Tangerine Eyes


I’m always nervous when she is in a good mood.  She draws too much attention to herself.  And us.  I’m standing next to her but a few paces apart.  I can see a tree, and I can see her former boyfriend hanging from the tree by his wrists.  She’s wrapping herself back up in a deep, dark coat covering up the black lingerie she wore to entice this fool.  And then, with one ridiculous heel braced against the oil drum, she kicks it away and This Boy dangles like a trouserless pinata…. his dick already beginning to tumble in panic like a demolished tower block.

She has a knife in her pocket and it’s already out.  This is both good and bad.  If she shows the blade early it means The Boy will almost certainly return home with the rest of him, but on the flip side she is in the mood for fun.  And any second now a passing dog walker is going to stroll past and start asking questions.  And I have my own blade, hidden and considerably sharper than hers, to deal with intrusions.

Whilst they – whilst she – talks, I sit down on a nearby rock, like a grey island amidst the thistles and weeds.  The wind hisses and waves through the grass that seems to charge in unison towards this weird public execution.  There’s dog shit on my shoes, my jeans, under my armpits and behind my ears.  It’s been an odd day.

I should get out of this.  I tell myself every day.  But within her sphere life isn’t boring and sex is dangerous.  A sniff of her greasy hair flecked with pollen and dandruff and I’m hopeless.  To see her squatting, shitting in a field is divine.  People may laugh, but then they end up like This Boy.  Kicking and fretting about the loss of his insignificant sexual vegetables.

Her eyes are orange, thin black pupils over a pair of deep autumn suns.  She always has plans… and strategies and I wonder if she shouldn’t be in the military, or as a modern day Boudicca, riding a tank into a warzone with a sword in the air and a pair of goggles to protect from the diesel smoke.

It always begins like this; we’re going to do something nice and normal, like go and get pizza from Earl the street vendor, but we ‘happen’ to meet up with her ex; and for a while we sit and we eat pizza and she tells us stories about each other and our failings, and I haven’t even asked why a black trenchcoat in June?; and then she suggests a walk out to the fields and beyond to the wasteland, and by now I’m trying to mouth to her ex that this is a bad idea; but he’s cock of the walk right now, especially when she turns to me and tells me to fuck off but with a knowing wink that he cannot see; so I do go away to give her the five or ten minutes she needs to string up this silly boy and prepare him for the entertainment…

…and as I’m walking away, knowing I will return soon I think, there she goes again with those flawless Tangerine Eyes. 



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.


Sanctuary II


Sanctuary II is here.

As with Sanctuary, it is a combination of my pictures and my writing.  Please click here if you wish to purchase a copy.



Under a single yellow streetlight the hill rises above us, filled with buried treasure, dead leaves and rotten mattresses.  We lie back on the grass uncomfortably – maybe it’s wet or maybe it is just the cold.  One hand on your goosebumped knee, and my little finger teasing the hem of a maroon dress.  As the sun falls and backlights you golden, I see a dark oval where your face used to be, ink blossoming in water into a sudden blindness.  Stumbling and anxious for sensation, I feel the warmth of your breath growing on my cheek.  As the abyss swamps, like a tar tsunami across my pupils, I smell candy milk bottles and Marlboro Lights.  Cracked lips connect with my dry mouth, and a rough tongue sparks between my gums, probing and inquisitive, swimming around behind my teeth looking for a mate… looking for a fight.

Later that evening, I rattle-rattle-rattle my spray can and coat the walls of houses in your name over and over again until it is a mass of red.  I think back to that video you showed me of someone putting a shotgun in his mouth.  The colours, man.  Perhaps I drink too much, perhaps I should lay off the blotter acid, but I dream about red and purple for six months.  I dream about the haunted face, blood pouring from his lips like the saddest clown.  He slumps and breathes involuntary, as his body – confused from having the brain violently removed – falls back on basic instincts, trying to make sense of the senseless, trying to kickstart a car with no engine, no driver, no destination…

Which brings me onto you.  Fucking ghosts.  There’s nothing unreal about you.  I still have the welts and the stings, the burns and the missing teeth.  Ghosts glide through walls, but you hide every day behind walls, and trees and cars, ready to pounce when I am unaware.  And I am always unaware.

