Wednesday, 31 May 2023

The First in Any Class

by Nick Gisburne

It’s Monday. What a splendid, special day.
They tell me I’m the first in any class.
Protesters in their thousands march to say
Their morals are revolted by my brass.
On Tuesday I was broken, just a bit.
The unexpected hail of bricks was bad.
They hurt the humans too, but where we sit
Is fortified because of it. I’m glad.
The worst we faced was Friday, four o’clock,
A demo they designed to flood the news.
Although we half-expected such a shock,
It wasn’t what my cheeky friends would choose.
    I’m just a young mechanical, it’s true,
    But I am here to live, to learn. Are you?

Forever Falling

by Nick Gisburne

I strive to understand what others see,
A disconcerting viewpoint far from mine,
Forever falling, fighting to be free
From something too disturbing to define.
I peer through clouds of crisis, reaching down,
But never touch the truth. I never will.
Delusions, dancing, beckon me to drown.
My only saviour, sacred, is a pill.
A slow, destructive spiral of despair,
The storm from which my soul cannot escape,
Is more than I was ever born to bear.
I see myself in every spinning shape.
    A day, for you, for me, is not the same.
    I fight with fears impossible to tame.

A Suitcase and a Plan

by Nick Gisburne

Between two cities, trudging through the dust,
With nothing but a suitcase and a plan,
He finds a girl, abandoned, breathing, just,
And strangles her as quickly as he can.
They don’t survive the road without a pill,
An ugly death, prolonged and painful. Grim.
A mercy killing. When the heart is still,
He cuts it free. More medicine for him.
With forty, maybe fifty, clicks to go,
The night will not be quiet, quick, or kind.
A thick, acidic wind begins to blow,
But rather that than what he leaves behind.
    His fortunes, in the city he will face,
    Depend on what he carries in the case.

Tuesday, 30 May 2023

The Border

by Nick Gisburne

You shiver, scared, but trust the truth, the sign.
The others made it. Here we are, at last.
Remember not to step across the line.
Reply to every question, fully, fast.
A new beginning. Never look behind.
Beyond the door is freedom, promise, peace.
We walk towards euphoria, to find
Security, serenity, release.
Denial. This is more than madness. Think.
Are we the thieves, the villains, or are they?
Forget their smug, surreal, self-righteous stink.
Tomorrow we will find another way.
    The border is a wall we cannot breach,
    But hope, however fragile, we can reach.

What Remained of Her

by Nick Gisburne

Their daughter died. They buried her, of course,
But, knowing what remained of her was there,
They felt a strange malaise - regret, remorse -
And brought her back, continuing to care.
Her decomposing flesh began to stink,
And, while it did, they kept the corpse inside,
But strange, misguided minds began to think,
And forged a plan so beautiful they cried.
Upon her tiny skeleton, with clay,
They formed a splendid semblance of her face.
No trace remained of damage or decay.
They lost a daughter. This one took her place.
    She gave them strength, serenity, and peace,
    Or so they told the cynical police.

An Older Model

by Nick Gisburne

Believe the price, it’s all we want for this.
An older model, battered to be sure,
But something you’d be glad enough to kiss.
Refurbished. Clean. No pathogens to cure.
Remember, these are artificial lives.
The rules for cold mechanicals apply.
Officially you cannot call them ‘wives’,
But everybody does it. So do I.
I sell these types of trade-ins twice a day.
They’re cheap, but never overly abused.
We offer credit, ninety days to pay.
Free checkup if her brain becomes confused.
    A basic, fully functional device.
    You’ll never find one better for the price.

Monday, 29 May 2023

A Whisper

by Nick Gisburne

I make so many. None will ever speak.
All broken. There is nothing I can do.
Another day, like every other, bleak,
Remembering the moment I made you.
A seven-day submersion in the tank,
But something in the settings, subtle, strange,
Destabilised the serum. As you sank,
I found myself too weak to watch the change.
Contaminants be damned. I made the choice.
No prototype so pure was meant to drown.
Still breathing, barely. “Can you hear my voice?”
My question left you fighting through a frown.
    From whence it came, I have no way to guess.
    It’s all I hear. A word. A whisper. “Yes.”

