death by powerpoint

thanks for coming / please be seated

now – death does not envy, is not boastful, is not conceited / death means all your paperwork’s completed / death be nimble, death be quick / death be colonel mustard in the conservatory with the candlestick / death is the opposite of whatever the hell this is / death means never having to do the dishes / worrying about where to put all the surplus oil / death is TOIL / time off in lieu / to you / I mean of life, of course / death is a no-legged horse / death is the death of strife / death is the cure for life / death means never falling asleep reading a heavyweight literary book / you’re off the hook / on vacation / death, the ultimate prevarication / where all your hours accrue like mold / death has put you on hold / an awkward pause, a longueur / death does NOT make the heart grow stronger / death is a Masonic lodge /where everyone knows the dodge / and swears allegiance / and thanks you for your perseverance / and you take your last breath and lie down in the basket / and you have one last question but can’t ask it / and they close the lid and sing a sad song / and finally you belong / because death is me and you, you and me / lots and lots for us never to see / from here to eternity / whichever comes sooner / death and the maiden, the baby boomer / and every other child that ever was born / death the dealer, death the skunk / death the comically desiccated monk / hung on a wall in a catacomb / death the cartoon / that works on every level / death the death of trouble / death means never paying for another overpriced ticket / or falling drunk in a bramble thicket / or playing cricket / you’ve pulled stumps / quit that shit / you’ve big time quit / you’re three feet under / what death has joined together let no man put asunder / death means never again feeling uneasy / queasy / or seeing one more goddamn film by Martin Scorsese / death means never riding another bike / or cab / or any new form of transport currently in development back in the lab / like a maglev train / or a teleporting brain / a driverless lorry / death means never having to say you’re sorry / death means never listening to a politician on the radio and then switching it off because you haven’t understood a word they’ve said / death is the longest you’ve ever stayed in bed / and then some / death is a loss of momentum / death is a complete absence of the enjoyment of avocado / death is incommunicado / a lack of bravado / or anything else for that matter / death is a no-food platter / death means never having a son and calling him Xavier / or saviour / which is a better rhyme / death is a surfeit of time / death is Quintus Fabius Maximus Verrucosus, the delayer / death is the world’s most prolific slayer / a whoreson betrayer of truths / and half-built roofs / or maybe it’s rooves / I’m not quite sure / anyway, death is a door / you’re either one side or the other / death is the world’s worst brother / who never, ever keeps in touch / death doesn’t care all that much / because death is basically lazy, crazy, a putz / death is totally kaputz / an absolute vacancy of Pizza huts / death means never again mistakenly ordering the stuffed crust / death, a loss of trust / death is a lockdown, lie-in, no-show / death is on the down-lo / but anyway, thanks for trying / death is buying / burying / death is boring / death is the blissful absence of snoring / death is the end to all philosophical endeavour / death has come to everyone in history who has ever been called Trevor / or Eve / or The Rt Hon Sir Nicholas St John Reeve / death wears its heart on its sleeve / as it dances forlornly with its sickle / death is the last remaining pickle / in a jar of brine / shining and divine / floating round a doughnut of time / death is a one way sign / death wants you to slow down a little / death is waiting for you at the hospital / so now, get you to my lady’s chamber / she’s scared to death and who can blame her

the mousetrap

I needed a pot to put a cactus in / so I went out to the stack back of the compost bin / a smorgasbord of rubble / a heinous, grievous, Leaning Tower of Trouble / things I couldn’t think what to do with / but wasn’t quite through with / plastic trays and bamboo canes / a wheelbarrow with a flat tyre / rags of gardening attire / a destrung lyre / okay, I’m lying about the lyre / but you get the point / a half-assed recycling point / where the recycling had kinda slowed and slumped / and things just got dumped / until I’d built my very own pottery Shard of Shame / my Babel of Blame / an improvised, bastardised Monument to the Wrecked / and me, the feckless architect / still, a good place to look for a pot / even though it had rained a lot / and everything was soaking wet / I hurried outside to see what I could get

