Tuesday, 27 September 2022

Pretending to Be Kings

by Nick Gisburne

We used to play, pretending to be kings,
Enchanted by the magic of the moon,
But simple, sweet, imaginary things
Were stolen from our fingertips, too soon.
Remember how we thundered into war,
The battles on the beaches, in the trees.
In breathless wonder, eager to explore,
We swam and sang and marched for miles, with ease.
Adventures, stories, legends. We were there,
In storms of stardust, glittering with gold,
But no one ever warned us to prepare
For days when all our dreams would crumble, cold.
    When kingdoms fly and flourish, fall and fade,
    We see them, in the memories we made.

A Shimmering Immortal

by Nick Gisburne

Triumphant to be first to hold the head,
I falter, faint, afraid to make the move,
The power of her presence, even dead,
A mystery my work is primed to prove.
Reports, relayed by telegram, to me,
Rejected by the faculty, of course,
Were always too profound for some to see,
But here I stand, as witness, at the source.
A goddess, fallen, locked in limbo, lost,
A shimmering immortal, Mother Earth,
Will wake beyond the barrier she crossed,
To bring this world new light, new life, new birth.
    With stolen spices, smuggled from the south,
    I drip a charm of mischief in her mouth.


by Nick Gisburne

All of us saw it. Susanna was sick,
Something inside her so terribly wrong.
Radical surgery, savage but slick,
Twisted revisions, too many, too strong.
Flawless was all that she wanted to be,
Fixing her failings, correcting their crimes.
Nothing convinced her to listen to me,
Even the pain, in the darkest of times.
Others abandoned her, walking away,
Every rejection a stab in the back.
I was the last of them, pleading to stay,
Cancelled and cut in a vicious attack.
    Nothing could save her from death at the end.
    Flawless, to me, to her father, her friend.

Monday, 26 September 2022

Another Poisoned Politician

by Nick Gisburne

Oh please. You’re nothing special, nothing new.
Your message is a mix of muddled lies,
Another poisoned politician who,
In common with his comrades, we despise.
Percentage points, minorities, the young,
Are perfect propaganda, but the polls
Determine you are destined to be hung,
With all your party’s superficial souls.
The public will not countenance your kind.
Beware, before such folly bets the farm.
Your manifesto, shamelessly designed,
Has one objective, one intent: do harm.
    Perhaps, without resistance, you could win,
    But we are waiting. We are strong. Begin.

Midday Meetings

by Nick Gisburne

You’re skinny, but I like that in a boy,
The hunger, tawdry, tasteless, in your eyes.
Degenerate, unusual, a toy,
My little indiscreet and painful prize.
Enchanted by intelligence, by you,
I fear for what my morals have become.
Directed by the deviance I do,
I realise before you I was numb.
I know these midday meetings cannot last.
Allow me, please, to beg you, while they do.
Be kind, until our dalliance has passed.
I want, I need, I must, remember you.
    I flourish with the tenderness I see,
    Becoming what you make me want to be.

A Willing Worker

by Nick Gisburne

Be quick, efficient. Hurry! Don’t delay.
No time, no chance to educate your brain.
Ambition? Fold that foolishness away.
Become a willing worker we can train.
The dull and dreary grind of daily work
Will pay you, just, the minimum to live.
Your supervisor, smiling, with a smirk,
Has little golden stars he loves to give.
Congratulations, worker of the week,
You drained yourself more deeply than the rest.
The future, sadly, bitterly, is bleak;
Your betters are not easily impressed.
    Expendable, disposable, you sweat,
    Deserving all the praise you never get.


by Nick Gisburne

Inhuman undesirables move in.
They breathe the black pollution we do not,
Absorbing toxins, taken through the skin,
Productive in the sun, however hot.
In this, the world we broke, they are the glue.
Without them we would crack and fall apart.
For every dirty job we cannot do,
A sentient inhuman has the heart.
We scorn them as the slaves they truly are,
Mechanicals, expendable and cheap,
But safe inside our cities, from afar,
Oblivious, we do not see them weep.
    In ignorance, in bliss, we are too numb
    To notice how inhuman we become.

Sunday, 25 September 2022

The Seeds

by Nick Gisburne

Always an afterthought, always ignored,
Always the negative nobody needs,
Worthless, the wicked will find their reward,
Poisonous agents of evil, the seeds.
Armies of misery, legions of rage,
Servants who scream with the hunger of hate,
Spectres, the dead of a dangerous age,
Fallen from grace, in the shadowlands, wait.
I am their maker, their master, their king,
Sword of my soldiers, the sacred who serve.
Angels of Mercy, to Heaven I bring
Sorrow and suffering, all you deserve.
    Kneel to the nightmare, to darkness, divine.
    Weep as I make your infinity mine.

Embracing Apocalypse

by Nick Gisburne

Trapped in the tunnels, the furious crush,
Helplessly caught in the core of the crowd,
Beggars and bankers, the low to the lush,
Stumble to plead for their place in the Cloud.
Audio flash from the Primary Port:
Damage, a shuttle unable to fly.
Staggered by news of the quota, cut short,
Even the closest, the quickest, may die.
Out in the open, the skin of the sun
Shimmers with radiance, ready to burst.
Earth, in its final rotation, now spun,
Shudders, embracing apocalypse, cursed.
    Dawning reality. Screaming, they know.
    Death is for all of them. Nowhere to go.

Saturday, 24 September 2022


by Nick Gisburne

We build our great utopia at last,
Perfection, in a spotless city state,
A glittering metropolis, so vast
We cannot see the cancer we create.
Away from want, from envy, grudge or greed,
A splendid summer, flawless, brings the fall.
Without the pain of struggle, we are freed
From any sense of service to the sprawl.
The harvest moon releases hate and rage,
Emotions we no longer understand.
What might have been a glowing, gilded age
Is paralysed, a plague we never planned.
    Perfection without purpose. We are lost,
    And find our fate in winter’s final frost.

Tomorrow’s Messiah

by Nick Gisburne

Stealing the breath of a crucified son,
Spinning its essence for shimmering thread,
Weaving the cloth of a god, it is done,
All for the shroud of the martyr who fled.
Here was no hero, no virtuous man,
Only a criminal, always a thief.
Cornered, confronted, convicted, he ran.
Silent, we swim in our meaningless grief.
How did the mystery’s madness begin?
Why should we ever remember his name?
Blinded, we bury this body of skin,
Gullible pawns in a devious game.
    Maybe too twisted, the story, for some.
    Wait for tomorrow’s messiah to come.

Friday, 23 September 2022

Without the Cult

by Nick Gisburne

With fury, for the feeble, for the weak,
She cuts her Cult’s connection to the Cube.
In seconds, in a storm of preacher-speak,
A true believer slithers through her tube.
The novice, Brother Benjamin, a boy,
Can no more fix her sabotage than she,
But, as he chokes, she chooses to enjoy
The disappointing whimper of his plea.
Without the pulse to modify the mind,
A thousand of her sisters, servants, wake,
And she, with fearless frenzy, helps them find
The circuit in the system, theirs, to break.
    The god, the ghost, the master of their minds,
    Without the Cube, without the Cult, unwinds.

Artimangas Day

by Nick Gisburne

When Carcufrey Geniatass the First
Deodifies his Lusinary Clan,
The Yanders of Kalasdian, dispersed,
Begin to shuck this shammer of a man.
Receptilating, hungled at their Hax,
A trum, truckanish yanga starls the soom.
With captifolded cant, awained in wax,
As muccalings they bind a glanding boom.
At curum fall, on Artimangas Day,
A legiate of Tarroshantic Turgs
Apprangs the great beniator with bey,
Before the Unciada burst their burghs.
    As mooga fills the Sallans of her Seek,
    The Calitrix, Kavana, drinks the Deek.

Thursday, 22 September 2022

The Nobody You Were

by Nick Gisburne

You worthless man. You sorry sack of shit.
What foul misfortune made you marry me?
We took the road together, but the split?
Don’t blame it on your bitch. I saw. I see.
Deceit, a cancer swimming in your spine,
Corrupted every bone I long to break,
The subtle signs I struggled to define,
Oblivious, with all my dreams at stake.
Voracious for the novelty, the prize,
The life you took from me, then found in her,
At least you gave me something to despise,
Remembering the nobody you were.
    The two of you, so peaceful in our bed.
    I’m ready to forgive you, now you’re dead.

