Tuesday, 5 July 2022

Flip the Feed

by Nick Gisburne

The tower shafts, impossible to climb,
Are swamped with greasy sewage from above,
But, as the curfew cannons mark the time,
She activates a treasured traction glove.
A copper locket holds her father’s face,
A hologram she captured as a kid.
The glove he gave her saved him, twice, in space.
The government who failed him never did.
She hauls herself to decadence, to greed,
The opulent abundance of the Ring.
On high, among the pipes, she flips the feed,
A simple but extraordinary thing.
    A message to the mighty where they sit,
    A thousand tons of toxic human shit.

She Is

by Nick Gisburne

A ghost, a nightmare, always near, she is.
Reminders of forgotten fear, she is.
The pain of every tortured nerve, she is.
Whatever damage you deserve, she is.
A broken promise, never whole, she is.
When love is not inside your soul, she is.
Suspicion, scratching at your sight, she is.
The wickedness you failed to fight, she is.
The anguish of a crippled heart, she is.
A chain your weakness pulled apart, she is.
The woman only you could hurt, she is.
Abandoned in the dust, the dirt, she is.
    They speak of her in whispers: “She was his.”
    And in your dreams, your misery, she is.


by Nick Gisburne

Her body pinned, constricted at the neck,
He shaves the insurrection from her skull,
A warning to the watchers on the deck:
Identity is nothing for a Null.
Seditious twists, forbidden beads and braids,
In symmetries too subtle to be seen,
Are shorn and scraped with blunt, unpolished blades,
A crimson smear where meaning might have been.
Injustice done, he throws her to the floor,
And waits for her to thank him. She does not.
A ripple from the Nulls; their pleas implore
Their sister to be servile or be shot.
    She mourns for it. The hair was all she had.
    Defiant, she will die, and she is glad.

Monday, 4 July 2022

The Smallest Step

by Nick Gisburne

Not brave. Not that. Determined is the word,
To battle all the bullshit of the day.
Disabled? No, I’m over that. You heard.
I’m punished by the worries in my way.
I’ll race you, and I’ll beat you, fair and square.
The only way to stop me is a step.
I’m rolling like the road was never there,
And suddenly I’m not. A problem? Yep.
Look hard. Look harder. Tell me what you see.
A wonderland for walkers, not for wheels.
Imagine you were sitting here, with me.
You see it? I do. This is how it feels.
    The smallest step is bigger than you know,
    But take them all away, and watch me go.

Somewhere Not So Hot

by Nick Gisburne

The halls of Hell are locked to sinners, sealed.
The gates which guard Eternity are not.
The damned, their crimes successfully appealed,
Are psyched to shower somewhere not so hot.
Indecent demons sizzle on the ice,
Their passion pokers shrinking, shrivelled, cold,
While minor monsters check the small print, twice,
Before they start to steal Jehovah’s gold.
The occupying angels are upset,
Their whiteness stained by heathen shades of red,
But Jesus warns, “You ain’t seen nothing yet,
Until you’ve had the Devil in your bed.”
    The beard, the boss, the magic man upstairs,
    Is done with it, and simply sighs, “Who cares?”

At the Breach

by Nick Gisburne

Our ships, our souls, assemble at the Breach,
The best of us, to turn away the tide.
The prophecies are punishments; they teach
Apocalypse, but never how to hide.
We failed to see the limits of the lie,
The fallacy that each of us, unique,
Oblivious, untroubled, could defy
A destiny so infinitely bleak.
And so we fight, in unison, in space,
A terror unimaginably vast.
The endlessly expanding human race
Has met its match, its nemesis, at last.
    Outclassed, outgunned, outnumbered, sevenfold,
    We gather at the Breach, the brave, the bold.

A Secular Assassin

by Nick Gisburne

Ignored, she knows that time is on her side,
But none will hurry here to let her in.
A surly watchman, taller, just, than wide,
Identifies the markers on her pin.
Her legion is unwelcome in the Wilds,
A secular assassin least of all.
His eyes, disdainful, wicked, like a child’s,
Dismiss her, but he opens up the wall.
The soldier priests are pleased to let her pass,
Unwilling to conceive she comes for them.
The name, the crime, the sentence, carved in glass,
Bestows in her the power to condemn.
    She finds him, sleeping, just a boy, in bed,
    And sends a single bullet through his head.

