31 October 2015

Black Wine


I don’t quite know where to begin, perhaps with the strange appendage - the cancerous growth that stemmed from my heart and blossomed in the dark as an evil fungal canker. The voice that called to me from its bloody mass and the face that formed from its rancid flesh was not my own. The arms and legs that grew from its body – like a hideous great salamander in transformation – were stocky and powerful. But where this apparition originated I cannot tell.

I only know that he was not of my body and was utterly alien in origin, but he said he knew me and knew me well. He bellowed dark reptilian laughter and bid me to partake of his black wine. It was a bitter drink full of recriminations and spite. I quaffed the lot with indecent haste and asked for more. He said he was delighted with my progress and that my prospects were good – I could become a major figure in the organisation.

We celebrated with more of his intoxicating wine and danced arm in arm into the wee small hours. He taught me songs of the ages and told the story of man. He claimed the youth of a thousand summers, but in the dawn’s cold light I could see that was old, he was so very old.


Good Boy


I swallowed it whole

forced it down

like a good boy

I didn’t say I was

a good boy

I said I was like

a good boy

I never let on

never complained


and repressed

my inner rage

this ain’t the way

it’s supposed to be

cutting around

with the flesh


I should be whole

if not holy

I should have


if not


but I feel it still

lodged in my throat

the bitter pill

and the Judas goat


30 October 2015



It’s another hot day in the reign of the sky god; so hot the sky has blistered. I’m parched and could use a drink. I drink to remember – or is that forget? Pour me a cold one and let me recollect. I’ve seen things would make your eyes peel. I’m not talking ordinary misdemeanours – I’m talking extraordinary rites of passage rarely witnessed by tourists or innocent bystanders. This here’s the epicentre of my own implosion it’s the crux, the nexus, the big bad bang. There’s more dirt inside than out; we have a vacuum cleaner, but it sucks.

There are few merciful impulses in the caustic brain stems of mother and daughter cabals who press the flesh for loose change and a pocket full of drunken promises. They are the authors of their own wretched and obscene melodramas. Like those simulated suicide compacts that go sour and leave stranded  conspirators woeful and alone on death’s lonely shore.

I tangled with their kind once before, but bailed out before things got too heated. Theirs was a three horse race and I had already taken too many second prizes in the two horse variety. My face is cracked with wounded veneer. You can peek inside and see the twisted sucker who once lived back there in blissful ignorance of the ties that bind a man to life and death.

I traced the ideography of the walking wounded with my bleeding fingers and came to one inescapable conclusion – we are none of us alone. Little presents from on high grace our tables with the experience of laughter and of tears. Whatever fractured world our idiot compass leads us through knits us all together in tidy bundles; leaving the anecdotal evidence of the lives led and love stolen in any given song of endurance.


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.




It started with a whisper and built into a storm. The wind blew in from the dark corners of the globe and sought me out with unerring instruments. I heard my true name called and it lit up my heart. I laughed and laughed at the obviousness of it all; how had I missed all this when it was always at my fingertips? Then she caressed me and my universe flipped open. She was all over me – whispering in my ear – playing with my hair – caressing my face with long cool fingers. She was autumn now and full of womanly wiles; she was wild and ripe for the taking. She was all mine and I was hers. She had been waiting since the dawn of time and had taken many lovers – men and women who had braved the divide with open hearts to gather nature’s undiscovered bounty. She doesn’t give her name to just anybody, but she gave it to me that night, a secret that cannot be divulged – a name that cannot be spoken.

I came in search of something and found her secluded in the darkened hedgerows, reclining in the stream and dancing through the air. She was old, but eternally young and she was wise beyond understanding. She divulged the arcane and occult in the shadings of her contours and the nuances of her breath; nothing of value was closed to me – but nothing was as I had imagined. Books had only clouded my head with old men’s tales and unnecessary complications. There is nothing that is truly hidden in nature – all we need are the eyes to see and the heart to comprehend.

He must have thought I was crazy – the old man with the west highland terrier – he must have thought I was walking along talking to myself. He interrupted our conversation, or I’d never have gone home. The mushrooms – I’d forgotten about the mushrooms – her little soldiers. They were not the key to her door, but they helped me locate the key. There remained the mystery – why had the world been hidden from me till now? Perhaps the labels I had acquired through the soft Grecian apparatus of learning had obscured her and the wildness of her love from me. My eyes were opened now and I took my place as a natural man beneath the turbulent night sky. I made my way home with warmth in my steps and adoration in my heart. I’d met a girl as old as the world and as wild as the autumn winds – nothing would ever be quite the same again.


28 October 2015

Broken Idols


Did your broken idols desert you just before first light? Did the deity of the day demand a coin so sharp it made your fingers bleed? You raised your voice in prayer and your eyes to the kingdom above, but still you felt alone. Is there anyone awaiting you in heaven? Or does all eternity lie empty – dusty and forlorn? If the morning breaks your beating heart and the sunrise pours through your dried husk like tiny daggers; you can be sure that you are not alone. An army of dispossessed travellers have stood where you stand now – their heads bowed in solemnity and isolation – their tears falling as gentle rain – anointing the gathered congregation in their desolation and sorrow.

If you ever mend those broken idols – or fetch the day into your bosom; spare a thought for those who toil still with disappointments too great to shoulder and disillusionments too bitter to bear. They were once children of the sun and shone like that star which blesses us with life and bestows the day with purpose. Remember that you too were once alone and you have sojourned through the dark of night to stand naked before a cold grey dawn. Say a prayer for those who tarry still in the wilderness – cloaked in anguish and weighed down with sadness too heavy to carry alone. Theirs is a grace too dear to measure in cups or wands and their tears will abide till the passing of the world.

