slivers
of light
needle into our pores.

I want to
look out
through shared eyes,
be blinded
by stars.


Autumn Glory

Come with me: witness this splendid affair -
an Autumn parade, all colour and light.
See the sun break through the opaque air
of shrouded dawns, then rise in state, to knight
each hill and tree with his jewelled sword:
a dazzling show that rounds off summer’s lease.
Ablaze for now in orange, red, and gold,
the leaves will fall to a Michaelmas freeze.
As the chapped sun sulks his way toward
winter shame, nature’s clock is overlord –
another year is, of a sudden, old.

The night zoo in orange

I remember; catfish eye, dragging
all of the dark
with it. With thrown out
tiger throat, I recall the pavilion
in early winter, between bars; the trees
clouded in smoke, which they wore
like a blanket. I saw, prowling
orange, tail disappearing
in the mist. My nights are this;
across the zoological   black -
the spelt-out nocturnal   jet
of something              on a jazz bass,
the neck played          like a murderer,
strangling one long lonely decay
after another. I hear,  tiger throat,
witnessing                 the upright shard
of its obsidian            iris. A kind of door
into the world,          blinking.

When Fear and Loathing Burn So Bright

Gazing over her shoulder our progress resounded like the bugle’s ‘Reveille’ at dawn. Ten solid months of consistent nurture and finally her soul was reawakening. More animated, her chubbier face glowed with a shy confidence. “Are they real?” In contemplation she rests the gnarly bitten pencil alongside her drawing. “I mean here, not extinct.” My nod is gently reassuring. It smacks of decades of training, counselling and teaching. My young protégé had framed the symmetry, all that fabulous fur camouflaged as a gentle cat. Yet we knew how in one twist of the heart a purring feline could pounce in betrayal.

Kefira waited earnestly. Her hair slipped across her face. That scarred face. Silvery wheals a barbarous sign left by her persecutors. I carefully pull back her hair. “May I?” Untangling strands my fingers nimbly braid. Kefira fidgets, kicking off her donated leather shoes and with slow deliberation adds more detail.

“So Devira, if he is real, as you say… Is he free or caged do you think?”

It was then that I noticed her eyes burning with focus, those next tentative strokes were her star, that star of Bethlehem. In our first break-through session that was all she would draw. Drawing and humming, “Twinkle, twinkle little star.” She’d tell me of the rockets, the blasts, the rumbles and the increase of suffocating choking chaos. Someone else noted down her nightmares.

Read more >


The Star

John sees Mother.
She is smiling.
She is proud of him.
John has the star.
Everyone looks at him.
He is happy.
Mother is happy.
Father is not here.
Mother was sad.
Father did not obey the rules.
John told them.
John is a top youth warrior.
The officials came.
They took Father.
Mother cried.
John watched.
They gave John the star.
John smiles proudly.


The white star marks the spot
where the shiv enters the eye
that's if you happen to die that way
but what if the chard is commingled
like a frosting of nano aluminum particles,
all the better to divert a nuke
stuck on the end of a fork
that enters the brain like a shooting star
blink and you miss it homing in

but do we have to depart like that
like the people of Nagasaki
praying to their Roman deity
in the old cathedral under the bomb,
knowing nothing about Einstein
and his unwitting entry
into their holy of holies
the fate he didn't wish on them
as he played the weeping violin

and the Fat Man says hello
his plutonium treat's just so
we won't forget the why it is
and how it must be after
the darkest event of that war
but the dead learned nothing
and the living forgot
sayonara for the moment
and call it all remembrance.


Creative Writing

For some reason far past the power of rationality to discover eye wanted to know how to know where to put the line breaks in my poems. Eye told them this and they smiled and said well, if we only knew that. But there had to be more to the business of line breaks than a shrug of the shoulders, eye thought; through the whole conversation eye was waving my hands around and the cuticle split and bled all over my thumb. When crowds of words float on the surface of things, going perhaps in some direction, like headlights before dawn, those born to strange sights might catch still in one’s eye a hard sharp-pointed star that makes one

unreasonably vigilant, but the poet made no mention of it, sir. Once told that eye is a deep root and rhizome it seems eye is for ego and easier to go back quietly through high tawny fields. Eye eye eye is what they say here, or I eye I. (What are you doing now? Averting my I’s, oh Lord. Well don’t.) At Patriarch’s Pond we met a stranger who invited us to the John Donne Pub and said he’d met Roger Waters just there at Patriarch’s Pond. “He’s very arrogant, you know. He’s very arrogant.”