Sunday, 3 July 2022

The Cinder Seller

by Nick Gisburne

A shadow in the dirt, among the dogs,
The cinder seller medicates her skin.
A morning of insanitary smogs
Is promised, if the Weather Sat will spin.
The Flawless, in the Spindles of the Wheel,
Are pumped and primed with zero-algae air,
But she, a Squalid, far too blue to heal,
Delivers dirt to bums beyond repair.
Her cinders, scraped from filters in the Fan,
Will suck the slime from breathers thick with snot.
She trades for trash, for carbon if she can,
Whatever shit they steal, however hot.
    Another dying orphan cracks a smile,
    Excited for a cinder from the pile.

A Precious Relic

by Nick Gisburne

The guard is ancient. Always, he’s asleep,
The company too poor to pay a pro.
Beyond his broken snores, disguised, I creep,
Behind the crates of carvings, to the crow.
He stares in silence, sees inside my soul,
A riddle of antiquity, a rock.
A precious relic, he alone is whole,
The last, perhaps the greatest, of his flock.
The hands of heathens touch him every day,
Enslaved by superstition, backward, blind.
Revealed at last, I come to steal away
A talisman the gods themselves designed.
    The guard is ancient. Had I wondered why,
    My hopes would not be dead, and nor would I.

The Knocking Box

by Nick Gisburne

Her eyes are only inches from the box.
She scans the circles, dusky, deeply etched,
Bewildered by the rapid, rhythmic knocks,
Which quicken as her fingers shake, outstretched.
Relentless repetitions, waves of sound,
Reverberating echoes round the room,
Provoke emotions fearful and profound,
A spiral of delight, despair, and doom.
A simple touch evaporates the lock;
The cypher of the circles disappears.
Recoiling at the sight inside, the shock,
She flinches as a sound assaults her ears.
    Two screams of joy, enough to wake the dead.
    Two sweaty fairies, banging on a bed.

Saturday, 2 July 2022

Night Is All I Know

by Nick Gisburne

“Come out! Come out!” I’m happy where I am.
“It’s safe! It is!” It’s not. It never was.
“The war is over!” Couldn’t give a damn.
“Why not? Why stay?” I’ll tell you why. Because...
They burned the only homes we ever had,
And put us in this prison, years ago.
At least we lived, and one day I was glad.
The darkness made me. Night is all I know.
“Who else? Who’s there?” This wasn’t what I planned.
“How many more?” Bad luck. Bad karma. Fate.
“We’re coming in!” You’ll never understand.
“We’re here to help!” Too little, far too late.
    Forgotten. Not surviving. Starving. See?
    So many. Now there’s only meat, and me.

A Flaw

by Nick Gisburne

A fix to make the system better, best,
She crushes every weakness, every flaw.
Incompetent executives, impressed,
Imprudent with their powers, give her more.
Correcting deeper levels of design,
She introduces havoc of her own.
No longer beneficial or benign,
She patches with impunity, alone.
Convinced there is a bolder, better way,
A future without compromise or fault,
She works towards the moment, here, today,
When life, reprogrammed, shudders to a halt.
    A flaw. She sleeps, assuming there are none.
    The system waits, but who will switch it on?

Friday, 1 July 2022

The Mirror of a Memory

by Nick Gisburne

The spirits drift inside her dreams. They feel,
To trace whatever twisted trail they can.
With slender, supple fingers they reveal
The mirror of a memory, a man.
Forgotten in the rubble and the dust,
The sediments of time are swept aside.
Reluctant to remember him, she must.
The portrait is too harrowing to hide.
The face she finds is one she never saw.
The shadows show a man who might have been.
His passing is a rip, forever raw.
The spirits stole her son at seventeen.
    A memory of what will never be.
    A mirror, filled with dreams too dark to see.