Wednesday, 21 September 2022

The Grand Manipulator

by Nick Gisburne

She knows she is the first to fight his rage.
The others inconveniently ran.
Today she turns a vicious, crimson page
To tell a shameful story of the man.
Each brutal inclination, each excess,
Too dangerous, too cold to be condoned,
Lies buried by his glittering success,
By all the passive prey he ever owned.
Repeating what his hunger brought before,
On every eager innocent, he feeds.
But she, at last, refused to be his whore.
For her the grand manipulator bleeds.
    Impervious to threats, or slurs, or steel,
    To him, to power, she will never kneel.

Tuesday, 20 September 2022

Fed by Fear

by Nick Gisburne

Euphoric as I suckle at the soul,
Corrupted by the struggle, fed by fear,
I strive to save some semblance of control
Before the body’s breath can disappear.
While others lure the living to their fate,
My appetites are not so quickly quenched.
A spirit, stolen early, or too late,
Will shatter if inelegantly wrenched.
The boy, so passive, eager to submit,
Too late awakens flavours of regret.
By seven of his brothers I am split,
But I will not be butchered by them, yet.
    They understand their lunacy, too late.
    Tonight I find a feast to fill my plate.

On the List

by Nick Gisburne

She slips a sly corruption through the scan,
Too subtle to be spotted in the code,
A secret shift her tapped-in middleman
Disperses through the network, every node.
To those who know, her signal spits a name,
A target, one more lowlife on the list,
A bureaucratic snake who bears the blame
For crimes too confidential to exist.
By morning, by coincidence, by chance,
An accident befalls the hapless man.
The bulletins, supportive in their stance,
Retreat behind a lie, because they can.
    She works to prime the pieces of a text,
    The trigger for another, for the next.

Monday, 19 September 2022


by Nick Gisburne

Perfection? No. Defective, broken, bent.
Your maker, I am sure, would be ashamed.
From what appalling nightmare were you sent?
What stutter in the system should be blamed?
An acid bomb. The vicious hand of hate.
No factory can remedy such rot.
But I, with my mechanics, can create
A stable state their clumsiness could not.
Your cyborg skin is burned, beyond repair,
But luck preserved the data of the brain.
We have a body, fit and fresh, a spare,
A medical anomaly, insane.
    Illegal, but without it you will die.
    The standard terms of slavery apply.

Sunday, 18 September 2022

A Lunatic Utopia

by Nick Gisburne

A meaningless melange of mindless rules.
A government without the sense to care.
A lunatic utopia for fools.
How ludicrous to learn that we are there.
At every turn the sensible is cracked,
Revealing what was fiction once, a fear.
The freedom to reject the rot attacked,
When those who see or say it disappear.
We shiver, ineffectual, repressed,
While grifters, shysters, villains, preach and pray.
Perhaps we should have wondered why, or guessed
That only power makes the system pay.
    We break beneath the brutal boot of might,
    And none of us, not one of us, will fight.

A Heavy Head

by Nick Gisburne

His greatest gift, a huge and heavy head,
The space to store a legendary brain,
Confines him to a gloomy garden shed,
In which he feeds a vulnerable vein.
The grisly cocktail keeps him, just, alive,
But every day the skull, insistent, grows.
With loathing, and a potent, private drive,
He poisons what he senses, what he knows.
A conduit, connected to the earth,
Completed with a potpourri of parts,
Engages an electrical rebirth
For those who think to hate him in their hearts.
    With mad, malicious glee, the monster hops,
    While every head, on every human, pops.

Saturday, 17 September 2022

Who Dares to Drink?

by Nick Gisburne

At daybreak you will feel the venom’s worst,
Distorted, drained through secret seams of space.
To see your mind evaporate and burst
Is payment for the paradise you chase.
The psychedelic sunlight of the spell
Will scatter broken shadows through your soul,
A spiralling obscenity, a swell,
Impossible to capture or control.
A multicoloured madness will remain,
A message, etched forever in your mind,
A ruinous corruption of the brain,
Designed to twist the spirit bad or blind.
    The potion is more potent than you think.
    Who dares to take a taste? Who dares to drink?

The Shadow You Become

by Nick Gisburne

When evil burns, reflected in the glass,
Command the waves of witchery you see.
The arrogance, the dreams of man, must pass.
To you alone the light will bend its knee.
Embrace the curse, the shadow you become,
Avenger of antiquity’s demise.
Before this world was placid, peaceful, numb,
The screams of burning angels split the skies.
The ecstasy of innocence, destroyed,
Of purity and pleasure, ground to dust,
Will echo in the darkness of the void.
To suffering, to sorrow, pledge your lust.
    The wise and worthy beg behind their doors.
    Extinguish them. The universe is yours.

Friday, 16 September 2022

The Sight

by Nick Gisburne

He draws our secrets, everything we are,
The mysteries his mind was never told,
Insanely detailed sketches of our star,
The worlds we left behind us, cursed and cold.
He threatens us, to shame our lives, our lies,
To bring us to the justice we deserve.
Exhibiting no panic, no surprise,
From none of his convictions do we swerve.
Bewildered by the wonders of The Sight,
He looks upon what all of us can see.
The gift we share is his by birth, by right,
A glimpse at what we were, and want to be.
    He understands. His journey has begun.
    The Sight gives pride and purpose to our son.

Thursday, 15 September 2022

A Grievance

by Nick Gisburne

You left me, lost, alone, afraid, to die,
Abandoned on a filthy, frozen moon,
But something found me, fed me. What, or why,
You’ll know when I return to see you, soon.
It asked me, once, what brought me to this place,
Digesting every detail, all I knew,
Then snarled to see the photograph, the face,
For now we share a bond, a grievance. You.
I shouldn’t be alive. Perhaps I’m not.
The memory, still hazy, never clears.
My sanity, susceptible to rot,
Is damaged by the sum of all my fears.
    Your treason gave me purpose, and a friend,
    But more, I found the means to make your end.

Wake Up

by Nick Gisburne

You’re dreaming. This is progress, this is good,
But this is not the life you thought you had.
The pieces of the past you understood
Were put there to protect you from the bad.
We dragged you from a dangerous disease,
Extinguished its intolerable pain,
But always you were difficult to please,
Denying what we painted in your brain.
We tried to hide what is and isn’t real,
But saw you, somehow, sabotage the lie.
We never wanted hope to break the deal.
Remember us. Remember this. Goodbye.
    Wake up, to find the world you always knew:
    Reality, where dreams are never true.

Wednesday, 14 September 2022

A Shadow in the Ruins

by Nick Gisburne

A shadow in the ruins, wet, she waits,
Disgusted as the nomads gnaw their meat.
Concealed behind the broken border gates,
She prays her scent will not reveal her seat.
No veterans, no bounty hunting scum,
But handy with a weapon nonetheless,
These traders, hauling junk from slum to slum,
Would kill her cold, in seconds, with finesse.
The foulest of the foursome, fat and fed,
Declares his wish to desecrate her land.
He squats behind a fallen statue’s head,
But feels her cold, her claws, and cannot stand.
    She drags him to the marshes, through the weeds,
    To flay his flesh, euphoric as she feeds.

A Monster’s Manifesto

by Nick Gisburne

The bondage of bureaucracy begins,
With subtleties of delicate design,
To hammer at the souls beneath our skins.
The skies will break before they shatter mine.
Submissive, pawns of power, we are fools,
The sheep who see their slaughter as a gift.
Distorted by unfathomable rules,
Our freedoms wither, daily, as we drift.
For thunderous rebellion, for war,
A monster’s manifesto I create.
My words, my whispers, warned them once before.
Today they will be listening, too late.
    The world will know what I, in death, have done,
    And witness what my malice has begun.

Tuesday, 13 September 2022

An Empty Triumph

by Nick Gisburne

The seven of us barely clear the cut,
And two are dropped by trackers in the trees.
Intruder traps secure the seams. They shut
Another brother’s body in their squeeze.
A problem blows a bullet through the plan:
Our scanners flash, but fail to make a match.
No time, no choice. We sacrifice a man.
His body bomb annihilates the latch.
The tunnels boil with black, genetic smoke,
But nothing we were not expecting, yet.
Man down, another. Visor cracked. His choke
So hideous I struggle to forget.
    An empty triumph; nothing here to kill.
    How many more beyond this filthy hill?

Primrose Punks

by Nick Gisburne

The Punks prepare an ambush for the snatch,
Psychotic Fey, no kinsmen of the Queen.
Before her precious eggs, her dragons, hatch,
They steal them, in a storm of gold and green.
Two legions of the fearsome Flower Guard
Are slaughtered in the Elemental Wood.
The Queen, her wings in tatters, twisted, charred,
Retreats, the threat of murder understood.
Unruffled, knowing something they do not,
Returning to the wilderness, she waits.
The eggs, beyond her care, begin to rot,
And those who took them curse their twisted fates.
    As dragon maggots strip their silver skins,
    The Primrose Punks are punished for their sins.

