We roll up, the tyres cracking and complaining under the broken ground, into the skeletal husk.  In the shell of the old factory the slabs of mottled concrete rise like broken teeth, or gravestones, testaments to mothers, fathers, daughters and sons.  Every surface is tattooed with fallen graffiti artists, leaving their tags in blood red as the light dimmed from their eyes.

Trespass is the least of our crimes, and our crimes are the least of anyone’s around here.  I look across to a vibrant bundle of scarlet hair and anger.  Aged fourteen she found her brother kneeling peacefully in the street with a knife hilt buried in his chest.  She ran over to hug him as he rose his head to the sky, closed his eyes and a single tear ran from the corner down his cheek.  He whispered into her ear; this really hurts, and I need to sleep… if I don’t wake up, know that I love you. 

She broke my ribs last week.  As I crouched, doubled up and breathless, she pointedly remarked; if it makes you feel better, I can feel it too… and it hurts.  She was dangling upside down from a tree at the time.

Now we sit in front of a jagged, arrow shaped monolith, casting a shadow over the car.  Five stories of naked, pointless brick holed five times down the centre by glassless windows and kept up by a few flimsy pieces of tape and warning signs that the whole thing could come down at any moment.  We’re underneath it, and for good measure, I turn the key to shut the engine down.  The stand-off begins.  If it decides to fall today, we won’t have time to react.  I pass the can to her and she passes it back.

Tears regularly form on her eyelashes like icicles.  She tells me; I’m finding it harder and harder to keep breathing forwards.  Then, with a deep sigh that raised her chest to the heavens, she turned her head to face me…. See? 

When I walk down the street with her at night, the streetlights flicker and dim as she walks past them.  I used to think it was her energy fucking with the wiring, but now I realise it is the shadows of her thoughts that swim and dance around her head, blocking out the light, selfishly hogging her soul.

Sucking on the can, she leans back and stares out of the window.  Her voice is half panicked and half relieved when she says; I think I’m dying… I can see angels coming to collect me… I never thought I’d be one of the saved. 

I look ahead; flecks of snow are settling on the car windscreen.




I remember the first time I saw my schoolteacher naked.  I’d returned from lunch early to avoid being alone in a crowd; I preferred to be alone whilst alone.  I opened the door and found Miss Kempt, laying back in her chair with her eyes closed.  Both ankles were resting on the desk as she reclined, knuckle deep inside herself, with a sanitary towel clinging on to the gusset of her panties which itself hung from one knee.  For some reason, it reminded me of the pathetic bunting we’d put around the corridors with messages of learning and wisdom, quotes from dead cunts we didn’t care about telling us to learn stuff we didn’t care about so we could grow up and get jobs we didn’t care about, and meet partners we didn’t care about and have children…. well, you get the idea.

I snuck out before she could notice I was there and took my boner into the boy’s bathroom.  I showed it to the weird kid in the class next to ours in exchange for three sticks of gum and four packets of stickers.  He just stared at it for a while, breathed on it, tried to touch it but then flinched away like it was an exposed electrical socket.  With a last wheeze from his stuffed nose, he gulped hard and ran into a cubicle, slamming the door behind him.  I zipped myself up and left, my head feeling light and without blood.

When we all finally returned to class, Miss Kempt was on her knees sponging the floor, next to a bucket of pale, pink water.



I bleed always


Translucent and odourless, it flows cold


Flavourless and…. pointless?


Not pointless.

Wrong word.


The grief of distant stars…


…no longer there…


…the light reaching us too late.


Can you be saved?


Do you need?


Do you want?


Touch your fingers


Eyelash-kiss my moist cheeks again…



As you snore in my arms, the vibrations run through me like the tremors of an earthquake; the ripples spreading out like stones hurled into a pond.

Your sonorous baritone makes my atoms dance.

I see my reflection in your eyes and I’m always dying.  Always falling to my knees clutching my chest or covering a wound on my neck.  Always clinging to life inside that perfect circle of black.

Hide me under a quilt so I can bury my tongue between your legs, picking hairs out of my teeth.  I’ll wet my broken lips against your sex, nodding my head…




…agreeing with everything you say.  Hide me under the sheets, leave me to nest between your thighs and not come out until the spring.



I put down my cup of tea on the table and pretend to scratch my nose; actually, I’m sniffing my fingers.  I’m wearing her black thong under my skinny jeans, so my cock is half squashed and half rubbed raw against the zip fly.  My hair is filled with her shampoo.  My teeth glisten with her toothpaste.


The question is asked

__ ___ ____ ____ ______ _____?

and I reply;

Excuse the language, mother…

…but I fucking love her.


Devil’s Whisper


Her parents once told her she was an accident, and as the years tumbled by she grew into a catastrophe.  She told me; I’m gatecrashing a party here.  I have no rules.  I have no (finger quotes) dress – code.  I exist in a vacuum.  I am in the empty spaces.  I am life.

Or maybe the echo chambers.  I didn’t say that.  It came to me years later whilst going over our conversations again and again and again, trying to find a clue.  I realise now that my one-liner would’ve killed her.  She would’ve laughed, thrown her head back to show me those home-made fillings, those gaps where her brother forced her skull into a doorframe before violently closing it, the tongue chewed into ridges by dreams of murder and foxes eating people alive.  Of course, even if the reply had come to me in the moment, I wouldn’t have said it out loud.  Fuck no.  You don’t walk confidently into a tiger’s enclosure bollock naked, your genitals smeared with meat paste.

