Saturday 9 December 2023

Where Christmas Cannot Call

by Nick Gisburne

Every Christmas calls with warmth and welcome, friendship, laughter, love,
But inside they hide deceptions, dressed as blessings from above.
Every box you ever opened, every gift you ever gave,
Mocks the misery of someone you will never see, or save.

In your stable, safe surroundings, in the calm to which you cling,
Or the rowdy, raucous party where you drink, and dance, and sing,
As you celebrate the season, spare a moment, simple, small,
To remind yourself of all the places Christmas cannot call.

To the victims of the wars whose children never chose to fight.
To the innocents. Their bodies bear the scars of scorn and spite.
To the failures, who will taste the tainted promise of a pill.
To the traumatised, who long to live, but know they never will.

To the dreamers. Rolling waves of terror pound the shores of sleep.
To the moments when the cold and lonely drunkards wake to weep.
To the starving poor, the dispossessed we cast aside, the scum.
To the sight, the smell, the taste of what their shadows have become.

To the filthy streets, corrupted by uncompromising greed.
To the gullible, the herds of helpless fools more lies mislead.
To the beautiful, their fresh and flawless faces doubly blessed.
To the fast-approaching future, when they fade with all the rest.

To the men and women, old, alone, who no one cares to call.
To the fugitives, who find themselves betrayed behind a wall.
To the couples, caught, imprisoned in a lifeless, loveless cage.
To the years they bend and break each other, battered, burned by rage.

To the penitents, whose blood will pay for what they never did.
To the fathers, their protectors, but the beasts from whom they hid.
To the followers, too fearful of their faith to doubt its truth.
To the nameless and the numberless, polluted in their youth.

To the love, unrecognisable, unworthy of the name.
To the hatred, tangled tight inside, the tortures it became.
To the smiling faces, painted by abuse on every head.
To the feeling, fear, we recognise, but only when they’re dead.

To the children who will never know another Christmas Day.
To the mothers, fathers, stolen, slaughtered, spirited away.
To the hungry, to the homeless, to their frozen, empty eyes.
To the pitiful, the powerless, the dregs we demonise.

To the multitudes who still believe the stories in a book.
To the long-forgotten light they might discover if they look.
To the avarice we value, to the charity we shun.
To the vanity polluting every daughter, every son.

To the governments infected by the snakes who sneak inside.
To the souls for whom the most important choices are denied.
To the pain of cold reality, when hope at last is lost.
To the day when every one of us is forced to count the cost.

To the jaded generations, each more bitter than before.
To the lowest, left with nothing, while the strongest squander more.
To the vain, for whom salvation lives a hundred clicks away.
To the beggars forced to put their lives, degraded, on display.

To the wannabes, inventing bigger lies with every boast.
To the sick, the scared, the scorned, who need humanity the most.
To the everyday unveiling of a terminal disease.
To the sight of someone pleading for the answers, on their knees.

To the bullied, who will pass it down to someone smaller, weak.
To the stark, sadistic screams of anger, bloody, black, and bleak.
To the girls who cry, unheeded, in their pillows, no means no.
To the gangs who find another brother strangled in the snow.

To the traitors selling secrets, from their corridors of doom.
To the world they want for all of us, a dark, depressing tomb.
To the screens on which the intimate, the precious, has no worth.
To the feverish believers in a sacred virgin birth.

To the young, who will inherit only poverty and pain.
To the worst of us, but who they are no science can explain.
To the masses who refuse to make a stand to save the day.
To the suffering they see, but in a second step away.

To the past. It seemed the perfect place to listen, look, and learn.
To the present, where the wisdom we were given we will burn.
To the future, to the prize we lost before the race was run.
To the end of it, when everything we did becomes undone.

When you gather at the table, when you fall upon the feast,
Will you spare a bare, abusive thought for those you love the least?
Is there Christmas in your spirit, or a jagged hole to fill,
When you think of all you could have done, but know you never will?

You were lucky. Fate and fortune brought a bounty to your door,
But the world is full of painful portraits, people needing more.
Are you safe? Perhaps. Be sure, because it’s not so far to fall,
To the nightmare, to the nowhere place, where Christmas cannot call.

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.