• Vol. 07
  • Chapter 06

Dank Corners

On my one walk a day
I mooch along the quiet residential streets of Brixton.

I thought I would miss the park more –
the ducks and swans, the walled garden, the lido, the BMXers.

Instead, I look forward to uncovering dank corners,
those places where someone bodged a build,
a damp spot where two walls meet for the sake of it,
and where no light can reach.

You find them full of plastic rubbish
where a housing block’s been tacked on to another in a rush
and out the backs of warehouses where people
aren’t supposed to smoke.
When I find them
I pause
mouth ‘wow’
and wish they were portals I could step through
right out of here.


The Difference

A young couple are shown around a house with a red exterior wall. They think it is what they want. A bit different, they say to one another. This house is a bit different, it has a red exterior wall, they say to one another. The estate agent hears this through his earpiece and is pleased that the couple like the wall. Other couples have been put off by the wall. The viewing goes well. There is only one hitch, when a drop of water from the high-pressure shower blurs the camera attached to estate agent’s tie. But in retrospect this only adds to the sense of adventure and possibility which the house has come to represent for the couple. We’re the kind of people whose house has a red exterior wall, they think to themselves. Our lives are at least one-quarter different, yes. The next day the couple turn to one another. Was I dreaming or were the interior walls a bit flat? say the couple to one another. I’m so glad you say so, I was thinking the same thing. Why were the interior walls of our house so flat? The estate agent reassures the couple that this is one more exceptional feature of this exceptional house. The previous owners removed the chimney piece, at great cost, eliminating the hole that took up unnecessary space, like some permanent squatter, on ever floor of the charmingly different property. The couple looked up from the message into one another’s eyes. In those eyes they saw disappointment, even a sense that they had been betrayed. They forgot about the house with the red exterior wall.

On safari in a short space of perfect time

Poet doesn't have to answer to the laws of gravity.
He can make doorways smaller than people,
can slip into the mind of a tourist on safari through the human
Poet can make loneliness a downward facing dog,
luck a giraffe
sticking its isthmus through the hula-hoop of the universe where
he watches the stars skid cross-eyed on the tarmac.
Poet can get circus animals to stomp
red / green / red / green / red red red
red in perfect time.
He can raise a river under your dining room table,
make rainbow trout flap between your wet limbs.
He can make kindness a hand on the back of your chair,
always there.
He can place an emergency toothpick in an imaginary landscape,
now it’s a perfectly flattened arrow signalling north.
Poet can make a human body outlast the journey
can make two people love each other like ghosts love
Poet is in control of the construction of the whole.
Poet can make light go the other way
or words to the effect of yellow. He doesn’t have to have a precise
endpoint in mind: he
can break off in mid——


Might as well throw out this compass too

I tried to tell my child
about maps, that they were
once a thing, how they

were used; I tried to explain
that it was like a picture of
the earth, looking down, but

that was a much larger
conversation, as all my child
has seen of this world is

these two rooms and a
rumor of a window.



It's not like anyone expects a motorway through their home
It wasn't until I stepped away and looked at it from another angle that I could even see it
All that time, suffocating from noxious fumes
The spinning wheels, the gunning engines
The posing and posturing
Clichés hurtling at each other, night after night
A chicken race under a stolen moon

Did it stop the clock?
Doesn't look that way

Explains the skid marks though...


Watermelon Day

I look forward to this:
when a walk to the corner shop
is not full of jeopardy, watching
who is approaching; are they crossing lines
drawn in my imagination,
solid white two metre stripes, barriers;
My mind buzzes with energy,
synapses light up, snap, crackle—
diversionary tactics are needed—
follow the orange brick road, a real one,
do not stare at the faint copy,
cross the road to pass within a hair’s breath.
I look the other way, as if
not seeing will protect me, like a child
who thinks burying their head hides them.
Worth risking death, for watermelon day.


The Sacred Geometry of Human Motivation

Putin is not on Facebook
Coke™ was meant to be green
The secret to eternal order
(and studio graffiti)—

Men do fine print better
Women can me-too
Love is not a rhombus
of Netflix reality

Everything starts with a dash
and 8 pm red
Fold up transcendence
Call it morality


Side by side

We walk side by side, without even the slightest hint of a touch. The breeze, a cruel reminder of the fates at play. We had started this journey, on the same page, hanging on each other’s words. Our steps mirroring each other, never skipping a beat, the heart skipping many.

I glance over at you but you stare straight ahead, your path adjacent yet entirely separate. I reach out but you’re fading. Fading from sight. From the spirit. Fading with abandon. Fading until we’ll be walking side by side, but you’ll be with me in my memory, and I’ll be with you in the past.



Like everything else the city did,
it ordered basketball courts painted
at the most inappropriate time—November,
prior to blankets of ice and snow.

With no acclimatization period,
sand-infused, ultra-grip surfaces don't survive
even one sweaty, Summer season before a blister
and peel back to the same shoddy shape

it was prior to government orders—
stay indoors, self-isolate.
We were given six-foot radii;
limit the warm-blooded landing pads

for airborne opponents. Abandon
tenacious D. No more pick-and-roll.
Any time inside the key
a violation.

New court rules facilitate non-contact
sport limited to fade-away jumpers,
H-O-R-S-E competitions spread outside
3-point arcs. Take aim.

Practice the shot.
Follow the rebound.
Work toward future
smooth release.


Broken Line

The line is drawn.
The line is crossed.
Colors of the day bleed out.
Painted on the ground,
a sign that points to nowhere
is now standard rule.
Losing their direction,
people wander off grid.
Seeking justice.
Seeking peace.
Empty streets intersect,
while silence plays hopscotch
across the broken line.



You drove gold, up to and over my tired red house,
then pulled out and away into a green night sky.
Except – I have a flat, not a house, and you came once,
but the roof makes the building look like a birdbox.
It is cosy, like there are not a hundred other holes
full of people I don't know who screech and fry onions.
I see you vanish over and over and over that hill,
past the pale graffiti rose on some quiet warehouse.
Your visit brought the little black cat out of hiding,
and at night she screeches, maybe fighting the fox.
You are mountains away now, poised at a piano,
and I fumble alone at my guitar strings, give up easily.
I have no car, am too far to keep our tracks aligned.
I pray you keep some place for me, come autumn.


I Can Walk in the Green Water

I stand on my balcony along the motionless street in Homestead
I hear nothing.

I look up to the cloudy sky.
I sway unsteadily.

I feel the breeze stroking my shoulders.
I look down uncertainly.

I sip my cold coffee.
I put it down callously.

I breathe slowly as if my life depended on it.
I shrug uncaringly.

I close my eyes and smile.
I hear a whisper.

Listen to me –
Open your eyes slowly!
Follow me –
Follow the red road!
Red, you say?
Take careful steps.
Red, you say?
Don’t stop!
Red, you say?

Read more >

Blurred Borders

A view from my balcony
seems new today, not even
dull, not a repetition
of a scene I thought I knew.
No cars pass by, no one walks
here anymore, silence reigns,
the air is warm and scented
with fragrances sweet and new.
My house has been my whole world
for a full month now, like yours
for you, and theirs for them, too.
Outer limits cannot stop
one’s inner eye from roaming,
numb cravings from passing through.
It’s spring again, life will start:
Though bound here, I'll play my part.



We are uncommonly outside of the house
yet most definitely inside the house,
the phone wire curls away like so—
like a stone curlew adrift on the sky.

You are lined up on the waiting phone,
there is music to be had but not chirrups or tweets,
and that so-reasonable voice keeps breaking through
the free-roaming smudge of your thoughts.

Outside of this is a street lined with parked cars,
the day weighs heavy as a winter duvet on a summer night.
Getting through this with our treacle-coated feet is the aim,
you say, as you hand me the phone and head upstairs.

After ten minutes I long to smash something,
even the pigeon hooting down the chimney
seems to be sending a coded message—
I am free while you are shut in.

There is nothing that exists outside of
this lime green telephone receiver.
My heart is a basin of pudding today
its rim encrusted with burnt sugar.

I fall asleep and dream the word nefarious
spelt out in fairy lights on a fluff of cloud,
I dream of an empty road, no parked cars,
I wake to a woman’s voice asking me something.


Wrong side of the road

You cry when they drive on the wrong side of the road. You say you do, but you don't. You just make a note of it. And you try telling yourself it doesn't mean anything, but you know exactly what it means.

You're just too frightened to articulate it even if you never say any of this aloud. It's that you're afraid that all your life you've been going in the wrong direction. You think, because of how things turned out, that you did everything wrong, and them driving on the "wrong" side of the road, that's just a sad little analogue for you and your unerring hindsight.

But it's just as possible things would have gone even worse if you hadn't made the mistakes you had. True, maybe you never would have gotten married and so wouldn't have had to get divorced. And true, you'd be further along in your career.

Would more money make you happy though? Would never having learned all the lessons you did when you were married, would this somehow benefit you now? No. No to all of it.

Then why hate yourself just because the road is a reminder that you went in some wrong directions before coming to this place you're at now? You're right: it hasn't resulted in any of your dreams coming true.

You're not a husband, you're not a father. No one loves you, and your isolation was never a dream until you saw all that wasn't going to be possible for you, all that you'd never be able to make real for yourself.

So in this sense, yes, you've gone down some wrong roads that have landed you here, in this place you call very wrong as well. But in righting all those wrongs, how many more wrong roads would you have taken?

Read more >

Coefficients, Coenzymes & Revelations

Choreographed at
each turn
Yet not matching the
genetic sequence
A mutation at the heart of
our lapsed indispensability,
Like a time-trotter's oblivious
Now hearkens at each
pavement corner
Like a hoarse hailer
of most uncommon regard
Neither yet heeded to nor
unheard of
A marked crosswalk of
peripheral and intersecting
Popping up on equanimous
Like a thrashing gasp
about to go out of bounds
From the shackles of its
critical care;
Read more >



We will not follow the markers.
We do not bend the contours of our desires to any map.
We cannot go when others go, content to match footsteps in a dirt jigsaw.

Abandon the tarmac, the gravel, the railing.
We are the first ghosts to fall across the forest, the fields,
where the only direction is openness
and horizons lie second to unbroken ground.

