sketches on gambling

if a half-grown tadpole

and a fully-formed ghoul

went gambling, what would they say, what would they do?


I’m half dead already, and I’ve just come out of metamorphosis.

I’m just here for the weed, and my mind is a fog.


I want this.

I haven’t had enough.


Mine is the luxury of desire.

Mine is the joy of tearing apart half-formed limbs.


My mother was a frog once, and my father a ghoul.

Where are they now?

sketches on hubris

he believed he could do anything, be anything


“The wind is broken, temporarily held together by circumstance.”



in his youth, his friend had brought him blessings from the holy man

as a young man he had been mocked for his cocksure attitude. he had wanted to be a soldier. they mocked him for his bent spine.

these days he runs a drug trade in the Eastern Mediterranean.

sailing across the ocean, he feels the wind on his face. he feels invincible.

inwardly, he repeats the drama that had his former best friend killed only a few months back.



“How dare you question my authority?

Friend, you’ve questioned my trade. You have talked about getting high. But you have not sampled my product, even if I have offered it to you multiple times.

You have flirted with the girl that desires me. She’s mine.

Worse still, you have flirted with my young associate’s girl.

My senior partner, he is the real deal. He is tough, he’s got cancer. I didn’t know how I would cope if he died.

You used to be my friend. Now you say you are depressed.

Drink, I say! It is on the house.”


in the distance, a single Turkish ship glides over the still bulk of horizontal blue. Death by water, a ghost had predicted all those years ago. It never happened. Besieged Ardea, now besieged Candia. We’d slip past the blockade.


“Alp was a traitor, and so was Beppo. A voice in my ear whispers: ‘Everything you desire.’ I just have to desire something, wish it, visualize it, and then reach out and grasp it because the Gods will grant me all my wishes. It is my due.

My daemon talks to me, he watches me. He is me, when I am not looking.

All I need is to wish for something to happen, and it does.

Now I wish to die, I feel guilty with sorrow and awe. I have too much. Everyone’s watching. No act should be without purpose. I have been arrogant, haughty, accumulated such wealth. All at the expense of addicts. Create a need, and profit from the addiction. There are many who are addicted to sex and love. They can never have enough.

There is no greater pain than the absence of purpose. Or absence of faith. And then there’s hard-boiled eggs.

The body craves sensations, the sea is overwhelmingly quiet and the sun is staring. A faint breeze is dying on my cheek. The night of the soul will be long. For the soul has appetites. Intelligence, they say, has principles. But the night is long, and I jot down the words in pain. I am tormented.

I climbed at the back of the inn, and I turned the key. The pantry was damp and still. I looked at the feature of the door for a moment. The door had the shape of opportunity, like the love for the old country.

I wanted so badly to harness the piecemeal broken unity of my broken garden retreat. The more I retreated in myself, the more I wanted to murder him. Treason is a squall and a wreckage. In all my derelict, powerful humbleness I reached out for the poison vial in the dark and I emptied its contents in his glass.

I was invincible, and broken. I have learnt nothing.

Demon drugs were altering my sense of purpose, but that is no excuse. One should never tobacco oneself with one’s wares. Capital sin number one. ”


Demons clash within Lorenzo, fighting for supremacy afore a storm

fight for his soul, hardened, destroyed, shipwrecked, out at sea, with no help from pain.

Lorenzo is haunted. He was a bully, he wanted to be a soldier. He is impulsive, and not very bright. But to endure is part of justice.


“The clouds are gathering, I am going to hit a tempest.

Test: I need to separate what is real, and what is imagined.

My mind projects sharks down there. There is no such thing, obviously.

Those dark clouds look real enough.

My fear is the most real thing I know.

‘inebriate of sin I am,

debauchee of oceans,

reeling through endless pain.

I shiver at the rain’s molten blues’

I shall never renounce my dreams, my drams, my ego.

I shall but drink the more!