Blink and you will miss it!

In the twinkling of an eye,
The sun comes out,
Love steps in,
Winks at you,
Beckons flirtatiously,
Sunflower like,
You turn towards,
The saffron coloured meteor shower of unimagined delights,
Horus’s eye couldn’t be anymore hypnotic,
You have stars in your eyes,
The dawn of a new romance has begun.

Claiming Fables

Jane was a girl with curious eyes and thick, flaming locks. Her most striking feature however, was her limitless imagination. It was unfortunate that she was born in a time and place, where these things were close to worthless. The girl's home was a church-run orphanage on Albert Road in a small town, not far from London. She had arrived there after loosing her father to cancer and both her mother and a sister, younger than her, to the flu.
When Jane turned twelve, she was sent to work for a wealthy family. The house was often busy with people: children playing marbles and women having tea on the sofa. Meanwhile, Jane's occupations were reduced to polishing, scrubbing and dusting.
One evening, she asked herself whether anyone would notice if she disappeared. This wonder steered her feet away from Albert Road. A fair amount of time passed and she continued to place one step in front of the other. Once she reached a forest, it was pitch dark. Jane lied down on the ground, imagined it rocking her tenderly, like her mother used to when she lulled her to sleep in her lap. When calmness was interrupted by the flutter of birds, Jane attempted to outrun her loneliness.
Then she met Sean, who was playing guitar in the forest and they started spending all their free time together. Sean was a street musician and a performer of all kinds. He was talented, too. So talented that most didn't notice it, when he performed vanishing acts on their coins. Next to him, the streets shone with light.
The day Jane turned sixteen, Sean asked her to be his wife. They moved to a small room in a cottage at the outskirts of town. Sean found work as a sailor, which meant that he was away at sea for months. With each return, he was less the Sean she had remembered him to be.
Read more >

The Form Everyone Needs

I just want to be a painting.

And I’ll have eyes of a painter falling in love with me, shaping my self from nothingness, worshipping me, dwelling into me.

I just want to be a painting,

Like a paper violated by paint, feeling euphoria of having a company, unable to whisper of its grateful feeling.

Like a brush meeting water, feeling coldness into the pores, warmed and stares of amazement, dim light, a contrast clean white wall, moving nothing, as kind-hearted being, and I’ll always be amazing, I just want to be a painting.


He Sings of Hawks

He sings about hawks searching for water, in times where water was a mixture with soil. In times where water lay alone in the dark waiting to be discovered by the aching muscle of thirst.
He talks about how much lighter his body felt after the amputation and talks about how yesterday is as different as someone else’s life. He pulls the teeth of a comb through a thicket of steel and his features wrinkle into a smile whenever you speak.
His son loves the image of fruit trees with fruit hanging heavily from their branches. You love the idea of their elegant strength together. The alpha posturing of hard shells, the beauty of still wolves, when violence is static and nothing needs to happen yet.

I’ll spend eternity trying to find my father.

He says he was born into a rotten egg of a country, which finally cracked, allowing the exchange of darkness for light.
My Grandfather is a man made of walls the crumble but don’t fall.
He meets your gaze in a daze of rivalry.
And there is love lodged between his teeth.
My Grandfather lost his leg in a strange war.
The lost of limb made him feel lighter.
The loss of everything else will be a weight till the end…


The Old Man With The Bins

Then I found out who he was and I say to Nana I say, You know that old man, the one with the bins? Oh, what’s he gone and done now, Nana says. No, no, I say, he hasn’t done anything, he used to be on the telly. Who did? He did. What telly? Your telly, I say, Sandra Willis at Twenty-Six says so. What’s his name? David Hughes. Nana looks at me like I’ve lost it, she says I’ve never heard of no David Hughes. Well Sandra says he was big back in the day, I say. What day? Your day! Sandra Willis says he was the weatherman for years, after the news. Nana says, David Hughes? Oh, you mean, David Hughes! He’s your new neighbour? David Hughes is your new neighbour? I know! I say, I know! David Hughes the weatherman? Yes! My God, Nana says, he was big back in the day. Handsome Hughes. That was his nickname. Innocent times. Handsome Hughes. Your Grandad hated him. He must be Eighty. He is old yes, I say, but still handsome in a way. And he’s the old man with the bins? That was before I knew who he was, I say, I didn’t know he was famous. Oh, a long time ago, Nana says. Yes, I say, but he’s part of our heritage I suppose. If you want to look at it like that, Nana says. I should make myself known to him, I say. You’ve certainly done that already! Nana says. I mean in a nice way, I say, now that I know who he is. I should make myself known, knock on his door, remind him of some funny story that happened back in the day. It was a long time ago, Nana says. I know, I know, but you must remember something. Your Grandad hated him, all the men hated him. Something else. I don’t know, he read the weather, handsome, I don’t remember much else, Nana says. You must do! I say. Read more >

