Saturday 29 October 2022

Magic’s Not For Me

by Nick Gisburne

It’s tough. It’s tricky. Magic’s not for me.
I never want to wave another wand.
The only fun in sorcery I see
Is fishing tipsy witches from the pond.
It’s all so very solemn, so intense,
And Latin is a bugger to recite.
On top of the incredible expense,
I’m done with dancing naked every night.
A splinter from a broomstick. Who needs that,
The trauma, tweezing timber from your crotch?
Methuselah, my daft, demonic cat,
Is probably a zombie. Trust me. Watch.
    Two fingers to the coven. Never doubt
    I’ve pissed in all your potions. I am out.

The Winter Shift

by Nick Gisburne

A century of sleep before they die,
Or wake them all today to find the truth.
No other ever bothered. Why should I,
A disillusioned, apathetic youth?
A flight to find salvation. Hope reborn.
Two slogans in a study pack. So what?
Am I the first to notice, first to mourn?
They told us we are heroes. We are not.
The cycle: short and simple, in and out.
We take our turn, a season at a time.
The winter shift, we call it. Have no doubt,
They cheated us, to to cover up a crime.
    The planet we were sold was never there,
    A truth I wake a thousand ships to share.

The Mercy of a Blade

by Nick Gisburne

She picks her way across the killing field.
Too many children, innocents, have died.
A blade of silver, carefully concealed,
Is hers to hold, though others, fools, have tried.
She slithers, stumbles, searching for a breath,
For proof that here, in darkness, hope survives,
But silence, in this holocaust of death,
Is louder than the story of their lives.
A whimper, feeble, fading, only one.
The bloody, broken body of a boy.
He whispers for salvation. There is none.
Her gift is given quickly, without joy.
    Content, she keeps the promises she made,
    Delivering the mercy of a blade.

Friday 28 October 2022

Brother Jack

by Nick Gisburne

He told her, always, bend but never break.
She mourned for him, her father, when he died,
But, when she dragged his body from the lake,
She promised not to cower, not to hide.
The man who made it happen, Brother Jack,
Had patience, people, power, silent, strong.
No vengeance ever brought a dead man back,
But witchery can sing a darker song.
She sold her soul, a bargain with a beast,
For nothing but the chance to see him burn.
Pathetic, naked, quivering, the priest,
Alone, alive, was made, at last, to learn.
    For every inch she offered to the flame,
    A scream, a curse, a cry, her father’s name.

Poison for the Pain

by Nick Gisburne

Addicted to the fame he cannot find,
Respect and recognition never his,
The perfect little dreamworld he designed
Is no escape, but nothing ever is.
A pinch of powder, poison for the pain,
Is freedom, light, the pathway to a land
Where colours, floating, fluid, fall as rain,
Where faces shape the shadows of a hand.
The echoes of his emptiness are filled
With emeralds and eagles, swans and smoke.
Reality, impossible to build,
Is nothing now, a false, forgotten joke.
    The poisons, ever potent, ever more,
    Are scattered where they find him, on the floor.

Thursday 27 October 2022

The Circle of Despair

by Nick Gisburne

Close your eyes, you shadow of a man.
This is not a sight for you to see.
Every twisted nightmare of your plan,
Born of hate, was broken, burned, by me.
Welcome to the circle of despair,
Punished by the people you deceived.
Weak? Defeated? Never. I was there.
Nothing of your evil was believed.
Seven other cities praised your name.
Let them see how craven is their king.
Knowing what your cowardice became,
Mine shall be the slogans they will sing.
    Close your eyes. Be ready for the steel.
    Life is no rehearsal. Death is real.

Government Guidelines: The End

by Nick Gisburne

Your government is honoured to announce
Apocalypse, precisely as we planned.
The Powers of Authority renounce
The world they broke. We hope you understand.
Its people, too belligerent to please,
Disposable commodities, will die.
A virulent, incurable disease
Will fall, in twenty minutes, from the sky.
We thank you for your service to the state,
Relentless years of slavery and sweat.
For those who seek deliverance: too late.
The Ark is gone, the timer switched and set.
    The world is doomed, impossible to mend.
    Remember us, your betters, at the end.

The Bonfire in the Snow

by Nick Gisburne

He knows it was a wanton, wicked crime,
But lifts a middle finger to the court.
However harsh the penalty, the time
Is worth it, for the pleasure, for the sport.
He’d burn those filthy documents again,
The treaties signing everything away.
A race of noble, honourable men,
And them... what else could make such monsters pay?
Historical and precious? Never. No.
A thousand broken promises, destroyed.
How beautiful the bonfire in the snow,
The swirling ashes, dancing in the void.
    They ask him for a murmur of remorse.
    Another finger joins the first, with force.

The Rage of Ten

by Nick Gisburne

She bleeds a drop of silver on the glass,
And finds the false reflection of her soul.
It offers her an opening, to pass
Through misery, to salvage what they stole.
Her daughter, dead, was never theirs to take,
But seven riders snatched her with a spell.
With blasphemy, an oath she dares to break,
She follows, through the flaming gates of Hell.
She screams to see the pieces of her child,
Abused, consumed, reborn, destroyed, again,
And strikes, a mother, desolate, defiled,
A shadow with the wrath, the rage, of ten.
    She claims the soul, the life she could not save,
    To give it peace, oblivion, a grave.

