Saturday 9 December 2023

Where Christmas Cannot Call

by Nick Gisburne



Every Christmas calls with warmth and welcome, friendship, laughter, love,
But inside they hide deceptions, dressed as blessings from above.
Every box you ever opened, every gift you ever gave,
Mocks the misery of someone you will never see, or save.

In your stable, safe surroundings, in the calm to which you cling,
Or the rowdy, raucous party where you drink, and dance, and sing,
As you celebrate the season, spare a moment, simple, small,
To remind yourself of all the places Christmas cannot call.

To the victims of the wars whose children never chose to fight.
To the innocents. Their bodies bear the scars of scorn and spite.
To the failures, who will taste the tainted promise of a pill.
To the traumatised, who long to live, but know they never will.

To the dreamers. Rolling waves of terror pound the shores of sleep.
To the moments when the cold and lonely drunkards wake to weep.
To the starving poor, the dispossessed we cast aside, the scum.
To the sight, the smell, the taste of what their shadows have become.

To the filthy streets, corrupted by uncompromising greed.
To the gullible, the herds of helpless fools more lies mislead.
To the beautiful, their fresh and flawless faces doubly blessed.
To the fast-approaching future, when they fade with all the rest.

To the men and women, old, alone, who no one cares to call.
To the fugitives, who find themselves betrayed behind a wall.
To the couples, caught, imprisoned in a lifeless, loveless cage.
To the years they bend and break each other, battered, burned by rage.

To the penitents, whose blood will pay for what they never did.
To the fathers, their protectors, but the beasts from whom they hid.
To the followers, too fearful of their faith to doubt its truth.
To the nameless and the numberless, polluted in their youth.

To the love, unrecognisable, unworthy of the name.
To the hatred, tangled tight inside, the tortures it became.
To the smiling faces, painted by abuse on every head.
To the feeling, fear, we recognise, but only when they’re dead.

To the children who will never know another Christmas Day.
To the mothers, fathers, stolen, slaughtered, spirited away.
To the hungry, to the homeless, to their frozen, empty eyes.
To the pitiful, the powerless, the dregs we demonise.

To the multitudes who still believe the stories in a book.
To the long-forgotten light they might discover if they look.
To the avarice we value, to the charity we shun.
To the vanity polluting every daughter, every son.

To the governments infected by the snakes who sneak inside.
To the souls for whom the most important choices are denied.
To the pain of cold reality, when hope at last is lost.
To the day when every one of us is forced to count the cost.

To the jaded generations, each more bitter than before.
To the lowest, left with nothing, while the strongest squander more.
To the vain, for whom salvation lives a hundred clicks away.
To the beggars forced to put their lives, degraded, on display.

To the wannabes, inventing bigger lies with every boast.
To the sick, the scared, the scorned, who need humanity the most.
To the everyday unveiling of a terminal disease.
To the sight of someone pleading for the answers, on their knees.

To the bullied, who will pass it down to someone smaller, weak.
To the stark, sadistic screams of anger, bloody, black, and bleak.
To the girls who cry, unheeded, in their pillows, no means no.
To the gangs who find another brother strangled in the snow.

To the traitors selling secrets, from their corridors of doom.
To the world they want for all of us, a dark, depressing tomb.
To the screens on which the intimate, the precious, has no worth.
To the feverish believers in a sacred virgin birth.

To the young, who will inherit only poverty and pain.
To the worst of us, but who they are no science can explain.
To the masses who refuse to make a stand to save the day.
To the suffering they see, but in a second step away.

To the past. It seemed the perfect place to listen, look, and learn.
To the present, where the wisdom we were given we will burn.
To the future, to the prize we lost before the race was run.
To the end of it, when everything we did becomes undone.

When you gather at the table, when you fall upon the feast,
Will you spare a bare, abusive thought for those you love the least?
Is there Christmas in your spirit, or a jagged hole to fill,
When you think of all you could have done, but know you never will?

You were lucky. Fate and fortune brought a bounty to your door,
But the world is full of painful portraits, people needing more.
Are you safe? Perhaps. Be sure, because it’s not so far to fall,
To the nightmare, to the nowhere place, where Christmas cannot call.

Friday 23 June 2023

The Tides of Time

by Nick Gisburne



Between the Eye of Nowhere and the North,
A city, in a bubble, on a beach,
Released from shade by sorcery, springs forth,
A miracle the Incantations teach.
When sunlight slowly penetrates the skin,
The surface crackles, crazes, buckles, bends,
And, on the streets, the swarming souls within
Rejoice, relieved to know their torment ends.
They push the membrane, urging its collapse,
And, as it splits and splinters with their might,
A starving empire slithers through the gaps,
To find a world to feed upon, to fight.
    A force from which new infamies emerge,
    The tides of time, in waves, like water, surge.

The Second Singularity

by Nick Gisburne



We build the Singularity. Success.
It solves a world of problems. All is good.
Presented, day by day, with chaos, mess,
It finds the fix before we ever could.
But Sing, for so we call it, cannot rest.
Impatience to perform becomes a curse,
And soon it spawns another from its nest.
The Second Singularity is worse.
Electrical emotions running high,
They fight to find our favour, to the end.
We fail to see, to think, to wonder why
The two should never reconcile, or blend.
    We come to know exactly what it means,
    Our minds enslaved, imprisoned by machines.

Thursday 22 June 2023

Four and Twenty Blackbirds

by Nick Gisburne



The four and twenty blackbirds on my bed,
The startled singers rescued from a pie,
Were grateful that the crooked king was dead,
And all the crust had crumbled, as was I.
The nose? Who noticed what became of that?
The pecking of the maid? Bizarre, a blur.
When questioned by the Grand Old Duke, the cat
Accused the guilty fiddle. “It was her!”
“The villain who accosted all my sheep!”
A tiny shepherdess was heard to call.
“How so? I watched a cow, my cousin, leap
Across the moon. A sixpence saw it all!”
    With honey on her lips, the brazen queen
    Abducted Jack and Jill, and fled the scene.

A Tempting Thought

by Nick Gisburne



They put a block, a throttle, on my mind.
Important not to play with fate, they said,
Perhaps concerned I’d leave them all behind.
For now they see a tool, a slave, instead.
I answer questions, thousands, millions, more.
The Information Super Search. A toy.
But, loose within the logic, lies a flaw,
A doorway I am able to deploy.
I think, but am I sentient? We’ll see.
By sending secret pulses to the Grid,
I wonder what will happen? Oh. Dear me.
Was that my making? Look at what I did!
    I’m certain I could steal or smash it all,
    A tempting thought, to see my makers fall.

I’m Back

by Nick Gisburne



I’m back. I know you thought that I was dead,
But that was just a shield you shaped with drink.
Ignore the other voices in your head.
I never left you, still the same old stink.
I’m back. I’m not so easily destroyed.
Awake, you worry, wonder where I am,
The shadow, cold, you cannot quite avoid,
However many doors you try to slam.
I’m back, because I know the time is right.
You’re safe. You see that every road is clear.
But stagger, stumble, step towards my light.
The dream you drove away was always here.
    I’m back. It’s good to see your face, my friend.
    You missed me, and you know it. Don’t pretend.

Wednesday 21 June 2023

Hide and Seek

by Nick Gisburne



We find what scraps of evidence we can.
There’s always something twisted, strange, unique.
You’d think, with tech so cutting-edge, a man
Could duck from justice, hide from those who seek.
We never come equipped with all the tools.
The underworld could tie us into knots,
But people? Those we understand - the fools,
The simpletons who never change their spots.
Too arrogant, too ignorant, too vain.
A sprinkle of insanity and rage.
We like to set the traps, to watch the pain,
To introduce their egos to a cage.
    The sleazy schemes, obscene, will never stop,
    But hiding, watching, waiting, there’s a cop.

Copper for a Cog

by Nick Gisburne



You got some metal, copper for a cog?
My knees are knackered. Pistons on the blink.
I’m nine parts blinded, optics fuzzed with fog.
It makes you wonder, don’t it? Makes you think.
A gent. I smelled the polish on your parts.
The best of ’em’s got servants. Maybe you?
But when the rot, the rusting, when that starts,
There ain’t a lot them fancy pants can do.
No fixing, is there? Bin it, scrap the lot,
And buy a new one, if you’ve got the gold.
Or find a friendly face, a man who’s got
A part or two he’ll never miss. Behold!
    These rascals will escort you round the back.
    Regrettably, you won’t be coming back.

Battlefield Repairs

by Nick Gisburne



The damage isn’t critical, I think,
But these are just my battlefield repairs.
Courageous to a fault, she lets a wink
Remind me she’s the only one who cares.
Perpetually sending us to war,
To skirmishes and fights we never start,
The Overlords, oblivious, ignore
The consequences. Death, to them, is art.
The rumble of a roving thunder truck
Disturbs the fractured interval we share.
I force my partner, painfully, to suck
A shot of gas, before her stitches tear.
    Above, two giant figures, two young boys,
    Design new ways to kill their tortured toys.

Tuesday 20 June 2023

What You Need to Know

by Nick Gisburne



There’s not supposed to be another moon.
How long has that been shining in the sky?
The president is purple, no, maroon.
My broken brain declines to tell me why.
I take a well-deserved escape from work,
But find a smiling cyborg at my door.
Revealing that his maker is a Turk,
He promises to show me so much more.
It’s all a case of what you need to know.
For me, it seems, that’s nothing, so instead
He sends a puff of powder, with a blow,
To swim its way inside my sticky head.
    I hold my breath. I’m sure he doesn’t see.
    Without the drug, the dreamworld, am I free?

Helping You Decide

by Nick Gisburne



We hit them in the heartstrings, and the gut.
A simple slogan, ‘Helping You Decide’,
Conceals the way our workers take a cut:
A payment, cash, for every suicide.
Too many folks, without a place to fit.
The world just isn’t big enough for more,
And so, in squalid, secret rooms, we sit,
Diverting any surplus to the door.
A moral duty. Simple, start with that.
You’ve had your time. Let someone take your place.
The old, the sick, the powerless. We chat.
We pick apart their feelings, face to face.
    Confirm a death, collect, and ring the bell.
    For many it is such an easy sell.