Dung the Deadly

by Nick Gisburne

The thing you thought was gone forever... ain’t.
Your kitchen floor is heaving, black with bugs.
We’re crawling through the cracks. We’re in the paint.
A hundred thousand creepy little thugs.
We worship Dung the Deadly, cockroach king.
His followers, the faithful, as you see,
Have scuttled here on filthy feet, to bring
The finest of his foul infections, free.
We’re bigger, and we’re better, and we bite.
We’re taking this, your two-bit diner, down.
Surrender! Dung has never lost a fight.
Prepare to swim in seven shades of brown.
    We saw the traps, the trails of bait, the spray.
    You call that poison? Pitiful. Let’s play.


by Nick Gisburne

McCat delivers more than slaughtered birds,
Although her spite, at night, excels at that.
She brings the things I wish she wouldn’t: words,
Regurgitated whispers, fresh and fat.
I take the best, because I fear the worst
Will drag me to a terrifying place,
But every wicked syllable is cursed,
Insanities I cannot fight, or face.
McCat cavorts with criminals and creeps.
From these diseased despicables she steals.
Sadistic, never satisfied, she sleeps,
But wakes to trade her trickery for meals.
    She speaks of mice, of murder, as we chat.
    Small wonder I’m suspicious of McCat.

Sunday, 28 May 2023

Let Me Show You Magic

by Nick Gisburne

You roar, enraged, to witness where you are,
Resentful of the place I put your soul,
But why the hate, the heat? It’s just a jar.
The others died, but you were stolen, whole.
I will not take your sins across the Styx.
The Underworld would swallow them. What then?
No, let me show you magic. I can fix
The misery of unimportant men.
A little salt, to elevate the taste.
A little blood, as much as you can spare.
A pinch of all the dreams you never chased.
A simple spell, to rip, but not repair.
    Tomorrow I can guide you to the light,
    So tell me what you’ll do for me, tonight.

You’re Doing Very Well

by Nick Gisburne

The world will barely notice when he’s dead.
A few, perhaps, may give their last goodbyes.
He could have built a legacy. Instead,
He stepped aside, abandoning the prize.
He never yearns to climb, to sing, to swim,
Emotions rarely rushing for release.
Excitement, chaos, change, are not for him.
The silence of seclusion, pure, is peace.
His life is not an empty, sterile shell,
Perhaps more full than others can conceive.
He tells himself, “You’re doing very well,”
A gift he is delighted to receive.
    Reluctant to reveal the heart he hides,
    Beyond ambition, quiet, calm, he glides.

Saturday, 27 May 2023


by Nick Gisburne

What Moth does not remember is his birth.
The fear and fury after it is clear.
An aberration, buried under earth,
His father made a defect disappear.
But Moth was not a baby, nor a brute.
His body blended qualities of both.
A nothing, one of nature’s fallen fruit,
He fought for what the Fates denied him: growth.
Unbroken, not a monster, not a man,
Whatever Moth became, the mix is more.
The point at which his memories began,
From this, in all directions, there is war.
    The Moth his father murdered once, or tried,
    Is free, a force from which the world will hide.

Embrace the Light

by Nick Gisburne

Ignore the paint, the black around the eyes,
The crimson of my fingernails, their flame.
My youth is unimportant. I am wise.
You know my reputation, know my name.
Abandon what you ever thought to find.
You fear because you cannot understand.
The darkness in the corners of your mind
Will crumble. Take my promise. Take my hand.
The chill, the spear, the sorrow in your spine,
Was there before we ever shared a touch.
Surrender. I will make the madness mine.
For you it is too damaging, too much.
    She’s with us. In a moment she will cross.
    Embrace the light, the love, but not the loss.

