The flowers are rotted in the vase
the table unset and bare
the candles long snuffed of light and warmth
the music is silent and the needle off the record
the words unspoken drift as smoke in the air
as ephemeral as my endless cigarettes
or my haunted dreams
I whisper them to the shrouded stillness
unheard, unread, misbegotten
drawn deep of smoke and mirror
a looking-glass reflection of calcified eyes


Words wrenched like teeth from fractured mind
I flail to find those appropriate or right
twisting in the wind of the silent storm
I still shine love and fear
in equal portion and egalitarian balance

Words are difficult as weapons or solace
today I struggle more than usual to find
the ones that belong and those that don’t
the mind fighting to find the ones
that reflect what the heart reveals

Words are small as atoms, yet reach across
the widest chasms in some strange entanglement
words are massive as stars, yet light
only on some chosen few
or the terrifying reaches of empty space

Words cut deep as sharpened blades
almost as deep as the lack of them
words explode from my fingertips in voiceless terror
while my mind struggles for sentences and coherence
words are muscle memory writ deep

Words are pictograms of love and savagery
words are the taste of tears or triumph in measure
words are my legacy, my only remains
words etched on tablets, parchment, paper, or pixels
words written in shifting sands

It’s difficult to write in the aftermath of the stroke. I always gave thought to each word I wrote but I am currently struggling to find them. It has improved somewhat and I hope it will continue to do so. I was going to finish a painting as well but my hands won’t yet obey my brain. Typing is difficult and slow (at least by my standards). The slur is leaving my voice at least. But even with all that the urge to create is strong. Undeniable. Please forgive me where I get it wrong.


All around there are people together

Feasting on flesh and cheer

I have no food in the house

Bar that I give my dog and cat

I have coffee and booze and cigarettes

And if I’m lucky I’ll pass out by lunchtime

Dereliction. Acrylic on Canvas


Five thousand, eight hundred and thirty hours
give or take
since that bitter moment
I have spent three of those hours
with other humans
it would take me, at this very rate
nearly five and half years to spend
a full day with others
but I doubt I have that left in me
I am crushed in this solitude
perspective as askew as a half-dropped coat
in an autumnal rain
or the pile of ungifted gifts
still in your name
weariness envelops my frame
and night brings sleepless seclusion
there are no priests or gods to grant
the absolution I crave
no lightbringer lingering on
far horizons
there is not the peace and quiet
of welcome relief
but the cold stare of eternity
I cannot save myself from this
I have no arms left to wave to
imaginary lifeguards or for gripping the rope
I have no voice with which to cry
some prayer of plea for mercy
I am disembodied
mute and falling
every man is an island now
and mine is on no charts
to be found or discovered by
adventuring souls
there are no stars to guide
sextant and compass abandoned
I will drown in this placid sea


I am the outline of a man
with hollow cheeks and sunken eyes
where once gleamed fire and light
waiting to be filled with the essence
that was scooped from my flesh

I am a silhouette
with gaunt gaze and trembling hand
where once rose a soft caress
waiting for the terrors to desist
from the horror of the day

I am the shade of what was
with delineated angles in cheek and brow
where once a glance rested
waiting to be made whole
in the empty crux of being

I am nothingness in personal form
with flesh hung askew on calcium frame
where once a touch brought life
waiting to fade
in obscuration of the sightless

I am the refutation of metaphysics
with black hole core in pointless skin
where once bloomed vivid dream
waiting for the grey twilight
and the coming of the night


I paint in acrylic and hæmoglobin
a temporary solution to a permanent problem
a false count of days or weeks or months or years
a reckoning of numbered moments
representing naught but passing memory
and this will flake and fade like recollections
of other days or better nights
bittersweet colours etiolated over time
My hands will not form the shapes I wish
no more than dreams come true or fly
on wings formed of leaden skin
or feather and wax

Mixed media on canvas


My hands are clenched in icy blocks
in the predawn rain, treading old paths and byways
a cigarette dangles loose from my blued lips
and smoke wisps in the frigid air like a departed soul
I am 140 pounds clothed and soaked
and the gusts cut deep to my bones
where the flesh has melted away
I am a shadow of myself, but my shadow no longer tracks me
on this darkened road
My hair drips wet down my face, washing away
traces of the morning battlefield
feeling like the thin white duke on desolation row
destitute of meaning under drizzled sky
My pace is random, I light another smoke
a cough, an indrawn breath of wet smoke and cold air
searing at lungs still expanding and contracting
in autonomic regularity
My heart a drum of arbitrary beat
giving rhythm to a wordless song
words rush through my seething mind
more torrential than the downpour in which my feet march
I will forget them all before I get home
washed away by the rain I leak or that falling deluge
I want to float away in the icy waters of the swift creek
to be absolved of my sins or responsibilities
to forget forever the numbing agonies
and delighted ecstasies of a world gone awry
A fresh cigarette finds its way to my trembling lips
I turn and trudge for home


My six string hums like violence
My bullets words and passion plays
My six string hums like a wasted life
In anger and in rage
My six string blazes in hate and love
I set my own world alight
My six string beats the drum of my heart
Despair and in delight
My six string bows to no-one
In an endless shattered hope
My six string brings a broken end
Swing on the edge of the rope
My six string shrieks in anger
In Marshall stacked array
My six string falls in silence
Like you never went away
My six string screams in silence
While killing every sound
My six string pleads defiance
To the bitter truth we found
My six string writes the songs for me
And remembrance does that too
My six string wishes you could see
What I would do for you
My six string breaks and so do I
No artifact in my soul
This is the sound of tearing eyes
For one for you for all


You act as your own judge and jury
prosecuting your existence
condemning your life
to third-rate sex and lack of romance
believing the self-told lie that a change in scenery
will attest to a change of life
or some strange alteration of reality
You act as your own executioner
choosing the mediocrity of a dull life
and the stasis of the soul
terrified of risk now, in unsubtle connotation
terrified of yourself
choosing a life of being told
What you cannot wear
What you cannot say
What you cannot think
What you cannot feel
for fear of upsetting some
metaphorical apple cart
thrusting forward to the dimness
of a wasted existence
of weak chins and beady eyes
and wet-cardboard passion
but once you were truly alive
Some far distant day you will regret
with that last breath
accepting the humdrum over all else
the sluggish refutation of vitality and anima
the cursedness of boredom
the long dark abscence of the soul


I sometimes dream, in waking hours
that you’ll appear like a ghost at the door
reflecting in my hazel eyes with a shy smile
and a soft hello
your step light and a bag by your side
whispered words greeting my tears
as I look in awe and wonder
my arms open as wide as oceans
my heart skips and dances to a silent song
and the chill flees from my skin
my mouth moves with cries of joyous absolution
as your radiance finds it’s mark in my eyes
you float like light from a waxing moon
starshine and the first bloom of spring
casting aside my leaden shackles
with a word and a touch and a kiss
the harshness of years falls away from my face
a visage now of delectation and bliss
this is my waking dream
of untold redemption and recovery
for the lost