As water finds its own path
before it becomes aware of the sea,
we too step without plan or fear:
a floor dense with pine needle
grass past the knee
and buttercups staining your shoes;
where your reward is a hiding spot,
a dead fox, a puzzled cow,
an unseen tree,
impassible and plausible.

We have no route to retrace
and the car park is a dream we might refind
the next time, or past the next bend.
Right now, we are walking
in the importance of detachment.


Negative Space

We define everything by opposition –
the absence of absence.

A house is
because everything around it is not.

We feel what we do
because we are not feeling everything constantly
       until we feel the absence itself.

Each word we use
isolates a concept –
a vessel defining its contents
in opposition to the negative space
which holds everything together.


You missed a spot

It is simple. You missed a spot.
Look at center right. You'll see a white blot.
So focused on the picture as a whole. Thinking of a thought.
Have you realized it yet? You know, what you forgot?
That is right. You missed a spot.
Take the time to think. How much have you got?
Take the time to respect. What others may not.
Now is the time. With stomach in knot.
One step back. You missed a spot.


Blood Points the Way

Blood points the way
Amber says get ready
Green, go
But there is a barrier
A right-angle
A triangle
A holy trinity preventing
The solution
Instead watermelon minds
Meld their answers
Into them and us
They are the ones
Who know best
Keep us apart
By a borderline
A tramline
Parallel lines blurring
Searching for an answer
To a pandemic riddle
Where the only response is
Who knows?



I feel my sole stick on this floor,
its history, mistakes and flaws,
ghost markers left, those trod before.

Bolder white line and coloured shapes,
belie the spills, slow fading past –
but why rely because it's brash?

I park on yellow broken line,
not here, unrecognised terrain,
an aerial of mixed up mind.

Which sprite at work, what tempest rules –
and who can prosper on this world,
where shapes are strange, logic unfurled?

Is this a playground, safety first,
near trees unclimbed, adventure lopped,
as Sycorax, bewitched and stilled?

Or is this all intentional,
spirits rampant, incongruent,
rank parade ground to be displaced?

This atlas clear, but key removed,
no context or perspective shown;
does partial sight often mislead?


Red Days

Today, I cried at being gifted slippers, at a happy ending that was wrong for the story, at The Burial of the Dead and knowing this may not be the cruellest month, at seeing my father’s face on video-call and being unable to say everything. The threshold is in the cellar and I don’t have a cellar. These are red days but which days have not been red since Caleta de Fuste? On Instagram, rappers are on live with amateur porn stars and influencers are sharing their skincare routines but not their cosmetic surgery doctors. And in a house in another city, a mother will never sit with her teenage son again, couldn’t sit with him when the fear overtook his tongue, when his mouth was parched and dry from the ventilator tube. I remember those days on the blade. I remember the moment. Time is a film and here is the frame. Here, the medics take your child and you stand alone. Take this baby elephant, take this blanket—my child—and return to me alive. Here is the phone call. Here a voice, saying your child has lived, come to her. A voice, saying your child has died, bury him. Bury him without wailing over his body. Bury him without clinging to your own mother. Bury him, your baby. A country of mothers weeps with you. Your country is red.


The Angular Supper

You house ghost! You peak to be trimmed by incisors! You check mark in the making! Before this dinner-for-one can begin...Before this angular supper can commence...Before this melon splits in two from the pressure of expectation alone...Let us say grace.

Dear Echo Above: Thank you for the emptiness of our plates. Thank you for the volcanoes of silence that erupt in the evenings. Thank you for the interstellar void between our bodies. May the galaxy remain free from idle wandering.

But to the pantheon as a whole: where have you gone? What mad calamity has emptied heaven of its players? Scuff and ruin were never what we hoped for – only what we got, complained about, dreamed of being free from.

And now? My tarmac? My library steps? My paving stones dancing about the park? Now we pray for the return of these bruised footprints. May the inside find its way out. May kindness overcome its curse.


socially distant

we were
        Red light
        Green light
we were sand & gravel
        stuck in scabby knees
crisscross applesauce
         chalk dust
         under our fingernails
you saw my panties
you showed me your secret weapon
         when I said—
          Red Rover
          Red Rover
         you tackled me in the green grass
          Over &
you kissed me hard,

then claimed I
            gave you

            we’ve never spoken



No more hiding in manicured hedgerows
barricading roads, dressing up turnstiles,
anticipating road rage & terrific traffic jams.

Red watermelon wedge piercing fields of green,
rag-tag panic parades as pensive social unrest,
spiderweb pandemic ensnaring global victims.

Isolation propagates homeland holidays,
distancing often increasing apprehension
to those detached from the internet highway.

Following science fact, ignoring massive media spin,
ethereal dreams seem privately pushed by the wayside,
sober pragmatism making slaves of us all.

As citizens lock down, wait daily for renewal,
ever on lost horizons, after each setting sun,
nature moves forward unveiling cleansed skies.



Follow the lines. They’ll lead
you to the safe place,
to the red place,
where the green cannot touch
‘But,’ you asked, ‘green is good
and red is bad.’
I’m sad. Your question saddens me.
Such naivete, that I wonder
how are we the same
The colours are masks,
I explain. To fool you
into trusting the wrong things.
To trap you
and hurt you.
Find the corner.
White, bold, clear.
Corners are to be trusted
with your life.
They don’t lie for they
Corners are trapped like us.
In a world where straight
are anything but...


Peeled paint liberates form from form

People may experience:
Sharp angles. Bold colors. Rethoughts. Smudges. Wearing washes.
The average person is uncomfortable with peeling paint.
The average person is uncomfortable with conflicting lines. With collecting water. With boundaries.
No. On average, people like boundaries. Houses. Bodies. Masks.
Clear boundaries, like bold white ones, evidence sides. Here. There, see,
you are with the outliers, which also have average people. Vectors.
Underneath. Concrete,
calcined lime and clay
grip sand. For what seems like, will be, forever.
Scientists tell us forever is made up of change. A procession of endings that contain magnitude and mass.
A time ago, when experts said we were long overdue for a mass extinction,
my daughter would peel book covers down to cardboard and shove them through crib slots.
A dewy damp residual glow, recycled up into a deep desire to watch people dismantled.
A collection of destruction piled up over the years.
Most of the stories, still discernible. They recur. Predictable.
As with lines down a highway that eventually pierce the vanishing point.


Safe Passage

In town, lines have moved
from street to sidewalk.

Calculations are made
inside our minds,
calibrated for safe passage.

Fear has drawn lines,
paced off each zone.

Yield and Stop bow to trikes,
strollers, skateboards, bikes,
lone runners, brave couples
who hold hands and look away.

Here we walk our dogs
in square patterns that shift
as our paths approach.

There a margin of space,
between safety and danger,
you on one side,
I on the other.

These days of contagion,
we hoard breath, keep our distance.
We step here, but not there,
to walk the lines between.


A Pandemic Poem

Surreal times call for strange poems,
Let’s have shards, slivers of paper,
Coat them with cast iron and add rust.

Such a poem won’t work, so unbecoming,
So, how does unchecked fear work,
In times of deaths and disease then?

A human becomes a walking corpse of fear,
Hordes of people blame some other masses,
This and that flows all around us.

Over two months to distill this poem,
Writings, rewritings, marks, erasures,
A palimpsest of sorts, a distillation.

Two hundred millenniums to become human,
Deaths, lives, wisdoms, parodies, wanderings,
A palimpsest of sorts, a distillation.

A pandemic comes, it rages, ravages cities,
Distillations of poems and humans go for a toss,
Walking corpses of fear converge upon me.

What is death to a good citizen?
It is the telling of abuses, throwing of insults,
Losing oneself in the swamp of invectives.

Old, dear friends are now corpses of walking fear,
Their empathy and sense vanish into masked air,
This is apocalypse and I have seen it near.

Read more >

The Backroad to Memory Lane

The barn cuts a solitary figure
As ink blots of rain
Splatter the already worn façade,
A face that has known all weather,
Seen so much, as time passes,
That could never be erased, never swept away.
Miles tick by unremarkably
For cars on the road,
But the splash of red paint on a gray canvas,
The vibrant green of grass
That hasn’t thirsted in a summer drenched by rain,
Open the tired eyes
Of people on their mundane drive,
People on dusty routes
That have yearned for beauty, for true sight
Of the meaning in their lives,
Some memory
Of simpler times, a universal language,
Written in the prairie landscape dotted with farms
From before the highways were built,
Back when they’d sit on their porches
Watching the storm, in awe of nature,
Counting the thunder claps,
But caring not of the distance or time.
Life was more than a means to a destination.


The Press

Exponential growth
a phrase we all have become familiar with,
as applied to the work of a single employee
This person has,
at present, at least eight bosses
Each of those bosses also have,
at present, at least eight bosses
Imagine this pattern continuing
ad infinitum

Even these two levels wreak havoc
There are sixty-four bosses
Each with their own prerogative
Sixty-four sets of instructions stream down
Apportioned eight to each sub-boss.
The sub-bosses have families
kids in private school
in ground pools and HOA fees
They are bred to be yes-men
(they are over 80% men)
and so pass the orders downstream

The single employee
residing at the bottom of the chain
receives sixty-four different instructions
many contradict each other, some are senseless
a few manage to contradict themselves
But this employee isn’t paid enough to attempt
to untangle such a mass of directions
Besides, it is Friday, let’s just paint this mother.


Hwy 19

Beware the stops and
goes of any journey.
Embrace them at your own risk.
Your brakes will wear, and your
accelerated hurry on to
forward and forever will
inevitably leave you
screeching to a halt and
peeling out too many times to count.
There are signs on these dotted lines…

Embrace the stops and goes at
your own risk.
You think you’re adding miles
and amassing territory with
every forward rush and thrust,
but loss is in every rear-view glance.
What’s the chance of gaining it all…
of losing it?