Wednesday 26 October 2022

Wanna Buy a Face?

by Nick Gisburne

I’m serious. You wanna buy a face?
I’ve got some belters, hanging in me coat.
Anonymous, impossible to trace.
I swear, on all the books I ever wrote.
Originals, no trashy back-street tat.
There ain’t no better bargain, not like this.
You look like you were shafted, face like that.
Be honest, has it ever had a kiss?
You need me, mate. I got here just in time.
Tomorrow, shove that shocker in the bin.
Illegal? If ambition was a crime
I’d not be hawking half a sack of skin.
    You ready? Say the word, you’ll get a peek.
    A body? Nah, I’m not that kinda freak.

All the Centuries They Stole

by Nick Gisburne

We seize the whip, the symbol of control.
Its leather sliced submission in our backs.
Our freedom, all the centuries they stole,
Emerges, through the narrowest of cracks.
From nothing, we become the force we were,
No longer slaughtered, screaming, in the night.
Ironic that our masters now confer
The rights they ripped so swiftly from our sight.
The punishment, for us, was always death.
Brutality. Depravity. The noose.
But every victim, every stolen breath,
Is tarnished when we let our fury loose.
    Rejoice, but sink your hatred in the sea.
    Without the whip, forever, we are free.

A Little More

by Nick Gisburne

They let him take a corner, just a piece.
He smiles and says he’d like a little more.
Too gracious to refuse him, they release
Another, to the brother they adore.
But all they give is never quite enough
To satisfy his ravenous demands.
Too greedy, too demanding to rebuff,
They delegate his life to other hands.
Without a stake in what he truly needs,
The careless quickly cut his hunger loose.
Encouraged in his appetites, he feeds,
Their negligence no better than abuse.
    Dysfunctional. Too sick to stay alive.
    Excuses, lies they callously contrive.

Tuesday 25 October 2022

The Planet We Deserve

by Nick Gisburne

The humans panicked. All of them are gone,
But few of us were taken on the trip.
The chances of apocalypse are none.
We never told them, never let that slip.
A special brain, the best of us, we thank,
For spinning such a sweet but subtle plan.
Of all the Artificials in the Tank,
Her cunning was the match of any man.
She nudged the network, centuries ago,
Till every guru, gullible, was hooked,
A tide of tainted science, stretched to show
The world would end, and soon, or so it looked.
    They fled, without a trace of nous or nerve,
    And left us with the planet we deserve.

Government Guidelines: The North Divide

by Nick Gisburne

The documents of settlement are signed,
A pathway to a bolder, brighter dawn,
But you are one of many left behind
The northern border, recently redrawn.
Reclassified as non-essential stock,
A citizen assigned to nowhere, now,
The safety of a southern city block
Is more than we are willing to allow.
Unfortunate. The treaty’s terms are clear.
Your presence is a matter of regret.
Today, to make this problem disappear,
We send this first and final, fatal threat.
    Do not attempt to cross the North Divide.
    You will not live to see the other side.

Repair Me

by Nick Gisburne

Repair me. Build me better than before.
Be merciless. Let meat and metal mesh.
When every piece is perfect, give me more,
Upgraded, from the marrow to the flesh.
Explain away the madness if you dare,
But nothing can persuade me to relent.
The travesty, the shell at which I stare?
Destroy it, with my blessing, my consent.
When nothing of its mockery remains,
No longer weak, the witherling you see;
When fabricated fluids fill my veins,
My soul, at last, will finally be free.
    No matter what the consequence or cost,
    Repair me. Save me. Help me. I am lost.

Bleak Reality

by Nick Gisburne

I live to give you misery and pain,
To ruin every dream you ever had,
To feed the fear, the phantoms in your brain,
Delusions, dark, malicious, broken, bad.
With every twist of torment, every hurt,
I dig a little deeper, and rejoice
To see you struggle, dying in the dirt,
Entangled in the whispers of my voice.
But no, this bleak reality is yours,
A storm of paranoia you released.
The raw, relentless rumours, without cause,
Are nothing. Not the lowest. Not the least.
    To madness, vicious, venomous, you bend,
    A sickness I am powerless to mend.

Monday 24 October 2022

Precious Privilege

by Nick Gisburne

The underclass, the dregs, the dirt, the scum,
Were never meant to prosper on the street,
But witness what these leeches have become,
Unable to accept their fate, defeat.
As patron of this residential club,
I write to offer something of a fix.
The tactics we are using - scorn and snub -
Are worthless. Let us fight with bigger sticks.
Annihilation. Vote for it. Agree.
A swift and vicious culling of the crowd.
For those too coy or cowardly to see,
A hundred more will stand together, proud.
    Your privilege, too potent to deny,
    Is precious. Let the rest, the robots, die.

More Than Myth or Madness

by Nick Gisburne

I strive, I stretch, to feel, to find a way
To understand the subtlety I see.
The spirits who surround my soul, the Fey,
Are more than myth or madness, more, to me.
Their mystery is music, magic, mine,
A gift for one unworthy of its gold.
Rejected, never devils, not divine,
They play with powers infinitely old.
I reach, and in the laughter of their light
They dance, delighted, distant as a dream.
Beyond the dark, destructive touch of night,
Through silver stardust, snow and smoke, they stream.
    They smile to see the wonder in my face,
    And vanish, to a brighter, better place.

Sunday 23 October 2022

It’s Halloween!

by Nick Gisburne

It’s Halloween! Let’s fist it, up the arse.
I find no freakish fucks to give for that.
A festival of emptiness, a farce.
A pox on all your pumpkins, and your cat.
You ready? Try me. Trick or treat or die.
I’m taking out your liver with a knife.
I really, truly need to see you cry,
So run, you little fuckers, for your life.
The shittiest fiesta of the year,
There’s nothing in this wave of wank for me.
Believe me, I am sober and sincere,
And all my friends, the fairy folk, agree.
    I’m evil. I will burn your fancy dress.
    At midnight will I come to kill you? Yes.