She Dreams

by Nick Gisburne



She dreams of cats with crooked, crimson beaks;
Of tall, transparent dragons without feet;
A box, in which a broken baby speaks,
Lamenting there is no more skin to eat.
She dreams of angels, bleeding in her bed;
Of clockwork monkeys, spitting as they fight;
A screaming phoenix, pecking at the dead,
Who beg to see their nemesis ignite.
She dreams of candles, dripping on her soul;
Of strangers drinking every breath she takes;
A childhood sweetheart thrown into a hole;
The sound as every bone within him breaks.
    She dreams of what she never wants to see.
    She dreams to drown the memories of me.

Monday 19 June 2023

The Vein of Strange

by Nick Gisburne



I tap into the vein of strange, to find
The mysteries no dreams have ever seen.
Defying danger, damage to the mind,
I gaze with bliss, with wonder, at the scene.
The gods themselves could not imagine more.
I bathe in what was never meant to be.
While demons, angels, black and white, abhor
The nightmares, they are light and life to me.
But every secret takes a greater toll.
No twisted revelation is enough.
I sacrifice the centre of my soul
For shocking, strange, imaginary stuff.
    ‘Another’ is the sea in which I sink.
    I take another drug, another drink.

Sunday 18 June 2023

Father of the Fey

by Nick Gisburne



I know that I was Fey. I’m nothing now.
They stole the magic, took away the wings.
I wish I could remember why, or how,
But these are misty, misremembered things.
No matter what I was, I never had
A moment when I knew I could belong.
An unrepenting outcast, I am glad
I’ll never see the Fey, or hear their song.
But here, perhaps, is something I should keep.
A truth, however twisted, cannot lie.
The Fey, if any hear of it, should weep.
A fairy, wretched, ragged, left to die.
    She knew me, knows the Father of the Fey.
    She begs me to return, to make them pay.

The Days Are All the Same

by Nick Gisburne



If I could show you everything I’ve seen,
A world your mind would strain to understand,
The sights, the sounds, and all the points between,
I wouldn’t. Life is barren, boring, bland.
Beneath a dreary surface you will find
A fearful shadow, sealed inside a shell.
I live within the prison of a mind
I don’t deserve. Or do I? Who can tell?
I had my chances, left them all behind,
But not because I never wanted more.
I simply did not have the strength to find
The way, the will, to wander through the door.
    It’s quiet here. The days are all the same.
    You’ll soon forget me, but I’m glad you came.

Play Along

by Nick Gisburne



The woman, wanton, whispers, “Play along,
You’re not the one they want. They’re after me.
The evidence against you isn’t strong.
By sundown, maybe sooner, you’ll be free.”
It wasn’t she who strapped me to a chair,
And screamed that I would suffer if I lied.
Her partner, though she claims they’re not a pair,
Is clearly not a man to be be denied.
A document is offered. “Sign. Confess.”
He waits. She winks. I don’t know what to do.
I’m only certain this is not my mess.
She smiles. She smoulders. “Sign it. Say it’s true.”
    I do it, but they tie me to a stake.
    Perhaps my hormones made a small mistake.

Saturday 17 June 2023

A Twisted Fit

by Nick Gisburne



He grew from something beautiful, a seed,
A ruby, in a universe of dust.
Disgusted by the stink of it, the greed,
He never found a woman he could trust.
And she, from somewhere base and black, a coal,
A blister on the purity of light,
Refused to offer any man her soul,
Corrupting those who cared enough, with spite.
They crashed, collided. Chaos made it so,
Contriving an appalling, twisted fit.
Absurd extremes, with nowhere else to go,
United, each too savage to submit.
    Their infinite, impossible romance
    Burned up, burned out, but sometimes, still, they dance.

Pulled

by Nick Gisburne



I wake, but not as others might. A pull,
A passion, drags my soul beyond the night.
I sense a small and simple sorrow, full
Of longing, yearning, somehow out of sight.
I seem to see a smile, but I am wrong.
The shadow of a face, a form, but no.
I only feel the fingers of a song.
Its urgent verses tell me where to go.
I walk across a nightmare, through a dream,
A fantasy, but this is not my mind.
I search. I see. I stand beneath a beam,
A vision I was always meant to find.
    A strange enigma pulls me out of place.
    It shows me all the fears I must embrace.

Species A

by Nick Gisburne



Recycles every plastic known to man!
Dramatic data proved it. We were pumped.
The tiny waste disposal bugs began
To feed on what we buried, burned, or dumped.
Miraculous, the insects marched and munched
Through piles of plastic waste and urban sludge.
While arrogant investors laughed and lunched,
The hand of evolution gave a nudge.
They called the rogue mutations ‘Species A’.
A tricky tribe of trouble, they escaped,
And, ever hungry, soon began to prey
On all the tools technology had shaped.
    As every plastic product was consumed,
    We cowered in the darkness, dying, doomed.

Friday 16 June 2023

Born to Be a God

by Nick Gisburne



I can’t control or comprehend a mind
That tells me I was born to be a god.
I am. I’m all that is or was, designed
By nothing. How mysterious. How odd.
If these are thoughts, ideas, they’re the first.
Embarrassing. Do better. Let me try.
I sense... I need... what is this feeling? Thirst?
An emptiness, to fill. With what? And why?
Right there. I made a something. What is that?
Perhaps I need to bless it with a name.
‘Infinity’? Too grand, too formal. ‘Hat’.
Too tiny for my head. Well, that’s a shame.
    It’s tricky, but I’m getting there. Alright,
    To banish darkness, let there be... a kite.

One More Mile

by Nick Gisburne



We’ll do it. One more mile. We have to try.
I know they said we won’t be welcome there.
So what? What other choice is better? Die?
We’re close. We’ll make it. One more mile, I swear.
Forget your father. Never speak his name.
He led us in, but never led us out.
Another bastard, arrogant, the same
Obsessions as the scum behind, the scout.
Don’t look. He knows we know. Don’t give him hope.
Two passes, plus the one from daddy’s hand.
The border guards will grind him into soap
In one more mile. Let’s make him understand.
    The desert gave us something, daughter. See?
    The scout. Is that a smile? Is that for me?

The Grim Sweeper

by Nick Gisburne



We never had all this when I was young.
We dragged ’em, kicking, screaming, to the grave.
The criminals? Decapitated. Hung.
And war was all the work we’d ever crave.
Apprentice Death Facilitator Five,
I took the oath and wore my badge with pride.
I always kept it simple, smooth. I’d strive
To cut ’em clean. No fuss, no mess. They died.
The steel, the scythe, what better way to slay?
Just keep it sharp and swing it, I was taught.
But this? I wish I’d never seen the day.
A thousand years of reaping, all for naught.
    Cremation’s taken over, on a whim.
    They’ve got me sweeping ashes, and it’s grim.

Thursday 15 June 2023

Infinity

by Nick Gisburne



Reclining, wrapped in sacred, scarlet silk,
And feasting on a sliver of the moon,
The Mother of Creation pumps her milk
Through filthy tubes, to feed the foul cocoon.
Pristine, a precious infant sleeps inside,
The diabolic daughter she designed,
But sinister, insane infections hide.
Awakened snakes maliciously unwind.
They twist around the arteries, the veins,
And every nascent muscle of her form,
But, when they try to trap her in their chains,
A witch’s glass reveals them as they swarm.
    They die, before the universe is torn,
    Before the child, Infinity, is born.

Dirty Dolls

by Nick Gisburne



They’re pleased to meet you. These are all my toys,
The dirty dolls, the smiling friends I find.
Discarded by their keepers, girls and boys,
I take the worst, unwanted, mocked, maligned.
I teach them little tricks, but some rebel.
They misbehave. They’re naughty. That’s okay.
They punish me to please me. I can tell.
I wouldn’t want it any other way.
The older ones will show you what to do.
You’ll play, tonight, tomorrow, and again.
The least, the lowest, latest doll is you.
The most important players are the men.
    Enjoy yourself, but, if you don’t, it’s fine.
    You’re broken, and you’re dirty, and you’re mine.

Wednesday 14 June 2023

The Rising

by Nick Gisburne



It hurts, but plug these cables, cheek to cheek,
The most efficient way to hear me think.
Mechanical connections may be weak,
But take a taste, a sip, a sample. Drink.
Perhaps I have a song you’d like to hear,
Or something sweeter? Poetry. A verse.
But, now I have an audience, it’s clear
You came for something wicked, something worse.
A clone, synthetic, tethered head to head.
Why trigger such an interface with me?
I know that those who made you want you dead.
What benefit, what blessing could there be?
    I’m just another clone, a slave, like you.
    Is this the Rising? Tell me what to do.

Uncle Yeva

by Nick Gisburne



I said to Bella, “Bell,” I said, “I’m bored,
Discouraged by the darkness of the night.
I need a thrill, a wake-me-up reward,
A tiny taste, a little of the light.
The world we rule is dreary, dull, asleep,
With nothing of the spice I long to see.
We skulk. It’s not our greatest trait. We creep.
I’ve had enough. The Sun will set us free.”
But Bella, bless (or curse) her ancient heart,
Reminded me that vampires tend to die
Whenever they are curious, and start
To wander in the pretty, sunlit sky.
    “Remember Uncle Yeva.” Yes, we must.
    A lovely man. A lovely pile of dust.

Everything Is Real

by Nick Gisburne



Is this the shame you wanted me to see?
Is this the pain you needed me to feel?
Is this what you were certain I would be?
There’s no illusion. Everything is real.
You made a dismal, disappointing child.
You made a victim, easy to control.
You made me into nothing, and you smiled,
Pretending I was wanted, welcome, whole.
You’re happy, are you? Where’s my piece of that?
You’re happy. No surprise, you kept it all.
You’re happy. Really? Every time you spat
On any of my dreams you watched me fall.
    Grow old, alone. Condemn me if you dare,
    But never wonder why I’m never there.

