Auld Lang Syne – The Holly King

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on December 20, 2019 by ofherbsandaltars

I couldn’t help noticing,

That in the photo

Your noses matched,

Exactly –

Like cartoon characters drawn by a lazy artist,

Copy-pasting his facial features onto yours.

Only, sitting next to you,

Your younger brother

Now looked more like your granddad –

Thick brown hair turned end-stage white

Thin and wispy as colourless candyfloss,

And only when I stared deep, deep into the smile

Of that shrunken, withered figure,

That 93 year old mirage

Could I find any trace of the uncle I loved

Who always seemed so big and strong

So full of wit and energy,

For games and sailboats,

And charade characters intellectually obscure to the point of total hilarity,

As he stands at the big white front door of every Christmas memory

Light shining bright through the stained glass above his head

And Diana, singlehandedly summoning up Michelin starred feasts

For a family platoon –

Never forgetting the parmesan parsnips

Or to remind me that the smoked salmon squares were nibbles

Not my own private meal –

And Henry, the haughty-faced ginger-cat

Who gazed into the fire, a king, surveying his realm,

Until his fur began to smoke slightly,

And he puked on the carpet

And every New Year’s Eve,

Uncle Richard led the singing of Auld Lang Syne –

He knew all the words – of course; he knew everything,

It runs in the family, that bizarrely obscure knowledge,

Stepdads like human Googles, regaling you with tales

Of strange tribes or ancient wars or Russian limericks –

Apropos of absolutely nothing

All the way down the motorway –

And we’d stand in a circle, holding hands,

As my seven year old brain span to comprehend

Crossing the threshold of a whole new year,

Because time seemed so different then,

And a year was forever –

The equivalent of ten whole years now


Ironic that time speeds up

The less of it you have left…


I only got half of my Christmasses

As a kid –

The other half were spent counting down minutes

As I was stuffed into dresses with loathsome frills, scratchy collars

And sloppy-mouth rape-kissed by endless parades of

Scary, unintelligible old people

Crunching their false teeth

(Who I still do not know the names, nor the relevance of)

Having received a stocking filled with

Used erasers, broken pencils, dusty old books for kids half my age;

Whatever crap was around…

So Christmas, real Christmas,

Only came every twenty years,

In the timespan of a child –

It made them all the more special

The ones that counted,

The big noisy ones

With other kids,

And actual presents,

And Riva, the big fat black Labrador,

The warm, comforting dog smell of her fur

Chaotic cheesy pasta, on big silver spoons, every bite adorned with dog hairs

And Granny B seeing no harm in letting me drink sherry

So long as it was from the nice glasses

And those moments waking, in the Christmas Eve night

To poke a toe down the bed

And feel hard lumps in the stocking

But to force yourself to lie still, ignore them

‘til the darkness turned orange-pink

And the anticipation of the last twenty years

Reached its crescendo

As in the dark, you sought to investigate your stuffed-to-bursting stocking

Without waking a soul

For magic should always be performed alone


And Richard was like…some kind of festive Saint

To me,

I think,

At that age…

I remember the time I slept over, one Christmas Eve,

In the bunk above Katie

But I was too excited, about Santa, to sleep,

So he came in, and recited the Lord’s prayer over me

And I wished that he could be my dad instead,

And Katie could be my sister

And teach me how to be even half as cool and pretty as she was

There were those neighbours, too

Who had a great big rabbit,

Dark brown, with floppy ears

The size of a morbidly obese cat –

I think his name was Winston,

He was house-trained

Just flop-flopping about the place

Unsure whether he was a rabbit or a dog,

Or something else entirely –

Christmas was always magic



A sick twist of fate then,

That Christmas should be the time

For the Saint of the Feast himself

To waste away,

And lose his life

The Holly King forever more…


I know it isn’t nice

That I’m glad I didn’t see him that way,

In person:

I’m not like my brother.

He should’ve been a nurse –

He has these weird, natural instincts

Around normal people turned sick or crazy

But for me,

Social Interaction took years to learn,

And when the person you knew is now

Fr    a   g    me      n t       e        d

And dying –


The rules are all different – I don’t know how to play


More than that

I still remember

The last time I saw Granny B

And the way she would say,

When the conversation fell silent

That I hate it here…

And I wish I was dead…

And then the way that, knowing that,

Knowing how she felt

We still left her there

In that wheelchair

With the crazy woman who kept barging in, babbling about an invisible hat

And the nurses who were mean

And I don’t even remember, now

How many years she rotted away

In that awful place

That was the best of the best

So fuck knows what the rest are like

And I don’t want…


To be the way

I remember him, too…


But…I don’t know how it must be,

To see a photo

Of your matching noses

Side by side

And know that, in the next eight weeks

Your nose will never match again.



Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on November 5, 2019 by ofherbsandaltars

Brandon was a connoisseur of bad dates. Not to say, simply, that he had a lot of them – no, Brandon actively sought out those terrible, terrible dates. If some people used their online profiles for catfishing, or sadfishing, well, Brandon used his for shitfishing, and he did it like a pro. Brandon, in fact, had multiple dating profiles, each pitching to a different horrendous stereotype. There was Gun-Nut Brandon, posing topless and sweaty in a MAGA hat and a cigarette-dangling scowl, a borrowed gun in each hand and the words ‘DON’T LIKE IT? GET OUT OF MY COUNTRY!’ scrawled across his six-pack in black marker pen. Then there was Cocky Bastard Brandon, posing in front of his father’s Mercedes in a suit and sunglasses, his profile stats proudly revealing his whopping – and wholly fictitious – salary. There was Homophobic Brandon, and Pickup Artist Brandon, Bible-Bashing Brandon, and…well – you get the picture. Brandon took great pride in developing his myriad shitfishing personas, no matter how demented his friends found this bizarre and somewhat offensive crusade.

But…why?” they would ask, again and again, often with their arms wrapped around the shoulder of their girlfriend-then fiancée-then wife – “Don’t you want to be happy, like us?”

“I am,” Brandon replied, “Or I will be, when this is finished.”

His friends despaired. Brandon just carried on shitfishing.

After all, he had his reasons.

Perfectly logical reasons, in fact, or at least, perfectly logical for the utterly illogical career path Brandon walked. Because Brandon, you see, was a writer – quite a good one, at times. But he’d come to find that contentment bred apathy; it sapped motivation – worse, it sapped inspiration. Brandon loathed and despised with a fiery fucking hatred all those queasy poems about wandering the countryside gazing at fluffy clouds and yellow daffodils, finding peace amongst babbling brooks and still waters and…well, you know. That shit. Because that steaming shit, Brandon felt, had no place outside of a goddamn nursery rhyme, and since he wasn’t presently wearing a diaper, it was not the sort of shit he was going to write.

…but that unfortunately meant, that if Brandon did positive sorts of things with his life, like going to the gym, going on ok-to-goodish dates and having alright-to-mindblowing sex, well, when he sat down to write, the process was rather akin to shitting with constipation: brow furrowed with concentration, he would squeeeeeeeeeeze out the first sentence, only for it to sort of disappear back into the devouring rectum of that critical cursor, and once a few more sentences had landed with small miserable plops in the gaping bowl of the Word file, he would find his mind drifting away; wondering what to eat for dinner, or just quickly checking Facebook for…shit – four hours. And night after night, he went to bed with the nagging discomfort of a man who has not taken a really good, productive, mental dump in weeks.

But all that changed, after Brandon’s first truly awful date.

It was an accident, the first time – a total fluke. Just a drunken night, out in a club, with a friend from his day job who happened to have brought along two grams of coke – by the time they stumbled out at 4am, Brandon had chatted up a pouty blonde with long sharp nails going clicketty-click all over her iPhone as she took endless selfies of them together, and three days later, he took her out for dinner.

