• Vol. 04
  • Chapter 06
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Treasures of the Town

It is almost time for his meeting with the woman from the council. ‘Just a chat,’ she’d said. ‘Nothing to worry about.’ But he is not so easy to fool. He’s had the date marked on his calendar for weeks, the sight of it whenever he stepped out back to make a cup of tea, never failing to lend a fresh layer of gloom to the ever-quiet town museum.

      This afternoon, he has hung the closed sign on the door, knowing it will make little difference to the number of visitors. He’s set up a table and chairs in the main exhibition space, although he knows this Claudia, the woman from the council, will not approve. She has made it abundantly clear that she’d have preferred to meet at her office. But no, he’d insisted, if they were getting together to talk about the museum’s future, oughtn’t they to do so here, among the treasures of the town – or what she evidently sees, although she’s never quite said so, as a motley collection of curiosities.

      According to Claudia, his museum needs to move with the times, to work towards receiving official accreditation. This means following national guidelines, telling the story of the town, being ready to pare back the objects on display, objects left to his care for over half a lifetime.

      The deer skeleton is a case in point. On Claudia’s first visit, not long after she moved to the town, she’d taken the opportunity to come down and wander about, making not a word of comment on the shine of the brass plaques or the cabinets’ smear-free glass. She’d stopped when she came to the deer, displayed in its usual more conventional grazing pose, and suggested that a better place for it would be dismantled in a box in the basement.

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Good Husbandry

No one wants to be in this position,
deep cuts to the fat, then the flesh,
now down to the bone.

We never wanted to be in these positions,
growths branching from our hips, through our ribs,
now up to the brain.

Still, in the shadows, I stand tall, belly ripening once more.



In a clearing we found him, after walking for hours in the forest. Some had strayed early, their mission forgotten, others gave up to return to the comfort of the village hotel. But I kept up with my fellow seekers, finally reaching the dark clearing where we saw the Stickman - ancient and rickety, terrifying in his otherworldly frailty, jauntily poised on the rock that the villagers claimed was life-giving.

“Now listen,” he said as we gathered before him.

His voice was a sigh, a wind calling through caverns, a rush of tiny pebbles down a steep gulley.

“I know you are searching for answers, for miracles, but what you see - that lone tree is my garden; the other, my love; and the child - they are all I have.”

We stood transfixed by his breathy incantation, our gaze level with the tangle of roots, veins, ganglions sprouting, a shriek of pain at his centre, a girdle of anguish. But the rock held up his stick-bone frame of smooth-rubbed branches, like baked clay filaments, hard and easy to shatter.

“Tell us what to do, should we leave our towns?” a woman asked.

“Should we live in the forest?” another pleaded.

“Tend your garden,” the Stickman said. “And tend to your children. Find your rock and be seated.”

Then he stood and walked away, those disconnected fragments of bone-china limbs cohering to make movement, the core of pain a furred silhouette. He leaned into the tree of his child and disappeared.

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The Tread of Secret Kings

For a long time I groped in darkness. The iron-rock upon which I sat anchored me and would not let me leave. Neverthess it was a place of wonder, this rock, a place of multitudes. Naturally – of humiliation also. My first discovery however was a delight. Tapping with sickle fingers, delving about, I found that the sags and wattles of my old body – what I like to call my field, forest, and town body – had fallen away, leaving fine enamelled bone. My arms were double-sticked; likewise my lower legs. No longer was I to be troubled by mutinous bowels or wretched sexual organs. What difficulties they had caused...

Eating presented a twofold problem, having neither guts or digestive juices, nor any actual food. I was surprised, at first, that it was necessary at all. The periods of starvation were long and painful and certain images assailed me over and over. I was a man of great importance, a leader, a sorceror. Figures approached hourly to consult me, having travelled far and wide to hear my wisdom and seek my justice. Later, some informed me that I had committed a crime; others that I was the victim of crime. The details are unimportant: I had merely indulged my privileges to the full. Among my treasured possessions I counted certain individuals; their earthly bodies were mine to dispose of as I saw fit.

Hunger brought me to other shores. Here I approached the divinity, glimpsing him on distant mountains, in obscure vales, wading in rivers. With training and discipline I learned how to make the tantalising flashes last entire seconds. One inch above the divinity's head floats the great parabola of the infinite, which is the last of all numbers and no number at all. And from the parabola some few pieces of knowledge percolated down to me.

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Every tree is different.
Sometimes it can be a container
for an embryonic form,
Perhaps a parasite
yet to grow branches
to match its parent.
Maybe it never will be a match,
but always an alien
Or maybe a new tree will branch
from the belly of another alien
We must wait and see.
Every tree is different.


You Are There

where you should be
where you ought to be

your tongue tastes thighs
speaks to the dead

sinewed spirit belongs
where your bone belongs

where your lips are home
where I expect you to be

where your heart flops
breath snuggles, bones rest

with me not someone else
somewhere else somewhen

at this breath's end
at end of the line.


Now while it’s raining

There I am;
a blink, a birth,
a wish to be the one across eons.
Fading like the others into dust,
scared of what body holds for me.
Love as a reminiscence,
powerless, lacking rebellion.
Here we are:
looking at each other,
wondering if there is still a passage
behind the glass,
confessing that we are stuck together,
regardless of the perspective.


Antler Truth

Let me tell you jokers
there is no trump card.
Not from heaven, hell
Nor the universe
exists a reason why
you might believe me

But believe me, you will.

In my bones lies the truth
In the moment between galaxies,
In antelope's breath,
In birch silver
In buzz bee dances.

You will
Laugh off your bones
Till the death's head rattles off.

And you will learn to love
In freedom.



In what is believed to be
Da Vinci's final painting,
a "disturbingly erotic" John the Baptist
points upward toward Heaven
with the index finger of his right hand.
He seems to emerge from the darkness around him,
and at the same time seems to be returning to it.
Perhaps more enigmatic than the Mona Lisa's,
his smile is more intense, his eyes are piercing—
unlike eyes that are missing from empty bone sockets,
much more like eyes that see into your heart's desire—
a desire you fear, and fear that he can control.

As sure as I'm sitting here,
trying to write a poem about things I can't understand—
as sure as you're born (at least I assume that's you,
curled up inside the uterus of that writhing tree),
I can't stop thinking about Young Goodman Brown:
Seems that everyone in town sold their souls
to the chiaroscuro, just to have a part
in the Great American Short Story.

Georgia O'Keefe's in my head—
or rather has replaced it on my meatless shoulders
with a deer's skull—oh, dear!
And John the Baptist points to the sky
in such a way that you can't really tell
if he points the way to salvation or damnation—
or even if both are the same thing.

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Tulgey Wood

At last here is a screen capture
of the Tulgey Wood so fully described
by Mr. Carroll.

Home of the Jabberwocky, as well
as a miscellany of other creatures that
have the capacity to both bite
and devour.

The greeting exercise in taxidermy
wields his stern warning, but we
are too curious about the strange
pollination habits of the flora
here to heed a rebuke.


The Nudest You Can Get

Wave your finger,
dear deer,
I can see all of you.

This is the nudest
a creature
can get.

If you were carrying
a pocket
watch, it would slip
on through.

I can imagine
just a little
bit of blush
at your bleached

I can imagine
we might
be friends, but you
a little standoffish
about this
whole thing.


Bone stag sings to the pregnant tree

holds a bundle of twigs, wound
like a mass of veins round a heart.
He points to the moon – to the scratches
the stars have left in the dark sky.
The tree nurses life to her heartwood,
stays calm, stays quiet. She remembers
how once, in the madness of March
she made love to a hare, handsome
and leaping, dancing and long-ear mad.
His paws played the tune of the moon
on her just-buried roots. He slept
in his scrape at the base of her bole,
curled into her bark – she loved
the shock of his soft. They said
such a match could never turn to fruit
yet a leveret grew inside her, magic
as night. When her time comes,
she will nurse him on acorns she makes.



Stay with me now.
Are you sitting?
Your comfort isn’t really of any odds to me.
Have you not seen me?
My pelvis acts as
the fulcrum on this menhir
Sit upon.
I’ll hold my court while you grasp your tongues.
I’m sat fully in front of the unborn children in the trees.
Their whispering of these pines
is payback for my time with the hunt
in the search for some such thing
as I never knew could be found.
Look around this land—
and I want this to land with you—
the eyes will have it every which way but loose.
It’s up to you to
look in them, watch for the swell of my pupils.
Watch out behind you;
these trees grow through us all.
Questions, you must have questions…!
I’m sorry, I’m stopping you here.



Flowering hawthorn bursts the solar plexus,
and is wintered by the light's decline
into a seething mass of sticks,
a brittle-veined unknown.

A glimpse beyond that tangled wood and bone
into the seductive truth of artifice,
the body's wildly ramifying sign
now becomes nexus

of self-consumption, like a stag with its antlers
absorbing the whole forest, structure
gnawed to dysfunction,

hounds slavering at the rupture,
the inside out, the expanding reign
of the spaces where flesh refrains and falters.


I have a secret

The truth is that the earth is a powerful living being
Like one of those cells you studied in biology
A giant circular version, complete with a membrane and life vibration.

Man is the only animal stupid enough
To destroy the eco-system it depends on
For more luxury, more leisure time, and to accumulate more things
That gather dust in and out of cupboards – while encased in a man-made cage indoors.

Only man has sold his soul
and that of the earth
and now stares blinking with short-sightedness
Believing the world is contained in a mobile phone.

Video games have replaced playing with friends outdoors
Likes have replaced congenial hugs and pats on the back
Virtual reality is slowly replacing living while
Adult life is a rat race from waking to bed
Rushing from breakfast to work.
Working through lunch
Multi-tasking through your kid’s lives and your own.

Modern life is a bubble
Disconnected from reality.

Happiness is found in nature
In quiet time with family and friends.

Stop rushing to the grave
And killing everything in your wake.


The Deceiver

Listen, listen carefully
Hidden in the bark-womb of the bellied tree
Is the story unborn and this is my not telling
My unsaying of those not yet and those to be
The skeleton of words disintegrating, distorting
The message, as I speak ambiguously

Listen, listen carefully
Listen to its bones break as I rip it apart
See the skin of the tale flayed and draped
Curtains to my stage, splayed prose
Wrapped around an audience
Forested by spiked-rib trees and tree-spiked ribs

Listen, listen carefully
Listen to the ending I give, its silent finality
I am the Crowned Deceiver
Unwriting my book with truthful lies
As I sit on my cold stone throne, the Horned One
Master of Ceremonies on this underworld night


Hidden in the Woods

Stalkers and death crawlers,
we know they wait in the dark
woods where a womb folds
inside a tree trunk to hold
the tomorrow’s birth in bark.

We ignore them, move past
when a forest cracks its knuckles
and bony twigs hold up a finger
of warning betides, what was learned
in the arch-silences of winters

when their mouths watered,
their eyes salted in wind,
feet gone stiff with wandering,
skeleton fused to stone
after longtime seeking

the grace of grazers,
spry and fleet footprints
on earth hard
from trampling.



