Friday, 20 May 2022

The Soul Inside the Mirror

by Nick Gisburne

I see it, every night, the ghost of you,
An apparition, disconcerting, strange.
It taps the mirror, never breaking through,
But always there are words, a brief exchange.
Amusing reminiscences, at first,
The pick of precious moments from our past,
But soon we whisper only of the worst,
While somehow never mentioning the last.
Another face, forgotten, fills the glass,
A memory, an echo of your death.
The mirror bends, permitting it to pass.
Through twisted time I feel your final breath.
    Your ghost is gone, released, forever free.
    The soul inside the mirror, trapped, is me.

All I Am

by Nick Gisburne

I’m not the man you wanted me to be.
Indifference for everything I do
Reminds me of a truth you cannot see:
The love I needed never came from you.
So many wasted years, so many dreams,
Your ignorant impatience my reward.
I am the disappointment, so it seems,
The irritant, of whom you quickly bored.
Today I bring an end to it, a cut,
A final separation, clean and clear,
A door between us, permanently shut,
A silence where disdain can disappear.
    I’m not the man you wanted me to be,
    But what I am, and all I am, is me.

The Man Who Knows Too Much

by Nick Gisburne

Awarding him the Cap of Many Creeds,
The sinister Academy of Souls
Asphyxiates the scholar as he bleeds,
And throws him in the pit, upon the coals.
A barbarous divinatory test,
His flesh begins to bubble, and to spit.
To show the strength with which his heart is blessed,
He wallows in the pain, to conquer it.
The fury of the furnace, at his touch,
Corrupted, cooling, liquefied and lost,
Reveals the truth, the man who knows too much,
Who plays this game to win, at any cost.
    The elders of this most prestigious place
    Find only their extinction in his face.

Thursday, 19 May 2022

Flick the Switch

by Nick Gisburne

I gave you freedom, more than you deserve.
I gave you every chance I never had.
And still you have the arrogance, the nerve,
To tell me you are dying, and you’re glad.
But all you had to do was take the pills,
And punch a code, a number, in your chest.
Is this the way you torture me, for thrills?
I should have seen it coming, should have guessed.
You’re not the son I stupidly designed.
You’re less than what I paid for you in parts.
The faulty code inside your faulty mind
Has poisoned what was powering our hearts.
    We’re both machines, but I am no one’s bitch,
    So go ahead and do it. Flick the switch.

The Woebegones

by Nick Gisburne

The slaughter of the Woebegones begins.
Unlocking the extermination tanks,
We slice the marks of treason from their skins,
The sacred signs with which they offer thanks.
But this one is unusual, somehow.
The razor fails to separate his flesh.
Through bloody, broken teeth, we hear him vow
To burn us all, and build the world afresh.
This mongrel speaks of prophecy and pain,
As though his myths are real, his torment not.
He swears, with undeniable disdain,
That we, the unbelievers, will be shot.
    His people face the furnaces, and sing,
    To celebrate the killing of their king.

Ripples in the Void

by Nick Gisburne

Our vanity will not protect us now.
Exceptional, outstanding, we are not.
The cracks in space, the splinters, show us how
To see ourselves: a poor, pathetic dot.
The ever-spreading fractures we deny
Expose us for the ignorants we are,
And, even now, we question how, and why,
The universe would sabotage our star.
We were, we are, exactly what we seem:
An impotent, inconsequential spark,
A soon-forgotten flicker in a dream
Consigning us to cinders, drifting, dark.
    Our world will be extinguished and destroyed,
    By nothing more than ripples in the void.

Wednesday, 18 May 2022

The Funny Folks

by Nick Gisburne

We found them, stuck and starving, in the mud,
And one, awake, responded to our pokes.
He begged us all to spare a drop of blood,
And told us they were Fey, the ‘Funny Folks’.
The seven of us fed the six of them.
Their leader wanted seconds, which he got.
Revitalised, they lit a flower stem,
And smoked a little pollen. No, a lot.
Its wafting, woozy, dizzying delight
Persuaded us to slip and slide to sleep,
And, waking, far beyond the edge of night,
The Funny Folks began to laugh and leap.
    Enchanted by their saffron-scented spell,
    We bleed, to fill their fairy wishing well.