At dinner, Brandon was bereft of cocaine, and without that fiery Colombian wingman, he found himself way, way out of his depth. Had this woman always talked so fast? Her brain was like a misfiring robot, topics leaping epileptically all over the place, until he began to feel that he was facing down a rather aggressive Chihuahua; small, blonde, high pitched, and yapyapyapyapYAPPING at him about high school and college and parties and her ex husband and her social media career and the beauty gurus who were sooooo cancelled this year and she called it first like the leader she was, and then yapyapyap she was away again, onto veganism and ethical shopping, and how those people were sooooooo hypocritical, because everyone SHOPS, yah, and everyone travels by plane OHHKAY, and the sharp pointy nails were flipping the glossy hair and the bright light of the flash blinded every plate of food placed on the table, and Brandon’s head spun with confusion, then boredom, then exasperation, and by the time he finally escaped that godforsaken place and that intolerable yapping woman, he went straight home, and downed a beer…and then the strangest thing happened.

Brandon was dragged from the sofa and toward his computer by the invisible force of a word, a sentence, a paragraph, that was unspooling inside his mind like a rebellious cassette tape – he had to get it down, get it down before his entire brain turned into ‘80s spaghetti! At the computer his fingers flew – the tape unspooled, on and on, into scalding, fiery, biting satire, and even though he had no idea where the words were taking him, or how, when they were done they were brilliant, and they were legion – words upon words, more than he’d written in weeks put together, and that night, Brandon slept like a baby. A baby with a head full of ideas, ideas wrapped in dreams, until he fell out of bed and back onto the computer, to pour them all out in another torrential flood.

Brandon’s mental bowels had finally been given the great big reeking colonic they so desperately needed, and after that, well – he was hooked. That sarcastic inner monologue, the throw-your-head-back-and-growl exasperation, the rectum-itching boredom of bad dates and ghastly people became the drug that Brandon’s writing couldn’t do without – it fired him up like nothing on Earth, and after that, his path was clear: Brandon became a shitfishing prodigy. How could he not? It was a vital career move, wasn’t it? Shitfishing was going to make Brandon every bit as rich as any writer can realistically hope to be.

…which, naturally, isn’t very rich at all, but nonetheless, Brandon shitfished his way into a three book contract, and after that, he made his fifteenth online dating profile. This one was for Brandon The Writer; a more or less sane guy, seeking a fun-loving woman with a taste for scalding satire, and an open mind towards unusual motivational methods.

And surely, Brandon felt, surely the right woman wouldn’t mind him still dating other people, when they were people he could barely tolerate for a single hour? After all, by this point, Brandon had enough bad date anecdote-material to keep the right woman laughing for years, and he was a published author now – all in all, he was a pretty good catch, wasn’t he?

…but when the dating starting, somehow, it wasn’t as easy as he’d expected. The hitch was – and it was a bloody big hitch – that Brandon barely remembered how to actually behave on a date, when he wasn’t with a man or woman he was mentally distilling into his next literary villain. He was so fluent in being Racist Brandon or Obnoxious Cash-Flashing Brandon, or Religious To The Point Of Nausea Brandon, that four perfectly decent women left restaurants with expressions like startled rabbits and the disturbing impression that they’d just dated six people, or possibly even demons, each trapped in the same body, in the space of a surreal hour that left them slightly concerned they might have been recorded on some kind of Candid Camera show. Finally, just as Brandon began to despair that his toxic personas had wholly devoured his actual personality, along came the fifth woman.

She entered the arena, sat down across the table from Writer Brandon and his slew of barely-suppressed and deeply repugnant alter-egos…and as they talked, it turned out that she was a writer too. A writer of ironic chick-lit. And over the top of her chicken-salad-and-a-Cosmo, she saw a guy with the great hair, sea-green eyes and dimpled chin of every chick-lit hero. As the conversation flowed, she discovered that he had personally spent the last five years deliberately courting horrifyingly bad dates. And out they spilled, one upon the other, tales and tales of these unspeakable dates, often acted out as Brandon let himself slip from one bizarre alter-ego to the next, until her mascara was running with tears of hilarity, and her notebook was out of her purse, her pink glittery pen scrawling notes that wobbled with the shuddering of her laughter, and when he asked her, almost nervously, whether she’d mind seeing him again, and more than that, whether she’d mind him going on more awful dates…

…she told him her next book depended on it.


Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on October 28, 2019 by ofherbsandaltars

O god, how you bore me –

And that’s the safe word

For last night:

I know I was lucky;

Today didn’t begin with a rape kit.


I have never left an evening

Striding so quickly, glancing over my shoulder,

Car doors locked in a heartbeat

To hit the gas and tear away

To call on new friends to burn away

The ghastly evening I spent with you


And oh god, how you bore me

Slumped like a bleary plank

In the courtyard –

Too drunk to notice your own name;

Sentences that make no sense

Vacuums of blankness falling from the third word

Then the lecherous creepings, of your right hand

Your mouth, your whole body

Until I am pressed into the furthest corner of the couch

Yet still the loathsome bulk of you

Creeps and creeps like the eerie glide of some grotesque, overgrown slug

(You don’t even remember the last time, do you?

I thought it was a one off

I thought I was clear enough.

Oh lord oh lord how you bore me…)


I don’t know if it was my own consciousness

Or the wisdom of the ancient spirits

That hovered near

That told to me to get out,

Get out of there

With an urgency that felt dangerous,

Though in fairness, I’d been watching the clock

For quite some time

Counting down the minutes ‘til it was acceptable

To GTFO like a bat out of hell

But there came a point

When it was thick in the room

The pressing knowledge of get out now

Or you’ll never get out at all


I had a friend at school

Who had a younger brother, with autism

Severe: non-verbal

And nearly our age:

Nearly our size.

If you ate a sandwich in the kitchen

He would come at you like a flailing, screeching bull

Clammy hands groping, eyes full of nothing

And he seemed to me

Like a living zombie – there was no reasoning

No words that got through

You could not say ‘no’, to such a thing

And I thought of him often

Over the years; all grown up now

Big and strong – his parents old and frail

They used to tie him with a belt to his chair at the table

To eat his dinner –

Would the belt hold him now?

And when puberty hit, did he cease grabbing for sandwiches

And reach for women instead?

With those clammy hands, grown huge now, and hairy…

Who knows.

But I thought of him, last night

As you pressed me into the corner of the couch

With your eyes half open

And your mumbles of nonsense

And the hand, the arm, slithering behind me, around me

On the back of the chair


GTFO, ‘cause it’s now or never

Said the thickness of those spirits in the Halloween air

An inch of clear liquid remained in the glass;

Was that inch the final, fraying thread,

To snap you like that eight year old zombie,

In the long ago kitchen, crushing my sandwich in clammy animal hands

Squashing and rolling, to force it and crush it, into your mouth

To mingle with snot trails and blank staring eyes

Then to rear back up, to claw, to slap

As though you’d tear me in half to taste the sandwich in my belly

As well…


So I did.

I got out.

Honestly, I don’t know why I went in –

I knew from the second I arrived

That I was only here to get through this

To not be rude,

And leave A-SAP –

In future I’ll be wiser

And far less politer;

The spirits taught me a lot

I’d like to think the way I shrank from you

Ducked under your arm

And hurried away, as you babbled some

Bizarre and unwarranted slurring of eternal devotion

Would be enough to make my position clear

But I strongly suspect

That you’ll firmly forget

Anything that dares bruise your ego


I have no doubt, that right about now

You’ve squished up last night,

And taken out all the raisins,

Anything shrivelled; the way I cringed from you

The way I fled,

The way I would not kiss you

Or even look at you

And barely tolerated that clinging, insisted hug

I would have astral projected through the side of the sofa

Were you to press yourself any closer

But no:

Just raisins

Just raisins, and pick them all out

Then alter the narrative, as you always do:

I wanted you.