The darkness that invaded Rob’s soul, left a world of hate inside him. The late-night drinking binges ripped his marriage apart and he spent his nights at the grounds of the cemetery wondering why it wasn’t him instead of Jimmy. Though sober now, Rob had lost everything. His best friend, his wife, his job, what did he have left? A lonely life of regret and the image of Jimmy’s skeletal remains when he was found three months after his disappearance.

Rob was the one that owed the money, not Jimmy. Jimmy paid the price for protecting his friend. Jimmy gave them the money, but they killed him as a warning. Rob knew who did it, but they covered their tracks and the killers would never pay, all because Rob gambled and drank his life into a stupor.

Rob had to learn to live with the guilt. But could he?


Black and White

The night
           is still alive
             with bones
                 of time
                     seeing a dance
                       a sculpture
                             black as dark
                             white as light soul
                               the tribe of a poem
                                 brings a desert
                                 with prayers
                                  lighted pages
                                 black and white lamplight
                                   mysterious but genius
                                     wild words of the beast that streams
                                      inside dreams.



The man said global warming was fake news,
a conspiracy, a feeble attempt to screw
a thriving economy.

The man said it was fine to own a rifle or handgun,
as long as it was just for fun, to carry on
hunting without a care.

The man said he needed more electricity,
forget turbines, solar panels and the sea,
go nuclear.

The following year, my garden withered,
trees died, animals starved and shivered
in monochrome winter.

Now bleached bark and bone in my garden
are a tribute to Armageddon,
a sad reminder.



Your dry bones, stark,
stripped bare of supple flesh.
Your arrogant antlers, curved,
poised to tangle trespassers.
Your ever-pointing finger,
insisting I had got it wrong.
You, perched on a stone throne,
for extra height, to elevate
your ego, desiccated, proud.
You, doomed to miss the spirit
of the forest, the tree of life.
You did not see the trunk
holding me safe, enwombed.
You did not know I grew,
ready to kill your wife.


Spooky Pooka’s Message to the Nation

‘Now let me tell you,’
said the deer-headed man,
with twigs like dyspepsia
radiating from his stomach.

‘Let me say
that in my time here,
with nothing for my naked pelvis
but these termite mounds,

I have found it
not as bad as it appears.
There is that willow behind,
just waiting for April

and the other tree,
species still a mystery,
now a full nine months
in gestation.

I wonder when the birth will be;
I believe it may be soon,
may be a time for joy,
may have colour in it.'



nothing grows there
nothing glows there
nothing goes

in the answer phone
a voice abandoned
by her own loneliness

I don’t want to describe it
I don’t want to dwell in it
I am healing

Some don’t know what is like
to be a rainbow child
in the land of dust

where nothing nothing

grows glows goes back
to stay to say to play
It was never their heyday

in the 80s

curious and small
all the while the Carnival
paraded on the TV

In my clenched fist
a handful of confetti
in my tireless heart, a door

and the road that lead to every dream

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A Date with Grim

He wonders just how many
times he has cheated death,
Knows there's a price to eventually
pay for dancing this dance

Midnight rattle bones play
a crimson song, overtones
are ominous, an invitation
to disaster written in jagged
defacing letters

Come on sweetly, the skeletal
figure sings, we have an appointment
vastly overdue.


Bone Branch

a sloppy kiss
bone branches
tickled all
the way into
your sternum
looking longingly
into empty eyes

is the place
my note
said to meet
but now you
seem nervous

what for?

look at all
these haunting
I've painted for you
a gesture
of love, if only
in a dark palette.


waiting games

before reason, arms,
sheep-thought, follow the leader,
count sleep, jump fence, border, horizon.
before reason, line up,
look sharp, sprout stones,
aim right for the hurt.
before reason, before thought,
just say hate, in monochrome
steel hearts.

how did we come where we have come?
were we here before, are we here yet?
what did we believe was greener grass
for our future? fodder stiff, we chewed
chewed, chewed, forgetting to talk.
tenderness fled a long time ago. now trees,
now soil, a doze of ozone, but do you have
the pass? all dystopias will be the dystopia
of birth.

who will be the first now, to raise fist,
or finger, say forever: I told you so?


A Skeletal Secret

"Come let me tell you a secret," it whispered;
Seated on the anthill, a sage, a spiritual guide.
"The earth is the womb of the universe,
She has carried it on the lips of her fingers,
Sucking at the stars, the moons and the numerous suns...
No! Do not look at the tree. Turn your gaze away.
She is pregnant with truth; verisimilitude.
She births at noon to the tweeting cries of summer birds."

"You see," it raises a finger at a thought,
It's pelvic girdle girding the anthill, balanced by forces unknown,
"This throne is the door to night."
It cocked its antlered skull and peered...
"Will you tell this secret to the roaches,
bestriding your kitchen sink?"
It stared at its spindly legs,
barely touching the monochrome soil.
"No you won't."

"I have a heart, you know, a life, a beating heart."
It nodded its horse face,
The monochrome night breeze fleeing its chest cavity,
Cracked rib columns cackling in silent moan.
"Come, do you know where it is?
It's inside the throne, yes it is."

"You tell a good tale, yes you do.
I must leave you, mother calls.
It rubs its stomach and turns,
"You should go, my friend."


On the rocks

That was one hell of a night.
Only the terrible time
Nicky acquired tattoos,
Waking at five to a text
Message announcing the sack —
No more complacent, obtuse,
Dull afternoons at the shop,
Watching old movies, for him —
That is the only night out
Any of us can recall
Close to catastrophe like,
Anything like, what you’ve done
This time around. Would you look,
Please, at yourself? You’re a mess.
Eyeless, aghast, self-enslaved ...
Even old Nicky himself
Gawped. He’s impressed. By the whole
Damnable absence of flesh
Thing. And the headgear. Tell me,
What have you done with your left
Arm from the elbow on down
This time around? That was one
Hell of an evening, I know.
Evening and morning, I know.
Roofs have been raised. Even so,
Nobody hankers to see
Ribs and the skeletal look
Taken to such an extreme.
No, this is going too far.
Read more >



The improbability means you say nothing.
It often happens that way.
You’ve seen a ghost, the back end of a stag,
As you drive through the night.

Who is chasing you?
Red coats or poachers?
The same men, different sides of the law.

You remember a story; of a deer offered refuge
By a scorned witch; they supped together before dawn.
Who will shelter you?


Heaven knows

The skeletal creature, half-man half-deer, posed as we took a photo to capture the amazing scene in the woods. It didn't seem to mind. We noticed the finger on its right hand pointing upwards, almost as if it had a message for us. I linked this to a similar sign I'd seen in some of Leonardo da Vinci's paintings. In the background to its left side was a tree with a growth almost foetal. The tree of life but also of death, if the holes surrounding it were representative of ulcers?

Death comes to us all, often with great suffering. We know not why. Perhaps the creature would have liked to tell us if it could, as it pointed heavenward. Alas, we heard nothing and assumed.

Only God Knows.



Death is close, today. At the forefront. In the picture. Present.
But life is never far behind.

Look beyond bristling, skeletal, gently warning death to the bulging belly of the tree behind and see the foetal figure waiting to be born. Life grows in the belly of the tree behind death.

Death says, with that raised forefinger and that gently inclined, ‘Listen-to-me’ head, ‘There’ll be life after yours. It will be born. Where there’s life there’s also, necessarily, death. One cannot exist without the other.’

So the day will come when we make room for the ones behind. But until that day, death says, ‘Where there’s life there’s hope.’ He says that because he’s sitting on a termite mound. A place where air winds along tiny termite-built tunnels. A place where there’s oxygen for all levels of life.

So breathe and celebrate, wherever you are, whatever your level, whatever hangs in the balance. Breathe and celebrate until the last day comes.

But even then, know that life, even if not your own, is never far behind.


Bone Gardens

Famine came crawling on its knees,
begging for a home in alms. My roots

dark like the furry hide of a raccoon’s
stare. Nobody can know how deep a

human’s desires flow. My ribs
sleep in different rooms; sutured to

independent plans. I surf statistics
and alternatives. The one thing

that drives towards the gulls is a body
of light, emerging like the sign of infinity.

The way my face caves like a lone stone
grown taller than the length of an ocean’s

wave, does not wheel precarious boats to
any mines of crops. I could sit in a field of

ripe fruits thrusting their bellies through
from a lover’s cling of the root goddess,

watch their juices leak out
like a stone-earth’s sweat,

yet feel no wind on the nape
of my maw, hunger ricocheting

like trapped lilies in bone gardens,
ripening on the brink of a lupus moon.



Apple cheeked smiling
until that day 
when he absent-mindedly looked through the other end of the telescope.
It was all too much
too close.
The monotone inner landscape of
broken tree covered hillsides,
the foetid silent lakes.
He took to his heels then
'Here be monsters!'
Even a backward glance held fears of gorgons and
Lot's salty fate. 


Remember Her?

She sat.
Her hair was perfect and I remember she had her legs crossed, her skirt pinched higher.
She had these glittering eyes that I could never forget.
They were green.
I remember when she stood, elongating her previously crumpled figure to her full 1.7 meter height.
Her fingers were long, with different coloured nails at the end of each finger. They wrapped around my shoulder, my hand, I remember how they felt, warm, soft, small calluses before every knuckle.
Her laugh tinkled through the air, the most luscious sound to accompany the most luscious music I can remember.
The way her hips moved, sashayed, skirt flipping around her thighs, her feet slipping forward and back in a fluid manner. Her arms danced above her head like waves.

And then she sat. And no one ever saw her beauty again.
Year after year. She remained. Legs crossed, skirt wrinkled.
And I always remembered how
she sat.


Seeing is Believing

I am not as frightening as I look,
Some people regard me as a warning,
A legacy of a world depleted and destroyed by humankind,
I am to them a future nightmare,
A time when the seas dry up and the land is drained of all its nutrients,
They do not look beneath the surface,
Their vision is skin deep,
For I am just the winter of our world,
Spring will follow,
My body will no longer be parched and desiccated,
Trees will burst into bud,
Flowers will push their way upwards and bloom again,
The planet will be recycled, rejuvenated, revitalised and recreated.



In place of your pink bag of stomach and the tremor of intestine, a ghost of coral floats, brittle-sharp, bleached; synapse, perhaps, not snapped in the silver gelatin monochrome of a photographic print, but in the zapped spectre of bone on filmy x-ray black; maybe molten tin flung through the sprung trap of your ribs, to slink and settle your fate with a cold, hard splash.


Son of a tree

My dreams have been getting heavy again lately. All the cold sweat, the shaking, the dull stares into the darkness in between two nightmares. It is all back, yet again. I never know when this starts and how it ends, it is always like my shadows eventually catch up with me after they got bored of me the last time. Once you learn how fragile all reality is, it never leaves you any more. This notion will never disappear, and will follow you in around like a catchy proverb you've learned in your childhood. It will shape your worldview, it will add that last weird sentence in the banal everyday description of the house you grew up in you were trying to give to that woman on your last date, it will keep you hyped and high after you made that perfect, totally over-optimistic plan. Because reality is so bendable that both nightmares and utopias live side by side in it.

