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See You There

There are borders

To the state of sadness

Clutching the wire

Looking at you

A tear falls and I fight the urge

To stand up

Wipe it from your eye

Because it isn’t how you escape

And even the most eloquent

Are robbed of words

By the prognoses

Promises unfulfilled

And so, unable to help,

I stand, the kettle is boiling,

And if I cannot fill the empty space

Such change leaves,

Then I will surround it

With my silence

Whisper across the barricades

Where and when I will meet you

Although i do not know the way

I will




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Terse Counsel

there are some

I trust with my secrets

Nothing corrosive

For I’ve been to the ground with


But still

The council of quiet men

Advice which cuts away

Weak and rotting thought

So I return

Hard and strong

Terse counsel

Growling in my bones

Sit with women

Knowing I spare her

My weaknesses

But not 

My attention

Masculine energy renewed

In their company

Or in solitude

Both the same

Both the same

Both the same

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Friendship is Forever



You last saw her on the corner of Garden Street, just before the stretch of wasteland which became a stretch of motorway ten years later.


You had been arguing about something. Someone.


Terry Yates. The first time anyone or anything had come between you, and it was a bloody boy.


You remembered the way the conversation slid out of control, all the little resentments building up like the start of an infection, making you flushed and shaky as you screamed at one another. No one stopped to ask what was wrong, because back then, as a child, you could wander off and have adventures.


Earning scars to build armour with.


But you were giving them to one another.


Mary Paul.


Twelve years old and the best friend you ever had.


Your cheek tingles when its cold. The doctor never explained it but you think its a sense memory. The crack of her palm against it when you spat how her brother was a queer.


Her eyes bulging with shock and her hand coming up, faster than the fading light.


You rocked back, hand pressed against it as you hiss at her, wishing she was dead.


You remember it as hissing, but late at night, you remember how you screamed it at her.


She ran off, and you watched her leave as something sat on your chest, made you sit down and put your head between your knees and cry yourself sick.


In a kinder world than this, you would have seen her at school the next day. You would laugh about it, or at least make things right again.


She did not come to school. The policeman in your parents kitchen, he looks too big for the house and he asks you, in a voice which booms even as he tries to whisper, questions about where she might have gone.


You don’t lie to him but you make yourself forget. Part of you is still angry at her, and if she’s missing, then it’s her own fault. You learn something ugly about yourself then, which remains at the back of your throat forever, a scar which makes it difficult to swallow sometimes.


They never found her.


There are appeals.




Her parents on television, blinking into the harsh lights and struggling not to cry as they tell her she’s not in any trouble.


At night, you think about where she could be.


Sometimes you let yourself remember.


A copse of trees tucked into the corner of the caravan park. Sneaking past the caravans, and through a hole in the fence, brambles and thorns to slash at your legs.


The silver bark of the tree, cool and smooth, and the knot of roots. It is cool and quiet there, and you played there, silly games which made sense to you both. The language of a friendship learned in private.


They never found her.


Your decision stays with you.


It whispers in your ear on your wedding day.


It’s there in the delivery room when you give birth to your first child.


It stands by you at the funeral. Two coffins. Not too big and another, too small to look at without wanting to die.


It sits next to you on the train ride. Mute with loss, and going home to your parents after a stay in a place with clean white walls and a regime of pills to stop you from opening your wrists again.


You go for walks each day, and have to reconcile the changes with your psycho-geography. Your mum’s terrier, Bobby, has never known anything like it.


It is when you find yourself at the caravan park, that Bobby refuses to go in. It whimpers, pulling away but the terrible gravity of your guilt pulls you in.


Bobby comes with you. The caravans are empty this time of year, but you wonder if you’ve ever seen them occupied.


The gap is still there, but you have a job of getting in, although Bobby pulls away, you manage to get inside.


The effort and the humid air have brought you out in a sweat, but here it is still cool and dark.


You hear the ragged breath of someone with you.




Movement to your left. A palsied hand, with long black nails ragged and sharp against the bark. She does not move like a person, alien in the way a bird pecks at the ground. The face, frozen in youth but the skin is mottled and loose, like a mask too big to fit.


