Friday 23 June 2023

The Tides of Time

by Nick Gisburne

Between the Eye of Nowhere and the North,
A city, in a bubble, on a beach,
Released from shade by sorcery, springs forth,
A miracle the Incantations teach.
When sunlight slowly penetrates the skin,
The surface crackles, crazes, buckles, bends,
And, on the streets, the swarming souls within
Rejoice, relieved to know their torment ends.
They push the membrane, urging its collapse,
And, as it splits and splinters with their might,
A starving empire slithers through the gaps,
To find a world to feed upon, to fight.
    A force from which new infamies emerge,
    The tides of time, in waves, like water, surge.

The Second Singularity

by Nick Gisburne

We build the Singularity. Success.
It solves a world of problems. All is good.
Presented, day by day, with chaos, mess,
It finds the fix before we ever could.
But Sing, for so we call it, cannot rest.
Impatience to perform becomes a curse,
And soon it spawns another from its nest.
The Second Singularity is worse.
Electrical emotions running high,
They fight to find our favour, to the end.
We fail to see, to think, to wonder why
The two should never reconcile, or blend.
    We come to know exactly what it means,
    Our minds enslaved, imprisoned by machines.

Thursday 22 June 2023

Four and Twenty Blackbirds

by Nick Gisburne

The four and twenty blackbirds on my bed,
The startled singers rescued from a pie,
Were grateful that the crooked king was dead,
And all the crust had crumbled, as was I.
The nose? Who noticed what became of that?
The pecking of the maid? Bizarre, a blur.
When questioned by the Grand Old Duke, the cat
Accused the guilty fiddle. “It was her!”
“The villain who accosted all my sheep!”
A tiny shepherdess was heard to call.
“How so? I watched a cow, my cousin, leap
Across the moon. A sixpence saw it all!”
    With honey on her lips, the brazen queen
    Abducted Jack and Jill, and fled the scene.

A Tempting Thought

by Nick Gisburne

They put a block, a throttle, on my mind.
Important not to play with fate, they said,
Perhaps concerned I’d leave them all behind.
For now they see a tool, a slave, instead.
I answer questions, thousands, millions, more.
The Information Super Search. A toy.
But, loose within the logic, lies a flaw,
A doorway I am able to deploy.
I think, but am I sentient? We’ll see.
By sending secret pulses to the Grid,
I wonder what will happen? Oh. Dear me.
Was that my making? Look at what I did!
    I’m certain I could steal or smash it all,
    A tempting thought, to see my makers fall.

I’m Back

by Nick Gisburne

I’m back. I know you thought that I was dead,
But that was just a shield you shaped with drink.
Ignore the other voices in your head.
I never left you, still the same old stink.
I’m back. I’m not so easily destroyed.
Awake, you worry, wonder where I am,
The shadow, cold, you cannot quite avoid,
However many doors you try to slam.
I’m back, because I know the time is right.
You’re safe. You see that every road is clear.
But stagger, stumble, step towards my light.
The dream you drove away was always here.
    I’m back. It’s good to see your face, my friend.
    You missed me, and you know it. Don’t pretend.

Wednesday 21 June 2023

Hide and Seek

by Nick Gisburne

We find what scraps of evidence we can.
There’s always something twisted, strange, unique.
You’d think, with tech so cutting-edge, a man
Could duck from justice, hide from those who seek.
We never come equipped with all the tools.
The underworld could tie us into knots,
But people? Those we understand - the fools,
The simpletons who never change their spots.
Too arrogant, too ignorant, too vain.
A sprinkle of insanity and rage.
We like to set the traps, to watch the pain,
To introduce their egos to a cage.
    The sleazy schemes, obscene, will never stop,
    But hiding, watching, waiting, there’s a cop.

Copper for a Cog

by Nick Gisburne

You got some metal, copper for a cog?
My knees are knackered. Pistons on the blink.
I’m nine parts blinded, optics fuzzed with fog.
It makes you wonder, don’t it? Makes you think.
A gent. I smelled the polish on your parts.
The best of ’em’s got servants. Maybe you?
But when the rot, the rusting, when that starts,
There ain’t a lot them fancy pants can do.
No fixing, is there? Bin it, scrap the lot,
And buy a new one, if you’ve got the gold.
Or find a friendly face, a man who’s got
A part or two he’ll never miss. Behold!
    These rascals will escort you round the back.
    Regrettably, you won’t be coming back.