Magic Eye

Remember those pictures friends showed you back in the 1990s – patterns that made you dizzy, like poor imitations of Bridget Riley? 'Look carefully, they said – diverge your eyes and you’ll see the shark or the spaceship. Easy.' They’d lean over your shoulder and wait while you stared then gave up. ‘It’s a way of seeing,’ they’d say, kindly. ‘Some people just can't do it.’ Those were the friends who could juggle with three balls, curl their tongues or catch frisbees. I married one of them.

Most things this century make me cross-eyed, so recently I thought I’d give those images another go. Idling through the pages of an old book of autostereograms, I ended up dwelling upon a picture composed of small feather strokes, the colour of marigolds or marmalade. After a while, an eye emerged, the sort you’d see painted in the alcove of a Moroccan riad. My wife couldn’t see it, but she gave up juggling and frisbee games years ago. It’s her mouth that curls now. ‘What’re you bothering with that for?’ she said, vacuuming around my feet. ‘Haven’t you better things to do with your time?’

I could understand her impatience when it became my daily fix – me looking, the eye looking back. It was if my molecules shifted under its starry gaze and there I was in all my 3D glory. My wife didn’t understand when I tried to explain what it was like to be really seen. She put the book out with the recycling. And not long after, I went too.



Bowie told us of a Star Man waiting in the sky
The Bible of a star that shepherds and wise men followed
US military vehicles and planes bore a white star emblem
Russians and others adopted the same in red
But this orange background is different
Unfamiliar and of unknown meaning

From behind an eye stares out
Fixing us with an enquiring gaze
Seeming to dare us to respond
To a question not yet asked
Maybe to burn in confusion
Consumed by orange flame

Shakespeare wrote of star crossed lovers
Ireland rose under a Starry Plough
Every Hollywood idol bears
The same title
But this orange background is different
Unsettling and of uncertain significance.


Observation of the Stars

I often thought that
Stars were watching me
However that act goes.
The act of seeing
Between pictured and processed,
Projected into a thought
Focused to narrative
Fused to

Do the stars picture me;
A passive observer, head thrown stellar-ward?
Can it differentiate the
Inference of wavelengths,
Detect the trebles of ecstasy,
Desire or require the realms of the romantic
Or am I simply
A pixel hanging
(if that)
Upon a screen of blue and green?
Does it notice when my eyes are closed
Or red in sorrow?
Will it simply calculate
My slow motion descent into entropy,
A supernova tattooed
Into its eye?



It was left looking,
But it's right. Piercing: a scavenger-spirit observed adrift
outside, out-with, free of subjugation.

Somewhere wild; temperate northern tundra, 1970s.
There appeared a milky grasshopper glint in her eye….
a torn, butterfly-wing pentangle.

Earth, she knew - smells and texture of roots, prey, berry-bounties.
Her claws had raked out it's provisions.
Life, surmised she, should overreach mere tolerable existence - potentially.
Rapt with curiosity, these were conceived cerebral adventures.

Not knowing her genes were Kodiak, Brown or Grizzly
but - there was a longing,
staring up into the night's celestial mysteries
- speckles of starlight sweet as honey.
Flying ivory kites in her eyes, ribbons wind-flailed and trailing down.
Having not been mesmerised by infamy, or neglected novelty
she wore the hue of a child's fantasy... a feelgood-marked russet
imagined as a 2-dimensional cut-out.

An ursine itinerant burning for travel - an infant-philosopher in practice.
Life should rise above meeting calorific intake, exceed larvae, grub and haunch of carrion… ad infinitum.
Improvising a trail towards meteoric light, stumbling upon a crater of artistry.

Read more >


The illusion

I hated her and all she possessed. The way she stood perfectly and the way she held herself. I hated it. Not because she had done anything wrong. On the contrary. I hated her because she had so clearly done the logical, correct and reasonable thing.