I dreamt of a pregnant tree last night, that gives birth to whole grown men like me. They sit there crouched, hugging their legs, with full body hair and broken teeth, semi-white beards. I could see the others, still sleeping in the thick bark layers, illuminated by the little light available. I was sitting on the ground, all naked, could feel the soil entering in between by butt cheeks. Above me erected on a rock, preaching, was a big archaic skeleton with an animal head. I don't know what it was saying any more, but it gave me great comfort.

I woke up this morning to find only one shirt left, the one that has a button too high that presses right on that place in my throat that is the most gentle. I shaved my face perfectly, and shined my shoes. There was just the right amount of peanut butter to put on my toast. On the way out, I was careless and tripped on her arm. I fell down, turned on the side and grabbed my legs. Waiting to be born again.


Our Seed

Welcome to my garden,
my delicious and destitute friend.
I've never seen such regretful eyes
it gets worse, I won't pretend.

Welcome to my kingdom,
there are rules you must obey.
But let me tell you a story
I'd forgotten 'til this day.

Gentle was her nature,
her mind a snowy owl.
I wonder if she remembers me
or what I'm guarding now.

Magic was her master,
loving was her fall.
But she did plant one last seed
before sacrificing us all.

Cosmic was her landscape,
and the ground we walked upon.
Until the day she flapped her wings
and everything was gone.

Terror was her treatment,
desolation and despair.
I prayed to join my family
instead, her seed is in my care.

Read more >

Such a Dear

Returning to the earth
The bones are all that is ever left
Left to blend with ancestral soil
Soaked in stories from the past

She was such a dear
As gentle as a deer
Quick to startle, of nervous disposition
The utterance of words, rare
Yet stories collected in her sighs

At her stillest when death brushed up beside her
We observe the heave of her chest as she struggles for breath
And in these final moments of regret
We wish we had been brave enough to speak the words that choke us
Asked the questions fear stopped us from asking
But we never did
Mistaking her silence

She was such a dear
Tight lipped
Yet as gentle as a deer

Now she’ll take her stories to the grave
Offering a final sigh to the wind


Death, the spring and other thoughts

Lighter times require lighter measures
Existential thought by one who treasures
Is it an open universe?
Will it expand forever or reverse?
The garden trees, death they do triumph
The spring awakes them from their sleep
For the moment the flowers riot
For the winter months they have been at peace

Deep thoughts about the years before us
And the years that lie ahead
Thinking back to twenty years and life before the internet
No online occurring FB drama
No Instagramatic picture show
No tweeting from a forlorn leader
And retweets from those in the know

Lighter times and increasing leisure
Gardening to some is a pleasure
Mud and sticks and old bones
Copper coins that lie alone
Looking out from a window
Wispy white clouds passing by
Existential thoughts occur again
And what happens when we die

Read more >

A Daguerreotype of a discourse by Herne the hunter

A discourse by
Herne the hunter:
there is a burst

of dry fingered
twigs through my
pelvis where the

genitals were strung.
I raise my finger
to point to

you – bone, oak
wood in utero forms
sculpted from

resin. Sitting on
a fabricated rock
in a daguerreotype

typified by chiaroscuro. Today
the west wind is
mercury vapourised and

now there is
only a stymied

darkness – felt
covering this flat

Read more >

Fair Game

I am your mockery trophy,
once preyed upon, no longer hunted,
moth-eaten, past its prime,
mounted to gloat at.
Straddling my boulder egg,
I am a doe disguised,
morphed into a mighty stag,
adorned with useless antlers.
I bristle at the trunk behind me, laden with life,
while my roots grow inwards,
crowding out unspent, fleshless spaces
in which bare branches defiantly refuse to bud.
I carry wild blackthorn in my belly,
a warning to the uninitiated:
Enter at your own peril.
Roots reach upwards, into my hollow ribcage,
waiting with bated breath for my heart to hatch.



this is what the truth teller looks like
its bones provide complete transparency —
the birth of its successor in the womb of a tree

will come round at last no longer hidden —
although its future is immanent nobody can speak
of an eminence in the present tense

the head of a stag or a bull has import
nods unsteadily in time the bone forefinger
that wags with a faster tempo

it all makes time in black and white
invades then ignores the narrative
throws out the narrative as a bad innovation

scores out words as they approach
marks the picture with straight lines —
the story of the Minotaur was once told

it was told as a truth the truth teller
no longer tells — the result is this last one
its frivolity a finality that sits — cannot run

post truth will leak dreams of poems
drafted by a moving finger —
each poem in turn will put flesh on the bone


The Rut

I continued to visit Uncle Edgar every day after Mother died. He continued to repulse me. Without her, my old home had taken on a different personality. Somewhere along the line, its soul had flown to somewhere brighter.

At every window, curtains hung listless and weary. Cushions sagged and drooped, as if the very life had been kicked out of them – much like Mother. Silently, they sighed their demise and accepted their lot – much like Mother. Even the efforts of the lightbulbs were half-hearted.

But my mother never was.

He sat in his chair in his splayed tartan dressing gown and stained blue pyjamas, and waited to be served.

‘Here you are, Uncle Edgar. A nice boiled egg and soldiers.’

I laid the cushioned tray across his knees. His eyes flicked in my direction as he stabbed a finger of toast into the yolk and shoved it between his thin lips, chewing noisily as his rubbery face gnashed on the food. I removed the tray when he had finished.

‘Thank you,’ I said pointedly.

I wiped his face. He shoved me away and scowled. Then he pushed himself up and out of the chair. I heard his bedroom door slam.

I let myself out.

Why was I doing this? Stepping into Mother’s shoes? I had always hated the man. Uncle Edgar, the chauvinist. Uncle Edgar, the arrogant. Uncle Edgar, the bully.

Read more >


Death watches over all of us
From the day we're born.
The Devil looks into our eyes
And stares at us with scorn.
No matter if we beg and plead
Death will come our way.
All around is evidence
That death is here today.
Cemeteries are full of bones.
People who have gone.
Not one will ever come again
Not Jane, nor Jill, nor John.
So when the Devil laughs at you
And says your turn is next
No point in getting angry.
No point in getting vexed.



The fields are constantly
Under attack
The lively crops
Cannot fight back.

It is under siege
The crows and sparrows
Destroy the harvest
With their beaks sharp as arrows.

It is screaming out
For a little salvation
It wants to escape
The foul suffocation.

The scarecrow can relieve
Their pain and suffering
A great bit of assistance
It can surely bring.

The bone shaped skeleton
The scarecrow mannequin
With its constant presence
The crops will surely win.


Midnight in the Hall of Mirrors

There are scratches on the frame where black birds have flown,
damp in the hollow beneath your hand, and webs in your hair
where spiders’ eggs impel themselves towards birth.

In the split mirror, your reflection mumbles your name
backwards and there are letters written in your thick breath.
Your eyes are bitten dry of tears, their lids too tight to close.

It’s too late to listen to what your mother always told you,
admit your mistake and go back to bed, as spiders spread
across your scalp, and the beast demands his nightmares back.



A hybrid of things
none good and part mythical
with adaptations, appendages
where none ought to be
all gathered at will
an amalgam of wickedness

polluting the light
it delights in the night
its solemn warning, ossified
stay away little girl
here's the edge of the world
best you run on home to your own tribe


The Yellow King

I was tangled in all the wires —
Music was stopping —
at first wavelength slowing,
Try and equivocate the happenstance and turn,
whether a stubborn ox, or mule's
brittle bones,
nothing is pretty anymore then. When only a yule-
tide would suffice. Oh is he sweating yet? Or is the drool
dripping worse as dried ice.
A sweltering sunbeam.
A melodramatic escapade.
If one can only hope
this planet, our planet is but one
island beneath, a shared sun.
Even if life is bona fide,
twenty thousand light years
above the sky.
But what's beyond that?
I'll take Dark Matter for 700, Trebek.
That's a daily double, if it isn't too late to pass —
The girl from Stanford to my left seems better equipped to tackle;
because fate would have it that I'm already committed to a different shackle.
It's unique.
The future is not bleak,
a random tangent
could never hold its own against
a tandem, ahem, if it is not a word, then —
play, pause, rewind
preferably something from the 80s.

Read more >


Man those floorboards were smooth weren't they? Blonde and beachy. Old, but not so old they crumbled beneath our growing feet or we fell between the cracks. Those tiny faces staring up at us from within their growing memories.

It was real cool down there. Not as humid as above, halfway up the grey room that reminded me of a 1970's two-toned wagon spray painted on a day when indecision stuck up its middle finger at the world, just like you, your favourite expression in a laughter-beat. Who cares? you always said.

The small square window beside the green front door shows us that the world out there goes on. Moans on through wet skies and water washing along the gutters and down the drains. It's true the rain has had its way with us over the last three days. Your wig has come off — an odd thatch of a matted root thing — as your head topples on its neck, a tube of veins word-searching over your throat. And yet. The floorboards where we used to play stay cool, don't they? That's why I've got my skirt hitched high to my thighs, cellulite pressed against them as your swollen yellowwhite bandages bleat against the stinking liquid dripping from your liver and kidneys. They have taken their final bows.

I watch your horns grow as their pink and Prince purple forms wrap the air and all the secret things we always said, smacked on the walls, the furniture and the floor my amazing Best. I wrap. And sit. And wrap your liquidlogged legs as I spit at the gentle breeze blowing from beneath the door.

You are my Best. My four-letter Best. My very Best I tell you. In silence.

My very Best.


Hidden Filipino

As patriarch, I had been shape-shifting through various forms, some to educate the youngsters as to camouflage while hunting, some simply to entertain.

Eventually the younger children were put to bed in the boles of nearby Molave, stunted and twisted by the magic of the sacred glade, and I sat on The Warlock Stone, solemnly gesturing for silence. The laughter subsided, allowing me to begin my tale in the fashion of our kind: telepathy and nuances of the body position.

"I was happy in my original home, content in my primitive existence: hunting, playing and loving with my family and friends in the small community in an island group of unspoiled forest, rivers and beaches.

Then the ‘tourists’ came and though they were an exciting novelty for a while, they brought with them a sense of privilege – as if their mere arrival gave them entitlement to our home. They didn’t like our ways, how we looked, what we ate.

Mere annoyance at first, they arrived in increasing numbers. They heaved like pus on an infected wound, devouring our space, destroying foliage upon which we and our prey depended.

I was all for war when they killed sister-son, but the elders vetoed it, recognizing that it would invite catastrophe. So we maintained our meek appearance and traded for enough of their pump boats to carry us away from the pristine islands the invaders were set on despoiling and headed towards the sun, relying on the fish and rain we caught – ignorant of just how long the journey would be.”

Read more >


Cool is the head of the classical sage
Who dares chance the Forest of Baryn.
Strong is the arm of Protector-cum-Page
Who’d spare nosey scholar from harr-mmm.

Black is the air between nefarious boughs
With web-mist for undergrowth too,
But death is the hollow which Nature allows,
Where reigns cryptic Ossacerv, Hugh.



