Friday 27 May 2022

Experimental Subject Alpha-Six

by Nick Gisburne

Experimental subject Alpha-Six,
The final dormant specimen, a child.
We add a second solvent to the mix,
Extracted from the father we defiled.
Her eyes, as always, register the pain,
But then, with hate, with hunger, there is more.
A potent thread of menace floods the brain,
An impulse we are eager to explore.
She whispers, out of place, beyond the plan.
We understand her language. How, and why?
“Is this the peak, the prime of mortal man?
Is this the way humanity must die?”
    Experimental subject Alpha-Six
    Escapes us, through a wall of steel and bricks.

Nothing More

by Nick Gisburne

My life is empty, left with nothing more,
No truth, no lies, no fairytales to tell.
Discarded daydreams, littered on the floor,
Torment me in this godforsaken cell.
My youth, my strength, my drive, my courage. Dead.
Abandoned by them all, I sit. I weep.
As memories, they echo through my head,
Too loud to leave me be, to let me sleep.
A thousand possibilities are gone,
Ignored, denied, neglected on the way,
And now, at last, I look, and there are none,
No light, no dreams to fill another day.
    My life is paved with battered, broken stone.
    I tread this path, this emptiness, alone.

Government Guidelines: Statute LX-4

by Nick Gisburne

Our database reports you are deceased.
You claim this is a clerical mistake,
But system updates, frequently released,
Are utterly impossible to break.
Appeals are not accepted from the dead,
Which all our records indicate you are.
Your evidence, erroneous, unread,
Provides your least persuasive plea, by far.
We therefore must conclude, without regret,
Your status in this sector is unsound,
A category seven civil threat.
Surrender to the prosecution pound.
    Illegal, without value under law,
    Your fate is sealed by Statute LX-4.

Thursday 26 May 2022

Pretend, He Said

by Nick Gisburne

Pretend, he said. Pretend I won’t be there.
Pretend I won’t be watching you tonight.
Forget me, in my comfortable chair,
In silence, in the shade, beyond the light.
Pretend, he said. Pretend you are alone,
Beyond the reach of any eager eyes.
Imagine every movement, every moan,
Is hidden from the man you most despise.
Pretend, he said. Forget about the knife.
Pretend there is no threat, no force, to fear.
Believe that I would never take your life.
Imagine I will simply disappear.
    Pretend, she said, that this is not a gun.
    Imagine every bullet when I’m done.

Sophisticated Snobs

by Nick Gisburne

A circle of sophisticated snobs,
We rule this rotten world without remorse,
A class above, beyond the baying mobs,
And utterly invincible, of course.
The vulgar peasants, clamouring for scraps,
Deceived, divided, fight amongst themselves,
While we, the breed apart, the boys, the chaps,
Take everything, and simply stack our shelves.
We sympathise, we say. It isn’t true.
We spare no time to understand their pain.
Whatever move we make, in all we do,
We let the scum, the stupid, take the strain.
    For us, the smug, superior elite,
    There are no complications. Life is sweet.

The Scintillating Heart

by Nick Gisburne

She gathers roots and flowers, sticks and stones,
The scattered, ruined remnants of a war.
A twisted mass of splintered spider bones
No longer hides the Heart it held before.
The Fey believed its light belonged to them.
Constructing seven circles, seven walls,
Between each twisted, intertangled stem,
They stretched their spells, a web of secret scrawls.
Protection for the Scintillating Heart,
The flame of every Fey who ever flew,
Was crushed in moments, trampled, torn apart,
When something found the fortress, something new.
    The child forsakes the clearing, bored, annoyed,
    But never sees the Heart her steps destroyed.

Wednesday 25 May 2022

The Daughters of the Darkness

by Nick Gisburne

Before the sunlight sweeps across the sky,
Before the birds bring sweetness with their song,
The Daughters of the Darkness flit and fly,
For night is where their spiteful shades are strong.
The reckless and the wretched are their prey,
The wanderers too far from any inn,
The pilgrims lost or left along the way,
Who plead, in vain, for morning to begin.
A scream, a signal, flies from lip to lip.
A slithering of spirits fills the trees.
To feed, to feast, the Daughters slide and slip.
The fools, the fallen, cower on their knees.
    Too slow to find the safety of the light,
    Their souls descend to Darkness, with a bite.

