Thursday, 16 December 2010

Your Eyes

Your eyes are like two spells
Meticulous. Alchemic.
Your eyes are like two voices
Two psychic sirens
Pin-needle sharp, acoustic
Leaving a trail of razor notes.
Your eyes are like
Two haggard poets
Two violent puppets, exhausted.

Poem for Eliska

All this flashing mashed up noise
The chaos of awkward egos
Is kidnapped and photographed
In fairy-tale distillations
Of a girl’s refractions.

Boys become honey bees
And women paranoiac witches
Each with their flamboyant
Arrogance and stage music
And each dances to the clock’s whip.

Friday, 10 December 2010

the forward motion of ramblin jack

Blind blush blood coloured meticulous. Tepid intrepid, wet cobbled cock hipped and dreaming on the patio – im terrified of the midnight lady-monsters, half naked violence, big tits and bright fangs, eyes that violate the baby-poet in us all.
Take care, take hesitation for what its worth. Don’t knock hesitation, it’s time with someone I love. In any case nurse your perfections, never apologise for your perfections. We all must rise up to fall and it is in the falling that beauty can be seen – like early summer mornings, talking Woody Allen and “one more cup of coffee” on London Road, under a deluge of pastel skies.
But fuck it I’m not trying to tell you how to love. Only that you should love. Love is the fat kid of the emotions. All the kiddies envy him, for his self-indulgence. How dare you be so loving?
We discovered that all great art is a precocious nostalgia, an impatient tragedy – romance. What more can love amount to? Love is a triumph. It is the victory of religion over clockwork scientology – the superstitions of modernity, reducing what has twelve dimensions, to one, two or none. Real beauty rebel beauty, real truth will light up your heart like a forest blaze. Like a satanic paradise.

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Marc Bolan's Roses

Crow pranksters with an empty plant pot
Under Autumn flames that spit, gasping
And whistling in London’s gust.
Orange roses, ornate reds turn to purple
And proud whites bow in testimony.
Witness to a tuneful turmoil ongoing.
A brutal knowing. The trusted friend
Of laughter.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Camden Lock Prose Poem

Lying by Camden Lock in the sunshine, on a patch of damp grass, listening to the tube train rattle on. An old man in a canal boat drifts by, contented with boredom. A young unclean, unshaven man reads a copy of The Sun, the newspaper catching the shimmerings of the water. Next to me, a polish looking man with bronze skin and pointed features, sits yawning, reflecting on the emptiness of his life.
Some punk lovers sit cross-legged and share a beer, gossiping and bitching intensely. Thumping music comes from the market. Metallic, industrial sounds screech upward from the garages and work yards. Traffic. Delivery vans.
An Arab man smokes a hooka at the water’s edge, and he watches a young couple feed two eager, hyperactive swans.
The voices of student girls, laughing as they eat Chinese take away, irritates me, while I try distract myself, studying the plain ornateness of the Victorian bricks, stained and whitewashed by a century at the water.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Art #2

Hubris can't make something from nothing.
The painter paints and supplicates,
Leaving no room for chance,
Becoming beauty’s tactician.

Greateness makes all duties one craft.
Chaos becomes colour and death, virginal.
The healer’s touch is the warrior’s laugh,
The violence of complex knowledge.

Saturday, 9 October 2010


You cannot approach an empty canvas with arrogance.
The painter paints in supplication.
At the same time, she leaves nothing to chance,
She makes herself beauty’s tactician.

The truly great treat all duties as one craft.
Noises become melody; chaos, colours; and death, virginal.
The healer’s touch is the warrior’s laugh,
The violence of ephemeral knowledge.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