She was always a half-step ahead, and me a half-step behind, which created quite a division.  But, crucially, we still walked the same path.  We still tried to reach the same destination, just with different degrees of subtlety.  I drifted with my hands in my pockets, constantly scuffing the front of my shoes because I couldn’t walk with any confidence.  I couldn’t pick up my self esteem and I certainly couldn’t pick up my feet.  I looked down at weeds, dog shit and litter.  I very rarely looked into the sun.

She was a barrel roll of blood, sex and mayhem.  She once attempted to seduce a security guard at the old factory …just fifteen.  When the dirty old bastard finally caved in and planted a kiss on her cheek, as she sat in his lap in a state of disarray, we had him for life.  It was either us or Her Majesty’s Pleasure and he picked us.  We’d turn up at the front gates and leave with whatever we could squeeze into a shopping trolley.  Rugs, pots of glue, tinned beans and joggers.  Meanwhile he got wider, his hair grew thinner, and the bottle of whiskey under his desk got taller.  When she left on a summer holiday for two weeks, he drank an island of liquor and drove his van into the path of a freight train.

One summer, she invented the Firework Crossbow.  I’m not sure I need to explain any further, but I still have the scar on my thigh.  We owned our neighbourhood; a meek infant with plans and a mad bitch with questions.  Tyres got slashed,  houses burned, other people got jail time.  She’d cut the faces out of the local paper; all these confused looking mugshots of guilty men and women who were – for once in their miserable lives – innocent, and paste up a scrapbook.  The Book Of The Damned she smiled.

Wherever she went, they never found a trace.  Just her coat, hanging from a barbed wire fence at the cliff edge.  Her parents spoke, once again and tearfully this time, of ‘accidents’.  As though she had no free will of her own.  She was born a disaster and she lived like a sunrise.  I never visit her empty grave; a mount of earth with nothing in it and a stone with nothing to say.  I run my finger over the white scar on my thigh and I feel it tingle.  I know she is still out there somewhere.




The owner of the body smiled to the assistant and paid in cash.  Taking his ticket he told them this was his first time.  They hoped he’d enjoy it and come back.  I’m sure I will; it looks so beautiful.  He passed the gift shop, went outside through the automatic doors, walked briskly along a yellow stone path towards a viewing platform.  Then he turned his back on the sea, churning white on the rocks below, spread out his arms and fell backwards.

Unnoticed and anonymous he remained.  After the violence of the initial landing, the driving waves pushed him inside a small cave, sheltering him until the tide turned.  By nightfall, the gentle sea carried him back out under a moonless sky speckled by stars.

Drifting and silent, he left a fishing trawler untroubled, bobbing on the waves, the crew finishing a last round of cards and liquor before four hours of uneasy sleep.  Dawn was broken by the clicking and skittering of dolphins, flanking him as they swept in and out of the sea like thread in a tapestry.  A passing oil tanker caught him in its wake, throwing him like a ragdoll as debris gathered and coiled.  Mummified in plastic and netting, he changed course towards a small island – little more than a rocky outcrop with thirty or so square yards of beach.

He washed up at this new Eden, a bundle of human rubbish and one protruding hand, eyed curiously and pecked by the puzzled locals.



He stands up, quite abruptly.

But he stares straight ahead, looking firm.

So it can’t be a spider, not this time.

“I am an inventor” he declares.

This is somewhat melodramatic even for him.

He’s still holding his sandwiches though.

Quite a comic image really.

I’m trying not to laugh though.  This is clearly important to him.

So I ask the inevitable.

“What have you invented?”

He sits back down.

“Well, nothing really” he shrugs.

He looks at his sandwich.  Crumbs are falling like snow.

“I think I’d like to invent something useless.”


“Because it feels like more of a challenge.

Everything has a use really.

It’s hard to think of something genuinely useless.”

I raise an eyebrow and my lips curl.


I’m not feeling that cruel.

I’ll just look instead.

He won’t notice.

“This is what happens when you spend hours in your room

And you





And I punctuate by prodding his kneecap with my finger.

“They say it’s bad to be alone.

But what do they know?

I’ve had some amazing adventures in my head.

Met some great people.”

“Who are they anyway?”

“The people I’ve met?”

“No, the people who say it’s bad to be alone.”

He shrugs again.

“Please sit back down

It makes me nervous to sit at the feet of someone

Especially when they don’t know where they are going

You might tread on my legs.”

So he slowly curls his legs under him.

“I’m sorry” he grins.



As a kid, I used to run around the legs of pylons trailing a piece of rope.  I imagined they were giant robots and I could trip them up like in Star Wars.  A few years later one of my friends climbed past the barbed wire trying to touch the birds that stood happily on the buzzing wires.  His end wasn’t like the cartoons we watched.  No zap, no bolt, no moment where he hovered, thrashing around, full of electricity.  Just a loud snap, like a party popper, a smell of burning and he fell like a plank of wood.  Even when he landed he remained perfectly posed as he had been just before touching the wire – head up, arm outstretched, forever frozen in the form of a curious human.

These days I run across those same fields with my arms out, hoping my small actions will kill your cancer.  I doubt if it works, but I’m desperate and stupid.  So every Friday, after work, I change out of my smart shoes and put on a pair of boots.  I hide the car in an old garage and it’s a short jog down a footpath and into the fields.  I run past the spot where my friend fell – the grass has grown long and his monument is a plastic red rose faded white by the sun, strapped to a nearby fence.  I still run around the pylons but I keep my eye on them.  I know they want me next.