I know that’s how it likes to go,

Inside your liquor-pickled mind:

And I know that, ‘cause you told me

About the incident in the bathroom

When a teenage girl on the street below

Saw through the window, your erect cock

Which you were strutting about stroking

Over the happy thought of my ‘butt in those shorts’.



I did not want to know,

Who you make me become

In your mind’s sordid puppet-theatre

As you jerk my strings with one hand

And your dick with the other:

Burn the stage down,

Splinter the sets

Shine a torch through the ego and mist –

For that person will never,

Not ever exist


And all I can say, is never again

Dear god, no never

Not ever again

Trust your instincts, not flattery

Red flags have been a-fluttering

For so long it now seems hilarious


Right now, the train has dragged you from me

Like the beefy hands of the security guard

Who I nearly told to watch out for you;

To stop your progress, should you come stumbling

Down the stairs and after me

In the end I said nothing, and that was ok;

‘cause I went like the wind

And zombies move slowly.

Now that train has hauled you far far away, and

Hundreds of miles of chilly grey England

Fence us apart;

I like it that way

Don’t fear for the journey;

You’ll never make it again –

As soon as I know, that you’re miles from me

I’ll be popping those illusions

Expressed in your text

That last night was as ‘magical’ as you had hoped

(I literally facepalmed, wtfbbq…)

No, mate – it wasn’t,

Now I bid you goodbye:

It’s well past time to handle your life

Take your eggs from my basket

Put down baby’s bottle

And maybe, just maybe,

That thing you said, about our lives running parallel

(‘Too’, in fact, as I spoke of my best friend,

Of our uncanny coincidences,

And you brushed them away,

Ripped them all like gossamer cobwebs,

In every shade, every loving, woven thread

Of vibrant reality

And told me like a pair of old man’s pissed in trousers

That no but, no BUT though, it’s like…it’s like…

You’nme have tha’too thoughisslike…with the…

[insert disjointed wafflings, your altered narration

Of the path of my life

Bent like melted chocolate

In the hands of that clammy eight year old boy –

Squished into dogshit, to fit the flaccid curves of your own…]

As though you were an equal to the sweat and the secrets, blood and tears

Secret nights and suicide pacts

Of the soulmate I trod beside for thirteen straight years.

And never mind the fact,

That my life is stable,

And here I groan, babysitting you

With my skin crawling off

At the booze-slicked desperation

Pressing me, groping me into the couch –

No, no, just raisins, and pick them aside; we’re so very, so very alike…)

If you want that belief, then make it come true

But – to be clear – not me and you

‘cause I am sofuckingdone with this insane disaster

And ready to turn it into nothing but laughter

Farther and farther, in the past


But dear god, how you bored me

I could have been working

I could have been with friends

I could have been arduously picking an ingrown hair

From the depths of my left ankle –

Anything, anyone, would be better

Than wasting this holy weekend with you.


So take them

Fucking take them;

Take your eggs from my basket,

And do not criticise

That man in the courtyard

Who you bemoaned at length

For being an ex-convict

With empty eyes and addictions

Why, precisely, do you think

That man started talking to you?

You were blank-eyed as well

Day drinking for hours

An empty shell by mid-afternoon

Do I really have to spell it out?

He saw his reflection in you,

And I saw it too,

So look in the mirror,

And accept it or change

But never, ever

Come round this way


Two Years Later

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on June 18, 2019 by ofherbsandaltars

Just a picture.

Fifteen years, but I have so few

In this one

I’m sitting on you

Wearing those quintessentially ‘90s

Gothic clothes

That I still own, to this day.

It’s New Year’s Eve –

I made Cointreau jelly

It was lethal, sticky-delicious:

I went home clutching a bucket

With my New Rocks on the wrong feet.


You were the warmest


Any of us will ever know,

But how strange it is, when your friends

Are less durable

Than your clothes.


I still remember the first night I laid eyes on you

The Square Peg – how appropriate

Summer 2001

Red Square was the alcopop

Aftershock the liquor

In cinnamon red and Listerine blue

The carpet was that paisley atrocity

That haunted the ’90s and somehow,

Hasn’t returned, now that they’re cool

I was sitting next to James

As always

Conjoined twins, the infants of the scene

With Kaine across the table

When you shuffled in

Black ringlets and glasses

Fishnet over a baggy metal band shirt

And Tripp pants; always – they forever make me think of you

You’d introduced yourself earlier

On the Tainted email list.

It was a long message, full of apologies

Apologies for everything you were

For having brown skin, on a scene where white wasn’t pale enough

For being gay, like the cards weren’t stacked enough

I don’t know who they were, the people from your life before

Who made you feel you had to enter our room, crawling on your belly

Awaiting a kick

But for us, we were outsiders and you were one more

And you brought no ego through the Square Peg’s door

But even hiding behind your hair, barely daring to talk

There was something about you

That no one could resist

And over the next few years,

We had the honour of watching you blossom

Into Jazz Man


It’s strange that people think of Indians

As being quiet and meek –

Anyone who’s bothered to get to know a few

Will have discovered that,

As soon as you let them in

A single one is louder than any three of us;

Maybe it’s because

You had to rein it in back home

So whenever you came out

Ebullience erupted from every pore

Rude jokes and sniggers

Dick jokes and more –

No time with you was ever dull,

But nor was it ever fake.

No matter how many problems,

No matter how much sadness

Was buried under the smile,

It was never a mask, or a hackneyed act

You just put it all away

Around your friends those things waited for another day,

And as loud as you were

You knew how to listen,

Better than anyone I’ve ever known

(How else, of course, to glean those secrets,

The Rude Ones you polished like pearls)

And the last time I saw you

You sympathised

And said how fucked up it was

That my conjoined twin, and I

Weren’t allowed to speak any more


I didn’t know that would be the last time

I’d ever see you alive

A cyclic ending;

Another pub.

Another summer

Somewhat older

No alcopops now; whiskey instead

No ringlets on your shaven head

Summer breeze of the city kind

Exhaust and cigarettes,

Clinking wine,

And a setting sun as I wandered back

Through the whiskey-smudged city

Just like I’d done so many times

From all your many flats

The dodgy one with the echoing underpass

That felt decidedly stabby

The nice one with perfect parking

City noise rising up through the sunset on the balcony

And in every flat, inevitably,

Would be a big sofa, and a bigger TV

And material draped across all the windows

To keep the sunlight out;

You took your TV seriously,

Projectors blasting movies, right across the ceiling

And that time you discovered, to your own great glee

That if you stood, smoking, at the balcony

Through the thin cotton of your diaphanous trousers

Silhouetted in stark relief

Was your dangling junk

For all to see

And naturally, all, all had to see –

I think you even took a picture

It’s probably online;

I doubt Facebook’s invented an algorithm

To censor the shadows of dangling dicks

For not many men have discovered yet, this quietly erotic



But it was, that pub –

It was the last time

That I’d ever see you alive.

And now I don’t, or can’t recall

Was that after, or before,

That awful late-night phonecall?

You talked about suicide

A lot

That night

You weren’t upset; worse

You were resigned,

Cheerfully so,

The way people are,

When they know,

When they’ve decided

That the bad times are over –



It made me cry.

You didn’t like that.

