Ad Verses

We chased virality and found irrelevance,
went from prophecy to parody in nanoseconds,
but maybe we deserve it all – we never reckoned
well enough with the ways in which our scene had tensions,
were too wedded to the wish we all had good intentions,
got wrapped up in this decade’s rush for clicks and mentions,
became a way for businesses to tote their ‘woke’ credentials,
shilling social media, shopping centres, pensions,
pandering to Mumsnet for some page impressions.

Come see the poets! As seen on TV!
Commercially unthreatening, approved and PG,
not really saying anything but buy this tea,
come inside our parlour, purchase your identity,
we’re a deeply deep and decent brand, see, we get poetry,
or at least we can get poets at competitive fees.
I get up every morning and thank God on my knees
that I lost faith well before I got to witness things like these,

saw too many sins glossed over and too many men protected,
learned too much about too many people I had once respected,
saw too many white posh editors rip off work they’d rejected
or straight up plagiarize the lines of those of ‘lesser’ heritage,
all the smiling while denying anything but merit
had brought them to the academic niches they inhabit,

getting theirs, not caring for the futures they were cancelling,
the moody metaphors and knocked-off memes they chose to traffic in.
I used to call it tragic but I’ve learned, hard, how to laugh at sin
because my sole alternative is never to stop panicking
at just how easily our self-styled prophets are reduced to pandering,
how easily we’re bought and sold, and never trusting anything
that comes out of a poet’s mouth again.


The Ballad of Maggie and Jimmy

In Margaret Thatcher’s sleeping mind
Churchill’s cum anoints the weeping child
whose spunky tears, dissolved in tea
help Savile canter merrily.
Old England swoons and is beguiled:
a Queen and her court paedophile.

From fathoms down the Mary rises.
Some hands she loves, some she despises,
stained with blood, not dust of coal,
hands avid at the gun console
to hole a hull and send below
three hundred twenty and three souls

whose bodies find the ocean floor
a safer home than Scarborough morgue
where, sweaty from his evening run
the late Duchess’s favourite son
is come again to have his fun.
The journalist is shown the gun,

the miner’s sons are shown the malls,
the buildings where they’ll answer calls,
the straitened lives they’ll have to live:
There Is No Alternative.
A key turns in Stoke Mandeville:
the Blue Queen’s Fool’s prerogative.

This was inspired by watching Episode 3 of Adam Curtis’ 1995 documentary series The Living Dead, which you can watch below. It’s very relevant to the current moment when England’s preference for sickly fantasies over astringent reality has again brought us almost to the brink of ruin:

A Warning


And she said:

If you have benefited from the corrupt system whose downfall is coming
If you have made it your business to be a handmaiden to austerity
If you have looked from the meek to the powerful
and made the coward’s choice of where to stand
A time is coming when you WILL face the results of your actions
And some of you will see that fate reflected in my eyes
Before yours close forever

Before yours close



This week I saw an old man say some creepy things to Boy Scouts

The other day Donald Trump, the serial groper and misogynist currently occupying the White House, tweeted that he will no longer permit trans personnel to serve in the US military.

Here is a picture of Donald Trump’s mother:


Paging Dr Freud. We repeat, paging Dr Freud.

Now, to use one of Theresa May’s favourite phrases, let me be very clear. I am not suggesting that Donald Trump has had facial surgery to make him look more like his mother. I am not suggesting that her bizarre, Bride of Frankenstein hairdo was the inspiration for Trump’s own remarkable follicular prosthesis. What I am suggesting is that the mind of Donald Trump is a bizarre psychosexual soup. And a big part of that soup is a heaping serving of anxiety about masculinity. Because the boy takes after his mother, doesn’t he? And he has small hands like a girl too, doesn’t he? And given how much Trump clearly wants to present himself as a Big Dick Playa, you know such comparisons with his mother will have preyed on him.