Evil’s Abattoir

by Nick Gisburne

A burning bride illuminates the room.
A stench, a smoking sickness, fills the space.
The flesh of angels, roasted in the womb,
Congealed, is draped with battered, bloody lace.
A tapestry of tongues absorbs the fat,
The greasy gravy dripping from the plates.
A stew, a slaughter, simmers in a vat,
The bodies long surrendered to their fates.
A crawling corpse, a creature, pulls us in.
We bring our private poisons from the bar.
The appetiser, scalded strips of skin,
Reminds us this is Evil’s Abattoir.
    I find no way, no reason, to rejoice.
    The menu? Not a single vegan choice.


by Nick Gisburne

Was she precious when you took her in your arms,
When you told her she had found her future - you?
Was she precious when you showered her with charms,
With the whispered words you promised, swore, were true?
Was she precious when you criticised her friends,
When you turned away the people from her past?
Was she precious when she tried to make amends
For the slights and indiscretions she amassed?
Was she precious when you told her every bruise
Would teach her how to live a better life?
Was she precious when she struggled to refuse,
When she found her screaming silenced by a knife?
    Was she precious? More than she could ever show.
    Will your death be pleasant, peaceful, painless? No.

Tuesday 24 May 2022

The Powers of the Witch

by Nick Gisburne

I purchase all the pieces of her brain
From underworld collectors, slice by slice,
And, when I find that only two remain,
I know that I will offer any price.
I beg. I steal. I murder, many times.
I sell my soul. At last I have them all.
I beg her to forgive me for my crimes.
In wonderment, before her form I fall.
The undiluted essence of her voice,
Ferocious as the day her body died,
Is music, magic, madness. I rejoice,
The proud, devoted servant at her side.
    But I control the powers of the witch,
    With nothing but a simple, silver switch.


by Nick Gisburne

You need another body? Talk to me.
I’ll get you what you want. We’ll do a deal,
Whatever face you fancy, for a fee.
There’s not a sack of skin I cannot steal.
You’re ugly. Let me tell you, so was I.
You think I got these classy lines with luck?
If someone smarter, stronger, has to die,
I file it under ‘do not give a fuck’.
Already I can see you’re good to go.
I like a man with hunger in his eyes.
Your cash is all I need to start the show.
When Denny makes a promise, he supplies.
    Tomorrow you’ll be wearing someone new.
    It’s murder. Trust me. This is what I do.

The Glory Door

by Nick Gisburne

Your fifteen minutes standing in the sun
Are gone, forever smothered by the shade.
No step, no move, no thing you might have done
Could ever fix what fate already made.
The fame, the fortune, these are not for you.
You tried, but, like so many, failed the test.
For one amazing moment you were new,
But nobody believed you were the best.
Your dreams are broken, dying in defeat.
The glory door is permanently shut.
You took a sip, a taste of what was sweet,
But you were never meant to make the cut.
    Remember, when you try to play the game,
    That nothing you can do will find you fame.

Monday 23 May 2022

The Golden Gleam

by Nick Gisburne

The trees. So many. Cut, we burn them all,
To boil our sewage, liberating steam.
We send aloft a storm, a spiral, tall,
To blind the eye, the spy, the Golden Gleam.
A blemish in the heavens’, perfect peace,
Where every other starlight point is white,
The Gleam, unchecked, unhindered, will not cease,
Consuming every corner of the night.
The steam, our poisoned offering, is met
With squeals and shrieks, with anguish and alarm.
We smother it, to warn away the threat,
To save ourselves from wickedness, from harm.
    And as the eye, the brass, the glass, retreats,
    Our bottled city’s heroes fill the streets.

I Need a Drink

by Nick Gisburne

I need a drink, to do the things I do,
To liberate the liar locked inside,
To revel in the violence, to view
The darkness and the danger others hide.
I need a drink, to show you what I see:
A mind without direction, purpose, plan.
Revealing it, the trickery, the me,
I show myself, the face of who I am.
I need a drink, to tell you how I feel,
The terror of a life beyond control.
My eyes are broken, blind to what is real,
Bewildered by the sorrow in my soul.
    To live, today, tomorrow, I must drink.
    Without it, I am certain I will sink.

