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Enter the interlude, the shadowbox, the waltz.


verse your voice first, then wake up

plumping a ghost pillow,

attunally sounded out like




Cello funeraries. Burnt gristle on the hook.

Once, I saw your face inside a mirror,

looked back,

swallowed myself

in the glass.

Charcoal outhouse, rooms,
pyramids. Mells of history.

We never thought of being alone. It kept me
from overfeeding the boy under my skin.

Tomorrow, how will you know? I’ve had to wait
lifetimes. Tomorrow, the idea of it could change
my name into redemption, or break it into pieces.

Tomorrow as midnight and, by morning, wind-
sieved, sand into sun, a path to light the dunes.

Tomorrow, or else and unless the song leads me
waiting on a dark-windowed car to arrive, its tail
strewn in black ticker tape. Tomorrow, the breath


(not yet).

How long left to wait? I’ve shaken hands
with myself so often I know the dry con
-tours, the underbones. Dread in the arc
of a question mark. You don’t hear
something back like that and live un-
changed. It’s not like one note is blue
when the echo is red, or what can be held
down by someone’s idea of organic logic.

Same old friend,
same old sky


I listen for you to enter

            the empty room

at night.

I turn up the music until it




If everything is fractalised, how do we pick up the pieces?

                                                                     for Toby Mercer


Good enemy, the self
snapping at type-

writer keys, savage
as automotive pattern,

and dummy-fastened
with smoke, the ‘I’

snagged by sunset—
a long night to sleep

alone in the coolyard
with a full gut buffeted

by silence. Thoughts
start, a bull to a bell.

Polite as shy violence,
that we must live lunarly

opposed, phasal and jig-
sawed in half at the finale

like some magic trick
gasping into hope.

The keys keep jamming.
If hit, it will not fix.



Minus Zero
for David Gascoyne

Only the enemy ahead and the past
in tomb-fires crying from Gehenna.
Arpad flags stretched out in neon—
scarscape of a city revisited by war
where the dead-ended street means
bonedust and our bright fear seams
the gold pockets of civic executors.

Dark charity of neo-Kane’s feigning
model conglomerates, who would be
nurse-maidens in public but are ass-
eyed in private and shut every flower.
Who, as professional soldiers, protect
no stranger, but clarion a vexed wind,
the death-clicking of heels after rain.



With & Without Restraints
for Steve Boyland

a swan            unhooded
in choric sunlight

a wind-pronged ash tree
wet roads inside a lake

seven years pass in
symbiotic veinflow

in village covens stovecold
to sing the dead unlonely

shadows crack / uncrack
via Dickaty on sax

sound as consort to a
field fire’s magnetism

what is recanted is
overpainted smoke

Krapp’s terminal wreath
from a creeper-root

composition composites
each opening of the throat



Blue Zones
after Yves Klein

—Zone 1—


ritual immaterial

of self

Picasso in a fresco

of ash.


—Zone 2—

He enters the theatre

like Caligula enters

the imperial banquet.


Blue curtain  dragged

across the floor.


—Zone 3—

 Fire harnesses the void.

He lives like an oven                       all heat and silence .

Angularly profiled, accepting of visitors

(via appointment only—

Would you like to make

an appointment?).


—Zone 4—

Montotone symphonia. Blue sky

                        as infinite SPACE.

Monogold in blue monchrome. No.

Life has too many names, he says—

I prefer to live inside

the paintbrush of memory.


—Zone 5—

Anthropometrically             he faces towards the window






—Zone 6—

Who is he facing the blue

static of the television screen?


—reflected in himself blue—

An ugly mouth

wearing proto-fascist handcuffs.


—Zone 7—

Synthesis of blue eros.

The rain in your face cries

for sentiment’s sake.


You wipe the paint from your eyes.


—Zone 8—

Dying is nothing more than a tightening of the belt braces he said.

I am dappled as a smoke ring, he said.

That I might have been the study of air, he said, he said, he said.


—Zone 9—

Helen at the lyre       calm as an x-ray.

Disapproval is always physical.

Form forming                                   via


The cellist invigilates her strings.


—Zone 10—

I remember her         as wings on a body,

but always

painted her

as the body strewn.


—Zone 11—

In the blue whiteness of starlight.

In these blue pillars of shifting water.




On Surrealism and Poetry: A Poetics

1. from A Poetics of Desire (2016)

Writing writes as it unwrites, familiarises as it others. I write to wrongfoot myself, to wake myself up (from myself).

I am the masked burglar who wants to break into himself: Writing is ‘[a]n interrogative mode of being, a corporeal questioning of identity and place’.[1]

Poetry is ecstatic. Out of stasis, moving the self outside of the self.

To write with the volume turned up. To pressurise each syllable. Linguistic innovation over plain sense. Difficult language offends our basic literacy but is permissible, if only because the world itself can be difficult.

I want to offend basic literacy.

I am the carpenter’s son trying to rebuild a life. Poesis: the maker.

I am the blundering detective who cannot solve his own case. History as historia.

I demand a fresh enquiry after the enquiry.

[1] Judith Butler, Subjects of Desire, p.9.


2. The Surreal as more real

I am wary of classifying my own work. This is something that others might do. Instead, I prefer to move between modes, hoping to evade classification. That said, there are poets who I have gravitated towards (and from) who have been called ‘surreal’ over the years. Of these, and in my early writing (particularly in Blood / Sugar, my first serious poetry collection), Peter Redgrove stands out. Redgrove, a Jungian psychoanalyst, was dubbed surreal at times, also a ‘scientist of the strange’. However, he saw the surreal as ‘more real’, which chimes with my own poetics.

In Blood/Sugar I also included a suite of poems after Claude Cahun who, like David Gascoyne, was considered by Breton too surreal for the surrealists. Gascoyne’s Night Thoughts is never unlocatable on my bookshelf and yet his poetry, to me at least, is both ludic and vatic, visionary over surreal per se. More recently, in fiction, I have been interested in the ‘new weird’. M. John Harrison has been a discovery of late.

Writing, of any kind, might explore strangeness, weirdness, or what has also been called ‘surreal’, Why? Because we don’t know precisely why we are born and what will happen when we die, never mind all the unknowing that happens in between. And so a poem, any poem, if it is open to exploring the vastness of what little know, may look to celebrate mystery. I am interested in the mysteries inherent within language, rather than confirming anything known or, indeed, real.

Ultimately, I have no idea if the poems of mine in this selection typify any of the claims I am making here. I can tell you with more certainty that, for many years, I have been wearing a jellyfish over my head, first worn a century before by H.D., attempting to thaw herself out from a Freudian iceberg.


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