I understand now why your hair didn’t smell of shampoo but singe.  I understand why you stole lipstick but never wore it – just decorated the outside of your bedroom mirror with eagles and serpents spilling their intestines in a Promethean loop.  I understand everything now, ten years too late….twenty years too late…. thirty….. I need to stop counting.  Longing is distance times memory minus interaction.  I fight to keep the longing at bay, harder than I ever had to fight against your tight wrist clamps.  I know I’ll only be disappointed when I find out you now have nineteen kids and play squash at the weekend, driving a BMW with the air-con just so; because to me you’ll always be the girl who set my balls on fire whilst I slept.

Our life was a play; just us two unaware of the captive audience.  The third act twist came from a single observation.  We walked hand in hand, our footsteps in perfect sync, down a narrow Walk For Lovers and bordered by the half-demolished shells of old terraced houses looming over us, eyeless with bleached ribs like desert corpses.  No windows, no gardens, no kids or ball games, just burned spoons and lightbulbs, cans of aerosol and empty glue tubes.  We found our old makeout spot, an alleyway connecting the back gardens, and snuck down for an effortless fumble.  Under a dripping oak, leaning against the old wooden fences bleeding black with rot and rainwater, you found our ancient initials miraculously preserved in bold white chalk.  You pushed me away – my fingers still deep in your new lace knickers – to look closely at this fossil.  Tilting your head, you murmered softly; Huh… I didn’t think we’d last this long. 

So now I march to the hill alone, searching the grass like a tracker, trying to find where we lay and left green angels.  When I eventually find the spot I’m dismayed; there’s no memorial here – no pathetic tree with a plaque, no beacon, no illuminated sign with illustrations of our embrace, bookended and bracketed by our years.  Not even a statue of you, head cocked, face cosmically obliterated into total darkness, freckles shining like constellations across your cheekbones.

I sit down, my back to the hill, facing the sky.

And I raise a glass of sunbeams, to the ones that went away.







Happy New Year to you all x





Oily Jeans

The Boy is translucent as he approaches me.  Like a new born fish, his organs shimmer and float behind the gelatinous transparent frame of his indistinct figure.  I see them – a jumbled mass of reds and purples, pulsing and writhing like a basket of kittens, here and there spleens and kidneys jostle for attention.  I try not to look at his head, which is horrific.  Beige teeth suspended and a pair of dreadful eyes, innocent to their own disfigurements.  To see the eyes so perfectly circular, wreathed with veins like seaweed running back from the perfectly round irises.

Through his arms, the ground fluctuates as though behind a heavy heat haze.  Distorted as though made from soap bubbles, he offers out something like a hand.  I have taken far too high a dosage.  I should never have listened to him.  This boy, this fucking idiot, with a pain threshold so distant he could human cannonball through a barbed wire fence and he would complain only about the damage to his clothes.  I want to punch him right now, but to aim for his head would mean looking at it.  Any lower, my fist would plunge into cold jelly and through his vitals.  My hand would emerge, red and silver with blood and juices, as the transparent figure filled with pale.


To distract myself I look at the ground but this doesn’t help me.  I can see past my feet and through the Earth.  I am standing, as though on a pane of glass, over a huge chasm.  Below me I can see the crusts of the planet crashing and bumping like jetsam, drifting on a sea of lava; a whirlpool around a solid magnetic sphere of impossibly shiny metal, as hard and slippery as marble.  Beyond that I can see the rest of the world getting on with their lives – the Chinese poor running fat westerners around Beijing, Australian farmers kicking up plumes of dust in their jeeps, and a solid band of rough blues as the Pacific sweeps around on a never-ending current.