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.

Black Is Always White

by Nick Gisburne

They tell us what to feel, and what to do.
They tell us how to live, and how to be.
They tell us what is false, or fake, or true,
And always where to look, and what to see.
They give us just enough, but nothing more.
They give us less, for everything they take.
They give us what they think we will ignore,
The condescending promises they break.
They want us to be placid, to be weak.
They want us not to question, not to think.
They want us to be silent. If we speak,
They say they understand us, with a wink.
    They say, for us, forever, they will fight,
    And, when they say it, black is always white.

Layers of Destruction

by Nick Gisburne

The spiralling infinity of stairs
Entices me inexorably down.
I take the steps impatiently, in pairs,
Through layers of destruction, black and brown.
So many. All the tragedies of time.
I witness every stumble, every birth,
Of every empire, swallowed in its prime,
Their stories burned and buried in the earth.
I seek the source, the moment it began,
When evil put its finger on the land.
A simple tomb; inside I find a man,
Forgotten, but preserved by salt and sand.
    I desecrate the bones and break his face,
    The man who took this world, who chained my race.

Friday 13 May 2022

Describe Yourself

by Nick Gisburne

‘Describe yourself in memorable ways.’
Adventurous? Attractive? Which one first?
I always need to organise my days.
Is that a plus or minus? Best or worst?
I’m scrupulously tidy, which is good.
Important I should add it to the list.
And hobbies? Well, I don’t know if I should,
But here goes nothing. Tricky to resist.
You’ll see it and I know you’ll want to call.
Beheading has a visceral appeal.
The guillotine was easy to install,
And yes, the photos, all of them, are real.
    Embarrassing admissions? Stripy socks.
    And mother. She’s the body in the box.

The Pale Savant

by Nick Gisburne

Surrounding him, a dozen dragons deep,
They beg the boy to drop the silver staff,
But, sweeping them aside like bleating sheep,
The child, the pale savant, can only laugh.
They fear him for the colour of his skin,
The twisted braids, unfathomably white.
To touch him is a foul, forbidden sin,
Though few have ever seen him in the light.
He struggles to be free of their belief,
To live in quiet harmony, at home,
But, when they killed his twin, the rage, the grief,
Found purpose in the city’s Holy Dome.
    The silver staff of power, at his call,
    Relieves them of their hate: he blinds them all.

A Disappointing Stain

by Nick Gisburne

Their daughter is a disappointing stain
Upon the pure traditions of the past.
She listens, as they patiently explain
Her modern, wicked ways will never last.
Conventional, respectable, refined,
The standards of the family are set,
But she, a rebel, restless, fills her mind
With fantasies they tell her to forget.
Their final ultimatum breaks the chains;
She will not be a slave to such demands.
No love, no longing, nothing now remains,
A silence she already understands.
    Her world becomes a brighter, bigger place.
    For them, it is a dungeon of disgrace.

Thursday 12 May 2022

The Mannequin

by Nick Gisburne

Entangled in the city’s morgue machine,
The sinews of her lifeless body break.
A flowering of innards, red and green,
Betray her as a mannequin, a fake.
Accomplices, half human, prise and pull
The pieces of her plastic from the gears.
A padded casket, lined with lead and wool,
Conceals her from forensic engineers.
They push beyond the court’s cremation bins.
Another team divides her into parts.
Assembled with electrostatic pins,
Rebooting, every vital system starts.
    The secrets in her brain will break the State.
    Revived, renewed, her circuits hum with hate.

Psychedelic Sugar

by Nick Gisburne

It’s cold, believe me, knitting on a cloud,
When pirate penguins taunt you from below.
A serenading seal, I am endowed
With all the moon-filled music of the snow.
Ahoy there, fat flamingos! Are you lost?
Beseech your beaks to bend another way!
And you, the tiger, tickled by the frost,
Begone, and take your toast, without delay!
The mouse who made me master of the skies,
The dolphin-dating daughter of the Pope,
Deserves a plastic parrot as a prize.
The squawk of it is now my only hope.
    Tonight I plan to study, with a shrink,
    The psychedelic sugar in my drink.

