Hollowed Out

Hollowed Out

You hollowed me out and lived in my skin.
When I opened my eyes, it wasn’t me looking out.
I’m trying to reclaim my body from you; the great
valleys of your fingernails still stretch and end in
deep mines, emptied of the natural goodness
carved original sin sold off to the highest bidders.

You hollowed me out and lived in my skin.
When I spoke, it wasn’t me speaking out.
I’m trying to reclaim my tongue from you; the horrors
you have been through slipping through my teeth
like the wind cracking through ancient alleyways
in dying cities breast-beating rejuvenation.

You hollowed me out and lived in my skin.
When I heard, it wasn’t me hearing it.
I’m trying to reclaim my ears from you; the slip-
sliding away of relative identity, the sounds of foreign
bodies became to me the endless majesty of being,
as fuel for more songs you could record and sell in the streets.

You hollowed me out and lived in my skin.
When I tried to feel, it wasn’t me touching.
You slid your bones inside my fingers; the burning
connections on your calloused skin so sensitive through
my scratched and pierced tips, and you recoiled from everyone,
every woman I wanted who wanted me, you pushed them away.

You hollowed me out and lived in my skin.
When I tried to blame you for it, I couldn’t.
You didn’t want to wear me so totally; the desperate
man that I was did it myself, I opened my body and
wrapped around your ghosts and made it punishment;
you hollowed me out and lived in my skin.

I’m sorry for that.

I don’t think I can ever make it up to you.


You know it’s getting bad again when you’re holding conversations with your whisky. I think, so long as it doesn’t start talking back, I’m probably alright.

If you’d rather read something a little more prosaic, The Air Spoke and She Wore Blue Velvet aren’t too bad. As always, all the stuff on the right (or below on mobile) is completely free.

On the Bird’s Wings

On the Bird’s Wings

I find it impossible to write you poetry;
dense, leaden, eyes like mine that strain
beneath the ghosts of love,
and are quick to snarl
or freeze in embarrassment.

I find it impossible to trace
the faultlines of your body running
towards the galaxies;
to grace the tectonic plates
of olive flesh – so many jokes
I made, and you snarled,
and fell in love with me;
or the me I made for you,
more right-wing than I am;

No, my love; I don’t think
children deserve to eat either

of course; nurses are cruel
and overpaid, and stalk the night-wards
with scowls, and leave me tied to the bed for a week
and joke that I am too lazy,
too miserable, to get out of bed;

Ah, S – toiling away at books on law;
I hate them, there is no beauty
in such manifestos –

Yes, my love; I think Thatcher
had some good qualities too –
no, I don’t want to drink tonight.

I find it impossible to write you poetry,
as you find it impossible
to nail me in one place long enough
to capture a selfie,
extended at arm’s length,
of us smiling at the same time.

S; I could churn
a thousand words,
ten thousand words,
a hundred thousand words,
if I thought, for a moment,
you’d get further than the first line,
or understand the mad metaphors –
that you’d see your body as my world,
that you’d see your mind as my prison,
that you’d see your soul as a fertile village
on the seashore,
awaiting the dragon-head ships
and the pregnancy of murder,
carried in memories by the bird’s wings.


This is something I don’t think I’m ready to talk about yet. I don’t think I know what it means.

After the Parasites Came

After the Parasites Came

I draw my grandfather’s lungs
in charcoal spit the fluid in his throat; tremor
in art as is the shaking
hands when he goes to lift the tea to his lips.

Making leaves in old mugs transferred to sipping
cups and the brief illumination of
the body choking on life.

All the sounds of his life are the sounds of death;
pumps and footsteps, Scouse laughter whistling
heat lamps like a surgical table
(running through a temporary, heartattack wall)
– the wheeze of 87 years in grey plastic and taped up tubes
(we need to return it when he’s dead).

Does the light in your eyes show you your dead son,
or has the baby’s cry of Jesus followed me from one room to the next?

Would you have let me grow my hair, and shave
my wrists rather than my jaw and read
books on French existence and homosexuality?

– Arthur! if you’d had your strength!

Meat when living, now a king in his Camelot;
hospice nurses bring sunlight,
chatting to bone and open eyes;

Who said death was a private affair,
after the parasites came?

I never knew you were an atheist,
and I pretended to God on your bedroom floor,
where you’d left him after Michael died.

Afterwards, we heard Nan perform her Cleopatra,
and beg a gone you to hold the door wherever atheists go.

I think she wants to be buried in a church;
while we all dress up for your cremation and spend more
on your coffin than you ever had
in your pockets
after the parasites came.