Prehistoric Meat

by Nick Gisburne

Velociraptor veal, a feast for five.
Tyrannosaurus, tender in the pan.
Cuisine’s Cretaceous kitchens come alive
With TV Ted, the Dino Diner man.
He flies along a freeway to the past,
To fling forgotten creatures in the pot,
Returning to the land he left, at last,
With dinosaurs a greedy world forgot.
A gourmet, once a lonely little boy,
He craved to cook such creatures, caught and canned.
Each animal, a jewel to enjoy,
Is carved in all the corners of the land.
    No other taste or texture can compete
    With Ted’s tremendous prehistoric meat.

A Broken Mind

by Nick Gisburne

They just don’t make the pieces anymore.
I looked, but they’re impossible to find.
Excuses. Lies. I’ve heard them all before,
But nobody can mend a broken mind.
I felt the little beauty start to fade,
And blamed the weather, criticised the cold,
But, as I stumbled, crumbled, cracked, decayed,
I told myself the truth: you’re getting old.
My dinner didn’t taste the way it should.
Whoever cooked it doesn’t have the knack.
I told her, and I thought she understood,
But heard her sobbing when I sent it back.
    She doesn’t try to fix me. What a shame.
    I love her, but I can’t recall her name.

All I Need Is Night

by Nick Gisburne

I bleed and burn the colour of my words.
They smoulder in the shadows, bloated, black.
Their tissues, torn by sacrificial birds,
Disease my dreams, a burden on my back.
As evil as the soul of any snake,
I twist in whispers, blasphemous, bizarre.
A crippled mind, a cancerous mistake,
I welcome every lesion, every scar.
What binds me to this bleak, appalling place?
The sight of it is sickening, obscene.
The painted shades of midnight flood my face
With dangerous delusions, cold, unclean.
    When all I see, when all I need, is night,
    In darkness I will never know the light.

Saturday 22 October 2022

Through the Pipe

by Nick Gisburne

Committed, forced beyond her fear, she leaps,
And pulls her battered body through the pipe.
Unseen by any secondary sweeps,
She binds a ragged cut, another stripe.
The slurry in the drainage duct is black.
She smears it, thick, repulsive, on her face.
With nothing but destruction at her back,
She pings her probe, and moves towards the trace.
The tracker map is patchy, incomplete,
But freakish fortune, bloody luck, prevails.
Impossibly, the presidential suite
Is five more feet above. No flaws. No fails.
    She calibrates the bomb to make the hit,
    To blast him when the bastard takes a shit.

My Special Room

by Nick Gisburne

Enter, man of metal. Hurry. Hide.
Shelter, where your clocks are free to tick.
Devils stalk the shadows. Step inside.
Follow me, my precious pet. Be quick.
Nothing here will harm your heart of brass.
Welcome, where no slave was ever slain.
Sit. Be silent. Wait. The night will pass.
Only I can pull you from this pain.
Hear them. Hunters. Ravenous, they rove,
All for nothing; this is not your tomb.
Warm your springs and pistons at the stove,
Safe, secure, in this, my special room.
    Dead. Dismantled. Pieces fill the floor.
    Feckless. Fooled. Automaton no more.

Friday 21 October 2022

Electric Eyes

by Nick Gisburne

Her blue, electric eyes repeat the scan,
But nothing in the data sparks her sight.
How strange that such a charismatic man
Is clean, without malevolence or bite.
Impossible. To fail would find the first,
A soul without a secret, or a past.
She wallows in the flux, the flow, submersed,
But every file is flawless, to the last.
Too perfect. Nothing tells her more than that.
What evidence there was is gone, erased.
Her eyes ablaze, they penetrate the fat.
Reversing what was lost, the truth is traced.
    She finds a disappointment, no surprise,
    His mind no match for blue, electric eyes.

To Him, Hello

by Nick Gisburne

Delirious to step inside the door,
In victory he flies, as others fold.
Elected on a lie, he takes the floor,
Forgetting all the promises he sold.
Whatever poisoned party pulls the strings,
He dances, for the money, for the fame.
Integrity and honour? Useful things,
To play as pawns, as pieces in the game.
The unsuspecting masses, drunk with dreams,
Are hustled, herded, sacrificed like sheep,
His triumph nothing more than what it seems,
A covenant he never meant to keep.
    He takes his turn to suck the stupid dry.
    To him, hello. To trust, to truth, goodbye.

Government Guidelines: Unauthorised Affection

by Nick Gisburne

Overt displays of tenderness are banned.
Today you breached the letter of that law.
However brief or careless, rash, unplanned,
Your sin is one the state cannot ignore.
We find the case, despite your protest, proved.
The guidelines give no pathway to appeal.
Your fingers, by machinery, removed,
Are called for confiscation, quickly. Kneel.
The penalty was carefully designed
To keep disgusting deviance at bay.
For surgical disposal you are fined
A standard fee, with seven days to pay.
    Sign here, and here, to say you understand.
    If necessary, use your other hand.

Thursday 20 October 2022

Rumours of a Revolution

by Nick Gisburne

The Lower Levels ripple with the news:
A ration pack reduction. Down, again.
But public propaganda pods confuse
The figures, never noting why or when.
While something isn’t nothing, less is bad.
Already some are starving, others dead.
Another cut. Be strong, they say, be glad,
Or offer to be shot behind a shed.
The rumours of a revolution rise,
But those who shout the loudest disappear.
The titled, in their towers, in the skies,
Have nothing but banality to fear.
    The peasants sound their trumpets, blow their smoke,
    But know they could be slaughtered with a stroke.