I see everything and it is too much.  I fall against a tree that begins to absorb my arm.  I feel the gentle warmth of a hot towel draped over my shoulder.  I slide inside it, falling through the rings, falling through laughter and industry, laughing and thunderstorms, through the seventy five circles of human hell this tree has endured and survived, until I am face down on the floor looking down through the world.  The sphere throws magma against the glass and a few specks penetrate through and burn my face.  It vibrates and blurs in my vision as though sending out a sonar warning, as though threatened, and another huge wave of red hot molten rock crashes inches from my face and I can sense the ground beneath me beginning to give way.  I am screaming.  I am screaming for my life.  I am screaming for a lifelong fear of burning alive, sinking oh so slowly into lava, feeling my bones melt and my nerve endings hammered like guitar strings.


I scream myself hoarse until I am just wheezing and hacking.  At that moment, something grabs me around my waist and lifts me high.  The world falls away, the lava still crashes fruitlessly, the sphere calms down into a steady, relaxed heartbeat.  I begin to cackle out loud, laughing as best I can with no voice.

The Boy asks me if I’m okay.  He’s hauled me up by my shoulders as I lay face down in a bed of stinging nettles.  He is fully fleshed now; only when I stare at him for too long does his skin tone fade away like old paint to reveal the damage within.  I grab his shoulders with the desperation of a lost widower, searching for an anchor in this messy trip.  I cannot focus too long and yet he keeps bringing those horrible eyes close to mine.  Through all the carnage, I can sense and feel and maybe even see his concern.  His fingers grow like vines over my shoulder blades and I make a point of not looking at them.


It takes me a couple of hours to calm down.  I am exhausted and my face is a blotchy patchwork of red and white bumps.  The Boy tracked down the right leaves to rub across my cheeks but it is my eyelids that cause me the most grief.  I cannot stop frowning, pressing deep furrows into my forehead to take the pressure off my eyes.  If I move my head sharply the entire world evaporates like a sulphuric acid filled snow-globe, so I make careful and slow gestures.  My head moves with the gentle grace of a satellite dish.  Slow, deliberate and searching.


To calm me down, he tells me the story of how he met Her.  Riding on a condensation filled bus, the windows greyed to the outside world, he saw a bundle of clothes and shoes not far from his seat.  Curled up like a dead spider, her arms and legs folded into themselves, she dozed and bumped her way through a dull landscape until the dank yellow lights of the city strobed into view.  In one glance he saw the arms clasped tight to her chest, the boots tucked under her bottom, her knees jammed into her chest.  Seconds later, on a second glance, she was very much awake and staring straight at him.


Ten minutes had passed on a half empty bus and The Girl continued to stare – not with flirtation but a clinical curiosity.  As he met her eyes, she never broke away from the glance but held it like a weight-lifter’s handshake, and her head tilted and twitched with the unnerving intelligence of a wild and dangerous animal.  In desperation he tore himself away from her and even as her thought processes burned into his collarbone he reached out a trembling arm and wrote ‘HI J’ into the condensation on the window.

When he finally plucked up the courage to look back her head had fallen deathly still, but the eyes now locked on him, unblinking and committed.


I cannot lie; I’ve reacted badly to this experience.  The Boy was kind to me but I’m inside the shell of a front loading washing machine and I think I am a sock being thrown around a spin cycle.  The Boy is so sympathetic and so kind, it makes me feel awful to know how the story ends up.  How one day he will swing so inelegantly above that patch of nettles that disfigured me.  I can feel hot water rushing over my arms, hot red water that flows like a delta through my hairs and drips from the jagged pieces of torn metal inside this machine.  In my fucked up head I’ve blamed the smell of piss on darker forces, but my shoes are wet through as is most of my lower half.

The Boy has crossed to the other side of the old railway line and he’s leaning back against a wall covered in half a century of graffiti – from the asinine to the political – from the National Front to gang tags.  I have this memory burned deep inside my neurosis because I am so close and yet so distant, as though I am viewing him through a reversed fish-eye lens.  He is looking back at me and I cannot tell if it is sympathy or revulsion or fear or just disconnect.  He helps me piece everything together in the end, but he won’t tell me about this final image.  I rock back and forth inside this rusting piece of white good trash and The Boy of nosebleeds and fatal attractions is suddenly so effortlessly disengaged…. it annoys me how bent I was.  Or is this part of the hallucination?  He never lets on.