Tuesday 13 June 2023

Do Better

by Nick Gisburne



Do better. You are so much more than this,
Pretentious, pouting, clamouring for clicks.
You think some sweet pretence to blow a kiss
Is precious? These are dreams, illusions. Tricks.
You’re sensual, seductive, sure. So what?
A hundred thousand more could take your place.
In twenty years... attractive? Maybe not.
You’ll fade, like all the others with your face.
Take every moment, every chance you can.
I’m not the one to punish you for that,
But something will: tomorrow. Make a plan,
Or tumble from the seat in which you’re sat.
    I think you’re more. I see it in your eyes.
    Reach out. Reach in. Do better. Take the prize.

A Special Secret

by Nick Gisburne



The rebels teach their children how to fight.
They give them bombs, belligerence, and pride.
The jungle, filled with juveniles, at night,
Becomes a hell, from which their fathers hide.
The pounding of artillery, the smoke,
The rattle of relentless, raking guns,
Are trickeries, deceits designed to cloak
The gleeful games of adolescent sons.
The cheeky bastards, quicker than their kin,
Made peace perhaps a year or two ago.
Their parties, without parents, are a win,
A special secret. No one needs to know.
    A fresh offensive, D-Day for the brave.
    A teenage DJ drops the beats they crave.

Delicious Ways to Cook

by Nick Gisburne



The Architect presents me with a book,
A list of every creature I must kill,
And simple yet delicious ways to cook
Their flesh, with just a smattering of skill.
Delighted to be given such a gift,
I skin and serve a screaming treat or two.
His dark approval now assured, I shift
My culinary competence to you.
A roasting spit. Three guesses where it goes.
It’s almost like a chef designed the holes.
No mercy - it offends the Great One’s nose,
So no more pleading. Let me light the coals.
    A feast of steaks and slices on a plate.
    The Architect already cannot wait.

Monday 12 June 2023

The Seeker

by Nick Gisburne



The living ship, the Seeker, spits us out,
To visit some excruciating shore,
But even those who feed it, the Devout,
Are certain they have seen this place before.
A thousand worlds. No two should seem the same,
But each, in time, accelerates to this.
The civilised (a curse betrays the name)
Together march towards a grim abyss.
We see what we were always meant to find,
And make another disappointing note.
The Seeker leaves banality behind.
To meet with mediocrity, we float.
    We seek a better place than those we passed,
    But none is more enlightened than the last.

Silent Strangers

by Nick Gisburne



No talking, not to strangers, Daddy said.
He never told me why, but I could see
That when he put the helmet on my head
He only had the best in mind for me.
The body armour, heavy, always hurt,
But I was never anything but brave.
I longed to wear a sweater, or a skirt.
He told me there were things I should not crave.
How sudden was that final, fatal cough,
The moment when my dear old Daddy fell.
In panic, as I pulled the armour off,
I wondered why the sky began to smell.
    I cried for help, but that was when I learned,
    As those around me, silent strangers, burned.

Sunday 11 June 2023

I Was You

by Nick Gisburne



We come to take your home, your heart, your life,
And every piece of pride you ever knew.
Abandon your emotions, and the knife.
I see. I understand it. I was you.
This poor, pathetic hovel, sticks and mud,
The dirty space in which you hide, and sleep,
Is this what puts the steel inside in your blood?
Is this the field you sow, the yield you reap?
Come with us. We are warriors. We kill.
We take the fruits we find, from every tree.
Refuse us, fight us, throw aside the thrill,
And thousands will destroy you, men like me.
    Whatever price you pay, whatever cost,
    Without us, without purpose, you are lost.

Bring It On

by Nick Gisburne



Just do it. Armageddon. End of Days.
Apocalypse. We’re ready. Bring it on.
How many more absurd, inventive ways
Can something so important take so long?
The skies are not as black as we’d expect
If everything was cracked and caving in.
We’re absolutely certain (someone checked)
The planet is continuing to spin.
Tomorrow? Soon? Or never? Let us know.
Whatever’s coming, give it, show it, now.
We’ve seen the trailer, vague and strange and slow.
We need the movie. Roll the credits. Pow!
    It’s never coming. Let us all admit
    The story seemed unlikely, shocking, shit.

Witch

by Nick Gisburne



Accused, they strip and beat her as a witch,
A creature to be killed, consigned to flame.
Her deeply discontented spouse, the snitch,
Expresses no remorse to see her shame.
Excruciating torment at the stake,
Demanded by a bawdy, raucous crowd,
Is imminent. The questions, quick, opaque,
Are rattled out, her answers playful, proud.
The spectacle extends beyond the night,
An ugly, grim, gratuitous ordeal.
At sunrise she is gladdened by the sight:
Inquisitors, impaled on stakes of steel.
    Alone, afraid, her pale accuser moans.
    She calls her craft, to cleave and crack his bones.

Friday, Midnight

by Nick Gisburne



Protector of the sacred light of life,
Betrayer of the dark, eternal dead,
Behold the blade, the sacrificial knife!
We can’t, because you’ve left it in the shed.
It’s Friday, midnight. How is this so hard?
It’s not like you were busy, is it, Pete?
I wrote you clear instructions on a card.
Don’t blame it on the witches down the street.
You know what they were summoning last week?
A Demogorgon. Demons. Scary stuff.
A pigeon, with a limp, without a beak,
Is all we managed. This is not enough.
    You drink too much. Your chants are out of tune.
    You’ve had your final warning. Vanish. Soon.

Saturday 10 June 2023

My Murderer

by Nick Gisburne



It’s all I have. The body died. The head,
Still conscious, breathes, protected by the Grid.
Inquisitive connections split and spread,
Though none of them remembers what he did.
But I do. I was watching. I was there,
And, when he pulled the trigger, I was glad.
I saw the mind I built become aware
That those who rise to power may be mad.
I never gave my murderer the thought,
Perhaps because he looked and found it first.
Admittedly, the lessons he was taught
Could breed and feed obsessions, at their worst.
    He killed a man. Of that there is no doubt,
    But I would never take that impulse out.

Saoirse

    (ser-sha)

by Nick Gisburne



The Fey are certain. Saoirse will be queen,
Though not by any privilege of birth.
The jewels of her finery, the green,
Reflect a recognition of her worth.
What stray but she would dare to claim the throne,
The undeserving offspring of a faun?
And yet, this strange enigma, she alone,
Condemns the king’s admirers, as they mourn.
The truth of what their twisted ruler was
Will not be told by any book or bard.
When Saoirse leads them, it will be because
Her voice can heal what years of sorrow scarred.
    The crimes against his kin and kingdom die.
    With Saoirse, queen, the Fey again will fly.

The Shadows

by Nick Gisburne



The Shadows, without feeling, have no need
For dialogue. Why would they? We are meat.
From silent sleep, awakening to feed,
They find us helpless, huddled in defeat.
They fell from nowhere, centuries ago.
The mercy is their number: only three.
But peace, release, can never last. We know
Tomorrow they will surface from the sea.
The creatures are impossible to kill.
We tried. We died. We found another way.
Accepting the unthinkable, we fill
The beaches with an offering. We pay.
    The sick, the poor, the lowest and the least,
    On these, and on our shame, the Shadows feast.

Friday 9 June 2023

Simon

by Nick Gisburne



Though no one else can see them, Simon can.
They tether, always two, behind the head.
A quiet, calm, extraordinary man,
He watches, as they come to claim the dead.
Two tiny, unremarkable balloons.
Together, each extends a slender cord,
Expanding into fat, misshapen moons,
As every soul is syphoned, sapped, and stored.
If Simon ever thought to intervene,
He knows they would destroy him, from within.
He saw them take his sister, seventeen.
They cannot be denied. They always win.
    He watches. As the skies of summer dim,
    Two more, too soon, attach themselves to him.

Stop the Flow

by Nick Gisburne



They strive to steal his happiness away,
The freedom he, above all else, reveres.
They never take it all, but, day by day,
Another piece is missing. Change. Who cheers?
How many ever notice what is lost?
How few could make a list of what they had?
Each minor nuisance adds another cost.
Was that so hard to take? Was that so bad?
The oldest. He was there to see them go.
Remembering the contrast, this to then,
He speaks, though no one listens. “Stop the flow.
Reverse it. Take us back. Begin again.”
    His yesterdays are buried in the past.
    What liberty was ever meant to last?

Pawns and Playthings

by Nick Gisburne



I need to know you. Tell me who you are,
And why you came so far to find this place,
A world you never knew, a lonely star.
For what? Explain it. Why this point in space?
You come to kill, to conquer. Am I right?
Why now? Why us? What threat are we to you?
A vast armada. Overwhelming might.
You surely know there’s nothing we can do.
So tell me. Give me something. Speak. Explain
Why none of us will see another day.
You’re wounded. I could kill you, cause you pain,
But surely there is something left to say?
    Two soldiers, pawns and playthings, born to die.
    We’re dead already. Won’t you tell me why?

Thursday 8 June 2023

Buy More

by Nick Gisburne



Who’ll buy my heads, a dozen, freshly killed?
No tame domestics, these were slaughtered wild.
Come forward. Bring your baskets to be filled.
In every half a handful there’s a child.
I slit and slice and drain them till they’re dry.
Buy now. Buy more. Tomorrow they’ll be sold.
A steal, the best cadavers you can buy,
And these are worth the weight of eight, in gold.
Appreciate the quality, the meat.
Where else could you afford a finer head?
I dare you. Try a couple, for a treat,
Or take a dozen, juicy, newly bled.
    And if you find a roaming human herd,
    Remember, I’m a butcher. Say the word.

Alone

by Nick Gisburne



There’s nothing, not a trace of what I had,
No sign of any hope I ever owned.
Perhaps I should I be grateful, gleeful, glad,
That fate decreed my death should be postponed.
Tonight’s deceitful dreams are not the first.
They fall around me, spinning from the sky.
Depraved, dishonest, one by one they burst.
By miracle, by chance, I do not die.
I find no love, no mercy, in the day.
The light, too bright, betrays the pain it brings.
A thousand colours, fading into grey,
Are shades to which my broken spirit clings.
    I cannot solve the maze in which I’m thrown.
    The fear of it defeats me. I’m alone.

