The image of you in my head
is fraying,
tailing into anemone fire.
Your crisp lines jittered like
sutures on a skull.

Never just one burial ground.
The rot happens
in that Manchester grave
and the head.

there is this Picassion mutation,
a steady morph
then acid baths,
and I’m left with:

Objects – colouring books,
foot operated
ash tray, pocket knife.

Details – a comfy femur –
my throne,
your elbow bend
on the arm of the chair
I could express
mathematically with triangles
and degrees on squared
note paper.

Sense memory –
voice that soothes my mother,
voice –
god of my god,
smell of stew.

Bigger things –
warmth and awe,
cloudish serenity.

And I wish it hadn’t taken
so long to admit,
but it’s okay.

You dismantle,

patch after patch, blacked out
over time
in the primordial alluvium
of thought,

and I’m left with
the raw materials;

the sweet erasure
poem of your soul.


For the Soul of Your Mother

An evil of colour
this sundown
bedraggled with cloud-rips.
Lost I’d say, or left behind-
garter snake ecdysis;
vixen smeared
over an oily road;
or that thrift shop cardie
you’d never wear,
but for the soul of your mother,
can’t take your eye off.

Top Heavy

You fell so often
your skull developed craters
and was moonish,
fizzing lunar transients.

Grit asteroids revised
your cranial map.

Maria flowered darkly.

Mountains surged from plate faults,
and basaltic valleys whirled beside
your blood orogeny.

The sun dripped away
behind your swell of horns
and lit you – a theatre
of bones –
and I sat beside you,
eating moonlight sweet from knives,
then dissolved into orbit.

Still, They Knew Him from the Flock

Inside the beacon, someone
found the blue eyed lamb hung;
throat frilled as gunnysack,
in the first field of the coming sun.

Atlas and Axis disengaged;
both strung and trapper.
Music of death-rattle.
Selena’s tracks between used
rubbers, and chocolate wrappers.

How many nights before death,
caught in mooring rope,
the stars washed in so low
a tall man might knock his head;
the moon stooped enough to hang his coat.

Costume Party

In Notre Dame, there’s a bookshop
where they stick stickers
over every price and barcode,
marking each book up five, ten, twenty euros,
because it’s famous.
If you buy a book,
the lovely till lady, who looks grotesquely literate asks,
“Would you like a stamp”?
And every customer gets a look of worry
and quietly asks,
“Does it cost extra?”
It doesn’t, and so every person says
“Yes, I’d like a stamp please”.

It’s always full of beautiful people
wearing their very best writer’s outfit-
Shawls and scarves all cleverly draped,
like the wind in Paris had delicate fingers.

Up the stairs to the left
there’s a little old piano
in a small enclave
and you’re allowed to play,
if you’re able,
but not allowed to take any photographs
in case you disturb someone’s studies.

Opposite the piano is a wall of post-it notes
with bits of prose, and lines of poetry, and songs, and messages;
all written by the patrons, all in different languages.
Each one assiduously chosen by their writer as the
champion of their portfolios. The line that communicates a pure essence,
and if some wandering publisher reads it,
will storm the world in search of them
to publish every sick and sweet word.
But they just sit there in a sort of dogged rest,
looking somewhat cemeterial,
twitching each time somebody opens the door,
and perfectly ignored
by everyone that walks by.

I picked up a book, read a page, put it back, and played a note
for the dead poems
as I left.

The Glow

Death, I picture is much like

walking toward

a single street-


from a path,

black deep.

And noise

isn’t noise

but notes.

And the light isn’t light

but the absence of

the dark.

And shivers hit you all over.

Not from cold,

but strange joy.

And once more you remember

the burden it was

to cast a shadow.


And it’s something like

the impossibly quick


between dreaming

and waking,

that is so fast that

it’s hard to imagine,

but must exist all the while.


Then if you die with priests at your bed

the venue will swarm

and pick your bones clean of a soul,

pray and regurgitate.

So angels like baby birds will devour you once more.


And if you die by your love

your soul will travel in them.

For that is the heaven you know


And if you die by your enemy’s hand,

at least

you’re not alone.