This is why Trump replacing Sean Spicer with Anthony Scaramucci didn’t surprise me all that much. If anything, it surprised me that he’s taken this long to do it. Trump likes to hang out with men who project an aura of virility, a kind of cruel, vicious joy in the exercise of power. the kind of people the painter Francis Bacon referred to as ‘the Nietzsche of the football team’. Ever since the days he spent under the tutelage of the late Roy Cohn, Trump has been a sucker for a thug in a showily-tailored suit. We learn that Trump was moved to hire ‘the Mooch’ because he liked what he saw of him on television. I bet he did.

White House Communications Team Reshuffled, With Sean Spicer Resignation And Anthony Scaramucci Appointed Director

To get a real taste of the bubbling Freudian broth that is Trump’s mind, however, you have to go back to his recent speech to the Boy Scouts of America. And to one passage in particular, a passage worth quoting in full. Trump began by singing the praises of the property developer and segregationist landlord William Levitt. Then he moved on to what Levitt did following the sale of his company:

‘And he sold his company for a tremendous amount of money. At the time especially, this was a long time ago, sold his company for a tremendous amount of money. And he went out and bought a big yacht and he had a very interesting life. I won’t go any more than that because you’re Boy Scouts, I’m not going to tell you what he did – should I tell you? Should I tell you? Oh, you’re Boy Scouts, but you know life, you know life. So, look at you, who would think this is the Boy Scouts, right?’

You’re Boy Scouts but you know life. Nudge-nudge, wink-wink, chuckle-chuckle.

Put aside the office that Trump has assumed, against the will of the majority of American citizens. Put aside the soap opera of Spicer and Scaramucci and the chip on Trump’s shoulder about inaugural crowd sizes. Pare this down to what it is on it’s most simplistic level: an old man winking conspiratorially at an audience of boys and snickering about what he and his rich mate used to get up to on his yacht. Expressing mock-shock at the idea that they ‘know life’, then jokingly congratulating on what big, worldly-wise boys they are. Look at you, who would think this is the Boy Scouts, right?

I think we’ve all encountered men like that before.



I mean, where to begin?

This is why I always felt uneasy about the liberal vitriol directed at Melania Trump for choosing to stay in New York with Barron: because I wouldn’t want to leave my kids with Donald Trump either. Would you? 



‘You think I’m a bad person, because I won’t give you what you want. But too many people have already given you what you want. This entire society is structured around you getting what you want: to be coddled, to be told you’re special, to never have to confront the consequences of your karma. But being given everything you want has led you to me. Being indulged at every turn has led you to the one person in the world who won’t indulge you. Your whole life, you never took responsibility for a single choice you made. Everything was someone else’s fault: the blacks, the lefties, Muslims, lesbians and feminists. They were to blame, not you. They wanted special treatment, not you, you told yourself as you squatted masturbating in the decadent remnants of Empire. And look where it’s got you. But karma is kind: make the right choices here and you’ll still have a life in which to reconsider the choices which led you to me. Make the wrong choices…well, make the wrong choices and you’ll still have plenty of time to regret them, but it wouldn’t be what anyone could call a life. Not really. And you’ll never see the end. I’ll show you what death really is, open you out into the eternity your choices made. Did you know there are things outside of time? They’re very keen to meet you. A nice, warm, foetid life in which to lay their eggs and watch them flower, forever. I can’t tell you what choices to make. I can only ensure that this time, for the first time in your coddled life, you won’t be able to ignore the consequences and go back to snorting cocaine and fucking your common law wife. This is up to you. So tell me: what’s my name?’

strange fall


I Hate to Say I Told You So


Oh look. A story about Tories having a weird idea of what counts as consent when it comes to child sex abuse. I guess it must be Wednesday.

Are you thinking what I’m thinking?




Ruby draws the robofish


Tell me the name that you think I should know. Pronounce it in tones which imply I should bow.

 I call these two my robofish. I draw them every morning, just before I start my shift. I always start with a billionaire’s name, a man of achievement: Musk, Kalanick, Gates.

Show me your faith that the things which you own will translate you to states of grace I’ll never know.


