Poem: Song of the Skogsra


Note: The poem was inspired by an entry in George M. Eberhart’s two-volume encyclopaedia of Mysterious Creatures. In a section relating to Feral People, he refers to a case that took place in 17th Century Sweden, where a young man was sentenced to death for having a love affair with a ‘Skogsra’ – ‘A Wild Woman of The Wood.’ There seem to be three angles for consideration: that the being was a wise woman/shamaness with whom he was undergoing an initiation – hence why the act would have met with so much disapprobation from the Christian Authorities; that the Skogsra is a yeti/big foot-type creature (that have also been known to interbreed with humans); or that the Skogsra is a faery/feminine nature spirit. In the poem, the Skogsra is very much described as being a conflation of those first two suppositions. I hope you enjoy it.

Another day lost in this cruel world,
Another day at the gallows,
But what crime hath he commit,
This young man, so sweet and sallow?

Tender, pale, handsome was he,
But a drunken fervour crazed his eye,
He saith: “Why only in the name of love
Must the innocent be seen to die?

“I die not for love of human flesh,
No woman hath shared my pillow;
The one that I love hides in the hills,
And dances between the willows,

“Yes, the Skogsra is my lover!
The Skogsra is my lover!
Unless I can hath my wild woman free,
I will not live for another!

“No clothes defile my true love’s skin,
No home, nor house, has she,
Her body is covered with moss-soft hairs,
That kindle a flame in me


“She belongeth to a strange, secret race,
That live in the old, sacred woods,
The church says they are demon-folk,
But to me, her kisses taste good!


“In the forest they found, they found us entwined,
Making love in a sweet, silken glade,
My head was between her hairy, strong legs:
In pleasance, her fingers were splayed.

“She tried to save me from these Christian brutes,
To beat them back with her mighty arms,
But they blew her down with a musket shell,
And my love was bereft of her charms.

“’Kill me now!’ I shrieked to these men,
‘Kill me now and set my heart free!
You accuse me here of savagery,
But in the mirror the true savage you’ll see!

“’For in the name of your phantom god,
Christ died on the cross for your sin,
And you kill and kill and kill all the more,
So all can die for your sins again

“’You hang me because the beast within,
Made me love the beast without,
But a beast I am, and a beast I’ll be,
Though I have no horns or a snout!’”

And so, from the gallows, they dropped him down,
Like a sad pendulum he did swing,
And it made me sad to see a young man die
With his heart such a fine, noble thing

I take it upon myself to see his legacy out,
Now into the woods do I roam;
Mind, heart and loins, lusting to find,
The place where The Wild Woman moans



Poem: The Deathless Horsie


These horses have been ridden too long,
Tired and hoof-worn, their muscles replaced
With pistons, bones and ligaments composed
From robot cartilage, cold horror of sci-fi dawn,
Samplers to speak where they used to sing,
Erectile sensors signalling to their hairs,
They can gallop, now, on interference waves,
New god muscles to give them motion,
And new equine umbrellas, to keep them
From short-circuiting in the rain

If androids dream of electric sheep,
Then my nightmares are of cyber-horses,
Animals trapped in digital code,
Kept alive perpetual as computer slaves

Everything is your pet now,
If you can’t eat it, then it must entertain you,
Slave into wires to prove its value

No joy of flogging a dead horse breathless,
When all our horses are cabled and deathless

Translation: The Albatross, by Baudelaire


Sailors, oft times, for amusement,
Capture albatrosses, those birds of majesty,
That follows their ship in idle bemusement,
Gliding o’er the bitter abysm of the sea

Falling to the deck, deprived of his flight,
This King of the Sky who once freely soared,
Maladroit, and ashamed, his wings large and white,
Drag along the deck like water-logged oars

This winged voyager, cruelly taunted by sailors,
Formerly majestic, now crawls like a freak,
They mime the limp of this desolate flyer,
And annoy it by sticking a pipe in its beak

The Poet suffers just like this flock-swaddled king,
By archers insulted and tempests-tossed,
Prevented from walking by his giant white wings,
He is jeered at, isolated, exiled, and mocked

Morchid’s Lament (Nihilist Anthem)


There is always something unpleasant to be shut out,
Cultivate a blind-spot – smother your doubts –
Hold that etherized rag over the lips of your conscience,
For what good can you do anyway?