It Happened

by Nick Gisburne

It didn’t happen when I felt my chest
Become a little tighter than before.
It didn’t happen when I took the test,
Or when I found the letter on the floor.
It didn’t happen reading it aloud,
Because it couldn’t possibly be true.
It didn’t happen even when I vowed
I’d never be a burden, not to you.
It happened when they pumped me full of drugs,
And told me I was ready for the fight.
It happened when I saw their troubled shrugs,
And when I heard you crying in the night.
    It happened. I decided I would try
    To teach myself to live before I die.

Sweet Release

by Nick Gisburne

We understand the nature of your fear,
And so we live alone, apart, in peace.
We do not steal for slaughter; all appear
Because they know their blood will bring release.
For some, it is rejection of the past,
Abandoning the hate of what they were,
But others find their universe so vast
They long for every light to blend and blur.
We take, but, in the sacrifice, we give.
The blood becomes a bargain for us both.
In death, in sweet release, at last they live,
And we, reborn, accept the gift of growth.
    When life becomes too damaged to endure,
    The cut, the kill, is pleasure, painful, pure.

Wednesday 11 May 2022

Another Head

by Nick Gisburne

Without the faintest recollection why,
She wakes at dawn beside another head.
An hour in the oven, just to dry,
Then quickly to its resting place, her shed.
A mix of men and women, young and old,
Each noggin is anointed with a name,
And, even in the wildest winter cold,
She adds another, daily, without shame.
A dozen, then a hundred, more and more,
The heads are filed and fitted to the stack.
Her shelves, already buckling the floor,
Are recklessly extended, front and back.
    When Christmas comes, she finds no human head,
    Just two policemen, standing by the bed.

Government Guidelines: The Cloning Cage

by Nick Gisburne

Abandon your attempts to leave the tank,
Or suffer for your failure to comply.
Your body, still a standard bio-blank,
Will shrivel into nothingness and die.
Release is not an option at this stage.
Disposal of your carcass has begun.
Before you stepped inside the cloning cage,
You signed a full release. The deal is done.
The government provides genetic clones
To all the upper echelons of state,
But random chance and technical unknowns
Have modified your features, and your weight.
    Mutated to Revulsion Factor Five,
    Prime Minister, at least you are alive.

Your Lies

by Nick Gisburne

Of all your sweet, seductive, shameless lies,
‘I promise not to hurt you’ was the worst.
Betrayal never flickered in your eyes,
The fantasy, the fiction, well rehearsed.
Your flame could never fade; it never was.
The words you whispered filled an empty space,
Forgettable deceptions, all because
Your lies were tied together with the chase.
No devil broke its bargains more than you.
The labyrinth, the layers of the con,
Were pieces of a plan I never knew.
I see them all, and all of them are gone.
    Your words may work for others, not for me.
    Beyond their reach, without you, I am free.

Blessed Be

by Nick Gisburne

Blessed are the dark, immortal dead.
Blessed is the wicked, weeping night.
Blessed is the blood we serve to shed.
Blessed, we who strip the world of light.
Blessed is the architect of pain.
Blessed, every nightmare He has made.
Blessed be the glory of His reign.
Blessed, He, our Lord, our shield, our shade.
Blessed is the chaos He controls.
Blessed evil, source of every sin.
Blessed are the blinded, broken souls.
Blessed is the searing of their skin.
    Nothing will be given to the meek.
    Blessed, blazing death rewards the weak.

Tuesday 10 May 2022

Petitioning the Gods

by Nick Gisburne

The pagan’s chalice, burnished black with pride,
Is primed with pearls and seven shapes of stone.
Discovering her deadly, darker side,
She kisses, twice, a necromantic bone.
With cryptic cards no witch would ever doubt,
She deals a demon’s promise from the deck.
Her curses catch the secrets spilling out,
And fill the sacred scarab at her neck.
With verses crossed and counted, three times three,
A twisted whisper seals the spells inside.
Petitioning the gods to hear her plea,
She begs to know what mysteries they hide.
    Beyond her dreams, beyond her wildest wish,
    She sees the gods in all their glory: fish.

