Litro #165: Breaking Borders | Daily Resurrection

Translated by Lorna Scott Fox.

They divide the Earth with bloody lines
waving cloths with stripes and stars,
full of pride in plastic trophies
they issue laws that kill our souls,
dangling the deadly bait of credit
they make us slaves to figures.
Baleful merchants graft our brains
with adverts hiding abstract threats,
traffickers sell ego-building gadgets
to any fool who feels empty inside,
artists lick their limitless navels,
priests promise viscous heavens,
politicians applaud their own nods and winks,
therapists sheathed in cars like shouts of platinum
investigate their patients’ excrement,
the poisoners of the seas connive
with poisoners of air and earth and blood
to rule what span of life can be allowed
to every human being,
mothers shriek with calcified virtue
lauding the hands of the padre who rummages
through the innocence of their cowed children,
obsequious at dawn in impeccable ties
assassin architects erect concrete phalluses
where zombies fester in low-lidded tombs
and tinkle long white fingers over keyboards.
Picture-perfect gurus peddling metaphysical aspirin,
breasts blown up like footballs to hook gluttons of the gaze,
youths proud of being parasites, despising the sublime,
smart ladies, faces shielded by placentas of their offspring,
handing rubber entrails out and rosaries in hospitals,
clowns elected President by rubbish-hungry masses
guzzling space and time and candied images.
Haughty eyes denying miracles, mouths spewing definitions,
dogmas, oilrigs, chains, impregnable laws, commandments
piled inside the chest like massive rocks,
hats that weigh hundredweights, planet-shredders,
men encased in clocks, women in bullet-proof panties,
condoms made of lead, brains crowded with vultures.
Ignorant of delicacy, they only know of force.
Ignorant of dignity, they lick the shoes of wealth.
Who made of every citizen a slave with debts?
Who set towers full of blind bureaucrats to overrun the earth?
Who robbed fruits of their flavour to adulate anaemic tongues?
Though slumber courses like a dark river through it all.
You don’t want to complain or criticise, you only want
to open their skull bones and foot bones,
you want their ribs to part like gothic windows,
you want tentacles of water to spurt from their navels,
their backs to split and their spines to whip the air
till it explodes in a shower of golden scales.
Stubborn mollusc daily creating yourself a consciousness
Put on your skeleton, your flesh, unleash the avalanche of heartbeats,
open the sluice to the torrent of blood,
inhale the tumid air as if to make it whole.
One more resurrection, one more hope, you break from the coffin,
throw open the insipid dungeon, sally forth to print your footsteps
on pavements crushed by solid fog.
Among corpses competing for a sliver of some prize
you search beneath hills of complacent masks
for the radiance of a day that’s real.
How to reach the sun ablaze
at the heart of this ocean of shadows?
One day when the star
pours down its faith on all our foreheads,
you will bring the animals back to life,
restore to every plant its soil,
change coins for kisses,
words will no longer be shackles,
the soul will beget a body of light

Litro #162: Literary Highlife | Whilst the pastor preached about hell, his son was texting girls

On the left wing of the church,
you would sit in rows with the other boys
dressed like a tidy supermarket shelf of tuna,
listening to the sermon about a version of Hell:

burning is Light’s work.
You joke to the other boys:
in Naija burning is light work.

Sometimes the pastor forgets the nature of his congregation
as if Sister Linda’s son, who would usually sit behind you,
isn’t lying in a ward, half a pound lighter in the liver after
he got caught slipping in Brixton.

The congregation know
burning like childhood photos.
The congregation know
the shattering it comes clothed in.

So whilst the pastor preached, you text Rachel on your 3310.
Peeking at your mother sitting on the other side of the church,
you are not met with her usual condemning glare. She sits
pretty like the sequins on her gele, facing the clock above

the pulpit and you know she is remembering Jos:
the man who cut the belly of a pregnant woman open
in the street during the riot, fetched the foetus out
and with the cord tied it on a pole to parade.

This is what God himself will have to account for;
allowing a man to have such an imagination.

