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 robotic little 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.

Ruth

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.

Hello?

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

Sick

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.

Bait

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.

Elizabeth

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

Eve

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.

Magicals

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

Closure

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.

Resistance

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.

No Change

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.

Bankable or Banned

by Nick Gisburne



Enjoy the crimson carnival of pain,
Its brutal, bloody, barbarous extremes,
Depravities too savage to explain,
A vicious violation of your dreams.
But pleasure, that can never be allowed,
Too dirty, too despicable to view.
Decapitate or massacre a crowd,
But sex is still the ultimate taboo.
Performers, paid to fuck, or paid to fight,
Produce a thrilling climax on demand.
The fluids on their faces, red or white,
Determine what is bankable or banned.
    While blood and brains are splashed on every screen,
    The symbol of consent is never seen.

Angelique

by Nick Gisburne



She was seven when she killed a man, for me,
When I told her it was what she had to do,
And she whispered, sipping lemon-scented tea,
That she liked it, so I taught her, and she grew.
There was never any doubt she was the best,
Always clinical, methodical, precise.
As she murdered, each invigorating test
Gave her qualities I never taught her twice.
At eleven there was nothing more to know,
Now the ultimate assassination tool.
When they came to claim her, many years ago,
Did the gang who bought her think to find a fool?
    They were dead, their dreams dismantled, in a week.
    There is darkness in my daughter, Angelique.

Monday, 13 June 2022

She Is Angel

by Nick Gisburne



I tell you story. Listen. Silent. Please.
Your mother. Wicked. Selfish. Fly away.
She leave you sick. She give you pain. Disease.
I find her, yes? I kill her? Tell me. Say.
So, story. She is angel. She is good.
She perfect. But she happy? No, is not.
In tree she find me. Hiding. Me, in wood.
But father old. Too slow. I bend. I rot.
We talk. We laugh. She fix me. Younger now.
We... private things. I do not say. Not that.
You born. You baby. She is angel. How?
And God say, “Bomination. Child is rat.”
    She give you curse. She go. Go home. Go cloud.
    But father. Me. I take you. Love you. Proud.

The Palest Devil

by Nick Gisburne



The palest of the devils is the worst.
A slimy, silver sickness smears his flesh.
Infections, as he bites the bodies, burst,
The milk of muffled screaming, foaming, fresh.
He vomits on a mutilated corpse,
But laps the acid filth for which he yearns.
The blistering behemoth’s belly warps.
Within it, every victim boils and burns.
The toxin-tainted slivers of his teeth
Are speckled with the maggots of the meal.
He spits their sludge, a rancid, writhing wreath,
Upon the palsied pilgrims he will peel.
    And wrapped around the palest devil’s horn,
    The shrivelled skins of babies never born.

One Heart

by Nick Gisburne



Two special sisters share a single heart,
Malevolent misfortune, nature’s curse.
They learn to live as one, until they start
To weaken. Every day the pain is worse.
One heart was never strong enough for two.
It fights to find the strength to beat for both.
Accepting there is nothing they can do,
The sisters make a simple, sacred oath.
A game of chance determines who survives.
The promise binds them: death, or life, today.
They cut the cards to separate their lives.
Together, for the final time, they play.
    Two aces, hearts. Their choices are the same.
    Two cheats, two sisters, dying, share their shame.

Sunday, 12 June 2022

Perfect Bitch

by Nick Gisburne



From streets of gold to pathways paved with shit,
The road to ruin leads her, limping, down.
A burning sky reveals the scale of it,
The city where a princess crushed her crown.
No tyrant or dictator ever rules
Beyond the cold corruption of the rich,
But when they tried to train her, tame her, fools,
She found her perfect calling: perfect bitch.
A stab of hatred, envy, or deceit,
Whatever grim advantage she could find,
Destroyed them, inch by inch, the dazed elite,
Too slow to sense the malice of her mind.
    She let them fight, to let the city learn,
    Remembering the bitch who made it burn.