‘Hello, my friend. It’s good to ssee you.’


She steps out, the dress hanging off her shoulders, a black stained rag as she scuttles forward.


Bobby barks at her and she snatches it up. You shut your eyes and try not to throw up at the wet, crunching sound like someone opening a bag of crisps and the wet slap of something falling on the ground.


‘Oh god, Mary, I’m sorry.’


Her breath is cold at your cheek.


‘She was your best friend and you betrayed her. Terry had not even looked at you, but his hair turned white and he had a stammer which never went away. Her touch burns like frostbite, but its the first time you’ve felt anything in years.


Her fingers close on your throat, sudden and impossibly strong. She smells of rot and secrets, and you try to say how sorry you are before you run out of breath.


Friendship is forever, you tell yourself before the world goes dark.


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A Quiet Invasion

We sit over coffee

She looks at me wide-eyed

Tells me that New York is an alien city

I laugh, nervous,

Afraid to ask if she’s stopped

Taking the pills

But she smiles, almost nervous

Hear me out


Her use of the word is a songbird at dawn to me.

In love with her in a neutered, sorry way

Not like the guys she takes home

As small boned as she is,

She likes the bull, the bear

Dark with tattoos and beards

All my poetry looks weak

Compared to the sullen prose

Of her lovers

But New York, she continues to tell me,

Is an alien city

That what comes from the skies

Isn’t acromegalic heads and black eyes

Plants and insects

Mineral intelligences

Why not a city, she offers up,

The way it’s laid out

How we are when we’re here,

That’s every city though

A place for people too odd for their homes

An asylum and a carnival all at once

She’s been having dreams

Woke up three miles from

Her bed, she offers

And yes, she says,

She’s taking the pills

My love for her

Makes me vulnerable to her

It shouldn’t but it does

And so I kiss her

Dry on the cheek,

Close my eyes to the tremble

And I turn a corner,

She makes me wonder

Where it will lead

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canine gravity


Stroking his scars

Head on my lap

As his carrion breath

Warms my thigh

His simplicity

Has always been constant

Through broken times

He’s borne witness to the worst

My angry tears when the pain

Was so great that only loneliness

Soothed and i could not articulate it

To anything more conscious

Than trees and sky

But the limp in his front paw

The quiet acceptance of time

And how grateful I am

For his kindnesses

We shelter one another

We feed one another

A dumb love

That I could no more

Doubt than gravity

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On my shield

The keys
Need tuning
On the ragtime piano
Of my days
And sometimes
My voice
Cracks beneath
The weight of
My thoughts
But I’m on the
Same battlefield
As all of you
And even as the
Smallest has to
Pick up
The standard
And wave it
In invitation
Because we’re here
And the ugliness
Can’t stand your
Wounded beauty
Which is why it
Fights to spoil
But I touch
Your shoulder
Until the last of us falls
We’ll keep fighting
And my shield is yours
Until you have
To carry me home
On it


Engagement and Isolation

I have come away from social media for a time. 

I am finding it surprising how much more time I have, for something that is essentially voluntary and free. I think, for me, a lot of it was it’s very efficient at giving you that jolt of recognition and connection like a rush of sugar but I wonder if it actually adds to your isolation. It certainly did to mine, sifting for interesting tweets and links with the same fervour that a porn addict has. I am not saying I won’t go back, but for now, it’s good to just come away from it a bit. 

Most of the people who you interact with won’t especially notice you’re gone, unless the friendship is sustainable away from that. The internet creates a lot of acquaintances, digital interactions that have all the appearance of friendship but nothing of the depth. That isn’t to say I do not enjoy it, but I want some time on my own, this aside. 

It’s about giving space to yourself, some time alone in the digital sense so that you can figure things out for yourself. I have to learn to be less passive about such things and then when I do engage, it will be on a more assertive, engaging level than previously. I want to have things to say and show people, rather than sharing posters that express an opinion that I want people to think I have.