As the sermon continues, only the hands of the clock is heard
ticking a chorus:

                        preach of heaven
                        we know of hell.

Litro #162: Literary Highlife | Spit

January has been teaching me
that hurt can come from even the most comforting spaces.
I’m reminded you are still
a smart, beautiful, confused, selfish, foolish, caring boy
I love who has no desire to learn
to love me back in my love language.
I miss the boy you used to be;
insecurity and fear leaves my body and comes back homeless.
Wednesday evening we talk about news trending in Accra,
how it’s the only thing that resembles home
but is still incapable of loving wholeheartedly,
and reasons why I think you’re full of shit sometimes.
We talk about your day and my day and everything
but how you and the city are breaking my heart.
After minutes of silence, you ask what I’m thinking,
and I smile and say nothing.
Of the time we kissed
how you melted in my mouth.
It’s like taking a gun to a swordfight, it’s not fair.
I need to find a way to stop dying my way into my own poems.
Our love is a unfinished poem.
You dish out I-love-you’s like there’s a famine in your throat
and you have to ration them.
What’s the English word for someone who still has hope
in lovers who cause too much anxiety?
Tell me so I can spit it out.
I left my vulnerability in the mouth of a nerdy boy and I want it back.

Litro #162: Literary Highlife | The Unbelievable

after Martin Carter

They like talking in the dark.

They are just voices. With the lamp off

his voice is air, warm, passing

over her ear, and the ear is catching it.

They have no obvious bodies,

no histories to set alight. They are,

both of them, black, and the breath

of the universe. They are a part

of the darkness, the emptiness in

the unbelievable, in the shadowness

of the night. And they are talking

about how they should go to Accra

in August, because Europe is nice

but gets boring. And one voice is

talking about how its body

needs heat – how, in the heat

that body remembers

that it has a body, begins to love

that body again. And the other

voice is agreeing, though the other

voice has a body that’s from

here, that doesn’t suffer too much

in the cold, though, still,

that body is here, warming hers.

And they are as good as twins

in the womb tonight, in the unbelievable

in the shadowness.

Litro #162: Literary Highlife | The Dark Haunts Nigeria

And God said, “Let there be light”
and a politician plagiarised the phrase until
he was crowned saviour.

Time passed yet every light bulb is
naked glass. We scream NEPA has taken
and our faces go dim as a blown bulb.

And God said, “Let there be light”
and the government gulped the money
meant for reviving electricity. Greed is the
hunger that leads a man to see starving
bodies as thin plates.

Everything my family owns that
relies on electricity withers like flowers
drained of sunlight.

And God said, “Let there be light”
and NEPA company promised to obey, but
just before electricity touched our bulbs
protestors used cables to whip dark lines
into their skin so NEPA do not forget the
dark they put us through.

However, a child who remains bitter
at their country will inherit a curse for their
generation. Now my country is haunted,
using candles, lanterns and generators to
chase away a darkness that sticks like a
serpent’s teeth to skin.

And God said, “Let there be light”
but lack of electricity is now a booming
business so generator sellers beg him to stay
quiet. One says God thank you for financial
blessing in a time of poverty.

And God said “Let there be light”
and I am still holding on to the hope of an
eternal source, but NEPA keeps cutting into
my prayers.

Do not blame us for filling out
churches, we are praying against the things
the dark attracts.

Litro #162: Literary Highlife | The Sisterhood of Wahala

If you want to know wahala
You can find it always in two places
A tro-tro in Accra
Or a danfo bus in Lagos.

On a tro-tro in Accra
Wahala is the conductor raising
His armpit, his mouth spouting words
Responding to another passenger
While I defend my face
From his cascade of spittle
Until I find a voice to scream, Wetin do you?
Only to see the other passengers snigger,
“Ha, she’s Nigerian.”

On a danfo in Lagos
Wahala is the conductor shouting owa-owa
While the driver speeds
Many kilometres past
The intended stop.
Trying hard not to scream,
Knowing I have not learnt to pitch
Higher than the danfo’s din
I alight muttering, “Chale, your eye red.”
Only to see the other passengers snigger,
“Ha, she’s Ghanaian.”

