Tis the Season

Come sip the festive juice.
It tastes of cinnamon, cloves,
something strange you can’t discern.
Join us in the circle as we chant,
Tis the Season, Tis the Season

Feel your head expand and contract,
like a blinking light on a tree.
Watch as the world is delayed
by half a second, maybe more.
Tis the Season, Tis the Season

Hear the chant continue like
a runaway train, your mouth moving
without thought, unstoppable now.
Try to clench your jaw shut. Fail.
Tis the Season, Tis the Season

Understand, like falling from a cliff,
this ritual is older than the holiday.
older than the first human societies.
Around fires, they called to the darkness
Tis the Season, Tis the Season

Leave your body far behind.
Become one with us in the circle,
unsure of where you end and begin,
as we call to the cruel ancient god
Tis the Season, Tis the Season


Thanks to The Bristol Magazine for the incredibly creepy headline about cocktails, that was phrased in such an odd way I had to write this.

Move fast and break things

We’ve found a way to monetize breath.
It’s simply a game changer. Can you feel
the paradigms shifting under your feet?
We are shaking up the world like a snowglobe
and breaking traditions. Each inhale a cent,
each exhale is free. Thats it! Simple!

After all, we are providing a service.
We could flood the atmosphere with
deadly chlorine gas, killing everyone
painlessly and quickly, but we don’t.
We allow seven billion humans to live.
So we are providing a service.

The market has responded favourably.
All hail the market! Praise stock tickers!
We’ve revolutionised food and water,
turned the streets into profit, now we
spin gold from the air itself. Our
investors are very pleased indeed.
If you don’t like it, don’t breathe.

Brand Ambassador

we are just hear to tell the truth / tell the good as well as the bad / counteract all the lies / get our message out there / provide some much needed perspective / all hail the benevolent bosses / let’s keep it light guys / we are just here to better inform you / no need for such language / you do not have all the facts / you are misinformed / you are a child lost in the woods / alone / with only a failing torch / we have the map / we have a gps and we can lead the way out of this forest / we know where you are / we haven’t implanted the gps in you / silly / of course not / the technology doesn’t exist yet / we know all the routes / if only you’d listen / we’re going to have to insist / please do not raise your voice / aggression will not be tolerated / please stay seated / allow the machine to do it’s work / do not cause a scene / this won’t take long / we are here to help / we are giving you another story / the one you won’t hear or read / the media hates success / your echo-chamber is too limited / not long now / stop squirming / people are jealous / those stories are false / our workers are happy / look how happy they are / they are part of our success / look at their smiles / they enjoy it / everyone wins / they have adequate breaks / of course / we are not monsters / we calculated what is enough / to the second / so nothing is wasted / we are not cruel, we are kind / everything is optimised / everything is efficient / that is what you desire / after all / embracing life fully / sometimes we give our workers a minutes rest / please stop the hostility / this is your final warning / the machine is almost finished / it is not calibrated to hurt / your pain is an act / we have the information we need / and more / we know everything about you / two seconds / stay seated / stay quiet / listen to what we are saying

How to Be Free

Draw a line before your flat door.
Put up a sign saying Do Not Cross.
Disconnect your phone, gas,
the broadband, electricity.
Tear up the quarterly newsletter
issued by the resident’s committee

Declare your flat sovereign
and the line a border.
Open any post with
bomb disposal gloves.
Push back the neighbour’s cat
when it tries to enter.

Put down barbed wire
across the corridor.
Watch everyone who passes-
they might be hostile.
Start producing your own
newsletter, telling the truth.
To be safe, destroy the post.

Wonder why deliveries stopped,
why your fridge is empty
and the taps are dry.
Blame the other flats.
Blame the resident’s committee.
Detain the cat when
it crosses the line.

Turn the barbed wire
into sheet metal, a wall.
Brick up your windows.
Stop the freeloading light
from pouring into your home.
Force the cat into a cage.
Don’t feed it. Ignore the cries.
Wonder why the neighbours
are suddenly outraged.

Sharpen your knives
and wait for the knock
as they come to invade.

NaPoWriMo 2019 day 29

Rewritten

Eyes flicker and head reels.
I am lost and dizzy from
another reality adjustment.
Precious seconds to get my bearings,
probing my memory for gaps,
a tongue checking missing teeth.

A nerve twitches, a sign of change.
Last Tuesday no longer existed.
Not the worst to reconcile,
nothing of great importance lost.
Perhaps just a rainy day gone,
work, tv and cups of tea.

Whole months have been deleted before,
years when they were inconvenient.
We accepted them without protest
not often knowing what we lost.

The subtle, gentle changes are hard-
rain when you swore it was sun.
Physics changing. The bullet
landing there, not here.

Most stopped caring about politics.
We became numb and did not register if
a speech’s reception was edited
or some minister altered a few votes.
These are the days of constant whiplash
and rising nausea. No, we mourn the
quiet moments most. Holding hands
deemed subversive and forgotten
or our laughter changed to silence.

NaPoWriMo 2019- day 28

An Invitation

Come cross the sea at night
when the moon is a target
pierced by an arrow, a jet
stream shot from distant lands.

One small solitary figure
alone under the moonlight.
No sound but your constant engine,
Your breath distant and faint.

You are not pushed forward
by constant explosions but
pulled towards us, dragged
on invisible spider’s silk.