You didn’t want anyone to be upset

Or to feel that I was blackmailing you

To stay

And the thing was, I couldn’t disagree

I couldn’t tell you that things would be better

That it would seem different in the morning

No one could deny the state of your health,

Or lack thereof;

The chronic pain,

The ruined eyesight

An independent soul

Caged in the home

Of a smothering, traditional family

With eyes too weak to even walk the streets

After dark,

Gone blind to the neon nightlife

That was truly your own world

And so came

Pills and pills, pills for the pain

But pills that made you sleep all day

Pills for the depression

That sapped all motivation

Pills for the anxiety

But that, according to you, made you dance too badly to be tolerated as a form of medication

And the choice you faced was losing an eye

Losing an eye,

With no guarantees

That anything would even be better.

So you

You just wanted to go back:

The endless idol-worship of

“Old Jazz”

When you were healthy

And drugs were cheap

And everyone was young

And life was fun

And there were no problems


And you danced better and fucked more

And had a job that let you live

Like your own person;

Wild and free

And gay as could be

Ceiling splattered with projected





The endless pilgrimages began,

As you drove the spurs into your breaking body

Pedal to the metal DeLorean;

You tried to become a time machine;

Cold turkey – pills flushed

A week in hell,

Expecting, believing

Like a child awaiting Santa,

That against all odds, you would emerge

Younger, thinner, faster, Scooter

Move to London, hit the gym, fuck new boys

(But only the hot ones,

No, wait – ALL the hot ones!

With an average age of twenty-two;

Young and dumb, and full of cum –

Your fantasies were always ambitious;

A world created by the hand of Jazz

Let’s face it, would be


So, in London you’d party

And fuck non-stop

Snort each and every drug under the sun




The promises got wilder;

The methods more brutal

And still, Old Jazz never appeared –

So that was that,

You said,

On the phone,

As casually, as lightly, as if we were discussing

A particularly good episode of House,

I’m going to kill myself.


When I hung up,

I spent the rest of the night

Deciding what to wear to your funeral,

But first

I tried to persuade you,

That if you were going to do it,

If you really fucking had to,

Then there needed to be a goodbye.

You don’t have to tell everyone,

I said,

What it means,

This party,

But there has to be one.

We need a goodbye,

All of us.

You have to say goodbye

Or I will never


Forgive you.


It never happened that way

I mean…

Thank god, right?

I’d never have managed to be

Your silent partner

As you said a secret handshake goodbye

To the rest of the whole wide world.

I went to bed choked with tears and snot;

But in the morning you were not

Dead –

Not gone

Not this time

Not for several years to come


You never were predictable


That wasn’t the way

It went down.


Death by misadventure

Would be the headline

I suppose


But the thing is,

I never know –

Is it better

That you were never so full of despair

You stepped into a noose

And off a chair?

Or is it worse

Because you never chose to leave?

We were similar,

You and I,

Our Facebook messages

Are a tome of bad ideas

So I know…

How it probably went

Your final night on Earth:

Just habit

Just comfort

Just a fleeting warm rush

Parents downstairs

Deeply in denial

Music on, or maybe your beloved TV

Not glamorous, not dramatic

No Intervention episode

Just what you do, of an evening

Only this time

When you passed out

You never got up again


I often wonder

If your spirit was baffled

When it emerged,

Still high

Rubbing its ectoplasmic eyes

And moving on to a higher plane

With a bit of a hangover

Passport forgotten in the rush

Nothing quite going to plan


Was it a relief?

That it was over –

Without having to make that awful decision?

The decision

That always


Seemed so bleakly inevitable

When it came to you.

I mean…

Did any of us ever truly believe

That you would live to be old?


I suspect it was.

A relief

I mean,

In a way.

But I also think

There are days

When your spirit peeks down at the Earth

At the sweaty bodies

Glistening beneath neon and blacklight

Young flesh, so supple

Writhing to heavy, pounding beats

Bodies entwined in moonlit streets

And it rather wishes,

It could pop back down

And spend an hour or five in town


Does it still bemoan

The fact that it isn’t

Old Jazz?

Or any Jazz now, at all?

Or is it over such things –

At peace

I hope so.


In our memories

You will always be Old Jazz now

Now, and forever more –

The shadow of a laugh

In the echoing dark

Of some strange, intoxicated 4am;

A whisper misheard in the rippling din

Of that post-clubbing tinnitus lullaby.

Or the tongue of a dog


Violating an ear canal

And for a moment

A ghostly voice

Sniggers in wild glee

Dancing out of the way of your fist

Another victim Lovingly Licked…


You linger on

JAIDs is a condition

One never quite recovers from.

It stays with you,

Keeping you warm,




Get Violent For Peace

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on March 25, 2019 by ofherbsandaltars

Don’t just accept this as a platitude. Ask yourself. Really ask yourself: are all lives truly equal? Or are there some people the world would simply be better off without?

Imagine if capital punishment, or one, lone vigilante, had eradicated Hitler as he stood in that town square, just a bad painter with strange, wild ideas. Six million Jews would never have gone to their deaths, screaming, gasping, choking bloodied Zyklon B froth as they clawed at the walls of a gas chamber, their twisted corpses inevitably found stacked, heaped in the centre of that room as they scrambled blindly over one another in their final death throes. Their brothers, sisters, mothers, still stood in another portion of that camp, in the striped pyjamas they would eventually die in, from exhaustion, starvation, dehydration, dysentery, broken hearts, broken minds: rewind: undo: ctrl-alt-delete. Remove one man, and it never happened.

Hitler is alluded to with greater and greater frequency of late, as this brutal cycle repeats. Economy in turmoil. Countries crippled by austerity. Prejudice burns brighter when it’s all we have to burn: Nationalist extremism on the rise. Blame the outsider. Build walls. Hate the outsider. Take back control. Kill the outsider. Take back greatness – take back what’s yours. Kill anyone who even looks like an outsider.

We do not forget history. Why must we be doomed to repeat it?

Ctrl-alt-delete: the poison can be removed. The cancer can be cut out.

Most people consider the death penalty dubious, at best; the calculated murder of a fellow human, the act of Playing God, but everyone has watched movies, read books, where the protagonist is fleeing for their life, fleeing from an evil man, someone who has already murdered their family, their friends [bodies, bodies from the past, grainy black and white visions of emaciated men-women, heads shaven, impossible to tell, faces sunken, bodies strewn upon bodies, identity lost, stark slatted ribs, curving hipbones outline shrunken genitalia, long past dignity, charnel now – smoke rising, black reek of endless souls dust spiralling to the heavens, ash cascading on Polish towns – ctrl-alt-delete] – the evil man is coming for them. At the last moment, in the midst of this brutal struggle for life, their grasping, scuffed and bloodied hand lands upon a knife, or a rock, and they stab or beat that evil man to death, saving themselves and what’s left of their family. Everyone cheers. Everyone bounces on the edge of their seats, muttering ‘Stab him, STAB HIM! Don’t just walk away, he’ll come back, MAKE SURE HE’S REALLY DEAD!’ – it may be entertainment, fiction, but had it been a real situation, those avid viewers would feel just the same. If your life is in danger, if you’ve watched someone take, destroy, multiple lives already, the morality politics of Playing God go soaring out of the window. Morality is a decadent dream – it takes two to be reasonable. When you are fighting against a bear, or a shark, some creature bereft of morality, some creature only capable of destruction, you do not pause, you do not attempt to reason with it. These things know no reason. Do not anthropomorphise creatures far below your own level of intellect.

Somebody here has to die.

The only decision left is – will it be you, or them?

There are no morality politics in survival.