Danfo or tro-tro
The fire heats against my skin
And the conductor’s armpits
Always confesses to my nostrils
That home is where I can alight at a market
Where the sky opens over my head
And I can move from one stall to another
Haggling a price over our collective sanity.

Review: I Take Nothing Strong, Only Lightning


 I Take Nothing Strong, Only Lightning, the first collection of poetry published by Beaconsfield-born Nathan A. Thompson, is an assemblage of ten years of writing (from the age of 21 to 31) which positions itself in a dialectic of the two brows: the low and the high.


From the collection’s two endorsers – a Sunderland-born rapper and a New York Times best-selling author – to the gaping cultural transition in ‘English Bachelor’ of a man idly reading David Hume while his beard “grows like his Amazon wishlist”, and the opening line of ‘City of Four Faces’ – “Monks chant a bassline” – Thompson traverses the contours of both the vernacular and the literary, placing himself in somewhere at the centre of this Venn-diagram.


In fact, the high and the low are the two major paradigms of this collection, which must surely fall within the genre of addiction verse. Many of the poems deal with the author’s turbulent drug years and the monotony of junkiedom. In the opening poem, a dealer “spits small rocks to fuel the remains of the day” while “saliva dolls down my pipe. Tranquilizers don’t work”.


What we find is not the ‘propaganda of the addict’, of a mind imbued with creativity when veins are imbued with smack, but instead a solemn portrayal of urban decay, mainly in London, encapsulated in ‘When I Walked To Work’: “bicycles like velociraptors, barging cars and bus lumps filled with meat and prurient eyes spewing dark air”.


A number of poems promise rural salvation – which is never to be found. Instead, placidity is found in escape, namely to Asia. Today Thompson is a freelance journalist based in Phnom Penh, Cambodia – where the Orient provides a cathartic distance, as does the act of writing: “I love the smell of writing in the morning”.


The poems in this collection are far from uniform, transitioning between the occasional prose poem and what were most probably originally raps. Thompson is rich in the metaphor – day long benders are described as not having “seen sheep for days” – and has a clarity with his words. Do not expect a light, gladdening read. Since, as the author writes, “I’m a beriddled tree with problem squirrels in me”.


Physical copies of I Take Nothing Strong, Only Lightning (published by WOW Books) are on sale across Cambodia and a digital copy of the collection can be purchased here.


Litro #156: India: LOST

 When I returned home I went into the kitchen and my partner and my ex-father-in-law were both looking for it. They’d emptied out the cutlery drawer and the cupboards to find this thing that must be found. In the bedroom a crew of Aunties were tearing open the lining in the drapes and pulling up the carpets and in the ensuite my twin was underneath the boiler with a set of spanners though I don’t believe it was lost in any bathroom. In the hallway I pass my elderly neighbours in overalls carefully making their way down the steep cellar steps. In the kitchen even my infant son, who’s strapped into his high chair is leaning forward prodding his fingers into the cracks of the table. I think everyone seemed to be so wrapped up in the business of searching that they hardly seemed to notice me.

When I looked in the back garden, I noticed my nephew he was working up a sweat and had dug several wide holes, some as big as foxholes. I gave him a half-wave through the window.

I thought perhaps the least I could do was to feed all these people in my house or just proffer them some light refreshments but by now the baby had fallen asleep at the table. I lifted him up out of his high chair. His cheek bore the print of the weave from the cloth. I placed him in his cot and checked underneath it again, just in case.

By nightfall, everyone was slowing down, they came in from the lofts and the cellars and the shed and in from the garden. Some of them were shaking their heads, others were whispering to each other. They all convened in the kitchen. They looked exhausted and some were still panting with exertion. Uncle took a crumpled piece of paper out of his pocket and put on his reading classes, someone else passed him the telephone.

