The Fear

Red streaks drew down our walls. 
Reddened claws of tiger stripes 
threatened weaker life in rustling breaths, 
choking, culling an unlucky two percent 

Except:  solicitous, draconian and officious, 
the wardens flourished, doubling day by day; 
While hoarders, panicking, insidiously 
unmasked a national myth of fortitude; 
While travellers were condemned, because 
maybe, just maybe, well you never know; 
While living was suspended altogether 
so none at all would ever have to die… 

Fevered, we shivered, until reality returned. 
Witness:  a convulsion in the biome 
affecting human life;  our brilliant, fragile 
human life, drowning in its fear. 

Pretty Times

Davros plotted.  The country sank or swam.
The emperor paraded his new clothes 
and celebrated – a new heir, carried by his paramour: 
the sixth? or seventh?? or maybe eighth in line… 

Absent oppositions disarrayed. 
Pretty raged.  Aeroplanes still flew. 
Numbers flailed, miscounted, multiplied,
pretending they could disappear. 

Panics surged around the borders; 
trembling fevers magnified, then compounded. 
Davros plotted. 
The country sank into a swamp.


I felt the scented smoke of chestnuts burning 
among the clinging reek of old damp leaves, 
hazy, catching at my breath, 
falling to the bottom of my lungs; 
while I ripped up the tracks of my life behind me
as I walked, a purpose in itself, 
half-lame, within approximate direction; 
cast out – or walked away – from our chosen home… 

Searching for the borders of community 
but lacking any risk of crossing into “theirs”… 

It’s complicated, as they say, 
containing layers on layers and mysteries – 
such as how the crank and dumb and ill-informed 
and leaders unfit for truth can conquer – 
while the future ebbs away across the water, 
decisions turning water into oil and oil into distress… 
and Demos flounders, self-absorbed and slavering
over brazen idols, especially devoted to their feet of clay ~ 

~ Forgetting those who’ve shared our pains,
against whom we found ourselves by misadventure. 

I am lying low, a little low, for now. 

Valediction for a year

Goodbye to you, two thousand and nineteen, 
without regrets.  A year that fled: 
lived through in disarray –
nothing new or unexpected there – except 
it let those bastards steal the future, 
taking out a mortgage on their souls 
redeemable against our children’s lives
without responsibility.

Goodbye, two thousand and nineteen: 
My beloved dog outlasted you / but only by three days 


Sliding down a ladder-worth of concepts 
from my makeshift eyrie in the sky – 
blown almost-out-of-mind while scanning 
the horizon for some-or-other threats – 
I fell into the glue-pot, push-of-pike 
across the ditch and sticking-in; 
to make progress from day-to-day, 
perhaps in the direction of tomorrow?
enabled, when I stabbed an ice-axe
in the bones, the skull, of a beholder;
A clear-cut fall from grace, back-lit
against its own disfiguring defaults 


Roofed by gloom and floored by chill, 
walls shaken from outside by hammer blows, 
I focused on the fire that keeps us warm. 
A turn inward?  It gave me space to speculate: 

What could we teach the sea? Who understands its driving tides? 
Who may plumb its sulphur deeps or gauge its acid waves?
What can tame its rise before it reaches us, in rage? 
Our hands?  All filmed in soot, defiling what we touch!

We had a thousand words for rain. 
We’d flown the flood, we found a shelter here 
while others foundered, tinder-dried in an unwanted wind: 
Our parody of choice, which worsens every time ~ 

Life will revert. It will come back; 
but we have moved the curve 
to leave us on the beach, sifting through its grains 
among the spreading streaks of soot…

So many lives to weigh, to balance and divide.