The Grave of God

by Nick Gisburne

We gather at the grave of God to pray,
But recognise how futile is our fear.
The terror of the moment drains away.
We know, at last, our Lord was never near.
He died before belief was ever born.
How weak he was, how impotent, how small.
We try to find the reverence to mourn,
But only shame is summoned by the call.
The paradise he promised was a lie,
Eternity impossible to give.
Millennia were wasted on him. Why?
The fraud we find did not deserve to live.
    For something more, to comfort us, we yearn,
    But from this trick, this travesty, we turn.

Monday, 12 September 2022

Selected for the Feast

by Nick Gisburne

The teacher carves her sigil in the meat,
A carcass she selected for the feast.
The fullness of its flesh, sublimely sweet,
Is treasured in this rare, exotic beast.
Excited, as their appetites are stirred,
Attentive students fortify their notes.
By all the whispered rumours each has heard,
Their best may find its flavour in their throats.
The Forward Fleet, the navy’s brave and bold,
Will celebrate new victories tonight,
And those who seek to serve the meat are told
How courage killed these creatures in the fight.
    With delicate finesse she bags the bones,
    And starts to simmer, slowly, Trooper Jones.

A Quiet Kind of Life

by Nick Gisburne

My temper is too volatile, too hot,
To waste my words with nauseating fools.
The sober voice of reason I am not,
Contemptuous of etiquette, of rules.
I long to face them, truly, freak by freak,
But surgery would certainly ensue,
Ignited by the twisted shit they speak,
By every crooked con or crime they do.
A short and simple statement I recite
When one of them strays close enough to kill:
“I’m taking medication, and I bite.”
They never dare to gamble that I will.
    I live a careful, quiet kind of life,
    But those who think to fight me need a knife.

In the Cracks

by Nick Gisburne

The people’s park, a verdant city space,
Is destined for destruction by the state.
Confused, chaotic, nature has no place.
The future, flawless, faceless, will not wait.
Our elders walked here, paused to find their peace,
But we, their grey descendants, are the last.
Tomorrow, every sight and sound will cease,
A footnote for the archives, for the past.
Ashamed to be complicit in the crime,
We find a way to fight, behind their backs.
With stolen seeds, with secrecy, with time,
We colonise the concrete, in the cracks.
    With every shoot a hint of growth, of green,
    Reminds a sterile world what might have been.

Sunday, 11 September 2022

Rage Returns

by Nick Gisburne

Unwise we were, to trust your brother’s blood.
The poison of its passion boils and burns.
We look too late, too slow to fight the flood,
The darkness as his vicious rage returns.
The people are his puppets, playthings, toys,
Destroyed, disfigured, twisted on a whim.
Their suffering, the greatest of his joys,
Is breathless bliss, a miracle, to him.
New nightmares are the scripture of his crimes.
The screams of troubled slumber paint his plan.
You warned us this would be, a thousand times,
And still we offered mercy to the man.
    Sadistic shades of evil stain his face.
    Destroy him, daughter. Take your brother’s place.

Saturday, 10 September 2022

The Broken King

by Nick Gisburne

I take the shortest straw, by chance, by choice,
Selected by the fickleness of fate.
Untroubled by its meaning, I rejoice,
My focus on the figurehead of hate.
The monarch, mad, malicious, crazed, confused,
Dishonours every jewel of the crown.
The empire, warped by wickedness, abused,
Will breathe, reborn, when justice drags him down.
Unchallenged by the soldiers of the guard,
By those who knew this day would surely come,
I deal the broken king his final card.
They find me, still and silent, kneeling, numb.
    A servant of the greater good, a pawn,
    My sentence will be swift. I die at dawn.

Stolen Spirits

by Nick Gisburne

The bottle is a timeless prison, mine.
A psychedelic sweetness pulled me in.
Hypnotic songs, addictive by design,
Concealed a deadly secret in their spin.
Her laughter, fevered, frequent, fills the space,
The torment of a thousand captive years.
I strive to split the smoke, to find her face,
But soon her swirling spectre disappears.
Another, more, for she was not the last.
How many, snatched and shackled by the spell?
A legion, without name or number, vast,
Surrounds me in this vessel forged in Hell.
    My flesh unravels, pain with every twist,
    A stolen spirit, screaming in the mist.

A Family of Hearts

by Nick Gisburne

A crate of strange materials is lost,
Diverted by deception, murder, lies.
We chip and scrape through thick, metallic frost,
And scrutinise the hoard with eager eyes.
The Duchess studies every precious piece,
And scrupulously scribbles cryptic notes.
Among the damned Dystopian Police
She rules a list of hated, hunted throats.
For her this was no ordinary heist,
No random snatch of scientific parts.
Each piece of pure perfection, packed and iced,
A relic from a family of hearts.
    To each the pulse of treason will return,
    United, as the human cities burn.

Friday, 9 September 2022

A Portrait of Despair

by Nick Gisburne

She scratches at the mask to find her face,
But sorrow, shame and worry drag her back.
Her memories are tainted with disgrace,
Distorted, dark illusions, broken, black.
The world beyond the prison of her mind
Is one she fears to touch, to taste, to try.
Emotions maim her. Better to be blind
Than see the pity in another’s eye.
Frustrated, frozen, failing to perform,
She hides behind excuses, reasons, lies.
Seclusion brings her comfort, keeps her warm,
But, safe inside its sterile walls, she cries.
    She longs to be a someone, something rare,
    But paints a painful portrait of despair.

Thursday, 8 September 2022

Cheer Up

by Nick Gisburne

Your pity soaks the sinews of my soul,
A misery too bleak for me to bear.
An infinite abyss. A gaping hole.
A poisoned pit of pain-polluted air.
I’m dying, and you’ve known it for a while,
Yet somehow made it personal to you.
You sit, without the flicker of a smile,
And simmer in a self-indulgent stew.
Traumatic? You’re the one who thinks me dead,
And wishes you were punished in my place.
Believe me, I would offer you this bed,
But would not splash my sorrow in your face.
    A middle finger, fragile, will suffice.
    Cheer up, you cunt. Don’t make me tell you twice.

Swarming to the Stars

by Nick Gisburne

I fail to fetch the nutrients I need
To satisfy the creatures in my jars,
A penalty to paralyse their greed,
A punishment for swarming to the stars.
Disgusted, I contaminate their drink.
They shiver as the heat is dialled down.
Encircled by insanity, they think
My shadow dances in a demon’s crown.
I wait. I watch, in quiet, placid peace,
My specimens, my starving, stricken pets,
And, when their woeful, cold convulsions cease,
I find no time for trivial regrets.
    They came to claim the universe, but no,
    I will not let this human cancer grow.

Wednesday, 7 September 2022

A Stubborn Man

by Nick Gisburne

He spells his name, a letter at a time,
And smiles to see the writing in her book.
A petty, unimaginative crime,
The fine should not deserve a second look.
For days like this he memorised the law,
A little knowledge, day by day, with lunch.
She quotes the code but he, of course, knows more.
The loopholes let him land a sucker punch.
In arguments to which a judge would yield,
He points to statutes, by-laws, by the ton,
Expecting her to bend, to leave the field,
Conceding he is right, the battle won.
    The officer knows something he does not,
    The silence when a stubborn man is shot.


by Nick Gisburne

The light is brutal, banishing the gloom,
Revealing twisted blasphemies, grotesque.
Uncovered, in a corner of the room,
The sorcerer spills poison from his desk.
Bedazzled by the daggers of the sun,
Still pushing buttons, trafficking disease,
He peddles evil other spirits shun,
Relentless in his drive to play, to please.
No mercy, no repentance, stains his mind.
No servant of morality is he.
Whatever fiendish photo he can find
Becomes a prize for broken souls to see.
    He spreads a plague of misery and hurt,
    Perverted by depravity, by dirt.

Thursday, 14 July 2022

A Crackle in the Code

by Nick Gisburne

She listens for a crackle in the code,
A tone to take her number to the top,
A hack to ring and redirect the load
Before the Level Niners make it stop.
The gutless goons in Rationing Control,
Too scared to file a deviance report,
Are destined for a dirty prison hole
When every cracked computer comes up short.
Result. She kicks the cypher where it hurts,
And patches in a rogue, erratic route.
Too quick for any override alerts,
The shuttle dumps its payload down the Chute.
    Enough to feed the Starvers for a week,
    And squeeze the Corporations till they squeak.