Log your tenuous travels word for word.
By the way, have you heard? Now the
Law of the Land is ‘shelter in’….
Pull over.
Get the point?
The dotted line continues,
but you’ve reached the point of
No Go.
Read more >



My grandfather's house has red floors,
A weary, dusty red, one that cannot seem any older.
Rooms have been added,
Open spaces hedged in by walls.
But the floors have not changed
All these years.
Red floor and green windows:
I always found them an odd pair
Just like my grandparents.
She's no more. The walls have been painted over.
Beside the yellowing calendar cutout however,
They could not cover the peeled off part
With quite the same hue.
The gaping wound is stark
As is the loneliness;
No color can paper over the scar.
Over sixty years of two lives
Spent in that old house
Feels like a set of parallel lines
Edges of a street meant to be always
Together, but never meeting
Running their own course
As if headed for two different ends.
Does living under one roof
Make two lives one?
Guess they will never say,
And I am too shy to ask.


Apart, Together

Across two metres, as allowed, we smile,
gesture thanks and greetings with hands
raised, palms pressed flat as if in prayer.
We make our isolated bodies speak volumes
in the absence of hugs and handshakes.
Different, as we all are, we have never
understood each other so well. We notice
love in erstwhile closed off faces, see souls
in frightened, hopeful eyes? All colours
reflect our changed weather, help us realise
going forwards, we must pull together
to save each other and our mother, Earth.



“God, limit these punishments, there’s still Judgment Day—
             I’m a mere sinner, I’m no infidel tonight.”
                            ― Agha Shahid Ali

For Naureen Bhat

When the grounds were buried, nobody
walked the streets anymore; even the dead

prayed alone, once: “God, it wasn’t us!
It was never us!” When they filled the trucks

with them, even the dead cried alone, for
once: “There is no snow that could save us

anyway.” In the empty streets, no hands
waved: “Our god is a blind one this time.

He’s let not one thing remain of us.” They
have now made a shrine of graveyards, and

for once, no god resides there anymore.

When a hundred years ago, we were dead
already, our bodies, breaking, wrapped, in

plastic, in two cold hands; when the nights
fell, snowflakes cottoning up the ground,

nothing yet was cold anymore. In the nights
now, we listen for silence; when at dawn,

the sun comes up, no god resides here – any-
where – anymore.


Everything’s possible Chandler

(i.m. Adam Schlesinger)

Thank you for songs sung from ‘burb to ‘burb,
finding the ears of those of us who thought we
would be forever stuck there, with life happening
elsewhere, the girl next-door always with someone
else, while alone in the world we’d go with brittle
quip shields failing against hearts waiting to write
their stories. You smiled, told us that dreams and
plans are not as far apart as we’d imagined, that
the road always goes up, wherever you are.



It was a sacred place, the ‘red gra’. It lay at the far side of the school field and was only for the esteemed fourth years to use.
Then, one day, we were fourth years.
Miss Jasper took us first to the shed. She handed out unwieldy hockey sticks and balls, and we carried them awkwardly and silently as she led us to the red gra, a square of Mars yet to be trodden.
As we got closer, the markings were evident, lines and shapes sprayed on to the biscuity gravel, which we were not to disturb with our plimsolls.
She set us up, dribbling the ball in pairs, then disappeared for a while, as teachers often did in those days. Probably for a smoke.
My partner was Kitty Hoskins, a strange girl. A loner. Hunched and uncoordinated, elbows akimbo, she held the stick ineptly and had little control over the ball. Even so, she managed to whack it right off the red gra and it was swallowed by the grass.
She lolloped after it, greasy fingers of black hair lifting and dropping, and her hockey stick trailing like slug slime in her wake. Her kneecaps were like knots in her spindly, white legs.
I turned away and ground the ball of my foot into the cinnamon crumbs.
We heard the shriek before we saw the frenzied flapping of dark wings. Hair was indistinguishable from feathers, and screams from squawks. Kitty was beneath the black umbrella of an enormous bird. Its legs shook like wind-blown bell ropes as it pulsed its body at her, jabbing with its beak.
We had all heard about this bird, and, in assembly, had been advised to knock on a door should we be attacked on the way to or from school. It was a thrilling and terrifying prospect, although deep down we thought it was rumour. Most of the girls ran, but I was transfixed.
Just as suddenly as it had started, there was silence.
Kitty had her back to me. Her hair was a tangled nest. She was gripping her hockey stick in the way an executioner holds a spent axe.
Read more >



The path one follows, the cartography

of life bleeds in vermillion, buds in green

ageing through red and green, stop, start

smudged in grey, black canvasses with

silver linings, unfurl when least expected

a destiny in divine hands or choices one makes

floating on the river of life, gurgling, stagnant

as one reaches the ocean, a rainbow crushed.



It was the ship of dreams, solid and unsinkable, it seemed, but when the old man passed, it all went to hell. People stepped down to the water’s edge, tried to stay afloat but there was water water everywhere. They buried reason in the backyard, then buried themselves alive with water water everywhere. Factories stopped producing shoes and furniture and cars, and made a large powerful gun and when you have a gun you want to be in control of it. Arms made it easy for people to hate people. Turn you into someone without a backward glance, someone who prefers one-way systems to cycles, so you accept what is and forget what was, praying for a red body of water water everywhere.

We are but ghosts, lost in fog and ice, a dead albatross hanging around our necks like a curse. There’s water water everywhere. Deep and wild and green.


Driving Theory

Clytemnestra, Empress Matilda, Queen Anne –
the fat one, with furniture – and I
are going through some driving theory:
we downloaded some
for spotting hazards

spotting, Queen Anne says,
is what I say when I mean blood.
She has a way with words &
anyway the DVLA takes this kind of thing

The hazard videographers have mounted a single eye on a vehicle dashboard. The eye has a singular, unswerving devotion to ugliness in all its forms. It moves us through bile coloured streets as cyclists and motorcyclists and small children throw themselves into our path like they’re saying

oh, god, just end it now

we hit the screen once, twice, three times, to say,

although often we are too late. Women with pushchairs bow their heads and run from us as if from a fresh atrocity on the high street where a van is also unloading carrot batons and frozen sweet potato fries. We think the van is out to get us but the women, says the eye, are not a hazard, they are running away from you, they will be fine, so you lose points for that.

Case Study:

Read more >

Marked Out

The marks are fading now
in the old playground.
It’s deserted now,
and since the crisis
no one plays games anymore.
I try to remember the rules
but my memories are fading
like the laughter of children
like the marks on the ground
there are new rules now
but no games to play.


Lockdown Blues Reds and Greens

It was three weeks of staying inside
that sent me colour-blind.
Looking out of windows does that to you.
There are hardly any cars on the road –
just the occasional tractors and delivery vans.

The back window is more interesting.
I’ve been counting
blackbirds, robins and pheasants, watching
deer chew daffodil leaves and willow buds unfurling
into pointillist portraits of spring.

The first day I left the house for a daily walk
and closed the front door behind me,
I thought I’d lost my mind.
The tarmac was vivid
with red and green chevrons.

I stopped before I could go,
like a deer in the headlights,
only it was daylight
and there were no
people or vehicles on the road.


Tennis ball

The new route escorts the old to the corner
of a former tennis court. Hard, defiant,
scuffed up countless times, here is a remnant
of a world once known to us: childhood learners,

volleying, chasing, stumbling. Now and then, a
piece of the carefree past returns. The present,
bolder and brighter, defers at these moments,
making of each of us a kind of mourner.

And so it goes: our path and its faded shadow,
in parallel, can never intertwine,
but come as close as this. Time will allow
its relics brief life in the travelling brain.

A tennis ball skims the non-existent net
and comes to rest here, at our weary feet.


Where streets are faded

Outside this safety net, streets,
roads, avenues, lanes, remain
subtly similar. Or is it just somewhat
unchanged. Jimmy-jo parks his
car in the same place every day.
Backing onto a question mark.
Neighbour between us, we forgot to
hang, close curtains. Bowed,
acknowledging. Reluctantly waving.

Apologies, you’ve seen it all.

Smudged bay window, now they’ve all
seen it all. Shameless.
Our grove, busy, back-and-forth.
Is that you dressed for today?
Have you called your lover;
Rearranged your drawers;
Or simply achieved it all today?

The rubbish gets put out,
Picked up. But since the days
Got longer, we've seen it
Blustering around between our feet.
At times raising eyes off our streets,
when marching. Relieved the sky
Still looks & feels the same
and better. Spring, these specks
Like loved ones floating around
Somewhere above our raised arms.


small rivers

it hit her
when she got home from the hospital
from her body a heart, a hungry mouth
in her body the heart, and the food to feed it
the rain small rivers on the window pane
her core open and sealed in different ways
another voice bawling and
an unwanted vow of silence
inside and outside another foreign terrain
yes please just bring her another hot drink
no need to ask yes she needs
just look at them the only difference
she is much older bigger she is
a daughter as well
pastel coloured blanket and a soft toy
the straw basket by the window locked
a few days before she can venture
down the stairs
and when they fall asleep
only the little one sleeps soundly
next to him she recalls
the ultrasound the heartbeat
and how it reverberated
across the starkly-lit room
louder than sirens
than the banter and raggling of street markets
above someone’s first world problems
above another’s hunger
Read more >


We Are the Road

We travel on, across turn
and tumble, down a dusty scrub,
cast out and welcomed

wildly at the same time.
There is no map of legend
for this country,

so we make markers
and memory stones as we can.

I don’t care what they say—
I won’t forget, won’t be the same,

finding ways to welcome
others to the table, while other
doors are shut.

We live out of suitcases,
these portable selves, tipping
a hat, taking a sip,

pausing to say: Hello,
it’s a new day again.

A new turn to discover.


Home schooling

We sit inside our houses while sunny days happen without us, and we learn about exponential growth.

The endless graphs and their upward lines are dizzying, vertiginous. Those lines are scaling mountains, ill-advised climbers who chose not to read meaning into careful phrases. Those lines saw green for go, not red for stop.

We sit inside our houses while sunny days happen without us, and we learn new words.

Politicians take up sniper positions behind podiums to shoot into our living rooms, syllable bullets that bounce off our walls, leaving pockmarks, leaving noise ringing in our ears. In their Savile Row flak jackets, the politicians redefine words.

Advice (ədˈvaɪs); noun; [2020] an INSTRUCTION that someone gives you about what you MUST do or how you MUST act in a particular situation.