excerpt from Chapter 1 of The Sadness of Billy James

I knew right away what was going on. But then there is knowing something, and there is knowing something. I was aware of what was happening, even then. I knew that it was just that little boy again. Little boy lost. Longing and lonely. I knew it, but I couldn’t do anything about the feeling. The closest I can get to describing it is a choking feeling. Think of when you get butterflies in your tummy, and imagine that feeling in your chest, mirrored by a sense of panic. It sounds dramatic, but it is kind of like an excited dread. Like the whole world is about to collapse around you. Or the sense that it already has. What was once alive and full of the noise of the living, is now dead and drifting past you in slow motion.
Anyway, I knew what was going on. I knew that I had to be ready to separate these feelings from my feelings for Charlie. And I guess that is why I didn’t blow up on her before she left. I don’t trust my anger to be pure. I know the feeling and I know it has always been there. It could be Charlie, or it could the US foreign policy. The anger is the same. I also knew that there was a difference between love, the love I was feeling for Charlie, and the longing and desperation that was hanging heavy in my heart. When you love someone, truly, it is going to activate all your bullshit. All that baggage. In those first few weeks she was away I was acutely attentive to that. I wandered around in a fuzzy sleepwalk. Either that or I tried to sleep off a lazy rage. I knew I was just reliving stuff from the past. I knew enough, and I’d read enough, to be on top of it. I graduated in psychology, for fuck's sake. But my knowing was intellectual. All your knowledge amounts to fuck all when your deepest fears and wounds are activated.
None of this was helped by the fact that I was skint as hell, and the PhD was on the skids. I had no idea what I wanted my thesis to focus on. When I had applied I knew that I wanted to focus on something to do with philosophy and psychology. Something to do with how theory and practical science compliment each other. But the more I researched, and the more I read, the less enthusiastic I was becoming. I mean I was really fucking sick of having to circulate round my own ideas. I’d hoped by the time you got to PhD level they’d give you a little bit of freedom to develop ideas, but most of the time I was being forced to read whatever Jens suggested. He was heavily empirical, which was fine. That’s what I wanted. I wanted a scientist who knew about philosophy, but he kind of had his own agenda.
So, all that was weighing down on me. I wasn’t sure that I wanted a career in academia anyway. Charlie was encouraging me to keep painting, and said that I should meet more people outside the group. She kept telling me that I wasn’t a classic academic, that I was an artist. Fine, but you have to do something. Nobody was going to pay me to paint. Dad was already forking out the fees for the PhD, but I needed to find a way to feed myself as well.
The great thing about Edinburgh is that you can be wandering around like I was, lost in your own wee drama, but when you take a moment to look around you, the city will take your breath away, even if just for a second. The cragged landscape of the rocks and castle, the sheer, tall story facades of the classical tenements, and everything boiling in weird colours under a raw sunlight, will refresh you. It’s like a meditation.
I suppose the city was holding a lot of memories and baggage for me as well. I fell in love with Edinburgh at early age. At boarding school, the city felt like freedom itself. We used to get three hour-long breaks to go up town, per week. For those brief moments I would walk to Princes Street or up the Bridges on my own and pretend that I wasn’t some middle-class public school boy, but that I was an adult, part of the world – a real fucking human being.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Blues for Rimbaud

I have earned my medals – my depraved wings.
I have nothing to prove to the winter.
I have no impulse to explain away the night.
I will no longer beg for love.

These days courtship is a kind of punishment.
Self-indulgence doesn’t pay – but the chicks dig it.
I am sick of hoping upon hope.
I’m addicted to disappointment.
I’m addicted to late silences.

I can’t get enough of bad sex and jealousy.
I am a Bowery drunk on the Doric steps
At the corner of Love and Greed.
All these oil-black souls
Joke about love
But they are starved – just starved –
Prisoners of bittersweet poison,
Their hunger is their penance.
Hunger is how they show love.
Each kiss is a wound – a visceral itch
- the only form of beauty left.

All anger is a form of weeping.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

New York City Prose Poem (for Andy)

Dylan’s house is now a sex shop. Times Square is more fiery and more apocalyptic than in Ti Jean’s day. On Park Avenue at dusk, the ladies in short skirts squat and eat takeaway food on the doorstep of the Waldorf Astoria, their dresses falling open across their thighs. Lady with a puppy terrier shouts “fuck you” at a taxi, in wonderfully NYC cliché. The porter looks at me angry for forgetting to tip.
The girls here check me out. Not like home. Here I must be interesting. Or at least seem so, though the waitress in Caffe Reggio is smugly ignorant, she smiles when I send across the vibes. Maybe she is in love. Yes, that’s it. She’s in love. In the old days I would have thought it was me. And I did for a bit. But the chick is obviously smitten with some bony-faced, tousled hipster afro artfag. Who cares? I have too many high falootin dreams to worry about affirmations. Though I do so like the serious girls in their sunglasses on the subway. Legs crossed, and I know they are looking to see if I am looking from behind those aviators. But they keep their lips tense, cool and shut.
The Village is everything they cracked it up to be. Even if they now have Emporio Armani on the corner of Spring and Broadway. Still, it’s worth the wander, down past the trees and the fire-escape tenements lined with worn ornate cornices, and on the doorsteps on MacDougal Street you can still find old angry hustlers gesticulating into the acidic distance. Its student town but the ghosts of dangerous bohemia linger. Relics of when music chopped like a flint blade.

Love Poem

I love you the way Scots skies burn.
And the way dusk bleeds on frosted stones,
And shadows dance in icicle winds
And the way blackening rains poison
The ghostly colours of blue and pink
And autumn gold.