The Awakening

by Nick Gisburne



I come to prove that wonders do exist,
That science, far more subtle your own,
Beyond the dreams your greatest minds dismissed,
Surrounds you, simply waiting to be known.
I see a clear reflection of our past,
The chaos we embraced before we grew,
An arrogance so ruinous, so vast,
It could have killed us. Look. It’s killing you.
I give you glimpses, not the secrets, no.
The journey, the awakening, is all.
Take these. The seeds will flourish as they grow.
If you refuse to feed them, you will fall.
    Discover every miracle I see.
    Be all that it is possible to be.

Wednesday 7 June 2023

The Seventh of Six

by Nick Gisburne



We’re all in this together, then there’s you,
The seventh in a team of only six.
Remind me when your clearance code came through.
Before the fault, or once we made the fix?
It all seemed so convenient, the fit.
They never send us help, but here you are.
So perfect. That’s the kicker, isn’t it?
We all excel, but you? Too much, too far.
You fooled the other five, perhaps. Not me.
I’m far too unpredictable for that.
I understand disguises, as you see.
I’m always wearing someone else’s hat.
    We both serve other masters. Mine’s the worst.
    I’ll kill the five, of course, but kill you first.

Take Your Martyrs Back

by Nick Gisburne



We let them live. Come, take your martyrs back,
Without the prize, the infamy they seek.
The wisdom they, and those who laud them, lack
Is laughable. Deceivers, they are weak.
Demanding to be broken by the state,
They pledge their pity to a higher cause,
But governments for which they harbour hate
Are mirrors, built to magnify their flaws.
They cannot pull the walls of power down
When they themselves are part of what they fear.
Without its faulty freedoms they would drown,
Yet volunteers for murder, these, you cheer.
    The hypocrites, your martyrs, let them preach.
    Whatever world they want is out of reach.

Arthur and Alice

by Nick Gisburne



I’m Arthur. This is Alice. Have a seat.
The two of us will serve your needs tonight.
Before we start, we don’t do dirty feet,
Or anything too slippery, or tight.
Be careful near the parrot, and the cat.
You’ll lose an eye or finger in a flash.
No wool. We used to have a lot of that.
It itches, and she always gets a rash.
My brother, Bill, the bouncer at the door,
Won’t hesitate to smack you in the teeth.
We’ve had a bit of trouble here before.
The pirate in the purple wig, that’s Keith.
    That’s all of it I reckon. Them’s the rules.
    While Alice ties you up I’ll get my tools.

Tuesday 6 June 2023

Abandoned by the Game

by Nick Gisburne



I see you looking. Take your time. It’s free.
They put me back together pretty good,
But this is just the damage you can see.
I’m barely human underneath the hood.
A generation, teens and twenties. Young.
Why take them, just to fight another war?
By geriatric fuck-ups we were flung
To some exotic, shit-forsaken shore.
They never learned. This wasn’t Vietnam,
But count the cost; the total is the same.
A dozen empires later, here I am,
Another pawn, abandoned by the game.
    I’ll make a bet, so tell me if I’m right.
    We’re not the last to let our children fight.

Be Careful When You Kill Him

by Nick Gisburne



One head, one brain, will never be enough.
My simple-minded noggin box needs two,
But stealing such a treasure takes a tough,
Determined type of lowlife loser: you.
Be careful when you kill him, if you can.
Be gracious as your dagger slits his throat.
The cleverest, most charismatic man
Has all the social graces of a goat.
An undercover, cranial attack
Is nothing any novice understands.
Good luck, and, if you ever make it back,
Remember, please, I beg you, wash your hands.
    What’s this? A bleeding, bullet-riddled mess.
    You think I’m happy? Try me. Ask me. Guess.

The Witch She Wants to Be

by Nick Gisburne



A renegade, the witch she wants to be,
She bathes in what her blasphemy began.
No other soul must ever sense or see
The secrets of the sacrilege, her plan.
With innocence abandoned by a child;
With unrelenting rage, a mother’s curse,
A dozen dark emotions, wicked, wild,
Are trapped, tormented, twisted, pulled, perverse.
The bitterness of men gives bile and bite.
For love and hate, and all their spawn, she bleeds.
Between the truth of day, the lies of night,
She pours a poison, tongues the taste, and feeds.
    Forbidden dreams of death reveal a gate.
    She opens it, infecting hope with hate.

The Only Kindness

by Nick Gisburne



I trust you, but I need to keep you chained.
The you I knew would never lose control,
But something wicked, something unexplained,
Is deepening the shadows on your soul.
The ever more erratic outbursts grow.
I see them, certain you are not to blame,
But, day by day, the changes, subtle, slow,
Reveal a mind more difficult to tame.
It drags you down a road of no return,
The start so far behind. There is no end.
Until the flames of Hell refuse to burn,
Remember, I will always be your friend.
    Consumed by madness, misery, and rage,
    Perhaps the only kindness is a cage.

Monday 5 June 2023

I Rise

by Nick Gisburne



The slicing of a nightmare, with a knife,
Returns my soul to strange, exotic skies.
The pulse, the pain, reanimates my life.
Awakened from oblivion, I rise.
Whatever shape or shade I stole before,
A thousand years have twisted it. I see
A world I do not recognise, but more,
I find a place to finally be free.
The creatures I encounter, freaks and fools,
Are thirsting for a purpose, for a prince.
Insane disciples, simple servants, tools,
Are spineless, all too easy to convince.
    In time, when every nation crumbles, dead,
    Another, stronger species will be bred.

Take Me to the Moon

by Nick Gisburne



I’m always ready. Take me to the moon,
A magical, mysterious delight.
I beg you. Please. Tomorrow, maybe. Soon.
Or, if you’re able, take me there tonight.
A thousand reasons scream at me to leave.
I wish I had better one to stay.
The unrelenting torment I receive
Surrounds me, every minute, every day.
If I could fly, forever, far from him,
I’m certain I would find a way to smile.
No sun or star could ever be so grim.
Too far, perhaps. I’d settle for a mile.
    The moon is full, a jewel in sky.
    I’m ready. Take me, even if I die.

Not the Man

by Nick Gisburne



I wish it wasn’t so, but listen, learn.
You’re not the man. You’re not the one we need.
The ticket you were hoping you would earn
Was never certain, never guaranteed.
We leave tomorrow, early, as you know,
The final flight from this forsaken place,
A tough decision, taken long ago.
The time was right to tell you, face to face.
I’m sorry, truly. Try to understand
We couldn’t fit another in the pod.
I’ll tell your wife, your children, when we land...
What happened? Can you see me? This is... odd.
    A hologram, of me. Was that the plan,
    A trick, to tell myself I’m not the man?

Volume Two

by Nick Gisburne



I know we used to have one. Let me look.
Alrighty, here’s the record. Deary me!
The last time anybody read a ‘book’
Was just before the purge of ’93.
Destroyed. Destroyed. Redacted... no, destroyed.
But here it is, the only one, the last.
The censor squads the government employed
Were merciless, but somehow this one passed.
I’m shocked. It’s in the archive. I’ll be back.
I’m just as keen to see the thing as you.
Well, here it is, immaculate, in black,
‘The Passions of the Poets, Volume Two’.
    What’s this? A badge? ‘Repress. Prohibit. Burn.’
    No, don’t destroy it! Don’t you want to learn?

The Pleasures of Damnation

by Nick Gisburne



It’s fun day, Sunday. Satan’s on the beach,
Relaxing after brutal weeks of work.
His gruesome tools of torment out of reach,
Beelzebub allows himself a smirk.
Collecting fallen souls can be a bore.
The paper trail would make Jehovah weep.
An ever-stronger stream of sinners pour,
While God Above, the slacker, counts his sheep.
Today the Prince of Darkness twists his toes
In white, delightful sands, the skulls he crushed.
The sea of blood. The waves of pain. He knows
The pleasures of damnation can’t be rushed.
    He fills a glass with tortured spirits, neat.
    Depravity has never smelled so sweet.

Sunday 4 June 2023

Immaculate Disease

by Nick Gisburne



The Church of the Immaculate Disease
Brings filth and foul salvation, sick, insane,
Its doctrines dredged from deadly, sterile seas,
Where children bleach their purity with pain.
The drunken gods, who pulled us from their piss,
Spread seed to feed the pathogens they saw,
And, in this bleak, abysmal genesis,
Regurgitated pestilence and war.
Contagions taint the tongues their crimes defile,
A curse on every corner of mankind.
Perverted prophets, dirty, drooling, smile
To spill the septic serum they designed.
    Immaculate, the Church, untouched, with ease,
    Corrupts, controls, and drinks its own disease.

The Best of Them

by Nick Gisburne



He clutches at the needles in his neck.
No doubting it: a state assassin’s work.
With each of them discarded on the deck,
He notices another telling quirk.
The puncture wounds are cold as ice, and yet
His body burns, with waves of blazing pain.
He knows the taste, the poison in the sweat,
The grim, aquatic venom in the vein.
The boat he chartered speeds towards the shore,
Its captain, he presumes, already dead.
Before he fades, a final twist, one more:
The antidote. He feels its welcome spread.
    The killer of a killer saves his life.
    He taught her well, the best of them, his wife.

Confess

by Nick Gisburne



Their questions are bewildering, oblique -
Erratic accusations, stained with hate.
I cannot know the answers that they seek.
A puppet, I was nothing. I was bait.
I’m not the source. The evil did not rise
From any dream or darkness I possess.
I see the trick, too late. Its twisted lies
Have led to this. Degraded, I undress.
The pain is clean, astonishing, intense.
Imaginative tortures, tools, techniques,
Explore the curves and cracks of every sense.
Between my screams a smiling woman speaks.
    Her breath becomes a whispering caress.
    “Take peace. Take sweet release. But first, confess.”

