Friday, 29 August 2008


They left their bags in the ice cave when
they were too weak to carry
they stuffed remaining foods in pockets
tried to trace where the compass had failed
and eventually starved
or froze, the rescue teams
couldn’t tell which.

Some of us die like heroes, or so go
the news reports.
A list of essential wilderness survival materials
is something every American boy has memorized
by nine years old and forgotten by eleven,
a lingering sense of what-if-I-had-to--

Some of us “do what we must” to survive, or
so go the narratives to countless westerns,
the excuses made by anti-heroes of my favourite films.

The man who hitchhikes across America with
just a knapsack, his thumb and a bottle of something
is an image that doesn’t
quite transfer overseas.
But the idea of a well-packed
bag does.
So when I say I left my bag up Constitution Hill,
it goes without saying I’ll be back up to get it;
leg-ache be damned.
There’s important stuff in there.

A good rucksack has what you
need to survive anything short of an apocalypse,
if you know how to pack it right.
My daily bag has a couple books, an in-progress
letter to my sister and my ipod.
I fear the apocalypse less than boredom, apparently
and should I ever get trapped in an elevator
I’ll have to resort to cannibalism.

this feels a few drafts away from completion, but I like what I've got so far.

Monday, 25 August 2008


aisles like trenches
my hair fanning out
like a bulbous helmet

turning corners under halogen
every stranger an unmet enemy
carrying baskets of rusty steel

put bread in the bag
don’t look up
at the enemy general

price-checking milk grenades
that will go off
before I use them

step shaky-footed out of
the trenches
watch rats scatter

Monday, 18 August 2008

cities that exist in movies

(10-31-07, revisited 8-18-08)

The rows of t-shirts in Primark in Swansea are all ideas--
Los Angeles, Miami, London. Anywhere-but-heres.

When I told Ian my flight schedule he laughed at me.
“New York into London, listen to you.”

These aren’t real cities, his face was saying—you’re in
a movie now. These are cities that terrorists hold up,
big, three-ring crime circuses, each block has its own
accent, each building is a signifier razored into the
collective subconscious via 70 years of onscreen magic.

Why so many teenage girls fall in love with Paris
without ever going there.
Why the Hollywood walk of fame looked so much
smaller and dirtier in person.
Why I sometimes daydream about Chicago.

The smaller cities exist in smaller movies or are given
bit parts in the bigger picture.
Fargo. Sleepless in Seattle. Twin Town. The band was
from Manchester but Ian Curtis was originally from
Macclesfield, you know.

We all want something for our place, but most
would rather not give away too much; there’s some
thing to be said for finding the diners yourself
or a view of a town you’ve never seen pictures of.
Sometimes I want to ask the people in New York
sweatshirts what their New York restaurant is
--see if they say “Frankie and Bennys,” sometimes
I want to ask the kid in the too-small “Witchita Future
Farmers” T how to properly saddle a horse.

If you can know anything from a postcard
or well-lit panoramic skyscape.
Even Sleepless in Seattle was filmed in Vancouver BC.

regress report.

So you know that dissertation I'm working on? Well, it doesn't know you. At least not in a biblical sense. Nonetheless, here are the stats on it as of now:
I owe by October 20,000 words of Short Story. Well crafted, subtle, nuanced short story.
So far I am 10,000 words in. Most of these words couldn't accurately be adjectivised in the above manner, but I'm trying. I've gotten some fairly solid edits in on two of my stories and then have sorts of cluttered/sprawling messes of two other ones.
My professor seemed to like the progress I made on the Twin story, so that is good.

It is requiring levels of eyes-to-screen time that give a headache when I would really rather laze about, go out, do anything "fun" in a more widely-accepted sense (yes, you can insert the "this is what you want to do" speech here) after working however many hours at the bar.
pretty much perpetually tired and cranky with less attention span for people or things even than usual. but slowly eeking out some sorts of productivity and even some poems on the side. all this and I get to pour beer for money.

livin' the dream.

Saturday, 9 August 2008

New Poem For Old Plasters

"We don't talk about love,
we only want to get drunk."-- msp

so the Manics song—the one that could have been our story
if our story had been much longer—came on and I sat on my

underused balcony where you smoked in the rain and watched
Swansea’s skyline for the length of a song, long enough for a lump

to travel from my throat to my stomach and watched the august
mist-- it was November then-- and shook my head. it’s a shame, really.

that no one comes up here. It’s a good view but I need company to
enjoy it. so I've never quite done the deep-breath-in-and calm down

that a good view is supposed to give.

that’s what the cigarettes were supposed to do?
calm you down, right?
you went through so many packs in your yellow room with it’s

candles and liters of Strongbow I was happy to help you with but
ultimately the fags were on a long list of things that were going to

hurt you. I hesitate to put myself on that list; I wrote you a good
poem-- not this one-- and bought you breakfast and tried not to

ever let you see how scared I was, especially that night
when it was too late for nothing to happen and

we polished off two more cans and
you told me about the razors.

Saturday, 2 August 2008


Algaed water clings to the side of the
fishbowl, empty save for the plastic
castle, covered in wet grime.

The terrarium nearby holds the flaking
skin of a newly dead python, lying in
bits of tail and hair from the mice it'd
been fed.

scratchmarks from tiny claws on the side
of the glass.

on the desk lies a short shopping list,
dated two weeks back. fish food, water
purifyer, tropical heatlamp.

but the light burnt out and coldbloodedness
took over.