The police liaison officer was a woman with kind blue eyes. She made me a cup of tea from my kitchen and offered me sugar and milk. She had a notebook and asked me gently questions about my day and where I had been.

Her questions stirred up a terrible confusion in my mind. She nodded understandably when I stumbled over an event or couldn’t quite reach the word I needed for certain parts of the day. She used her mobile phone a couple of times in the middle of my story but I couldn’t make out most of what she was saying.

I could hear the sirens outside in my neighbourhood but I couldn’t imagine it had anything to do with my situation. When I put the TV on, I saw pictures of a woman who looked just like me she was opening the door of a house that looked very much like mine. The policewoman gently took the remote control out of my hands and turned the screen off.
When they had left the aunties took me to the bathroom and helped me out of my clothes and eased me into my bed. They asked me to open my mouth and placed two pills on the centre of my tongue and urged me to swallow them with a glass of water.

In hell


Translated by Annie Prime

You have to imagine Sisyphos is happy.
Pushing along his baby buggy.
Writing his weekly review.
Hades is like Twitter: the other.
Hades is like Tinder: the same.
Hades is a never-ending haiku.
Where demographics meets demagogy.
Where TV series are the new novels.
Trapped in near-illegible diagrams.
From a market research study.
That they call you about at dinner time.
Is hell an animated GIF
that was hardly funny the first time round.
Is hell an open plan office.
A mailbox with no spam filter. Pling!
Are you a climate debate denier?
Test: Which Ensign Stål character are you?
It’s lucky I’m a genius.
It’s lucky the general public
has a perfect ear for irony.
In hell. Inferno. Well? Hell, no!
In hell there are debates on poetry
but nobody remembers any poetry.
All there is to read is editorials.
All there is to read is copy.
All there is to read is user licence agreements.
All there is to read is rejection letters.
All there is to read is milk cartons
with milk past the sell-by date
about a millennium ago,
when the tetrapack was first domesticated.
In hell they show a live feed from heaven
24/7 with quite poor picture.
All in all figurative language
not very good in hell.
However modern they might think they are.
Because hell is just a fad.
But what a fad it is!

Self-Portrait as a Garage Emcee


‘It was all about tapes, back then’ – Darryl McDaniels

If I could navigate the fuzz of traffic
reports, dinner table jazz and topical chat
Majik FM! is where, in the stillness between
last bell and the latch announcing mum’s
return to stagnant dishes littering the kitchen sink,
I’d rest the red dial of the Sanyo cassette player
bought, part-exchange, from a now-defunct branch
of Tandy on Wandsworth High St. Hours lost
to the underwear section of Littlewoods catalogue
gave way to r ‘n’ b on E numbers, hi-hats the hiss
of hydraulic pistons, snares like tins dropped
on tiled floors. All of it piped in from back room studios,
sheds, distant kitchens, haunted by teenage DJs hunched
over decks, set up next to microwaves or, in pride of place,
on a good table usually reserved for special occasions.

We loved the casual bravado of emcees with forty-a-day
voices and too many ladies to big up from last week’s rave;
years out of reach but ours to keep on a TDK cassette
bought, four in a pack, for a pound. Most days I couldn’t
stretch, pocket money spent on pick ‘n’ mix or chipped-in
to part ownership of Victor’s dad’s latest copy of Escort,
I’d plunder my mum’s cache of cassettes for something
she wouldn’t miss or couldn’t bring herself to admit
she once loved. Lucky Dubé and Prince were off limits.
Kenny Rogers became slick lyrics I could earn stripes
by reciting tomorrow lunch in front of anyone who’d listen,
if I could cut just the right amount of Sellotape or make small-
enough balls of tissue to cover the notches along the apex
of each cassette, made without tabs to prevent dubbing.

Remember the days before your walkman was banished
to a life in the attic? How you cherished it, cutting a hole
in the lining of your blazer so you could slip the silver
box into the gap between the fabric, pass an earpiece
up one sleeve, rest your head on one hand
during maths class and sit ignoring the talk
of vertices, indices, factorials, Napier Bones,
all the time mouthing the words, breath wheezing
its way through each line brow crimped, concentrated?