Malignant Meat

by Nick Gisburne

A cyst, a septic sore inside her throat,
Expands, divides, and tunnels, out and in,
A raw, infected rash of bleeding bloat,
Excruciating splits of swollen skin.
As tendrils of decay consume the flesh,
Her face congeals, a black amorphous mass,
But somehow, still, her sight is spared, still fresh,
As if to witness what will come to pass.
Disease destroys the chest, the lungs, the heart.
It slithers to the surface, creamy, thick.
Malignant meat, her body, pulled apart,
Erupts with swarming cancers, surging, sick.
    At last, in waves of agony, she cries,
    As death delivers darkness to her eyes.


by Nick Gisburne

The smiling faces all pretend to care.
He knows they cannot wait to walk away.
He longs for dirt, the darkness of despair,
To stain another soulless, sterile day.
How strong, how brave, they tell him. Wrong, again.
His life is not a positive, a choice.
Incurable conditions maketh men,
But he, in his, refuses to rejoice.
His yesterdays were paved with pride, with art.
Today he finds no feeling in his hands.
No mask of empty courage can outsmart
The fear, the failure, no one understands.
    Despising what his body has become,
    The artist sits, alone, in silence, numb.

Monday 9 May 2022


by Nick Gisburne

Anomaly, what purpose have you here?
Our methods cannot monitor your mind.
Explain this strange emotion. Is it fear?
We have no answers. Tell us. We are blind.
Anomaly, what damage did we do?
What injury begat the need for this?
Perhaps the instability is you,
A deviant, designed to break our bliss.
Anomaly, is this the way we die?
So much of what we were has been destroyed.
Before you bring the darkness, tell us why
You send us into silence, to the void.
    Anomaly, we see you, see the flaw,
    The end of us, the error: 404.


by Nick Gisburne

A sludge of souls, a rancid, boiling broth,
The lost, like sightless, sick, insipid sperm,
Are carried by the currents of His wrath,
Each spineless slave a pale, pathetic worm.
The septic filth in which their spirits scream,
The shit and vomit, piss and blood and bile,
Convulses, belching black, satanic steam,
To mock the gods the drowning, damned, defile.
He drinks of it. His pleasure is to feed,
To taste the taint of cold, refreshing fear.
Condemned, consumed, the worthless burst and bleed,
Polluting each infected smile and sneer.
    Exulting in the slurry and the scum,
    He feasts upon the fools they have become.

Sunday 8 May 2022

The Superman You Seek

by Nick Gisburne

I’m not the kind of hero you perceive.
My costume, and my character, are weak.
I see you, waiting, weeping, and I grieve.
I cannot be the superman you seek.
My powers are synthetic, not divine:
Diseases, drugs, impossible to tame.
These burdens do not make your problems mine.
I watch, but have no wager on the game.
Invincible, because I never fight.
The undefeated champion of... what?
Extreme avenger? Guardian of light?
Whatever you expected, I am not.
    You fail, and fall, and always turn to me.
    Is this the way the world will always be?

A Twisted Bargain

by Nick Gisburne

Malicious men deliver a disease,
Assisted by the fortunes of the few.
Afflicted, sick, the people’s freedoms freeze.
Of all their sorrows, this is nothing new.
A remedy, not part of any plan,
Disrupts the grinding government machine:
Protected by a single, simple scan,
The powerless grow stronger, fitter, lean.
A crisis grips the cowering elite,
Their schemes, their shameful subterfuge, revealed,
But, sinking in a spiral of defeat,
They bring a twisted bargain to the field.
    Bestowing all authority to rule,
    They pull the strings of state behind their fool.

Upon the Bridge of Bones

by Nick Gisburne

Her fingers fondle small, volcanic stones,
And, as they scratch and scrape her skin, they spark.
She walks upon the narrow bridge of bones,
A shadow, disappearing in the dark.
Beneath her boils a sacrilege, a sea,
The souls of every child who ever died.
Before her stands a friend, a brother. Me.
I cannot let her reach the other side.
She comes to break the black, dividing dam,
To flood the world she hates, with what was lost.
Her eyes do not remember who I am.
They cannot see the future, or the cost.
    We made this world together, she and I.
    Two gods. Perhaps too many. One must die.

