Hate Is No Substitute

Don’t touch me with that barge pole.
The disease you fear in me might travel
down your arm through the fibres
of that deceased sliver of tree and
burn a dot on my arm.

Don’t squint at me through that pinhole.
Your face is contorted
all the beauty your mother kissed into it
wrung to angry creases.

Don’t throw darts at me from behind that wall.
Your dartboard lies behind you
inside you
a whole room of
poison-filled balloons
that need puncturing.

You see, I can shake off this shit
before it hardens and turns to
shit-hardened armour
I can soak my blood-sodden
rag of a heart
in rose water
cook it with comfrey
til it stitches itself back together
I can call up cool breezes
to blow away the debris
reveal sand-polished jewels beneath
I can open a window
onto the vacuum created
when intellect left the room
I can rebuilt the city left a
concrete skeleton
for as long as my time runs on

But your time is running out
and every day wasted in
smearing excrescences on your
neighbour’s car window
is another chance for joy
wiped away and
hate is no

Full Moon



This is a dark, enchanted wood.
Full moon brings more insomniacs
to scuttle in among the streaks of
shadow, clutching mouse-shaped
wooden stakes in case some bloodsucker
begins to stalk.

But we too are carnivorous.
The jewels we seek in all this veiny humus
is the meat of stories: we hunt them down
with our X-ray searches, strike,
devour them, display the bones
on our personal rock to show the world
we are well-fed.

Even the monsters have become
disappointingly surreal
nerdy trolls in dank sweatsuits
crouched in airless grottos full of
mouldering tea mugs
throwing virtual rocks
at shrieking passerby

The agitation that should flash and shuffle
outside has been caught and trapped inside the bony
cages of our chests; restless birds twitch
but their tweets never reach as far
as we would wish and the hum of wires is no
exchange for air whistling
through feathers

Connection has been rendered binary:
you and me. Things flip from tragic to hilarious
at the speed of the never-narrowing band
until we aren’t sure if we feel either in depth

Between us I’m not sure I don’t prefer
the hiss of cat or fur of bear
or even slink of snake
for in that jungle risk is not so riddlesome:
you run and pray you’re not outrun

The space we stretch and play in is compressed
to one square desk
one keypad, one unblinking frame
and in it flit phantoms of hero deeds
and bombs and tyrant tales
yet even we do not believe
half of this forest floor of thieves
that rob our time and sell us games
til we’re not sure if we are gazing out
or being watched

This window lets us see outside
but cannot let the light flood in.