29 October 2015



The council sanctioned the pig offering and the people rejoiced, but Van Gogh cut off his ear in protest. His earlier discourse on the nobility of toil had been most edifying to the burgermeister and his entourage, but his antics with the razor had not proved as uplifting. Poor Vincent was dragged off screaming to his cage beneath the town hall where he reflected bitterly on his fate.

Meanwhile, the pig was carried to the highest place to be sacrificed and its carcass was left there for the vultures to feast on. The ceremony was symbolic of something primeval; those vultures were the living avatars of the sky god. To harm one was to incur his wrath, but to feed them would guarantee the rain that sustained their crops. So when a vulture would occasionally take a lamb the villagers did not mind – in fact they regarded it as a blessing to have pleased the sky god.

The vultures went into a feeding frenzy – they threw cartwheels in the air and shrieked and tore at the porcine offering with lusty appreciation. Surely, thought the villagers, the sky god was satisfied with their benefaction. However, the great birds began to gather in unprecedented numbers and the people grew fearful that a single pig was not enough to satiate their ravenous hunger. The sky grew dark with birds – it seemed that every vulture in the world of the living had appeared to share in the sacrifice. The people were now in a state of alarm; were vultures not also the harbingers of death – a link between this world and the next?

Vincent knelt in his cage sketching magical diagrams on the dusty floor while intoning the rite of the pig god. It was, he believed, the people’s only chance to escape the evil fate that was about to befall them. He mixed some blood from his wounded ear with the dirt from the floor of his cage and moulded a small figurine of the pig god himself. He prayed for the people’s deliverance, he begged for forgiveness and reconciliation – though he suspected neither would come readily.

The great throng of scavengers had turned on the people – swooping low to slash with talons and beaks; children and livestock were carried off into the sky never to be seen again. The air was filled with blood and panic as people rushed for cover of their homes while others simply knelt in supplication and hoped that they might be spared because of their obvious piety. But no one was spared the wrath of the sky god; his minions – those terrible raptors – exacted a dreadful toll on the people of the village.

When the day of the vultures was over, and their dead were buried, the villagers gathered in the square to hear the burgermeister speak, but the burgermeister was gone – swept away by a great black vulture. Instead they listened to a sermon by Van Gogh who intoned to them a short prayer and preached against the folly of worshipping the things they feared.

“That which we fear we draw to us,” he said, “so we must banish fear from our hearts the better to draw that which we love to us and forsake the darkness for peace of mind and the safety of our families”.

In time the village flourished once more, but under the sign of the pig god – the messenger of peace and prosperity. The reign of the sky god slipped into memory and the day of the vultures into folk lore. No more did the villagers worship that which they did not understand and the adoration of vultures became naught but an outmoded superstition held only by the very old, and the very foolish.


22 October 2015



it could happen

to anyone

at any time

but it should never

have happened here

not to me

and not to you

no, not to us

alone amongst

smiling enemies

we’ll come to ourselves

on the rebound

praise the love sacrificial

eat our prayer books

and blot our jotters

with rapacious jealousy

but we’ll see it out

from the beginning

to the very end

all things being square

and on the level

in that moment

we’ll see the truth

that what should happen

will eventually happen

just like I said it could

just like you knew it would


21 October 2015



Did your words come unbidden, or did you squeeze them from your heart? Did they fall as distant echoes, or were their edges sharp? Do they haunt you even now as you lay there in the dark? Or is it the words you did not say that bit and left their mark? Did you encounter something wicked when you were still quite young? Has it robbed you of your memories and nullified your tongue?

Is it true you fan the ashes to keep those memories alight? Do they help to keep you warm - or wide awake at night? Do they suffocate your mind with a blanket of remorse? Does your every thought betray you – each one a Trojan horse? Was it the same for you last night; and the same the night before? Why do you seek out darkness when it’s darkness you abhor? Did you walk a lonely street perfectly alone; and were you touched by shadows as you made your way home?


20 October 2015

The Other Foot


“I hate liars!” she pronounced, with the emphasis on hate, and I knew in my deepest recess that I had been deceived. I may not be the cleverest of cookies, but I know when I’m having smoke blown up my arse.

“Everybody lies,” I replied evenly, “it’s human nature.”