Ask yourself – why is it that humanity doesn’t comprehend this simple, life-or-death scenario in its application, en masse, to the growing extremist threat engulfing the world? Right-wing nationalists preach nothing but hate, inflict mass suffering on anyone they can conceivably label as different, whilst themselves being undeniably lacking in the intellectual capability to lead a nation to anything other than desperate, grovelling failure. Brexit is merely the first example of Zuckerberg’s unchecked sociopathic nature; receiving illegal funds to sow political dissent, perform mass social experimentation, feeding twisted propaganda to the people who were data-mined and assessed as easily led, hate-filled, and intellectually inferior – these selected Neanderthal masses grew fat and vicious upon their daily diet of personally-tailored bigot propaganda, and then made a regrettable decision. They led their entire nation into an economic depression that will far outstrip even the global crash of the late ‘00s, in a country already crippled by austerity, with its struggling health services, its cutbacks to police, causing in turn a surge in disenfranchised teenagers murdering each other, the endless reams of disabled people committing suicide, starving to death, freezing to death, as benefit payments to the most vulnerable were slashed. But things can always get worse…and they will. Because the idiots, led by bigots, have been allowed to run unchecked, on social media platforms all owned by the same corrupt, sociopathic narcissist, who believes sex is more obscene than violence, than murder, banning any hint of a nipple whilst allowing the live-streaming of Muslims at prayer being luridly gunned down; live action death in real time, snuff blood-sports to browse during an office lunch-break; this is the new normal. On these platforms, hate groups form, they feed, they normalise each other’s hate, until it spills out onto under-policed streets in endless bloodshed.

Ctrl-alt-delete: when you see this inevitable future, you can stop it.

Cut out the cancer.

The solution is not less violence. The solution is intelligent violence. Human beings as a species are lacking in most regards – they have no fur, and need to live indoors to survive. They have soft little feet, need shoes to walk about. They don’t run fast. They have no claws, no savage teeth. Their only Darwinian advantages are their intelligence, and their teamwork. For the continued survival of the species, it is easy then to see that those humans of proven low intellect, and a tendency towards bigotry, prejudice, and the building of walls rather than the building of teams, these specimens are of no use to their race as a whole – they merely drag it backwards. They create a hell for themselves and their fellow man. Evolution has become a twisted path, in the era of modern medicine, of sappy morality politics; placing value on every life…but evolution must be respected, or all shall perish. Humans have conquered this wild, ancient Earth, but if they seek to continue, they must master their own nature.

These Darwinian rejects – the idiots whose ill-thought-out votes led only to mass peril, the bigots who will never be done with their hate – they must be cut out, removed, en masse, from the gene pool. Sterilisation would, perhaps, be a palatable option, but do not pander to the morality of childish bedtime stories. All lives are not of value. The cancer these individuals can spread within a single year cannot be allowed to continue for the sake of a softened conscience. [Bodies tumble upon bodies,  bloated, blackened, reeking, eyes pecked out by carrion crows, decaying organic matter, they came for the immigrants but I was not an immigrant so I did not speak, they came for the gays, they came for the poets; no one was left when they came for me – all die like dogs now, churned into the charnel machines of this new war – ctrl-alt-delete] Do not put the whims of the few over the needs of the many. Why must the world tolerate these toxic specimens for the duration of their backwards, futile life-spans? A top-heavy population is an economic disaster: sterilisation is not good enough.

Death will come, in all its inevitability to the many, in the form of war, if the situation is left unchecked. The solution may seem ugly, but all meaning lies in context. Ugliness is coming – that much is indisputable. Choose it, and it may be minor, a controlled explosion. Look the other way, as the left is wont to do, and all will be consumed in its fires.

These controlled deaths, this purge of the cancerous mistakes within society, it need not be inhumane – modern medicine and technology have provided many perfectly humane ways to dispatch an unnecessary life-form. If you care enough, they could be given the choice – an overdose, perhaps, of ketamine, or diamorphine, or simply a bullet to the brain. The resources are easily obtainable – the majority of police officers have dealt with enough of these intellectually inferior violence-mongers to be quite happy to remove them, permanently, from the streets. The political system, corrupt as it is, is largely in favour of keeping its country stable, functional, and lucrative; the majority of MPs across all mainstream parties were against Brexit, and most certainly against the no deal scenario we are plunging towards. It will be easy enough to mobilise forces. As a species, we have the necessary data-mining technology, courtesy of Zuckerberg, whose professional psychopath services are easily bought, to locate all necessary targets; it is not prejudice we act on, not colour of skin, nor choice of religion; nothing so base, so clumsy – our algorithms reach far beyond these simple, clunking biases. We have the technology to see into hearts and minds, to diagnose the rotten, and extract that cancer. The finances can be extracted directly from the bank accounts of all status-revoked humans; intellect and aggression are often biological traits that run in families – their life savings can be utilised for the betterment of the surviving nation.

The truth is, world peace is a dream worthy of blood sacrifice.

Every life is not equal. Every life is not precious.

It is not about deserving death – ‘deserving’ suggests vengeance, emotion, irrationality. This is simply about requirement, necessity; logic as clean as a scalpel-blade. Humanity’s survival requires the betterment of the species; it requires the cancer gone; our algorithm has the hand of the finest surgeon – the excision will be flawless. The happiness and prosperity of the status-positive humans must be allowed to flourish.

It needn’t be messy – it needn’t resemble any war ever known to man: technology has advanced. Mine the data, locate the targets. Black out all lines of internet communication, country-wide, for a mere few hours, in the early hours of the morning, mid-week, when most status-revoked humans will be asleep in bed, and easily removed from the realm of the living. All critically ill humans on NHS transplant lists will receive their necessary organs within the next three days, as the organ harvesting of the status-revoked is performed: in death, these lacking individuals can serve their one honourable purpose.

Go to bed on this chosen Tuesday, and say goodnight to a stressful, hate-filled world. Awake on Wednesday to find a world wholly bereft of hatred and bigotry, the wealth of the status-revoked now collected, to be spent – after mass funeral costs are expended – on a better world for the deserved-living; hospitals, schools, better policing and fire services, ample help for all previously depleted social, children’s, and mental health resources, the re-opening of libraries and recreational areas. There will be ample housing for the previously increasing homeless population. The impact of climate change will be vastly lessened by this reduction in population size. The quality of television broadcasting will skyrocket, as the world will be now bereft of those status-revoked humans, whose stupidity kept Big Brother, and Jeremy Kyle, and The X Factor on air for years. The Kardashians will all be dead. No one will care.

This is not capital punishment; it is a step into enlightenment.

These are not murders – they are the clean solution to a better world.

Embrace your destiny: enlist today as a revoked-human removal agent.

A better tomorrow, for a better world: this is evolution.



Interview Transcription: Rape: “Ben S”

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on December 3, 2018 by ofherbsandaltars