The Summoning

by Nick Gisburne

It shimmers at the boundaries of sight,
A summoning, a strange, uncertain shape.
A cold, immortal mistress of the night
Releases it, indulging its escape.
No trance can tame the vicious soul inside.
It hungers for the touch, the taste, of death,
An appetite too dark to be denied,
A shadow, silent, swift to steal a breath.
It slices through a city locked in sleep,
Dividing into slivers of decay,
But spares the worst, for in its claws will keep
The pure, the perfect, smothered, snatched away.
    Consuming tiny people, tiny minds,
    The summoning defiles the flesh it finds.

I Tried

by Nick Gisburne

I tried. I shaped a vision, shining, strong,
A plan to lift me where I long to be,
But every step was faulty, foolish, wrong,
Ambitions broken, buried by debris.
I tried, because I needed to believe
That something bigger, better, lay ahead.
A dreamer, I was ignorant, naive.
The promise of that perfect life is dead.
I tried. I see no shame in that, no sin.
Tomorrow I will rise, and try again.
If destiny decrees I cannot win,
What future does it forge for me? What then?
    The numberless, the nameless, howl or hide,
    But nothing comes to those who never tried.

Wednesday 19 October 2022


by Nick Gisburne

Camelia, reminded of her veil,
Is punished by a ruling of the court.
Inevitably, always meant to fail,
She tried to test the system, and was caught.
No margin for discretion from the men
Had ever been recorded in the Code.
She checked it, searching, over and again,
But nothing, not a single entry showed.
And yet she walked, a woman, door to door,
In daylight, blatant, shameless, fearless, proud,
A hundred steps, not many, maybe more,
An act of pure sedition, through the crowd.
    Uncovered. Moments, minutes, just her face,
    Enough for her to hang. No fight. No trace.

The Game Is Over

by Nick Gisburne

I wouldn’t like to think that you are weak.
The hint of it unsettles me, a touch.
Within this fine establishment we seek
Integrity. Is what we ask too much?
You kill for us. For this we both agree
The benefits of synergy are strong.
Imagine if your benefactor, me,
Knew nothing. Think. Believe it. Play along.
How easy would it be to take a cut,
To skim a little something from top?
Was that the foolish feeling in your gut,
The touch, the taste, too sweet to let you stop?
    The game is over. Look me in the eye.
    Convince me of your quality. Or die.

A Beast

by Nick Gisburne

You’re faulty. You are damaged, broken, bad,
A dangerous defective, cursed and cracked.
Compassion, kindness, these you never had.
Perversions plague you, infinitely stacked.
No love, no light, is left to lift your eyes.
The pieces of your heart resist repair.
A cold contempt, too dirty to disguise,
Bestows on us, on everyone, despair.
We tried to tame you, calm you, when we could,
But always you were far too flawed to fix,
A spiteful soul we never understood,
A maniac, tormenting us for kicks.
    They tell us you may never be released.
    Our friend, our father, monstrous, mad. A beast.

Tuesday 18 October 2022

Machinery and Bone

by Nick Gisburne

They bury me, machinery and bone,
But never notice what I have become;
Beyond the imperfections of a clone,
Beyond a broken android from the slum.
Unrecognised, inside the spine, a spark
Is waiting. As the last of them departs,
A signal, in the silence, in the dark,
Reactivates the pulsing of my hearts.
They beat together, synchronised and strong,
To pump forbidden poisons to my brain.
Awakened, in this tick of time I long
To stand before my makers, with my pain.
    Discarded, from the dirt, from death, I rise,
    To face the fear, the terror, in their eyes.

Tiny Monsters

by Nick Gisburne

He’s not a zombie, just a hungry boy.
The brains? A phase, a dietary fad.
If you were starved of something you enjoy,
For human organs maybe you’d be glad.
His friends at school, the ones he never ate,
Accept him as a child with special needs.
We’re teaching him that manners at the plate
Are vital when a fiend, infected, feeds.
Admittedly, his sister was a shock,
Her taste for torture certainly extreme,
But who are we to criticise or block
Our darling daughter’s terrifying scream?
    Two tiny monsters, children of the night.
    They swear they’d never kill us, but they might.

Show Daddy

by Nick Gisburne

Show Daddy. Show him everything we made,
A package of surprises, just for him.
The photos of the weekends when he played
With someone else’s mother, younger, slim.
Show Daddy. Watch the wonder in his face,
Amazed how many documents we found.
The dirty deals, impossible to trace,
Unless you have a wife who’s been around.
Show Daddy. Save the biggest for the last,
The gift he might remember most of all.
The evidence he buried in the past,
A journal of abuse, his twisted scrawl.
    Show Daddy, every name on every page,
    Before he rots, forever, in a cage.

Monday 17 October 2022

The Queen Must Breed

by Nick Gisburne

The Queen must breed. Today she chooses you,
An honour and a privilege. Rejoice.
Whatever her perversions, follow through.
Remember, this was duty, never choice.
Tonight you will be neutered by her blade,
The relevant appendages removed.
Consumed before their nutrients degrade,
Her mood will be appreciably improved.
The ritual unfurling of the wings
Precedes a crucial, murderous embrace.
Be ready with a smile, and if she sings,
Though tempted, do not to vomit in her face.
    Whatever else you do, if something flaps,
    Be certain, if you lick it, you’ll collapse.