Hear my riddle:
It grows in a tree,
It grows within me.
It grows in the ground,
It grows all around.

The great teacher sat upon a rock, the space between his bones giving view to the natural world around him. He scratched his head and belted out a tune, getting about half the words right.


Of Demigods and Men

I always knew my father was different, right from a very early age when other kids would play football with theirs in the park, whilst mine looked through telescopes, consulted astronomy charts and marvelled at demigod paintings on his study walls. He did this time and time again. Whatever the weather, my father would immerse himself in the fantastical, the elusive, the unknown.

My mother knew not to disturb him when he was holed away in his study and told me that I should go and play outside. It was such a nice day.

But I waited until she disappeared into the kitchen and pushed open my father’s study door. He stood not more than four feet away peering at one of his creepy paintings. I turned to leave when he called me back.

‘Come in, Stephen. I want you to see this.’

Slowly, I moved to where my father stood and followed his gaze. A ghoulish skeleton of a demigod stared back. It had the head of a stag and the torso and legs of a man. I shuddered and backed away.

‘That creature there, Stephen, is your grandfather, would you believe. Fitzwilliam was his name and he was a man of great character, as you can see.’

‘He’s a monster,’ I blurted out. ‘A demon. He’s not fit to walk amongst men.’

My father sneered. ‘And what would you know about that? You’re just an insignificant little boy.’

Our relationship was strained after that. We rarely exchanged a word at breakfast, lunch or dinner. Years later, when mother died suddenly of a stroke, I had no-one else to turn to. I returned home for a short while and knocked on my father’s study once again, now faded and decrepit.

Read more >

The Dare

Toby said there was something in the forest.
‘There’s always something in the forest,’ I said. I was sitting by the school games hut, a discus in my hand. Toby was leaning against the warped wooden door, the team sashes over his arm. A crash came from inside. Jas was piling the hurdles together.
‘Yeah, but this is different.’ Toby leaned down. ‘Some sort of skeleton, I’ve heard.’
I stood up just as Jas came out of the shed, hair on end like he’d already seen something scary.
‘Jas is coming tonight. Dare you, Ben.’
I threw the discus into the shed. ‘Sure.’
Tonight turned out to be a midnight meet. Another silly idea of Toby’s but actually I was counting on it.
The other two were waiting for me by the bin in the car park.
‘Come on,’ Toby said turning into the trees. The night seemed alive with eerie sounds – owls, foxes, things creeping through the forest floor. ‘Not scared are you?’ Toby asked. I wasn’t sure if he was talking to me or whether Jas was included in this.
We walked further into the wood. ‘I’m not sure about this.’ This was Jas. ‘What if we get lost?’
‘I got badges in this.’ Toby said proudly, but I knew he was lying. He’d been asked to leave cubs but scouts tolerated him despite the incident of the tent fire. Jas walked closer to me.
‘What will your mum say if she finds you’ve been here at night?’ I goaded. Was that a whimper I heard?
And then we were in the clearing. Sitting on a stone was a human-like skeleton with a deer’s head. Jas screamed. Toby jumped around in delight until I shone my flashlight over it. I was watching their faces, the horror as they took in the twigs growing out of the middle of the skeleton. I guided the flashlight right of the bones towards a tree with a hole in its trunk. Read more >


You once followed the course of the packs

You once followed the course of the packs
By that smell of furrows
By the dizziness
That was spilling
Above the crowd
You learned to bite
And to dismember as the others.
The Dawn
Tore the veil
Of the night
To offer you a horror
You killed your own in the dark.
You were part
Of the weakness that you devoured
You were
The prey.



Oh you are a skeleton
you are neither man
nor animal, but you
crown heady success
why you even look happy
in a black forest deadly
your visage is smart
you look like playing dart
you summon awe, bewilderment
but the horns are your crown
are you coloured brown
or simply white as a ghost?
Come on, I can't believe that
you exist.



A nubile virgin every spring or he’d destroy the kingdom – that was the bargain the Minotaur had made with the King. Parents prayed that the gods would send them sons and wept when their prayers went unheard. Mothers bound their daughters’ breasts, or married them off before puberty. Anka’s parents tried a different ploy, treating her as a boy from the moment of her birth. Her father even taught her to fight until her swordsmanship out-stripped his.

At the winter festival the year Anka turned fourteen, the King’s men quartered the crowds like pickpockets, noting which girls had reached maturity. No-one slept easily until the choice was announced and, despite her parents’ care, they picked Anka.

Guards pushed her into the Minotaur’s maze and retreated but, around the first corner, Anka’s father passed her a sword. “I cannot stay – I must be seen weeping with your mother,” he said, “but remember what I taught you – you can do this.”

Trembling but brave, Anka followed the roar of the hungry beast to its source – a bull’s head armed with fearsome horns, but the body was that of a man – she could kill a man. The creature was not expecting a fight. It was all noise and bluster, and had spent a whole year lying on its bed of virgins’ bones. Anka, young and agile, danced around the lumbering beast, darting in to slash its Achilles tendons and, when it fell, to plunge her sword deep into its black heart.

When all was quiet, the chanting of the priests rose to a crescendo, but over it all Anka heard her mother screaming her name. Like a bee to the hive, she followed that thread of love out of the maze to freedom.


Self-portrait from the Edge of the World

I, dark. A deer.
Skinned. Bone
and antlers in a ruined wood.

Still a woman
I am bearing twigs.

My heart, swung-out
is a bird. Flown.

The trees swell. Grief is a foetus. Waiting.

My lost tongue warns you that the flood is soon/the rubbing flood
and all its drownings.


nihilistic vegan

Now now … I shall not allow you to weep my death.

24,383,561 killed each day, each one held dear, by none. What is left?

Overconsumption breeds the underexposure of the true reigning massacre

The endlessness

A caustic society, no call and response. No fertilisation, just draining of fluids.

My mouth holds dry and I weep as the particulates pollute the capillaries.

The abnegation of 56 billion.


Night School

Now that you’ve got it clean
down to the bone
teach me
how to use that deep
of pain at the body’s core
to push past the necessities of flesh
to stand here bare-boned
beside you
ash white under the moon
not sleeping like the infant grub
curled in the tree’s hollow
or the full-formed but yet
unrealized imago
still quiet in its husk
but balanced in the space between
unready and unopened
wearing a crown of horn
sharp and bright
as a diadem of stars



For the dark gods are many:

            They give birth to themselves,
            metastatic, suckling blood.

They hold court in a gleam of bones,

            open to shadows. Wired upright,
            they cannot fall.

Neither this nor that, they evade catalogue.

            They curse with gnarled finger,
            deepening time-scoured runes.

Leafless, their trees lack season,

            lifting monochrome jags,
            lichen-scale stippled.

Their followers fear and fall prostrate:

            Dust, they mouth dust.
            They irrigate dryness with terror.

The dark gods preside, indifferent,

            rasping blade across whetstone,
            readying stained altars.


Two Dead Deer

It begins with a kindness. A skeletal deer brought in from the snow. She was kind like that, my mum. It kissed our own deer, a brief encounter, nose against nose. In a street of six houses it was my mum who brought in the skeletal stray from the snow but it was me who noticed the spots of bright red on the straw. Glass in the hoof, that’s what we thought. Drip, drip, drip. Blood from the ass, that’s what it was. This disgusting riddled deer, brought inside our barn from the snow, pissing blood from the ass. There are vaccinations for it nowadays but back then it spread like wildfire. Both deer dead in hours. What a word, “Nowadays.” It’s like a broom. Things are better Nowadays.

I remember the University. I don’t know why we went all the way out there. My mum donated the deer I guess. I was too young to be told of autopsies. We would’ve taken the bus that swung by twice a week. Five hours it would’ve been, I don’t remember any of them. I try to fill in bits that are missing but I find it’s getting harder to do. We would’ve sat quietly on the bus. We didn’t have the two dead deer with us in some bag, I’d remember that. We met our vet there. He wasn’t in his white coat. A grey suit, I remember, with a red tie. I don’t know why he was all the way out there and I don’t know why we went to meet him. I was only five. I know this because papa wasn’t gone long.

“This way,” he said. There’s comfort in direction and we followed. Down hallways, past men in shirts double-taking at my mum who was not yet old then. Through a wide courtyard, corrugated plastic for a roof, once clear, darkened with moss and bird shit and cosmic dust.

Read more >


“Four gory years ago our anthropologists brought forth, amid incontinence, a new nation, conceived of Liberty – the taxidermist from the village – and dedicated to the proposition that all grave-robbers are equally weird.

Now we are engaged – me and Liberty – in nightly and uncivil conflict, testing whether that nation, or even our union, can long endure.

We are met on the great battle-field of the wardrobe, wherefrom I pounce unto her willing bones –”


“Wow, TMI, dude.”

Bonnie had clapped her hands over the youngest’s ears. “Jimmy’s only five for pity’s sake.”

The father adjusted his posture on the stone and raised a finger.

“We have come to masticate a portion of yon field –” he began again. Just then mother Skinwalker swept into the clearing, blood still dripping from the hide of her latest victim which hadn’t quite fused around her hips. She raised an eyebrow at her husband before nodding to the children.

“Well?” she said.

“He’s been hitting the peyote again, Ma,” Declan offered.

“I only had –”

She gave him a quick stare. The eyebrow fell. She picked it up and slapped it on again.

“Don’t tell me,” Liberty sighed, self-consciously adjusting the wayward lips. “The Gettysburg Undress? Same ol' rubbish he made up for his stag-do?”

Read more >

Correction and clarification

Excuse me, I think you are mistaken, this termite mound was here far longer than I was, its mound a comfortable resting point for my ischial tuberosity ... hmm, oh the bottom of my hip ... I guess ... the plant, oh that well I'm not sure where that came from, perhaps I stored up too many apple seeds in there and they decided to sprout ... No I'm afraid not, no foetuses in here, try that tree behind me, the one that looks like a baobob, yes, of course ... you haven't heard that name before? Oh well, I can't help you with that ... Well ... yes, when the toes started sprouting I was concerned, but then the rest came too so I assumed it was part of the natural order of things and didn't question it ... There is one naked one behind me ... Yes, how embarrassed it must feel!



There's the question
of domestication
and re-purposing.

Conceivably, this place
could provide
both food

and shelter. And the unusual
of life

after death may have much
to teach us, but
I have been wrong

before when I've said
such things
in my optimism —

when I've seen
an upheld hand
and assumed a welcome.


I can feel trouble in my bones

In my red, fringed bow ballerinas
I can feel surfaces again

hardness unyielding
to my toes, each pebble

conglomerated in the stub slabs
of the business district

each trip cobble defining
my quartier’s streets.

This week the road menders
were out fixing winter’s siege

the actions of frost and thaw
stones cemented into place

just in case they’re plucked
and smashed, a ready arsenal

to launch against false order
righteousness against women

and those, oh so many, causes
touching us these spring days.



When you walk in the woods, it’s always best
to see everything, set your body to rewind,
in case you miss something. If you stay too long,
you might realise you are nowhere, the footprints
you deposit mean little to the tree’s arching body,
where nothing is off limits; is this what freedom is?