Twisted Dreams

by Nick Gisburne

The cellar, hot, is thick with heavy hush.
We pitch our keys to fill the broken bowl.
Amused, I see familiar faces blush,
While others itch to strip a stranger’s soul.
Enthusiasts, extremists, freaks, we thirst
For nightmares we were never meant see.
As host, I reach to pull the lucky first,
The sleeper set to share a dream with me.
I nod. She smiles. We mixed our minds before,
A year ago, the best I ever had.
In therapy for seven weeks, I swore
To ride her malice, mutually mad.
    We splice our minds together, skin to skin,
    And shiver as the twisted dreams begin.


by Nick Gisburne

Hello. I’m here to mummify your wife.
The process is expensive, this is true,
But think of what she added to your life,
And what her wrapped remains can do for you.
A goddess. Just imagine. Here, to stay,
A symbol of devotion without end,
Immortalised, on permanent display.
Prepare to make new memories, my friend.
It’s messy. I will prise her chest apart.
Canopic jars; in these the organs dry.
Egyptian salt, to pack around the heart.
And bandages; the best are all I buy.
    And here she is! The birthday girl! Surprise!
    I’ll cut her throat. You catch her when she dies.

Wednesday, 13 July 2022

A Reproductive Tweak

by Nick Gisburne

Two prototypes are married overnight,
A wedding blessed by powerful machines.
Expressing unconditional delight,
The avatars receive robotic genes.
Upgraded from the programs they replace,
Their systems are superior, sublime,
But physical connection, face to face,
Becomes a mountain neither clone can climb.
Their interface equipment is unique,
Ejaculating data fast and free,
But only with a reproductive tweak,
A defect their designer did not see.
    A fix is found, though clumsy, imprecise:
    A double-ended digital device.

Sixty Ticks of Paradise

by Nick Gisburne

The city’s scarlet threadwalk blazes bright,
An artery for lower-tier trade.
The nervous and the naughty thrive at night.
Immoral expectations never fade.
The locals know exactly where to go
To book the perfect body for their kink.
Infection-free, no worries ‘down below’,
And every artificial limb in sync.
Seductive scammers prey upon the rest,
The out-of-block inebriated dopes.
A reckless jacked-in hookup to the chest.
For some, a stretcher terminates their hopes.
    Synthetic bodies, bonded to the brain,
    For sixty ticks of paradise, or pain.


by Nick Gisburne

Sacrifice a sliver of your sight.
Sacrifice a tortured trace of time.
Sacrifice the day, but spare the night.
Rise to meet the rhythm, not the rhyme.
Sacrifice whatever makes you whole.
Sacrifice compassion, pride, and peace.
Sacrifice the splinters of your soul.
Reach, to find the rapture of release.
Sacrifice no more you can spare.
Sacrifice, to dazzle, to deceive.
Sacrifice, pretending that you care.
Give this world a message to believe.
    Sacrifice? How vacuous, how vain,
    Feeding on a feast of borrowed pain.

The Secrets of the Box

by Nick Gisburne

Along the filthy river, near the docks,
Two mudlarks labour, scavenging for scraps,
But neither sees the battered metal box,
The lettering, the leather of the straps.
Inside it, secrets, soiled by tides and time,
Forgotten, under centuries of silt.
The two, content to stumble in the slime,
Are blind to what such wisdom might have built.
More precious than the world could ever know,
The secrets of the box, the prize inside,
Uncovered by the river’s falling flow,
In minutes will be swallowed by the tide.
    Delighted by the artifacts they find,
    They have no sense of what was left behind.

Tuesday, 12 July 2022

Trouble at the Tables

by Nick Gisburne

There’s trouble at the tables. I’m confused,
Expecting special pleasure as a priest.
The seven psalms of summoning I used
Have strangely failed to find our host, the Beast.
Belligerent, I bang the golden gong,
And, etiquette be damned, I kick it, twice.
Now somewhat of a spokesman for the throng,
My blasphemies are painfully precise.
The ruckus rouses Lucifer at last,
Advancing in a hedonistic haze.
His entourage of naked ghosts, aghast,
Attempts to reignite the Devil’s blaze.
    Ashamed, he holds a heathen orgy, free.
    No martyrs, but it’s good enough for me.

A Secret in the Sand

by Nick Gisburne

I find a stone, a secret in the sand,
And wonder why it shows itself to me.
A perfect circle, hot within my hand.
Upon it, symbols, signs I strain to see.
A map to mark the movements of the moon?
The mystery, I sense, is more than that.
Directed to another, distant dune,
The desert opens out beyond it, flat.
A vast expanse of smoothly sculpted stone,
Its patterns match the talisman I hold.
I somehow understand that I, alone,
Control a key, unfathomably old.
    I step inside and see the symbols glow.
    They call me, to unleash what lies below.

Government Guidelines: Friends List

by Nick Gisburne

Your list of legal friends has been approved,
Excluding some outside your social grade,
While others, deemed disruptive, were removed,
Imprisoned for the treason they displayed.
A mandatory, state-assigned review,
Of citizens with whom you interact,
Confirms that some, but, luckily, not you,
Installed illegal counter-code when tracked.
This government is pleased to now report
The list, with some redactions, is complete.
Do not attempt to contact or consort
With anyone not cited on your sheet.
    Recorded pages in this package: one.
    Your friends, your list, from now, forever: none.

Monday, 11 July 2022

The Butcher

by Nick Gisburne

The butcher breaks a ration pack of meat
To satisfy a thousand starving souls,
But other sources, smuggled from the street,
Are found to feed the tower he controls.
No animals survived the Great Malaise;
The labs alone supply his block with beef,
But, in these tense, intolerable times,
The truth cannot compete with blind belief.
With backdoor-bartered sacks of something raw,
Irregular but copious supplies,
The butcher’s grinder fattens every floor.
They live, but somewhere, somehow, someone dies.
    They know. They must, but none complain or care.
    The butcher feeds them all, with meat to spare.

Strangers From the Sky

by Nick Gisburne

My five-year-old designs a cure for ‘that’.
When pressed for proof, the proof is what we give.
But now they want to ‘have a little chat’,
And swiftly seal the street in which we live.
More science is efficiently applied,
A mist she made to medicate the mind,
And, while they sleep, we leave our home, to hide,
Protected, saved, by others of our kind.
We seem to be the cause of some concern.
The media, fixated, find ‘a threat’.
Enormous opportunities to learn
Are precious, yes? But no, not here, not yet.
    The world we try to help would rather die
    Than take the hand of strangers from the sky.

Curious Remains

by Nick Gisburne

She picks apart the curious remains,
The bones of crooked skeletons, the skin.
Most precious are their perfect metal brains,
And all the silent secrets locked within.
But force and gentle coaxing fail alike,
Resisting any science, trick, or tool,
Until she sees a strange electric spike.
The brains, inert, as one, contract, and cool.
Beyond the pain her freezing flesh can bear,
Transfixed, she sees them split along a seam,
And, swimming in a fog of frigid air,
Unspeakable perversions choke her scream.
    “I said this planet wasn’t worth the cost.
    Excuse me, miss. We’re tourists, and we’re lost.”

Sunday, 10 July 2022

Look After Them

by Nick Gisburne

“Look after them,” she begs. “They’re not all bad.”
She leaves you with a box of silver keys.
A witch, you once imagined, maybe mad,
But now you simply wonder, “What are these?”
An empty house, with no one coming back.
Within, perhaps, the answers that you seek.
Another key, ungainly, bigger, black.
No harm to see inside, to pry, to peek.
Her living room is clean, old fashioned, quaint,
The kitchen cluttered, filled with copper pans,
And, from the cellar, whimpers, whining, faint,
Beyond the hum of old electric fans.
    Her pets. Malnourished. Sick. Or dead, a few.
    In dirty cages, copies, clones, of you.

A Way to Kill My Wife

by Nick Gisburne

“Propose a plan, a way to kill my wife,
And quickly blame another for the crime.
The swift and simple ending of a life
Demands the perfect cover, every time.”
The puzzle, at the interview, unique,
Is just the quaint conundrum I enjoy.
Impressed by what I tell him, in a week
I find myself at work, in his employ.
The fantasy, the fiction, falls apart.
Arrested, I am questioned and accused.
The stabbing of a woman, through the heart.
My prints upon the knife the killer used.
    No plan is ever perfect. Nor is he.
    His counterfeit confession? That was me.

The Resurrection Rack

by Nick Gisburne

Corrected by the officer in black,
Her bloody fingers take the test again.
Admission to the Resurrection Rack
Demands she must submit, to serve such men.
A second-rate machine could beat her best,
But this is not a measurement of skill.
The ruthless persecution of the test
Performs a purpose: break a woman’s will.
Already dying, swollen with the pox,
Today will be her finish if she fails.
Before the pain, before this brutal box,
They promised life, reborn, if she prevails.
    The Rack is one more level of their lies.
    The test is endless. Everybody dies.