Soon, I’d used up all the dregs in mum’s collection
and nothing was left save a black TDK, unmarked,
without a case. Thinking that it must be something
so laughable she couldn’t bring herself to catalogue,
I lifted it, weighed it in my hand, slid it cleanly
into place, pressed the play button and waited.

The Crab’s Back

Photo by Heather (copied from Flickr)
Photo by Heather (copied from Flickr)

A possum crosses my house’s sky

His hands smell of sandals,

Describe a nocturnal gladiator

That touches and smells women’s sex.

In my dream, someone on the right side

Throws silver coins into a pristine bucket

Oh! Childhood’s sounds.

You will dream of shit and your ancestors

Will say it is good fortune,

Keep that hand on your left pocket

Music on the wrong side;

I was born with two aspects: the written word

And Zapotec’s melody, in order to love

I’ve always used my two hemispheres.

I miss you and all you know

Are the dark woods of ephemeralness,

The click of an eye that opens to take away a piece of something

Just to close again immediately,

Like a shell closes down on feelings;

A hot coin on your back

Or laughing astride

Mockery’s culture

A free animal, or not,

Animals oblige to their fate

Repetition without a reason,

The moon with its milk drawings

With its rabbit looking upon disgraces

Right there, where gaze at a distance seems to unite.

A thorny monkey,

Like taking away thorns after bumping into a cactus,

By taking away spikes you get more splinters.

Was I ever happy?

Yes, when it rained and a dark hand served me

Bean soup on a plate from the crops outside

The golden bowls’ town,

When someone named mirror stayed by my side,

When I flew a kite and lost sight of it,

It’s true, whatever goes up comes down in your face;

When I escaped Uncle shoe-maker’s belt,

When the sun raised and the only thing I had

Was a pig’s yell, previously seen, legs tied,

Next to death’s funny gorge

Stand in line to be sacrificed?

Lightness for paper,

A tyre passes marking your shoes for ever.

I know about spells:

I know how to get rid of sadness,

How to get rid of obsession, of fear:

If I bury myself next to a river

And someone rubs up his testicles against my head,

If I sit looking at the sea

And they find my lost pulse: lylyly, pé, pépé,*

If they spit anisette into my face

If wind takes away sand from my eyes

If they fill me up with toads,

If I lie belly down on the earth while it trembles.

If I read my dreams as predicted by the old lady

Who used to sing to me in childhood: name your sadness,

There’s nothing like knowing what you long for,

To talk about melancholy you need to hold

History and stories on your hand,

You need, amongst other things, a hammock

And loose hours like a pendulum,

What is time?

A dying mother

A wretched father

Destitution turned into stone,

A mountain prayer,

Make love to the one that doesn’t peel you.

I looked at your cat eyes

Savouring an unbuilt possibility,

I just wanted to run away,

Just wanted to run away.

Because my exodus started at eight years old

And where I lived wasn’t barren,

There was a community, fireworks and their shuddering,

There was freedom and mutual trust.

I quarrelled with my tradition

Didn’t allowed it to deflower my hand full of alcohol

Didn’t want to show nothing:

I was never a virgin,

I was always inhabited by ghosts

That assaulted my jute cot,

I never wanted my blood to be pure.

I know about Conquest and its promises

I fought chocolate and mole,

To get rid of the sewing closing my eyelids

I had to hold a torch born from my guts,

I burnt my body so that I could believe in justice

And bumped into ignorance instead,

The news I was eager to embrace showed me their glitz

And my back gave me back the crab’s rear.

Leave in order to always come back

What happens if one sticks to one’s ignorance?

Isn’t it better to suffer one’s inventory?

Now, without haven, nor boat, nor dwelling

I took refuge in silence:

A comatose state.

What does my happiness look like?

I am a fly,

A dot on an almond’s leaf

About to depart, about to deliver,

I’m a buzz in memory’s ear

I tattooed memory too.