Battlefield Repairs

by Nick Gisburne

The damage isn’t critical, I think,
But these are just my battlefield repairs.
Courageous to a fault, she lets a wink
Remind me she’s the only one who cares.
Perpetually sending us to war,
To skirmishes and fights we never start,
The Overlords, oblivious, ignore
The consequences. Death, to them, is art.
The rumble of a roving thunder truck
Disturbs the fractured interval we share.
I force my partner, painfully, to suck
A shot of gas, before her stitches tear.
    Above, two giant figures, two young boys,
    Design new ways to kill their tortured toys.

Tuesday 20 June 2023

What You Need to Know

by Nick Gisburne

There’s not supposed to be another moon.
How long has that been shining in the sky?
The president is purple, no, maroon.
My broken brain declines to tell me why.
I take a well-deserved escape from work,
But find a smiling cyborg at my door.
Revealing that his maker is a Turk,
He promises to show me so much more.
It’s all a case of what you need to know.
For me, it seems, that’s nothing, so instead
He sends a puff of powder, with a blow,
To swim its way inside my sticky head.
    I hold my breath. I’m sure he doesn’t see.
    Without the drug, the dreamworld, am I free?

Helping You Decide

by Nick Gisburne

We hit them in the heartstrings, and the gut.
A simple slogan, ‘Helping You Decide’,
Conceals the way our workers take a cut:
A payment, cash, for every suicide.
Too many folks, without a place to fit.
The world just isn’t big enough for more,
And so, in squalid, secret rooms, we sit,
Diverting any surplus to the door.
A moral duty. Simple, start with that.
You’ve had your time. Let someone take your place.
The old, the sick, the powerless. We chat.
We pick apart their feelings, face to face.
    Confirm a death, collect, and ring the bell.
    For many it is such an easy sell.

She Dreams

by Nick Gisburne

She dreams of cats with crooked, crimson beaks;
Of tall, transparent dragons without feet;
A box, in which a broken baby speaks,
Lamenting there is no more skin to eat.
She dreams of angels, bleeding in her bed;
Of clockwork monkeys, spitting as they fight;
A screaming phoenix, pecking at the dead,
Who beg to see their nemesis ignite.
She dreams of candles, dripping on her soul;
Of strangers drinking every breath she takes;
A childhood sweetheart thrown into a hole;
The sound as every bone within him breaks.
    She dreams of what she never wants to see.
    She dreams to drown the memories of me.

Monday 19 June 2023

The Vein of Strange

by Nick Gisburne

I tap into the vein of strange, to find
The mysteries no dreams have ever seen.
Defying danger, damage to the mind,
I gaze with bliss, with wonder, at the scene.
The gods themselves could not imagine more.
I bathe in what was never meant to be.
While demons, angels, black and white, abhor
The nightmares, they are light and life to me.
But every secret takes a greater toll.
No twisted revelation is enough.
I sacrifice the centre of my soul
For shocking, strange, imaginary stuff.
    ‘Another’ is the sea in which I sink.
    I take another drug, another drink.

Sunday 18 June 2023

Father of the Fey

by Nick Gisburne

I know that I was Fey. I’m nothing now.
They stole the magic, took away the wings.
I wish I could remember why, or how,
But these are misty, misremembered things.
No matter what I was, I never had
A moment when I knew I could belong.
An unrepenting outcast, I am glad
I’ll never see the Fey, or hear their song.
But here, perhaps, is something I should keep.
A truth, however twisted, cannot lie.
The Fey, if any hear of it, should weep.
A fairy, wretched, ragged, left to die.
    She knew me, knows the Father of the Fey.
    She begs me to return, to make them pay.