Held by four directions, form painted with earth
and held in its birth suit, the bone stag sees you,
every mark, every design, and trees reveal secrets
before we know them, the faceless year disappears,
like a once trusted friend, stealing away,
stuffing ideas into deep dark pockets.

When the sun wakes, you are older,
and count on things more, there is a new mother,
three flowers to the wind, and black skeleton branches
touch out for acceptance. The struck tree
sees years come and go like lightning,
the bone trumpet sounds the winter’s stretching
drum skin, and strips the body raw.

The stag waits in the thicket, knowing the ways
of wordless stories, dreaming to break ice again.



That’s what they tell me I am,
when I arrive after incautiously
saying: I don’t want to be
famous to myself any more

But surely everyone wants to be
Marilyn Monroe at least?

queried the one-man geopolitical
wrecking crew as he

led me to the graphite garden
where I am to learn to appreciate
the clicking metallic rain of
the endless luminous chain

of my ribs, then shake my empty
fists at a non-existent god.


The Reflection

S was very happy today. Her five years of hard work had borne fruit. ‘Finding You’ her philanthropist organisation, was hosting a charity auction in the morning to be followed by a dinner at night. Finding You would divert these funds to resettle women who had been victims of abuse and exploitation. It was a triumph and very much her own. Her rich businessman husband’s contacts did undeniably help in opening many doors for her, but she had not taken a dime from him.
‘So S, happy now?’ Her spiritual guru Swami Sarvanand Maharaj was on the phone.
‘Yes guruji! It’s all because of His grace and your blessings.’
‘Efforts are your own my child. May you continue doing the good deeds and set a good example for others to follow.’
‘Yes, this is my mission guruji.’
‘And don’t forget your pauper guru! Donate some money to our organisation too.’
‘Of course, my privilege guruji.’
She was getting congratulatory calls from everyone including her parents, her sister, her friends and her husband’s family. It was indeed a blissful day!

Getting ready in the morning, S took out the saree woven by the women under her care. She would make a statement with her humble attire at the glitzy event. It was important that others understood the depth of her commitment to resurrecting troubled lives.
As she looked into the mirror to check her reflection, an absurd and horrendous figure looked back at her. S quickly turned away.
What was it that I saw just now? A human, an animal?
She turned to the mirror again and saw the creature mocking at her yet again. It was a human skeleton with the head of a deer. The same kind that was displayed in the lobby of their farmhouse in Bharatpur. Why am I seeing that trophy in my reflection?
Read more >



Shaddup, let me think. Hmm. If A results in B then C must D? Or? Hinge behind hinge and then not always hinge ... but henge? Henge – one type of hinge, certainly. Applicable. To the point. Marry, but where's the point? Give me a point and I'll appoint to the point and thus the anointed appointed will not be disappointed. Diss-a-point-ed? Ha! Skewer what they call 'world' like a glistening toffee apple to rot these innocent sucklings liddle toothikins then, diddums then – ooze a diddums now, huh? These great stoopid lummocks. Little do they know. The fulcrum, the fulcrum! Get on with it, dithering old fool. Now. Get-King-in-Castle – get-King-in-Bitch on Heat – wait-nine-months-get-Saviour of Mankind-out. And you're halfway there. Hmmph! Such a laborious, lengthy, messy, mammalian, biological process; give me chemicals anytime. But that's the only way these dolts and scuttlers on earth know how to open the door. Ah ah ah whoopee in bed and it's a new carbon-based life-form! Spirit sent spiral sperm SPROING! … and … that's it: juice in the womb, juice on the face, pop! Out the front door. Signed, sealed, delivered. Does what it says on the can. The can of worms. I'll have 'um! Rise, ruse, roil sap, simp sump, bap bimp … bump – where was I? The hinge, the hinge! Ah but – of the hinge, where is the hinge around which to swing this merry scheme? Henge, unhinge! Am I unhinged? Rent the fabric, fulcrum fabric ripcord thistledown seed; wash the groping hand of sea where formless out of formlessness the mist and dangled carelessness of seabirds shape and swirl the vortices and display an early penchant for … skirt. Uh hu. Skirt. It’ll have to do.


Skeleton City

Bled of colour, no birds singing,
stacked tenement ribs sucked of innards,
bleached open staircases searching for souls.

Empty sockets, eyeball blasted,
twisted metal like pelvic cradles, gender blurred

Bony joints, unused to air, fixed in arthritic contortion,
some splintered, surviving to point the finger.

Groaning vertebrae struggling still to support the spinal
threads lashing and sparking at the burnt smoke sky.

Words of ancestors cosseted in bodies built to teach
cratered and collapsed, crushed to dust,
concrete mingling with cadaver, knee deep.


Lost Boys after James Miller

Found it seemed so to understand
the perverse symmetry so
to try was his own free will
well then, the ground of fractured and tender.

He tried to hold, he could do beyond grew,
weak with deep hollows and shadows
a number of known to be honest.

Experience much younger than other lines
following the days were holes in the garden
filled and folded as if from the dry.

There was no sign of brightness to break
the dark over oil his past and present boys, lost
boys with magic and headdresses.


Jackalope-Girl Decides No Children

The women would smile their condescending smiles,
say trite things like You’ll see
as if after marriage, I’d change
my mind, suddenly desire
a swollen belly, distended
womb, a litter of monsters sucking
my chest. What would be next?
An apron. A fainting couch.
Powdered formula mixed with Jack Daniels
warm on a nurse’s wrist.
A generation of half-breed
girls, jaws aching, cheeks scorched
with shame when their classmates ask
about their whiskers, their antlers.
I said no and I mean it.
A husband, a garden, a job.
If those women keep waiting,
I’ll be here. Earthly. Skeletal
in the high exposure of aftermath,
the landscape around me trying
to make up for what’s lost.



The world we know today is not the world we knew in the past.
It has certainly changed its colors and hues so fast.
A colorful world we really do not know until when will it last,
Since its people turned the beauteous nature into dust.

How I am grateful today, as I can still see the sun shines bright,
And how a simple boy smiling as he plays with his kite,
or how a Maya bird could freely take a flighty flight,
can absolutely hide what is deeply behind the horizon’s light.

Our world has savagely changed its roots into a dark, dreadful trees,
Who branched out so much hatred and feared pedigrees,
As trees will give birth to the next generation of innocent trees.
Which should not be tortured with rejection and broken-heartedness.

The new generation of trees will inherit this unfriendly disposition,
And will largely unfold a bloodshed of tormenting future.
But can we still hold a great, forceable possibility to stop this deliration?
And uphold greater values for our damaged nature.

As a song speaks, “Teach them well and let them lead the way,"
Depicts the hope and the role this new generation of trees portray.
Penetrate them with love and care so they will cherish and redo it again,
When they fail, nourish their faith and pride, so they can regain.

Us, teachers should touch the barks of our growing trees,
And branch out wisdom, produce knowledgeable pedigrees.
Let us step our feet on the ground; preach and nurture,
Teach how we existed today and how we can save the future.


Anatomy of Lovers

I have had lovers.

A lover I have scorned
A lover I have distanced
A lover I have kissed

I have had lovers.

A lover who broke me
A lover who made me
A lover who found me

I have had lovers.

A lover who is mother
A lover who is friend
A lover who is dead

I have had lovers.

A lover to mourn over
A lover to yearn for
A lover I'm yet to learn of

I have had lovers.
But, oh! How
my lovers have had me.


In The Absence of Lights

Dark-mirrored hallways A dim precision march Here we have tread before Without fear/Well measured Pagan desires and objective Study. Pavlov's dog is still Breathing, his cigarette falls To the floor and he dances like a manic animal. Lost in the headlights, accidents shall occur once more. There are no excuses left for avatars, no reasons left for men, only lights in the doorways flicker and then they slowly

===F===A===D===E      (to grey)      (to grey)    (to grey)



Stephan | Höfn

'Did you ever wonder about the Slavitdr who grew babies in the hollowed out trees? They'd find The Mistreated Ones and give them to the Ointfelt. These Slavitdr children were different; detached from worldly concerns, they taught the wisdom of natural rhythm—of connection to everything.' Every year was the same. On the eve of Latens Day, April 16th, they visited the museum for this one display. He'd repeat the same words. She didn't know why and he never told her, but the visit was written into their marriage contract. She hated its bare bones, its poised, skeletal finger, hated museums, hated seeing things that should be buried. He'd kept it hidden from her, hoping that one day she would be curious, but she remained silent, unmoved. He remembered the smell of his mother, the sap that flowed through fleshy membranes, the figure-of-eight pure energy that he felt in his own body—maybe it was time, especially as their baby was growing in her womb. It was on the tip of his tongue. He toyed with the notion, but knew she wasn't ready, her vibration stayed at the same low level even in pregnancy. He knew this was just a knee-jerk reaction to circumstance—that it was best to teach the child in secret. The child would have two names, just as he had.


The bones of things

There's a clearing in the woods where the deer go to die, where the foxes gather with gleaming eyes. There is a black tree, with a dark hole. It is old, it is old, it is very old. It is the essence of time, the density left at the bottom of the cup. Drink up. It is a black mirror. There is no way out. Do the foxes see you, with their mirrored eyes? If you look at them you are lost. Here is a skeleton, the skull of a deer. Here is something waiting to be born. After many springs, the earth reveals the bones of things.


Swamp Men

Heath was hitch-hiking along Interstate 10, making his way to Lake Charles, when his captors found him. He hadn’t seen their faces, but they were Cajun, the French in their accents giving Heath a sniff of their origins. He managed to get a look at the vehicle, a Land Rover Freelander with old mud and dried rain more visible than the original berry red paint-job. His kidnappers had bound his hands with a cable tie; the bag over his head prevented Heath from seeing, though he heard dogs growling, patrolling cages in the boot of the car.

They had been driving for hours before they abandoned the car and forced Heath to walk into the swampland. They reached the remotest part of nowhere; when they removed the bag and told him to run. Heath’s eyes took a while to adjust, it was night, and he had the kidnappers' torchlights blinding his eyes. He could make out the bright orange of their padded jackets but their faces where hidden behind balaclavas, or underneath dusty camo caps. Heath ran, only looking back once to find two of the men loading hunting rifles and another watching him, leashed Akitas at his side. He’d been running for hours, hiding behind sunken roots whilst he caught his breath.

Heath battled through grey-green waters, clouds of dust forming around his feet. He never liked swamps, and Louisiana was riddled with them. At this moment the marshes where both a friend and an enemy – his hiding place, masking his scent, but also slowing him down, and making his escape difficult.

Read more >

A Bomb in the Park

Resting on a lawn stone
watching the kids' see-saw
some muddish storm
melting the fleshes
like chocolates heated on top of a pan
Never knew why
there are no bones left on see-saw's top
my head got replaced with
the mother of
three grazing fawns
don't even intrude with
conflict of humans.


That’s What He Does

Her lateness was a common occurrence
often due to her fondness of
watching El Nino, a trashy daytime soap,
so fixated on the raging personalities and inclement plot lines
that she'd forget they were supposed to meet and have dinner.