It was a winter evening near Christmas time. The sky was a backdrop to countless sparkles of colour and the air was crisp and ready for greedy and spoilt attitudes. I was walking through the city centre with a scarf around my neck to protect me from the bitter thoughts of gasping children and money burning parents which, I felt at the time, were the reason for that night being so cold. Walking on a regular winter's night away from people is beautiful and bare. This night was full of want and no give.

Passing the butchers I saw her stood alone in the middle of the street. Giving warmth to the air she looked around puzzled and innocent. Vulnerable yet not in the pitiful sort of way. I stopped instantly. Then being careful not to be conspicuous I took out a cigarette and pretended that I could not light it. The heat from the fire was wonderful but harsh. My eyes were filled with stars and natural warmth, the type you get when drinking tea after a cold walk or a bath after a long day.

After years of looking I played over a script in my mind. Then after editing, re-editing, destroying it and finally writing what I deemed to be acceptable, I filled my lungs with smoke and exhaled slowly. Dropping the cigarette I took just one step before the world went black and the star in my eye went out like a candle being blown out. It was from this moment I hated her.

The pair of them walked away holding hands and laughing. She dissolved back into society as quickly as she stood out from it and I accepted defeat. After picking up the pieces of my ignorance I walked on home and began to read the message on the walls of my mind. Read more >


Blink and you will miss it!

In the twinkling of an eye,
The sun comes out,
Love steps in,
Winks at you,
Beckons flirtatiously,
Sunflower like,
You turn towards,
The saffron coloured meteor shower of unimagined delights,
Horus’s eye couldn’t be anymore hypnotic,
You have stars in your eyes,
The dawn of a new romance has begun.

Towards Nothingness in Orangey World

Open your heart’s curtain, see the inky night
without plumbing the depth of darkness.
You can find a stranger’s cagey eye that is unhitched
from his raven body and drifts to you in utter stillness
under a tangerine light with the dilated round pupil
that stares at your emptiness, your soul
with invisible lips touching gently your solitude.

Blink once, see a cleft-like shape on a small puddle:
a leaf losing veins and shadow. On the oval, full moon,
corona of moonlight, stellar reflection with a twinkle
as on a convex mirror, as on a polished spoon.
Scintillant ripples are born by zephyr through a dim field,
the ripples spread out and die out like smoke in air and
the leaf is also melt in water towards nothingness.


Morning Star

this is a bright
new morning
the yesterdays have
gone past,
don't even bother
looking for them,
they are a cloud
in the upper corner
of your view,
what we have now
is now,
these ember sparks
of home to bind
our wounded,
to heal our injured,
to give hope to our
departed, and a bright
eye moving forward
to new dawn after
new dawn arrives.

Star Trekking

One last wave goodbye,
she boldly boards the spacecraft
with stars in her eyes.

The New Mandarin

Rumors spread like wildfire among the cubicles, fueled the talk in the break room. Who was the new boss? The new Office Manager had scheduled a meeting, a "meet and greet" the memo read.

"I didn't get the memo," Sydney from the Copy Center said.

"It's not your department she's interested in," said Rick. "They've been trying to cut Archives for years."

"Well I know it's me she's cutting first," said La Teisha. "I applied for that job, you know."

The new boss came in wearing a red-orange suit, instead of the corporate slate gray. She was powerful and incendiary, her perfume a whiff of gasoline. Those of us who had gotten the memo wore our best black, fumbled with the powdered donuts.

"We're synergizing," she said. "There are too many redundancies. I'm talking mass extinction event. Survival of the fittest from now on. I'll be watching you." She smiled sharp teeth.

A new sign went up in the break room--WORK TIME MEANS WORK--

"Orange is the new black all right," said Sydney. She was wearing an orange watchband.

"Hail the New Mandarin," said Rick.

We learned to time our conversations, alert to the clicking of her high heels down the hall.
Read more >


Falling Forever

The heavens vibrate with a million screaming stars, swooning in the wake of Man's demise. Earth is nothing more than a spark of energy winking in the corner of our universe's cyclops eye - gone in a moment that seems to last through all eternity.

Streaming stars form a pattern now as they twirl through space, lost in a death dance, and it is beautiful. Whatever omnipotent force created the universe is long lost and there will be no second Big Bang.

