adversity rhyme

jack and claire
went up the stairs
to shoot some heroin
jack fell down
and broke his crown
and claire she called it in

they pulled jack through
in ITU
six months later – home
he looked for claire
she wasn’t there
so jack was all alone

jack’s mum Lynne
she stepped in
forgiving to a fault
jack lay a-bed
and took what she said
with methadone and salt

his mum slammed out
he gave a shout
and injuries notwithstanding
crawled from the sheets
on his hands and knees
to the stairs at the end of the landing

he lay at the top
looking down at the drop
a spaceman by a crater
the hole in his life
he’d burned with his pipe
and landed six months later

jack and claire
went up the stairs
to shoot some heroin
jack fell down
and broke his crown
and claire she called it in

star trick

they tumble out of the ship
kirk does a forward roll
comes to a cat-like crouch
set phasers to defrost, he quips
scans the perimeter for ice trolls
spock recalibrates his pouch

kirk waves for a red shirt
to check out that cave
the red shirt isn’t happy
they never get badly hurt
he mutters, rolled into an early grave
this zero-interest contract’s pretty crappy

still, an order’s an order
he tiptoes forward warily
an ice troll leaps out
sinks its teeth into his shoulder
both flailing and hollering scarily
until kirk phases them out

he’s dead Jim, growls mccoy
prodding the smoking red shirt with his scanner
didn’t stand a chance
kirk looks annoyed
I don’t like this planet
tell the others to advance

shame. I kinda liked that trevor
he almost earned a regular spot
spock interjects: I believe the human was called dave
kirk sneers: lance, burt, linus, whatever
the point is, spock, he’s dead and we’re not
now – d’you suppose it’s safe to go in the cave?

mid-life croesus

stop right there / yeah? / do like the Floyd said and breathe, breathe in the air / see what I mean? / so spreadsheet sexy it’s obscene / laundro-money clean / it’s the beast, man / the best / the cool, straight A for Asset test / the sweet smell of success / it’s a mai tai in the mile high / the aroma of the arrivée / the uber privé / it’s offshore olfactory / super satisfactory / it’s the rich & beautiful top note / of krugerrands in bank vaults / the squeak of monetary purity that speaks to me / in perpetuity / the floral aura of celebrity endorsement / michelin stars & law enforcement / the nourishing glow of not what but who you know / so c’mon, man / loosen up / you gotta grab ‘em hard and goose’em up / let me tell ya about the space a platinum card’ll get ya / a field of poppies in the Wonderful Wizard of Ours / hours & hours of golden showers / in penthouse glasshouses / top of Qatari towers / the chiming of a titanium Tag / backseat of a luxury cab / gliding across the city like an angel from above / in diamond-pinned collar and cuff / God – I love the smell of testosterone in the morning / over the bridge at dawn / to spawn / in this vast and glittering Temple of Stuff / where enough is not even close to enough / but the perpetual augmentation / and noble curation / of a great family dynasty / feeding the roots endlessly / relentlessly tending the assets / while you leaf through Tatler & Debretts / worrying about all the shit you haven’t got yet /

so anyway / tell me the truth / how d’you get up on the garden roof? /

Oh, really? / well I’m sorry, sir / usual rules apply / you got no wings, you ‘ain’t gonna fly

junkenstein’s lament

I built a creature out of scraps / inner tubes, kitchen taps / a bucket for a head / (I mean, sure – I had a corpse I could have used instead / with slick black hair & moustache / but I thought it’d make it way too flash / so fuck it / I went with the bucket) / for the brain I scavenged some window cleaner’s spongies / hemispherically linked by courier bungees / marinated overnight / by the light / of a box set of Walking Dead / (I wore headphones and read instead) / it didn’t really need a heart / I mean, for a start / there wasn’t any blood as such / just a weeny sump / in his trunks / that didn’t need pumping all that much / so to enliven / the mediastinum / and give some zhuzh to the void inside him / I hung my dad’s old pocket watch / a watch he never used that much / but kept it hidden away because / he thought it was worth much more than it was / but I think even he would agree / it twirled and chimed in the cavity / beautifully

at last it was time for the creature’s innervation / the moment of truth for my monstrous creation / so chuckling in a manner I thought befitting / for the cliche horror I was committing / I snapped two crocodile clips on his bolts / and shot him through with a thousand volts / he juddered, he woke / he opened his eyes and spoke / what the fuck, he said / smacking his bucket head / with a terrible clanging / my sponge is banging / what the fuck did I DO last night? / and then flexing his grabbers left and right / he swung his plunger feet off the trolley / and came to a sitting position slowly / and suddenly saw me standing there / in my goggles and gauntlets and frazzled hair / jesus christ he said you’re worse than me / any chance of a cuppa tea? /