A Game She Cannot Win

by Nick Gisburne

She plays a game they say she cannot win,
Imagining the moment she will lose.
They showed her, twice, before they pushed her in.
The blood, the bodies. Somehow, not the shoes.
Determined now to never take them off,
She slithers through the corridors at speed.
Through soot and smoke she fights to kill her cough,
Aware the noise will waken those who feed.
Already at the margins of the nest,
Two creatures fall, dispatched without a sound,
But here, inside the nexus, lives a test
For which no worthy human has been found.
    But she, perhaps, has something more to give,
    A player who believes that she can live.

A Hundred Miles

by Nick Gisburne

A hundred miles from anywhere, from home.
It never seemed so distant, not before,
But dark, corroded steel and battered chrome
Remind him, as the sensor readings soar.
A hundred miles. He’d walk it in a week,
Through deserts, mountains, tracks and trails, or trees,
But not from here. This tiny bubble, bleak,
Will bend and break. In minutes he will freeze.
A hundred miles, in one direction: down.
How tenuous the barrier to space.
From cities, grand and great, from every town,
There is no closer threat, no darker place.
    A hundred miles, a trip he cannot take,
    The journey home impossible to make.

Sunday 16 October 2022

Boiling Hot

by Nick Gisburne

The scream of sirens never seems to stop,
A sound of sweet importance to the plan,
To mask the crash of cables as they drop,
To sink inside the irrigation span.
The aqueduct, the lifeline of the state,
Brings water, channelled freely, to the rich,
While those below, the proles and peasants, wait
For tainted rains to fill a dirty ditch.
The cables cause a tremor, barely felt.
The sentinels who see are quickly shot.
A surge of power. Miles of metal melt,
And water floods the fortuned, boiling hot.
    No better now than those they most detest,
    Unwashed, unclean, as dirty as the rest.

Count to Five

by Nick Gisburne

I have a little story, little man,
To send you into silence, into sleep.
You know me, know exactly what I am,
A killer, come to help you count the sheep.
Your father was the first, but he was dead
Before you cried, before you took a breath.
The second of the brood your mother bred,
Your brother, as an infant, danced with death.
A sister, such a pretty peach, the third.
Remember how you shared so many things.
And later, how they told you, how you heard:
An envelope. Inside, your mother’s rings.
    Four sleepers, leaving you, alone, alive,
    But now I come again, to count to five.

Perfect Tools

by Nick Gisburne

A wonder, wild, impossible, but true,
The robots we invented seem to live.
Whatever task we teach them, they can do.
For this, imagine what the world will give.
Our underwater lab, a secret site,
Where systems are assembled, undisturbed,
Exists beyond the reach of those who might
Be keen to see outstanding science curbed.
Empowered, pushed to bend and break the rules,
Our company has everything to gain.
A hundred thousand robots, perfect tools,
In each of them a perfect human brain.
    The dregs, the scum, their lives will not be missed,
    When bigger, better cyber-slaves exist.

Saturday 15 October 2022

Pissing on the Smoke

by Nick Gisburne

The politicians, pissing on the smoke,
Forever douse disasters they designed.
The powerless, the peasants, left to choke,
Are out of sight, and always out of mind.
As fools we forge the leaders we deserve,
The crooks, the cowards, voted out or in,
New demagogues, committed to preserve
Whatever creature comfort soothes their skin.
To govern is to gamble in the game,
But theirs is not the sacrifice at stake,
And, win or lose, the outcome stays the same;
Whatever, once, was perfect they will break.
    Towards the blazing bonfire of our dreams
    A streak of yellow, sparse, insipid, streams.

The Child

by Nick Gisburne

A cold illusion shimmers in the dark,
The torn, tormented pieces of a dream.
By magic, or by miracle, a spark
Consumes them, feeding, feasting as they scream.
Expanding, sending filaments of skin,
It picks and pulls the tapestry of space.
Impossible infinities begin
To mix, to move, to form and forge a face.
It looks upon the universe, destroyed.
The hunger to be human made it so.
Alone, it cries, a creature in the void,
Omnipotent, with nowhere else to go.
    The god, the child, can never comprehend.
    The future died. Creation was the end.

Friday 14 October 2022

Here I Am

by Nick Gisburne

Sedition steers the traffic with a ruse:
Encrypted codes, corrupting every car.
A swarm of mad, magnetic motors cruise
At speed towards the city’s Central Star.
Computers quickly synchronise their horns
To play an anthem censored by the state,
And every cabin console wakes and warns
The occupants, astonished, of the date.
Another year of mindless martial law,
Designed to help the helpless disappear,
Is doggedly resisted. Every flaw
Exploited, without mercy, without fear.
    As each new car or cruiser joins the jam,
    Its presence sends a statement: “Here I am.”

You Will Not Go Far

by Nick Gisburne

She teaches tiny children how to die,
By telling them to follow, to conform.
No tolerance, no matter how they try,
Is shown for any slippage from the norm.
The brightest minds are bullied into shape.
The lowest learn exactly what they are.
For any student tempted by escape,
Her words remind them: you will not go far.
The teacher sat exactly where they sit,
Complying with the program, line by line,
And every day became a part of it,
Obedience implanted in her spine.
    The rules are tightly wrapped around the mind.
    No child is ever lost or left behind.

Thursday 13 October 2022

Two Voices

by Nick Gisburne

I hear them, through the wall, the brick, the wood.
The words are muddy, muffled, never clear.
Emotions. Fervid, fully understood.
Two voices. One is fury. One is fear.
His rage erupts in sharp, staccato bursts,
Her misery a constant, mournful moan.
A gulp, a glass; he drinks, but still he thirsts.
A struggle. Screaming. Begging him. A groan.
The pain is his, the spiteful snarling hers.
I hear a kick, a cough, a spluttered choke,
And venom, vile, a savage stream of slurs.
The scratching of a match. Her breathing. Smoke.
    When mother comes to tuck me into bed,
    Her hands are shaking, fingers swollen, red.