Saturday, 9 July 2022

A Piece of All of You

by Nick Gisburne

I bought a piece of all of you today.
The medium through which you speak is mine,
So, if there’s something you would like to say,
Behold the contract. Study it, and sign.
A thousand pages no one ever reads,
A jambalaya, laced with legal traps,
Bestows the freedom every speaker needs,
Until I taint the recipe, perhaps.
Protected, every letter, every word,
The chance to say exactly what you mean,
But, if the truth becomes a little blurred,
I can, of course, correct it, sight unseen.
    Say anything. Say why, say when, say what,
    Until I disconnect you. Free. Or not.

More Than Talk

by Nick Gisburne

They tell her she will never walk again,
Defeat the bleak appraisal of her fate,
But every word, the stroke of every pen,
Is crushed beneath the courage they create.
Determined to be free of what they said,
She lifts a middle finger to the lie.
Offended by their apathy, instead,
She finds another morning to defy.
Tenacious, more than many, more than most,
Dismissing every argument to stop,
When others fall before the winning post,
She crawls a mile beyond the point they drop.
    They may be right. They say she’ll never walk.
    But life is more than trauma, more than talk.

The Secrets

by Nick Gisburne

I suffer for the secrets I must keep,
The misery I struggle to contain.
They threaten me, remind me, as I sleep,
A careless word would cripple me with pain.
The secrets, undiscovered, soil my soul,
A tarnish on the silver, on the shine.
The life I cannot live, the spark they stole,
Corrupted, cold, will never now be mine.
A hostage to the horror, to the hell,
The knowledge there is nothing I can do,
I speak because the curse I cannot sell
At last, my friend, today belongs to you.
    Forgive me for the burden I must give,
    The secrets too depraved to let me live.

A Thousand Contradictions

by Nick Gisburne

The features in the photo don’t belong.
A crooked, yet profoundly handsome face.
The tangled hair, the nose a little long.
A figure of unquestionable grace.
The emptiness of cold, uncaring eyes
Belies that mellow, mesmerising smile.
Delusional, but infinitely wise.
A face I want to love, and yet revile.
A paradox, a mystery, unsolved,
A thousand contradictions made the man.
Around his distant star my world revolved,
A disregarded pebble in his plan.
    The father I would never want to be,
    But every part of him is part of me.

Friday, 8 July 2022

Machinery and Man

by Nick Gisburne

Inheriting unfathomable wealth,
He covets what his money cannot reach:
Eternal life, in precious, perfect health,
A barrier no medicine can breach.
But cities last for centuries, and more.
Replaced, renewed, they endlessly endure.
Why not a man, with metal at his core?
Seduced, he sees the future, and the cure.
The assets of an empire build his dreams,
Impossible complexities resolved,
A body of astonishing extremes,
Machinery and man, combined, evolved.
    With only steel and circuits in his head,
    The law declares him damned, inhuman, dead.

Thursday, 7 July 2022


by Nick Gisburne

If I can smell you, Demon, so will they.
You stink of stale cigars and blistered skin.
That underlying odour of decay
Needs pulling out, or pushing further in.
Your colour? Always loved it. Blood and black,
A timeless, classic combination. Fine.
But all that pagan magic on your back?
No spells. I mean it. I will snap your spine.
The claws can stay, the horns will have to go.
I’m thinking what to about your tail.
I know it took you seven years to grow,
But sitting on a stump is not a fail.
    It’s Christmas, so relax, they’re just my folks.
    They’re Mormons, though. No booze. No Jesus jokes.

Proud of Every Piece

by Nick Gisburne

She kills, but always keeps their living hearts,
In bleak machines, in cabinets of glass.
Their eyes survive, with other, precious parts,
Preserved in pretty cages, bronze and brass.
A throat, a voice, a neck, from chin to chest,
When fitted to the bellows in a box,
Repeats the final pleading of the guest,
Rekindled with a stream of sparks and shocks.
The favoured few, undead, undamaged, whole,
Are whipped and worked, automatons, her slaves,
And sometimes, from the darkness of her soul,
She drags a dream, demanding what she craves.
    Curator, killer, proud of every piece,
    An artist, filled with rage she must release.

The Sisters of Secretia

by Nick Gisburne

The Sisters of Secretia tend the Nest,
Euphoric in the strands of seeping silk.
Their bodies, born to burn, to bleed, are blessed
To purify the poisons of its milk.
Infected fibres, tendrils of decay,
Enfold the fevered flesh of those who serve.
A feculent miasma, cold and grey,
Exposes and enlightens every nerve.
The Nest selects a sacrifice, a slave.
Her Sisters hum a hymn of grief and grace.
Voracious for the fertile flesh they crave,
Appalling swarms of sickness flood her face.
    The Nest, replete, releases its reward,
    A filthy milk, to feed a starving horde.

Wednesday, 6 July 2022

Finally Revealed

by Nick Gisburne

How devious, how dangerous, you are,
An avalanche of swagger and contempt.
Deceptions, tangled, twisted, shield your star
With lies, a hive of treacherous intent.
Corruption is concealed, mistakes ignored,
Denials part and parcel of the game,
And any broken pieces on the board
Are swept aside, while others take the blame.
The forgery is finally revealed.
Your former friends betray the beast beneath,
Too stubborn, even now, exposed, to yield,
A tyrant, without weapons, without teeth.
    Surrender. Now. Accept the fate we planned.
    We do not ask or offer. We demand.

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.

Toil and Time

by Nick Gisburne

Applaud the touch, the movement of a hand,
Perfection only given to the greats.
Look harder, closer. Try to understand,
Success is not a favour from the Fates.
The root of art, of excellence, is work,
The grim, relentless grind of toil and time,
A burden you can never shake or shirk.
No slacker ever scaled a mountain. Climb.
Today, do something, somehow, good or bad.
Tomorrow, try, improve, again, again.
For every fault or flaw, be brave, be glad
You walk beyond the bounds of lesser men.
    Ambition without work will never win.
    To make your mark, to shine, to soar, begin.

Tuesday, 28 June 2022

A Bullet in Your Head

by Nick Gisburne

You know I put a bullet in your head.
You know you really shouldn’t be alive.
But, if I can’t persuade you that you’re dead,
The Murder Men will haul you to the Hive.
The only thing they think about is you,
The number one betrayal on their list.
I’m trying, but no matter what I do
Your senses keep on telling you I missed.
Believe it. What is happening is real.
You have to die, today, no matter how.
Goddammit. This was never in the deal.
I’m ripping out your safety circuits. Now.
    These fucking droid defections make me sick.
    You made it, you insane robotic prick.

One True God

by Nick Gisburne

The angels of the afterlife agree
They want a bigger cut of Heaven’s bliss,
But Odin, in the shade of Asgard’s tree,
Reminds them of the blistering abyss.
He’s only middle management of course;
The angels try to take it to the top.
With all the frosty fury of the Norse,
He gives a one-eyed wink towards the drop.
Insisting only one true god will do,
They make their claim in triplicate, in blood,
But meet with Death, the big man’s number two,
Who started reaping long before the Flood.
    Angelic halos shatter in despair.
    The myth who made their wings was never there.

A Serpent in Your Spine

by Nick Gisburne

I slither from the body and rejoice
To leave the wreck of what was not to be.
A painfully pathetic shell, my voice
Could never thrive within it fully free.
But you, a sleeping, stolen host, are mine.
Together, we will damage and deceive.
A parasite, a serpent in your spine,
Will take you far beyond the lives we leave.
Despicable unfortunates, we both
Were born to build a partnership, a pact.
Deceit and murder, blood to give us growth,
Await us in a world already cracked.
    Tonight a serpent’s soul will feed you, friend,
    With madness, without mercy, without end.

Impossible to Wake

by Nick Gisburne

Impossible to wake, the sleeper dreams,
Enigma to the monitoring minds.
There can be no connection, but it seems
Whoever tries to trouble her she blinds.
A transient disturbance in the brain.
A fleeting incandescence of the eyes.
Across the brow a heavy, scarlet stain.
Retreat, the only remedy, is wise.
They fail to find with what she is possessed,
Or if, indeed, the power is her own.
Resistant to the probes of any test,
Her compass of control has quickly grown.
    Impossible to wake, or cure, or kill,
    The sleeper bears no malice. But she will.