I thought I’d find a chinese cup / maybe I could clean it up / and it might just be exactly the thing / to put a spiny cactus in / so I moved things around some / restacked it on the ground some / until suddenly I found / three dead mice, drowned / their pink corpses bloated and rotten / in a container with no holes at the bottom / and I guessed / that’s where they must have made their nest / and when it rained and rained and did not stop / the container filled right up to the top / and the poor mice drowned / anyway, this is what I found

it was horrible / I felt terrible / if I’d just been a little better behaved / three innocent mice could’ve been saved

there was nothing else for it / I had to do something before the cat saw it / so I tipped out the noxious soup / depositing the tragic group / on the ground / then looked around / and found / the cracked top of a jardiniere / green with mould and beyond repair / and I thought that would make the perfect pottery mausoleum / so I put it on top so the cat wouldn’t see ‘em

I went out to the pile last night / the garden bright with moonlight / stood in the biting air with my hands in my pockets / and saw them, three little ghosts with eyeless sockets / turning their heads to sniff the air / smiling when they sensed me there / ‘never shake thy gory locks at me!’ I cried / screamed / ran back inside / put some (very small) obstacles against the door / what for / I’m not quite sure / and anyway / we’ve still got the cat

(would three ghost mice be scared of that?)


please do NOT allow your carapace
to scratch the glass

thank you

gather round
look closely

tell me what you see

yes! excellent!

in fact, we think item A
was a communication device
detailed plotting
of the debris field
suggests the subject died
holding it to its face

Item B is the remains of
a head dress
probably protective
possibly ritual

Item C is a form of manufactured sac
worn on the back
for the conveyance of material
pertaining to the diurnal activities of the creature
too degraded to open now, of course
but careful examination with a tendril ray
has revealed a miscellany
of fascinating objects
organic, synthetic
not yet fully understood

Who can tell me about Item D?


in fact, item B is a food wrapper
‘Dorito chips’
an index fossil
with a wide geographic distribution

on a lighter note
we think you’ll agree
the mandible fixed
in the open position like that
does lend the subject
a somewhat vacant aspect


there are many such fossils
in this biome
if you would like to learn more
follow the protocol, please
hold up your eye

the claw will find you


I smell the badger before I see it / sprawled flat / on its back / in a bramble thicket / right by my boot

despite my revulsion / I have a compulsion / to witness the scene / so I part the brambles to get a better look

black and white fur laid out to the root / that fine spine / those whorls of ribs / teeth and skull / the whole machine / cruelly broken open / exposed to the rain / raw mortality / measured out in maggots / diptera / coleoptera / devout followers / hotly rolling in the hollow chamber of an eye

and suddenly I don’t want to be there / horribly aware / of the pattern of bones / in my boots / the rooks in the trees / the roots below / and I really have to go / get well away from there / and fill my lungs with cleaner air

alas, poor badgerIMG_1495
go, get you to the sett / tell them / let them eat a thousand worms /
to this favour they must come