Our new language speaks of keeping apartness, but uniting togetherness. Contradictions are what we cling to now.

For example, see: curves are not flat – but we shall make them so.

For example, see: we shall be magnets that repel in flesh but bond in metaphor.

For example, see: unskilled shall no longer mean undervalued.*

*With the exception of remuneration, and protection, and terms and conditions.

Contradictions are what we cling to now.

Read more >

Problems in navigating the topographical model

Into the depths of some delirium I walked from conscious thought to a garden of unreason, which was blooming with flowers enthralled in an orgy of cross pollination. The simplicity of the act of stepping over this threshold was disconcerting since I'd been clawing at the walls of conscious thought for years, in search of this sticky eden. Now here I was, with furrowed brow and eyes pitched to the sky, right thumb pressing into the little niche on the underside of my jaw, left hand cupping my elbow, weight shifting to my right leg, left foot making its own magic in a radius of thoughtless movement. All around me, the garden was throbbing with life. Species I didn't recognise were turning animate in the corner of my eye and beckoning me deeper into the verdure. I was pegged to my place, two and half steps into paradise, which this place clearly was, absorbed in thoughts that I had brought with me from a previous life. I was sure that the moment of passage must have taken place somewhere, there must have been a transition from there to here. All I recalled was a bright, white light of unknowing. From conscious thought, through unknowing into unreason. It could have made sense, though that did not count for much. And would I find my way back? I was sure I did not make my way by intoxication, hypnosis or reverie, but rather by putting one foot in front of the other. The garden grew impatient with me; green tendrils began creeping up my bare legs and constricting around my shins. There was nothing threatening about this place, since there was no clear causality to which I should pay heed. I felt an impulse to pure action, which was something I could not have taken seriously back in the realm of conscious thought. Pure action began with letting go of my chin, letting my thumb dribble down my chest, down my sternum and around the bend of my spare rib. Read more >


My proposal story

I’m fed up. These sounds: crippling excess lotion.
Instead, marry me. In verdigris chambers
we’ll meet again. Noon’s ever a-changin’. As is
time. I’ll keep you inside my white triangle.
It is a white triangle of love. O,
entertainer from another, infinitely
more white
triangle. Dangle
me above your red/green bushes,
above the ghost of a road to nothing at all.


From Here, Now

We used it to store excess hay, broken down tractors and whispered games of Truth or Dare. I often went there to cry privately and more than once built entire, glorious Universes from the dust dancing through stowaway beams of light that barely made it though the floorboards.

It stands way back in the woods of my mind these days. Neither dear nor dreaded. A place holder for all I don't know what to do with. Fragmented songs have taken shelter inside its moldy walls along with so many things You said to me I still can't process.

There were years I visited every day. Resentfully, full of questions and everything I wish I'd said to You or quietly, lovingly bringing bouquets of compassion for Your troubled soul.

For a long time I allowed the woods to take over and swallow it whole. Let the birds and the roaches and all that devours come take their fill and be my eraser. What's past is past and time is far too precious to waste on old stories that may never have been. There was one point I even scrubbed the trail of my memory crystal clean so that in moments of weakness I wouldn't take back to that tired old trail.

Nowadays I let it swim through my thoughts as it will. I see the walls rotting. I smell the dark dust. The paint cracks and crumbles at my feet but it does not touch me as it shimmers in and out of my existence like a distant bird's call that sometimes I hear and sometimes I don't.

You can imagine my surprise when upon awakening this morning I see the path freshly painted. I can only stare. My feet have become best friends with my Soul and it seems to me there are far better places to drink my coffee than worn out houses of our pain.


In The Red Zone

“My parents are in the red zone,” she explains at work. They spin in their office chairs to face her. They don’t know what to do with their faces. At lunchtime, she starts clearing out her desk. Something inside her ignites when a colleague says, “This is really getting serious now, isn’t it?” She thinks about a recent museum visit with a friend – about Evelyn De Morgan’s Cassandra pulling at her own flaming hair. The knowledge that she will continue to be seen as alarmist sits in her, like the stone in soft fruit.

They close the office the following day.

She tries to take her daily walk as early as possible. The just-morning sun is like cold butter. She passes under frothy blossom, exchanging strained smiles with the few who are also outside. Everyone gravitates towards the small patch of green, threaded between grey towers. From her balcony, they look like blocks strewn across a carpet by an angry toddler.

When she’s inside, she longs to be outside. Fidgety, slowed by tiredness, breathing shallowly and trying to take comfort in being safe. When she’s outside, she’s gulping in air and staring at new leaves, trying to remember this is all real. Trying to forget it, as well.

“My friends in California told me they’re calling it Shelter In Place. It sounds a lot better than lockdown, right?” Her husband nods, chopping an onion. She thinks about her parents. Tries to find the focus to put away laundry. Quietly goes into the bedroom. She is all angles and edges. She curls into the corner between the bed and the wardrobe. It is hard to give one another space.

She is caught between wanting to cry for the release, and refusing to give in, for fear she won’t be able to stop. They chew their dinner slowly and glance at one another when a siren howls past the window. Read more >


The Fairy Godmother Searches For Substitutes

I wasn’t expecting to find hand sanitiser in the shops
the day before the lockdown, but pumpkins,
what good were pumpkins in a plague?

I searched for something else gourd-like,
considered celeriac but was put off by the tendrils
and eventually settled on a watermelon.

It had a good stout outer skin and the inside
should easily accommodate one slim
perspective princess dressed for a ball

I always have a supply of gowns ready to go,
I buy second-hand wedding dresses in bulk
because this story just keeps going and going.

I left triangles of watermelon around to entice
the mice and rats for the horses and coachmen.
I have considered going motorised

but there’s no romance to a car, not to mention
the environmental concerns. I always make sure
the slippers are made of recycled glass.

No sooner had they gone when the witch arrived,
she couldn’t find flour for her gingerbread house,
she was desperate, hadn’t worked in months.

Between the dangers of sugar and snowflake children
her story doesn’t get told much these days
and now everyone’s been told to stay at home. Read more >


In Consideration of a Flag

These inconsiderate invaders and their ultra-modern art ideas have desecrated our national banner. And made my head spin as I try to take it all in. Like almost all flags, that of Portugal is a rectangle, and like so many others it has two colors, that's called bicolor, in this case green, on the hoist side, and red, on the side that flies and flaps in the wind. And there's a more modest coat of arms of the nation (we have large and medium sizes) that sits where the colors meet, the meeting forming a dividing line, a boundary, centered between top and bottom. And all this horizontal attention to chromatic constitution and disposition and upper and lower edges has been turned into something else and rotated right and it's not right. What's left of the flag's native grace and dignity? It has been taken to the ground, besmirched, stepped upon, sullied, dirtied, stained, discolored, and collaged with who knows what, and the seal has been unfurled and broken down into broken lines as if for a highway where passing is permitted, and the red, though suffering the most apparent injury, has taken some territory from the green, and made some think there is some historical symbolism and others that some sort of painterly favoritism is at work. Red's advance is capped with an angled white line in the shape of an arrow, ninety degrees actually, that keeps its character separated from the verdure. And that is the toughest break and change to take. The illusion of a trek for the better is a graphic delusion, the traffic for us is a vehicle to dismantle an original unity. So it's not cute and there will be no salute.


The Risk

In a certain country, people take large steps, trying to use up the space that surrounds them, trying to avoid the footsteps of others.

In that certain country, roads widen and lights darken. And imaginations are winged creatures, sometimes perched on slate roofs refusing to look down, sometimes burrowing deep, raising round startled eyes just above the soil when the noise beneath them is too loud.

Those burrowing below find, first, a layer of dust, then later, mud-wrapped history, forgotten bones and fragments. It can be cool there and peaceful, but without tools, the work is tedious. Sometimes, among the detritus, flakes of shine glimmer and glint – perhaps mysterious, perhaps a crumple of foil from a takeaway, part of a cat’s bell. A stench.

Those perched on the roofs focus on the blur of distant sky, a place they can always see, regardless of the fog or rain or time of day. Their wings are odd, heavy contraptions that make it difficult to take flight, but they try – how they try – with most managing a hovering hop or two, nails clicking on slate, rather than a sustained breathless soar.

Occasionally, the burrowers shrug the dirt from their wings and manage to perch on a roof, for a while anyway. Or the hovering hoppers catch a thermal and clumsily tilt towards the ground.

They search for each other, while dodging the traps, listening for cats and hiding from the seesawing shadows looping across roof and ground.

The burrowers are uncomfortable on the airy roofs, and the hoppers feel constrained by the weight of the ground, but the possibility is to meet and to see and be seen.



The online encyclopaedia makes mention
of seeds found at Tutankhamen's tomb as
evidence of its cultivation in ancient times.

For the sake of convenience pipless types
have existed since nineteen hundred and
thirty-nine. And, it’s thought, for ease of

stacking, farmers in Japan’s Zetsuji region
produced their cubic fruits inside of metal
boxes. We’ve even grown a pyramid melon,

yet its purpose is not stated. In an age of
information, despite how far we’ve come,
still, a thing such as this remains unknown.


Unnamed Reality TV Show

They started a garden in the backyard, ripped up the fake grass around the stained red basketball court. They found some seeds in a cupboard and planted lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, cilantro. One of the participants was a struggling YouTube chef and showed them how to cure the remaining meat. They were tired, skinny and malnourished and had long since finished off the hot dogs and alcohol.

The producers told them about the pandemic two years ago. They had the night to think about if they wanted to stay or go home to their families. Arrangements would be made in the morning. There were no wrong decisions. When no one came back, Joe, the man with two daughters, who wore grey sweatpants and did chin ups in the living room, jumped the backyard fence to find himself in a larger complex, one with locked doors that needed security cards. Defeated, he returned with bags of chocolate and 30 year old scotch.

The cameras pointed at them every day, their little red lights blinking. They went in for daily testimonials, first to ask for help, for someone get them out of there, then to just stare vacantly at the wall. It was their only appointment. It helped them keep time.

There was a pregnancy, a death. A wedding, a cheating scandal, a divorce. Lots of birthdays and unlikely friendships. They all hated each other and loved each other and divulged their deepest darkest secrets because what else were they going to do. They couldn't play poker because they knew each other's tells like they knew their own faces.