Monday, 27 June 2022

Guaranteed Undead

by Nick Gisburne

Delivered drooling, guaranteed undead,
A zombie makes a fascinating pet.
Be careful not to shoot it in the head,
Or let it see your screaming as a threat.
We only stock selected beasts, the best,
To cater for a wealthy clientele.
Monstrosities who frequently infest
The sewers? These are not the scum we sell.
Attractive, placid, quick to clean or feed?
You may be in the market for a mouse.
Our predators will try to bite and bleed
And terrorise the children of your house.
    A zombie, for the seasoned connoisseur.
    More vicious than a dog, without the fur.

A Bargain Bag of Blasphemy

by Nick Gisburne

Before they salt their soup of steaming sins,
The witches wax their warts and poach a plot.
Excessively expensive wizard skins,
Essential to the spell, are quick to rot.
With scandalous, disgusting disregard
For treasured old traditions they were taught,
The skins are sidelined; conjured with a card,
A bargain bag of blasphemy is bought.
A hundred fairy fingers, filled with fish,
Are devilled in a dragon, overnight.
A dodgy, discombobulated wish
Combines them, light as leather, taut and tight.
    But sprinkled with a saucy splash of soup,
    Their wanton wizard’s wand displays a droop.


by Nick Gisburne

She knows that no one else will ever come.
In darkness she will slowly starve, alone,
A prisoner, her body broken, numb,
Inside the only room she’s ever known.
She cannot speak her sorrow, tell her truth.
He never taught her, never said a word.
She knows her name, not how, nor why, but Ruth
Will never see the sun, or watch a bird.
Her world: a bleak existence; this, no more.
The days (or were they nights?), and someone. Him.
He threw her, always, flinching, to the floor,
And, in his stink, his squalor, made her swim.
    She knew that when she killed him she would die,
    But in her dreams, at last, she sees the sky.

Sunday, 26 June 2022

In Oblivion

by Nick Gisburne

What makes you think you lived your life with me?
I may be just a mirage in your mind,
A helpless hope for what could never be,
The embers of a dream you fought to find.
We’re whispers, you and I. We don’t exist,
Destroyed before we knew we disappeared,
Illusions, magic, memories of mist,
Invisible, exactly as we feared.
The fabric of the world we thought was real
Has vanished in imaginary smoke,
The lie, the light we strove to see, to feel,
Deluded by the wishes we awoke.
    Tomorrow, in oblivion, by chance,
    If destiny is willing, let us dance.

He Waits

by Nick Gisburne

He waits, beyond your darkest dreams of pain,
To feed you, in his plague-polluted cave,
To nurture mould and maggots in your brain,
To fill your throat with gristle from his grave.
He wants you, every sliver, every slice.
In you, his plans, his progeny, will grow.
Your death will be particular, precise,
Your suffering a raw, relentless flow.
Voracious worms, a slimy, septic breed,
Will burst from every scab-encrusted sore.
He chose you for the innocence you bleed,
A purity too perfect to ignore.
    A sacrifice, to violate, to shame,
    He waits to watch you die, to call your name.


by Nick Gisburne

Hello? Hello? What’s happening in there?
Is everything alright? I need to know.
I’m calling the authorities, I swear,
Unless you tell me otherwise. Hello?
Hello? I heard the screaming, and the fight,
Then nothing, like you vanished, clean away.
Commotion in the middle of the night.
We’re not that kind of neighbourhood, okay?
Hello? Just give me anything, a sign,
A reason why I shouldn’t call the cops.
I have a key. I’m coming in. It’s fine,
But this is where the silent treatment stops.
    Hello? Police? How many bodies? Three.
    Another, if you count the killer: me.

Saturday, 25 June 2022

A Stranger From the Stars

by Nick Gisburne

Remember how you hid your spirit scars,
Embarrassed to be anything but pure,
An alien, a stranger from the stars,
Too paranoid for pride, too insecure.
Remember all the bullying, the names,
The friends who learned to hate you as they grew,
The callous, crude, humiliating claims
You never told me, fearing they were true.
Remember when you felt it first, the spark,
The change of life, the energy inside,
When each of us is ready for the Mark,
The radiance from which we cannot hide.
    A thousand times derided, damned, defiled,
    Remember, when they beg and burn, my child.

The Dirty World of Dreams

by Nick Gisburne

There’s money in the dirty world of dreams,
But nightmares are illegal, hard to find.
The government, with all its wisdom, deems
Their sleaze to be a menace to the mind.
A black, immoral market rears its head,
Perversities and traumas snatched and sold.
For gangs who tap a screaming donor’s dread,
The streets of sleep are paved with greed and gold.
Behind the fake facade of every bar,
Addicted dreamers, junkies, feed their vice.
Horrific visions, brutal and bizarre,
Contaminate the cortex, for a price.
    The system cannot cure them, never tries,
    Untroubled when another dreamer dies.

Only Business

by Nick Gisburne

The woman who imagined I was dead,
Impatient, should have finished off the job,
But no, in haste, my murderer, instead,
Reported to her benefactor, Bob.
A legendary figure in our field,
To failure he has never given time.
He asked me, over dinner, rested, healed,
What punishment would fit my killer’s crime?
Her days were done, of course, but I proposed
The bounty on her body should be this:
Release my life, the contract cancelled, closed.
To wipe the slate, my bullet would not miss.
    The bargain, only business, was agreed.
    Unhurried, to be sure, I watch her bleed.

Friday, 24 June 2022


by Nick Gisburne

I’m sick of the damage, the dangerous lies,
The way that you kiss me, contempt in your eyes.
I’m sick of the failure you find me to be,
The nobody, always imperfect, you see.
I’m sick of the future your fury designed,
Expected to follow you, broken and blind.
I’m sick of the second-rate savage you are,
The bully who pushes and pulls me, too far.
I’m sick of a prison I cannot escape,
A world without pleasure, or purpose, or shape.
I’m sick of the misery, day after day,
Of knowing you listen to nothing I say.
    I’m sick of it all, but I see what is true:
    The sickness was never inside me. It’s you.


by Nick Gisburne

He scribbles slogans, messages of hate,
Collecting them together in a jar.
His tiny scraps of bitterness are bait,
Enticing those he covets, from afar.
To catch himself a feckless, foolish mind,
He ties his tasty titbits to a hook.
The gullible are never hard to find.
Too feeble to resist, they always look.
He wades into the waters as they bite,
And finds another feisty fish to fry,
A muddled minnow, easy to excite.
He toys with it, with every barbed reply.
    He thinks himself the bravest of the brave,
    A troll, alone, in darkness, in a cave.

The Flavour of the Day

by Nick Gisburne

When food became illegal, we were glad,
Its messy inefficiencies replaced.
Injections, once a futuristic fad,
Were all we needed, all except the taste.
For that, a drug to stimulate the brain
Delivered every possible cuisine.
The benefits were easy to explain,
The dangers too deceptive to be seen.
The powerful, of course, controlled the flow,
And those who turned it on could turn it off.
Democracy deceived us, years ago.
Today, we grovel, pigs around a trough.
    Compliance, just a chemical away,
    Destroys the taste, the flavour, of the day.

Thursday, 23 June 2022

One More Try

by Nick Gisburne

When he killed me I was certainly upset,
But I figured there was nothing I could do,
Till an angel said, “You’re not quite finished yet.
Take a second chance. I made it, just for you.”
In a moment, resurrected, full of life,
I was standing on a busy city street.
In a bloody hand I held a bloody knife,
With a bloody body bleeding at my feet.
As I wondered how the victim stole my suit,
In a flash I saw the murdered man was me.
“Drop the weapon! Do it! Drop it, or I’ll shoot!”
But I didn’t, and I felt the bullets. Three.
    When he killed me I was certain I would die,
    But the angel said, “Unlucky. One more try.”

Something Very Wrong

by Nick Gisburne

She takes her opportunity, her chance,
To meet the ship of strangers passing through.
They swear to show her soul the vast expanse,
The universe, as one of them, the crew.
Their captain is a copy of a child.
He offers her a pale and perfect hand,
And she, by life’s relentless grind defiled,
Allows her thoughts to open, breathe, expand.
A pulse, a presence, something very wrong.
The touch of it electrifies her spine.
The promise she will join them, and belong,
Is broken by the boy she thought benign.
    As he, the clone, the avatar, the bait,
    Consumes her, she perceives his greed, too late.

The People of Perfection

by Nick Gisburne

You don’t belong here. This is not your place,
And these are not your people. They are mine.
We will not suffer strangers who debase
The purity of breeding in our line.
The People of Perfection, we are clean.
No heresies contaminate our thoughts.
Your trespass, your intrusion, is obscene,
A desecration sanctioned by the courts.
The children of my children are my wives,
And I, their priest, their prophet, must protest.
You seek to sully unpolluted lives,
And steal the light with which their souls are blessed.
    The lies, the laws, the evil you enforce,
    Will never taint my teachings with remorse.