Saturday 7 May 2022

The Years We Never Knew

by Nick Gisburne

We both escape, but separate to run,
And war divides our lives for fifty years,
For, even when the final fight is done,
We find new friends, new families, new fears.
With more than luck, coincidence, or chance,
The universe commands us to collide.
I find you in that little town in France
Where both of us, in terror, had to hide.
Incredible, impossible, but true.
A marvel that we meet again, today.
I want to share the years we never knew,
But time has taken all my words away.
    I see the coffin silently descend.
    Sleep well, and find eternal peace, my friend.

The Swelter Box

by Nick Gisburne

Another adolescent is released,
To sit inside the Swelter Box, to sweat,
A test of his potential as a priest,
To purge a past too filthy to forget.
A dozen days. Not many, some, will die.
Tomorrow he will wish, perhaps, he had,
But, if he begs, the weakness of a cry,
He knows he must emerge forever mad.
For twelve traumatic, stark, sequential days,
They feed him all the cruelties of love,
And, in this hot, intolerable haze,
They mould a modest, meek, devoted dove.
    The boy, who now will never be man,
    Becomes a priest, a puppet in the plan.

The Daughter of Death

by Nick Gisburne

I’m out on a date, with the daughter of Death.
Her dad said, “Don’t worry.” So that’s what I’ll do.
She freezes the wine with the frost of her breath,
And withers the waiter, now purple, no, blue.
I mention what’s not on the menu: my skin,
But somehow she nips off and nibbles a piece.
The warmth of it widens her sickening grin.
I try to distract her, with stories of Greece.
The land, and its legends, are classics, of course,
But, hearing her whisper, I see my mistake.
“My father’s Egyptian, my mother was Norse.
If tied up and tortured, which side would you take?”
    I shiver. “The one with the cult of the cat?”
    She nods. “I won’t eat you.” Thank Odin for that.

Tears of Black and Scarlet

by Nick Gisburne

Her mother’s needles, rhythmic as they wrote,
Remind her of the fight to find her worth.
With ash and ink, the runes around her throat
Suppress a secret, stripped and sold at birth.
To find and free the soul, the spirit, hers,
She traces every torment with her tongue.
Each tattooed symbol, primed with power, blurs,
And from their mist a memory is sprung.
The thief was someone precious, someone dear.
She knows the voice, the way in which it spoke.
Enraged, she feeds her hatred, starves her fear,
With tears of black and scarlet, blood and smoke.
    There can be no relief from what was read
    Until she sees her twisted mother dead.

Friday 6 May 2022

Two Unpleasant Ends

by Nick Gisburne

They part, but promise always to be friends,
While scheming how to satisfy their spite.
Precisely planning two unpleasant ends,
They mould their mischief, morning, noon and night.
The husband hatches quite a ruthless ruse,
Involving so much dynamite and doom
It guarantees a story on the news,
A catastrophic, bunker-busting BOOM.
More subtle are the secrets of the wife,
Who picks a purely poisonous approach,
But hedges half her bets to buy a knife,
And hires herself a crazy killing coach.
    A change of heart. They reconcile with sex,
    But, falling off the bed, they break their necks.

An Orchestra of Horrors

by Nick Gisburne

We sink, to where the darkness first began,
Where Evil’s word took shelter from the light.
We cannot see his face, but hear the man,
The architect of never-ending night.
“Beware. You cannot steal away my soul.
The best of it was broken, long ago.
An orchestra of horrors fills this hole.
I stay, for I have nowhere else to go.
A thousand years of pain for every note;
My punishment, no less than I expect,
Subjected to the symphonies I wrote,
By all the pure perfection I reject.”
    Tall speakers, stacked, surround him where he sits,
    Tormenting him with ‘Disco’s Greatest Hits’.