Friday, 26 May 2023

Elegantly Poisoned

by Nick Gisburne

Day or night, we monitor your mind.
Spies, we see the enemy you are.
Fragments of whatever filth we find,
Picked and plucked, are pickled in a jar.
Every swerving deviance of thought,
Every sin you stumble to conceal,
Adds another nuance. Our report
Leans beyond the lip of what is real.
Criminal, with wickedness you hum.
Murderous, a nature not in doubt.
Slipping in your shadow, we succumb.
Nothing now could ever pull us out.
    Elegantly poisoned by your pain,
    Tell us, are we traitors, or insane?

Stone and Sweat and Sand

by Nick Gisburne

Pull harder! Dig in deep, you devils! Heave!
Before the spirit burns, your bones must break.
Surrender to the sacrifice. Believe!
We leave a trail of glory in our wake.
The Pharaoh is a complicated king.
He rules because the deities decree
That he, a child, a feeble, fragile thing,
Is greater than the earth, the sky, the sea.
Are you, a slave, more worthy than a stone?
Rise up, and give the gods your answer. Pull!
The tomb we build, the marvel we have grown,
Will leave your head, your heart, forever full.
    Tomorrow, when you die, you’ll understand.
    A dream is more than stone and sweat and sand.

The Secret Keepers

by Nick Gisburne

These walls are where we store forgotten dreams,
And memories too broken to retrieve.
The pieces of abandoned shadows. Screams.
Deceptions only liars could believe.
The catalogue of nightmares in our care
Has flourished for a hundred thousand years.
Revived, rebuilt, we blend them into rare,
Intriguing traumas, unfamiliar fears.
But some of us, the Secret Keepers, know
Of darker doorways, deeper tunnels, holes.
Where even those we serve refuse to go,
We feed, we bleed, abused, aborted souls.
    Their twisted torments beg to be released,
    But, piece by piece, upon their pain, we feast.

Secret Santa

by Nick Gisburne

He grips the wicker basket on his lap.
The tag, discoloured, dangles from a string.
He failed, with every flawed attempt, to wrap
The gift he never asked to buy, or bring.
They’re told they have to do it, every year.
It’s always been a secret. Now, it’s not.
The door is bolted. Only he is here.
He wonders why they pick on him, a lot.
He’s never been employee of the week,
But, just for this, he really, truly tried.
He should have known the boss’s wife would peek.
She promised that she wouldn’t, but she lied.
    He chose it for the festive shade of red.
    Who wouldn’t want a severed Santa’s head?

Thursday, 25 May 2023


by Nick Gisburne

We let Letitia run, but on a rope.
She trots for twenty paces, to the end.
She knows that there is never any hope
Our bulletproof resolve will ever bend.
We let Letitia play, all day, alone.
Her games are simple. Curious, we watch.
To fits of temper now no longer prone,
She smiles. Another win, another notch.
We let Letitia speak, but not for long.
The noises trouble all of us, and her.
She still remembers traces of a song,
But silence is the state we most prefer.
    We let her live, but never wonder why.
    Letitia means too much to us to die.

Find a Way

by Nick Gisburne

If you are not like everyone, beware.
If you are not a piece within the plan,
Remember to be vigilant. Prepare.
Remember how brutality began.
The world was once a complicated space.
The world was too unstable, we were taught,
But, when we put the people in their place,
We sterilised the dreams for which they fought.
The might of the Metropolis is all,
The might we serve, in silence, every day.
Resist it. Make a crack, however small.
Create another future. Find a way.
    They’re coming. I can hear their boots, outside.
    I never found my freedom, but I tried.

Seven Months of Madness

by Nick Gisburne

She stands before the Senate, naked, numb,
A traitor by her own admission, damned.
A figurehead, her failure has become
A spectacle. The treason courts were crammed.
Gratuitous, her honour guard’s salute
Is meant to mock the murderer he served.
The brutal scars she hid beneath her suit,
Revealed, reflect what made them, crooked, curved.
She kneels before the President Elect,
Who gloats, and, with revulsion, spiteful, spits.
But seven months of madness resurrect
A force with which his fleshy torso splits.
    The blade of bone she wrestles from her chest
    Reveals his weakness. Hatred does the rest.