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.


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


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.


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.



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


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.


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.


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


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?”