Exit Strategy 
Holding on to our last-gasp hours—whispered I love yous
in my ear. Once more, you inch up to my lobe, earring hole, 
up close doing your best to compress our future in a phrase, 
a tense, something to last under lids. That will pass through 
your dawns, your evenings. I love yous as I squeeze myself 
through a needle head. To blackness or birth-light. Our pact
in place. The last things: a rosary, a sponge on my tongue, 
a pan flute, a hypodermic. Frankincense plumes in a room 
we can’t mention. My waxen suit lifts to a halo. My eyebrow 
twitches yes, we are still fusion—hands entwined, fasting. 
As we were: a ritual of ribbons. I mouth the too-late advice:
evacuate. You said we had lightning in a jar. The tragedy is 
you meant it. Now sparks arc like sea-drenched arms. How 
is it possible to have the final say? I love yous back and forth
while the mind slides doors; ancestors arrive. We’ve tried 
to wear out the will—puncture it through. Find a way out 
with a maze-trail. My promise of a comeback or getaway 
hurts your faith: the cliche of how energy never dies. The sun 
does through its discharge. Shrinks to a cinder while you wait. 
For now you are Earth bound, stuck to lobules and ducts—
while I notice the neon, pulled up and up. Away and tied 
to a kite you can’t remember. I love yous—to fade. Your kiss 
on my fringe. If only I could pin this cord with a paper clip. 
Minutes before my lips stitch, the sloughing of skin. Unzip. 
Escape valve firing. Perhaps a zygote the start to seal it. For cells 
to divide as they should. Stop once done. Perhaps when clouds 
slow down, things will seem real. Listen: my disappearance 
makes so much sense. Don’t worry—it’s not even an issue.

Negative Space

I wake in a panic               imagining all the new people 
wearing your clothes            As I cleared out your snug 
every star of glitter                         seemed salvageable
Things that caused pain                           two years ago

I now have on my windowsill 
I glimpse photos                      as though we’ve spoken 
                                                                      just before 
My malady consists                      in how I cannot keep 
two worlds in opposition 
                                      The membrane between sleep 

and waking                                                    permeable
Your mother told you to leave                     after a while
Such visits give succour                 What’s hard is living
once touched with fire


The first question I’ll ask the angels is why do the dead
feel the need to desert us. 

I sighed your candle out and the grills were silent. 
I gazed at the flame and hoped for a conduit. 
I received the gift of tears. I received, while they prayed.
For now, the priest is the next best thing—so I ask why 
our speech is prohibited. 
To slap a priest would be reprehensible. Why can’t they 
find a dog’s soul through its eyes? 
And when the last candle goes out, I’ve journeyed far
and still, we’re unrequited. 
I wonder if God is saying I must go through him 
to get to you. 
They say it’s just a transition: from one body to another. 
I’ve no patience for the psalms—each candle snuffed out. 
If science is a candle in the dark, this must be what it means 
to see while blind. 
I’ve had all over the body shivers—though like a favourite 
song is playing with rhythms curled in my cochlea. 
This gradual extinguishing is like our body’s functions. 
Death is a process and never like Hollywood. 
Then the strepitous comes like a rumble of thunder.  
Then the lights go up and the candelabra casts the shadow
of a spider on the wall.  

The End


With the close of a hospice door, clunk of a saloon, tyres

on gravel: an ending if ever there was one. Let us slalom

round statues of Mary, grottos in grounds, funerary fetishes.


Let it end with handed-over possessions, towels, slippers,

photo off the wall (she never saw), smell of softened linens,

folded neatly with inventory, for no-one especially.


Ask for no heroes, villains, nick-of-time pliers on wires,

no H-bomb to defuse on the horizon. Ask for nothing

as the sun pops, extinguishes. Let it end as a balloon.


Let the chauffeur pull unsmilingly through the driveway.

Let the leaves fall sometimeish in September.

Let unhappy accidents happen on dual carriageways.


See father as a mannequin, us both as mannequins, feel

the numbness of thumbs on a gear lever, steering wheel

turn, sink in a blue lagoon, birds scatter from traffic islands.


Let doctors be anything but miracle workers. Sack Christ, 

alienists. Insist the priest toddle off with his rosary beads,

chuck out his wooden crosses, fuck off to the hypermarket.


Pray only clouds on roads chaperone us. Stay on auto-pilot.

Read of St Bede’s swiftness of sparrow down a dining hall.

Let’s go art house, kino lounge a while:


Let bus stops hang unseasonal icicles, Belisha beacons

be lollipops if they want, the forget-me-nots freeze,

apocalyptic winter, denouement leave all threads a tangle.


Then fin, fade to dark. Stars drip to stalactites.

Ghost Story

It arrives in strips     torn out of a compendium of dreams. It begins as wisteria

up the walls     a boarded-up window     a gable     another window     dark as

an eye-patch. It’s something I’ve meant to write for some time. Each night another

vignette is unveiled     as if viewing a mural by torchlight. It’s always a darkness

beyond darkness     like once in the attic with a shade no photons could escape    

or where such darkness festers     in oubliettes     undercrofts     outside with rooks

and a sense of the venerable. Often it’s a house I’ve once been in     one with a tumble-   

down facade     sheer cliffs on every side. Last night     the house of a married couple    

or mausoleum     its door-turned-tombstone carved in exotic ciphers. I chucked a  

grappling hook over the roof to the other side     hoisted myself through a spider-filled

frame. All I remember was a presence of husband and wife     how I kept opening

doors to bedrooms or staircases     or doubling back on myself     finding rooms

were running out     or floral walls closing in. Shut in the vestibule     I sought

the bustle of the streets. Shrieks out of a letterbox met with nothing but disinterest.

Some Deformed Fukushima Daisies


It’s gone viral

from the outskirts of the Fukushima nuclear plant.

Close-ups with the highest res of megapixels.

Heads fused as conjoined twins

cresting at the lips or stigmas.

Any other context and they’d be said to be kissing,

though it would have to be eternal.

And how might they eat?

Their enclosed faces spurn the sun

whose fusion is a saviour.

It beats down regardless.

And their stems are bent over double

like spines of grown-old-together brothers.


Shasta daisies born of a tsunami

show off their skins of leukaemia bruises,

thyroid cysts,

like pubescent nightmares of another Windscale,

another Chernobyl.     

And as I google the meaning of meltdown

I stumble over stories of evacuees,

articles on damage done to genes,

what the mutant reality is

of kids whose heritage begins

in rhizomes, grasses, trees,    

toxic hospital units.


No matter what the cause is,

whether malformed stalks are metaphors,

they can’t stop us from our sleepwalk.

And this is the way the planet talks,

like the body talks with its symptoms

or the mind talks with neuroses

if only we’d listen

and re-learn how to read signs and ciphers

rather than rely on pills consider hysteria,

no longer think of sadness as an illness

or think of madness as a lesion.

Perhaps the heart truly has its reasons,

and we are the daisies,

we are the fallout,

the Twitter feeds our babies.