One morning the house shuddered to a stop. The empty, industrial sized fridge powered down. Everyone woke up to an eerie stillness they couldn't quite place until they realized the lights in the windowless testimonial room wouldn't turn on.

Read more >

Her Favorite Feeling Is What She Feels Looking Down The Window

I peep down from the window of my flat onto the street, and as I do so a part of my mind is aware of a similar feeling – of looking down from a classroom window onto the basketball court of my school ground as a young girl.

A woman ambles towards a fruit vendor on the street but I also see the meat-pink surface of the court – a rectangle with neat lines of lime dust running around its four sides – where a boy is aiming a throw at the backboard, unaware of my gaze on him.

The woman picks a pomegranate from the bottom most row of the heap breaking the symmetry of the pile, and a few pieces fall down rolling on the road. The fruit seller dashes after them, and the springing sound of the basketball being dabbed against the court’s hard floor ricochets in my ears. The ball swings into the net through the rim and the boy leaps into the air to catch it before it hits the ground. He secures the ball tightly against his chest but falls flat on his back, and my mouth opens in a gasp. The fruit seller sprints back to the cart to weigh the pomegranates selected by the woman. As I watch, I take a sip from the coffee mug in my hands, my tongue burns.

The teacher notices my gasp and asks me in a sharp tone to share with the class what it is outside the window that enchants me so much. My classmates giggle knowingly; I nod and pretend to be present in the class; downstairs, the basketball continues to bounce.

Read more >

Welcome Mat

A house filled up with red,
overflowing into the garden
with the footpath and those
orange footprints from
chalk-drawing days, blossoming
from under doors, pouring
from the open windows,
a house in full rage, misshapen
walls, a sponge absorbing
the heat, floorboards sunk
in on themselves, splinters like
the raised hairs on an arm
and the sound of a heart breaking,
memories of a time when
the house was enough
and she did not need anyone else,
a love felt deeply but now
a new love with his shoes
pressed firmly into the welcome mat.


Red and green for the Queen

To my dearest niece Clementine,

It is late afternoon. I am writing to you from the cloisters, by a row of tall pillars, sheltering from the glaring sun. It is surprisingly hot for April. The Sisters of Offshoots, as they call themselves, all wear bikinis as they weed the garden. One of the older nuns appears to have lost her top and—excuse my lack of discretion—she has nipples like strawberry wine gums. The garden, which is entirely round, has been planted—they tell me—following moon cycles, and the theories of the C12th mystic Hildegard of Bingen with a little Derek Jarman thrown in. There are carrots, kale, asparagus, aromatic herbs such as black cumin, and orange marigolds, as well as the odd kinetic sculpture made from retired bicycles. Things gently turn.

Clementine, I am not exactly sure how I arrived here. Everything is rather a blur. It appears my dear friend Clarice, the Chilean collage artist (remember she made oeuvres from surgical masks), brought me to this abbey after I had a funny turn. Apparently, I got the shivers. Clarice sleeps in the room next to mine. She snores like a rhinoceros, if you can imagine that noise.

The abbey is bright red, built from stone that looks like it has been drenched in a sea of wine. A heavy, liquory crimson. Along the walls, ivy grows in a thick emerald spread. The building is red and green. Do you remember your mother, bless her soul, used to say, red and green fit for a fairy Queen, or was it an Irish Queen? I don’t remember now.

In any case, I am sending you a picture I’ve made of the abbey from torn up paper I found in a drawer in my room. Everyone is constantly making art here, and Sister Estella gave me some glue. As I stuck the paper scraps together, she smiled and told me her name meant star in Spanish. She has the most twinkly eyes, and I told her she lights up both night and day.

Read more >


Repainted tarmac?
No — it’s ripped
An old tennis court perhaps?
It’s red — some are red?
Dirty footprints across the middle
Suggesting recent use
Faded dashed yellow lines
A stronger set to the left

Hard white right angle
The only completed item
Showing strength, power
Faint geometric shapes
Showing order, stability
Is this where we are?
Is this what is coming?


Respect the boundary

Your you-ness on that side
of the line
My me-ness over here

The bowls of our bodies
are shallow
And life has heaped them high

With whispers
And angels hiding in stones
And leaves

And deeper still the ashes
of these
And deeper still

Atoms of memory

And when the wind blows
our heaping bowls
are scattered

Silting on the lines
And with another breath
angels, ashes and atoms fly


Fading Away

Then, when I was in danger
You walked beside me,
Supporting me, as I
Struggled to make sense
Of it all, the thumbprints
Like bruises on the blood
Red pages of my life.

Now I have crossed the
Line, you have faded
Away. But you are still
There. You are still
There, aren’t you?



Danno’s the name. I’m a line painter. You know, white lane lines down the middle of the road. Yellow parking restriction lines at the edge of the road. Red lines for red routes. I’ve got a good eye, everyone says so, and I do a decent job but to tell you the truth, I think I’m a bit wasted on lines. What I wouldn’t mind doing is painting the bicycles on bike lanes. There’s art in that, all done free-hand you know but the geezer who does those won’t move over for anyone else to have a go at it.

I often paint at night. Sometimes, I have to tell you, I have a pint or so before I go on duty. One night I made a mistake, a big one actually. I painted red lines down the middle of the road. So, what did I do, I went over them with yellow and they turned orange. Idiot. I suppose I panicked a bit and I painted a white arrow to warn motorists of misleading information ahead. Then I ferreted around in the back of the van and found the grey paint we use to cover up old lines. I should have thought of that before. It could’ve got me out of a hole.

I opened the can and then something hit me. More of an impulse than a thought. This was my chance to make my mark. I fetched the can of red and, using my broom, filled in the space between the arrow as best I could. Then I mixed some of the yellow with blue—I’d never used the blue but it was something to do with residents’ parking—and I filled in a field of green in front of the arrow. I was well pleased with that. Then, just as I was packing up, I knocked over the grey paint. I was mad at myself but when I looked at it found I rather liked the odd grey shape it made, it added a touch of, what, freedom, I suppose. I reloaded the van then stood back to have a look at the end result. It was a new kind of something. A new kind of Banksy. Shame I couldn’t sign it.


Out of Line

Another day another quarrel with the wife, money-based of course. I don’t earn enough apparently. I love her, really I do. This is not the way I wanted to go off to work. But my work is straightforward you might say, so I decided to have a good think about extra jobs and earning more whilst doing the task in hand.

I got to the depot and took out the line and ground painting machine and my brief for the day. I added a few extra tins to the cart just in case. Lost in thought, automatic pilot setting, I created the white lined rectangle. In my head I thought about shelf stacking, being a porter, designing new road layouts and elegant open spaces. I let my imagination rip and was feeling so much happier now, until I came back to earth and I looked around. What had I done? I tried to eradicate one set of lines but that didn’t quite come off as I had expected, although it was an interesting effect. A feeling of resignation came over me and then I had a revelation.

I thought, what the hell? Banksy can make art on walls why shouldn’t I create on the ground. I might as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb. I selected colours freely, spread them as far and wide as they would go. It looked good, well colourful, and I felt good. Some local folk came, smiled and took photographs. Little children clapped their hands.

As I took my cart back to the depot I pondered my next move. I could feign a breakdown, beg for forgiveness. As I sipped my large mug of builder's tea in a nearby café, I let my eyes run down the jobs section of the newspaper. I might be hailed as the next big thing in urban street art, but I had better have a back up plan.


Stop or Go

Red, the signal for danger, to STOP
At least to wait and reassess, to hit the pause button –
Latterly, on life, on living.

Green, for GO, to get that green light
To press ahead, what is the white space in-between?
Is this the new-normal, the limbo between start and stop?

Certainly, the path is less clear now than it was
The route more untrodden, undefined, unknown
Humanity sits at a junction, waiting for the lights to change.

And change they will, but when, and how will we know
Hiding in our fortresses, shielded, will we see the signal
When it comes, is it clapping in the doorways?

Lined up in our rows and roads, standing on the white line
Cheering, looking up to the heavens, waiting…
The green earth sighs, cleaner now and receptive once more.

Tentative steps ahead: go, pause, stop; go pause stop
Out of the fiery depths of despair following the green shoots
Of life, to live, to love, to offer penance.

Confidence grows, falters, rises; but it will never be the same.


Different Times

It doesn’t look great, does it? The red and the green, together like that. Well, think yourself lucky you have only to look at them for a minute. I lived my whole childhood with them.

My dad liked to get something for nothing. Not unusual, we had very little money so you don’t turn your nose up. Don’t look a gift horse and all that. When our kitchen floor needed doing, he said, “I can get just what we need from work.” Not stealing, you understand. Just putting to good use what would otherwise be thrown out. He was a very early recycler. Recycle, reuse, repurpose. He could have written the mantra, except he didn’t know what a mantra was and those words were unknown to him.

He cycled to work, eco-warrior see. Always had a bag on his handlebars for his sandwiches and flask and an extra jumper in case it got cold. It was a bigger bag than he needed for those bits but he’d stop for shopping on the way home, depending on what shift he was on. No twenty-four shops in those days.

The tiles were piled up in a dark corner at the back of the warehouse. Been there for donkeys. No point in just leaving them. He asked my mother which colour she wanted. Green, she said, reminds her of home. Green it is then.

They weighed a ton, those tiles. Much heavier than you’d think for the size of them. To this day I don’t know what they were made of. He could only manage two at a time, slid in down the side of his bag with his bits packed all around them and covered by his jumper.

There was security on the gate, of course, but they’d just wave you through. He’d wave and wobble, momentarily losing some control of the handlebars.

Read more >


Don’t move?
Don’t go?
Stay in line?
Wait on the line?
Follow the path?

Not us! Never us!
We pave the new roads
where no one walked before.
We sow our gardens
in rough and fruitless soil.

Nurturing our ideas
we follow them through
and colour your black-and-white existence
in bold colours.
Red on the green, yellow on blue,

we re-draw the blueprints of your measured life.
We push the boundaries
And map-out our lives far and wide.
Rebels! Libertines! You scream at us today.
In years to come, what will your children call us?