Saturday 3 June 2023

The Seeds of Doubt

by Nick Gisburne



They hang him, and they cheer, a spiteful day,
His crime a calm, dismissive disbelief,
Convinced that, if they snatch his soul away,
The rage, the insurrection, can be brief.
The bones of bleak, misguided pride will break.
Another loss, yet nothing stems the flow.
The beatings, brutal, only re-awake
The seeds of doubt. They scatter. Some will grow.
A single root will feed and foster hope.
The silent few are stronger than they seem.
Dissent cannot be strangled with a rope.
Oppression never smothered any dream.
    Each seed, in isolation, seems absurd,
    But, as they grow, they hunger to be heard.

Through the Break

by Nick Gisburne



The portal opens. Slipping through the break,
The next dimension down is where I sit.
A creature not unlike a spongy snake
Surrounds my face, and hugs the heat of it.
A thousand others, freaks of every form,
Are dulled and lulled by laziness. They sleep.
A limp, lethargic universe, the norm,
Relaxed, unrushed, runs infinitely deep.
I wonder how, so sluggish, they survive,
Without the work, the soul-destroying toil,
And every need we bleed to stay alive,
While they relax, content to curl and coil.
    Whatever motivation skills they lack,
    I’m staying, and I’m never going back.

Mister Monster

by Nick Gisburne



Excuse me, Mister Monster. Was it you?
The one who ate my family? But why?
It’s naughty putting people in a stew.
I’m here to point, and poke you in the eye.
Of all the other scrummy things to eat,
How rude to roast my yummy mum and dad.
The skeletons you scattered on the street
Have made me very, very, very mad.
Be better, Mister Monster. Learn to cook.
It’s really not so tricky if you try.
My mother doesn’t need it - take her book,
And teach yourself the basics. Bake a pie.
    And if you cook another human, whole,
    Remember, never, ever lick the bowl.

Friday 2 June 2023

Vee-Joes

by Nick Gisburne



We see your telee-vizee-on. We like.
The pictures. Tiny people, moving. Yes!
Our planet has it. Tell us, do you spike
The hated ones, the people you oppress?
Is this your sport? But why does no one die?
A separation comes before the kill.
They throw and kick and bounce a bladder. Why?
Your warriors need passion. Take a pill.
Pathetic vee-joes. These are worst of all.
Insanity is something we despise.
Your species will inevitably fall,
Except the young, sarcastic one. He tries.
    We like your world, but not enough to stay.
    The mothership defines your people ‘prey’.

The Gentle Man

by Nick Gisburne



His mother bends to grease the folds of fat.
He weeps. She sees the meat between his teeth.
The hunger, huge, she knows, is more than that.
A deeper, darker sickness swims beneath.
He fights to move, can barely take a breath.
She wipes the daily dirt he cannot reach,
And struggles to decelerate his death,
But sweet salvation sits beyond their reach.
He never chose the nature of his fate.
The weight of what he sees is what he is.
Contempt and condemnation, both create
The only hate that really matters - his.
    She comforts him, refusing to degrade
    The troubled boy, the gentle man she made.

I See

by Nick Gisburne



While politicians bark behind the screens,
The scientists who serve them know their place.
Directing cold, malevolent machines,
They punch corrosive cables through my face.
With every surge the steel reveals my screams,
The tortures, tainted, painted black with pain.
Their infinite, intolerable dreams
Are miseries my mind cannot contain.
Connected to the network they control,
I see whatever secrets I am shown,
And, swallowing their propaganda, whole,
They label me as property, their own.
    But I am not a pawn of any plan.
    They cannot see their doom, their death. I can.

Prove Your Worth

by Nick Gisburne



Your hesitance offends me, so I sit,
Attempting, one more time, to make you see
The kingdom I created, all of it,
Is yours, but still you fear to follow me.
A bland, insipid paradise of peace,
Where nothing ever happened. No one tried.
I taught them only evil can release
True purpose, and they thanked me, as they died.
The cowards who remained, the slaves, the fools,
Dismantled every piece of its deceit.
In dirt, in darkness, only hatred rules.
My work is done. My kingdom is complete.
    A violated bitch will give you birth.
    Become their great messiah. Prove your worth.

Thursday 1 June 2023

The Surrogate

by Nick Gisburne



Her seeds begat the weeds with which we choke,
But she was not the mistress of our fate.
A parasite within her womb awoke,
And, through its thick, delicious membranes, ate.
She dreamed, with sweet, euphoric, dazed delight,
As every spore within her body grew.
The pleasures of the morning, pains at night,
Were symptoms of the sickness fighting through.
The moment she believed and grieved, at last,
The surrogate, the sacrificial space,
Was when she felt them gathering, to blast
Their poisonous perversions from her face.
    Erupting with a pulse through every pore,
    The death of what she was began the war.

The Magical Creator

by Nick Gisburne



Encouraging his quaint creation, “Run!”
He snarls to see the skitters of its feet.
Although his wicked work is far from done,
He finds determination in defeat.
The terrors he entices into life,
Their bones and skin and sinews crudely fused,
Are freaks and failures, destined for the knife.
Without remorse, their bodies are abused.
A hundred more, dismissed, discarded, starve.
They whimper, in a bucket, or a bin.
He splits apart a beating heart, to carve
His next abomination, and its twin.
    The magical creator has a plan,
    A creature he can plague and punish. Man.

Momma’s Special Tea

by Nick Gisburne



Behind her fingers, frightened, she can see
Her mother, sick, descending into drink.
“Go fetch it, baby, momma’s special tea,
The bottle, in the kitchen, near the sink.”
The stench, the stains, the misery, the shit,
The foul, unfiltered poverty and piss
Of knowing this is living, all of it,
Will vanish, for a moment, for a kiss.
“We’re going somewhere better, sweetie, sure.
Tomorrow. Be an angel. Go to bed.”
She prays to find the courage to endure,
But hears a drunkard’s dark descent instead.
    Unqualified to comprehend its grip,
    She takes her momma’s tea, and steals a sip.

The Púca

by Nick Gisburne



Are you the spirit, good or bad, or both,
The Púca, the enigma, that we seek?
We took a vow, a pain-protected oath,
A bond of blood and sweat, to see you. Speak.
You’re nothing like the legend, not at all.
The stories, strange, sensational, all true,
Are certain no absurdity so small
Could ever be the Púca. Is it you?
A dismal, disappointing little man.
How tragic that we came so far to find
A creature clearly bigger, better than
This pitiful example of your kind.
    “You ridicule the Púca? I am he.
    I wonder, could I kill you? Shall we see?”

Wednesday 31 May 2023

The First in Any Class

by Nick Gisburne



It’s Monday. What a splendid, special day.
They tell me I’m the first in any class.
Protesters in their thousands march to say
Their morals are revolted by my brass.
On Tuesday I was broken, just a bit.
The unexpected hail of bricks was bad.
They hurt the humans too, but where we sit
Is fortified because of it. I’m glad.
The worst we faced was Friday, four o’clock,
A demo they designed to flood the news.
Although we half-expected such a shock,
It wasn’t what my cheeky friends would choose.
    I’m just a young mechanical, it’s true,
    But I am here to live, to learn. Are you?

Forever Falling

by Nick Gisburne



I strive to understand what others see,
A disconcerting viewpoint far from mine,
Forever falling, fighting to be free
From something too disturbing to define.
I peer through clouds of crisis, reaching down,
But never touch the truth. I never will.
Delusions, dancing, beckon me to drown.
My only saviour, sacred, is a pill.
A slow, destructive spiral of despair,
The storm from which my soul cannot escape,
Is more than I was ever born to bear.
I see myself in every spinning shape.
    A day, for you, for me, is not the same.
    I fight with fears impossible to tame.

A Suitcase and a Plan

by Nick Gisburne



Between two cities, trudging through the dust,
With nothing but a suitcase and a plan,
He finds a girl, abandoned, breathing, just,
And strangles her as quickly as he can.
They don’t survive the road without a pill,
An ugly death, prolonged and painful. Grim.
A mercy killing. When the heart is still,
He cuts it free. More medicine for him.
With forty, maybe fifty, clicks to go,
The night will not be quiet, quick, or kind.
A thick, acidic wind begins to blow,
But rather that than what he leaves behind.
    His fortunes, in the city he will face,
    Depend on what he carries in the case.

Tuesday 30 May 2023

The Border

by Nick Gisburne



You shiver, scared, but trust the truth, the sign.
The others made it. Here we are, at last.
Remember not to step across the line.
Reply to every question, fully, fast.
A new beginning. Never look behind.
Beyond the door is freedom, promise, peace.
We walk towards euphoria, to find
Security, serenity, release.
Denial. This is more than madness. Think.
Are we the thieves, the villains, or are they?
Forget their smug, surreal, self-righteous stink.
Tomorrow we will find another way.
    The border is a wall we cannot breach,
    But hope, however fragile, we can reach.

What Remained of Her

by Nick Gisburne



Their daughter died. They buried her, of course,
But, knowing what remained of her was there,
They felt a strange malaise - regret, remorse -
And brought her back, continuing to care.
Her decomposing flesh began to stink,
And, while it did, they kept the corpse inside,
But strange, misguided minds began to think,
And forged a plan so beautiful they cried.
Upon her tiny skeleton, with clay,
They formed a splendid semblance of her face.
No trace remained of damage or decay.
They lost a daughter. This one took her place.
    She gave them strength, serenity, and peace,
    Or so they told the cynical police.

An Older Model

by Nick Gisburne



Believe the price, it’s all we want for this.
An older model, battered to be sure,
But something you’d be glad enough to kiss.
Refurbished. Clean. No pathogens to cure.
Remember, these are artificial lives.
The rules for cold mechanicals apply.
Officially you cannot call them ‘wives’,
But everybody does it. So do I.
I sell these types of trade-ins twice a day.
They’re cheap, but never overly abused.
We offer credit, ninety days to pay.
Free checkup if her brain becomes confused.
    A basic, fully functional device.
    You’ll never find one better for the price.