 I break the name down into letters, then make them all happen at once on a piece of scrap paper no bigger than half of an inch. E becomes l becomes o becomes n. Then, on another scrap, I start again.

I’ll pretend I’m impressed by the money you make. I’ll smile and I’ll tell you to have a nice day,

The second robofish I usually use is Kenneth Pinyan, Patron Saint of the Humiliated Dead. Pinyan, immortalised in the Wikipedia entry for the Enumclaw horse sex case, was a former Boeing engineer who achieved notoriety when he died during what the entry dispassionately describes as ‘receptive rectal sex with a stallion at a farm in an unincorporated area in King County, Washington’. Already a figure of repute among those whose passion is for zoophile pornography, Pinyan crossed over into the mainstream when his colon was fatally perforated by an equine cock: the story of the philhippic Mr P became one of the Seattle Times’ most-read stories of 2005. Thus was Mr Pinyan spared the indignity of living on to become a whining boomer of the sort I find myself having to deal with most days. And became instead my robofish, my angler’s beacon in the foetid lake of English and American entitlement, my skeleton piper jangling his generational kin to their necessary doom.

as I make something beautiful out of your name. When I break what I’m making, my smile won’t be fake.

 Usually I use Pinyan but lately I’ve been using Cedrick Jelks as my robofish. Jelks is a somewhat more liberal sanction than Pinyan because his embarrassing misadventure ended not in death, but in the mere loss of a penis. Sitting down a little too enthusiastically in the front seat of his Nissan Altima, Florida native and convicted felon Jelks was only reminded of the firearm on the seat when it unloaded in his unit. To which injury Florida state law seems likely to add the insult of a mandatory minimum three-year prison term for possession of a firearm.

Here is the paper that’s all that you were.


 I crumple the paper bearing the rich man’s name.

Jelks is alive, and younger than Pinyan, but his story contains just the right blend of haplessness and humiliation. He’ll be a good robofish for the overconfident, the egoists who think a seven-figure bank balance excuses their being too thick to understand how to delete the cookies in their browser, who think being a mean cunt from the other side of Skype will change the laws of physics. For the ones who never clock the gun or hear the truck because their world is protected by safety glass.

Here is the fire as that paper burns.

 I take my pen, push its end into the heel of my right palm and, on the word fire, force it through the paper on which I’ve made Jelks’ name happen, all letters at once. The paper gives beneath my nib as sure as skin makes way for needles. The paper is torn.

Here is the ash which is all you have left:

 I crumple the torn paper the same as the whole one, and flick each into its separate cardboard fate.

This cup of plenty, this cup of death.


There. The robofish are drawn. The cups are primed. I can begin.



Chromaritual, or What I did during the Holy Days: an Intervention

Donald J Trump State Park 2

Ibarakou mollumba Elegguá ibaco moyumba ibaco moyumba

 I light the first candle.

Ibarakou mollumba omole ko ibarakou mollumba omole ko

 I light the pipe. I take a deep green breath. I exhale the dank smoke over the skull, its concrete spattered with dripped candle wax, the memory of rum, my blood, my semen. Irises of blu-tac recessed deep back in the sockets, with which I pin my sigils to the wall.




Immolator. Mutilator. Yemayá Oggute, virile, violent.

 I light the second candle.

Attaramawa, arrogant and proud.

 White candle. Blue candle. Lit from the red. Light passed on by the Opener of Ways. Light leaping the gap between candle and wick. One flame turned three. Firebreeding.

Olokun, the ocean maid, whose lovers dance in veils and painted masks.

 The candle held before me like a sword, raised and brought down to my eyeline in a warrior’s salute.

Your true face seen only in dreams.

 The tip of the blue candle points at my heart. A poor petitioner, beknighted.

Dream for me, with me, through me.

 I light the blue candle. Inhale and exhale.


strange fall


I pull the book and stickers from the void beneath my bed. Spreading the sheet of blank rectangles out on a comic-book anthology of conspiracy theories I open Jarman’s Chroma to the chapter called ‘White Lies’. I read. I pull the thin adhesive border from the sheet of stickers, smudge it with smoke from the pipe. First breath of life.