Tonight’s dinner however was a special event,
a toothsome sampling of four courses,
a leafy starter, an ice cold sorbet to cleanse taste buds,
followed by the speciality roasted lamb dish and
topped off
with a summer berry sundae.

He'd been waiting so long that
his hunger had eroded everything which made him
a man.

Did she not care?

Checking his watch every few minutes had begun to tire him.
Lifting such a heavy weighted, plated watch
can be exhausting
when all you have to sustain you
is your fading hope and stubbed out dreams,
dreams stubbed out like the centrepiece candle was
when the waiter licked both of his stubby fingers
pinched the flame out of existence.

Read more >

Skeletal Wisdom

“I must say you are looking well, young man,” uttered the rattling skeleton perched on a rock in front of me.

“Um. Thank you,” I replied. There was something a little strange about this articulate skeleton. He had a human frame and a deer’s skull. The antlers were particularly impressive. I found myself staring at them while he spoke. I couldn’t figure out what was so strange about him.

“I am glad you have come to listen to my wisdom, young man. I will show you truths that are irrefutable as well as falsehoods that are also irrefutably true. Do you see my finger before me?”

He waggled the bones of his index finger. I heard a light scraping as he did so. The sound made its way to my ears with a slight delay as if I was standing a long way away from this man-deer-skeleton. I could see him clearly, though. A small beetle crawled out of his eye socket and up onto one of his antlers.

“My finger represents wisdom, young man. With this finger, I can control life and death and everything in between. Do you understand me, young man?”

“Oh. Yes. Of course,” I stuttered. I was waiting for my brain to catch up with the visual and auditory stimuli that pounded my head. Every small movement of the man-deer-skeleton’s skull confused me. His rippling ribs confused me. I thought the protruding finger was beginning to make sense, but the sound of its scraping confused me. I couldn’t figure out what was so strange about this being.

“Now I am pointing it at you, young man. Do you see? Now I am pointing it at you.”

Read more >


Boasting in your light, you
have forgotten the strands of flesh that
once made you human.
I had to be conjured
from broken

I’ll feed on your stories of thunder.
Your charlatan tales
of valor, creating you
but not you.

Read me in your legends.
I am the one who roams in fear,
creating grandeur out of

Bone and ashes under
a licorice sky;
Lust stamped with a smell of
Wilderness. My screams
unrelinquished, yet

How many bullets have you left,
Let me show you the way.


The Clearing

Is it night?
Or is it just this place?
Sparse, stricken
Where nothing but twigs grow
From crooked trees
Skeletal, yet beautiful still
Curving, leaning, swaying
To and fro
Like an unfurling stretch
Petrified mid-flow
Etching deep hollows
Impregnated, dried-up womb
Lonely, dark, desiccated tomb

Guarded by that wondrous figure
Atop bare limestone rock
Wasted, stark, still
Yet lucid, controlled, knowing
Forbidding, forewarning
Commanding, prompting
Intrigue and desirous wanting
Forbidden, hidden, deep
Yet, one may enter at their will


La Danza del Venado

I usually die
at the end of the dance
but I’m still upright
perched atop volcanic rock
cooled magma
with my bare bones index finger
pointing up to make a rebuttal.

Thin dead branches sprout
from my ribcage, my gaping
heart-shaped pelvis. My antlers
not yet shed, I’m ready for battle.

Tar black sky pinpricked above
crucifixion thorn, starlight
older than the bones, the rock,
the dance, the people, the earth.

I have not fallen. Behind me
the tree — her branches bare and
clawing skyward, belly warm
with embryonic life, her wooden
uterus cradles new flesh.

I, too, will bloom.
In the desert,
we have deep roots.



I remember the plants in the Devil’s kitchen. They were dry, brittle herbs that reached from the walls like coarse fingers. I was called a witch for knowing each of them by name, though I imagine it had more to do with my swollen belly and the fact that the Devil had put her there.

Daphne. Lia. Florence. Ruby.

‘Crack!’ He released their flaking particles into the air, teaching me how to take those modest twigs and turn them into fields of riotous taste. It was simple: he was magic. He wove such intoxicating smells, flavours, colours that made my head spin, and lay them carefully before me on porcelain plates.

Beatrice. Anna. Evangeline. Daisy.

In the still mornings, I would creep down to pad the length of that kitchen, barefoot, lifting the lids of the boiling pots to see which bones he had bubbling away inside. The steam made my cheeks blush like a little girl. I suppose I was young, really. I was young and he was ancient. I fancied that his black eyes had seen life and death a thousand times already for he existed in a constant state of unsurprise. Maybe he’d fallen from the sky a long, long time ago.

“Mirena.” I suggested. Crack. Crack. “Madeleine. Rosemary. Alice.” Crack.

He put the plate in front of me. Adorned, it was a work of art.

Everything that grows can be eaten. He told me. Everything that lives can be consumed.

Read more >

The Visible Humerus [or in the land of the ossified]

With its vast and subtle range of expression, the five pointer presented a refined, tasile diagram - the atlas of the body. Oh, they were such rigid and pitted surfaces presenting the relationship of one bone to another. Such dynamic structures undergoing constant change and remodelling. Holy moly! A veritable confectionary of digits, tarsals, phalanges, quinti brevis and abductor flexor opponess. Fourteen phalanges were present, the shift of the ulva and radius and a highly visible humerus. Thus presented in subtle tones, the figure appeared as an account of and the map by which we navigate the journey of life [and thus to death]. Life consists of a quest, perhaps an ecological one of a rich and subtle kind and "immediately rather than words comes the thought of high windows, the deep blue air, that shows nothing and is nowhere and is endless".


Animal Tranquility

Insight sits in the silent rotted belly
of the one true stoic. Her body
curdles free on the warm highway sward,
upward eye pierced inward to grasp firm
her brood, to feel her life and all life,
exuded in its unstrained essence
lovingly from the natural spire.
It pushes upward, shoots in new hope.

Chains of dry atoms knowingly linked
sift from the angled rock, as a vine
slips silently through time unfeeling.
They reach, striving forever unseen,
in perpetual vomit to shape
the stoic's gift and make it anew.

The crossed fingers of a flattened
god indistinct from the umber
dirt unfold in the reflection
of her sunlit stare to instruct:
two is one: one is true: there is
wisdom here.


Lessons I’ve Learned

Here's the first thing
You have to be patient
Nothing grows complete overnight
Not me, not babies, not trees in the woods

Here's the second thing
Expect the unexpected
Just because you think you know what I should look like
Doesn't mean I'll grow that way
I may mutate
I may transform
Part animal, part tree

Here's the third thing
Expand your concept of beauty
Don't called me disabled
Call me whole
Just different
Just unusual
But mostly just beautiful


The Tale of the Black Satan

Last year in summer, a couple of friends and I went to stay in small rented cottage in the Eifel Mountains in the west of Germany, and we drank beer and had a good time in that delightful place called No Service on Your Mobile Phone. We walked up hills and down valleys, and on one of the walks we came across the ruins of a castle that, as the story goes, was once the home of a marauding knight called the Black Satan. At his castle, which later became known as the Geisselsburg, the hostage castle, he kept a dungeon full of hostages from the surrounding villages to extort ransom from their families. One day he and his men captured an elderly man in the woods who was surely to die if imprisoned in the dirty dungeons, so the other hostages pleaded with the Black Satan to release the man, but the knight just laughed. The old man perished after two nights in the dungeon, but not before cursing the knight with his dying breath. That night, while the knight was drinking with his companions, imperial troops from nearby Trier stormed the castle, killed the knight's men, freed the hostages and hung the Black Satan with his castle burning around him.


Intimacy by the side of the road

when your face looks so alive
I want to lean in, have a chat
tell you they call it in-to-me-see
the explicitness of naked truth
but yours is an ellipsis
a world behind that raised hand
creatures to keep you company
and in time the lunacy of life
taken, from dust to dust



A pause arrived, exploitation’s cessation, to the
restaurant evening. She stood, dressed to serve, like every other woman,
waiting. But, armed with her icon, from the hiding inside
pocket, ran her finger over the too soft corners of the
photo; the delicate brindling of black night against woman
white bone, skeleton burgeoning with devotion who
wore a corona’s antlers, salutation to the moon, was
singing praise ye yahs of fertile prayer, ready to
glory – the gilded promise of night ahead, of dance
at the crossroads, charged then filled, naked
with mystery. She stood out spilled in
the restaurant evening and chose belief in the
prayer for the baby that never comes. The bar
clogged with patrons, too canned from alcohol, she ran of
abstinence from the world of real problems, collapsing – misfits
infiltrated her mind and together they blew
apart the evening with a skeleton of deer
and a dancing woman’s magic.


The Lesson

Beloved, mes chers, born of my flesh,
my little dears.
Just listen a moment to the wind in
    my bones,
see my white mycelia in the moonlight,
    the tucked up embryo in the belly
of the thorn tree.

Safe for now.
Heed our symbiosis.
Remember, all is not always as it seems.



This forest would have been my last choice for a rutting contest. Dark shadows enclosed the strange trees with their evil spiny branches and fertile bulging hollows. Even the October moon was struggling to show her face. So unnerving.
Richmond Park or Heathland in daylight would have been appealing, but Rufus had first choice of venue this year. I wondered how humans choose their fate-mate. Did they have an audience of eager other-humans?
Suddenly my musing was cut short by the snorting arrival of Rufus, my belligerent combatant!
We confronted each other. Eyes met. Heads lowered and we took precise steps until our breath was steaming through the musty air.
The deer ladies watched in apprehension. I had won many ruts in my time and enjoyed the fawning adulation, but surely my energetic thrusting and side-battering was coming to an end. One last performance, followed by retirement with a sleek red goddess in a velvety coat. We'd munch acorns and lie in the sun all day.
Crash! Our antlers tangled together with a grinding sound. We were fighting for supremacy; Rufus the Ruthless and myself. The deer ladies averted their eyes. Maybe they had transferred their affections to a mightier power. I managed to drag myself onto a grey rock. My body had undergone a transformation. Strangely, I wasn't afraid because I had become almost human. My bones were visible, ribs and other bits. The evil branches I mentioned earlier were embedded throughout my skeletal frame and for some unexplained reason there was one bony digit pointing. Perhaps it was telling Rufus,
'Your turn will come'.
One of my bone-human-arms was merely a stick-shape, but my handsome stag's head was leaving the dreadful forest soon.
Guess I had been hung out to dry...


Behind the Scenes

He gave us paper -

stories, sleeping
beneath our skin.

Wait, he said.
Wait, now.

And so we did -

patient to begin.

Our tiny deaths
holding breaths so
trees could stretch
out into lungs.

One day, he said -
we will talk about this.

Of forming planets
in our mouths
so we can start to exist.



