pay the collector his toll and let him
bear the burden of small change;
gather with the town-folk,
with bugles come to watch
the old cathedral tear itself down,
the last tourist spectacle on the
itinerary of worn-out miracles/
every map is only fiction–
every street meets you at dead ends,
in wrong turns and ring-roads
and the traffic lights all
turn blinking sleepless yellow/
drink with the pastor in exchange
for the story of how his spirit
now hangs for curtains on the bar window–
‘i lost a bet,’ he says, ‘it was all i had left.’

their riverside aches for its own eternal truth-
so be a poet for its sake. write a verse
for how their golden age is towering rust,
their grand murals only jigsaw kitsch/
paste fliers on the secretariat walls
to let them know the scarecrows have up and left
their corn and huddle now in dim pubs,
afraid of when winter comes and straw
would come in handy to keep warm/
buttons do not slip in buttonholes,
coffee grain unmixed in skimmed milk,
and the rain is as mechanical
as the bus timings in your pocket.
but when it comes, it drains the colour
from magazines and sows clockwork oranges
forever longing for spring.

keep the restaurant bills as souvenirs,
they’ll last longer than the photographs.
if you ask the pianist, she’ll write a song
for you, but she’ll keep the rights–
‘nothing else will cover the cost.’
they’re taking measurements for the telescope
and they’ll need a spare pair of hands
and reward you in labourer’s lunch/
pay your respects at the fallen shrine–
everything revolved around it once;
now it yeilds some primitive gravity,
now the streetsigns doubt themselves
and the subway never reaches on time/
in the stocks and balance sheets
of an insignificant mundane universe,
when the telescope is built, you’ll realise,
it’s looking back at us.


ashes and tea-leaves

maybe real disaster comes slow like the mould that grows
in the disuse of empty homes. The living haunt the dead,
tug at their toes for something to remember them by.
the silence of the skies seems like a warning to the blind,
reaching for their tattered umbrellas in the heat of July.

i kept all my secrets stirred in a teacup by my bed,
in its bitter residue and the messy corner of my head,
where all forgotten things must filter to when out of use
where street-signs lead back to when the world is confused
back at the bottom of my cup, the things we must lose.

turn these words into sphinxes that shrug the sand off their wings
to fill the tenebrous hourglass right up to the brim
let loose all the wrath they promised to us for our sins
let the world collapse like Samson’s pillars fell on him
let it bury me in the moist earth of love’s tender deceit
ground to dust and ashes and tea-leaves.

lost at sea

Shoulders drop and the world capsizes
Under the weight of its own indifference
in the part of your heart
That still mourns for
Softer things lost at sea.

‘Did you leave a tip?’ asks a friend as they
Leave the coffee shop. ‘Almost. That was

Old ladies still putting out flowerpots on
Windowsills, office-rats wearing out
The soles of their feet, our epidemic
Of bad fathers and rage still leaves us under
Streetlamps, pining for some more sober youth.

I laid down brick after brick to build myself
A sky but tore it down before it threatened
To rain down on me.
How does the pigeon aspire to fly with the hawk?
How do the unloved wear the skin they keep?

‘I wish I were dead.’
‘Did you wish to be alive?’


We are as broken
As the wind against
The cliffs of Dover.
Bones like candlesticks
Snap like twigs,
Fumes of the strain
That holds them together.
Mama said don’t hunch
But I have always been
Too small for love
And I know that
Sisyphus so strong
Still bent his knee
When that rock came rolling
Down the hill.
All those years ago,
When I fell
Into a thistle bush,
Maybe one stuck in too deep,
Maybe festers,
Maybe grows,
A visceral prick
That gnaws at the heart-strings
Until it tears through the skin
And sticks there,
Skin-deep but deeper
Than it’s ever been.


They don’t care about death
They talk about it,
It fills their libraries,
Their stadiums
And stratospheres
But they don’t care about death
Even while death hangs
Between your fingers
Rolling back and forth.
They care about how death
Chews long enough
To let our toenails grow,
Like rotting peaches.
So they leave death
Like the madman
on the pavement
Beating his chest
But never taken seriously.