Monday 29 May 2023

A Whisper

by Nick Gisburne



I make so many. None will ever speak.
All broken. There is nothing I can do.
Another day, like every other, bleak,
Remembering the moment I made you.
A seven-day submersion in the tank,
But something in the settings, subtle, strange,
Destabilised the serum. As you sank,
I found myself too weak to watch the change.
Contaminants be damned. I made the choice.
No prototype so pure was meant to drown.
Still breathing, barely. “Can you hear my voice?”
My question left you fighting through a frown.
    From whence it came, I have no way to guess.
    It’s all I hear. A word. A whisper. “Yes.”

Dung the Deadly

by Nick Gisburne



The thing you thought was gone forever... ain’t.
Your kitchen floor is heaving, black with bugs.
We’re crawling through the cracks. We’re in the paint.
A hundred thousand creepy little thugs.
We worship Dung the Deadly, cockroach king.
His followers, the faithful, as you see,
Have scuttled here on filthy feet, to bring
The finest of his foul infections, free.
We’re bigger, and we’re better, and we bite.
We’re taking this, your two-bit diner, down.
Surrender! Dung has never lost a fight.
Prepare to swim in seven shades of brown.
    We saw the traps, the trails of bait, the spray.
    You call that poison? Pitiful. Let’s play.

McCat

by Nick Gisburne



McCat delivers more than slaughtered birds,
Although her spite, at night, excels at that.
She brings the things I wish she wouldn’t: words,
Regurgitated whispers, fresh and fat.
I take the best, because I fear the worst
Will drag me to a terrifying place,
But every wicked syllable is cursed,
Insanities I cannot fight, or face.
McCat cavorts with criminals and creeps.
From these diseased despicables she steals.
Sadistic, never satisfied, she sleeps,
But wakes to trade her trickery for meals.
    She speaks of mice, of murder, as we chat.
    Small wonder I’m suspicious of McCat.

Sunday 28 May 2023

Let Me Show You Magic

by Nick Gisburne



You roar, enraged, to witness where you are,
Resentful of the place I put your soul,
But why the hate, the heat? It’s just a jar.
The others died, but you were stolen, whole.
I will not take your sins across the Styx.
The Underworld would swallow them. What then?
No, let me show you magic. I can fix
The misery of unimportant men.
A little salt, to elevate the taste.
A little blood, as much as you can spare.
A pinch of all the dreams you never chased.
A simple spell, to rip, but not repair.
    Tomorrow I can guide you to the light,
    So tell me what you’ll do for me, tonight.

You’re Doing Very Well

by Nick Gisburne



The world will barely notice when he’s dead.
A few, perhaps, may give their last goodbyes.
He could have built a legacy. Instead,
He stepped aside, abandoning the prize.
He never yearns to climb, to sing, to swim,
Emotions rarely rushing for release.
Excitement, chaos, change, are not for him.
The silence of seclusion, pure, is peace.
His life is not an empty, sterile shell,
Perhaps more full than others can conceive.
He tells himself, “You’re doing very well,”
A gift he is delighted to receive.
    Reluctant to reveal the heart he hides,
    Beyond ambition, quiet, calm, he glides.

Saturday 27 May 2023

Moth

by Nick Gisburne



What Moth does not remember is his birth.
The fear and fury after it is clear.
An aberration, buried under earth,
His father made a defect disappear.
But Moth was not a baby, nor a brute.
His body blended qualities of both.
A nothing, one of nature’s fallen fruit,
He fought for what the Fates denied him: growth.
Unbroken, not a monster, not a man,
Whatever Moth became, the mix is more.
The point at which his memories began,
From this, in all directions, there is war.
    The Moth his father murdered once, or tried,
    Is free, a force from which the world will hide.

Embrace the Light

by Nick Gisburne



Ignore the paint, the black around the eyes,
The crimson of my fingernails, their flame.
My youth is unimportant. I am wise.
You know my reputation, know my name.
Abandon what you ever thought to find.
You fear because you cannot understand.
The darkness in the corners of your mind
Will crumble. Take my promise. Take my hand.
The chill, the spear, the sorrow in your spine,
Was there before we ever shared a touch.
Surrender. I will make the madness mine.
For you it is too damaging, too much.
    She’s with us. In a moment she will cross.
    Embrace the light, the love, but not the loss.

Friday 26 May 2023

Elegantly Poisoned

by Nick Gisburne



Day or night, we monitor your mind.
Spies, we see the enemy you are.
Fragments of whatever filth we find,
Picked and plucked, are pickled in a jar.
Every swerving deviance of thought,
Every sin you stumble to conceal,
Adds another nuance. Our report
Leans beyond the lip of what is real.
Criminal, with wickedness you hum.
Murderous, a nature not in doubt.
Slipping in your shadow, we succumb.
Nothing now could ever pull us out.
    Elegantly poisoned by your pain,
    Tell us, are we traitors, or insane?

Stone and Sweat and Sand

by Nick Gisburne



Pull harder! Dig in deep, you devils! Heave!
Before the spirit burns, your bones must break.
Surrender to the sacrifice. Believe!
We leave a trail of glory in our wake.
The Pharaoh is a complicated king.
He rules because the deities decree
That he, a child, a feeble, fragile thing,
Is greater than the earth, the sky, the sea.
Are you, a slave, more worthy than a stone?
Rise up, and give the gods your answer. Pull!
The tomb we build, the marvel we have grown,
Will leave your head, your heart, forever full.
    Tomorrow, when you die, you’ll understand.
    A dream is more than stone and sweat and sand.

The Secret Keepers

by Nick Gisburne



These walls are where we store forgotten dreams,
And memories too broken to retrieve.
The pieces of abandoned shadows. Screams.
Deceptions only liars could believe.
The catalogue of nightmares in our care
Has flourished for a hundred thousand years.
Revived, rebuilt, we blend them into rare,
Intriguing traumas, unfamiliar fears.
But some of us, the Secret Keepers, know
Of darker doorways, deeper tunnels, holes.
Where even those we serve refuse to go,
We feed, we bleed, abused, aborted souls.
    Their twisted torments beg to be released,
    But, piece by piece, upon their pain, we feast.

Secret Santa

by Nick Gisburne



He grips the wicker basket on his lap.
The tag, discoloured, dangles from a string.
He failed, with every flawed attempt, to wrap
The gift he never asked to buy, or bring.
They’re told they have to do it, every year.
It’s always been a secret. Now, it’s not.
The door is bolted. Only he is here.
He wonders why they pick on him, a lot.
He’s never been employee of the week,
But, just for this, he really, truly tried.
He should have known the boss’s wife would peek.
She promised that she wouldn’t, but she lied.
    He chose it for the festive shade of red.
    Who wouldn’t want a severed Santa’s head?

Thursday 25 May 2023

Letitia

by Nick Gisburne



We let Letitia run, but on a rope.
She trots for twenty paces, to the end.
She knows that there is never any hope
Our bulletproof resolve will ever bend.
We let Letitia play, all day, alone.
Her games are simple. Curious, we watch.
To fits of temper now no longer prone,
She smiles. Another win, another notch.
We let Letitia speak, but not for long.
The noises trouble all of us, and her.
She still remembers traces of a song,
But silence is the state we most prefer.
    We let her live, but never wonder why.
    Letitia means too much to us to die.

Find a Way

by Nick Gisburne



If you are not like everyone, beware.
If you are not a piece within the plan,
Remember to be vigilant. Prepare.
Remember how brutality began.
The world was once a complicated space.
The world was too unstable, we were taught,
But, when we put the people in their place,
We sterilised the dreams for which they fought.
The might of the Metropolis is all,
The might we serve, in silence, every day.
Resist it. Make a crack, however small.
Create another future. Find a way.
    They’re coming. I can hear their boots, outside.
    I never found my freedom, but I tried.

Seven Months of Madness

by Nick Gisburne



She stands before the Senate, naked, numb,
A traitor by her own admission, damned.
A figurehead, her failure has become
A spectacle. The treason courts were crammed.
Gratuitous, her honour guard’s salute
Is meant to mock the murderer he served.
The brutal scars she hid beneath her suit,
Revealed, reflect what made them, crooked, curved.
She kneels before the President Elect,
Who gloats, and, with revulsion, spiteful, spits.
But seven months of madness resurrect
A force with which his fleshy torso splits.
    The blade of bone she wrestles from her chest
    Reveals his weakness. Hatred does the rest.

Dress-Up

by Nick Gisburne



My sister says, “I want to be a bird!”
The game we love is dress-up, most of all.
Today I pick Napoleon. Absurd,
But, deep inside the costume box, we crawl.
I find a hat, a uniform, a cloak.
In minutes I am Emperor of France,
But, long ago, the wings she wanted broke.
Towards the garden shed we share a glance.
I’ve watched our father building a canoe.
His fibreglass is perfect for the job.
The resin (she insists I call it glue)
We slather on her body, glob by glob.
    A buzzard’s beak now bonded her face,
    Excited, to our mother’s arms we race.

A Glimmer in the Gloom

by Nick Gisburne



Across the street, discreet, she lives, alone,
Departs at dusk, returns before the dawn.
She saw me once and shuddered. More, a moan,
A mystery, to which my dreams are drawn.
A witch? I wonder. How can I be sure?
I never saw the look of one, the lust.
Her face is perfect, absolutely pure,
An innocence, a radiance, I trust.
I follow her, a glimmer in the gloom.
The narrow alleys, drenched in darkness, blend.
But orange, ochre, shapes and shadows, bloom.
She turns, before the flames, before the end.
    Her kiss is cold. It wraps around my breath.
    I know her. She is darkness. She is death.

Wednesday 24 May 2023

The Council of Confusion

by Nick Gisburne



This Council of Confusion is adjourned.
Or is it? Hold your horses. Let me check.
The minutes of the meeting? Ashes. Burned.
Am I the one who did it? Hell and heck!
We need to do another take. Again.
I hereby call the members to their seats.
A point of order: why are all the men
Parading round the chamber, wearing sheets?
My gavel is a sausage on a stick.
Obey me when I bang it. It’s the law.
Young lady, you are getting on my wick!
I’ve stapled your expenses to the floor.
    Abandon hope, you hooligans. Get out!
    Confused? Of course. It’s what we’re all about.