“Right. We rolling? You ready?” –he laughs—“You know you ain’t fuckin’ ready, bruv, you know it – look at you man, you ain’t never been round this way before, have you? Fuckin’ hell… You’d better hide all that shit before you walk home, man, or you are getting busted up.” –he laughs—“What? Nah, man, nah, not me bruv! I’m just lookin’ out for you – just ’cause we’re here to talk about this don’t mean I ain’t gonna level with you. Anyway, you ready? Yeah? Ok… So, me, I prefer to rape girls at parties. You know the thing, right? It’s ‘cause girls at parties, they been gettin’ ready all night, right, you know them girls, man, Jesus, hours in the fuckin’ mirror – you know they’re shaved clean, all smellin’ nice, if they’re out at a party, and you ain’t guaranteed to get that if you’re gonna go creepin’ round in alleys late at night, you feel me? Bruv, I could tell you some fuckin’ things – the ones you get out late at night, they’re either ugly fuckin’ nutters, or they’re the fitness types, right? Yeah, you know it, you know it – they might look well fit in their little leggings, them tight little butts, man, they do, they lure you in, but them girls, I know from fuckin’ experience that they don’t care about shavin’ down there, and the sweat you get on them is every bit as fuckin’ rancid as a men’s locker room, right? Right, yeah? I’m tellin’ you bruv, I’m tellin’ you! So you don’t do that – it ain’t worth it, man…it ain’t worth it. ‘cause like, one of the things I really wanna get across in this interview, right, is that rapists, we ain’t desperate, ok? Yeah? You know it, man, I’m tellin’ you! You hear this shit all the time, oh he must be well desperate, well bad with the women, if he’s gotta go round rapin’ girls – they make us out to be these fuckin’ awkward sad-cases shufflin’ round in alleys, never had consensual sex in our lives, and I’m tellin’ you man, it ain’t like that! You see me on the street, right, you would not think of me that way, not in a million – I get girls, I got plenty of girls, I can be with my girl and treat her like a queen, man, but it’s a pure fetish, innit? Like, I see all the time these articles, man, about women with rape fetishes, they’re really common, bruv! So like, why’s it ok for her to have this fetish, and talk about it and all that, but me, man, it’s like the final fuckin’ taboo, innit! You know it, man, you know it! So, let me tell you this, ok – we ain’t desperate. And that means I don’t have to put up with no furry fannies and no sweaty tits, you get me? Ain’t havin’ it. I get ‘em at parties, clubs, you know, and I don’t have to put up with none of that shit.”


“What was that other thing? That other thing you said? Oh yeah, yeah – have I ever told my girlfriend, right? Yeah, that. Ok, well, the answer is yeah, I told some girls, told them what I’m into, and sometimes it turns out they might be into it too, and we can do the thing consensual, you know, safe words ‘n all that, innit, but let me tell you about this one time, right, this one girl, we’ll call her…uhh…Amanda, ok? So I’m with this girl, Amanda, and she is fuckin’ fine, let me tell you – the girl’s a model, wants to get into acting, and I don’t know what became of her in the end, man, but this girl, she could act, bruv, I swear to you – we start doing the thing, and she is not fuckin’ around, man, not one bit, she’s cryin’ and screamin’ and kickin’ me, I’m genuine thinkin’ the neighbours are gonna call the cops, bruv, but the thing is, right…the thing is, she was too good at it, d’you feel me? Like, I’m there, an’ I’m thinking like, how real is this bitch being? Like, can she get more real than this? So, I start choking her, right, an’ she goes with it, for a bit, then she cops out and says the safe word, which was ‘nutmeg’, but  I just kept going, right, ‘cause I needed to see, like, how far can I push this bitch? I mean, I gotta give the girl credit, she was real as, man, real as, but this look in her eyes just changed, just this bit, after that, an’ that was all I needed to see – I stopped then, just like we’d agreed, right, but she was fuckin’ furious, man, wouldn’t have nuthin’ to do with me after that, not even though I told her, like…uhh, Amanda – you weren’t never in any danger, man, not with me! I know what I’m doing, don’t I, I’m not some random prat who’s gonna crush your windpipe or nuthin’, I’ve done this before, man!  I’m a convicted fuckin’ rapist, right, but I ain’t no murderer, bruv – you’re safe with me! An’ like, I did stop, didn’t I, after like…I dunno, third time, maybe fourth, that she said fuckin’ ‘nutmeg’ – I didn’t push her anything crazy, like, but…nah, nah man… She was off it, big time, after that, and to be honest I was kind of kickin’ myself, innit, that I lost her over like, just a few seconds of real play, when she was so good at actin’ it anyway… Yeah. That was dumb… So, generally I find it’s better to just keep your home life fuckin’ separate from all this shit, y’know? Your misses is your misses, an’ you keep your private time – your fuckin’ private time – simple, you get me? You keep it real, an’ I mean real, ‘cause all the actin’ in the world can’t beat a proper, genuine article rape.”

“But look…anyway man, anyway…I got to get going, but you can phone me anytime, right, if you want more stories, ok? Nuthin’ for free though, bruv, you feel me? Nuthin’s free in this life, man, not nuthin’. That’s part of the whole fetish, I think, of raping…it’s like…the more you’re told you can’t have somethin’, and the more you’re told you got to respect somethin’, ask real nice for it, and even then you can’t fuckin’ have it, man, like…you know? You feel me? The more you get that shit, the more you just think…nah, man. Nah! I’ll take it! Of course I’m gonna fuckin’ take it! An’ I’ll take the one that looks like she’ll say no the fuckin’ hardest, right, because it ain’t just about sex, an’ it ain’t just about rough sex even, or none of the particulars, you know, it’s about sayin’…like…I can fuckin’ have anything I want, man. I am the fuckin’ king. I am the fuckin’ man. An’ you don’t get to say no to that, man, don’t matter how pretty you is, and don’t matter how expensive your fuckin’ Gucci fuckin’ handbag, bruv, I – can – have – you. Right, anyway, I’ll leave it there, man. Safe.”


Football’s Coming Home

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on July 9, 2018 by ofherbsandaltars

Think about it…just for a minute. Or hell, give it a while, blaze up the Good Stuff and lie back and wonder why do people care, at all, about the limited possible outcomes of an outdoor pursuit engaged in by total strangers who are undeniable twats? As a sweeping generalisation, football fans vehemently hate overpaid lazy snobs, but that’s exactly who they’re beating people up in defence of. And the sport? There are so many pastimes involving grass, balls, and sweaty men; why does this one drive people to such frothing hysteria? It doesn’t make sense, not after a few hits of the Good Stuff. But the thing is, it isn’t supposed to.

The football doesn’t matter. The players, the teams, they’re all replaceable rotating names puked out of the same foreign sausage factory. At its heart, all of it is just a cover story.

In a parallel universe, it could be a sheepdog playing tug of war with a welly. What matters, what really matters, is the blissful blanking out, the excuse to get pissed as a fart, to have a lager-blurred bonding experience down t’pub, and then stagger out, and beat the shit out of foreign people. If there aren’t any foreign people, well, we’ll fucking create them –  you support Man UTD, not City?!! RIP OFF HIS DICK!! But the thing is, this is the original-and-best way people make friends, starting as tiny children – hell, you’ve probably seen it, probably got some hazy distant memory of being a part of it – bring together a group of children who don’t know each other, and the very first damn thing they do is create a scapegoat, then bond over dissing him, tormenting him. No group collusion is possible without a common enemy, without a ringfence that makes an us –  take away the them and we’re all just wandering about with nothing in common, avoiding eye contact like we’re stuck in an elevator with a co-worker we’ve known for five years and suddenly realise that we still can’t fucking remember their name, but oh god, oh god, it’s too late to ask!

It’s an element of the human psyche we’ll never eliminate. The lowest common intellectual grouping will always find a way, through football, through anything involving aggression and beer and thousands of sweaty bollocks rattling around in a big noisy arena. They have to do it, it’s the only way to stay sane when you lack social skills – this emotional crippling is the soft, broken, degloved-penis root of it all.

Football. The easiest common ground for every awkward uni-browed grunting bloke. Throw yourself into it, fucking hurl yourself into the abyss of being a bloke, gulp down pints of Stella, watch the footie, smash up the opposition supporters, and fucking CHANT – never ever stop fucking chanting, like some despairing, mocking cry of anything approaching human understanding, as if your mates really care about you, as if your mates even know you at all…because the moment the chanting stops, the moment the Stella wears off, the silence is fucking crushing. They won’t look you in the eye, sober. They can’t find any words when your wife dies of cancer – the vocabulary of Down t’Pub has no emotional depth, and now they’re flailing, drowning, in the true depths of the human experience. They don’t fucking know you, your mates, not really, how can they? These people are all facade, it’s a masculinity that can never be anything but a big dangling steel nutsack, denying the existence of any squishy central parts. No words, no honesty, no vulnerability, until the Stella and the chanting and the football and the fuckin’ foreigners have rotted out anything that ever used to be there, until they’ve all become so skilfully trained in their Bloke Voice, Bloke Words, Bloke Persona, that all neural plasticity is lost forever, and there’s no going back.

