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“Embrace”,  The White Review READ HERE

"Hysteria" Ink Sweat & Tears, READ HERE

"Conch" Osmosis Press, READ HERE


Neanderthal in New York



The cave entrances are fireless / the darkest parts are artless / there’s little to hunt but fat black rats / I scavenged a carcass from the oblate floor / boneless and sea-tasting / let me tell you something about caves / the magic is song-spun but you’ve forgotten the tune / strip-lit noise / I caught a show in Broadway and I couldn’t see the sky / I gave it three stars / I went to Ground Zero and glued my ear to the earth / respects are something you pay but you can pay in other ways / I walked through Central Park and somebody shouted flat-chested bitch / when I learn about war I will assume this to be one / the donut I liked at first - that cloudberry tang - but all too quickly sick-making, far too much.






When I was eleven my mother bought me a set of worry dolls;

six little listeners rendered in pink and green thread

from a market stall in town.


I told them about the names I was being called at school

and about my irrational fear of the dark

and about why I wasn’t actually so sure it was irrational

and about dying – yes, even then it was a concern


and later on I told them about my nose

being so embarrassingly the wrong shape

and about how I was going to Hell

but before then I’d have to sit through Purgatory


and the five of them just took it in – perhaps there were only ever five –

and they didn’t pass judgement so I told them some more things


like about the Yangtze River dolphin

and the man on our street who shouted fucking Thatcher

into the wheelie bins and wore Tesco carrier bags on his feet


and axe-murderers and rare tropical diseases

and how people didn’t like me because they didn’t take the time

to get to know me properly


and the four of them nodded their little cotton heads sympathetically.


I told them about the Global Climate Emergency and they didn’t even seem surprised

and when a politician who campaigned for peace was shot dead in her home town

they said we know, we know, we know and they gazed up at me

like the three magi in a knitted nativity gazing up at the sky.


We shared a bottle of Jim Beam and I began to talk

about losing bits of myself; sending vital parts off in packets

addressed to publishing houses and forgetting to include an S.A.E.


and about waking in the night to check if I could still use a pen

in case I found I’d been extinguished, like a firefly softly stifled

beneath the surface of a lake


and about advertisements for makeup and breakfast cereal

that are meant to make you worry about the lines in your face

and the overspill of your gut when really you should be worrying

about something useful like the housing crisis         


but you are worrying about the lines in your face

and that means you’re going to Hell


and they both looked tired


and one said listen, I can’t take this anymore

and shuffled off right out the living room door


and the other one just stared at me and shrugged.

Cayton Bay



I’d argued with myself the whole way there

not joining in with the B-Movie script you all rehearsed

across me    the hot car constricting my innards

I climbed out of the rear window

and strapped myself to the roof with the surfboards

the 1960s pastiche we couldn’t shake off

I stared up at the conflicted sky and waited for rain

to wash me onto the moss-tufted cliff

shrug me from its chalk-bald scalp and into

silk-grey tears as far as the eye can shed

feeling no more real than the bloodshot limestone wreck

squinting out over the gambling, sugar-scoffing town

the wellied walkers with their creatures    pointless

pointlessly I stared up at the conflicted sky and waited

for waves to rip the sickness from the pit of me

the melodrama I couldn’t shake off

silk-grey tears as far as the eye can shed

I’d argued with myself the whole way there

and lost.

A Week Spent Leaving You



You read a lot of books.

Or perhaps it's just the one book, but you read it a lot.

I go running, leave my high-horse in the garage, drinking salt water.

The coastline is being sick all over itself.

There are hairpin bends all across the bed.

The weather happens all at once.

Don’t you know it’s mathematically impossible

to photograph a rainbow. Physically, then.

Just like you can’t photograph someone’s face

while they are sleeping, or they die.

I try with yours, but you just keep on waking up and living

and now I’ll never remember the curve

between your eyelids and your nose.

The TV is being sick all over itself.

All those bright colours. In Spanish, too.

Foreigners bombing the shit out of each other.

I make bets with myself.

If Clinton wins the primaries then I’ll leave you.

I make bets with your life, but you just keep on reading.

We stand on the cliff and watch the rocks take a battering.

You look me up and down as if you’re trying to photograph

the slant of my neck, but you can’t.

Your eyes are made of glass.

We will always remember the angle

of the rocks reaching the sea, despite the battering.

Let’s have a cup of tea and talk about our future.

I make the tea with salt water.

Our conversation is sick all over itself.

We can’t leave Spain like this,

skid-marks all across the finish line.

Someone will have to clean up.

Cayton Bay
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