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. 
Not all hearts beat to the same rhythm. Some follow the cadence of a different drum. They are marching toward another Nirvana. I’m waiting for the new messiah to take this crown of thorns. I’m ready for the resurrection. So lead me away to the home I’ve never known and lay me down gently to be reborn.

I Remember


I remember you

who captured the stars

to braid through her hair

I remember too

your summer smile

that beamed out a welcome

and answered my prayer

I remember how

on the beach at dawn

the crashing surf

soaked our shoes

and our childish laughter

was drowned by the waves

of green and blue

I remember the moments

that lasted forever

in the radiant glow

of your emerald eyes

and I remember the station

where we shed our tears

and said our goodbyes


15 October 2015

My Old Man (Part 2)

My father took me hunting, but I found that I could not shoot my furry friends. I aimed high and missed with every shot, much to his chagrin. He knew what I was doing and could not conceal his disgust. He called a halt to proceeding saying that I was wasting ammunition – so we packed up and headed home in silence.
We never could see eye to eye me and my old man. It was more than a generational thing; after all he was the same age as John Lennon – one of my great heroes. It was certainly not a cultural thing – we were both working class Scots and proud of it. We just saw life differently and my differences appalled him. I liked to wear my hair long and preferred grass to beer. I read books he could not understand, but would roundly condemn as ‘shite’. I listened to rock music – while he preferred Perry Como. He was renowned as a hard man, but I eschewed violence for a more diplomatic approach.
I never understood his anger. It seemed to bubble under the surface twenty four seven. When he spoke to me his words were full of sarcasm and distain. His pet name for me was ‘prick’ – that would hurt, but I grew inured to it over time. Everything I said was anathema to him; everything I did was wrong. I grew up wondering why he hated me – why he was so disappointed in his son.
He was a man prone to violent outbursts – he’d strike out for no discernible cause. He often beat my mother when he was drunk and he was very often drunk. He’d seem genuinely sorry for the punishments he’d meted out, but that never hindered repeat performances and the weekends were filled with tension and oppression. He once told me that he was God in his house – I was very young, but his words filled me with shame. I was ashamed for him – I was ashamed of him. I knew his thinking was crooked and that he was no more than a petty tyrant lording it over those he professed to love.
He was an immaculate dresser and very fastidious in his personal habits. He had once been a soldier and was proud of his appearance. I often wondered if it was the army which had filled him with such anger, or perhaps it was his father who had been just as cruel to him. No, we never understood each other and I always wondered why, but whenever I reached out to him I was violently rebuffed. I’m older now and in my life I have done many things I’m not proud of. In many ways I am my father’s son. I know what it is to lose control and commit the most shameful acts and with that knowledge wonder if after all it was not me but himself that my father hated.

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.


13 October 2015




In this incestuous season

when winds tug and drag and squall

I adopt a certain swagger

stepping out - light and tall

when I roll out my thing

when I got my mojo burning

the flame I carry burns bright

too bright to by extinguished

by mere autumnal rain

incandescent and villainous

I was never elected to this post

I stole it on the quiet

from some chump who came before

he put up quite a struggle

so I stabbed him in the throat

least said the soonest mended

so dummy up and listen nice

I’m being groomed by the organisation

for a position in the shade

they were all impressed

by the bloody mess I’d made


11 October 2015

The Fictionals


Theirs was a match made in hell - conceived in the shadow of self delusion and monumental conceit. They were faded fictionals who plied the social media with sufficient mimicry to keep themselves entertained, at least for a while. He would pour out his angst in rambling prose – then applaud his own efforts with haughty and graceless aplomb. He’d shown promise once, but the powder put a hex on him and his work was dry.

Author of a million self portraits – none of which resembled herself in any way – she pouted and preened the illusion of desirability to a waiting audience of sycophantic wankers and middle aged losers. She lied with consummate ease, but very little skill. It’s hard to juggle those balls when you’ve long lost sight of the truth.

They were D list semi celebrities – notorious to a tiny circle of nobodies. They even staged a marriage – which was doomed from the start. He was drunk on their wedding day – so drunk he thought her tears were tears of joy. Orphans can make strange bed fellows, each seeking in the other the motherly touch with a satyr – harlot dimension. There were too many contradictions between their sheets, too many fights and too many tears. Theirs was a circus macabre - a paradigm for dysfunction and banality. It wasn’t that they lacked love – they lacked friendship. They had little in common but their aspirations – little enough to last a lifetime. In the end they parted – promising to keep in touch and remain friends – but they’d been hostages too long to separate without a parting shot.


6 October 2015

Black Cat


I’m the black cat that crosses your path

The unlucky spider you find in the bath

I’m the Jonas that choked the whale

The tragic news in the morning mail

I’m the thirteenth son of a thirteenth son

The unwelcome guest that spoils your fun

I’m the broken mirror on your living room wall

I’m the open umbrella you left in the hall

I’m the proverbial penny that always turns up

The foreboding leaves at the bottom of your cup

I’m the crack in the pavement that breaks your back

I’m the whole world of woe tied up in a sack


5 October 2015

Little Secrets


hush now girl

and dry your eyes

we’ll leave this in the dark

and there it shall remain

let it bask in the shadow

of simmering despair

behind closed doors

and spotless reputation

to fester in the gloom

of everlasting shame

we’ll agree to silence

this shall remain unspoken

it’ll be our little secret

just between we two

we’ll keep this in the dark

for no-one else to share