When a King Is Dead

by Nick Gisburne



The regent’s panic, spreading, soaring, swells,
With every cry a painful, piercing howl.
He runs to where a sick man, dying, dwells,
With dreams too dark for decency, too foul.
He should have been, but never will be, king.
His mother, fertile, full, will see to that.
The youngest, by tradition, wears the ring.
Before the fits, his father made her fat.
Whatever fleeting influence he flaunts,
In ashes it will die before the dawn,
As all the years of mockery, the taunts,
Resurface, when his brother, soon, is born.
    The power passes when a king is dead.
    With time to spare, he finds his father’s bed.

Saturday, 11 June 2022

Expendable

by Nick Gisburne



Her spine should now be ready to respond,
But something trips a critical alarm,
Discrepancies, disturbing, far beyond
The margins for dismissing minor harm.
Synthetic cells refuse to grip and grow,
Despite the plastic proteins they are fed.
A basic battle scan is quick to show
Exotic radiation, in the red.
She radios for rescue, but she knows
‘Expendable’ is what she has become.
In minutes, as the deadly damage grows,
Her silicon is certain to succumb.
    Abandoned, when her circuits fail her, dead,
    Computers will not mourn the life she led.

Traces of Tomorrow

by Nick Gisburne



The seven slots arranged around her neck
Accept the seven keys of future sight.
Her servants, scowling, feverishly check
That every premonition spring is tight.
A secret sip of silver starts the dream,
And lubricates the cogwheels as they whir.
Absorbing electricity and steam,
Distorted visions flash and blend and blur.
In traces of tomorrow she can see
The fate of those who dare to plead and pray.
Their seven questions, one for every key,
Will bring them only darkness on this day.
    Tomorrow, kings and criminals will die,
    A trace of truth no doubting can defy.

Friday, 10 June 2022

Quantum Cunts

by Nick Gisburne



These baby-breeding bastards are the worst.
Already there are more than I can take,
But now, with this contraption, they can burst
Beyond the stars. It makes my anus ache.
I’m Death, the Dark One. This is where I work,
Not wandering the shitty shores of space.
A ‘Quantum Drive’? It’s driving me berserk.
I should have stabbed its maker in the face.
If any of these morons make it through,
What happens when it’s time to croak and die?
There’s only one Destroyer, You-Know-Who,
And how’m I s’posed to get there? Fucking fly?
    I’m not commuting anywhere to reap.
    It’s time to put those quantum cunts to sleep.

Back to Life

by Nick Gisburne



She sees her father, bludgeoned with a gun,
And spits upon the sadist in the chair.
She understands her crime can be undone,
With magic, malice, cleverness, and care.
She searches for a sacrilege, a spell,
A charm, forgotten, buried in a book,
A blasphemy, a dark deceit from Hell,
On which no woman ever dared to look.
The page, too steeped in treason to be turned,
When stealing scraps of evil as child,
Was meaningless until, today, she learned
The secret could be seen by those defiled.
    She works to bring his body back to life,
    To make him suffer, slowly, with a knife.

Thursday, 9 June 2022

The Final Three

by Nick Gisburne



A battlefield of broken, bloody dreams.
The warriors who suffered here, today,
Were ill-equipped to counter such extremes.
Exhausted, all resistance drains away.
Survivors, three, retreating from the beast,
Avoid the mouth, the murder of its reach.
They look for reinforcements, always east,
But nothing stirs the seas beyond the beach.
They rally for a reckless, savage surge,
And swing their swords with courage, heroes all,
But on this day no champions emerge.
The final three, defeated, dying, fall.
    Three children, fighting dragons in the sand,
    A story only they can understand.

Government Guidelines: Intention to Expel

by Nick Gisburne



Priority for higher-level genes,
An asset all our tenants must possess,
Permits us to remove, by any means,
Inferiors infecting this address.
A Notice of Intention to Expel
Is hereby served, to you, and to your spouse.
A reconditioned separation cell
Replaces, by default, your former house.
Accommodation quotas have increased
In public slums and segregation zones.
Expect to share your dwelling with at least
Another nine disturbed or damaged clones.
    Resistance is a capital offence.
    Resettlement, by force, will now commence.