Wednesday, 29 September 2010


Our love would be a constant rain.
Smiles in a mask of new water;
The chaos of overgrown grass,
Sodden petals, and weeping flowers.

Our love would be metallic,
Built over years on gothic stone.
It would be operatic, like winds,
Or the spark of the city's traffic.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010


Days under carcass clouds
When mischief wind does its best
To cool love and trample hope,
We chose defiant laughter
Backstreet photographs
And underground poems.
We chose sacred noise;
Beauty in the city’s

We chose glamour visions
And the joy of our
Spacious spirits.
A second childhood
In the traffic’s
Vanishing moment.

Times Square Hustle

Manhattan in the mist,
neon romance in the rain,
my bare feet soaked to the bone,
tracing the sad steps of heroes,
I stand under the theatre bill board,
with coffee and enthusiasm,
and watch the world’s busy nomads rush.
Times Square is like one large
smoking electric dragon,
a brutal, Islamic paradise.
a man called Chester-The-Joke-Man,
comes up to me and sells me a smile
for a simple “donation.”
I just got hustled.
he hustled me because he knew
I was waiting to be hustled.
I came to New York
just to be hustled.
I came to Times Square
to meet the lawless,
who are all to happy
to oblige my textbook romanticisms.
I laugh and finish my coffee,
walk back to the Waldorf,
my heart leaping with pride.
I want to go die, go tell Kerouac.
Jack I did it, I got hustled on Times Square too,
when I was feeling ashamed,
when I was drenched,
when I was hungry and with a caffeine panic.
Jack, I made it!
I too am now worthy of a modern novel.

Monday, 20 September 2010

First Poem in London (a la Corso)

My skin is oily, my eyes are blue.
My hair bunched like a teddy-bear’s.
I can see wrinkles, but they are not ugly.
They are manly.

Lines on my boyish cheek, chin unshaven.
The angel face is getting weather-worn.
But there’s more and more light in those eyes.
More resolve.

An always increasing
Sacred stubbornness.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010


Favorit ---
the night a sprinkled secret.
a banquet of decaf and nachos,
beans, toast, and shit soup
--- dostoevsky ---
--- anna akhmatova ---
you go quiet at a mere mention
of John Hurt and Jimmy Yancy
--- quiet like night-time gardens
like trees in Basho poems,
as your breath turns warrior soft.

but that’s nothing, right?
compared to your eyes like blades
when we swap war stories,
tip-toeing our wounds,
discussing enslavements,
psychosis – ancestry
- an emotional biology.

your spirit – a tender membrane,
a volatile warmth,
emanating a thousand
unwritten poems – novels,
a literature of spells,
recipes, and rain dances,
that outclass the gods.

Saturday, 28 August 2010

The Shoreline

Sometimes the currents are enraged.
Waves travel from heat through ice,
To crash against land’s damp sands.
Sometimes, when the morning breathes quiet,
The water carries birdsongs,
Patterns of light and music
Lapping on edgeless warmth.

All forms of tide are still tide
Reaching and bowing
Under the gaze of the moon.
Rock, beach or shingle,
All are shoreline,
Where borders are not demarcated,
But danced upon,
Making a violent or soft,
But always fluid, improvisation.

Friday, 27 August 2010


Your heart
Has the heat of twelve suns.
Your voice, brass,
Smooth with autumn songs.
Unwrap your wounds
To find a bright stone
Refracting laughter.

Friday, 20 August 2010

Girl Number 3

You laugh with the blossom in your lips,
Which open up like white rose petals.
Your skin moans,
Grateful for the touch of the evening light.

Our New Found Land

So autumn’s colours have now cast their vote,
A season has shed its dead ideas.
A new innocence is plump with hope,
For the last clash between utopias.
The leaves finish their dance in peace,
In the cold air on evening streets
Where children laugh, love is released,
And a new night is made where we can meet.
Songs are swallowed by the ocean’s hours,
Winter’s window is broken open.
In the test of ice we discover power,
Like the politics of a new nation.
Ours is a promise that can’t be fought for:
A thought, still untouched by war.

Thursday, 5 August 2010


Athena – eyes of copper flame
Spirit pluming gold
White skin, the whiteness of vengeance
Sculpting beauty out of madness.

As I drink shit coffee
And scratch out poems
She paints herself a mask
Unfolds her black stockings
The frills of her femininity
And her lips like scars
Kiss the cigarette.

Athena – loves like lapis lazuli
Wraps you in her Titian cloths
Her heart a church of terracotta,
Where you can stroll like Jesus
Among the garden leaves.