Red and Green

Myself walking
Down a narrow path.
Each step
Threatening. Red. Warning.
Breath tightens
For fear I need to pass
Someone walking.
There is no space
To become the Priest or Levite
Who is now part of me.

My pace quickens
Into the open space.
Each step
Unrestricted. Green. Released.
Breath evens
When I feel myself
Become myself.
In the fresh air
In the moments of spring
Which are still most of me.


Was this a life?

Footsteps lead to the edge of the red zone, unaccompanied all alone. What happened here we wondered long, where did he go to, where has he gone?
Did he climb over, climb down, start afresh, was he abducted by aliens and lifted up of into space?

We scoured the ground around us, forensics are scratching their heads. What really happened here, is he alive or is he dead?
These and other questions this documentary asks, what happened to bring him here, what really was his past?

Well, the beginning, that we found in two places starts. There is the official one, one of poverty from beginning to the end, and then there is the online one that tells of glamour, wealth, friends. So one life is fine and dandy, the other full of doubt.

First the official beginnings, born in 1958 to a family of poor hard workers, that scrimped and saved all their lives. No ambition to live, only to survive.
And he was dressed in one of everything, all washed and dried on the same day, by a mother with red arms from washing all that day.
At school he was average, nothing special, his teachers say. They expected nothing from him, so gave him nothing, to take and help him on his way.
Left school, worked unskilled, unnoticed, had no friends. Had no life.

Life, we have discovered was lived instead online, this life the opposite of his days, his dreams, he pixelated and streamed out to the world, how life should really be lived after all. He glammed up his persona, lived a lively life online, had thousands, millions of followers, where did he find the time?

Read more >

One Room School House

Nightly dreams dance with memories of years prior. Childhood homes and houses
of learning cycle in rhythmic form. Warm broth in plastic bowl lunches. Buttery
noodle dinners. Breakfasts of cereal cartons and gulps by the handful. Recipes inked
on lined paper stained of onion tear drops. High pitched voices float. Tired muscles
relax as eyes closes. Crimson toes uncurl as memories unravel and grip a pulse at rest.

The single wood door hosted a single metal latch –
a slider, not unlike the scale in the common galley
kitchen. Measures and metrics for most all behaviors
and deeds – both good and bad. A pinch of salt, a dash
of pepper. Seasoning to suit all tastes.

Behind the single wood door grew a single room
schoolhouse – a safe haven, not unlike the cupboards
stocked with broth, rice, and beans in the common
kitchen. Boxes and cartons for most all residents
and visitors – both new and old. A dose of savory,
a helping of sweet. Flavors to suit all tastes.

Above the single room schoolhouse lay a v-shaped
red shingle roof. A proud perch – distinctive – a lookout
for red robins, common finches, and types unknown,
not unlike the kitchen ceiling beams, home to farmhouse
spiders, black ant armies, and dust balls – both friend and foe.
Thick scraps of splintered wood, thin slivers of plaster.
Bottoms rest. Eyes close. Seat widths to suit all needs. Read more >


Altered Trajectory

the new lines are drawn
but the old never fully erased
just faintly visible by day
but at night, alone, they shine
like beacons of roads untaken
destinies unfulfilled

where would we be now
if we’d not made this adjustment
if we hadn’t followed those rules
set by others that altered our trajectories
challenged our potentials

it is possible we’d still be right here
arrived by an alternate route
journeying marginally different ways
destined to reach the same potential
filled space

do we need to know?
what if is a long game
with an unchanged outcome?
are we better spending our days
looking forward and enjoying the past?
those tracks are only visible in the dark
together we reclaim the night


New Build

the house is
a body bag
sloshing in skin
to thinly cover
flooding line
markings a road
crossing stop signs
missing careening
across nature this
formless green
walked upon
flattened this
house is a white
roof lifted mid
tornado whipped
into papercut
skin reckoning
to let us ebb
to nothing
to bleach
the canvas
the bright
white angle
to the corner
of this page


cul de sac

Sitting in a walled room
my thoughts
are              cordoned off
like a broken compass, it always points in one direction
it has lost the hope of validation
being correct is a fallacy these days

the incongruence in the opinions
becomes a matter of perception
people are always boisterous to have an opinion
shouting from the white pixelated screens

an opinionated mind is good for social sustenance
if you want to be heard
become a part of the cacophony
they say

Red Green Red Green
always              bracketed
nothing can remain unlabeled
Uncategorized is miscellaneous

There is always death waiting at the end of a sentence
you avoid it leading to the enjambment
the dotted arrows fail to keep the order
the segregation of the malice from the guilt

Read more >

Different Yesterday

Yesterday was different.
The compass needle pointed
North, more or less. The one-way
sign, such elegant black and white,
meant something, unthinkable
now. Green signaled “Go!” Red,
“Stop!” We didn’t cross the broken
yellow line for fear we would

                   Now there’s a glitch
in the system. A tear in the fabric
of the world. The Americas are
suddenly spinning away from each
other, and Africa has stolen itself
back from Europe and Asia.

I see a familiar face in the street.
Wave from a distance. Believe
this will be over soon. I don’t
know why I think so. Is it
some atavistic impulse to choose
the path of least resistance?
To deny the inevitable slow
march from hinterland to sea?


The New Normal

There is a bend in the road.
The ground keeps shifting.
Dotted lines, painted and repainted,
appear—like a guide map to the unknown.
Are we there yet?
We are all in a state of impatient pause—
the lock downs,
the staying in,
the pacing and circling within our own minds.
Red means stop.
Green means go.
The road is now empty.
We follow the rules,
as they change from day to day.
The sky is a mottled grey, one moment—
then blue and sun-streaked, the next.
The road home leads to the you
you’ve kept hidden,
beneath a well-dressed exterior—
the you that is served up to guests.
All roads now lead us back to each other.
The new normal
will not be normal at all,
but perhaps we will be real—
for the first time
in this brave, new world.


Back to the concrete womb

Do we stop or do we go red stops go green arrows mean forward even red ones and so we make our choice to walk in the footsteps of the brave leaving the safety of concrete sharply defined edges where lines are straight and have policemen at the corners and signposts point the way at junctions we make our way as the bold footprints blur and find ourselves surrounded by green an ocean of up and down waves we can’t see over the top of as they wrinkle and rise tip tumble and there is no way except the one we make or follow in the wake of gull and salmon. Can we should we dare if we look back the red wall is there with the comfort of solidity and familiarity keep out the riffraff keep in the heat big screen hot water fridge freezer the size of a bus it’s there still calling and we run back like chicks to the monstrous mother leaving the sea of green and growing or poison-seeping who knows what to its own devices and the wisdom of the agrochemical biotechnology industry and meat producers because our place is at the end of the food chain the top of the pyramid the nec plus ultra the summit of scient terrestrial development unless of course it’s just the end of the line.


gulmohar flowers

The redness of the gulmohar flowers
And the green of its leaves
Stand at one end of the road
With a yellow track going across.

I am the eyes of the gulmohar tree
Peering onto the painted road
Walking sedately along the white division
Lodged deep in memory.

As there lives a serene disquiet without
Unsettling and steady all at once
I grasp onto the branches of sanity
In the gales and wild winds of thought.

As events around me take place,
In the recesses of my mind—
I see two lights flash
Signalling which memory to erase and which one to embrace.

Red signifies danger and love
And green wealth and envy
And in the split second of a flash of these colours
Must I decide on a retentive memory.

While I try to choose love and wealth
The best of the both worlds
The flashed signals mix up in my head
Trepidation is all that stays.

Read more >


the road ahead is measured out
straight as an arrow
there is no other route
never a possibility of diversion
just the same direction
no blot on an invisible landscape
though it would be possible to turn
the image upside down and go
another way or turn it sideways
and travel left to right
or right to left a deft chance
to turn as a real blast
instead of being straight laced
four whole pathways
without a break in the weather
because there is never any weather
at night
             nothing to see in the morning
only the road ahead
marked out in deliberate lines
alongside those that still travel and fade


Instead of letting us pass

Instead of letting us pass
the road itself has moved, left markings like animal
tracks, white lines travelling their own instruction:
way given, yield laying a grassy track.
In a river it’s called a paleochannel, which would make this
roved absence a paleolane, paleostreet,
the lines of former desire set back from the ways of
cows passing, the sex shop that was once a Little Chef,
that Travelodge near Cambridge
in whose car park are standing stones,



When they pool their recollections, they tell themselves they seek understanding. In reality, they aim to ensure everyone is as in the dark as each other.

Nobody denies something happened as they drove through the trees. Pine, hunter, bottle – they don’t share what shades they pick as backdrop to the memory.

One thinks she saw a sign. The others feign ignorance, but a blood-red triangle overlays the green expanse in their minds. They swear she’s making it up, that there was no warning, but the gleam of headlights on white-limned red is seared into their amygdalae.

The one who had his stomach pumped says he was messed up, seeing double. Says he blacked out in the bar. Everyone is satisfied with this. They don’t ask if he remembers fighting his way out the car.

The impact is stored in their muscles. They feel it in their necks, their shoulders, their waists. Two of them hit the gym. The others seek massages, reiki, crystals. It takes them weeks to understand the tension has taken root in their limbic systems, trickling from hypothalamus into bloodstream. They jerk awake in the night, chain-smoke, avoid liquor stores.

Spring breakers do it all the time, they tell themselves. Hunters do it for fun. Accidents happen. The influencer stops blogging. Says they should have stopped to help.

They used to claim divine connection with nature. Now the fear of retribution keeps them confined to municipal life. They envy the body its access to soil, grass, leaf-filtered sunlight.

Read more >

Where the lines used to be

“The lines have changed!!” Granny grumbles.

“Do you mean, like, the metaphorical lines of society? Or actual physical lines?”

“Meta-who?” She’s exasperated. I realise my misstep. Granny doesn’t have much patience for the rhetorical. “The lines on the fecking road! They’re not where they were before. They’ve changed them.”

“Oh. I see.”