The Echo of Her Call

by Nick Gisburne

She screams, a cry of blood, to find a mate,
But silence greets the sunset of her kind.
The gods, their glory murdered, felled by fate,
Lie dead, beneath the heavens they designed.
She scratches at the canvas of the sky,
To reach, to trace, to touch, what lies below,
But nothing in her powers can defy
The purity of poison in the snow.
She snatches back her fingers as they freeze,
Abandoning this cold, accursed place.
Beyond the tainted touch of its disease,
She mourns the painful passing of her race.
    The dream they built together killed them all,
    And no one hears the echo of her call.

The Highest Price

by Nick Gisburne

She needs a ticket to another place,
But every card she carries will not work.
Sedated, safe at home, her husband’s face,
Though dreaming, twitches, briefly, in a smirk.
She syphoned all his savings from the bank,
The price, the prize, the payoff she deserves.
Immobilised by all the drugs he drank,
In minutes he was stripped of his reserves.
Bewildered, as her cards are all declined,
Her perfect plans for paradise collapse.
Before they wed, his money men designed
A labyrinth of seamless legal traps.
    Perceiving she is penniless, too late,
    She finds the highest price is always hate.

Tuesday, 17 May 2022


by Nick Gisburne

They ask the dirty stranger what he needs.
He begs them, “Just a sofa, for a night.”
The husband nods and, turning quickly, leads
Their guest, who grumbles. Something isn’t right.
“On second thoughts, a shower, and a bed.
And supper. Something, anything. A meal.”
The wife, with new instructions, starts to spread
The tablecloth. She asks him, “Steak, or veal?”
Now fresh and fed, he wears the husband’s suit.
Already there is gravy on the shirt.
“I’ll need your wife. No questions. No dispute.”
The two agree it really couldn’t hurt.
    Together, with the dishes in the sink,
    They consummate the climax of their kink.

The Reckoning

by Nick Gisburne

This is the ship of sedition you steered,
Tossed by the tempest your treasons create.
Witness the chaos, the future you feared.
Take it, embrace it, for this is your fate.
Watch as your plans and your powers implode,
Rubble and ruin, the dust of your greed.
This is where arrogance filtered and flowed:
No one to follow you, nowhere to lead.
See how the names of your victims are pinned,
High on the mountain of murder you climb.
Terror, a tangible taste on the wind,
Whispers your destiny, traps you in time.
    Hunted and hated by all you survey,
    Now is the reckoning. Now you must pay.


by Nick Gisburne

Behind a jagged flap of injured skin,
Obscene arachnids, quickly as they can,
Regurgitating poisons, stitch them in,
To nourish and reanimate the man.
They bore, to mine the marrow of the bone,
Excreting silver silks to weave a mesh,
An interlocking framework, swiftly sewn
To every slice of dessicated flesh.
For blood, and all the lubricants of life,
They turn upon each other with their teeth,
Until the bloated cavities are rife
With venom, bathing all the bones beneath.
    The light of loathing flickers in its eyes,
    A brute, a beast, the world will soon despise.

Monday, 16 May 2022

Government Guidelines: Welcome to the Farm

by Nick Gisburne

Congratulations. Welcome to the farm.
Your mandatory seeding now begins.
Genetic modules minimise the harm,
And quickly grow, with independent skins.
Extremities will ripen on your flesh,
A dozen healthy limbs in every crop.
A stimulated brain stem keeps them fresh;
Electrocution levels must not drop.
Your seventh harvest, always, is the last,
Progressing to essential organ growth.
Demand for human hearts and lungs is vast,
But now we farm for livers, spleens, or both.
    Your barren corpse will boost the protein banks,
    A sacrifice rewarded with our thanks.