The end has come. Stunning, brilliant, and unexpected. It is the death throes of an age.


beside him/inside him

the day his heart exploded
it made quite a mess
the red balloon had popped
making splatter art all over his ribcage
he got tired of looking for the girl with
the answers and the smile, who smells like autumn in New York, to show.
She was smoking a cigarette on a street in Paris
reading a book in the New York Public Library
rubbing suntan lotion all over her milky whites arms, shoulders, legs and toes on
Campo beach and laughing at the seagulls who didn't know any better
she was everywhere all the time
except where he needed her so desperately
beside him/inside him.


It’s the color I deplore. As it wraps itself around your needy flesh and bone, ripe for the juicing. It is misery. A visual replica, a feast for your inner artist to emerge and translate The Starry Night in gaudy hues. A constant reminder of your heralded mimicry of my differing views.

Overdone. Overused. Cliché. This was you.

The trade winds brought you to my door in bottomed out boats of need. A saviour in need of saving. Full stop. But my faith propelled me—the desperate beggar, I became at your feet.

Give. Giving. Grieve. This is me.

Sundown, again, the blossoms close and darkness calls. Pleiades screaming through my auburn strands as night’s blanket paints them black. The seven sisters and silence. I am a daughter here, untouched, unscathed, replete. Colorblind to the ocher, the tamarind, the saffron suffocation of sunsets and false prophets who maim without regret.


Listen…They’re Talking!

Perching on my desk,
Brooding over these thoughts
Last night,
What I witnessed,
Was something perturbing me lots!

I rise in the morning
And witness these sights
Sight that lynched my neighbour next door,
Sight that celebrated my success to the core.
The enigmatic beauty
And the magnificent views
Impairs everything when I see
Rapes, murders, trafficking all over the news!

The first time,
When I saw a shooting star in the sky,
The first time,
I won my favourite game,
The first time,
When I fell in love,
And the first time,
I felt that steamy kiss,
All these first moments,
Kind of stirred my soul
Those spark in my eyes
And the élan to do more,
Nothing in the world
Can stop me from reaching the shore!
Read more >


We took to the rain

We took to the rain
We eye-lined the rain
We laid in the grass
We were fire and stars
We gave each other eyes
We gave each other life
We laid in the fire
We sat in the rain
We opened our stars
We slept in the grass
We gave each other time
We gave each other breath


I heard guns rattling while I prayed bent in the middle of the night. I looked up at the stars – sparking white crystals. “Duck, take cover,” said a voice. “Cover from whom, from what?” I asked. “My own people are killing me – with whom I share the same colour of blood as mine, same parent as mine, same neighbour as mine, and same god as mine. Why should I run, and for what?” I said. “You run from mindlessness which is not your own, for the life you need to save which is your own.” So I hid to live.

Modern Art is Rubbish

I hate these places now; full of pretentious idiots with too much time on their hands. I started going to galleries as a kid, haunting the National and the Tate before it became Tate Britain. As a teenage boy I fell into a painting by Francis Bacon and for a moment I thought I understood.

I didn't though.

Understand, I mean.

This is awful. I long to escape. Not just here though.

I long to escape.

These paintings, they represent everything we've become. We are modern art.

Unfocused and insubstantial.


I look at the dammed thing, at the painting which caused the chill atmosphere which I'm pretending not to notice, which I am trying to talk around. A million misshapen blobs and a bleeding eye. Not literally bleeding of course, that would be more post-modern, and I've a vague idea we're onto post-post-modern now.

All I know is there's this big eye and it see through us both.

How can two people be so unhappy in each other's presence remain so glued together. We're torturer and captive but we've forgotten who's who.

She used to laugh once.

She used to love me once.

Read more >


Pumpkin Eyes

What are notions of restless minds
Before the shrines of lost saints

Fallen leaves, like musical notes
Centuries ago seeds were sown
Die was cast, cards thrown

For nomadic bags of cardamom
Cinnamon and cloves

Might is right

A feeble fear that rules the thoughts
And that freedom of ignorant spirit
Chains the feet of cautious self

The pulpy truth of orangish life
Pumpkin eyes and starry strife

Our white patch of feigned innocence
A defence of our darker core
Weighing between altruistic nature
And self preservation amidst chaos