This sail boat is surrounded by a dream. You cannot kill me with your storm, you false God!”


in heavy seas, he falls overboard hanging on at ends of a rope, his boat is rocked by the angry seas.

poison lingers for decades. Lorenzo is drenched to the core, the storm envelops his soul, a habituation of stress, a habituation of pain.

Dulling the senses, there is only expectation of more sorrow, of subjugation to those instincts of dominance and abuse.

‘Create a need, exploit the addiction’

In his mind, random thoughts of survival and anger mix with ideas and dull memories. Are religious feelings a distraction?

Ghosting the noise and the barbaric waves, he braves back onboard. No-one is looking. No-one is waiting to hand him prizes. Only a voice inside, leading him on.

Fiddling while Rome burns #3

The forth day
of the new year: what better day
to journey East, flower-bound?

The Piraeus Lion radiant as Baldr,
believing itself to be invulnerable.

Time is teaching it drawn-out lessons,
soon to take one last bow before the
crowd caught in Loke’s fishing net.

Venetians, washed-up con-artists
botching the art of murder and
rehearsing forgetfulness, way
overboard if seeking validation.

The forth wall prays and weeps:
the perils of ‘true’ friendship,
of golden hypocrisy, of sweet hubris.

Everything is only for a day,


Fiddling while Rome burns #2

moon in a cloud murk


Venice, September 1998


whirling scorpions
in bursting half-lights

An endless pit
advancing in darkness

A bleak-twist ageing
beyond a sudden murk

Sneering and lecherous
Pregnant with doubts
and with morose love

Brimming with cynical pietas
Steeped in Christian hypocrisy


a satellite moon


it gazes and scorns this

in the gasping purple night

it scorns the endless prattle
of every unknown sad fuck

Ruthlessly tickling off
much like a bomb

it picks off the false
from every anguish

and casts it in its great chasm
an intimate Doric vertigo
of human sorrows

In a roundabout bend
the torn bulk
of heavenly light
is suddenly freed
and roars out

It waits it waits it waits

and then it starts

And stares sideways to examine

in its light

the chemistry of our being

the origin of our species

fixing its sunken eyes

to pierce us through

beating upon stultified brows

some Moth-Indigo Truth

the insignificance

of specks of our nothingness

shouting back, we hear howls
of age-old rugged souls

that suddenly shiver
and call out in pain

those frigid
buried people of yesterday

some half-mysterious night

who though living dead
actively stare at each other
in candid glassy torpor

looking for signs in us of
recognition of the rot

the rot of the perennial
philosophy deliriously melting

of polymorphous poems dithering

the nurture of commercial baseness

of dull dreams driven to dust
by a jingoistic Nature

jigging and mocking the intellect

beating it off the wall
with sticky cloudy claws

hence the fixed stars clash
with the unhappy planet
in celebration of a
most cruel April
and of the frontiers of
every ex-animate pleasure

Now agape
in wounded proud absinth
an amorphous Galathean
peers at the light-stone

from a lowly bed
from a humble Stygian

And in turn, the moon is
most vexed and unrepentant

it beams bitter tears
it asserts its irreplaceable
arrogance, its untamed

stuck in blue

the rest

the sidereal cytoplasm
is beyond
its sphere of numinous magnetism


Sketches on Treason #2

Scene: La Canea, a seaport in Crete

Time: Somewhere in the 1600s

Character: Lorenzo, some years on.

Basking in the noontide sun, I count off the false worshippers. There is a silent war between those who mean business, and those who cloy with much, pine for more, and account for nothing. I am a trader by ancestry, and we Venetians earned the right to opium solely by our wits and enterprise. There are those who mean harm to me and my shop, and to those I say – wait for my blade, because I will not be hindered. Or at least that’s what I say to myself on a day such as this, when the sun is high and everything is supposedly fine with the world.

After the shock of the storm and the shipwreck, I have changed. I am afraid. I didn’t use to be a religious man, but with age comes idiocy. It is the curse of my service to God and country that I should forever be transiently here and there. Death is close, and so are great treasures, hence we forget death, lest our troubled minds care.