I forgive myself for my error in judgment because, currently, I am utterly petrified. Granny shouldn’t be driving. Not since the time she drove through the front window of Susan’s Hair Salon. Thankfully, nobody was hurt besides a lot of glass, hairdressing equipment, and Granny’s ego. Soon after, she was deemed unfit to drive. Granny hasn’t driven since.

Until now.

But this is an emergency. Apparently. She needs to get somewhere fast. I don’t know how to drive, so it’s not like I could have offered. Though, now that I’m in the car and Granny is zig-zagging her merry way across the highway, I think I could have given it a fair shot. I don’t even know where we’re going. She didn’t tell me—just suddenly proclaimed there was an emergency and told me to get in the car. I could—should—have said no… but I couldn't have really. Even though I’m 35, Granny remains the scariest person I’ve ever met. It isn’t rush hour, at least. Still, it’s not as if the roads are completely empty. We’ve had a few near misses already.

“Say, here’s an idea,” I say, meekly. “Maybe you should drive within the lines that are currently there? I know the old lines were probably really good, but they probably put the new ones there for a good reason.”

Read more >


Yesterday I quit the city
and drove North again
up the coast road to Fresno

Remember the ocean breeze
mussing up your hair?

I wanted to stay again
at the motel Casa Rosa
smell the orange blossom
and feel the sun on our skin

But the coast road petered out
just after Hanford
rotting away
in a copse of yukka trees
grey among green fields

I could see the motel
roofless and sad
windowless, abandoned

When they built the freeway
they’d closed the old coast road

Nell gave me your email!



Every time we drive over this flyover I say the same thing. You see, I was born here, well down there actually, in my parent’s bedroom although my auntie claims I was born in the bathtub. And a bit short of a year, I took my first steps down there. Fell down a lot. I have small feet, and they were even smaller back then. I once tripped on a blade of grass sitting proud on top of a wonky paving stone, but to me it was that blade of grass that left me strewn on the ground with a bloody chin and savaged knees. For some reason, I was a slow learner; didn’t figure out ’til much later that hands were made for breaking one's fall — I usually slid across the pavement on my knees and face. As I understand it, people pay loads for a facial abrasion. I reckon they need to be falling down more; pocket the money. Anyway, this flyover — Dad built a house on this very spot. It had a big picture window that looked down on the lake, and at Christmastime we'd watch the Christmas Boat arrive with St Nicholas onboard. And when I was in first grade, the county sent my dad a letter. They requisitioned our land, and built a motorway where our house used to be. And every time we drive over this flyover I say the same thing: We’re driving over my old house.



Habitant de la Terre, non.
Habitant d'un continent, non.
Habitant d'un pays, non.
Habitant d'une ville, non.
Habitant d'une région, non.
Habitant d'un département, non.
Habitant d'un quartier, tout au long de la vie je serais lié a un quartier, être dans camp délimité par les frontières qu'on nomme "rue".
La frontière n'est-il pas le maitre de la guerre,
le nerf même de se dire pouvoir contrôler une terre.
Créer la différence sur le même sol, créer la sensation de pas être en sécurité en dépassant une limite.
Alors qu'on est sur la continuité du même chemin.
L'Homme d'aujourd'hui trace des frontières sur des frontières d'hier, agrandit sa sensation de pouvoir. Différencie l'habitant qu'on est devenu.
Appartenir à un camp c'est accepter d'être en guerre avec l'étranger.
Le champ vert paisible de la veille est à présent aujourd'hui un champ rouge dangereux.


One Way Street

And so we meet on a one-way street.
Everyone but me moving the same direction,
Like twigs and leaves, nature’s debris, floating on the surface of a swiftly moving frigid stream,
Never knowing all that moves inches underneath.
You flow north with all the rest,
And I struggle opposite
Like salmon on a quest you can never understand.

“Hey,” you say, “look at us. You’re doing this all wrong.”
I shake my head and wave my hand. “Thanks. I’ll carry on.”

“But the crowd,” you say, “look at the crowd. You’re moving opposite us.”
“For now,” I say, “you are right, but time may change yours and mine and all of our perspective.”

“No!” you shout. “Don’t you see? You’re a child. A fool.
I know what’s going to happen.
You’ll waste your youth on foolish dreams.
Then, in your middle years, you’ll realize what should have been and realize what cannot be and lay awake at 3:00 a.m. unable to fall asleep.”
“It’s possible,” I say. “Who can say which of us right? I’ll carry on and pray in twenty, thirty years I can sleep through the night.”

“Stop!” you shout. “Everyone stop!”
And everyone obeys.
Everyone but me.
The stream no longer flows downhill.
The current has ceased.

Read more >

The Play

Here are the silenced paths
And human-less existences;
Here are the walls stained with the pangs of
Millions of creatures
Painting the houses red and green;
The water is cleansed, 
You can see the fish swimming joyfully there;
Look at the birds, 
Chirping ceaselessly in joy of unobstructed flying;
Feel the cool breeze, 
The rising sun
The moonlit sky with millions of stars filling our eyes; 
Yes, it’s all real and NOW,
No human knew that the world can survive in itself, 
The nature can rejoice in itself, 
Forsooth, we are just futile beings
In this infinite play of existence;
It’s a game of fear and survival
Created from our perpetual greed; 
See this now, 
Human – 
You are not needed,
The nature has heeded,
It’s infinite play on these silenced paths. 


The Corona’s Lovesong

If you squeeze your skyshine eyes dear You will see just how it looks
Do you see that it’s a Map now? Just like in their picture books?
It’s a Gift that I would give you…Together with this plan…
To reinstate poor failing Earth, exploited so, by Man.

We’ll enter in that space there, just where the green mould starts,
Then we’ll slither on and take some lives, to panic human hearts.
And once Man’s gone then peace will come, we and Gaia can take over…
And that’s your special gift from me, Dearest Corona Lover.


Flight plan

The old country was a country of hills. She knew them well, had walked and run them all her life, dashing along the paths under the trees. Away from the noise and discord of home, her stride grew bold. She always liked to be alone. Though she would be escorted by a flutter above – a beat of bright wing – or a chirrup, and then an answer, faintly, ahead – she paid little attention to the birds. She was as restless as they were.

The new country is a country of roads. Painted lines blur beneath her and she can hear the thunder of passing vehicles over the music in her ears. Places pass by while she sits still, transported from sleep to work and back again. She has no time to miss the hills or the forest or its birds or their calls. Alone at night, her forehead pressed to the calm cool of a single-glazed window pane, she only misses the certainty. She remembers having that once, such certainty, about what she was looking for.



Striations unseen by earth-bound eyes
Scratched to the thrumming march of concrete strings
But within sharp boarders there’s no disguise
It’s clear we’re tidying the world. Of things
Not wired, with hopeful wings and revolting
Skins. These boarder lands we bleed and thirst for
Are no more than forks of lightning jolting
Across cracked ground. Above us, free wings soar


The last birthday present

It was the last birthday present she gave me before she...before I lost her. A new pair of snow boots. My old ones were falling apart. I had dropped a few hints. Snowboarding on sunny slopes in Switzerland was a joy we shared for years before she fell ill. For a while, I never wanted to see another snowy slope, but one bright morning I changed my mind. I knew she would urge me to. I knew she’d want me to try out my smart new snow boots.

So I set off on one of our familiar trails. It was strange. I felt her presence next to me, plodding along, crushing the blinding white snow, sullying the pure even surface with the imposition of my new boots. It was so quiet. We always talked as we walked. It was mesmerising. The strong sun beating down on this white eternity. I saw tiny crystals. I imagined each descending snowflake silently huddling next to the others. Endless fields of white. As I trudged on, I thought of her. It was as if she was beside me. Her smile. Her bobbly hat. Escaping strands of hair, the colour of a beach. I saw the blush of her soft skin, the sparrow-brown of eyelashes. My head swam. Was I hallucinating? I trod on, her red anorak, her green backpack, imprinting the stained snow, one flat boot print after another. My head swirled. I lost balance and fell.


Dichotomy In Transit

caught on red
seems like eternity
never been here before
hopefully never again

cannot move forward
cannot redact time
cannot meander off piste
cannot blend into surrounds
cannot be a mirage

but going nowhere
no time soon
with others behind me
in a queue to the horizon
extending round the bend

as road markings set
two metres apart
visible in the day
invisible at night
reflecting the gloom

hopefully never again
never been here before
seems like eternity
caught on red


The beauty is in the chase

It has always been what I wanted until I got it.
We’re further apart here in each other’s arms,
more lost than we’ve ever been found.
This house we’ve built for strangers to live in,
these meals we cook for the trashcan.

Where are you now that I’ve found you?

It’s a little dolorous, how long it has taken us to figure it out.

That there was never a destination,
to love a fire is to keep it alight.

The pursuit, the passion, the mystery.

A little too beautiful to watch.
How we’re falling for each other all over again.


Positive Thinking I & II

There is no need
to see a ghost
where it does not

A road double-
crossed us and is,
for now, only
a glitch.

Light the bells on
fire, ring lamps
till they deafen

Then will you change
our exit route
out to safety,

(These cracks may be
wide enough for
some million poor

For us they must
have built new high-
ways without speed

Read more >


This would be a welcome time to mourn with you,
only thee,
Starlight spun around you like a halo:
The sunset of words –
And the hollow warmth of reflections on my near naked skin.

Shall I rise with thee again
At the meeting of the horizons?

The Greeks called it Tethys
When She denied the constellations
The touch of the sea
And the falling-below of the vista green.

Apart we must stand, fire in one hand,
earth in the other –
A separation of diabolical essences
Of spiritual orbits – of spaces without thee.

Daylight travels just beyond the edge of knowing,
A sudden starlight of bright,
And from across platitudes, expanses
We'll sing the pleasures of one another,
Coat the dust with air
And make sweet music with your name.

In the wrappings of your distant company
In Sappho's dream
And at last, in closing,
In the turning-out of the light.



will make
an impression of me.
In your mind. Where you stock pile
the germs of this time. You. Will only see
one side of me. My PPE. Step over the line.
Fling my boundaries about. You paint in
green the layers of doubt. You try to
mirror my journey. But instead
you scratch it out. You say
you want to walk beside
me. But no. You walk
all over me. Be.
Just. Let. Me.
Be. In my



I guess that’s the way of my race
I guess that’s the color of my dress
I guess that’s the arrow where I have to go
I guess that’s the line from where I have to shine.