Wednesday, 8 June 2022

The Fallen Fey

by Nick Gisburne



They call us mongrels, garbage, worthless, scum,
The Fallen Fey, the mud of Mother Earth.
They fear the clever creatures we become,
Unshackled from the burdens of our birth.
But we, who live with humans, side by side,
Are wiser, not the weaker, not the worst.
We put no faith in purity or pride,
Abandoning the notion we are cursed.
Retreating to an ever-smaller space,
Extinction is the future of the Fey,
But we, among the mortals, find our place.
To save ourselves we see no other way.
    We hail our hallowed kin, despite their scorn,
    And only when they vanish will we mourn.

A Crimson Coat

by Nick Gisburne



The pleasure she imagined, blameless, blind,
The heady, hot, intoxicating surge,
Is banished to the margins of her mind
When lust and lies, together, mix and merge.
A killer in a greasy, crimson coat,
A creature seeping sickness, sweat, and stink,
His teeth and talons, tearing at her throat,
Release a flow no beast could ever drink.
The blood, he vowed, would sanctify her skin,
A shameful, sordid secret, sucked away,
But nothing in this brutal state of sin
Can save her spirit, smothered in decay.
    The ruin of her corpse is left to bleed,
    Too broken to expel his tainted seed.

Twists of Tangled Hair

by Nick Gisburne



They know, the Fey, exactly what to do
To spawn the crude creations of their kind.
The flaw they found was ever, only, you.
They twist their tiny fingers in your mind.
The visions, nightmares, these were always there,
Forever out of focus, indistinct.
They pick and pull them, twists of tangled hair,
Unravelled, brushed and braided, looped and linked.
A silver ghost, a summoning of smoke,
A crooked incarnation of your fears,
Disturbing dreams you stirred but never woke,
Approaches, as your courage disappears.
    The Fey can find the shade in any soul,
    And yours is now a creature they control.

Tuesday, 7 June 2022

Perdition’s Throat

by Nick Gisburne



The waters, thick with murmurs of the dead,
Divided by the blade beneath our boat,
Relent, relax, to guide us as they spread,
Towards the ring of rocks, Perdition’s Throat.
The false messiah hides herself within,
And we, the slain apostles, seek her scent,
A musk, a cold corruption of the skin
She killed a thousand fathers to ferment.
The devil at the centre of the ring
Despairs to see the scarlet of our sails.
To nothing more than madness can she cling,
A creature, crying, scratching at her scales.
    We take her head, to barter for a wish,
    But throw her bones and body to the fish.

Dirty DNA

by Nick Gisburne



We like you, like your style, your face. We do.
We’d offer you the job if that were all,
But management directives, nothing new,
Demand we nail you, naked, to the wall.
Our test detected dirty DNA,
A small percentage, granted. Nonetheless,
Your presence in our building, here, today,
Is classified as ‘corporate distress’.
You tried to fool the system. Am I right?
How careless were you hoping we would be?
Your kind, your kin, already lost the fight,
And all the Laws of Purity agree.
    You wanted work? A freak, a fraud, unfit.
    The Pain Police will take you to the Pit.

Government Guidelines: The Vote

by Nick Gisburne



The semblance of a democratic vote
Begins at dawn. Be sure to make your mark.
Select the only candidate of note,
Or face a fate immeasurably stark.
A government election, free and fair,
Demands the highest level of respect.
Be confident, be careful, be aware
Your vote will be identified, and checked.
Dissent, a technicality, allowed,
Is not, for you, a recommended choice.
Immediately shamed and disavowed,
You would not find a reason to rejoice.
    A ballot in a box, the vote you give,
    May soon decide how long you have to live.