Your perception sprawls out
over the mutable waves.
As horizon and sea blend,
you twitch, trying to wake.

Our island is a shadow
blocking stray stars at first
then growing like a revalation
you refuse to acknowledge.

Leave your beached craft behind.
Walk the route you know so well
without having been here before.
Trust your feet to guide you true,

over the shore that sighs secrets,
to the glowing lake where we bathe.
We smile. Invite you into the icy water
and wash all your memories away.



NaPoWriMo 2019 Day 27

Emergency Protocol

If you are hearing these words
then our efforts were futile.
We were an ant trying to halt
an avalanche, a single voice
trying to cross the endless void.

I was no-one important, a bureaucrat
following the train tracks left behind
by countless generations. Not many
of us can switch tracks or derail without
wrenching metal and screaming sparks.

I record this message as an emissary
from the past, from your former government,
but it will be clear to all of you listening
that all our institutions and borders
were always illusory, tricks of the light.

We congregated as one and decided
to create numerous systems together,
will them into being, change the outcome
by observation and belief. We forgot
our complex creations were just fictions.

It pains me to think of you listening to this.
We are sorry. We were blind in so many ways.

There is little to be done now
but to listen to seeds split open and grow,
feel your heart thump, reminder of life,
and to spend time with those you love.
That’s all there ever was.


All the poems I wrote for NaPoWriMo 2018 are available as an ebook that you can download for free.

NaPoWriMo 2019 day 26

Conversion Rate

You are a grizzled space marine
reporting for duty on the SS Hermes.
Humanity faces a new and terrible threat.
You are our only hope for survival.
Whilst saving the galaxy, why not
look stylish with optional upgrades?

(The waking world is a buried memory.)

Superhumans swarm above your head
battling an ancient foe, standing up
for what is good and just. You must
stay on the ground and duck for cover,
having never fallen in radioactive waste-
but you can buy their merchandise.

(A flash of dawn light.)

A dictator walks the streets alone.
You are forced to stay at home,
watch the Good Leader on television,
where we can categorise and file you.

(Eyes flicker and succumb once more.)

Today the sun expanded without warning,
consuming our glass sphere in flames
four billion years early. The future
is always uncertain. Buy insurance.

(Waking for certain now, you watch
as a bee attempts to crawl into
a drawing of a lilac, again and again.)

NaPoWriMo 2019 day 25

Tempest

When storm clouds spell put your name,
it’s hard not to take it personally.
Shifting letters, miles high, grow heavy
and dark as they fill the sky.

Sunshine appears in patches, a
mismatched jigsaw. When you step in,
it flickers and fades, the fuse board blown.

Rain, when it decides to fall,
seeks you out, small homing missiles,
following your frantic steps down the street.
As it slams into your ears, soaks through
your cheap anorak, it whispers threats,
drawn from details you only told notebooks
and kept buried in a locked drawer.

Do not think of lightning.
There are times when bolts are thrown
almost at your feet and you jump
and weave to avoid being struck.

Go where people pool and flow.
Look up. More clouds metamorphose,
more than you ever noticed before.
Each person glances at their own squall
as it follows them, unwavering.
A stranger beckons you under an umbrella.
Stand still together and be dry.

NaPoWriMo 2019 day 23

The Kite Festival

The dates are always unknown.
It is never scheduled or planned.

Rumours circulated it was banned.
A few news in brief articles
stoked our speculations. Years passed
and life happened. It was forgotten.

Until yesterday, when unusual sunlight
kissed bare skin and breeze blew blossom
making confetti. We started driving
when we saw flashes on the horizon,
bright purples and oranges that
swooped and darted and flickered.

Moving down the road, we saw it all;
saw the fishes and birds jiving
in the sky, saw the strings that
connected them to small figures
guiding their joy from the ground.

We drove past, continued home,
but my heart opened the door
raced across the grass,
climbed up the string
and in that cloudless expanse
it became part of the dance.

NaPoWriMo 2019- day 21

Thread

Plane trails cross the sky,
thin lines from one hub to another

Small boats over the ocean
drag the same white trails behind.

On a blank page, write out the names
of everyone you’ve ever known
even passing acquaintances and colleagues
you haven’t said a single word to.
Then draw lines of connection.
You will have a map of the cosmos
and a diagram of an molecule.

From above at night, the cities
towns, villages and roads are glowing
cells and veins. Grids are subsumed.
From above, the ground is a pictograph
of the inside of your skull.

One strike sends sharp signals
to everyone. We all twitch and flinch.

Somewhere within the network, you
are a single synapse, one electrical
spark dragging connection in its wake.


All the poems I wrote last year for #NaPoWriMo are available as a free ebook. Download it here.

NaPoWriMo 2019- Day 20

Seduction

The past whispers in your ear
when sleep seems so distant
with tales and promises told
in sweet singing tones
“Society was better then,
if only you could go back.”

Still humming a forgotten tune
it pulls you out of the bed
and towards the floorboards
where the sour and sweet smell
rises from underneath. “Damp
has set into the bones now,
nothing left but a slow descent
into disorder and anarchy.
If only you could go back.”

Lies, of course. The rot
doesn’t exist and neither
did that soft golden light
of a perfect childhood. All we
have is now, always vanishing.