At night, I stay up along with thieves and poets watching the moon rise and fall. La Canea is almost like home, but not quite. If I look across the harbour squinting with one sore-feeling eye, I can almost imagine that I am home. Those noble Venetian Gothic windows betray the mind, and the soul grows ill.

There is a big thief that robbed high heaven. His name is Time. Hail, Muse, daughter of Memory! With you as resident thief in charge, I forget everything. Every thing is only for a day. I forget the whole plot, everyday.

Every day all starts anew: every false day. That which remembers, and that which is remembered, are both beginning and ending with forgetfulness. Or so my true friend Marcus Aurelius tells me. I am a slave to my vessel. Much like my wares. My home is where my wares are, and so: I am home. I should not waste the remainder of my life in thoughts about what others might do or think. I am a man of action.

I so loathed to dwell in my native land, hence I parted with the sad prison, and came to silently wonder at the dim thickness of Greeks, and what their traitor eye encloses. If it were for them, we’d be betrayed for half a penny to the benefit of the Turks. And, I… mark my words… I am supposed to give myself up to Clotho, and allow her to spin my thread in whatever way she pleases. I think not.

I might yet die a pirate in this sorry excuse of a backyard, stuck in a past well beyond our means of survival. But now, after a good meal my comrades, my friends come to converse with me on this fine day, about the weather, the trade, the empire, and our little lives.

I curse the day we were born, friends.



Sketches on Treason #1


Time: Somewhere in the 1600s
Scene: A narrow alley in Venice, four young men meet in a constrained space.

Enter from left: Alvise, Marco, Lorenzo.
Enter from right: Embriaco.

E: Make way.

L: You make way, filth!

A: Move aside or we’ll break your legs.

M: Gentlemen, please. This is Venice.

E: Amannaman, Venetians, if only you could, you would.

L: What’s that, lil’ baùco?

A: Signor, it seems to me that you — talk funny.

M: You are not from around here.

L: So, go back to where you came from.

A: Why, do tell, do you talk funny? Are you retarded or something?

E: My name is Embriaco. I was born elsewhere, away from this dump.

L: You can hardly call la Serenissima a dump.

E: There is very little serene about it.

M: That’s because you are not from around here. You cannot appreciate the details. Now, move aside.

(Embriaco moves aside. They squeeze past, glaring at him.)

fiddling while Rome burns #1 – a sea-urge

As the spaceship races faster and faster, struggling to remain in the same spot, the enchanted mind splutters on as if in a sea-wake.

Coming at you, a sea-urge: wave after wave, singing a lullaby of discord and unity in a vertiginous time loop.


York, an autumn season — some years ago.


In a dark moon day,

I swept away a cloud of thoughts

Across high and majestic mountains.


The sky, then not removed by God —

A crystal lake with flames of blue.


Ten thousand white-feathered birds

Swung across and flung the sea-winds back

With sudden turns, fluttering, disappearing.


Beyond a lonely wall,

I met you with no surprise

You were daydreaming with a pinch of salt,

Telling lies on a light and smoky sky,

Clueless and unforgiven,

In constant search of your blacken’d plumage

And your head of dew.


Then having run for miles on hills of ruby,

And having reversed the clock of my slowing time,

I came to a halt for I was cold and my mind was starving.

My heart told hard lies still, and still for once

I came across an eye in meditation, longing far.


It was weeping sad and low

And from a deaden’d night

My father cried from without,

I waited for the stars to call and shriek.


I played the bull and you the horse

And so we fell beneath the soaked turf

While the grey monster of a zombie night

Ate our soul and displaced our solitude.


It is winter again, I rest my shaken hands

On your shoulders, and you dine within my head

As we look on, the night grows high and looming,

The sun of yesterday gives light on our hearts


For as we roll down the hill yet again

We know the light must brighten before tomorrow’s sun

And a long, wide-eyed summer awaits beyond the wall.