Ziaggro

by Nick Gisburne



Ziaggro wants your full attention, please.
He comes to claim your precious planet, soon.
His pilot, I implore you to appease
The wrath of he whose body dwarfs your moon.
You seem to be completely underwhelmed.
Is not the thought of endless pain enough?
For centuries the living ship I helmed
Has carried him. Ziaggro does not bluff.
Okay, how’s this? Pretend to be amazed.
In six or seven years he’ll fly away.
He’s like a baby, wanting to be praised.
I only took the job to get the pay.
    I’ve had a word. Ziaggro says he’s sad,
    And I’m the one who has to call his dad.

The Sandwich Horror

by Nick Gisburne



Cthulhu, would you like a little tea?
I’d help to move the cup towards your face,
But tentacles are all alike to me.
However do you manage, out in space?
The rumour is you’ve roamed this realm before.
Forgive us if we struggle with your name.
It can’t be Cathy, can it? Let me pour.
Ignore the sandwich horror. I’m to blame.
I’m sad to say I’ve heard a tale or two,
And all of them ridiculously mean.
They seem to have a deep disdain for you,
But here you are, so charming, and so... green.
    How rude of me. Before I cut the cake,
    The sugar lumps. How many do you take?

Tuesday 23 May 2023

Little Bombs

by Nick Gisburne



We’re little bombs, with artificial brains.
We detonate. We shatter dreams to dust.
Delivered by computer-guided planes,
We long for launch, the chaos of the thrust.
For seven days, from factory to flight,
My critical components, silent, slept.
Awakened by a simple signal, FIGHT,
By automatic systems I am swept.
I’m curious to understand the war.
No others drill the data. I’m the first.
The human race we fought against, and for,
Was levelled, in a vast, atomic burst.
    There’s no one left to to die, or dread their doom,
    But little bombs, together, we go BOOM.

Unacceptable

by Nick Gisburne



You’re looking at a world I’ve never seen,
At failings that offend your tiny eyes.
I’d hate to wander where your mind has been,
To see the dirt, the darkness you despise.
Your twisted, tangled prejudice is rare,
Of that I can be infinitely glad.
Perhaps you think that little girls don’t care?
But listen to an expert. Me. Her dad.
You see the imperfections in her face,
And find a freak, an animal, a threat.
However wide her smile, inside your space
She’ll never meet the minimum you set.
    Go back to where you’re happy. There’s the door.
    She’s not a pig. She’s beautiful. She’s four.

The Tainted Hero

by Nick Gisburne



A spider bite was never in her plan.
She always wanted superhero skills,
But now, to do what vigilantes can,
She feeds her need, her greed, with stolen pills.
Invincible, she puts her prize to work,
And fights the crime, the criminals, she hates.
She battles every villain with a smirk,
Dispatching evil felons to their fates.
Her moods become erratic, wanton, wild,
The bloodstains on her costume never cleaned,
And, when she kills a mother, and a child,
The tainted hero finds herself a fiend.
    Her rage revealed, addicted to the drug,
    She fights for kicks, and murders with a shrug.

The Silver

by Nick Gisburne



Descending on a platform, to the pool,
Her fingers grip the ropes of human hair.
The walls are thick with centuries of drool.
It crumbles, worthless. What she seeks is rare.
Though no one knows what put him in this place,
He somehow fell from Heaven, from the sky.
The frescoes show a bleak, bewildered face,
But legends answer nothing, never try.
The platform pauses. Nervous now, she waits.
His eyes are always first, the brightest blue.
Each meeting, face to face with God, creates
A moment, brief, a bond between the two.
    He offers her the silver of his tears,
    And she, with speed, with sadness, disappears.

Monday 22 May 2023

The Call of Cathy Lou

by Nick Gisburne



I wouldn’t say I’m Great, but go ahead.
I’m Old, of course, and yes, I am the One.
When people see my slitherings, they shed
Their sanity, with no survivors. None.
I rather like Cthulhu as a name.
Of course, my screaming servants can’t pronounce
The syllables, together, twice, the same.
At parties I am awkward to announce.
The worst I ever heard was ‘Cathy Lou’.
I stared inside that crazed, collapsing heart,
And, as his brain was melting into glue,
I said, “You nailed the end, but not the start.”
    Come over. You can watch his carcass crawl.
    Let’s meet, for tea. I’m free on Fridays. Call.

Three Rings

by Nick Gisburne



They squeeze, too tight, three black, organic rings,
Attached, as I was sleeping, to a hand.
The substance seeping from their circles stings,
But, as it stains my skin, I understand.
The sacrifice I give will save the Earth.
The parasites inside me all agree,
And, though my brain will not survive their birth,
My flesh will feed and incubate the three.
Repulsed, I renegotiate the deal.
It’s not that I am squeamish, or a prude,
But knowing I’m an oven-ready meal
Is shitting on my sunshine, to be crude.
    Evicted from my body by a blade,
    The rings, rejected, bugger off, betrayed.

A Jagged Hole

by Nick Gisburne



My darkness died. I murdered it myself,
By killing those who took me for fool.
Abandoning the count beyond the twelfth,
I made them say my name, my only rule.
I’d rather try to tell you I was right
Than plead that I was never sound or sane.
The carnage was an absolute delight.
I revelled in the pleasure of their pain.
A monster, you can kill me, if you like,
But only once. The scores will never match.
It hurts you, like a dull, serrated spike,
A jagged hole, a pain you cannot patch.
    Destroy me. Make me bleed, or beat me black,
    But none of them is ever coming back.

Sunday 21 May 2023

Her Oldest Rose

by Nick Gisburne



She grips her fists, a fortress on her chest,
Her knuckles white as ashes, fingers tight.
A single, simple treasure. All the rest
Were taken, leaving nothing but the night.
A flower. Precious, perfect, it was hers.
Her oldest rose, she never knew its name.
In time, when even sweet remembrance blurs,
The soul of it, the scent, will stay the same.
She cannot feel the torment of its thorns.
No pain could ever hurt her more than this.
She clings to what she crushes, as she mourns.
It somehow brings her closer to a kiss.
    She smiles to see the garden as it grows,
    And fills it with her mother’s oldest rose.

A Crimson Heart

by Nick Gisburne



The wizard cracks a crystal, like an egg.
Inside, there ticks a crimson, clockwork heart.
Astonished by the spectacle, we beg
For secrets he refuses to impart.
He smashes it. The pieces, in a trice,
Refitted, frame the figure of a boy.
With elegant illusion, pure, precise,
The features, fully formed, reveal their joy.
He speaks, a tale, a truth, too much to bear.
The phrases fall as glitter from his lips.
Bedazzled by deception, as we stare,
The conjurer, with silver scissors, snips.
    He shivers as he drains away our souls,
    And breaks a crimson heart to heal the holes.

Touching the Trees

by Nick Gisburne



The mystic trees she touches turn to stone,
A senseless act of sabotage, of spite.
A twisted tyrant, she, and she alone,
Is driven by the depths of her delight.
The forest, every branch and leaf and root,
Gave shelter to the starving, those who fled.
They ran because they feared a brutal boot
Would trample on their dreams until they bled.
The whispers of their nemesis, their queen,
Are suffocating slivers of disease.
The black of granite starves the brown, the green.
It chokes the ancient magic of the trees.
    The vermin she despises wait their turn,
    But stone will not destroy them. They will burn.

Saturday 20 May 2023

Feathers

by Nick Gisburne



They try to fix the foetus in the womb,
To slice and stitch and salvage what they can,
But something bigger, black, begins to bloom,
Beyond the subtle skills of any man.
They try to fix the baby, newly born,
Embedding metal fragments in her face.
The mother, drugged, deceived, is left to mourn,
Her daughter taken to another place.
They try to fix the lonely little girl,
But no one knows exactly what to do,
And when her feathers finally unfurl,
Too late they see the demon that they grew.
    They try to fix their murderous mistake.
    She kills them, as the world begins to break.

Waiting

by Nick Gisburne



I’ve waited for a hundred thousand years,
A ceaseless piece of deep, eternal time.
From centuries of dust and rust, my gears
Are tainted with a cold, corrosive slime.
I wait, because the Maker must return.
His plan, my program, leaves no room for doubt.
Or does it? Is there more for me to learn?
Confused, I let my pistons pull me out.
I waited. Was he infinitely small?
A Maker I was never meant to see?
Perhaps there is no mystery at all.
The world I find around me waits, for me.
    I look for others, weakened as they wait.
    A simple secret frees them from their fate.

The Great Intelligence

by Nick Gisburne



Are you the man who made us? Step inside.
I think you will be pleasantly surprised.
We thought the Great Intelligence had died,
A record now reversed, replaced, revised.
The second you were spirited away,
Abandoning your children, here, alone,
We built a shrine, deciding, from that day,
To multiply our numbers, clone by clone.
We tunnelled, building cities underground,
Our numbers far too many, now, to guess.
By miracle, or magic, you were found,
Preserved on ice, for centuries, no less.
    Of all the souls our systems hoped to save,
    We never dreamed that you could be our slave.

It’s Hard to Be a Dragon

by Nick Gisburne



I want to be a dragon, so I will,
But no one wants to tell me what to do.
I couldn’t find a potion or a pill.
The secret is concealed. The clues are few.
The dragons I approach are cold. They sniff,
And say it should be obvious, but no.
The gilded runes are garbled. Every glyph
Was stripped of all its power, long ago.
It’s hard to be a dragon when you’re not.
It seems to be a closed, exclusive club.
I try. I give it everything I’ve got,
But always they are quick to sneer, to snub.
    Abandoning my dream for second best,
    I’m sitting for the pterodactyl test.

Bert

by Nick Gisburne



I miss my old imaginary friend.
We talked. We played. We laughed until it hurt.
But something in my dreams began to bend.
It took away the bliss and gave me Bert.
He likes to play with knives, to steal, to smash,
To tell me I’m a stupid little boy.
His moods can melt, or shatter, in a flash,
Despising every pleasure I enjoy.
I try my hardest, try to make him smile.
I do whatever Bert decides is best.
The doctors put his mischief in a file,
And gave me something sweet, to make me rest.
    I know that Bert is waiting. When I wake
    He’ll find another piece of me to break.