Grandma’s Last Days

you were right there
on the aged carpet sprouting with early risers
with your pale wiry legs relaxed
and your head tilted downward

you were right there
fixed in a peripheral maze
tracing a triangular mandala of woven creativity
with the tip of your gaze

you were right there
defying doctors' premonitions
wayfaring with your eyes
despite the nervous restrictions

you were right there
in your own little migration,
with your sagging eyebags as heavy feet,
finding purpose
after dark


Bosch’s prayers

To Nur, my divine spark, my sun, my inception, the world of my subconsicousness that I
have always sought, the paradise I have always dreamed of returning

On the canvas, the screen onto which I project my soul
in order for yours to become visible

On the canvas, Plato’s cave, where the only fire
reminisces that the physical world is
but an illusion

On the canvas, the rabit’s hole in Wonderland
into which you fall, through a black hole into a parallel universe
only to shipwreck on the other shore of time

On the canvas, the sleepless dream of Zhuangzi
in which you are the butterfly, and the butterfly, you
where a flower guards the secret wisdoms of an old child

Into my canvas, you enter
where I lose my way in a delirum
and bump into my other self, in another world
where lines run
where forms bleed
where deconstruction is the force to create

On my canvas, you play
setting free Kandinsky’s circles
Read more >


The Star

A star rose over Bethlehem
Three wise men went visiting.

A star shines in our eyes
When a star sets in Karbala.

The Star of David is the universe
An ancient and an eternal symbol.

As an ancient people, when clouds darken,
The star in our eyes guides us through.



The way the light in the eye
of the telly
shrank to a dot and died
far off
after “The Queen”
but before midnight
as if the room were turned off
just a slow tick
and the smell of warm plastic.

The way light in the eyes
of white rabbits
went out
as old Hunt
yanked their paws from their lugs
for my squeamish Grandad,
who’d turned his back
as they stood
among hutches
in his straw smelling yard.

The way the light in the eyes
of pheasants and partridges
as pairs, hung by their legs
outside a shop,
spotted the pavement
Read more >


Whale Bone Idol

The farmer had never travelled further than the county line. A life time of working the land, tending the hearth and raising crops and children. A triangle of life between home, field and ale house.
For forty years he’s stopped for one. One leads to two and two to four. He was as much a part of the ale house as it was of him.
It was a spit and sawdust affair, but had been built in better times by a merchant seaman. There were casks of beer and cider and not much else. The bar he leant on as he took his draught was a deep and smooth mahogany brought back from Brazil. Shelves and dusty niches held the contents of that sailor’s life, shells and scrimshaw, corals and cutlasses. He had been the son of the local landowner who rather than following in his fathers footsteps had taken his own path. He had travelled the world for twenty years and returned to an estate in a state of collapse. He had cut his losses, sold everything apart from one plot of land and built this tavern, filling it with his memories and the treasures of his travels.
Across the wall behind the bar he had hung a sea bleached fragment of the skull of a whale. The cavernous eye socket had been stuffed with a wooden sherry cask once filled with a glorious Irish whiskey. And then the sailor had drunk himself into oblivion. His name was lost to memory now. That had all been many years ago and the ale house had passed from hand to hand time after time and barely changed. It remained the tar pit for a continuous stream of unfulfilled dreams.
The farmer had always meant to leave, to travel, to see the whole world beyond that county line. So many fellow drinkers had listened to the wistful tales of what he would do one day, but they had all fallen by the wayside.
Read more >


Into the woods,
The wild path.
Trees, roots, puddles...
Shallow holes,
Hidden under golden stones.

Silver moon,
Gazing eyes...
Piercing shadows,
Hanging amongst the falling stars.

Hooting owls,
Rainbow leaves,
Abandoned nests...
Broken feathers,
Brushing the frozen air.

Much later...

Whispers between the crashing leaves,
Fainted voices brought by the wind,
Like ghosts searching for the forgotten name.
A new path, perhaps
Appears ahead,
under the morning light.
A new found bridge.


The Fire Triangle

“Gone on”, Francois said, “Strike the match. Light the fire. Allez, allez”. We were camping in France. I was sixteen. I told Francois I was eighteen. We needed three things: Heat. Fuel and an oxidizer, a catalyst. He had sweet lips. I wore cut-off jeans. Something must ignite. The fire triangle. The tetrahedron of life. The history teacher said civilized man was born from the first flame. I needed to know; I raised my hand to the sky, words like sparks, “But sir, who collected the wood?” I struck the match; I kissed Francois. Black-body radiation. Organic matter glowed. Life burnt.