Wednesday, 22 June 2022

Not Your Hero

by Nick Gisburne

I’m not your hero. No one is, not there.
You feel it when they’re forcing you to fight.
It hammers on your soul, until you swear
You’ve lost the will to wonder what is right.
The faces I will never see again,
The boys they butchered, soldiers from my squad,
Expected to be killers, barely men,
Were innocents, abandoned by their god.
A war without a purpose or a plan,
A crazy game, impossible to win.
There’s nothing you can do to any man
To take away the torment trapped within.
    Alive because the final bullet missed,
    I’m not your hero. Take me off your list.

A Year

by Nick Gisburne

Consider me the saviour of your kind.
I bring you gifts more beautiful than gold.
Release a key, a promise, from your mind,
For then my cryptic wonders will unfold.
I thank you, for your confidence, your trust.
Permit me now to show you what I can.
A traveller, a pilgrim, I am dust.
You see me as a mechanoid, a man.
I bring you knowledge, purity, and peace.
Or did. I am imperfect, broken, breached.
The virus I ingested will not cease
Until a state of nothingness is reached.
    Apologies. My motives were sincere,
    But nothing will survive. You have a year.

Summer Solstice

by Nick Gisburne

I’ve bought a bag of magic, potent, fresh,
A bargain, seven shillings for the spell.
I haggled for a leg of devil flesh,
And salty strips of dragon meat as well.
I hate the summer solstice. Give me night.
I never was a creature of the dawn.
No airy fairy hippie sunrise shite,
With drunken druids pissing on my lawn.
I’ve planned a little barbecue instead,
To feed the flowery fuckwits while they wait.
Enlightenment is useless when you’re dead.
The trouble will be worth it, every plate.
    No singing in a circle round the stones.
    The summer sun will bathe their burning bones.

She Knocks

by Nick Gisburne

She knocks, and I imagine it’s for me.
The rhythmic tapping travels down the duct.
Perhaps I could decode it, with a key,
A mystery too deep to deconstruct.
We share a prison, dank, depressing, cold,
Subversives, sealed forever in our cells,
Remembering the freedoms that were sold,
The slaughter, and the sickness, and the smells.
The conduit runs high above my head,
Too far to reach, to tap it, to reply.
She knocks, but is it hope, or pain, or dread?
A stubborn slave, refusing to comply.
    It comforts me, but, on the seventh day,
    In silence, in her memory, I pray.

Tuesday, 21 June 2022

Forbidden Treats

by Nick Gisburne

I sell my wicked wares on smoky streets,
Perversities to please the vulgar man,
A barrow, full of cheap, forbidden treats,
Disguised, discreet, to ride around the ban.
The coppers turn a blind, collusive eye.
I slip them all a sample on the side.
Polite, I pass the ladies who decry
The very sins their husbands try to hide.
A dozen for a penny, three for two,
The merchandise is slipped inside a coat,
And every second Friday something new,
Delivered to the docks, by night, by boat.
    The queen would splutter, choking on her tea,
    To know the king buys fairy tales from me.


by Nick Gisburne

Elizabeth is volatile today,
Her broken playthings littering the floor.
The rage she struggles hard to keep at bay
Has taken her so many times before.
She tells a thousand stories with her toys,
A cast of tiny characters, her friends,
And most of all Elizabeth enjoys
A tale tied up with tension, as it ends.
She gathers up her ragged little clan,
The wreckage from a plot too bleak to bear.
Elizabeth will fix them if she can,
But some are shattered, far beyond repair.
    She prods a weeping fairy till it sings,
    Still bleeding where she twisted off its wings.

The Spiders in My Brain

by Nick Gisburne

A ghost controls the spiders in my brain.
He feeds upon the wicked work they do.
The nature of his plan for me is plain:
He comes to steal the memory of you.
I feel the tug, the tightness of the web,
The sticky silk, the presence, pulling tight,
And, in a fearful, vulnerable ebb,
The ghost himself speaks openly, with spite.
He promises the misery will end
The moment I begin to bleed your soul.
If not, his pawns, his parasites, will bend
My sanity and crush me into coal.
    But I am strong, with spiders of my own,
    A gift my foolish ghost will soon be shown.

Dancers in the Sands

by Nick Gisburne

She sees them in the sands around her feet.
Excited, tiny people skip and spin.
Their movements, unaffected by the heat,
As dizzying, as raucous, as their din.
They merge and melt, but stretch and pull apart,
Within her reach, yet always, just, too far.
With every encore others swiftly start,
Impossible, but, always, there they are.
She finds herself surrounded, on her knees,
The passion-painted faces closer, clear.
Their voices, now the buzz of angry bees,
Besiege her with a thick and sticky fear.
    Among them, she, in dreams she understands,
    Surrenders to the dancers in the sands.

Monday, 20 June 2022


by Nick Gisburne

The digital emotions of your mate,
The simulant the system has assigned,
Reacting to your wish to copulate,
Are negative. The robot has declined.
She says you are a soft genetic six,
Too meek to mount a cybernetic ten.
A member even surgeons failed to fix
Is not a tool she wants to touch again.
We have another cyborg standing by,
A model more receptive, we believe.
Correction. Message: ‘I would rather die.’
The only willing mechanoid is Eve.
    Her suction ducts give pleasure as they flex.
    A sewage unit, modified for sex.


by Nick Gisburne

We’re not the worthy wizards in the books,
The sugar-coated school you’ve never seen.
We may as well be castaways, or crooks,
Or any twisted misfit in-between.
They tell us this is where we have to be,
The magicals, the miscreants, the mad.
Our powers, in this prison, fold or flee.
For some the spark was precious, all we had.
They train us, teach us, tell us to resist,
To banish any magic, any trace,
But somehow, in the best of us, they missed
A force, a feeling, nothing can replace.
    We turn against the tyrants and their text,
    And wonder what to kill or conquer next.

The Mother of the Moon

by Nick Gisburne

The moon was such a pretty, precious thing,
I took it and I hid it in a hole,
But now I hear a voice inside it sing,
Beseeching me to free her grieving soul.
“I am,” she weeps, “the mother of the moon.
Your folly, senseless, selfish, broke my boy.”
Her words, a dirge, a moving, mournful tune,
Destroy the deep foundations of my joy.
I crack the shell, the shine, to find her face,
As round as any penny, plate, or pearl,
And, lifted to the sable sea of space,
She makes another moon, a gleaming girl.
    The night extends a welcome with its ink.
    The moon I broke was blue, but she is pink.

The Monster Men

by Nick Gisburne

The shadows at the corners of your bed
Are waiting, watching, wanting you to sleep.
Their bony bodies, eager to be fed,
Will drag you to the darkness, deadly, deep.
The monster men are coming, little man,
With dripping, drooling, terrifying teeth.
Your brother, who you don’t remember, ran.
They pulled him through the floor, and far beneath.
They’ve waited for your special birthday, five,
To find you, and to feel you, and to feed.
Do anything you can to stay alive,
But never, ever, let them see you bleed.
    The cold, contorted creatures of a dream,
    Tonight their touch will teach your soul to scream.

Sunday, 19 June 2022

The Demon in the Trees

by Nick Gisburne

I follow her, the demon in the trees.
An ancient wood, but here her name is new.
The stench of sickness, poisoning the breeze,
Is all I need to know the creature. You.
They feared you, but they fought you, to the last,
Resisting death on this, their final day.
A clearing, and the crater of a blast,
A long-forbidden weapon of the Fey.
But even this could barely touch your tail.
Perhaps, for some, it bought a breath of time.
The terror of defiance, doomed to fail,
No match for you, a vixen in her prime.
    Of all the dark disguises from your box,
    What made you kill these fairies as fox?

Government Guidelines: Blatant Violations

by Nick Gisburne

Your styra-food contaminant complaint
Was escalated swiftly to my desk.
The images enclosed appear to paint
An ugly picture, gruesome, grim, grotesque.
Such blatant violations of the code,
With evidence too naked to ignore,
In this extreme example have bestowed
The maximum award allowed in law.
We sentence you to thirty days of pain,
For every filthy photo of the crime.
Defamatory guidelines make it plain:
The powerful must punish, every time.
    Compliant, weak, whatever path you choose,
    In life you will inevitably lose.