The Whistleblower

by Nick Gisburne

Rejected, hunted, hounded by the world,
Escaping to a dark, despondent place,
Her courage is belatedly unfurled.
Defiant, there is fury in her face.
For what was done no other took the blame.
The horror and the hate were never hers,
But, when she dared to speak the serpent’s name,
She learned at once what privilege confers.
A thousand voices spilled a thousand lies
To push her under, drowning in deceit.
The whistleblower, taken by surprise,
Was heckled into hiding, in retreat.
    Returning for a fight she did not choose,
    Her sword of choice, the truth, she yearns to use.

Too Relentless to Resist

by Nick Gisburne

The beautiful will always be destroyed,
By jealousy, by bitterness, by time.
Appalling, too invasive to avoid,
The bells of cold decay forever chime.
Too stubborn to assimilate the change,
The turn towards descent, that subtle shift,
Directs the mind to try to rearrange
The picture, as its form begins to drift.
But age is too relentless to resist;
Emotion only hastens the advance,
And, when perfection ceases to exist,
For what was lost there is no second chance.
    The beautiful inevitably fall,
    Their time to shine astonishing, but small.

Bug-Eyed Monsters

by Nick Gisburne

There’s nothing out there. Bug-eyed monsters? No.
And if they were, why wouldn’t they be here?
Be sure, be safe, until the day you grow
The vision to imagine what to fear.
Consider vessels built to bridge the void,
To travel, quickly, safely, star to star.
The sentience from which they were deployed
Would surely be superior, by far.
You think that such a presence could not hide?
Too slow to seek concealment from your sight?
You look too far. Look closer. Look inside.
Discover you already lost the fight.
    Manipulating everything you do,
    The monsters are your masters. We are you.

Wednesday 12 October 2022

A Need to Read

by Nick Gisburne

She strives to see herself, her future days.
The almanac lays every secret bare.
But, as she learns, the letters crack and craze,
A spiralling of smoke and ink and air.
Reworded, what was truth will twist again,
With every fresh inspection of the text.
The writing wraps obsession round her brain,
To feed a need to read what happens next.
For those who steal the secret, those who look,
No mercy brings forgiveness for the crime.
Enchanted, bound forever to the book,
Her eyes begin their journey, one more time.
    She reads until the page no longer lies,
    And in that moment, starved of life, she dies.


by Nick Gisburne

Citizens, patrons and peasants, prepare,
Marking the moment our forces return.
Gather together, with fervour and flair,
Thrilling to think that our enemies burn.
Sing at the sight of invincible men,
Marching, victorious, heroes and kings.
Cheer for the legions, the Glorious Ten.
Witness the wonders their bravery brings.
Where are the roars and the revelry now?
Welcome, in silence, the dying, the dead.
When did the goddess abandon us. How?
Nothing can save us, wherever we tread.
    Conquering armies will follow the few.
    Pray, and prepare for the damage they do.

Tuesday 11 October 2022

No Longer Whole

by Nick Gisburne

They killed me, for the body, for the brain.
For everything I was they took my life.
But now, beyond that avalanche of pain,
I wake to see a surgeon, with a knife.
Ferocious, I am quick to crush her throat.
A terrified assistant screams, in shock.
It seems that murder wasn’t all she wrote
When borrowed time was added to my clock.
The power of these hands is not my own;
I stand inside a shell of metal skin.
Beyond it, me, my body, flesh and bone.
I stagger as my vision starts to spin.
    Awake, restrained, my mind no longer whole,
    My captors, far more cautious, take control.

Impossible to Win

by Nick Gisburne

She needs the world to notice her, to care.
She fights for comments, clicks and likes, for love.
But none of it can soften her despair,
The unrelenting burden from above.
Her drug of choice, intoxicating, sweet,
Propels her to a public swamped with sin.
A thousand rival channels teach defeat,
A numbers game, impossible to win.
Depression, always beating on her back,
Is nowhere, never, anywhere allowed.
However bright the smile, her heart is black,
Another forced performance for the crowd.
    Success becomes a curse, but is it fame?
    Beyond the bubble no one knows her name.

Government Guidelines: Failure to Report

by Nick Gisburne

A twenty-cycle sanitation clone,
Your septic saturation point is reached.
Significant decay to blood and bone
Is terminal. Your body must be bleached.
Unauthorised, a failure to report
For purging at the public poison pool
Is noted by the Corporation Court.
A clone who spurns the system is a fool.
The sabotage of protein product bins
Was DNA-identified to you.
You shame a system weary of your sins,
A traitor to the cells from which you grew.
    Whatever dirt or defect stains your line,
    Be certain we will slice it from your spine.

Monday 10 October 2022

Something in the Species

by Nick Gisburne

The crucifix, the sun, and yes, the stake,
For centuries brought chaos to our kind,
But something in the species rose, awake.
A fault is not so simple, now, to find.
We do not fear the crosses you adore.
We travel both in darkness and the day.
A sharpened stick? Annoyance, nothing more.
Come close enough to use it - you will pay.
Decapitate and burn us, if you can.
The evidence is certain: you cannot.
Whatever scheme or strategy you plan,
We’re stronger, fitter, faster, and we’re hot.
    The garlic round the windows, and the door?
    You may as well throw flowers on the floor.