When the undertakers came, blood of my blood stood
behind them to make sure meat was treated right.

What dignity, Arthur, in your death!

Empty gums and stained dentures on a flat tongue,
tasting shadow rabbit stew;
miner’s muscles flat on the bed;
mechanic’s mind gone senile – all the
parasites agree.

The Grand Western

The Grand Western

I don’t remember
much of the days we spent together,
roaming a water’s edge,
watching black summer storms
rolling in across the ocean;

I remember Guitar Hero was my
seduction,
like clutching buttons too tightly
was a sign of things to come;

Guitar Hero was my seduction,
and yours was living –

how we envied the beautiful,
the semi-naked art, all wrapped
in shrouds abandoning their ghosts,

who needn’t humour,
nor lies to make themselves

– the tall room, too, I recall,
more clearly than your body;
the squat television set and the table I carried
to the centre of the room for us to share,
the smell of acrylic paint and glue
and ink all together with our sweat,
the sagging black seats,
tarnished and glittering beneath failing lights;
the white bathroom blinding
even through the heavy wood,
the swimming pool’s curve
and laughter as limbs made the water shake;

I remember being lost, one
street over –
and your voice panicking as I made
hazardous guesses
to find the right building
– I can’t remember what it was for now –

do you remember the journey up the pier;
along that mile of wooden cage?
do you remember that?

no, you wouldn’t;
that wasn’t you? was it? that was me
all alone, smoking the sunlight straight over water,
and remembering it all in the back room
of the Castle Hotel;
another home than ours,
in a different city.

Mesnes Park

Mesnes Park

How coarse the street-piano’s language appears,
how brutish and dumb
when spavined hands perform ugly
permutations in the air;
conjuring that beastly Autumn,
right before the rain.

Our summers came wet, too;
blistering light which made
eyes – more accustomed

to wooden candles at 2.A.M –
contract and convulse; the impudent clouds’ crossing
of distant mountains and crashing in amongst the true
beauty of our evening walks in the park.

We went in search
of beauty, beauty
that might explode your chest like an
obese heart and send the pure attack
of creativity through the tenuous ventricles and the ugly aorta
to the constant motion of your lips,
and the sadistic conjuring of fingertip callouses;
that finger-picking made your body mad,
like all the punches I’ve thrown make me
crazy.

I promised, in Summer, that I’d stop aiming for the throat;
when I never asked for any promises;
and give you no chains, our goldfinch red-faced
embarrassed, framed by your own human purity
meeting the angelic blood I’ve left on brick walls
like puzzle pieces
around Mesnes Park.

Or like those Tetris pieces, perhaps;
all lined up and orderly awaiting
the last fierce rage or late-night weariness
to clear the board.


I used to go drinking a lot. I used to sit in the covered spaces of Mesnes Park and empty whiskey down my throat and didn’t tell anyone. It became a regular thing – every week or two, I’d sit in the shadows when it rained or when the sun wrapped the park and drink cheap shit that I wouldn’t recommend to anyone.

I’d like to look back and say it was horrible. That I could regret any of it and wish I’d spent the time practically. Learning to code or something like that. But I don’t regret it. Given the chance, and a little sunlight, I’d go back to the Park three years ago and drink until the park swam and the laughter of children echoed even over the roar of my headphones.

If you’re looking for poetry, try out the recent Night Terrors. For prose, check out She Wore Blue Velvet or The Air Spoke. As always, there’re plenty of free eBooks on the left.

Night Terrors

Night Terrors

When Nox and I go panting

beneath, we
have asked the same black questions;

Who Sleeps Now, In The Hydra House?
Who Wears The Ugliest Chains Of Art At All?
Who Rattles The Bells Of Tinnitus?
Who Else Has Broken Their Teeth In Passionate Delusions?

Arrrrrrrhhh, you?
Is it you,
hanging in your silken slip?
You, my barbiturate?

Arrrrrrrrrrhhh, who can follow
that great shearing of love
in a look out the window,
and a panting on the pillowcase?

That I have screamed for angels! and asked:

Why Are The Mad Treated With Small-Town Philosophies?
Why Does The Shower Persist In Its Bitterness?
Why Must My Laugh Be One Of Such Cruelty?
Why Does My Heart Keep Breaking, All On Its Own?

And in your passing,
as it were – the passing of angels –
gave life to both the lily and the nettle;
life to the Caique and the worm impartial!

And Nox’s visions,
pale, dark you’s all,
trembling beyond finesse!

Those fragments creaked
and groaned
Beauty!