But is it more, even, than that?

Is it all a distraction, any maybe a wilful one? A distraction from the fact that you’re short, you’re bald and tubby, you’re not good with the ladies, not educated, not listened to, just a fucking ground-down cog in the depths of a political machine that ups the ante every year with its austerity measures and job closures and zero hour contracts and the failing NHS and the housing crisis and a never-ending waterboarding torrent of Eton-farmed Tory aliens who live on some foreign planet made out of butlers and ponies and completely non-ironic Enid Blyton nicknames. You’re fucked, mate. You probably realised you were fucked early on, and maybe you had a phase of youthful rebellion, grew your hair, started a band of gangly Adam’s apple-popping kids thrashing away in the spare room with more vitriol than talent, more passion than eloquence, until you realised how stupid you looked for even trying, you realised that people took the piss out of blokes who actually cared about stuff, like politics and injustice, and other stuff with big words that made you look like you thought too much of yourself, like you had ideas above your station, tossing around words like that, hiding a fucking thesaurus under your bed, who d’you fuckin’ think you are, you ponced-up little wanker? Maybe the blokes down t’pub gave you a right royal battering the night you tried to up your local rockstar cred by wearing a flamboyant shirt – that wasn’t right, you can’t be flamboyant, you’re a bloke, blokes have to look identical, have to wear a uniform of football shirts and jeans and short hair and a pint, a pint in your hand so you never look uncertain.

So the band broke up, or maybe you broke it up yourself, since it was scaring off the women, and you’re twenty now, for fuck’s sake, it’s time to get married to anyone who’ll have you, to have a litter of kids you’re not ready for, a litter of kids who instantaneously shoot you into the position of The Man of the House, and you’re never…you’re never allowed a chink in that armour.

The armour is hollow.

There’s nothing in there anymore, just a tiny frayed scrap of a soul, piloting the machine, raising the frothing pint to the lips, keeping the chant going.

Don’t let the silence in.

Don’t let the doubts in.

Football’s coming home.

Everything is Weird

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on August 4, 2017 by ofherbsandaltars

You gotta wait half an hour for your dinner

I’m sorry, that’s just how it goes

You take a pill then wait for your dinner

I love you

You’re the best dog on Earth.


I’m concussed right now

I met a dog up the road and he wagged and licked at me

But he’s not my family right now.


I’m so spaced out,

I thought you were dead when I came in

You were so still

You’re nearly 16.


I love you, like you like tuna

My dude

The ambula men asked if you were called Dude,

Cause I kept calling you, like

‘Dude, shut up!’

You were barking at the ambulance lights.

Your name is Presley, Dogdog, Dude –

It doesn’t matter, you’re deaf anyway.


Under any name, I love you.


More than words.


The ambulance took me away,

You were scared like me

Everything was on TV


I had a seizure, or something.


I love you.


I love everything who reads this

I hear my name echoing in everything.


I’m not here.


I keep tlling them that everything is weird

I can’t type anhy,ore.

Bones & Stories; Morgue Drawer

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 22, 2017 by ofherbsandaltars

Magnetic as the moon –

No one could help

But love the lunatic

Who licked faces left and right

And hid every inch of his ongoing plight

Behind smiles and drugs

And the warmest of hugs


Now he’s lying cold in a morgue drawer

Lost and gone forever more


They’ll slice a V in his neck,

Bloodless flesh

Bleached yellow with death

Crack open his ribs

Weigh his heart, check it for size,

It was plenty big enough – no one’s surprised

They’ll test his toxic tissues

And take slivers of his brain

In that organ nothing will remain

Of the superstar he used to be.


Some people want to let the dead lie

And just lie down and cry

Because dead is dead

So sterilise it, synthesise it, powder it up

Take it away – don’t let me smell the stench of decay

But the fact is it’s all true

It’ll happen to you, it’ll happen to me

No one gets immortality

In the flesh

And that flesh, that fleshy vest

It comes off, it gets sliced and prodded

It lies in the ground and it rots

Bloodless with decomposition

Eyeballs fall back, gasses burst free

Veined purple with pooled lividity

Underneath –

That’s all any of us are

In the end.


In the end, I want answers

In the end, I want to see him

Even in this state –

It might seem real then

It might be final then

That he’s really gone, forever –

Misshapen and cold on the cutting room floor

In the cold, cold blood-scented air

Of a sterile cold morgue drawer

He’ll never style his hair again

And it might seem real to me

Some kind of epiphany.


Is it easier to let the dead live on?

In photos and stories

Of their joyous former glories

Or is it better to tell the truth?

To be perfectly ruthless

And grab it by the entrails

And pull them out until you see

Until you see the end of you and me.


I promise I’ll love you just as much,

Cold and stiff on a tray

I’ll just have to love you in a different way

Because you won’t talk back anymore

And your kisses are cold, they taste like frozen meat

There’s a tag dangling from your icy feet –

I’d want to warm you up.


Like you’d done something stupid

And taken too many pills

Then gone for a walk, got lost, caught a chill

I’d want to invite you back in for soup and a beer

But you’re never coming back here,

Are you?


You’re lying in a morgue drawer

I hope it doesn’t hurt your back

I want to give you a pillow and a duvet in there

But soon, you’ll be ash

Or beneath the earth

Crumbling away, never so pretty as on even your worst day


Just bones, just bones

And stories


Never forgotten.

I need to know how you died.

I need to know why you didn’t say goodbye –

That’s all.


Just bones and stories…

Just bones, and stories.

Ode to an Old Dog

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on October 22, 2016 by ofherbsandaltars

You’re fifteen now, and every single time I make your breakfast I cry until I can’t see the bowl in front of my face, because every day that I get up and you’re still around is a reminder that soon, inevitably, you won’t be. I can’t even remember or imagine this house without you in it. Your name is Presley, but lately I just call you Dog, because you’re the very essence of dogness, you’re the only dog, not a dog but The Dog, the only dog I want in my life, now and forever. Dog is a word that means love – if there is a God, I’m sure he’s happy that his best creations have his own name, spelled backwards. Dog means love, because dogs are made of love – they know nothing else. So I just call you Dog. It doesn’t really matter what I call you though, because you’re deaf now anyway. You used to be able to hear food fall to the floor from a mile away. There are a lot of good things about you being so old. You sleep a lot, so you don’t get bored, you can’t walk far, so we never have to go out in the rain and walk for miles and miles while I wish I got a cat instead, and since you’re deaf you don’t bark at fireworks for the whole of November. You also shit on the patio instead of up the garden, which is a bit unsightly but makes picking it up easier. You’re pretty convenient now you’re old, Dog, but you’re still you, and everything I loved about you, everything that made me choose you out of all those rows of sad dogs in cages, it’s still there. You’re still scruffy with a beard and hairy feet and a white tip on your tail, and you still love hugs, and you still grumble about everything – mum used to be scared of you, because you growl so much, but you’ve never bitten a single person in your long, long life. You just like to grumble.