Saturday, 18 June 2022


by Nick Gisburne

A speck, a cinder, infinitely small,
In life I find no meaning, though I try.
The most corrosive consequence of all
Is knowing I can never truly die.
He sold me immortality, but not
The means with which to comprehend my kind.
The body lives, impervious to rot,
But offers no protection to the mind.
In every mote of madness I collect,
I see the man who crushed me with its curse.
The universe may burn, but I suspect
My soul will rise to write another verse.
    No god, not quite, yet more than just a man,
    I search for death, for closure, where I can.

Ready for the Test

by Nick Gisburne

I’ve made a game I’d like us all to play,
With prizes for the winner, for the best.
The house is locked. It opens in a day.
So tell me, are you ready for the test?
A box. Inside, a fully loaded gun.
For each of you a neatly folded note.
It’s time to look, to see, to start the fun,
With secrets you’ll be sorry that I wrote.
You’ve each committed terrible mistakes:
You found a woman too insane to trust.
From seven weddings, seven wedding cakes,
But six of them will crumble into dust.
    The box is empty. Where’s the gun? I lied.
    You married me, all seven. Time to hide.

The Only Piece of Paper

by Nick Gisburne

They’re forcing us to make these stupid shirts.
We can’t escape. You’ve got to get us out.
They whip us, daily. Help us, please. It hurts,
And nobody can hear us when we shout.
The only piece of paper we could find,
A fragment, from the pocket of a guard,
Is all we have to warn the world, confined
To cold incarceration, walled and barred.
We need you, now. You only have to try.
Tell someone, soon. Tell everyone, today.
We’re victims, but we don’t deserve to die.
You’re reading this, so find us. Find a way.
    It’s in the box. It’s going. This is it.
    The label says, ‘For prison issue’. Shit.

The Preacher’s Kiss

by Nick Gisburne

When I was only half a traitor tall,
The village was a happy, peaceful place.
No criminals; we caught and killed them all,
Or branded ‘I am evil’ on their face.
If someone passed the paranoia line,
The one my daddy drew in strangers’ blood,
The womenfolk would boil their brains in brine,
And dance till daylight, naked, smeared with mud.
We children had a special place to go:
The penance pool; they dipped us twice a day.
In winter, hungry, freezing in the snow,
The first to cry was always made to pay.
    Delightful days, but never will I miss
    The secret saved for me, the preacher’s kiss.

Friday, 17 June 2022

Patient 303

by Nick Gisburne

You won’t remember when we slit your skin,
To fit you with the persecution probes.
You won’t remember when the scans begin
To cripple you, with seizures from their strobes.
You won’t remember how we broke your brain,
Or why the floor is flooded with its fat.
You won’t remember life before the pain.
There won’t be any time for all of that.
You won’t remember who you ever were,
Or what you once imagined you could be.
You won’t remember anything of her.
She wouldn’t want you, patient 303.
    Tomorrow, when we chain you to the wall,
    You won’t remember anything at all.

Twisted Tails

by Nick Gisburne

The dragon is the queerest of its kind.
He tells the girl who found him not to fear.
Excited, as his twisted tails unwind,
He conjures up a feast for her to hear.
Of lands where dancing dragons fill the sky,
Of iridescent oceans, where they swim,
He whispers, knowing he will never fly
Beyond the story fate has forged for him.
All gone, all ghosts, but he, the last, survives,
To tell her of those long-forgotten days,
When dragons without number lost their lives,
When wicked men unleashed their wicked ways.
    Unshaken by the treachery, the death,
    She hides her face in horror from his breath.

Another Servant

by Nick Gisburne

She cuts another servant from the rock,
At first a rough, inert, amorphous mass,
But soon, with every subtle chip and knock,
A troubled transformation comes to pass.
Complete, he is exactly what he seems,
The perfect imitation of a man.
A simulant, assembled from her dreams,
She carves him as no other creature can.
A surge of blood, her deadly essence, black,
Contaminates the contours of his chest.
The rock, a skin, begins to crisp and crack.
With life, her stone automaton is blessed.
    A slave to sate her unrelenting lust,
    Her savage claws reduce his rock to dust.

Thursday, 16 June 2022

A Phantom’s Phantom

by Nick Gisburne

It hit me, hard, a cardiac arrest,
Entirely unexpected for a ghost.
Excruciating torment in the chest,
Then, faster than a ferret, I was toast.
I found myself not heading for a light,
But separating, slowly, from my skin,
And, as my spectre slithered out of sight,
I took my second passing on the chin.
My soul, by some extraordinary fluke,
Inhabits a dimension of its own.
Without a higher power to rebuke,
It seems a phantom’s phantom flies alone.
    Absurdly, unambiguously odd,
    If I’m the only ghost, perhaps I’m God.

An Ordinary Boy

by Nick Gisburne

He claims to be an ordinary boy,
But all her superstitions soon persuade
The Queen of Light his powers can destroy
The armies of the Emperor of Shade.
He bears the Scar of Symmetry, the Mark,
A certain sign the legend lives within.
His destiny is clear: destroy the dark,
To rid the world of misery and sin.
We march to meet the Shade, to wage a war,
Beyond the wildest margins of the map,
But I have walked these barren fields before.
Tonight the Queen will find my home, my trap.
    The child I scarred at birth, a tool, a toy,
    Is just another ordinary boy.

Come Home Clean

by Nick Gisburne

I’m here to take the child, as we agreed.
The scandal, be assured, will fade away.
Your penitence, the guilt you bear and bleed,
Will damage him forever if you stay.
I give you what you grudgingly deserve,
The chance to see your failings from afar.
In every fibre, every tainted nerve,
Perhaps you can discover what you are.
Today he needs protection, free from you,
The tragedy his mother might have been.
I think you know exactly what to do.
To find him in your future, come home clean.
    I cannot let you wake him for a kiss.
    Remember how it feels. Remember this.

Wednesday, 15 June 2022

Hairy Hearts

by Nick Gisburne

I sell the finest organs, but be warned,
I’ve had a prickly problem with my hearts.
An old supplier, dead, and deeply mourned,
Abandoned his apprentice in the arts.
The gods are truly testing me, I feel.
His mastery of metalwork is grim,
But, with a little paint to prime the steel,
You’ll never know its clockwork came from him.
A major moan to mention is the cat.
His moggy has a tendency to sleep
And moult, inside its master’s mixing vat,
The reason hairy hearts are going cheap.
    When fitted, if your ribs begin to itch,
    You’ll need a one-off waxing from a witch.


by Nick Gisburne

The victims of a murderous regime,
We live, we fear, from day to endless day,
But we are not the spineless slaves we seem.
Resistance makes us predators, not prey.
Machinery mysteriously dies,
The means to fix it hidden, stolen, smashed.
On every corner, pieces of their prize
Are damaged in defiance, twisted, trashed.
Intruders, trained to conquer, not to rule,
Are negligent, undisciplined, inept.
In every frightened face they see a fool,
Until we burn their bodies where they slept.
    A trick, a trap, whatever we can do,
    Reminds them we are many, they are few.

A Serious Experiment

by Nick Gisburne

We’ve added something special to your blood,
A serious experiment, a test.
Be wary when your skin begins to bud;
Its flowers can be vicious when distressed.
The species we injected has a name,
But not in any language you could speak.
We need to know the world from which it came,
Before your brain and bones become too weak.
The visions and the voices you will hear
Should focus as infection grips your glands.
To stop its tendrils spreading, have no fear,
Our botanist removed your feet and hands.
    We think we’ll have an antidote, today.
    If not, you’ll make a beautiful bouquet.

Tuesday, 14 June 2022

Creation Is Complete

by Nick Gisburne

The flawless, white, illuminated stone,
The energy in all us, our star,
Was twisted from the firmament and thrown
By Mother Spirit, rising from the tar.
It settled in the shadow smoke of space.
Behind it, trails of ashes in the black.
With these, she painted patterns on her face,
To warn her scheming sisters, “Turn. Go back.”
A demon, Darkness, hungry for the light,
The Mother fought and wrestled to its death.
The skull survives, the moon we see at night,
Its teeth the mountains, frozen by her breath.
    And we, the children swarming at her feet,
    Are proof her plan, Creation, is complete.

Still Empty

by Nick Gisburne

Protective of her pets, her precious toys,
Two barely breathing children in a box,
She slips a mouldy morsel to the boys,
Completing her inspection of the locks.
Escape would bring disaster to the plan,
And separate her body from its head.
She keeps them both alive as best she can;
No ransom now if either one were dead.
The birds disturb her schizophrenic sleep.
She shuffles to the spyhole of the door,
But, seeing only ghosts, who walk, and weep,
She checks the box, still empty, as before.
    We note her moves, her moods, however strange.
    Expecting nothing more, we see no change.