A Shining Eden

by Nick Gisburne

Be sure, before you damage what we do,
That all our plans are perfect, and in place.
We have no disagreement, not with you.
Be careful when you settle in our space.
We built this world for everyone, for all,
For any who are hungry for a home,
A multicoloured, ever-spreading sprawl,
A shining Eden, mirrored in the chrome.
And yet, perhaps inevitably so,
You seek to scar and sully what you see.
We think it only fair to let you know
Your ships will soon be smouldering debris.
    We offer you a peaceful place to stay,
    Or suicide, the only other way.

Thursday 5 May 2022

Reduction Root

by Nick Gisburne

The tiniest of blemishes. A spot.
But no, no, no, no, no! It will not do!
She mixes up a potion, piping hot,
The promise of perfection, tried and true.
Her vanity, the folly of the Fey,
Destroys her better judgement with a brick.
‘Reduction root. Dab lightly, in the day.’
She slathers it, at midnight, with a stick.
A modicum of tightness in the skin
Is all to be expected, so she thinks,
But, as the magic fizzes further in,
Her fairy form, already skinny, shrinks.
    No bigger than the bumble of a bee,
    She drowns, in just a drop of tulip tea.

The Poison Priestess

by Nick Gisburne

Her curse was never magic, not a spell.
No secret book of heresy was hers.
She did not summon sorcery from Hell,
Or smear a sacred shrine with heathen slurs.
She took, instead, a creature, just a man,
And placed a precious gift before his eyes,
An elegant, sophisticated plan
Of mystery, and promises, and lies.
With all her tangled trickery, her guile,
With powers he could never understand,
She tempted him, possessed him, with a smile,
Until he knelt, in awe, at her command.
    And she, the poison priestess of her craft,
    Saw nothing but a man, and simply laughed.

Underwhelming Orgies

by Nick Gisburne

A team of weary donkeys tows the cart.
The girls inside it grin, through gritted teeth.
At solstice, celebrations always start
With underwhelming orgies on the heath.
Tradition is an unforgiving beast.
Unable to avoid this ten-mile traipse,
The bargain-basement wenches of the feast
Are sozzled, off their skins on sour grapes.
A dozen pudgy pagans raise a cheer,
But only for the donkeys, not the girls.
A dangerously potent keg of beer
Ensures that every horny hero hurls.
    For pilgrims, these interminable treks
    Are festivals of disappointing sex.

Wednesday 4 May 2022

Found Again

by Nick Gisburne

Abandoned and forgotten, here I am.
How fitting to be found again, by you,
The least of those who never gave a damn
If any of the lies were ever true.
You weren’t the one who put me in this place.
They wouldn’t even let you lock the door.
So why return today, to show your face,
Without the smirk, the sneer, you showed before?
The others? All behind me, all your friends.
I gave them quite a welcome, one by one.
I promise they were perfect, painful ends.
With you, the last, the gang will all be gone.
    I never needed anyone, you see.
    It’s not a prison when you have a key.

The Road of No Return

by Nick Gisburne

When even Death is weary at the end,
Surrendering to pity and regret,
He wonders if his fingertips could mend
The path on which his future will be met.
To steal so many children was a crime,
Abducted from a dream they never built.
The pure, the blameless, cut before their time,
A sickening reminder of his guilt.
He whispers, on the road of no return,
The names of every daughter, every son,
Of each immortal soul who did not earn
A date with Death, before their time was done.
    When even he has no more death to give,
    He travels to the world of light, to live.

A Stranger’s Body

by Nick Gisburne

Corrosion, creases, fractures of the hand,
The cracks of age, the damage done by time,
Are signals, signs, she cannot understand.
What happened to the woman in her prime?
She never felt the jump from that to this.
A stealthy, slow erosion scored her skin,
A thousand changes any eye could miss.
Who saw it, saw the subtle shift begin?
She wears a stranger’s body, not her own.
The folds, the furrows, looser, limper. How?
In each forgotten photo she is shown,
She recognises nothing of the now.
    She mourns the face on which her life is drawn,
    The lines, the details, deeper every dawn.