it was half past the middle of who gives a shit / I had plenty of time and nothing to do with it / I’d made more inscrutable excuses than Confucius / I was ruthless / truthless / completely toothless / fact was, you see / there was this olive tree / sprawling out of a pot / a pot it had outgrown somewhat / its branches taking terrible chances / making all kindsa dangerous advances / not what you’d call a container remainer / the tree was a pot-bound no-brainer / if I didn’t do something soon I’d be up before the garden bench / no defence / they wouldn’t care it’s a first offence / judge pruny’d be laying it on with her gavel / screaming drag him outside / bury him in gravel / so finally I gave in and said yeah, sure, I’ll do it / I had my chance of an easy day and I blew it / but a tree’s a tree / it means a lot to me / I’m not some sap who ducks his responsibility / I didn’t say I wouldn’t / I said I might / my bark’s worse than my bite / so I nailed it / high-tailed it / took the big car and I sailed it / far, far away to a distant shore / and an independent gardening store / bought a ton of compost, a frost-proof pot and a broom / is that big enough I said to the guy / yeah man, he said, that’s plenty of room / I said d’you think I need some special kinda grit / he laughed and said man, you’re looking at it / I didn’t follow / I looked at him a while / dry-swallowed / don’t worry he said / I’m messin’ with your head / john innes no 3’s porous enough for your olive tree / that’s kind of you I said / you coulda sold me a kilo / you’re welcome / he said / no problemo / next time I want a ton of grit / I’ll be sure to come to you for it / great, he said, well, you know where we are / shall I help you carry this shit to the car? / as soon as I was back I got right to it / lay the tree on the ground with a shitload of shards all around / and the tree popped out fast / like it was throwing itself out at last / I mean, it just about leaped up and danced / and that’s when I saw all the ants / like a goddamn festival, or a mini riot / but furiously quiet / a plague of ants, in streaming spouts / a hundred million or thereabouts / tiny and shiny and ready to attack / some with little white eggs on their backs / every last one of them so ticked-off and furious / I mean – naturally I was curious / what could they want with me / I was only here for the tree / so I leant in close to have a look / and that’s when they ran up my arms and tried to fight me / antacid me / bite me / I just wiped them away / you’re wasting your time today / I said / I’m basically a god / so drop it, okay? / I’m sorry I busted up your nest / but hey, I’m doing my best / and anyways, like it says in Deuteronomy / go up / take possession / I mean – hey – this is some sweet ceramic concession / and look – there’s plenty of room for your colony / but did they listen? no, they did not / they just carried on running around a lot / mad to get their babies back in the pot / I mean – I scooped up handfuls / I did what I could / but I think I did more harm than good / and at the end of the day I could only ever be / just another antland catastrophe / anyway, I’m done / let’s move on / the new pot’s here, the old pot’s gone / c’mon / give it a chance / there are worlds to build / holes to be filled / underground gardens and nurseries to be drilled / and they responded well to my peroration / gave me a goddamn standing ovation / the father of the new ant nation / until the smarter ones saw what it was I was plotting / viz a vis / stage three / of the whole tree repotting / they alone saw the destroyer’s plan / to water the pot with a watering can / and they pointed to the sky / and they cried out / in vain, my poor, sweet, clear-sighted friends / in vain / they’ll only believe when they see the rain

ghosts : a walk-through

ghosts spook easy
so wear socks
& cough before you enter

ghosts feel the cold
heavy curtains are good
they help maintain an even temperature

ghosts thrive on repetition
spend time planning your routine
then stick to it

ghosts mean static
especially in older houses
review all wiring annually

ghosts die in carved mirrors
be responsible
cover up before you turn in

ghosts do not haunt, they
inhabit crystalline lattices of fractured time
(stairs, mostly; corridors)

ghosts are preternaturally attracted to marzipan
enraged by liquorice
(scientists divided on this one)

wheaton mess

I hear her
long before I see her
striding along the woodland path
blowing her whistle
over and over
like a furious referee
Have you seen him?
she says, breathlessly.
Wheaton terrier?
So high?
No, I say, but there’s
a golden retriever
over by the badgers
Badgers? she said.
What badgers? Where?
I turn to point
just as a toffee-coloured dog
comes trotting towards us
Isn’t it? I say
I’m not an expert
Golden retriever? she says
I’m not wearing my glasses, I say.
No? she says. Well. Never mind.
Meanwhile, the wheaton retriever
or whatever the hell it is
cuts straight past us
moving like some wanton wheaton machine
in the direction of a nearby stream
Oh for goodness sake! she says
hurrying after it
blowing her whistle
I half expect to see her
pull out a red card
and wave it in the air, too
and who knows? maybe she does
I couldn’t really say, because, well –
I’m not wearing my glasses