There is always something to be swept under the rug,
If you don’t like the bug – just kill the bug,
It doesn’t matter if ecologist’s call you a thug,
For what good can they do anyway?

A healthy society is built on repression,
Side effects include: frustration – depression,
Your heart has no need to make a confession,
For what good would it do you anyway?

Medicated entertainment can drown it out,
Help ignore the nuzzle of the long black snout
Belonging to the demon ever sniffing you out,
For what good might you have been anyway?

You’re older now – all past passions are numb,
You have no more feelings to which to succumb,
You could have sung loudly – but you chose to stay dumb,
For what good would it have done anyway?
For what good would you have done anyway?


Poem: Anger Seed

anger rose

Anger is a hard, fiery stone,
The pointed, jagged teeth of war,
Stampede of horse in blood-tarred mud,
Wasp stung trapped mad in marrow bone

Drama thirst of fucking drama queen,
Simpering megaphone of all your hurt,
I speak to you, cold and curt,
To restrain the pain that might have been

Cauldron of ire, simmering long,
Taut hard verses of vicious song,
Subdue the beast – the foaming maw,
Excise the tumour of righteous law

Warm stone, now cold, in graveyard lies,
Buried in soil, cold and wet,
In the zone of sweet forget,
To seal the place my anger dies


Poem: Joey The Underwater Milkman



After years of being a milkman,


Joey decided to become an octopus.


He studied them as much as he could.


 In the delirium preceding the slitting of his throat,


Octopi were his thoughts’ sole focus




In the following murkiness, the dark hours


Of draining blood, the growing schism


Between spirit and body, Joey’s essence poured


Itself back into the world, rewaking, couchant,


Before the throne of Jove, who, diving his soul’s purpose,


Cast him deeper into the sea’s foams




Then all was a chamber of blue,


Procreant from a shuddering shell,


He left his egg, fragile doorway of the world,


His hard, horny beak breaking through its bonds,


To clack into infinity




Not bird, nor fish, nor snail enlarged,


His thoughts expressed themselves


In the billows and contraries of undulant body,


Not a recoil, nor the spilling of crimson ink,


But a net, a hunter, a capturer, an acrobat






He danced with polymorphic agility through this matrix


Of ocean, seaweed-silhouetted, peeping beadily through


Shoal vistas, circumspect, puncturer of any thought,


Listen to his mind: the crunch of soft-tissue and bones




Concealed in pebbles,


Minareted in sands,


Perched on the brink of sub-aqueous cliffs,


Waiting, searching, fin-tasting and charged,


A maze of motion, of unwritten currents,


Jet-propelled prism refracting muddied


Fragments of stealth






But then days arabesqued into more than just


Stealth-lined shadows – of prying life-pryer:




The coral was coloured too harshly,


Dizzying his mind into unwelcome mazes:


What if there is more to being an octopus


Than being an octopus?




“There is,” unthroated strangeness confirmed,


“For all things stretch back to and emanate


From the centre. All things lead to where


Your tentacles are going, your thoughts


Disappear in discoloured ink.”




And he was a kid again, at the fireside,


Hearing his father wax lyrical on the delivery of fresh milk:




“At the centre of the ocean is an octopus bigger than all of this –


His far-reaching arms balance the eight directions,


Juggling the five elements,


His ink is the blackness settling the night,


His eyes the flash fire of ineluctable day.




“He Is the reason your Father dies after ejaculation,


And your mother a sack of eggs serrated by self-slaughter!”




“But why must I be so?


An eight-armed orphan to the world?”




And Joey remembered the seasons of his father’s woe,


The dread certainties manhood would make him mate.