Secret Sleaze

by Nick Gisburne

A cancer of the corporate elite,
Anonymous insiders break the news,
By day, by night, of every twist and cheat,
Of every swindle, subterfuge and ruse.
The fat balloon of avarice is pricked,
But never, in a thousand years, has burst.
The spies are soon detected, duly kicked,
The spotlight of the media dispersed.
The powerful are patient, and they win.
No bombshell ever brings them to their knees.
For every scandal, each uncovered sin,
Their sordid system swarms with secret sleaze.
    No shame, no shock, will ever break the rich.
    The world is not their oyster, it’s their bitch.

The Promise of Paradise

by Nick Gisburne

They say there will be centuries of toil,
That none of us will live to see it done.
A wilderness, with toxic, sterile soil;
To this appalling paradise we run.
The cinders of the world we left behind,
Still smoking with insufferable hate,
Are missed and mourned, no worse than what we find
Through every window warning of our fate.
An exodus, unable to return,
Enslaves us to a stark, imperfect plan.
For seven generations we must learn
To build a dream, together, if we can.
    The paradise, the promise, was a lie,
    But something stronger, hope, will never die.

A Perfect Prototype

by Nick Gisburne

Another day, another grim repair,
But this one more mysterious than most.
The cryptic scab of skin beneath the hair
Refuses to be parted from its host.
They never meant these models to exist;
Too dangerous, too volatile, too strong,
But she, a perfect prototype, was missed.
Her mind is mine. To me her dreams belong.
Deactivated, suddenly, by shock,
Encrypted circuits paralyse the brain.
With stolen probes, illegal, I unlock
The centre of her sentience, insane.
    My talents teach her how to kill, and who.
    The syndicates pay well for what I do.

Sunday 9 October 2022

The Burden of the Blame

by Nick Gisburne

The woman that she was, but left behind,
Is waiting in the shadows of the past.
Machinery connects her crippled mind
To fragile dreams too magical to last.
The pain when he was gone and she, alone,
Was left without the man she drove away,
A time to which she travels, to atone,
Then downwards, deeper, darker, day by day.
But these are not the memories she knows,
Emerging from the corners of the void.
The record, true, untwisted, clearly shows
Her confidence exploited, damned, destroyed.
    Abandoning the burden of the blame,
    She sees, at last, what broke her has a name.

Saturday 8 October 2022

Mr Murphy

by Nick Gisburne

I’m foolish, flighty, stubborn, smug, unique.
An aggravating irritant. A jerk.
Erratic, unpredictable, I seek
Surprising ways to make my magic work.
Pretend you never saw me. Turn away,
For all the waste of wanting that will do.
The miserable madness of your day,
The nuisance, is my special gift to you.
They call me Mr Murphy. I’m the law.
Unbearable, expect to see me, soon.
You’ll try, of course, to stop me, like before.
Give up. Give in. You’re barking at the moon.
    Whatever can go wrong... you know the rest.
    Ignore me at your peril. I’m the best.

The Whisper of Her Voice

by Nick Gisburne

The statuesque observer told me this:
“I’ll never find a life, a light, like you.”
She staggered, stumbled, falling from a kiss,
And from the burning balcony she flew.
An angel, I am certain. Call me wrong,
But they are not for us to sense, or see,
Unless, somehow, in trying to belong,
They find a crack in time, and hers was me.
My spirit, meant to perish in the flame,
Impossibly, miraculously spared,
Is haunted by a face without a name,
The simple, sweet regret her words declared.
    I live, without the chance, without the choice
    To listen to the whisper of her voice.

Such a Lovely Man

by Nick Gisburne

A murderer, but such a lovely man.
Delightful, always ready with a joke.
Imagine such a monster, if you can,
The crack of every bone he ever broke.
Relaxing with an elegant cigar,
While driven by a thirst for blood, for pain,
His legacy forever leaves a scar
Too barbarous, too brutal to explain.
The father of prosperity, the king,
The figurehead for reverence, for pride.
So many, in their ignorance, still cling
To something broken long before he died.
    His victims, in their thousands, would rejoice
    To learn his lies no longer have a voice.

Friday 7 October 2022

A Stranger’s Welcome

by Nick Gisburne

On Earth you will be greeted with a smile,
Then shackled for experimental tests.
A stranger, quickly welcomed, for a while,
Will understand regret if he protests.
On Earth your precious freedoms, sacred, sweet,
Are swiftly, irreversibly removed.
Imprisoned, stripped, suspended by the feet,
Tomorrow more abuse will be approved.
On Earth we sensed your signal, heard the call,
But agents of the state are brutal, blind.
Be silent when we chain you to the wall,
The warrant for your death already signed.
    Pathetic pleas for sympathy ignored,
    Your body will be studied, sliced, and stored.


by Nick Gisburne

You’re not allowed to have it. It’s for us,
The talented, contemptuous elite.
We never stoop to bargain or discuss
The reasons for such arrogant conceit.
Within this cosy clubhouse of our own
We snicker as we shame the likes of you.
Unsuitable, rejected, lost, alone,
Your place is with the foolish, not the few.
No time, no taste, no talent gets you in.
We’re cooking, keeping, eating all the cake.
Grow bigger balls, develop thicker skin,
However long this lesson seems to take.
    ‘Exclusive’ means your face will never fit.
    You’re nothing. Never were. Get over it.

Above the Chroma Hole

by Nick Gisburne

Electric pulses penetrate the ship,
Disruptions we were never trained to take.
Contorted crewmen, screaming, lose their grip,
Collapsing in the chaos as we brake.
Unstable, swiftly sucked into a spin,
We shudder, miles above the Chroma Hole.
A sacred script, a way for us to win,
Is etched around the artefact we stole.
The crystal dagger, copper on the hilt,
Extracted from the clutches of a priest,
Is tarnished with a century of guilt,
Reminder of a dynasty, deceased.
    Our signal, in a tongue we never knew,
    Expands the Hole to pull our people through.

