Thursday, 26 May 2011


Rumblings of thunder tumble from the clouds like grumbles of doom as the doors of Heaven creak open. A crescendo of rain splatters the flags and ricochets in coronets of water. Wands of lightning scream like missiles, zinging across the carbon sky.

In the centre of a drunken town a young man raves to a gathering crowd: ‘And I, the mighty Heracles, I feel the Hydra’s poison seeping like acid into my veins. How piteous my plight! My skin corrodes; flesh melts and sinew dissolves. See the cream of my bones poking through the gore.’

Electric domes spin silently, strobing cobalt blue on rubber-stretched faces. The looming officers are dressed for war and have back-up: a tinny voice and an alien language spat through the nostrils of an automaton woman: ’Negative Yankee Bravo 3. No record of anyone matching that description. Suggest you action Section 136 and take him to nearest designated place of safety.’

‘Leave me you creatures, return to your mountain,’ the wailing man begs, dropping hard on his knees in splashes of gutter puddles. ‘Send me Poeas to torch my pyre that I might fling my dying body in the flames.’

‘What is your name?’ the chief centaur demands, his thick arms inked with ancient symbols.

‘My name?’ the man mocks, leaping to his feet. ‘My name is Heracles!’ he screams into the centaur’s face, his words flung fearlessly in gobs of spittle.

The officer’s face contorts with anger and disgust. He and his comrades grab the man’s arms and wheel him round, crashing him face first onto the pavement with a sickening thud. Wrists lashed tight, they drag him to their chariot and bundle him inside.

The throng of people begin to disperse. Some are laughing and shaking their heads, some are singing and making lewd comments. Others drift away, unconcerned. One person, a woman, weeps softly as she holds the man’s tattered jacket to her breast.

‘Yankee Bravo 3, disturbance reported on the Mount Oeta estate, please detour and attend.’

‘Roger Charlie Echo 7. On our way.’

Sirens howl down waterlogged streets, spraying eerie shifts of Doppler in their wake. Revs of adrenalin, tyre-screech turns in a macho blaze of thrust.

‘Charlie Echo 7, arrived at the Mount Oeta estate, vehicle alight behind disused garages but no sign of suspects or any other emergency vehicles. Will take a closer look, over.’

A quantum crackle of energy jumps the gap as two realities bump edges. Storms break again and the driving rains of Philoctetes’ tears skid in angled slides down the window of the centaurs’ chariot: a thousand teardrops, each holding precious the sodium glow that soars many light years to the world of the man’s ancestors who have abandoned him now.

Hissing gases, mauve-blue-green. Ash clouds, licks of palsied flame, yellow twists of yang. Splats of falling water fizzing on hot iron. Up in the realms of midnight, a judder, a monumental bang as the firmament is exposed in a blinding flash of glory. Steam. The reek and choke of miasma: burning flesh fusing with hot metal.

‘Yankee Bravo 3, requesting an update from the town centre disturbance. Are you still en route to place of safety?’

‘Negative, Charlie Echo 7. Young man clearly thought-disordered and hallucinating. Aborted section 136, chose parallel section of immolation. It’s what he would have wanted. We have served Zeus.’

Monday, 16 May 2011


Below is my very first attempt at writing a sonnet. After completing the poem I was convinced it was a pretty average piece of poetry but, after some encouraging & supportive comments from my twitter chums, I've decided to offer it up for comments on my main blog page.

It is a Shakespearean sonnet written in iambic pentameter & the rhyming scheme is: a-b-a-b, c-d-c-d, e-f-e-f, g-g

In Greek Mythology, Merope was one of the seven Pleiades. Astronomically, she is one of the seven sisters in the star cluster Pleiades in the constellation of Taurus.

I believe the correct pronounciation of Merope is 'Me-ro-pee'.


When I behold the silver crusted sky
you turn away, too shamed to meet my gaze.
Oh Merope, I bid thee do not cry -
What kindles your sidereal malaise?
Is it Orion’s chase that makes thee weep?
Did marrying a mortal bring you shame?
Each night before Erebus fosters sleep
I seek the wellhead whence your sorrow came.
Amidst the navy cloth of night you gleam,
A glowing sapphire stitched on heaven’s cloak.
Yet pulchritude does not beget esteem -
Your heart lies scorched ‘midst clouds of stellar smoke.
Switch off your starry light and let me be
your constellation for eternity.

Monday, 9 May 2011


This is the third of four ekphrastic poems inspired by the wonderful artwork of Melaneia Warwick. Before I reveal the poem I thought it might be interesting to share some of the process involved in its creation.

As with the previous two poems I sat myself down, took several deep breaths and stepped inside Melaneia's painting. I wandered round, gazing at the remarkable images and artefacts contained within it, even stopping to speak to them at times.

When I stepped back out I had little idea where to start. I had not connected  to the painting like I had on previous occasions. I felt unable to find my place within it. Something was troubling me, preventing me from beginning. Although the artwork intrigued me, I was aware that it also disturbed me. 

I looked at it again from the outside, confounded by its surreal quality. It reminded me of a Salvador Dali painting entitled 'Sleep' which is a painting of a monstrous head propped up by crutches. And then it struck me: Recession was the narrative of a nightmare. Now I had my starting point. I could climb back inside & start to gather all the symbolism & allegories together in order to create my poem.

For a whole day I toiled to create a blueprint of my poem. I could sense a journey of individuation, as if the dream contained unconscious material that, when interpreted, would somehow enlighten me. But I struggled and struggled to identify a coherent pathway from art to poem. I began to write but my words were laboured and forced. After two more days I began to despair until the strangest feeling began to consume me. I felt as though I was trapped inside painting and poem and could not find a way out.

And then it suddenly dawned: this was about death! My resistance to face up to this ~ my own mortality ~ had prevented me from engaging with the artwork. The painting was loaded with scary, deathly images but, having realised what was happening, I was able to surrender to these images and, in doing so, transcend the polarity of the life-death split. As Jung wrote, acknowledging the imminence of death and the limits of our existence allows us to let go of our egos, freeing the way for our creative Self to discover true meaning.

Finally, having overcome the obstacles that had prevented me from 'letting go' of my ego, I realised who the serene looking lady was at the bottom of Melaneia's painting. She was my anima, my femme inspiratrice, waiting patiently to accompany me back from my nightmare to a new space brimming with creative potential.

Above is Melaneia's incredible painting entitled Recession from her 'Gloaming' series ~ and here is my poem:


Like Coppelius, you lurk behind my eyes
                                                     waiting for darkfall.

Palsied by sleep I fail to hear your crutches
clack across the slick red mezzanine in my skull.

It is the reek of your breath that rouses me.
Looking up I see your voluminous head,
glimpse your mantic forearms as you loom above,
an incubus of pink gristle 
          spewing spoonfuls of curdled dreams
                                                    into my brain.

I strain to squall, to fling away the sheets but I lie
                                                 zip-tied like a corpse.

One final retch and your sphincter blows 
blasting out your gullet, spilling melted muscle
                                        through the hole in my id.

In the underworld, death smirks like a bullet-riddled clown.
A cartoon phantom sings in oblivion
scragged by threads of luminous plasma.

Yet under your jib an ageless lady sits gracefully
                                          waiting for wakefulness.

I blink hard and find myself at the edge of my nightmare
grasping the last few drops of allegory that slither
from the brim of your hat.

Soon, I will wander beyond the mortality line
                                back into the blue bag of night

towards a purpose glowing with afterlight.