we were together two years / before the cracks appeared / I suppose I was introverted, happiest in the laboratory / he was extroverted, sexually exploratory / polyamory / HE suggested / even though I protested / I didn’t think I could share / he didn’t care / slicking back his wire brush hair / welding spats on his suckers / striding out for a sordid tryst with his truckers / I have to admit, I fell to pieces / while he indulged his sexual caprices / he lost the watch in a casino / as far as we know / my dad’s half-hunter / gracing the waistcoat of some sleazeball punter / I mean – is that what my Dad deserved? / the treasure he’d so lovingly preserved? / and in the end it was the watch that did for us / calling time on the hurt and mistrust / and after a lot of hard words and crashing about / he finally moved out / a single, oily rag / trailing from his overnight bag / a slam of the door, a fling of a wrench / and me, sobbing on the laboratory bench

five years later /

I’ve built myself a different kind of appliance / we sit on the sofa in comfortable silence / plug in hand in regulatory compliance / it’s a cosy little domestic scene / and I’m happier now than I’ve ever been / and the creature? / he’s a star presenter / on a reality show about mad inventors / the contestants get a box of junk / and have to make a sexy lunk / while the creature hams it up and leers / fondling all the cogs and gears / (and y’know? I’d be the first to admit / he was always good at that flirty shit) / and I’ll sometimes binge-watch back to back / and wonder how we drifted off track / how he lost his heart / and mine was diminished / and our love affair was fatally finished / despite all the levers and lightning shocks / the plutonium grains in a lead-lined box / the scribbled plans, the body maps / the rapturous rise, the thunderous collapse / and for WHAT? / some bucket-headed creature, lumbering home at dawn / monstrously drunk on the castle lawn?

I mean – fuck that

full catastrophe writing

okay /

so here I am, taking the dog out / wandering along, wondering what the hell to write about /

maybe I could vent / about the rise of the establishment / how it’s always the workers who end up getting canned / when there’s a market crash and fall in demand / and meanwhile the bosses / that engineered the catastrophic losses / get endless juicy bonuses / and other contractual phonus balonuses / january thru’ december / one long golden shower for the private members /

hmm…so I could write about that /

or maybe disasters of an environmental nature / focusing on some poor unfortunate creature / floating by the camera / with its head wedged in a bottle / or a porpoise, throttled / by a discarded net / or a million tonnes of plastic crap / from avocado cartons to bubble wrap / spreading round the world in a mantle of waste / until we’re forced to evacuate headlong into space / planet to planet, ad nauseam / the continuing adventures of homopollutiens / until a higher being unexpectedly descends / in a whirl of stars, saying fuck it / cleans us all up with a cosmic mop & bucket

so I could write about that /

or Brexit Britannia, up on a plinth / of takeaway cartons and 5% mince / in her left hand, a trident of tourist tack / in her right a riot shield union jack / and curled at her feet a monstrous dog / the head of Boris Johnson, the arse of Jacob Rees-Mogg

but I don’t know

maybe I’ll just settle for the usual guff / about the end of time and all that stuff / sinkholes, tsunamis, day after tomorrow shit / the sun disappearing, and me along with it / sucker-punched to eternity / (which of course passes instantly / because if I’m dead how on earth could I tell ya’ / if I’ve been dead five minutes or five millennia?) / anyway / fast forward to judgement day / the celestial finger beckoning / for the dead to come forward for the final reckoning / the graves of the world gaping wide / slowly revealing what’s buried inside / iphones numberless lighting up as one / catching up on updates a’trillion / and god stamps, and swears, and tugs his beard / and shouts Goddammit! this is so fucking weird / you know – I thought it’d be more spiritual than this / not just phone zombies taking the piss / so he slams the lid shut on the apocalypse / and settles back down to watch kitten clips /

or something

over the top

I volunteer to sing in a choir / a commissioned piece / about the first world war / we meet for practice in the church / I sit at the end of the row / next to a plaque on the wall / a memorial to someone or other / supported by two marble skulls / the conductor talks about the score / it makes me think of dad’s dad / Edward / shot in the stomach / addicted to chlorodyne / Achille, mum’s dad / who fought in the ruins of the house / his mother eloped from in France / I didn’t know either of them / they died before I was born / Edward from the booze / Achille from angina / the director raises her arms / I don’t read music / and struggle to make sense of the score / so when she points in my direction / I pretty much just follow the guy next to me / and do what I can to keep up

Travesia de los Espinos

I was walking in the west of the city
taking grainy, black & white shots
shapes and shadows and cute graffiti
development work around the docks

I ended up by some derelict apartments
fucked stucco and hanging balconies
nothing around them but construction equipment
and a single, dust covered palm tree

as I was trying to capture the drama
a man emerged from a hole in the wall
hola I said lowering the camera
the man walked past and said nothing at all

travesia de los espinos was the street sign
fixed to a concrete pole of power cables
I think it meant the crossing of spines
because cactus once grew there as well

Bilbao, 2018