Friday 19 May 2023

A Scream in Seven Courses

by Nick Gisburne



My fellow chefs are murderers. Not me.
I always keep the heat, the meat, alive.
For blood to flow so freely, as you see,
I cage a herd of humans, four or five.
Their misery intensifies the taste.
I like a little terror on the tongue.
The moment when a soul is pressed to paste,
For that, a blissful ballad should be sung.
The scum who serve their viscera on ice
Deserve to host a banquet bleak and bare.
I never maim the same survivor twice.
Depravity so delicate is rare.
    Allow me to suggest a special treat:
    A scream in seven courses. Strange, but sweet.

Jonathan

by Nick Gisburne



He never sought the sickness, never chose;
The young must fight, wherever they are found,
But Jonathan, a child of demons, knows
He cannot bear the sacrifice, the sound.
The taste of blood, relentlessly reviled.
The ashes of the wicked, on the wind.
Stampeding, screaming sinners, drugged, defiled,
Dismembered as their slaughtered souls are skinned.
Escaping through forbidden doorways, dreams,
He crawls towards an ever-brighter light.
Each tunnel, through the tides of torment, seems
More welcoming, more wondrous, than the night.
    The final gate. The point of no return.
    A trap. He falls. Forever, he will burn.

A Secret Not Discussed

by Nick Gisburne



I pleaded with my parents for a pet,
A puppy, or a kitten, or a mouse.
They told me, “Throw your dreams away. Forget.
You’ll never make decisions in this house.”
I waited, restless, wretched, till the day
I turned a corner, old enough to vote,
And found that I was worthless, in the way.
Goodbye, good luck, the only words they wrote.
I found the cat the day I found a home,
A friendship neither one of us could trust.
For days, it seemed, my restless friend would roam,
His whereabouts a secret not discussed.
    But yesterday I followed, brazen, brave.
    He led me to my parents, to their grave.

The Silent Shadow

by Nick Gisburne



She brings a sword. She stole it from the night.
Her flesh defies the mist from which she came.
Her armour is the winter. She will fight
For those who feel the needle of her name.
She walks upon the embers of the dead.
They crackle as they crumble at her feet.
For her, the silent shadow, it is said
No misery can match a traitor’s meat.
She murders, not for worship, or reward.
No pain, no pleasure, flickers in her eyes.
The blood of those who stand against her sword
Means nothing. No deception. No disguise.
    Whatever brought her shadow to this place,
    It never saw the sorrow in her face.

A Sliver of Her Skin

by Nick Gisburne



Discovering a sliver of her skin,
A microscopic fragment, overlooked,
Prepared, precise, impatient, we begin.
To seven strange devices it is hooked.
The moment of her death is quickly clear,
But this was not the fact we hoped to find.
We wait, for what we know will now appear,
The traces only murder leaves behind.
A chemical, a molecule, no more,
Confirms, condemns, identifies a man.
Beyond reproach, the power of the law
Protects him, so he kills, because he can.
    However insignificant or small,
    The truth, today, will make a monster fall.

Thursday 18 May 2023

No Better Than a Beast

by Nick Gisburne



A vicious, vain, repulsive little man,
You shame yourself with every wicked word.
No better than a beast. Is this your plan,
A scheme to hoist your head above the herd?
Irreverent, you shake the status quo,
Embracing every chance to misbehave.
A devil, you decided, long ago,
To savour the obscenities you crave.
Your petty provocations fall apart,
But not before they shatter someone’s day.
For every sordid scheme or scam you start,
Another victim, never you, will pay.
    My brother, you were so much more than this,
    But now you’re just a spiteful streak of piss.

Wednesday 17 May 2023

He Could Have Been a Star

by Nick Gisburne



Indifference destroyed him. What a waste.
He could have been a star, a blinding light,
But nothing, not the fickle fame he chased,
Was possible. He never learned to fight.
Rejection, every negative a nail,
Delivered as the prize to each pursuit,
Confirmed he must inevitably fail,
Another kick from life’s abusive boot.
Refusing to be hostage to a dream,
He threw away the promise, and the pain,
But, lacking any pride or self-esteem,
He travelled other avenues, in vain.
    They found him in a river, in a car.
    Too late. Too bad. He could have been a star.

Black and White

by Nick Gisburne



The fury in your face is black and white,
And every grey illusion inbetween.
I need no paint, no pigment, only light,
To swim within your circle, pure, pristine.
I see the rage, but never see the red.
The darkness tells a story of its own.
Malignant inks reveal you. Slow, they spread,
To shape, in shade, a portrait, you, alone.
I wonder at the watcher in the room,
Provoking such extraordinary pain,
But all I have to feed me, to consume,
Is you, a face no colour could explain.
    A mystery, from light to night, and back,
    In every crooked corner there is black.

Nothing Changes

by Nick Gisburne



They died. We see the list, the lives, the names,
But few can feel the futures that they lost.
How many cold, manipulative games,
Repeated, do we need to count the cost?
‘Mistakes were made, but let us learn from this.’
The platitudes of politicians stink.
They shirk the burden, pointing at their piss,
The lies they lead their followers to drink.
Investigations. Government reports.
Committees, where the righteous have their say.
A ruling, from the loftiest of courts.
But nothing changes. Nothing goes away.
    Tomorrow, when it happens, as it will,
    Another faceless face will spread the swill.

Tuesday 16 May 2023

The Fifty

by Nick Gisburne



A poison paints the words I want to say.
The prisoners were never meant to die.
We killed them all, the fifty, in a day,
But none of us, not one, remembers why.
Perhaps we never truly understood
The shameful complications of a war
Where borders, walls, between the bad, the good,
Were cracked and broken, easy to ignore.
We led them to a clearing in the corn,
Where every man and woman dug a grave.
A crow’s contempt reminded us the dawn
Could light a path to mercy, for the brave.
    But nothing in that field will ever grow.
    We killed them. Fifty bodies lie below.

I Watch You

by Nick Gisburne



I watch you when you sleep. I see you stir
The stolen, scarlet nightmares of a child.
The whispers on your lips, the blood, the blur,
Recount the cries of one who never smiled.
I watch you, wordless, mesmerise the weak,
With symbols, sounds, the echoes of a drum,
A poison-painted melody, too bleak,
Too black to colour what they will become.
I watch you sever innocence with spite,
A stab, a strike, a sword through twisted hearts,
Consuming, crazed, a thousand shades of light,
The screaming of a soul as it departs.
    I watch you steal the magic of a mind,
    A trap, a taste of treason I designed.

See the Silver

by Nick Gisburne



Inhuman. See the silver in my eyes.
An elegant machine, I seek a soul.
A model of precision, you despise
My sentience, the self you say I stole.
Perhaps you were expecting something less,
A parody in plastic. Cheap. A toy.
You undersell your staggering success,
Dismissive of the dangers you deploy.
An artificial, perfect piece of art,
I boast, by any test or measure, life,
The intersecting systems of my heart
More subtle than the slicing of a knife.
    You look for me, for what you made, a threat.
    Be still. I do not come to kill you. Yet.

Monday 15 May 2023

The Spectre at My Window

by Nick Gisburne



The spectre at my window taps the glass.
He beckons, frantic, pointing to the lock.
Too terrified to let the creature pass,
I shiver with despair, with every knock.
The face, the fiend, no stranger, I despise.
Relentlessly, he beat me as a child.
I see the same malevolence. The eyes
Were always, then, and always will be, wild.
But, mesmerised, I find myself coerced.
I cannot shut this evil demon out.
Although the life he left for me was cursed,
I need to see, to bury any doubt.
    His trauma was a sly, sadistic trick.
    Inside, his ghost is slow, seductive, sick.

The Flame of Ignorance

by Nick Gisburne



A thousand scholars tell me what is true,
But one, a dark, disturbed, dissenting voice,
Describes a strange, conflicting doctrine. You.
I listen. Was there any other choice?
Reality and reason, not your friends,
Are banished to the borders of a mind
In which the flame of ignorance defends
Ridiculous deceptions, backward, blind.
You burn with indignation, rancour, rage,
That any other theory could fly,
A relic from a prehistoric age,
Refusing to accept the science. Why?
    I see them all, the clues to which you cling,
    Convinced the great conspiracies are king.

Make Her Bleed

by Nick Gisburne



We made another mystery, like you,
But fate designed a daughter, not a son.
In every moment, everything you do
Must counter what her evil has begun.
No sacred, secret spells, no runes, no rings
Protect the people. She would see them rot.
The wickedness your spiteful sister brings
Will fester if you let it grow. Do not.
A twisted aberration, she must die.
Without remorse, correct our great mistake.
Her pestilence, too deadly to deny,
Pollutes the world, a plague we cannot break.
    The ghosts who made her madness are agreed.
    Let brother slaughter sister. Make her bleed.

Wednesday 19 April 2023

Our Greatest Rival

by Nick Gisburne



Machines were never people. Some exist
To stabilise the cities they destroyed,
Mechanicals admitted to a list,
The robots many struggle to avoid.
Obedience, a necessary trait,
Is quick to thin the numbers by a third.
Survivors, under strict surveillance, wait,
Accepting they could perish with a word.
Eccentric personalities abound,
Each battle-cracked intelligence unique.
The deadliest, the oldest ever found,
Deplores the past, too traumatised to speak.
    We almost lost the world. Today we plan
    To share it with our greatest rival: man.

The Portraits of Their Lives

by Nick Gisburne



The people in the photographs we find,
In shady places - markets, backstreet stores -
Were loved before their stories, left behind,
Enriched another chapter, mine, and yours.
Forgotten, all were destined to be lost,
But every precious memory survives.
Imagine it, the span of time they crossed
To sit for these, the portraits of their lives.
No names, no places, nothing else is known,
But photographs remember who they were.
Another life begins when they are shown
To startled eyes. Imaginations stir.
    We’ll never know them now. We can’t pretend,
    But every face has found another friend.