And if you die alone,


I am


and so should we all



We were never one,

though people like to say it,

but desolate,



Unless we

found each other

in the dark.


I’m sorry

I never




The Snakes Were Hushful

When we got together

people wanted to talk to me.

People who never wanted to talk to me before.




Slowly, I’m starting

to think,

there aren’t


who aren’t.


Still, we were together,

and i was something.

But she watched too much television,

and I stared too deep

into the window,

and with little to

say to each other,

it expired.

And the snakes were hushful again.


I wanted to hurt,

but in honesty, I felt better

than I had

in a long, long time.


We just stopped and went on alone,


It was nice.


We were like ghosts

that stumbled through each other.

The Hunt

YOU know how you skin a rabbit?
Do you?
Well I’ll tell you shall I.
You take it by the hind legs like this, and you cut circles, just above the joints,” He’s miming the action with his knife, “and the front legs. Then you cut a line down each leg to the arse or cock, or if it’s a girl rabbit…then you slip your fingers in, underneath the circle, and work the hide up and off the legs.”
Invisible men No. 1 and 2 are laughing.
“Now when you reach the tail, see now the tail poses a problem. You have to get rid of it. So you take your knife,” He’s waving the blade in your face, “and slowly, you saw through the tail bone. Slowly because you mustn’t hit the bladder, or you’re covered in piss.”
Your mouth tastes like sick, tastes like beer, tastes like piss.
“When that’s out the way, with both hands, you tear away the hide from the body, like banana peel, and it slips off easy like. Then, now this is the hard part, you have to work your fingers down into the sleeves of the front legs, and pull them out. It’s really difficult this bit. You have to use proper force”.
Snarling closer, and closer into your face.
“Then you work the hide down to the base of the spine, and I should mention that, at this point, the blind fucker stopped its squealing, stopped wriggling”.
A ball of his spit lands on your bottom lip.
“Then, and this is personally my favourite part. You hack, the skull, loose, from the spine”, He’s scraping the point of the blade gently down your neck, “and all the fur comes off in one with it. Then all that’s left is you break the legs and arms at the joint with your hands, and carve the hide that’s left off the feet. Socks off.


Breakfast, the man at the head of the table with pinkish juice in his teeth is the only one with steak. Plump dewy tears of bacon fat cling to his moustache. His bottom lip’s like a rock splitting a waterfall, and grease streams down either side of his chins, milky yellow. Meeting beads of sweat it thins to silvery rivulets. They drip and soak through his shirt. Imagine the hairy bog forming beneath. Shudder. Father said you had to be mannerly in front of these men. He said they use seven different types of fork. He told you a rumour he’d heard about the man.

“A while back”, he said, “his house keeper passed on, so he hired a new man”. When setting the table one afternoon he placed the desert fork where in fact the salad fork should be, and the salad fork in place of the desert fork. The planetary man who didn’t eat salad, ever, thought the house keeper had acted with intent, mocking his health. So he stabbed him with the salad fork.

With a voice like Behemoth’s stride, he speaks in booms.
“Carve more bird”, the glasses rattle, “more bird”.

A man dressed like a magpie, stood at attention in the doorway comes to the table. He seems stiff and brittle, made of slate, eyes and all. He grasps the huge two pronged fork, that’s already stuck in the bird, strangely. Closing three fingers round the wooden hilt, his forefinger stays locked and curved rigidly away from rest. Half a centimeter up from its knuckle, are four scars, all in a row, equal in length. Reaching for the serving fork you see his palm, just for a second, but you’re sure you see four more pearly lines slightly thinner than the other side just above the Venus arch of his thumb. You touch the knuckle above your forefinger, looking back to the man from the story eat across from you, polished forks glinting all about, and feel a glancing dread in your testicles. The same you feel when you climb trees too high and look down. Your father told you, he told you these men are civilised, in an old fashioned sort of way. You see egg yolk on his left lamb chop sideburn. You see egg white in the right.