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Goddess (For Robert Graves)

You whisper through the nerves
Or is this the night’s texture?
Or both? Your language, the wind,
Talking as an idea – immediate,
Chemical, the way genius subverts
History, the way lovers speak,
A biology of movements that poets
Seek to translate through music.

For all your disguises,
You’re revealed in coldness,
The way silence brushes a forest
Or the way the sea gushes
Against the sadness of wet sand.
Mystery is your favourite weapon.
Piercing, loud, but always elusive
Always discovering the next death.

Afternoon in the Park

With her right to walk freely
By the river’s chorus,
She has retired to summer grass
And to Turner’s sun.
Her black Labrador pants and dances
Released into the peaceful breeze,
And he seeks joyful scents
Among the motherly colours.

Montgomery Street Woman

Steady, balanced in the morning
She walks with an unswerving craft,
A stride that is not masculine,
Not bravado, and not mythological,
Not in self-congratulatory beauty,
But in warrior steps, gently efficient,
A brisk, feminine purpose – precise.


Where does genius get its slickness?
From the cacophony of thoughts
Whispering their winter dance,
The blue bolt of aloneness,
A steel wind driving through the leaves.


Friendship like a warm night,
Holds us with womb-like hands,
holds us in mutual abandonment,
sharing enraged betrayals
-the fabric of ambition.

You, like radiant flame, and me,
cowering with shameful craft.
Tonight the day’s demands can fuck off.
We cast off powerlessness,
and give in to music, and to death,
to the religious passage of a world
always fresh and panicked.

Tonight we are redeemed,
Our bellies replete with demons,
Our thoughts, the violence of the poem.
Tonight we can but dream,
remain childish, our souls laughing
in the face terrific ignorance.

Even Better

If I cannot love you,
I will cut you some spirit.
I will give you beauty’s ghost,
a portion of heaven’s sands,
to breeze through your palm.

Like an idea,
or a single jarring hope,
it might remind you of you,
a quick reflection,
like shapes in a street puddle.

I want nothing from you.
Only that you one day awake brave
and live out your craft,
breathing heat
on a rain-bruised world.


Lips open, two paradoxes.
Your rages swallowed
Between two half-moons.
Your eyes like two dead stars.

Two nations run in torrents
Across your angry bones
Two religions, two tribes
Nomadic in your blood.

Hands brimming with sound,
Bird-like, balletic,
Graceful, misplaced,
Outsmarting your wounds.

Your voice – a battered light,
Gorgeous but stubborn.
Orchestral, a confusion
Of logic and attack.

Your eyes – hot, metallic.
Your skin burns like daybreak
Wrapped imperious,
Around a damaged sun.

Two black rivers – lethal.
One gushes with love, one ambition.
At the delta lies your talent,
Where the branches of your genius clash.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Defiant Love

One single flame in the snow.
One flicker of warmth in the cold.
One lasting glow still glowing for you.

She says “Jesus Christ get over it.”
But she understands nothing of the poet.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

How Would I Love Thee

How would I love thee?
Well, my love is a kind of natural science,
the physics of perpetual motion.
An atomic birth,
explosions of movement and mathematics.
The piercing dance of a primitive god.

I would love you like sun-spots,
burning licks that kiss your naked legs.
I would love you like rain on your neck,
like thunder in your sleep.
I would love you with precision,
with jet-like courage, warring and relentless.
I would love you like Krishna,
with a horrifying honesty,
with a truth that swallows centuries.

How would I love thee?
With the ocean’s vengeance,
the gentleness of clashing clouds,
the music of jungle shadows.
My love is a kind of poison,
a brutal cure for your starvation.

What's The Fucking Point?

I know whatever I say
You’ll just dismiss
With that stubborn
And piteous grin.
You’ll talk through my
Angry but crafted words,
You’ll deny my distraught
By simple appeal to the facts.
You’ll counteract and scoff
At the boyish energies of my heart
And crush any chance I have
Of forgetting you
By unravelling these ragged knots.
You’ll have some jagged logic ready
Some intransigent stance
Some chameleon philosophy
With which you will whip me
Until the awkwardness has passed.

To Anne - Remembering An Afternoon in Copenhagen

The church-like ghosts listened in the unraveled cold,
While we shared random laughs and random hopes.

We walked until the coffee-coloured dusk
Under a winter sun through a winter glass.

The streets of the city were stoned still and quiet
But alive with the mutterings of history.

Behind us you could hear horses on the cobbles
And the passing dresses of dead ladies.

Before us was the North Wind carrying with it snows
And all sorts of chaos in its white crisis.

New Year Haiku

Red clouds in the sky
The ground slips below my cold,
Careful New Year feet.