He knew of no more earthly love than this.




So he cried into the ocean,


Neither man nor mollusc,


Just a net adrift, conundrum-captured,


Hunting and roaming,


While throats, still slit, dribble reality into the sink,


As The Baboon God beats out his own brains.




Poem: The Barn Owl


Beginning with the furry ridge above your beak,
Mite-eyed, I walk down the peacock patterns
Islamic carpeteers once wove into your back

For a short while, your body is my atlas:
I can spend my time tracing the fault line
Of your spine, every hollow of your vertebrae,
A chapel in which I can sit still and be

O, sweet barn owl! You whose screech
Kept peasants awake with thoughts of vampires,
And goat-sucking ghouls – why is it only behind a glass,
In the arms of taxidermy,
That your hidden presence can be seen?

Once the phantasm of farmlands,
You are now a museum geist,
Habitated in the sterility of mummified non-life,
Your spirit long since flown away

If I could use my mental powers
To inhabit the pale hidden limbs of God,
I would spread you out,
To be counsellor of every village,
Chaplain of every graveyard,
Watcher of unscripted stone

But, for now, I am the patron of your glass-bound self,
A dreamer of infinite birds


The Abandoned Harbour

abadoned harbour.jpg

The harbour is all quiet,
Though candles still burn in apartments,
And the ink on some of the quills
Has yet to dry

Ships manned but two hours ago
Now sway silent upon the ocean’s current,
No gulls laugh – no curlews curdle-cry –
No crabs scuttle out, sand-encrusted,
From their rocky lodgings

I go into the harbour master’s hut,
Fish untackled, unhallowed in brine,
Only the scent of tallow wax,
An account of this morning’s catch
Writ recent in the ledger,
The love-letter from his wife, lost and lorn,
With no suspicious questions answered
Or even posed at all

Now the town is just a lugworm casing,
Illuminated by the lighthouse’s beacon,
Wind-blown litter walks down the cobbles,
Minor limestone avalanches occur on the coast,
With not a wight to be imperilled by them.

As the years go past,
And no one returns,
The scenery is modernized,
Wrought by no hands

Hotels apparate on the shore-front,
Tourist fodder and penny arcades flash electric,
To go unused – blue memorial plaques adorn
Historic buildings that no one can ever be said
To have built or lived in

I wandered into all this one day,
Through a maze of fog and misdirection,
Following the tail of a phantom-dog,
His echoes lost in the waves

I sent a post-card to myself,
But never heard an answer,
Until a ghost whispered in my ear:
“The Death is in The Dancer.”


Sonnet: On Age And Difference


Age after age blurs us from one another,
The impressions of time dust the heart obscure,
I fear I am nothing – an embarrassment and bother,
A once ripe promise, now fetid and impure,
I long to connect with you, guileless and naked,
To be youth within youth – old within old;
But by experience, I’ve been tarnished and tainted:
Now there is ambergris growing upon this hoar gold,
Corrupt currency, then, but still love minted silent,
Still the willingness to give to the sisters of my soul,
To suffer the sacrifice, its depredations violent,
That colour me closer to my earth-bound goal,
So you can say: “He – he lived for us well –
But the anxious wonders of his heart we never can tell.”

Sonnet: The Castle Inn


Bury my bones in an old Welsh pub,
On the Pembrokeshire coast, under floorboards oak,
Consecrated by furze, lichen, sand-blasted scrub,
With stonewalled chimneys baptized by smoke,
I’ll give up my ashes to the waves of the sea,
With a stuffed snowy owl perched on my shoulder,
Wherever the rains weep, that’s where I’ll be,
Thundering my tears into old sandstone boulders,
And rockpools alive with limpets and cockles,
And Islands of penance where sweet Mary stands,
Conspiring with stowaways, stuffed into barrels,
The threshold of sea chewing up the land,
Where my body, half-buried, exposed to the sea-air,
Will be home to the treasures time will lay there.