To Ink

It’s 8pm & she & I are dusk
again lost, fuzzed – a lush, & me near-drunk –
just us, just as the popcorn air & sunk-
en August sun against us drills & clasps
my wind-burred fingers, turns their subtle task
from rolling fags, from gestures, to ink.
Were I to write her some words, some small chunk
of what I’ll call the heart, what harm? What risk?

. . .

The words at hand now handed, now I stand
indoors, in fear, yet pleased with what I planned.
Now I can barely speak to order drinks.
As time ticks slow, I sink as sunlight sinks.
Outside, the heaters start to glow & warm
her, reading. I mistake the light for dawn.

(One of three poems published in Haque magazine.)


Whimpers and Bangs

“Do you want us to not be doing that?”
He’d jump to ask the nearest authority figure
soon as we started larking about or
having a laugh which gained us
a bollocking at school and earned more
work at work.

And he turned to asking it of himself, offering
out the mirror invariably in his pants, half-cut
on cut-price plonk, panicked, forcing
a sliver of a grin.
We stuck it out together though – through
more thicks than thins.

Now in the old boys’ home, he’s got perennial
shits and we all have to sit around
bearing the brunt of it while in his turn
the fella slumps with a globule
of saliva like quicksilver glistening
on his chin.

I tell him:
“You shouldn’t be going out like that,”
but he won’t listen.

(One of three poems published in Haque magazine.)


My flapping hands Freudian-slip, or whatever
the equivalent is and she cracks up.
(Still can’t get the hang of this lark).

The carriage clatters with her
primal laugh, her primate laugh.
Her retarded laugh.

She signs: Busy day?
I rock my hand from side to side.
I sign: You?
She weaves a reply

like tumbleweed after a bad joke,
as the commuters cough and rustle
their papers and don’t look.

She signs: I love conducting you
She signs: my symphony

and laughs again and I know
my reddening cheeks and derailed gaze
are signs, shouting at her

louder than voices.

(One of three poems published in Haque magazine.)

Agnostics & Alcoholics

Some years back, we made this. Poem by me, video by Sarina Gascon McCavana, read by Garrett Millerick.

(Watch Agnostics & Alcoholics on Vimeo.)

Agnostics & Alcoholics

In a pub the other day, I saw a sterling English lad
Who pondered not a vapid thought: did creators create man?
I said: ‘My boy, this beer you see
Was fermented in a brewery,
Fermented much like you and me
As god’s master plan.’

The lad simply turned with ease
And said to me: ‘Now listen, geez,
If this god’s all he’s cracked up to be
And if he’s linked inextricably
To ale and beer and stout techniques,
How come my pint tastes of piss?’

Alas, I could not answer this.

Rhyming piglets

A rhyming abstract! Ignoring the wobbly scansion, it is a Good Thing this exists. (Thank you to Dr David Lawson for pointing this out.)

From “Armed sibling rivalry among suckling piglets” by David Fraser and B. K. Thompson (from Agriculture Canada)

A piglet’s most precious possession
Is the teat that he fattens his flesh on.
He fights for his teat with tenacity
Against any sibling’s audacity.
The piglet, to arm for this mission,
Is born with a warlike dentition
Of eight tiny tusks, sharp as sabres,
Which help in impressing the neighbors;
But to render these weapons less harrowing,
Most farmers remove them at farrowing.
We studied pig sisters and brothers
When some had their teeth, but not others.
We found that when siblings aren’t many,
The weapons help little if any,
But when there are many per litter,
The teeth help their owners grow fitter.
But how did selection begin
To make weapons to use against kin?

Science poems: Pi by Wislawa Szymborska

Breaking through the anaesthetic of familiarity is what poets do best. It is their business. But poets, too many of them and for too long, have overlooked the goldmine of inspiration offered by science.
– Richard Dawkins, Unweaving the Rainbow

Richard Dawkins is right, but not completely. I agree with him, but only so far. As a human who loves science and loves poetry, I would love to see the two married more often. Eternal. Civil. Tempestuous. Shotgun.

To kick things off, something mathematical, irrational:

by Wislawa Szymborska

The admirable number pi:
three point one four one.
All the following digits are also initial,
five nine two because it never ends.
It can’t be comprehended six five three five at a glance,
eight nine by calculation,
seven nine or imagination,
not even three two three eight by wit, that is, by comparison
four six to anything else
two six four three in the world.
The longest snake on earth calls it quits at about forty feet.
Likewise, snakes of myth and legend, though they may hold out a bit longer.
The pageant of digits comprising the number pi
doesn’t stop at the page’s edge.
It goes on across the table, through the air,
over a wall, a leaf, a bird’s nest, clouds, straight into the sky,
through all the bottomless, bloated heavens.
Oh how brief – a mouse tail, a pigtail – is the tail of a comet!
How feeble the star’s ray, bent by bumping up against space!
While here we have two three fifteen three hundred nineteen
my phone number your shirt size the year
nineteen hundred and seventy-three the sixth floor
the number of inhabitants sixty-five cents
hip measurement two fingers a charade, a code,
in which we find hail to thee, blithe spirit, bird thou never wert
alongside ladies and gentlemen, no cause for alarm,
as well as heaven and earth shall pass away,
but not the number pi, oh no, nothing doing,
it keeps right on with its rather remarkable five,
its uncommonly fine eight,
its far from final seven,
nudging, always nudging a sluggish eternity
to continue.