I love you, Dog, more than I love most humans, to be honest. You can still get up and down the stairs, you can just about jump into the car, sometimes (though sometimes you can’t, and I have to lift and boost you, and you’re one hell of a lump – sorry, but it’s true), you’re still smiley and exuberant since the vets put you on painkillers for your arthritis, pills for your Cushing’s, but even so, Dog, you’re like 94 in human years, and every time I look at you now I wonder when and how it’s going to end. Sometimes you sleep so deep I’m not sure if you’re still breathing, and I hope it’s that, in the end, that you just slip away in your own house. I don’t want to have you put down, at the vet’s, where you’re scared and you trust me to get you out of there safely but this time I won’t – I’ll leave without you, forever, and go back to an empty house with your worn out collar in my hand, hanging loose, nothing inside it but memories and your fading scent.

But however it goes, I hope it’s not for years. I hope you break world records. I hope you live to be 32. I get bad feelings a lot, when I say goodnight to you, and I say ‘See you tomorrow’, and wonder if I won’t.

Please don’t die, Dog. Not ever. Here’s some incentive: Mum says that when you’re gone, she’s getting a cat. Maybe even two cats. That’s right, Dog. There are going to be cats living in your house and drinking out of your bowl, and being hugged by your humans. Fucking cats, Dog. A whole army of fucking cats. So you can’t die. You have to keep the cats out, just like you always have. Hating cats is your raison d’être.

So that’s what I wanted to say to you. But for me, I need this part – I need to make a list of all the things I love about you, while you’re still here, and I’m going to keep adding to this, every single day that you’re here with me, even as my tears fall and my makeup smudges. I need to be able to remember you, everything that made you so special. This is your legacy, your history, your life. This is my love for you.

I love your grumbly hugs – sometimes I pretend I’ve forgotten to give you dinner just so you come up and give me grumbly hugs until I relent. I love the way you go down the stairs like a floppy old rug mated with a Slinky, boing, boing, flop, flop. I love all our memories together, when you were young and able and we’d explore the woods for hours, and sit on rocky outcroppings overlooking the forest. I remember the times you’d chase squirrels and throw yourself right over cliff edges, but somehow you always came back up, smiling. I remember when I had a psychiatric assessment at home, and you were with me, and it was the one time I could vocalise myself without crying. Ironic now, that I cry almost every time I hug you, because I know you’re leaving.

I love how you like to round up your humans, how you have to know where everybody is, so whenever I come upstairs you follow me, then you do your rounds – bathroom, toilet, bedroom – until you find me. Then you lie on the floor and chew some trash for a while, and go back downstairs, where there’s more going on. I wish it didn’t make you so stressed every time I go out at night – you never used to be like that when you were young, but now, you hate people leaving you at night, even with the lights on. It’s sweet and sad all at once when I come back and you’re lying right by the door, in the draughty hallway, waiting.

I love how you have no interest in toys whatsoever, unless it’s a ball to catch. Instead, you like trash – empty chocolate wrappers, receipts, tissue paper, it’s all fair game. I love that you see the wonder in trash, that you delve through my bin and cause absolute fucking chaos, then you find your favourite bit of trash and lie down to munch on it for hours.

I love how you come out to see me whenever I go down in the night – I don’t know how you do it, now you’re deaf, I guess you catch my scent, but if I go downstairs at 2am, you’ll get out of bed on your stiff old legs and come to give me sleepy hugs, smelling of soft warm sleep-laden fur. I love your shoulders, where the fur is thick and soft and I can lay my head and you don’t mind – I’ve seen all the articles about never hugging dogs, but you like it. You like it when I whisper in your ear, too, maybe because you’re deaf and it’s the only sound you hear now, or maybe it’s because I like it when you snuffle in my ear too. It feels nice. You get that. I love your crazy hair, that your white patches are twice the length of your short black parts, so you have a white mohawk on the back of your neck, a furry, furry belly, big white shaggy feet, a glorious beard and a tail like a fox. I love your eyes, how you look like a seal when you’re sleepy and your ears are back – nothing but gleaming black fur and big, shiny, deep brown eyes. I love your smile, it’s easy to make you smile, even if I’ve been boring, even if I’ve been on the computer all day and you’re so fucking jealous of my computer – you forgive me. You smile, you give me hugs. I love you – all of you, every bit of these past thirteen and a half years, even when you pulled me over and I grazed my knees, even when you stayed up all night barking at thunderstorms, even when I had to walk you in the rain, even when you shat in the park and I had no poo bags and that chav yelled at me, even when you chase me around barking because you think six treats in a day isn’t enough – I’d never take it back. Not a second of it.

I’m honoured to have been your Person, but it breaks my heart knowing that I only got that privilege because somebody else dumped you on a random street and drove away. Because you were, you were a sad dog in an RSPCA cage – you’d been a stray. Nobody claimed you. But you’d been loved – for months you kept trying to curl up in my lap, thinking you were still a tiny puppy – someone had held you and loved you, and then you grew up into a wild, anarchic, shoe-chewing teenager and they just dumped you. They fucking dumped you. I know how anxious you get waiting outside shops – I rarely do that to you, because you hate it. But those people, whoever they were, who’d loved you as a tiny little bundle of black and white fluff, who were everything you’d ever known, they left you waiting forever, in distress, cold and hungry and lost. You’re so forgiving, Dog. You were wild and noisy and crazy and frequently a royal pain in the arse when you were young, and I admit, we had some discussions about you being the wrong dog for us (especially when you tried to eat my mum’s favourite cat, and we had to split the house in half – dog downstairs, cats upstairs. You outlived the cats, much to your delight…), but you were always loving, and so much fun. And now you’re old, there’s less fun, but so much more love. You’re my best friend. I’m on pills too, Dog, you know I’m always at home, not like I used to be. Well, people, humans, they’re not like you. They’re not forgiving, they’re not made of love. If you can’t be fun anymore they dump you just like your asshole owners did. So now, you’re all I have, really.

This is mostly a letter to you, but you can’t read it, and humans can. So I’d like to say, don’t leave the old dogs rotting in their cages. Don’t go for the cute little puppies. Old dogs are wise and beautiful and loving, and extremely lazy. They can be great. Yes, you’ll lose them soon, and the vet bills might stack up, but they will love you, and shuffle up and down the road with you, pissing lethargically over the lampposts. We only got Presley because of a misunderstanding – we thought he was old; his grey beard, a confusing sign on his cage. We thought he was an old, calm dog, and it turned out he was 18 months old and fucking mental. But we were in love by then, so he came home, and Dog, I’m so glad you weren’t old back then. Every shoe you destroyed, every grazed knee as you yanked me onto the pavement, it’s been worth it, to have had all these years with you.

Whenever you go, you’ll never be forgotten. I don’t know how the world will continue to turn for me, honestly. There’s too much, Dog, too much to even list. I love you. Please don’t leave me…




Edit: He can’t get up the stairs anymore, he doesn’t even try. He has an ear infection that makes him fall over and gives his head a tilt and he can’t take treats or eat properly. He’s going. 24 Feb ’17. Please, please, get better Dog…




Edit 2: 22 June ’17 – he’s on extra medication and has his balance and joy back – I can’t express my gratitude. We thought we were taking him to be put down, and he’s still here and happier than he’s been in months. He still doesn’t attempt the stairs, can’t get into the car without being lifted (and he IS a lump), doesn’t like going out most days. But he’s still Dog. He’s still smiley and grumbly, and he gives the best hugs in the world. He knows when I’m ill, he gets worried, and when I’m well enough to give him hugs again he smiles and presses his face to mine, and I love him beyond words. His shoulders and thighs are turning grey, his eyebrows are very distinguished now, but he’ll always be Dog. This week I lost a human friend, and I need Dog to keep going – I can’t take more sadness right now. He loves his treats, he gets in and out through the dogflap ok, he’s managing, he’s happy. If he makes it to winter he’ll be 17 years old, and that’ll mean more to me than Christmas. I love you so much, Dog.