But I didn’t guess that dark spot
But I still guess the other line is winning line
But I don’t know how to reach
But I know I have to reach.


Write Lines (Don’t Do It)

This poem is self-isolating.
It cannot progress, only lie on this sofa, stalled &
pathetically heroic, while somewhere unseen other
Well-appointed lines speed away into verdant fields.

This poem will not come any closer.
It will keep its distance, skimming desolate
Shelves in narrow aisles, hopping off kerbstones
To skitter through dusty gutters, like a nervy robin.

This poem remains asymptomatic
Yet sequestered inside these white walls, cornered
by this red alert as bright & persistent as the
breath-shortening cough that has not appeared.

This poem will only emerge for the essentials;
To celebrate lairy goats storming deserted streets
& giddy lambs colonising playground roundabouts,
fiercely debating whose turn it is to get off & push.

This poem has forgotten how to day-to-day.

This poem is Covidian.



this rug where once I paced
                             frowning existentialist
              on the verge of breakthrough
                             is now my beach
              my garden  my park   my zen

                             toes lift and balance
              intricate bone malas
                             the rug maps a pale tracery
              of ebb and flow
                             it takes hours to reach
              the bold zigzag
                             where red slides to green

              my heartbeat slows to resting mammal

              I have the rest of my life to take
                                                                        one step



I want to be triangular
(I once said)
I was thinking about
points and pleasure
and I was trying to be funny
because you were so sad.
Shall we head up the main road
(I said)
and talk beside some river?
You can borrow my red blanket,
my velour dress, my shoes?
Oh but we can't go out today
the doors are glued together
But we could paste a window
here, and add some light.


A Sailor in Dark Mode

On a side street, the bar
lights flicker.

Scott is
a sailor with freckles
and a blue cotton shirt.

We drive soon
after meeting, a clear
path cutting

through suburbia
towards countryside.

The red roads lead us
to a green field.

Outside, the sun
is bored and throbs.

We kiss in Dark
Mode; contorted faces,
that medicinal

I walk
silent steps
towards home.



The roads, all the roads

the main / the back
the broad / the narrow
the crowded / the silent
the clean / the dirty
the noisy / the quiet
the cobbled / the unpaved
the lit / the dark
the familiar, and those you'd never seen before

And the ways, all the ways you traveled them

in seven-league boots
in iron shoes
doing impossible tasks
whistling a merry tune
repeating magic phrases times three, seven, six
riding on the back of an eagle or the tail of a fox
wearing the invisible cape or the emperor's clothes

And still, as fate would have it – or luck, or whatever you call it –
that slice of watermelon remains out of reach


at the helm

my only companion is the minutes
that pursue the lines in stillness

the lines don’t signify—
they pass me by silently, alone

the way fades into transparency,
breaking the lines as they float below

wheels that reveal the color
follow the form of the lines

these lines, placed just beyond
the reach of entrance or departure

angled to impose boundaries—
lines scattered into (be)fore and aft(er)

sail on necessities—what isn’t there,
which lines to cross, and the whole

entire all


Not right now

I can see the merit in your work.
I see what you are doing there, with sharp angles and straight lines,
With contrasting colours,
Stark and bold and loud and,
(Did I already say that green and red always remind me of Christmas?)
Like a victory cry of power and certainty.

It’s just that what I need right now is different.
I need something soft, comforting,
Blurred lines, smooth rolled edges.
Something that gives a little to my weight, and yet is firm enough to hold me up.


Marching Orders

We left home finally because the red place went dry. Nothing to eat but fruit flies and worms. I let Oorvid eat the last banana two days ago, but the fruit flies made me wonder where he’d hidden it if he hadn’t actually eaten it. The worms, really, were for Coosmos, because she liked them, and if Coosmos liked something, we stuck with it, otherwise she’d pump her feathers in our faces and take off, which is how she came to be living with us in the first place. Someone was missing her right now I bet. Outside, two parallel lines had formed already. Strong on the left, weak on the right, a buddy system for survival. I told Oorvid we should’ve left when I had wanted to leave, back when the food box first went bare. Now the line went on for miles toward the green. We had to head backward to the end of the line to get forward. Without a discussion, Oorvid took his spot on the left and pointed at me (with Coosmos on my shoulder) to take the spot to his right. But I’m your mother, I told him. Oorvid didn’t budge.


Destination Unknown

No, no you’re reading it all wrong
turn it on its side to make sense of it

The blood spilled out of my nostrils
when the ambulance veered to avoid traffic

The cops asked questions later, but I was delirious
high temp, and a lump of hot charcoal lodged in my throat.

The pattern you see is a Rorschach of my mind,
first stalled, bloody red, then green go.

In my imagination I cut out into traffic
nudging aside any lollygaggers to move ahead.

Funny part was the color change becoming,
not a map of movement, but a medical chart

which showed the precise moment where all movement
stopped and the passing lane faded into blurred lines.

Here in the bardo, this is all I see, this frozen frame
which I’m told will slowly fade into a darkened room.

The coffin is comfortable and someone was kind enough
to leave the zipper not fully closed at the top.

The breath is gone, but I like to pretend I’m still here,
shifting gears into the passing lane, ahead of everyone,

avoiding the puddles and slipping through from red
to abundant green. Destination: unknown—


This House

When you close your eyes at night,
you can go to this home,
all the children coming at you
out of the trees.
What goes on
in the mind
will never shame you.
means not thinking
of this house that lives on fresh air,
even when the natural order is upended
and your eyes,
not wishing to,
open                  wide.

You can barely contain the world
though you have a bowl underneath
to catch the cascading,
                  like Keats’ books
                            from the rack of his bed.
You breathe
through each room,
somewhere between two moments
and a whole night,
while a leaf falls,
the earth fearfully quakes.


Moss and Bleach

My task is to sterilize the white path each day. I carry a copper tank on my back. A cable connects the tank to a rod I hold in my right hand. There's a trigger at one end of the rod and a nozzle at the other. Every few seconds, I use my left hand to pump a lever attached to the tank, thereby creating pressure to send a mist of bleach coursing from the rod’s nozzle when I press the trigger. But there’s a difficulty.

Because of the heat, I wear sandals and shorts. So I don’t want to walk into the spray; the bleach would sting my legs and feet. Instead, I walk backwards.

Walking backwards is an underrated skill. I need to count my steps so that I make a precise turn when the path executes a right angle. If I make a mistake, I could step off the path into the moss on the far side.

The moss is oceanic. It has thrived for centuries and takes every opportunity to spread. By treating the path with bleach, I keep the moss at bay.

Last month, I wondered if I could find a purpose for the moss, as fuel, perhaps. With this in mind, I used a penknife to hack at the red all-weather surface that lies on the inside of the path. I managed to rip away enough of the rubbery material to make a mat.

Squatting on the path, I tore at the moss with my fingers and placed each handful on the mat. Next, I dragged what I had gathered onto the all-weather surface and created three piles. I waited several days and lit them.

The piles burned rapidly and produced little heat. I'd discovered that moss isn’t an efficient fuel. All I could show for my effort were three scorch marks where the fires had burned.

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The Motorway

The lines on the road show us the way
Marking where we should go
As we cut our way through the dark
To keep us on the straight and narrow

The arrows push us forward
Driving us to our destinations
There will be plenty more journeys
That will give us these fixations

But is there not another path
Where there is sea and sky
Quiet towns and birds
Where we could stop a while
To wonder at the view
And not to hurry by?



The sea looks red through tinted lenses,
but the green of the grass is deeper than ever.

The fields fold into the waves,
which are made timid by the cove.

Water is broken by a crescent of rock that arcs to the east,
and watches the sun rise.

The same sun that casts flecks of bright auburn across a peaceful scene.

Nothing to be hounded by gulls,
nothing to disrupt the pastures.

Just a pair of cabbage whites, entwined amongst the cliff faces,
providing jest for coastal breezes.

The tides will decide who comes and who goes,
as you breath a sigh,
looking out from your window.



We had a joke about bad poems starting with “_____, she thought,” or “____, he said”—
we came up with this joke on the road between
Portland and Ashland. We also had a joke about novels
being called things like “The Space Between.”

I’ve never written a successful poem before, I told
him. (He’s a poet.) What do you have to do?
The only thing I remember him saying was not to
end lines on prepositions. Or was it just on “obvious”

In the space between Portland and Ashland, there’s an obvious
highway. Obvious because it’s the quickest way to
whichever “land” you’re heading to, Ash or Port. There was something called a volta, he said, furthermore, as we swept past the forest, where I wanted, obviously, to linger.

Is that the thing where the meaning kind of funnels together
towards the end, I asked. Like the chevron of a road
(highways only actually start/end at the ocean, technically, they merge into
one another all the way to the ocean) or
the windworn tip of a red A-frame.

Yes, he said, I think now.
Well actually, he said,
what it really means is a turn.
The kind a reader doesn’t see coming, but
makes a certain kind of sense.

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Spiritual Traffic


Don’t walk!
Or is it drive?
Where are you going?
To the green space across the street
to share an ice cream cone with your dog?
To work at a grocery store?
No car, so you need to walk?
Are you on your way back home
to work in your home office
fielding customer service calls for
a large telecom?
Do you see the pastor across the street?
She’s delivering a sermon about
the eternity of your soul

She says
God doesn’t guarantee a perfect life
God guarantees a perfect eternity
You weave in and out of traffic
following traffic directions that don’t line up
to your goals
Where else can you go?
Nowhere of import
in a pandemic
but spiritually
you can


The Picture

I never fully understood that picture, but I refused to remove it from my bedroom. It sort of belonged there, and it sometimes did not. Like the time Fraser and I spend the first night together at my place. Watching movies, eating popcorn, and eventually making love in front of it. ‘What’s that?’ he asked awkwardly. ‘Nothing…A present,’ I blushed as I lied. I knew I had to cover it up with a blanket, I had done it before. But it was good, ‘cause I knew it was there, lurking at us. Fraser left in the morning and never came back. Maybe that’s why I like it. Because eventually, someone will like it too.