“Not me – I never lie,” she bristled, now staring fixedly at the TV screen. My insides churned; the chords of attraction were striking a dissonant note. My heart was beating out a tattoo against my ribs. The body has its own messenger service – the body knows instinctively. I watched her as she feigned abstract disinterest. Everything I had ever observed about lying was on display. I would know because I had been one of the biggest liars on earth. I knew then that she probably prided herself internally on her ability to pull the wool, but she really was a rank amateur.

I was embarrassed for her. She’d come home with her t-shirt on inside out. She claimed that she must have gone out that way; a likely story. She’d been acting pretty cagey and pulling a lot of late shifts down at the pub. My friends were dropping hints and I recognised the signs. I invented most of the blinds that she was pulling now. I was a past master in the art of deception, but when it happened to me and the shoe was on the other foot - I felt both dirty and betrayed. Ironic you might say - betrayal previously being my stock and trade. The irony was layered because this time I had played it straight - right down the line. I did not deserve this shite - I had been as good as gold this time.

Then I got to thinking about how my previous partners must have felt while I was whoring it around. All the lies I had to tell and the people I let down. I figured this was karma and I deserved all I got. That said, I just couldn’t swallow my pride; so I showed the bitch the door. I had been deceived and I had been betrayed - I felt angry and abused, but within a week I’d swallowed hard and gone crawling back for more.


16 October 2015


Pablo was waiting for me and Mozart too. We scoffed our poisoned apples with relish. Our Snow White moment reeked of corruption. I learned to laugh – I learned to cry. I learned to live for the moment - without inhibition.
There were many things we never saw, but the moonstone hung in the soft blue and we saw her for sure. She was a howling moon, but your friends don’t care how you go. Sometimes people make us human again.
Sometimes people get in the way. You get refracted by them – each is a facet of a broken prism scattering you every which way. People pin you down – pronounce you weirdo, loner, misanthrope. People fear difference and they let it be known with graceless subtlety. They got me close range – point blank – tagged and bagged – I don’t belong and I never did. That’s something for the swinging bi–polar boy about town to weigh up as he ties his boot laces.
I feel like I’m in a zoo.
I don’t romanticise the pain in my head – all the dreamers passed this way – reconciled to the difference machine. I dreamed I was falling and never woke up... Now would be the time to change your mind – How sudden that change – from half shut knife into driller killer...
You know that there is nothing and everything to lose in the abandonment of self. No man can give himself away. I heard it in a song... Blonde girl with raven’s eyes said I had no soul – I asked her, “What is a soul?”
"Something you don’t have." she replied.
Poor boy couldn’t pay his bills – had to sell his soul. He paid his debts with one weighed ounce of solid soul. She said I was ‘seasoned’ – what a thing to say to a man.
I want to swim where dolphins swim. To be hooked up with that juice. The form reflected in my cool clear water is a man that’s activated. I’m as light as the breeze – innocent as a child. I wouldn’t leave a ripple if you dropped me in the ocean.
I often pay homage to luxurious boredom. Pablo says I’m bound by my imagination, or lack of. He says if I don’t change I’ll spend my life wallowing in self pity until the Judas goat guns me down. 

14 October 2015



He always wore long sleeves, even in the hot weather. Those who noticed speculated that he might be a junkie. The truth was that he was embarrassed by his arms – the pale inner flesh was criss-crossed with scars. He felt that these betrayed his weakness that they showed him up as a self indulgent hysteric. They were made many years before, but were as livid as they ever were – great white gashes that ran across and down his arms like highways.

His self inflicted scars were constant reminders of the boy that he once was – full of sadness and self loathing. Some were punishment scars; others were genuine attempts to end his life. He often felt that his old arms no longer fitted the man he had become – the defect cicatrices were the property of a young man, a young man who had in fact died a long time ago.

He had often tried to forget his youthful manic slashings. His arms would not let him. He had tried to tell himself that the scars were in fact the signs of struggle – a struggle he had won. Had he not prevailed over adversity? Was he not still alive and kicking? It was true. Like the gnarled old bark of an ancient tree his scars were a sign of triumph, but how do you convey that to others? He kept his sleeves rolled down – dreading the looks he received if ever his naked arms were exposed.

Making love with a new partner was a particular minefield. They invariably asked him about the scars – then would begin a lengthy discussion and an inevitable distance – his sanity suspect from there on in. But there was one girl who asked no questions. She kissed his scars and held him close for the longest time. At first he was mortified, but the gesture was so pure it melted his heart. No words were ever spoken of his disfiguring wounds. He felt like the man he wanted to be – she gave him that. Yes, she gave him that and it was precious.