Icy mud works its way into your eye. Your teacher told you that ‘Here’s mud in your eye’ was a popular phrase among soldiers in world war I, wading through boggy trenches, and with farmers toasting a good harvest, and before them it was used by race horse owners, and during fox hunts. You got a cotton wood seed stuck in your eye once. The doctor said you had a corneal abrasion. It’s where after you get something out your eye it still feels like it’s there, due to the light wound the debris causes. You either think you’ve gotten rid of it, and haven’t, in which case you can go blind, or you scratch and rub and wince forever thinking it’s still there, in which case you can go blind. You think of flea ridden dogs, scratching themselves furless, and on in to death. Your entire front is mud covered. The murderous gale dries the top layer but it has sunk through your coat, through your jumper, through your tee-shirt and vest. Smeared on your skin it comes to freezing rest. A stone under a burst of marsh marigolds caught your boot. When you put your arms out they were devoured whole by the bog, and your face slapped the surface. You thought of the hairy mire between the planetary man’s breasts. There’s mud in your mouth, -Bogs have a rich dead plant deposit, as well as animal waste, and a lot of the time, animal remains- some of it dries before there’s time to spit.

When you’re a beater in a hunt, you work as part of a unit that spreads out in a thin line, spanning a massive portion of land. You sweep an area strategically, shouting, waving cracking flags, and banging sticks against trees and rocks. The idea is you scare any hiding birds into flight toward the shooters. A lot of the time you’ll scare rabbits out as well, in which case, dogs will catch them. This is the last drive before break the leader tells you. The shooters drive from point to point waiting in position, normally on lower ground. When the birds come, they kill them. The leaders of the beating teams drive two to three trucks of beaters from drive to drive, establishing the points and approach. As the line stretches out and the beaters either side you are dots, you’re alone. It’s a doomy place. To be a shooter, you must have an all-terrain vehicle, an approved weapon and license to own it, a dog, and around £20,000. There will normally be around ten shooters. This is what the land owners charge. Your father won his place today in a clay shooting contest four months ago, which is why you were invited to the shooter’s breakfast. Slowly the dots at your sides turn back into lines, into figures, into people. Break time means half the drives are over.

The break point is a small concrete box with no door, and a flat metal roof. Inside is a wooden table, with rusty metal chairs, all different, and creaking foldable wooden chairs, all different. The crackle of hot tobacco burns beneath the voices of Farmer’s sons. You want to get up and go. More than anything you want to leave. There’s no lock, no handle, or hinges, no door, but if you wander out, you’re on your own and you will die. Welcome to nowhere. It’s a doomy place. Everyone gets a beer. It’s undrinkable, bitter. It’s all there is. Everyone else drinking is sighing like they’re sliding into an armchair with evening slippers propped up in front an open fire. The three smokers, all in camouflage, neck to ankle, are older by far, invisible men. Looking over, one says “Did you see?” He’s finding it hard to talk because he’s having hard time breathing, because he’s laughing so hard. “Did you see him fall? The little cunt”.

Invisible man No. 1 has new black boots with steel in the toes. You know they have steel because he’s been inviting the others to stamp on them. Invisible man No. 1 says
“I shot a rabbit,” You take a gulp, “in the garden with my rifle two days back, and it didn’t die so I went out and swung it against a rock. Stops its suffering and that”.
He laughs. You hear the blend of a thud and a snap of the rabbit’s skull against the stone. You choke.
“It left a big red smudge on the rock”, He giggles.
Beer surges through your bronchial tubes, falls out your nose, and fizzes like acid on your coat.
“There was a little bit of eye as well.”
The invisible men laugh. You see the half sized flat side of its head with a three quarter eye. Beer stings beneath the surface. Your eyes stream. Invisible man no. 2 has brown boots and his jacket is far too large for him, and says the same thing happened to him. He’d shot a rabbit in the leg, however where No.1 had taken the rabbit to the rock, he’d brought the rock to the rabbit. It was squirming around so much that when he dropped the boulder he crushed the entire animal, bar a triangle of fluffy ear poking out. You know the exact angle of the rock on impact because Invisible man No. 2 adds that, from underneath the other side of the boulder its guts reached out half a meter all in a straight line from the middle of its belly. No. 2 says it was pregnant. He knows this because half a hairless fetus was tangled in the slimy, squashed organs that came out.
They all laugh louder and louder. It’s amplified by the concrete box.
“You’ve got to put them out their misery though”.
The smoke that was thin coils, is now completely shapeless, almost opaque. It dries your mouth. Invisible man No. 3 has a flat cap, and a knife tucked in his trousers. You take a sip.
“I found a blind one in my field one day. Rabbit like that, it’s got no chance, just gonna suffer ain’t it. I got up real close. It never even heard me.”
At the start of harvest seeds are planted and the fields ploughed, so the mud is turned and quiet, and crumbles gently under foot. Around the old farm house where you live, father owns a little bit of land, and grows arable crops like barley, and sugar beets, and wheat and potatoes.
“I grabbed it, like this, He grabs an invisible rabbit, “and shoved a stick up its arse”.
Hot vomit shoots in to your closed mouth.
“It was squealing and jerking around like a mad thing”.
They’re laughing so loud it hurts your ears.
“Then I held it by its back legs in one hand,” You swallow, “and took out my knife,” You need a deep breath. He removes his knife from his trousers. You inhale smoke, “then I skinned it alive”.
You vomit again. This time it leaks out on to the floor. The invisible men saw it and are laughing at you now. No. 3 approaches.
“You know how to skin a rabbit?
Do you?”