‘When God made the first clay model of a human being, he painted in the eyes, then the mouth, then the sex.’ Greenaway, not Jarman.

I open the book to the chapter headed ‘Black Arts’. The hairpin N of the Palace chimney, Coco dancing, the wonderful long quote from Ovid, luck came at a price for the climbing boys. I read again, and then begin to draw.

It begins as a double-headed arrow, bending in the middle so both arrowheads point down. Then, from the left of the lowest of the arrows, curves all the way to the right of the point, then extends another, larger, longer curve which turns into a third, bigger arrowhead, pointing up, and finds its way back again to the base of the second. Like a flower, like a beast. Within the space created by the first curve, a circle is made, filled with a lowercase t like a single malevolent eye.

I add a date and three words from a radical poem, drawn in my best attempt at pixacao, a Brazillian graffiti style. Then I light the pipe and smudge the sheet a second time with smoke.


I reopen the book, to the chapter called ‘Into the Blue’. Jarman writes of refugees and AIDS wards, tower blocks on fire. Plane crashes. A man who looks like Jean-Luc Godard. A pilgrim with a drip. A wink and the slyest of smiles.

The passage read, I take the felt-tip pen and fill the space around the creature’s eye a deep and haughty blue. Blue the priciest of dyes, the blood we’ll have to spill. Plunge the mind beneath the blue and when the circle’s filled, you smoke, you smudge.


Open the book once again. ‘Seeing Red.’ Marches and Sparta, the red of the square is the root. Red Cardinals betray. Burn the blue out of Britain! Italian business, the way the Brits slip through a bill. With the first act of arson the child realises transgression is not always punished. Cytomegalovirus. Fill the space within the second, turning curve which changes to an arrow reverb red, reverb red, in the red room of the head.

Reverb red in the red room

Reverb red in the red room

In the red room in the red room

Reverb red in the red room


In the red room

In the red room

In the red rum

In the red



Reverb red in the red room

Reverb red

Reverb red

Reaver bread

Reaver bread


Reverb red in the red room

Reverb red in the red room

In the red room in the red room

In the red room of the head


Reaver bread

Reaver bread

Reverb red

Reverb red

Reverb red in the read room of the head

Trespasses anew

Smudge, smoke, allow the Orishas to skinride if there’s time.  Repeat the oral incantations, blow the candles out with chronic breath, install the stickers on the altar, tip the ash into the bottle labelled with a cartoon devil. Take a moment. Take a breath. And rise.

Rise like a lion.



Solstice 2017


It begins as towers burn.
A Solstice morning thunderstorm.
Raven, spider, moth and skull.
The wax begins to wane.


Replace with hat the pompous crown
and ring the ritual curtain down.
Killer, monarch, Doctor, Gull.
The last act of your reign.



Eminences undermined,
witness we the undersigned:
outcast, outwith, unconfined.
It’s happening again.



Theresa May is not autistic. She’s a sadist.


Theresa May is not autistic, as I understand some are saying. The truth is worse.

Theresa May is a sadist. Look at the microexpression that crosses her face when she sees how upset BBC journalist Emily Maitlis is by the Grenfell Tower tragedy. She clearly WANTS to smile, but represses it.

Sadism and bullying defined May’s time at the Home Office. Sadism in the treatment of LGBT asylum-seekers, in the brutal and underhanded immigration raids, in the detention of vulnerable refugee women in the Yarl’s Wood rape camp and trans women in male prisons where they were persecuted so intensely they took their own lives. In the glee she took in threatening to rip up the Human Rights Act.


Theresa May is not autistic. What she is is a sadist who can only mask her genuine pleasure in the pain of other people with the most robotic, tedious, rote circumlocutions.

The Home Office is a good place to hide a sadist in a cabinet. But a sadist as Prime Minister is too exposed. She has to go.