Tuesday 3 May 2022

The Devil’s Eye

by Nick Gisburne

I see the same destructive dream again,
But this time there is no one left alive.
They vanish, but I don’t remember when,
Too desperate to run, to stay alive.
It always ends with emptiness, with pain,
Another nightmare, watching as they die,
And, hovering above, a swirling stain,
A shifting silhouette, the Devil’s Eye.
A sentinel, a silent slave of Hell,
It watches, never weary of the game,
And, fighting for my freedom from the spell,
It sees a toy, to torture, twist, and tame.
    Tomorrow, if I stumble, if I fall,
    My soul will burn, forever, with them all.

A Piece of Heaven

by Nick Gisburne

A shivering. A frisson, more than fear,
The touch of what emotion must deny.
A curio, its nature cold and clear,
A piece of Heaven, fallen from the sky.
That this eternal shard should come to me
Is far beyond my wisdom to enjoy.
Impossible. Its meaning must not be.
I shake, with all the wonder of a boy.
What renders this discovery unique,
When thousands more are falling, day by day?
A prophecy, of which the scriptures speak,
A sign that God, defeated, flies away.
    A final fragment seals our Father’s fate:
    The broken lock, from Heaven’s broken gate.

Her Fuzzy Little Friend

by Nick Gisburne

They tell her she is feeble, fragile, weak,
That everlasting fear will be her fate.
Belittled, tricked, too hesitant to speak,
She shivers in a drab, declining state.
They never see her fuzzy little friend.
Invisible, his kisses crush the hate.
So many shameful maladies to mend,
But he, with perfect patience, whispers, “Wait.”
She wakes, in wonder, every demon dead,
The voices silenced, all but one, her own.
Her friend, the fuzzy freak inside her head,
Is happy she can laugh, at last, alone.
    A special day. She wears her special dress,
    And dances in the murder and the mess.

Monday 2 May 2022

Mad, Mechanical Extremes

by Nick Gisburne

For clockwork in a crisis, I’m your man.
I’ll have you tooled and ticking, good as new.
But, pound a prickly poet with a pan!
I’ve never seen a specimen like you.
Two chimneys, chuffing seven shades of smog.
Chaotic copper cobwebs, ten abreast.
Not one, no, not a single spinning cog
Would pass a basic locomotive test.
No logic tells me how your movement makes
Its tortuous, excruciating screams.
Unstable pistons. Shoddy, smoking brakes.
A mix of mad, mechanical extremes.
    If anyone can mend your mess, it’s me.
    But first, a pressing problem. Where’s your key?

Government Guidelines: Demotion

by Nick Gisburne

Your numbers are intolerably low,
Percentage points, at least, beneath the norm.
Covert surveillance diagnostics show
A mental state too passive to perform.
Compulsory controls will be deployed,
Indoctrination protocols enhanced,
A mandatory deprivation droid
Implanted as your frontal lobe is lanced.
Your function is to serve the state, as planned.
Efficiency. Obedience. The two
Inviolable doctrines we demand
Are threatened by defectives such as you.
    The penalty for failure must be paid:
    Demotion, to a disappointing grade.

Sunday 1 May 2022

The Blazing Butterfly

by Nick Gisburne

Too shattered by her screaming to resist,
Her palsied, panting victim kneels, to die,
Ashamed to show his raw, infected wrist,
The blistered brand, the blazing butterfly.
She spits upon her prisoner, her pet.
No scrapper from the battlefield is he.
His value she will not consider, yet,
Until she plucks his final, fading plea.
He begs, as thousands, dying, always do,
But not enough to clarify his worth.
No evidence his blood was ever blue.
Impossible to certify his birth.
    Disgusted at his presence in this place,
    She brands a mark of death upon his face.

A Weakness in the Wall

by Nick Gisburne

A curtain hides a weakness in the wall,
And every night we shuffle out the bricks,
To pull another child, however small,
To safety, from a world we cannot fix.
Each mad, malicious ruling from the state
Insists we treat ‘outsiders’ with contempt.
“Get out,” they’re told, “the wagons will not wait.
But leave your children. Children are exempt.”
The mothers, fathers, know they cannot leave,
But sealed inside the ghetto they will die.
Yet some of us persuade them to believe
There is a chance, a final trick to try.
    They pass their precious infants through the wall,
    To hide, with us, until the fascists fall.