Dear, Dear-Tree
I cannot guess your expression
Is that unicorn still at your back?
I have unpleasant visions
All bone and extending branch and twig
Antlers of power with no musculature to drive the rage or lust
under moon light it becomes clear
Dear, Dear-Tree
Reply to this letter
You have my address


Haunting 101

“Now listen carefully, Billy. What you learn today is very important.”
Billy looked up and nodded.
Who would’ve thought you’d still have school when you died. He took in the sight of the teacher in front of him. A skeleton, none the less. The head of a deer, antlers and all, with the body of a human. It bemused him. Dead, and he still had to learn. Haunting 101.
“Why am I here? I’m dead, aren’t I? Why do I need school?”
“Yes, Billy, you’re dead, but you still have much to do and I am here to help.”
“I don’t get it,” Billy said shaking his head.
“Your death was unnatural and there is only a small window of time for revenge. You don’t want him to get away with it do you?”
“No,” Billy shouted, slamming his hand down on the desk in front of him. A loud boom echoed around the room. “Very good,” Ms. Antlers said. “Your anger is powerful, you’ll need that.”
Billy shook his head. “Mom always said anger was bad, that I had to let it go cause it would eat me up inside.”
“Your mom was right, but in this case, you’re going to need your anger and I believe your mom would agree. She's suffering Billy, look,” Ms. Antlers said, pointing a bony finger towards a screen to her right.
It flashed and Billy saw his mom. She was sitting on his bed, tears flowing as she sobbed into his favorite shirt. Something moved behind her and he saw him, his murderer.
“He’s still there?” Billy shouted.
“Yes, he is. No one knows what he’s done, not yet anyway. Are you ready to take revenge, Billy? Are you ready to put right the wrong that has been done?”
Billy looked up, his eyes filled with tears as he nodded.

Read more >

Soul Thief

The stiff fingered warning
wasn't enough to keep you out,
he warned you away and still
you came, crawling

Through caked dirt and mud
to sordid little souls that shrieked
from inside dank tree graves
where he kept them, full

Of knots and thick bark
that curled them rightly into place
until they were ready
for the next, displacement

In the latitude of no time -
the vast space of choices
between living and dying,
this was not fate, but chance

Antler-headed guardian of stones,
ancient one with no name
and of every name
watched, and waited

For the young ones who called
out into the lonely cimmerian night
when no one else listened,
he heard

Read more >

Roadkill – Sigmund Meets Bambi

For a young buck of twenty something, couple's therapy sounds profoundly middle aged. But it offers a truth. Sooner or later we all stare into the barrel, a hedonistic cornucopia or a metaphorical rifle, wooed or frog marched into decisions made by the other. Victims of the ego ideal. What does a woman want? I wanted her.

I catch sight of her reflection. Responsibility weighs heavy. She didn’t always look this way. Self consciously appraising her body. Caught in a limitless loop of desire. She presses down the high rise of her belly. The game's trappings of a love triangle. Hounded by limers, their necks stretching on a leash to kiss, tell, bark, devour. I didn’t consider the consequences. Affections unfettered, unconditional. I gambolled, just wanting her.

Silence, mine. Talk, mine. Life, no longer mine. Was I being misogynistic? Chauvinist thoughts form bitter ammunition for words unspoken. Finger raised, your question punches through.
"How did you feel about the ultrasound?"
Transported there, to the noose, the gallows, the shock. Dry throat, eyes prickled, air sucked from my lungs, not the expected response to an acknowledged virility. Father. Daddy. The lump rose in my throat. I took a breath, the plunge. Dare I let it out? It was the first I knew, seeing the scan. She’d waved it in euphoria.
"Somedays. Sometimes, I see her as roadkill."

There, I'd said it. It was out. Was she really mine? Was her child really mine? We were barely two together before she’d doubled. An unnegotiated twist. A betrayal. A misfire. Did I want her? Them? Us? Trapped, I imagined a queue of suitors. We weren’t just a one night stand. We weren’t an item either, no exclusivity.

Read more >

Feeling, Being

There is green in this, even yet,
you hear it rise to colour,
sense it weave itself along your bone branches,
ache to know it again. Once.

Life might stir, open out of innermost you.
Difficult breath to draw,
drought dry intake at first, until
you gasp fill the gaps with sweet air.

Skin next, a wish, a coat, proof against rain
against those who would sling stones.
Pull into it, slip it over your cold old bones,
hoist it over a shoulder then the other.

Propose a caution to those who would follow you here.
Wait friend, it doesn’t have to be this way.


Stag Weekendski

It all went 'tits-up' the minute the stripper arrived at the bar. We were expecting a young Russian beauty, not some wrinkly bloke over ninety. But that's what you get when your not-so-worldly-wise mates rely on internet translator software; when the cheapskates have organised your Stag-Do in Somethingistan, a former soviet republic, somewhere between China and medieval Europe. So, to get the night back on track, we ordered some more shots – a couple for the old geezer, “no hard feelings, mate” – before trying to manhandle the old 'stripper' out of the bar. But he wouldn't go, put up a fight and strong as an ox he was. He decked a couple of our lads, he did, put the frighteners on 'em. Of course, no one wanted to go near the wrinkly old sod after that. He stood, fists raised, shouting something about 'honour', he had 'honour' or so Uri the barman, who spoke some English, said. “Honour what?” we asked.
“He has contract ... been paid to 'do' the husband-to-be ... he must honour this contract,” translated Uri. Me being the husband-to-be (and peacemaker) told the old bloke, “It's okay, you don't have to do anything (especially me!). There's been a misunderstanding, no honour lost, so don't worry about the money, you can keep it.” I approached him gingerly, hand extended, ready for a forgiving handshake. The old man unclenched his fist, slowly moved his hand towards mine and held it in his vice-like grip. Staring me in the eyes he said that word again, the one that I now knew to mean 'honour'.
I should have run then.
I woke up, having an out-of-body experience. I could see myself stretched across a table. I looked thin, my muscles without tone – all that time down at the gym, wasted. The old man whistled as he brushed me down with a stiff brush, leaving my skin pink-lined from the brushstrokes. However, I could not feel the bristles. I could only sense a general burning over my whole body. The pain was immense. I was hyper-ventilating. The smell of fresh blood ... where was everyone else, the bar? Read more >



And is this what you were expecting,
after a long journey through the night?
To arrive in this pagan place
and understand that it is here,
beneath the earth, within the darkness,
that you will find yourself.
Naked and exposed, and alone,
you will gaze at the bones of a hand and say,
‘Here I am,’
in a voice no longer your own.
Then sit a while and wait.
Remember. Forget.
Until bones turn to dust.
Animal, mineral, chalky and white.
You. Not you.
Something else is growing.
Someone else is waiting.
Curled up and listening, whispering, transitioning.
Through soft bloody flesh,
emerging into light.


Close Scrapes With Death

When life scrapes against death
leaving you in a constant
cycle of recuperation and illness

and those stalactite tears
hanging from your eyes
become hardened by circumstance

and the fight against darkness
drains your soul
picking your bones clean

leaving you incapable
of keeping someone alive
by sheer willpower alone

you will realise
there is no end in sight
no use in reaching for hope

and that’s the black-and-white of it


A Final Sup

Show me your ribs
and I’ll suck them dry
until we don’t have
a leg left to stand on

Take a seat
where flesh meets bone
meets God meets nature
meets the last gasp
of lungs that gave way
when the curtains fell
on a dark night gone viral

Pierce into my side
with the horns of your love
when all lust for life
has been bled to the marrow

Show me a womb
where rings meet sap
meet rocks meet grass
meet the final collapse
of a pelvis that’s shattered
as a black wave of shadows
comes calling for its pound


Bones & Discontentment

The breath of night
Is chilling,
It harbors a feeling of
Discontentment and
I sit listlessly in
The shades of nuance,
Waiting for the grip of
Death to summon me.
Weightless in its
Approach, it comes for me when
I have lost all sense of

Life is wallowing in the midst
Of trying times and grated lies.

They are filed away in a box
Called Keepsakes.
We do not open it.
There is no treasure there.
Only the breath of old
Bones hanging themselves
Daily with rope too
Taut for us to unravel.

Death plays a game
None of us can win.


The Wisdom

This is our work:
to create efficient crossbreeds
genetically modified myths
grown here in our own laboratories.

Over here, you’ll see, is one of our more
successful experiments. The foetus
is nurtured in the pouch we created
by blending marsupial genes
with baobab tree.

This is our mission:
to sit together on termite mounds
and conjure symbiotic monsters
for our histories. We do this to survive.

This is the wisdom:
Rabbit hearts will rise with the sap
and beat in slow time with the swell
of new bark. We will soon become
part man, part beast, part tree.

Listen carefully, and the teacher
will reveal the secret.


Oh Dear

Nigel Falange and George Galway often spent time together trying hard to avoid the members of the British press.

They knew a walk through the enchanted forest was likely to be about as peaceful as it gets.

But the tranquillity was punctured when they came upon a skeleton of a deer sitting on a stone with a quizzical look where its eye might have once been.

George asked Nigel, “Do you know what you call a deer with a patch over one eye?”

Nigel replied, “This sounds like a bad idea.”

George nodded, “That’s right. Now what do you call a blind deer?”

“No idea,” said Nigel.

“Right again,” said George, “What do you call a blind deer sitting on a stone?”

“Still no idea.” Nigel was getting more worried by the moment.

“Finally here’s a hard one,” said George. “What do you call an enchanted deer skeleton, sitting on a stone in an magical forest, cocking its head to one quizzical side and raising a single, powerful-looking bony finger as if about to perform a spell, perhaps to turn you into something horrendous like a member of the paparazzi?”



Almost Human

As you can see, the diet was a complete disaster but the species realignment seems more promising. I was assured by the clinic that the reincarnation process would be much smoother if I paid in advance for the full course. But a word of warning to you all — please read the small print!



there was that skull that popped out of my rib that one time  
when I was in the apple garden and Lilith was busy dancing with the krakens   you dont expect a skull to come out of there   not in Eden   those things dont happen here     not until the snakes   or when I started finding foetuses resting in the womb of bone trees   that was when I felt pain   and the skull grew laces of golden hair and a mouth of vermillion red    
   and I knew nothing would be as beautiful or perfect   than that moment   when the skull from my rib sung to me


King Elder

"Ah, my dear, I must tell you we were walking across the plain when something very exciting happened.
“As we crossed the waste bed and headed back to the camp, we approached the far grove of Stegmant trees. In one we could see a nearly hatched Ruetuth Fossil, which had already broken through the skin of one of the trees. So we approached to view it. That in itself would have been exciting, we could have stayed and watched it leave its cocoon and fly. Oh the colours of a newly hatched wing set! As you can tell it was all very exciting.
“But as we neared the trees we could see that what we thought was an old dead shrub was a fully grown King Elder, sitting on a parchment rock. And, it held a newly germinated baby Elder in one hand. The Elder was unaware of our approach, at least we think it was as it continued to talk to the shrubling. It is unusual to get that close to a King Elder as they are still nervous of us, you know we used to hunt them for their ribs to make the frame springs for Off Wind Flyers.
“Anyway we all stood there quietly and watched as it continued to talk to the Shrubling, it was quite something. You could see the baby Elder move gently with the words.
“Then the King Elder looked up at us and stopped. It used its other hand to shield the baby Elder and looked at us one and all. It dipped its head and snorted.
“We all stamped a hoof in response and I dug the ground with one shoe to indicate our well-meaning.
“Well the King Elder ducked its great horns and stood up from the parchment rock. Everyone was still, nothing even moved the frayed ends of the tree arms.
“The King Elder looked down at the Shrubling and blew on it. It blew on it! And we could see its arms tremble! As we watched they grew nearly a full toe in length!
Read more >


Daphne Deer

Oh, Father,
you possessed me
to turn tree for
my arrival at
the Age of Survival.
Once again,
the Lost Acre,
the Final Verve.
At least the tree
Sucks on rock sap.
Skinny limbed, dry skinned.
But living.