It’s the last drive. The moors are brown green striped and endless, stuck with bracken and heather. The brown lands are fire scars. Landowners set fire to the heather which makes better living conditions for grouse. This means more grouse, means more hunts, means more money. It’s a doomy place. The grasses are so long and woven that one step takes the energy of ten, and bogs snake beneath, stagnant, waiting to be moved. The brutal sky would better suit an ocean; faces whipped raw by sharp rain. The bark of shooter’s dogs and crack of last shots muffle in the wind. In the distance Invisible man No. 3 falls down, flat cap flying. You stop to tie your shoes but you can’t feel your filthy hands and give up. Invisible man No. 3 is still down. You walk on. You look back.
No. 3 is still down. Jump a bog, look back.
No. 3 still down. Turn, walk back up the hill. Still down. Closer. Still and down. Talking distance. No. 3 IS HIT. No. 3 DOWN.
Shotgun ammunition used for hunting smaller game like pheasants and grouse is a blunt, heavy slug, 18 mm long, and weighs 28 grams. This is to ensure a killing blow. Your father told you this. But due to this design and low muzzle velocity, around X feet a second, the slug slows down dramatically over a greater distance. Your father didn’t tell you this. You know this because the invisible man is still alive. And his eyes are on you. The slug hit the cartilage of his nose, which had burst into red nothing. Invisible man No. 3’s hands are trembling. From that impact the bullet ricocheted downward and opened the roof of the mouth, his chest flitting up, down, up, down quick as sparrow’s wings. The slug’s on the floor just there, with a few teeth. And his eyes are on you. You step forward and hear the blend of the thud of your foot and the snap of twigs. His eyes are full moons, and the wind tears at your ears like screaming lions. You can see inside his face and just make out, through all the devastation, the back of his tongue twitching like a snake digesting too large a creature. And his eyes are on you.
The Ammunition of a hunting shotgun is a blunt, heavy slug
This is so the bullet doesn’t go too deep, or through the other side.
This is because the bullet mustn’t destroy the prey as an object.
This is because the final pleasure of the hunt is not the kill.
This is because the final pleasure of the hunt is the taste of the dead.
This is.
You pick up a couple rabbit droppings. Wait for a lull in the wind, standing over No.3. Lodged between your thumb and forefinger, slowly, you grind the droppings together, crumbling them, and watch the flecks and dust dance down into No. 3’s new hole. Its eyes are on you. The dust falls in them too, and darkens in the moisture, peppering the white. No.3 doesn’t blink. Its eyes are on you, but you keep looking on into the stringy abys. Looking around, the line’s moved on. No one is coming. It’s swallowed a lot of blood by now. Eventually it will vomit and choke. It’s suffering. You’re surprised it didn’t choke on the slug.
It’s on the floor right there.
Passed the slug are some teeth,
The wind tears at your ears like screaming lions.
passed those teeth are more rabbit droppings,

The brutal sky would better suit an ocean.

beyond those
This is a doomy place.

is a rock.