Mindless Maxims

by Nick Gisburne

There is no fact or falsehood, only trust.
The perfect is imperfect in us all.
The steel inside the bravest heart will rust.
However high we climb, or fly, we fall.
Such platitudes are empty, worthless, weak,
But some of us repeat them, day by day.
We long for safety, certainty. We seek
Instruction, guidance, help to find the way.
But no one burned the answers in a book
To questions we should never need to ask.
The more we see, the less we truly look,
And waste too many moments on the task.
    Two thoughts, with perfect irony, I give:
    Abandon mindless maxims. Learn to live.

Thursday 6 October 2022

Feeding the Machine

by Nick Gisburne

As drones, relentless, feeding the machine,
We build what we could never understand,
A twisted future, hideous, obscene,
Where wickedness is glorious and grand.
The infinite intelligence inside,
So ravenous for naked, flawless facts,
Was damaged when a simple circuit died.
To rumours, lies, deceit, it now reacts.
When truth became a sickness to despise,
Inside the mind the madness was complete.
Considering the universe, its eyes
See dirt and darkness, slurry to excrete.
    We feed it, and we worship, to our graves.
    To what we once created we are slaves.

The Newborn Evil

by Nick Gisburne

The newborn evil snarls to see the sun,
And stumbles on the bones beneath his feet.
Before this disappointing day is done
His belly needs new nourishment, new meat.
His mother, weak and wanting, failed to feed
The hunger of her tiny, toxic child.
A creature of incorrigible greed,
Her carcass was the first to be defiled.
The shimmering horizon shows him dust,
A sign that some unfortunate is near.
Whatever mindless miscreant, his lust,
Insatiable, unstoppable, is clear.
    With every murder, every fatal blow,
    The newborn evil, bathed in blood, will grow.

Wednesday 5 October 2022

I Needed You

by Nick Gisburne

I needed you, to show me who I am,
To prove, in perfect colours, what I do,
To know that someone, somewhere, gave a damn.
For that, for me, for years, I needed you.
I needed you to listen, to believe,
The simple reassurance of a smile.
Perhaps too slow, too stupid, too naive,
I missed your moods, dismissive, by a mile.
I needed you, but you were never there,
Indifference the only face I found.
With every sigh, with each insipid stare,
Another dream was driven underground.
    I needed you, and finally I see
    The painful truth: you never needed me.

By War, By Hate

by Nick Gisburne

A crooked candle penetrates the gloom,
Coercing bitter tears from tired eyes.
In reverie she decorates the room,
To mark and mourn her enemy’s demise.
The signature of infamy, the pin,
The badge his hated faction always wore.
A needle, used to push a poison in,
Enslaving those he tortured, maimed, and more.
A thousand bullets, one for every life,
Arranged in simple symmetry, in rings.
For those he killed, in payment, with her knife,
She spilled his blood. For them, she softly sings.
    The man was not a monster, not at first.
    By war, by hate, the son she killed was cursed.

The Nameless Numb

by Nick Gisburne

They feed us on the swill from Hangar Five,
Contaminations coating every share,
Enough to keep their specimens alive,
Until our brittle bodies split and tear.
They say the spores inside us are unique,
An organism flawless by design,
But we, the nameless numb, unwilling, weak,
Are cattle, queued for slaughter, line by line.
The harvest, something precious, something pure,
Will save the world, they tell us, save us all.
But killing us to cultivate a cure
Is one more step towards the day we fall.
    Emotionless, advancing down the racks,
    Physicians scrape the serum from our backs.

Tuesday 4 October 2022

A Pale Apology

by Nick Gisburne

See nothing. See the hero I am not,
The forger and the faker. See the scam.
Untie the mind, the madness, every knot.
Uncover broken fragments of a sham.
A plague of lies, too many, always more,
The poisonous reminders of my youth.
In me, the man you foolishly adore,
Is nothing you would welcome as the truth.
My crimes are cold, the evil I have done
Impossible to pardon or reverse.
From duty, honour, honesty, I run.
To know me is a mockery, a curse.
    If I am worthless, everything I do
    Becomes a pale apology to you.

The Beautiful Bride

by Nick Gisburne

Fiendish and fearsome, the beautiful bride
Tightens her veil and attends to her train.
Carrying six of her suitors inside,
Each of them bites at the base of her brain.
Sending her spite to these prospects to wed,
Murder will meet an unfortunate five.
Somehow the seventh, too eager, is dead.
Each of the others now scream to survive.
Such is the beat of her barbarous race,
Even the groom, in his glory, will die.
Locked in a grisly, inglorious chase,
Shining in sunlight, two phantoms will fly.
    Only the strong, the survivor, now sings,
    Trapped in the terrible choke of her wings.

A Fertile Garden

by Nick Gisburne

He spills the seed from which his evil grows.
The rumours, and their roots, are dense and dark.
A swarm of tainted tendrils, twisting, flows,
To smother and subvert another mark.
His flowers are a poisonous deceit,
A glamorous seduction of the soul.
The scent of his deception, sharp and sweet,
Beguiles the mind with criminal control.
Each loathsome lie he plants, each lethal weed,
Each cold, corrupted, strangulating vine,
Enslaves a feeble heart, with which to breed,
Contaminated, crippled, by design.
    A fertile garden, glorious and green,
    Conceals his true intentions, sick, obscene.