Then the wind blew
and all I could do was stand
there, like a tree.
I swallowed a seed,
swindled by my own Mother
to make.
Cavity, knot, womb
Stuffed with sapling surplus.
To bear is cruel here.
Kinder to exterminate.

Look at that woman-relic.
She ate so much veal,
all that was left, and
became a she-deer.
Read more >



Death's icy breath,
Lingers near,
When the time draws closer,
May the words I've written stand,
As dry bones hauntingly speak,
Expelling truth,
Rattling ribs long since fused,
Hers was a story of perseverance,
An outspoken tongue often told to be still,
Yet even after the soul has ascended,
Her words shall live.


The Fallen Deer

I have been this way for a long time now.
Hundreds and hundreds of years in fact.
It doesn't seem strange to me anymore. I bet it seems strange to you.
Well maybe if I tell you my story you may understand.
Long, long ago I was the king of the forest.
I was a big, tall, proud stag and everyone knew who I was and respected me.
I commanded everything from the mighty owl to the lowly mouse.
There wasn't anything else like me.
I wanted to be a fantastic king, better than any other, so my ancestors would look down on me with pride.
Unfortunately my behaviour was unbecoming.
I came across a little field mouse one day
Being a long way from her home and family she was naturally feeling scared.
"Oh please noble and powerful king," she squeaked, "please, please help me get home."
"How dare you bother me little mouse," I bellowed. "I am much to busy looking after the forest to help you."
With a crack of thunder and a flash of lightening the little mouse was transformed into a terrifying wizard.
"You maybe king in name, but you are certainly not in heart. Until you learn to treat everything the same you shall forever remain a skeleton deer."
With that he disappeared never to be seen again.
I don't get much of a chance nowadays to prove I have changed.
All the other animals fear me still but now for my hideous appearance.
I have learnt to late that all god's creatures need understanding and compassion.
Don't let it be too late for you.


Teach me to love

This collection
Of memory
has grown limbs
tangled in a lovely body
Delicate and unreal

I know what is lost
A different kind
of manifest
The one that turns inside
and trickles down the spine

I see your face
Bare boned and pale
A recollection is not a person
Flesh seeming cold
yet it warms to the touch



A barren waste before my eyes
an echo of a time long gone
when man and beast    ruled    the earth,
then together
       met with their demise.

But if we mount a real attempt
to bring this landscape back to life
we can learn from our mistakes
and give the buried seed
and hidden bud
       a chance at true rebirth.


A Man Trammelled by Pain

I do have a wise head you know,
even if my flesh has weakened
and seen better days and centuries.

I point my index finger hopelessly
in your direction – and beg for your attention.
Which I appreciate is small and limited.

You don’t really want to know my back story.
It is not flashy or famous – just inevitable.
I languish on the outskirts of your mind.

I dwell on the perimeters, the back streets.
My habitat is bare, bleak and beyond basic.
A doorway in plain sight corrupted by detritus.

I wait for your benevolence – forgotten coins.
Swept up by a hand from a bottomless pocket.
Landing at my feet without a word or glance.

But I am grateful and I will tell you my name.
As you walk swiftly away to a better life.
My name is Stewart and I have no fixed abode.


Looks like rain…

You’ve probably noticed I’m not looking quite myself?
Well it was like this...
I told the missus, “I’m off for a walk.”
She said, “Are you sure? It looks like rain dear.”
She couldn’t stop laughing so I said, “Put a sock in it, my little caribou.”
Off I went proudly holding my head, and rather splendid antlers, high.
Don’t tell her but she was right. Right as rain, as it happens. It began to rain.
But it wasn’t your normal everyday rain, you know the cats and dogs sort of rain, the old man snoring type of precipitation, the stair rods sort of wet stuff.
No, it was acid rain. The Greenpeace type of rain, the Friends of the Earth sort of precipitation, the category of rain that doesn’t refresh.
Well look at the picture my mate took. He told me to smile but I don’t feel much like smiling these days as I ain’t got no body as the old song goes. Now you might think this is a metaphor for the state of the world and what we are doing to it but for me it’s my life.


The Mechanics of Monotony

the slow beat of a drum is a
grate against the ear
boom. boom. boom.

creating an incessant treble
varying with intonation within
Boom. Boom. Boom.

ridiculously enclosed in a cage
with no frame of support

an echo reverberates
and within, nothing without

so, when you ask me -
how do we break this monotony?

I say -
one bone
at a time.

All the time.


The Death of Animals

Maybe it was too much Terry Pratchett?

It was my habit to read to the laboratory animals, after I'd fed them. Often, in the quiet evenings, after all the whitecoats had gone home, the spotlights were off and all the animals were safe in their cages, I would chat to the animals as I filled feed bowls and topped up water bottles. I always moved from the smallest to the largest; starting with the fruit flies and locusts, on to the many mice and rats, then the few cats and dogs. I saved the monkeys until last. The deer only arrived a short time ago, despite what people think.

After feeding, I would take out my latest novel. I liked to read aloud. The animals are housed in a converted chapel. The builders did not think to factor out the acoustics, so even a modulated voice travels. I like to think the words calmed and soothed those troubled animals. Certainly, the agitation would die down; the mice would stop scrabbling, the cats and dogs would sit and watch me. The monkeys would gather at the front and wrap their arms round the bars nearest to me; one or two would imitate my lips moving. I thought the Pratchett Death character was particularly well received.

I objected when the lab company took on the new contract. We were all allowed anonymous comments. I wrote that I thought the brain implants were cruel and unnecessary. What good would it do the animals to a have increased imagination? Better memory? Who would want to remember a life like this?

The comments didn't matter, of course, they never do.

Read more >

Death Waits for No One

A lusty seductress whispering in one's ear,
It can't wait,
Why do today, what can be done tomorrow?
With her luscious lips of red,
She spews forth promises like venom from a snake,
Weary traveler beware!
Her deceitful gaze will lead you astray,
For while staring into the mirror,
Her appeal soon fades,
She waits for no one.


The Polite Ewe

Ah hello there, can I just stop you for a minute? I seem to have got my baby stuck in that tree trunk behind me and I can't get her out. Would you be so kind as to help me? I don't have much strength anymore since I became all bone. They told me the drugs would work but my muscles atrophied and my skin fell away. It was my last chance to be a ewe. And when he snuck into the barn that night, I let it happen. I know cross-species relationships are frowned upon in these parts but he was gentle. So gentle he cried. Sad, really. But there you go. And look what happened. My beautiful baby girl came into the world. The problem was that she shot out of my bones, what with me not having any skin. Shot out like a loose stool. And straight into the tree trunk over there. She hasn't cried so I think she's ok. Would you be a darling and help me?


Hoc Est Corpus Meum

This is my body
it transforms
it is transformed by pain, nausea, hunger and morbidity
it transubstantiates
reconstitutes bone into sticks
it is less than hope can hold
it convulses and folds
it is the real presence
it is Actaeon after the feast
and it sheds flesh like death.

What nourishes me also destroys me
A blind conspiracy of t-cells
A dissonance within, a mute fluttering
the dolorous baying of ravenous entrails
the moxie drawn from reticulated limbs
and the world shudders down under black wings
to void all memory
to disgorge all resonance
to vomit all in an exegesis of viscera.

Even in paradise there is death
Tumor necrosis factor alpha
slaved to the monolith cytokine
a malfunction in stone and
all broken once again, once and for all, broken
hollowed out and broken
Read more >


The Transformation

‘Who’s the text from?’
‘It’s nothing, just one of the girls.’
‘Let me see.’
‘No, really Simon, it’s nothing.’
The knuckle bone strikes the skull with a force as great as a hammer. Sends her flying, and as she falls, her head catches the edge of the glass table. The table they had chosen together, after much debate, and which she polishes every day. It shatters. Some slivers of glass pierce her left eye, and one slices her left cheek to the bone. She sees a swirling kaleidoscope of colours. She shakes her head, and a jagged bolt of pain zigzags behind her eyes. Her vision is blurred, but dimly she sees a shape, leaning on a large rock. A powerful, threatening figure, with a stag’s head, antlers standing erect and proud. Cold eyes stare at her. The flesh has melted from this creature, whose skeleton flexes and twitches before her eyes. It leans so casually in this ghastly nightmare scene, lord of the blasted trees, and bleak, black land. What is that lurking within that tree? Is it her embryo, which she has tried to guard within its cocoon inside her? Has this creature torn it from her and left it crouching there alone? A deep sense of hopelessness, and despair is creeping over her senses, paralysing her. She knows with certainty that she will not find a path out of this desolate forest.


Bone Hand Skull Rock Branches Death

These words are formed of bone
lines written on the hand
lines circled through the skull
they sit upon this rock
they travel through branches
these words are made of death
Yet not afraid of death
this mind enclosed by bone
this mind grows new branches
it opens like a hand
it closes like a rock
these thoughts surround the skull
This body holds the skull
remaining whole in death
as solid as this rock
the flesh has left the bone
the flesh that masked this hand
these dreams between branches
Still naked like the branches
this emptiness of skull
this emptiness of hand
it fills the air like death
it scrapes the heart like bone
these endings hard like rock
This rend remains like rock
nerves undone by branches
nerves shattering the bone
Read more >


to make love potions and get nothing in return

with a love under blankets
and constellations smiling...
in a soft belonging, you belong to him,
                                                a leash.

conjured from prayer signs,
and the palm of plantain trees
and a rose quartz in the shape of god

he sits in darkrooms, singing his spell
testing his faith, why, it's never come through
it's never once worked

oh and some nights he gives up, like a child

the money spent on candles
the nights spent haunted, oh,
the ouija board speaks now, it speaks.

but he puts their hearts on leashes
to free himself from his.

he keeps the candle burning because
he can't stand the burn out.

he stays haunted because that way
he can now speak ghost.

it's a simple tragedy, but in truly desperate nights,
he consummates the plantain tree and
uses the candles like dildos;

he's married to his work,


A Monumental Blur

I came across it while walking in a park
Like a monument talking to the sky
Stripped of dignity, a bony benchmark
Sitting on a stony rock asking why

An unofficial finger, was pointing in a blur
Finger was a toe, now a tangled mess
Whereas the head was still a gentle demur
Although really in a total distress

But the elk in the picture is from a different land
Slaughtered for want, and then disfigured
Mutilation of deer is totally banned
And this magnificent specimen set the trigger

And still the head showed a certain glee
Reminding us all, the need to be free.