A crack through which levity shall not enter

Through which innocence shall not walk

What does it mean to be indigenous?

Firewood ingenuity,

A bet, sails of grown beards


Never again a place,

A spider looking leather sandal attached to my feet,

A little accumulated salt,

What’s world history?

An eye crying for its neglect.

Flowers know it, as well as peoples

The day happier stories were told

That day we left behind our sufficiency

To give ourselves to a never ending repetition,

Now I know

It is too late.


*Lylyly, pé, pépé.
Sixteenth Century Zapotec onomatopoeia equivalent to the sound made by pain when it walks inside the body.

Translation by Diego Gómez Pickering

The Street Seller’s Song

Photo by Mr. Theklan (copied from Flickr)
Photo by Mr. Theklan (copied from Flickr)

Forget the shameless clocks

Return the contortionist fish to the sea

Romp on a mattress of wild leaves

Inhale with the mind in an indigo zero

Deposit silence in a ballot box

Congregate a circle of holy water

Step on the grapes of your wine


Accustom yourself to fly with crutches

To cover the rough weather of her eyes

To descend a mineshaft


Become friends with a panther in heat

Awaken as a witch on the weekend

Create a moneybox for sleep

Donate your fingers to domestic fire

Fast on language in the middle of a fast

Dance barefoot in the dark

Spell out your sins aloud

Translation by Jennifer Clement

Every House Learnt How to Burn

Photo by Jeff Kramer (copied from Flickr)
Photo by Jeff Kramer (copied from Flickr)

One: Is it possible that I once..? That I? That before?

Two: Yes, it is possible that your name.


Two: It is possible the bodies.


Two: It is possible that your name and the bodies. That you once. That before.

One: And the isles? The conversations? The delay?


One: The houses we abandoned? All those patios?


One: Did we leave the lights on? Did we leave the doors unlocked?


One: Were we the ones that on escaping..?

Two: Yes, it’s possible we were the ones. It’s possible; all the patios and all the doors, and all those abandoned houses with the lights on. The delay and the conversations; but not the isles. Those belong to fiction and asylum.

One: Let’s say, was there ever an isle bearing your name? Was there a before? Was there an I?

Two: Yes, there was a name and there were the bodies; a before and an us.

One: There was an I, then. Isles.

Two: It’s also possible that I was lying and that the isles, and the I, and the could have.


Two: It’s also possible that I wasn’t lying and that in present tense there are no hurries and no escapes. No nothing.



One: Is the isle of us possible?

Two: Yes, it is possible. The journey and the delay. Yes.







One: But, is it also possible you are lying?

Two: Yes, it is possible; the name, the I, the isles.

Translation by Diego Gómez Pickering


Photo by Tom Hall (copied from Flickr)
Photo by Tom Hall (copied from Flickr)

When the crab advances towards the moon

The sea of love crashes into mirrors

And there are readers filled with fortune.


Filled with fortune, the readers

Arrive at the love of mirrors

When the moon falls towards the crab.


The moon falls. The sea crashes. Mirrors

Are dying of love for the crab

That risks its life for the moon.


Then the moon fills up. Readers,

Before the moon, are like the crab:

They fall, they rise, towards mirror love.


May you have crab, readers, and moon.

May you find yourselves in the sea of mirrors;

May you be filled with the sea and with fortune.


May you crash into new seas, may you be crabs

In mirrors of moon and readings.

And love in excess, filled with mirrors.


Let’s fall towards the sea of crabs:

There the seas overflow with love,

There begins the reading of the moon.

Translation by Kathleen Snodgrass

I Was There

Photo by Sarah (copied from Flickr)
Photo by Sarah (copied from Flickr)

I was there.

Cutting a worn figure
with a Players hanging
from my slack charred lips
waiting for my helmet to be penetrated
by a single,
bolt of lightning.

I was there.
Holding onto my best friend,
three foot long
and constantly jamming
as I caressed it furiously,
anxious that our next touch wouldn’t be our last.
I should have
ditched her,
but I couldn’t,
there was just nothing else.