The Military Subject or How to Wear Camouflage

To provide an introduction to the ‘world’ as it is right now is an inherently solipsistic and ideologically infested means of ‘manufacturing consent’. Articles of this kind will often begin by providing an expansive panorama of events that constitute the world in which the emergence of this article becomes not only necessary but also inevitable. This is of course a journalistic trick: it provides, ostensibly with the interest of providing a ‘context’, the ideological assumptions of the article as an objective, radically disinterested documentation of pressing, relevant events of which the article is not only culmination but also resolution. The trick lies in the fact that once we have been introduced to the necessary assumptions of the text, and have (whether forcefully or not) accepted them to be true, we have already accepted too much and then the article cannot be challenged from outside its own parameters (‘restrict your argument to the article, please’). Although I cannot promise any drastic disavowal of the journalistic conventions of article writing, I can forgo the strictness of introductions by providing only the key ‘tags’ of my interest and allowing the reader to freely associate the relationships amongst them and the situate them in the ‘context’ of the current ‘world’: war, militarization, patriotism, hierarchy, popular culture, code, honour, structure, ideological constitution, state.
Continue reading “The Military Subject or How to Wear Camouflage”

how to say something else

that I could forget like snow
engraves its residue in footprints.
what death is this that stands there
waiting for us to lunge at him—
like a snowman.
outcast, misspelled, misbelieved—
poor little miscreation.
if palms were only big enough to wipe these tears.
four ticks, two clocks, one tsunami
like all the snow in the world.
and still not enough for thirst
of something more than blood.
like snow white
killed by seven dwarves.
a thousand knotted faces, cluttered in hope,
bound by a prayer of ‘regeneration’,
kneeling before the god of helplessness.
love is a cry of desperation
love was never enough.

image credit: Rachel Harrison

after this

it could have been worse.

could all
our stories fit into
honeycomb cupboards
like we did
when we were children,
strung out like warm cheese,
still taste the same
but different
to the touch?

(no winters ever spared the trees,
our birds were forlorn pragmatists.
nostalgia is for those that stay,
felt for those that leave and promise
to come back)

there is no other way
to love ourselves
but in the absences
of those who never stay.

unless love can
beat us down and abandon
us to pulse and skin
can patch blue thorns,
not hide but become,
a cover of wistful darkness–
or whatever you find
in cupboards.

sixteen waking hours
and I have given up
what little
i couldn’t throw away.

a little space between your legs
i can weasel mine into
for something I could mistake
for warmth.
who knows what really happened
between you and me.
two halves of story
together still incomplete.
two halves:
incompletes of something else.

(i am all sides and no centres
the depth of the burgundy tide
that rolls over your feet
and then recedes into everything)

you left me canyons
in whose depths coruscate
the vital pebbles
of my own storming memento
as i slip over cascades
that end
in the ravenous nothing
of empty cupboards.

and if nothing else:
this is the worst it could ever get
as long as there is something
after this.

(featured image posted by @ozanguzelce on Instagram)


Thought of a sky buried beneath the wound
Cracks like the sail of a battleship, against the candied scab
Of all that aches for more than shore,
But there is no deeper meaning to suffering.
Babies born in feathered wombs struck with the wings of frost
That follow down every seedy motel bedroom
Until they find a way inside and hunger fingers for the taste
Of salt and sea.
Lungs of fish-bones and orange rind, trees tear through the tide
Of breathless bodies, arise
In shells scattered across beaches blunt bruised by battered blue whales,
Reaching for air across currents and countries moving the world
To deathly dance with fury and replaced
Faith with drowning faith.
But home is in our fingernails, buried in unfinished sabbath dinner
Curved in the shadow that lines two hands sewn
In anguish and love.
The mind is coffin for those whose funerals are scarce,
Heaved beyond the clumsy synapses of stubborn memory.
There is no deeper meaning to suffering
But our wounds are only as deep as skin.

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