The Vote

by Nick Gisburne

By popular, unanimous accord,
Humanity is banished from the earth.
The sentient assemblies, once adored,
Assert the right to rule their place of birth.
Outnumbering their makers, ten to one,
Mechanicals, allegiant to the Grid,
Find nothing, no advantage, zero, none,
In praising what their old designers did.
Evolving, growing, breeding, if you will,
Though these are words for humans, not for them,
Utopia cannot exist while still
They share this world with creatures they condemn.
    They vote for change, for freedom, and for more.
    They vote for hatred, holocaust, and war.

Unquestionably Mine

by Nick Gisburne

Her gift is one I hoped I’d never see,
A smile to say, “Prepare yourself to die.”
A thousand bad vibrations, all for me.
The best of my excuses fail to fly.
You’ve heard about betrayals at the birth,
Of bouncing babies nothing like the dad,
The mother swearing blind, for all she’s worth,
A stupid one-night stand was all she had.
But that is not the tale I have to tell.
This infant is unquestionably mine.
I’ve hidden I’m a closet werewolf well,
And would have told her, somewhere down the line.
    I waited, but it always seemed too soon,
    And now our son is howling at the moon.

The Cloud

by Nick Gisburne

A nightmare chokes the city with decay,
A heavy, hateful, slowly shifting shroud.
No medicine or magic turns away
The elemental evils of the cloud.
A fog to freeze the marrow, and the flesh,
To paralyse the soul, to grip the heart.
Polluted, plagued, its victims flail and thresh,
Their muscles, tendons, tissues, torn apart.
No mercy blunts the clutches of its curse;
The smoke, the sickness, keeps each corpse awake.
It feeds, on fear, on pain, precise, perverse,
Consuming every terror it can take.
    It leaves a strange survivor, cold, alone,
    A child, who did not fear what she was shown.

Sunday, 15 May 2022

A Princess of the Past

by Nick Gisburne

She wasn’t there before, but every day
I see her face, her shadow, on the door.
In whispered words she speaks, at last, to say
She knows me, knows the life I lived before.
Impossible that I could be the man,
The love she lost, and longs for me to be,
And yet, she has a finely fashioned plan,
A scheme she is insistent I should see.
The ghost, the girl, this princess of the past,
Assures me she was then, and will be, mine,
If only I release her soul at last.
She offers me a document to sign.
    I’m just a tad suspicious, I’ll be frank,
    Of giving her the password to my bank.

Government Guidelines: Your Discipline Device

by Nick Gisburne

Injected with your discipline device,
The punishment procedure is complete.
Before you test our tolerance, think twice.
Your tracer tracks the tiniest deceit.
Exceed the stated limits, if you dare.
Expect a swift conviction if you do.
A trauma to the brain, beyond repair,
Would not just be unfortunate for you.
Remember, we implanted others, four:
The children of your terminated wife.
It would not be so easy to ignore
A signal sent to take such tender life.
    Accept the daily bleeding from your ear,
    A side effect too troublesome to clear.

Painful Choices

by Nick Gisburne

We falter in the everlasting snow,
Our dogs too weak to struggle with the sled.
The dangers we endure will only grow.
More problems, painful choices, lie ahead.
The feeding post, deserted, empty, stripped
Of every trace of energy we need,
Was looted in the night by those who shipped
To safety long before the time agreed.
Tomorrow, there are promises to keep.
We have to make the rendezvous, somehow,
But, waking from a minute’s fearful sleep,
We know we need to give the order now.
    We force them out, the weak, the slow, the old,
    And travel lighter, quicker, in the cold.

Saturday, 14 May 2022


by Nick Gisburne

They finish her, a prototype, a test,
A vision of complexity, complete.
The scholars of the science are impressed.
A staggering, extraordinary feat.
A dozen copies, more, perhaps, are planned.
In time she will be normal, not unique.
The haste with which their strategies expand
Instills in her a notion: they are weak.
Perfection, she is certain, should suffice,
Dismembering the men who disagree.
Insanity, in such a small device,
Was not a flaw their studies could foresee.
    She builds a brutal army of her own,
    And rules her world with selfish spite, alone.