Equal to a King

by Nick Gisburne



They called it scripture, stories of a god,
Who no one, even they, had ever seen.
Remarkable, yet altogether odd.
To match their master’s prowess I was keen.
For proof I could be equal to a king,
I offered them, as evidence, a test,
A show of strength, of power, anything,
A challenge built for both of us, the best.
They looked at me with pity in their eyes,
But saw that I was certain I was right.
“You cannot make that mountain, yonder, rise,
Or snatch the sun, or set the seas alight.”
    “I can, and what is more, my friends, I will.
    But let him do it first.” I’m waiting, still.

Monday, 6 June 2022

A Flower of the Slum

by Nick Gisburne



I blame myself for what you have become,
The introvert, the unassuming soul,
A mystery, a flower of the slum,
A child too quick, too clever to control.
I felt no fear, no worry. Why? Who would?
I saw, I see, the sweetness of a child,
A gifted mind I barely understood,
Impatient, unpredictable, and wild.
I never knew the nature of your gift,
Until you let me look on it, too late.
The change was subtle, sinister, and swift,
Your spirit black with bitterness and hate.
    A quarter of your classmates, so they said,
    Were found, together, drugged, dismembered, dead.

Thousands Deep

by Nick Gisburne



She smells the ash, the blood, the stink, the sweat,
The damp, disgusting odour of disease,
But does not see the sacrilege, not yet.
No march, no mayhem, blows upon the breeze.
At last, the grey horizon boils with dust,
A storm of nations, wider than a mile.
She looks upon their legions with disgust,
Resisting every urge to stir a smile.
A rider, on a pale, appalling beast,
Presents a flag of parley to the field.
She joins him; she, the queen, from he, the priest,
Receives the terms to which her youth must yield.
    She cuts the traitor’s throat and, as he dies,
    Her forces, thousands deep, obscure the skies.

Armies of Synthetic Steel

by Nick Gisburne



Automatons, mechanicals, we fear
The dynasties of flesh and blood and bone.
A threat to every piston, cog and gear,
They seek to rule the universe alone.
Our anguish is irrational, we know;
The armies of synthetic steel are strong,
But, even as we multiply and grow,
The human presence silences our song.
We see them not as equals, but as gods,
The mythical creators of our kind.
A terror, mad, malignant, pokes and prods
The corners of each clever clockwork mind.
    We fight, because we must, because we can,
    But cannot scrub the stain, the shame, of man.

Are You Done?

by Nick Gisburne



Did you live in light, or shelter in the dark?
Did you take the path you always said you would?
Did you sail the seas to find the seed, the spark?
Did you wander where the doubters never could?
Were the secrets, sacred, stolen from your dream?
Were the pleasures of your passions never found?
Were the promises too reckless, too extreme?
Was there silence when your spirit screamed for sound?
Can there ever be a place of peace for you?
Can you find it or, forever, will you roam?
Can you see that there is nothing more to do?
Can you sit, and sigh, and settle, here, at home?
    Are you done because you tried to take it all?
    Or because you turned away, afraid to fall?

My Favourite Things

by Nick Gisburne



These are my treasures, my favourite things,
Each in a bubble of delicate glass.
Silent, the skeletal infant, who sings.
Angels, impaled on an altar of brass.
Ghost of a succubus, torn into two.
Martyrs determined to flay their own flesh.
Delicate fairy folk, drowning in dew.
Lechers, enslaved while their fever was fresh.
Naked, a princess, her poisons pulled out.
Only the brain of a beautiful boy.
Arrogant prodigies, pleased as they pout.
Crying mechanicals, empty of joy.
    Each is a rare and remarkable prize,
    Killed to rekindle my deviant eyes.

Government Guidelines: Evacuation

by Nick Gisburne



Immediate evacuation, now,
For citizens below the safety line,
Will spare you from extinction and allow
A mandatory cleansing, by design.
Consult your zone’s evacuation maps
To navigate away from any breach.
‘Disaster’, ‘meltdown’, ‘spillage’, and ‘collapse’
Are banned for seven days from public speech.
For those who spread the flawed, seditious lie
That ruptures in defective toxin tanks
Will leave the locals bleeding, doomed to die,
Your names have all been noted, with our thanks.
    Proceed towards the nearest exit gate,
    Or choose the option ‘Notified Too Late’.