What fantasies, what mad passions do I dare reclaim?
And of what insanity? of what, sheer madness?
of what mad obsessions? of what consequence memory
breaking teeth
in the sleeping man’s throat?


I’m going quite mad now, I think. It is a controllable, manageable madness. I am drinking less and smoking less and thinking barely at all. I am able to work all day without thinking about my liberties and freedoms. I am able to satisfy myself, if only temporary, with driving a little too fast and drinking too much coffee. I am able to sleep quickly most nights, and wake up wholly exhausted.

I think I am becoming too distant now. I think I’m losing something, but I’m not sure what. I’d show my work, such as it is, to people I know but I don’t want to. I don’t want my depression to be taken seriously; I want to remain fodder for endless jokes. I don’t want my hatreds to be revealed, but will content myself to rant and make bitter smiles blossom into joyous ones. I don’t want me to be seen everyday. It’s important, I think, to keep hiding who I am in some small, dark place where only I can see me, and talk to me, and let me out occassionally to masturbate my ego.

I’m glad I’ve never shown my work to the people around me. I’m afraid it’s all shit anyway. I don’t want to watch people I know pretend to care about every idle thought; every mad desire. I want to stay quiet, and secretive, and let my figure be a lonely one in the bars and pubs, in the cafes I frequent and slip whiskey into my coffee. I’m glad, I think, and ashamed, that my depression has turned into nothing more than a tag I can use, to drag foreign eyes to read the exhausted notes I play.

I’m sorry for being so unhappy all the time. I’m sorry that the noises I make are so ugly.

Sometimes

Sometimes

Sometimes, we kneel in the shower with the pressure
and the heat turned up as high as they can go. We let our music play from our mobile phones
and hear the tinny, hollow sound reverberate from the grey-white tiles. We let the heat
and the sound
and the fury of the moments steal our breath away
and make our skin steam
and we kneel there until the muscles
and tendons in our feet
and legs cry out for us to move. We let our hair run
and create bars, a prison cell, in front of our eyes. We blink until the water spills down like a shroud across our faces
and make us blink in agony.

Sometimes, we stand in front of the mirror
and close our eyes
and listen to the water slapping against the towel
and the tiles. We close our eyes
and concentrate on the cool air, dressing us naked
and making our skin rise.

Sometimes, we take disposable razor blades
and hold them against our arms
and there’s a way that we can cut it that doesn’t break the flesh but shears the skin. Invisible; agonising; everything we ever wanted.

Sometimes, we confess
and act on our confessions
and the mists clear
and we want to be exactly who we are. We try to explain
and see revulsion, blankness
and disinterest in the eyes of our audience
and shut off the valves of our personality. We retreat
and lock up the gates behind us
and glance through the iron bars which rust in days
and remade in moments.

Sometimes, we turn out the lights
and search for the memories of all the men
and women we’ve loved. We look for their memories on the backs of our eyelids, for the faces of people we’ve never had the chance or the inclination to love but we can feel their skin in our hands like their own. We picture legs
and eyes in the lights of gas-lamps
and the red strobes which gives even the drunks the chance to look sober
and spit vomit from their lips
and still have the chance to pull or be pulled.

Sometimes, we force ourselves out of bed before our alarms
and stand, naked, in front of the window
and look at the small streets in the small towns in the small countries in the small world, filled with small people or lost in miniature cities grown to an impossible scale. We punch out at the walls on either side
and dig our nails into the wallpaper
and lean forward until the moonlight dawn casts shadows behind us to make us look like we aren’t alone in our beds. We throw on clothes that don’t fit us
and walk down the stairs
and across the hall to the silent rooms lit by the red of a muted television. We step onto the cold tiles of the kitchen
and look across the terraced gardens of a terraced life belonging to our parents
and their children too; not to us.

Sometimes, we sit on our laptops
and phones when everyone else is asleep
and watch old adverts on reruns. We spend our time learning what we hate
and why we hate it. We watch conversations develop between people we don’t know
and long for them to realise that they love each other.

And,
sometimes, we sit there
and do nothing at all; just let our eyes make patterns that don’t exist.


I’m trying to slow down on my drinking now. It isn’t doing me any good. I don’t enjoy it so much anymore; I just end up ill all the time, still completely lucid, just clutching my stomach. Maybe it’s what I’m drinking – I need to get back into cheap wine, into sheer rotgut that makes me sleep. I’m not discerning enough for the whisky I’ve been knocking back the last few… some amount of time.

If you enjoyed the above, there’s something wrong with you, (everyone’s brain is allowed to misfire on occassion, right?) but you can always check out more poetry or prose, if that stakes your fancy.