The Preacher had been hiding out in a shed. It had taken us four months to track him. He was stinking and bearded. There was a bucket in the corner filled with things he’d expelled, and flies glitched over to the bucket, from him and back again. I’d smelled worse. People often evoke the smell of charred flesh, in writing especially, but the charred flesh is alright. It smells like breakfast. It’s the smell of the raw meat that sticks with you. I took out my gun. Freddie took out his. Shuddering, he spoke,

“You lads have lost your way. To kill a messenger of Jesus Christ, do you not fear for your souls? Leave me my life, accept God in to yours, and you will be forgiven. You will, you will, truly you will”.

“Well that depends old fella”.

“On what now?”

“Whether we need to do something here today that would need forgiving. Do you have what we’ve come for?”

“No, I’m sorry. I can have it by next month, I’m sorry. I swear on Jesus our lord and savior, on my ma’s grave, I swear it”.

I lifted my gun. Freddie lifted his.

“That’s not good enough I’m afraid”.

He spluttered rather than breathed. The contours of his throat deepened like the revolving chambers of a six shooter.

“No, no! Wait, God Almighty. Have you no respect for the sanctity of life?”

My stomach cramped up.

“Aye the first person I killed, I cried all night. Then my friend stepped on a land mine, and as I dodged falling toes and splinters of shin, I did scream. Again I cried all night. I thought about dying myself. Surely there was no way I’d get home. I saw this every day. Sometimes I knew them, sometimes I knew of them, and most of the time they were just anonymous blood balloons, leaking all over and bursting. No, life isn’t sacred, but death might be…

Freddie shot two into his chest. The Preacher leaked nicely on the floor.

“Freddie, I was talking to the man”.

“Sorry, it just seemed like a good place in what you were saying to do it like. He’s still breathing. Say what you’ve got to say, quickly mind”.

“Freddie he’s bled half to death, he’s not going to be lending me his ear at this point”.

The Preacher gargled, mumbling where he was able. Freddie shot him just above the right eye. It hung loose, rolling gently on his cheek. Little bits of brain fell out his head, and bounced on the floor. They looked like popcorn if popcorn was meat. Reminded me how hungry I was. I didn’t have breakfast on account of having to come early morning to find this old fella.

“Can we leave? I’m starving over here, no reason we got to die along with this one”.

He had great blood. Slightly deeper red than most you see. It looked thicker. He mustn’t have had a drop of alcohol for decades. Maybe he ate too much salt. Perhaps it was just the floor.

“Isn’t that good blood”?

Freddie looked down at the dead thing, then turned to me with diving eye brows,

“What are you talking about, psycho”.

“The colour, it’s nice isn’t it, so rich. That’s the shade I want in my hallway. And don’t be off calling me a lunatic now, I’ve just seen you shoot that man in his guts twice, then in the head. There needed be only one, sadist”.

Last words are always interesting. They’re more interesting than first words. My first word was no. Funny how my first words answer his last words. It’s all backwards it is. The sanctity of life he says. See I went for a walk along the pier one afternoon a few months after I got home. It must have been around four pm. I was entirely alone, it was high tide, and the moon was strung fat and low, but there was still a nice light. The sky was fading gently from white on the horizon to a ghostly blue, getting deeper the higher you looked, and the water looked like molten opals. Opals that lapped, and lulled, and shivered on forever beyond sight. Now, sometimes some things make you forget that you’re on planet earth. Make your favourite Monet look like a cave drawing. They make you forget about sex, or that you have a dick at all. They make you forget you’re even alive, they make you forget about death, and as I sat that day on that bench I realised I’ve never dreamed anything so perfectly gorgeous. That was sacred. Not him, not his popcorn brains, not me, not my family, or his, not the living nor the dead, just the motion of the melted opals and the stillness of the greedy moon. That was sacred. Last week I lifted an old, warped pan off the stove with hot oil in it. I listened to the popping bubbles ping against the surface of the pan. It was this robotic orchestra of metallic harmonies that made Beethoven sound like shit. That was glorious. That was sacred.