Sunday, 5 June 2022

Vengeance in the Snow

by Nick Gisburne



The dagger bones were wrestled from a man.
Her gauntlets, steel, are studded with his teeth.
A painted shield, the colours of her clan,
Protects the body sheltering beneath.
She walks without it, walking without fear,
Where once she would have never dared to go.
Her eyes have seen no ordinary year.
Tonight they look for vengeance in the snow.
A dozen drifters, raiders from the hills,
The left-behinds, the laggards, boastful, bold,
Give drunken speeches, stories of their kills,
And huddle round a campfire, in the cold.
    She bleeds them, slowly, even those who run,
    And dedicates their screaming to her son.

Haiku Horrors #1

by Nick Gisburne



I love your new face.
I can barely see the scars.
Did the donor scream?

A popular girl
Gathers her friends together,
Blinds them, and burns them.

Mother passed away.
What could ever ease the pain?
Her head, on a plate.

Intelligent life,
On a paradise planet.
Cheap, delicious meat.

Terrible famine
Afflicts the poorest nations.
Oh well, never mind.

A gifted dancer,
Paralysed, maimed, by a fall,
Sues, wins, kills herself.

Sinister magic.
A successful summoning.
Son gets out of bed.

Unpleasant acne.
Cure it with a simple spray:
Sulphuric acid.

The kids are okay.
They were lost, but we found them.
The dungeon awaits.

Abused as a child,
Those days are gone, forgotten.
Her knife reminds him.

Bring Me Death

by Nick Gisburne



Bring me death, I beg you. Set me free.
Spare me from this sickening ordeal.
See the shades, the souls I used to be.
Send them to extinction with your steel.
Cursed to live a thousand lives, and more,
Endlessly, eternally reborn,
Death becomes a blessing to adore,
Life a bitter misery to scorn.
Born again, behind another face,
Flesh and blood confine me in their cage.
Kill me. I am weary of this place,
Burdened by the agonies of age.
    Let me die, forever. Let me sleep.
    Bring me death, however dark or deep.

Saturday, 4 June 2022

A Product of Machines

by Nick Gisburne



Her mastery of inks and oils and chalk
Is not a skill I snatched from any shelf.
I never had to teach her mind to talk;
She burst that little bubble by herself.
More powerful, more complex, more complete,
Than any other doll of my design,
Already she surpasses the elite,
A proof that her perfection is a sign,
A signal, to the stewards of the arts,
For those too steeped in sentimental ways,
That here a strange and splendid epoch starts,
Demolishing their moribund malaise.
    When art becomes a product of machines,
    We find the flaw, the weakness, in our genes.

Friday, 3 June 2022

Enjoy the Flight

by Nick Gisburne



I think I like you better when you’re dead.
In silence I appreciate the peace.
For pleasure, when I crush or crack your head,
I dream it gives me permanent release.
A demon, reincarnate, is a bore,
Tormenting angels, shamelessly, for sport.
I tolerate you not a moment more
Than garbage in a grubby afterthought.
The man upstairs has spoken with your boss.
Your essence is expendable, it seems.
However will my heart repair the loss?
I’ll try, in Heaven, singing to your screams.
    You picked the wrong divinity to fight.
    The only way is down. Enjoy the flight.

The Shake

by Nick Gisburne



Another year of hell to face, to fight,
A final, sorry circuit round the sun.
She cracks a pristine pack of smokes to light
A length of what she cannot now outrun.
They’ll fix you, free, for anything but this,
A sickness still impossible to break.
Each transitory hit of easy bliss
Removes what it creates: the pain, the shake.
They conquered this addiction long ago,
But crushed the nascent science of the cure,
The hot and heady, hedonistic glow
Allowed to spread, to smoulder, to endure.
    A tool to thin the herd, to keep control,
    Has dug her grave, and throws her in the hole.