I was there.
Wiping tears from a shattered face,
its mud casing smeared
by the flowing river of regret
that ran from my eyes as I recalled
my eagerness for King and Country,
when all that was obliged
was to stay in school.

I was there.
Grabbing at a mask and forcing it
onto the man next to me.
It doesn’t do to make friends
because as the toxic air around fills gasping lungs
you’ll eventually see their lungs bellow,
in your hands,
or they yours.

I was there.
Looking at her picture,
knowing that she would be true
because every wretch who could sweet talk her to a lie
was next to me.
My brothers in bayonet
depriving her of her satisfaction
through self-incarceration in a field
as far away from a morning kiss as can be known.

I was there.
In the black and white footage,
of those men,
all dead now
and only known to you as mathematics.

But we do hope you remember that

we were there.

Bonfire Night Beneath the Stars

Photo by ptwo (copied from Flickr)
Photo by ptwo (copied from Flickr)

Penny for the guy,
and the girl,
in the sleeping bag
on the doorstep
of a shop that made
£67.4 million pounds profit,
after avoiding tax,
in the financial year
ensuring the closure
of libraries, hostels and A&E units,
in the financial year

Hold the shivering to account,
as fireworks illuminate
their faces distressed,
torn, worn with memories of misfortune,
self-made in your eyes.

Approach your temple,
walk on proud,
and make sure
you don’t remember their face,
as you step over them,
to offer praise
and thanks for your blessings.

Forget that times have fallen
harder on them,
than the discomfort you feel,
walking past to preach and pray
and hear from God’s messenger
peace and justice for all.

that was joy she said

Photo by Linzi (copied from Flickr)
Photo by Linzi (copied from Flickr)

when people began
wearing their own skin
like it was a scarf, a fur [private]

there were the Olds
who stared or spit
on our bare thighs

milk-like cappuccino
froth in our Tangle
yet, we opened

we strut & showed
we were flawed
flowers all

and that was joy, she said
she liked the red
razor scars of girth

they felt hot, his
low breasts exulted
as individuals, his third

snowflake nipple, everything
you ever love
gets old

will fray, die
so be decadent
in Human Paisley, they wrote [/private]

Augmented Reality

Embankment (detail) by James Abell
Embankment (detail) by James Abell

The difference between augmented reality

and virtual reality is a Bengal tiger

called Richard Parker

who emerges from Life of Pi [private]

and walks down Oxford Street

– an animal framed by a mortal hand,

captured in a screen which shatters

the illusion that seeing is believing.


We construct our own versions

of the world, so why not look

through a bus stop window

and see what we want to see.

“Life is a story

…you can choose your story”. [/private]

Imaginary Numbers

Embankment (detail) by James Abell
Embankment (detail) by James Abell

A real life ends, but is imagined

by those left behind. An imagined

death becomes reality, eventually. [private]


The square root of minus one

can’t exist since a squared number

can’t be negative


but imaginary numbers yield

real answers in the real world.

The difference between reality


and imagination: a false oasis

that blurs, shimmers

and melts before my eyes. [/private]

Shakespeare’s Words

The Bard (detail) by Kate Murray
The Bard (detail) by Kate Murray

Do my fingerprints still linger

in the acting recesses and forgotten pockets

of the places I touched with words?

If you go to Stratford and see the pubs

and walking tours and monuments

to the idea of me, you’ll find I am not there.

I’m not in the foundations of the house

that birthed me, the ruins of its hips

sunk into the grass for all to stare at,

nor in the faithful Globe Theatre,

a product of your need for material ghosts

who can mouth my best words

without melting into solid boards.

And as for the critics who try

to breathe on my bones, dressing me

in half a dozen alleged facts or hedged bets

and matching me like a criminal

to my portrait, they should know that I never

inhabited that portrait, any more

than my mind was confined to that house.

So to all those who would take me

and shrink me to a life, I say this:

measure me by the space

inside my words, not my tiny face.