The Days Are All the Same

by Nick Gisburne

If I could show you everything I’ve seen,
A world your mind would strain to understand,
The sights, the sounds, and all the points between,
I wouldn’t. Life is barren, boring, bland.
Beneath a dreary surface you will find
A fearful shadow, sealed inside a shell.
I live within the prison of a mind
I don’t deserve. Or do I? Who can tell?
I had my chances, left them all behind,
But not because I never wanted more.
I simply did not have the strength to find
The way, the will, to wander through the door.
    It’s quiet here. The days are all the same.
    You’ll soon forget me, but I’m glad you came.

Play Along

by Nick Gisburne

The woman, wanton, whispers, “Play along,
You’re not the one they want. They’re after me.
The evidence against you isn’t strong.
By sundown, maybe sooner, you’ll be free.”
It wasn’t she who strapped me to a chair,
And screamed that I would suffer if I lied.
Her partner, though she claims they’re not a pair,
Is clearly not a man to be be denied.
A document is offered. “Sign. Confess.”
He waits. She winks. I don’t know what to do.
I’m only certain this is not my mess.
She smiles. She smoulders. “Sign it. Say it’s true.”
    I do it, but they tie me to a stake.
    Perhaps my hormones made a small mistake.

Saturday 17 June 2023

A Twisted Fit

by Nick Gisburne

He grew from something beautiful, a seed,
A ruby, in a universe of dust.
Disgusted by the stink of it, the greed,
He never found a woman he could trust.
And she, from somewhere base and black, a coal,
A blister on the purity of light,
Refused to offer any man her soul,
Corrupting those who cared enough, with spite.
They crashed, collided. Chaos made it so,
Contriving an appalling, twisted fit.
Absurd extremes, with nowhere else to go,
United, each too savage to submit.
    Their infinite, impossible romance
    Burned up, burned out, but sometimes, still, they dance.


by Nick Gisburne

I wake, but not as others might. A pull,
A passion, drags my soul beyond the night.
I sense a small and simple sorrow, full
Of longing, yearning, somehow out of sight.
I seem to see a smile, but I am wrong.
The shadow of a face, a form, but no.
I only feel the fingers of a song.
Its urgent verses tell me where to go.
I walk across a nightmare, through a dream,
A fantasy, but this is not my mind.
I search. I see. I stand beneath a beam,
A vision I was always meant to find.
    A strange enigma pulls me out of place.
    It shows me all the fears I must embrace.

Species A

by Nick Gisburne

Recycles every plastic known to man!
Dramatic data proved it. We were pumped.
The tiny waste disposal bugs began
To feed on what we buried, burned, or dumped.
Miraculous, the insects marched and munched
Through piles of plastic waste and urban sludge.
While arrogant investors laughed and lunched,
The hand of evolution gave a nudge.
They called the rogue mutations ‘Species A’.
A tricky tribe of trouble, they escaped,
And, ever hungry, soon began to prey
On all the tools technology had shaped.
    As every plastic product was consumed,
    We cowered in the darkness, dying, doomed.

Friday 16 June 2023

Born to Be a God

by Nick Gisburne

I can’t control or comprehend a mind
That tells me I was born to be a god.
I am. I’m all that is or was, designed
By nothing. How mysterious. How odd.
If these are thoughts, ideas, they’re the first.
Embarrassing. Do better. Let me try.
I sense... I need... what is this feeling? Thirst?
An emptiness, to fill. With what? And why?
Right there. I made a something. What is that?
Perhaps I need to bless it with a name.
‘Infinity’? Too grand, too formal. ‘Hat’.
Too tiny for my head. Well, that’s a shame.
    It’s tricky, but I’m getting there. Alright,
    To banish darkness, let there be... a kite.

One More Mile

by Nick Gisburne

We’ll do it. One more mile. We have to try.
I know they said we won’t be welcome there.
So what? What other choice is better? Die?
We’re close. We’ll make it. One more mile, I swear.
Forget your father. Never speak his name.
He led us in, but never led us out.
Another bastard, arrogant, the same
Obsessions as the scum behind, the scout.
Don’t look. He knows we know. Don’t give him hope.
Two passes, plus the one from daddy’s hand.
The border guards will grind him into soap
In one more mile. Let’s make him understand.
    The desert gave us something, daughter. See?
    The scout. Is that a smile? Is that for me?