Instead he reclines, one foot cocked back and planted firm against the concrete, as the neon shapes and slogans ripple around him like a kaleidoscope, and I’m staring into a desperate weed poking out of tar covered ballast trying to find some kind of focus.  He may be smoking, or he may be scratching his chin.  I let out another scream, a noise so loud I see it ripple and distort the air, and he watches me with the tolerance of an Edwardian governess.  Later that night he brings me food and water because the stars are moving too fast across the sky and I can’t focus on my own hands enough to crawl.


I put my cigarettes out on the husk of that washer now because I remember what I did before that; what I did the day I found him.  I don’t need his substances to see the ghost, reclining and disaffected.  When the wind rushes through winter twigs and brushes cold hands against trailing ivy I swing around as though hunted by assassins.  I know he is there and he has questions for me.  I know that I have questions for him.  I know that we can never ask them again.

Tinker Hill


Such extraordinary outfits and cackling, smiles and flaking heels, beer and freshly lost knickers, the stale smells of a lived in bed.  Walking carefully over the rust, listening for the creaks and snaps, the ship is planted precarious in the mud, watched over with wildlife by day and echoes at night.  A cracked smile, a moment of euphoria when the music lifts.  The hugs, the squeezes, the fingerprints left on your back, scars from nails indented, perfume stains on your discoloured chest.

Looking for home fruitlessly, twisting on the same spot under your feet.  She bounces down the stairs with yellow and green hair declaring that she’s feeling “all Aquarius today”, and then expects us to understand.  Strange girl.  Everyone nods, but doesn’t make eye contact.  Looks at their shoes.  I used to recognise people by their shoes, a legacy of always keeping my head down.  Now I see over their shoulders.  I recognise the straggles of hair or the patch of missed whiskers pressed against the skin by a dull razor.  Or I see them from behind and examine their mood by their walk, looking at the shoulder blades and imagining the fixed stare from a stone head.

Mezzanines and pot pourris and other things that vaguely rhyme just to kickstart another sentence.  It’s not my job to be content – not anymore.  So many people I know are now settling down.  Making the best of what they have.  Allowing the dust to settle.  They seek the pockets of magic and are content to explore them like advent calendar windows.  A weekend here.  A day there.  Paddling in memories of freedom they regress, dry themselves off and then snap back.  A keyhole existence.  I’m not sure if I feel pity or envy.  I can’t do that.  I want magic every day.  I want freedom.  Poetry.  Sin.

Putting on my old boots, ignoring the clouds.  Rain does what rain does.  I’m smiling as I stand on a high place and observe a sea reflecting the retreating sun back like so much seething, boiling liquid mercury.


(Originally published 2015)



I’m about to clean a seat for myself but then I look at you, and your face asks me what the fuck?  A fair point.  What The Fuck indeed.  So I sit down.  I feel my bony arse sinking into the wet mud.  I feel wet leaves clambering and invading through my jeans.  I’m glowing everywhere except where I connect with the ground, and it feels very cold and shivery around that area.  Rather than stand up and reject it; I remain and absorb it.

I look up and realise the trees haven’t grown that much.  At midday, on a cold winter January, the sun still (just) reclines in the crook of the baby oak.  Why haven’t you grown?  Well, of course you haven’t.  I thump my heel into the concrete floor.  You can’t grow like the rest.  You live in a man-made hardship.  And, in that context, I can’t help but respect you.

Keep growing.  I stroke the slimy, knotted bark.  Keep fighting.


Earlier that day we had returned.  Looking for an unfinished canvas, we found a sheet of blank, torn up paper.  Our childhood was gone.  I ran across the dusty debris of junk and knelt by a cluster of frozen bricks looking for my messages.  As a kid I had braved myth and rumour to chalk my tag on these meaningless red notepads.  Now they lay in pieces, broken up and exposed to the elements, washing them clean.

I slumped down.  Where are my records?

My echoes?