The Presidential Brain

by Nick Gisburne

You’re crazy, but I like your face. You’ll do,
The rough and ready knucklehead I need.
A pair of pistols, Deringers, for you,
And money for expenses, as agreed.
You’re curious. Allow me to explain.
The motive for your mission is a lie.
A bullet in the presidential brain
Will not complete the story. This is why:
He never was the president at all.
A clever copy, clockwork to the core.
The government, a shill, a sham, will fall,
A storm to reignite the Civil War.
    Tonight the world will tremble at the truth.
    Good luck to you. Good hunting, Mr Booth.

Something I Am Not

by Nick Gisburne

I can’t be sure. I think I’m one of them.
My senses say I’m human. Would they lie?
The core of any mechanoid, the stem,
Is built to bend reality, or try.
Mechanicals who don’t know what they are
Were banned before the latest batch was bred,
But avarice has always raised the bar;
For money, gangs will hijack any head.
My paranoia doesn’t make me wrong.
I feel it. I’m a sabotaged machine.
By all the laws of life, I don’t belong,
Degenerate, unnatural, unclean.
    I will not live as something I am not.
    If I am right I’ll never take the shot.

Thursday, 30 June 2022

Embrace Me

by Nick Gisburne

Embrace me, what I am and will become,
A prodigy, a creature of the deep.
Beneath the seas, in darkness, I am numb,
But warmer waters wake my soul from sleep.
I surface, cracked, decrepit, haggard, old.
By night, I take a body, younger, strong.
His vessel, sturdy, easily controlled,
Returns me to the land where I belong.
The breath, the heat, the fear on which I feed,
Was never so delicious, not like this,
The beautiful, the soft, the supple, freed
From sorrow with the comfort of a kiss.
    I come to claim the light, to steal your dreams.
    Embrace me, in the shiver of your screams.

A Bootleg Resurrection

by Nick Gisburne

Your bootleg resurrection is complete.
Complete success, though maybe not for you.
That overwhelming eagerness to eat
Will never be relieved by steak, or stew.
Remember you were dead, but now you’re not?
And when I said the surgery was cheap?
You lost a little blood. In fact, a lot.
You’ll chuckle when I tell you this. Or weep.
We had to call for backup: Doctor Vlad.
It’s why you’re in a coffin, and it’s night.
Your future isn’t altogether bad,
Unless you see a crucifix, or light.
    I’ve brought you something: Jessica, a snack.
    You’ll know you’re full when both your eyes turn black.

A Wall of Glass

by Nick Gisburne

Partitioned by history, hatred, and glass,
Two sides of a city, two dissonant dreams.
A wall, through which nothing but malice may pass,
Embodies the loathing of spiteful extremes.
Two factions, two flavours, the red and the blue,
Forever at war, in the heart, in the mind.
The friction is old, but the fury is new.
The wall is a window, dividing the blind.
They see what they scorn, what they truly despise,
A bickering opposite, dangerous, dark.
The glass of the barrier narrows their eyes,
Their focus unfailing, their vitriol stark.
    Two siblings, the border between them too tall,
    Their distance defined by the glass of a wall.

Wednesday, 29 June 2022

Twitchy Agatha’s Cat

by Nick Gisburne

Inviting Twitchy Agatha for tea,
The Order of Excruciating Monks
Unleash their legs with disconcerting glee,
And chop them into fondue-friendly chunks.
Their guest, equipped with skewers and a smile,
Rotates a meaty morsel in the cheese.
A string of it, one quarter of a mile,
Constricts her cat, but fumigates its fleas.
Entangled in the gorgonzola goo,
The frenzied feline’s undulating tongue,
Infused with fish and flatulent fondue,
Concocts a clumsy carol, sweetly sung.
    The legless Order, aching to impress,
    Baptise the cat, to which it yodels, “Yes!”

Another Savage Sunday

by Nick Gisburne

Another savage Sunday afternoon,
Sadistic tortures cranking to the max.
The Bureau needs to break this bastard soon.
We push a stronger poison through the cracks.
With every cut or chemical, we strive
To tap another trauma, vicious, new.
He will not leave this agony alive.
He’s knows it. There is nothing he can do.
Dehumanised, a wisp away from death,
The bridge to blessed sleep is never crossed.
We cannot let him form that final breath,
For, with his soul, his secrets will be lost.
    The arbiters of evil, only we
    Find pleasure in the suffering we see.