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?

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


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.

glass bodies 351 360

Being together through long periods of deep-space silence made us intolerant of each other’s convictions. Thinking back on the Engineer’s new ways, the vanishing flatness of disgust. As a man of knowledge, he has achieved recognition from the Academy of Laputa, one certificate at a time. The radiant fabric of Steve’s suit is a stark reminder of our extinguished paths. When we last saw him, he had an ascetic aspect, and the only thing he said to us was that he was going to clean out the universe, one rubbish bin at a time. His back was hunched in an imperceptible fall, and his eyes were ray-less and stricken. Father back, at the end of them, was a mournful gloom tempered with the bitterness of living. As we sail on the mission to rescue Kyniska, we are diminished, we are so few. The spaceship plows on, swinging from side to side, an ambling gait picked up at the harbour, its self-awareness, a game of dominoes.

The Taoist, alone in the immensity of unstained light was ready to go out suddenly. A good south wind came from behind his meditation. The albatross of the mind did follow. His grief was centered, his anger in decay, and the noises in his head were many. They cracked and growled, his loneliness was vertical like hollow moon-shine. He was concentrating on shame, on the consequences of betrayal. An infection plagues us, and every cross-bow in every mind shoots endless arrows into the bloody sun. The light in his cell is all-powerful, because his eyes are closed. His copper eyelids are shut, and his legs are crossed; his back is hunched. He slumps forward, a hollow hiss follows forward into the silent dampness. A breeze does not blow, the furrow in his furnace-face deepens, white foam flows from his mouth. The poison in his mind is echoed by the dimmest gut gurgles. Through fog and mists he sees the farthest shore, a place where he knows he can find rest. The clock on the prison-wall keeps on ticking.

They made me watch.

glass bodies 341 350

the soldier debates

As a conscript, I have been a cruising yawl, snaking my way up the river in search of mythical prophets. What a failure I have been. What a scarcity of real teachers there really is. One of them is rotting in gaol, a false teacher in a false age.

At gun school, I’ve learnt how to shoot crack and feel my head bloat till my testicles exploded. They don’t teach you that in nursery school, but death is the best anesthetic. Scale a fortress, or a nunnery, or a book. I’ve learnt it all. Then I was sent to Enceladus, and I have been freezing my mind in God’s shame in the wonders of isolation ever since. Never mind my spell in the rebellion. I have always been a yes man, and now I don’t take yes for an answer. The tide has turned. The middle class railings next door make me mad. My neighbours want more. My window overlooks the well-built city. I don’t hear the sounds of the Albatross, but the faint flash of bomb-lightning reminds me that we are at war with the Eastern Empire. The Penmynydd Empire is in crisis. I’m bound down the river, along with the bodies. I could sit here, and debate the pros and cons of war, and I will, but I know you are pressed for time, and you need an answer. I will help you rescue the half wit, beg pardon, the half dead. But first you need to listen to my lecture.

The Empire insists on the mistakes in words. The lack of history is methodically researched. Cultural hegemony is imposed by the promise of the forever young, by the immediacy of communication, by the invasion, occupation and annexation of our minds. As a soldier, I have fought for the Empire in the West, for the way things are – for the way the things were. In the absence of limits, the public and the private merge in universal stream of consciousness, where the narrative is dictated by the absence of content, by structural enforcement of the fake. The fake is everything. East or West, the fake rules our constituents, and the soldiers are the theoretical application of cultural domination. The other side, is the complete and perennial uprooting of ideas by a tsunami of emoticons, an electric shock of enforced perception of want. Warfare is waged on the twittosphere, and the unconsciousness is forged one child at a time. I used to be a soldier, now I am an intellectual on the brink of extinction. My social order is brought about by fast riding Amazons in brown packages. The Tudors are down, seven times, the commotion caused is not more than a whimper. The Eastern Empire is looking for recruits. When Perseus learned of the conspiracy, the turned himself into stone on the spot.

Follow the winged horse till the tallest tower on Enceladus. There in the castle without a view, you shall find Kyniska sleeping in the power of light, scaly serpents overlooking her tomb. When the Eastern Empire comes, you rebels will have your heads cut off, snakes that we are.

“And through the drifts the snowy clifts

Did send a dismal sheen:

Nor shapes of men nor beasts we ken

The ice was all between.”


Get thee to Enceladus,


glass bodies 331 340

The nun accepts

I dreamt I fell off the ram, and drowned from here to there, in a sea of myself. As a child, I endured abuse. Quite the motivation, to become a nun, to cancel out the will of those would-be nuns, who cancelled me out. “They are coming to get you, Barbara.” And from that ghastly crew, I learned that there was no place to hide, and those that called themselves your caretakers, were in fact ill-disguised under-takers, prison guards with sadism as their weapon of choice. The higher the suffering, the closer to God, was the implied lie. There was a small nun, a smiling one; she was the most evil of them all. She’d come into my room, and re-arrange every single object in sight, and she’d smile weakly, and call me her baby, her pride and joy. She’d touch me with her soft frail fingers, and in a moment her iron grip would hold me still, and then she would let me go, with a long, languid look of hellish candour.

I was chosen to be nun, and I took my vows, and I did my best to pray and teach, teach and pray, until the day we were defeated, and I saw myself out of ordainment, and chose a life of unrepentant sin. I have embraced the science and the technology, I have two children, I have forgotten my vows. You come to me with this mission, and what you want of me I cannot give. I cannot go back to the spiritual life. I am too old, and too wrinkled for that. I have forgotten all the spells of light, and my sole concern is fighting the good fight as a medical doctor and as a scientist. My latest obsession is with vaccines, because we can never be too cautions, we need to tailor our personal genomics to our spiritual needs.

For this reason I choose to say yes to you, in spite of everything. The disease of our galactic society is microbial in nature, the White Plague that makes zombies of us all begins with the lack of spiritual vaccines. If we can save the entombed one, the one girl that has seen the other side, we might be able to develop a vaccination against this empirical malaise, which has us so haggard, and so woe-begone. The death of me as a mother is my vocation as a scientist, and the death of me as a scientist is my vocation for nunnery. I once was a superior mother, and now that my inferiority has become apparent in every way, I choose this one last mission with you former-student, to undertake what’s due before it becomes too late.

As a child, I swam the Hellespont in dreams of my own and I woke in a nightmare, and the sedge was withered from the lake, and no birds sang. I have fallen off the ram, and again and again I drown in a sea of my own.  Now, again… I have lost my name and purpose. As a child, I heard the tiger laugh at me in my sleep, and its most terrible sound, was the sound of possession and inevitable doom. The lamia sans merci… it never smiles but it kills the spirit and it owns you. It still holds power on my breath, as it inevitably sits on my right shoulder, slowing me down, hampering my every action, it will not cease to haunt, not even at my time of death. I will come with you, Student. You have my blessing, even as I am cursed.