Reason’s Wager


There is evil in this house. But not this way.

You knew it, you said, as soon as we stepped past

The flaking threshold. You knew, as true as touch,

That something waited in a further room;

These walls were damp with it, as though old lives

Could saturate the clay. The stillness we heard

Spread down the hallway, lingered on the stair;

Stirred the dust in a sunbeam, secretly.

You touched my arm, and begged that we move on…

But I tell you: evil, true menace, needs no home

In bricks and mortar. There is no firm prison

To lock it in. There is no haunted house:

But people, I said, are haunted things, my love.

Such fragile thoughts as ghosts need hearts, fresh minds,

Soft dreams for beds. This is where evil dwells:

Death knows no walls. See at the cemetery,

Under bright trees, the visitors lay wreaths

For peaceful friends, but find no peace for it;

It is the living, love, that haunt the dead.



There comes a time in almost every horror film when the man – not necessarily the hero, not always the “Dad”, but always a man – says to the woman, “But there’s no such thing!” 

The woman and the audience know better. Reason, or at least realism, is overpowered by a frustrating dramatic irony in the context of the film. Outside of the horror canon, whether one believes in such things or not I find the notion that true evil haunts not places, but people, a very strong motif. 






Is the sky half-full, you think; or maybe, half-empty?

See clouded colours, distance in your eyes

Looking out from the hillside, as though staring

Out over water. Like all secrets, yours

Turns glass to the touch: cool, brittle, and fine

As silver. I dare not glance my reckless mind

Over its surface: instead, I too look out,

Notice the moths delight in indecision,

Watch the light take its silence to its grave;

Keeping this secret with you, feeling that

Reticence is precious. But tell me, truly:

Is this sky of ours half-full, or wide, half-empty?



Down and Out in Corby and Lincoln (or How to Survive the Next Five Years)

A wonderful, thoughtful and heartfelt post from a good friend. Listen well.

Awkward Silence

I will state this from the beginning: socialism runs through me like lettering in a stick of seaside rock. It is hardwired. I have always been left leaning, hailing from a town whose industry was built on steel. My maternal grandfather, who sadly passed away before I was born, was a safety officer at Stewart and Lloyd’s steelworks in Corby and a union representative. I remember my gran showing me his union badges when I was very small and her explanation that grandpa had stood up and fought for his fellow workers resonated with me even then. It seemed an incredibly admirable thing to do. During that period, my hometown was relatively prosperous. Things were about to change.

When the bottom fell out of the steel industry in Corby during the late ’80s, the economy all but collapsed. In the 1990s, the town was dying. With few jobs to be…

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Dedicated to every graduate, student and unemployable youth who has, with best intentions, strived for voluntary work to prove themselves: to their monetary loss, to their potential credit, but ultimately in desperation and on the understanding that their precious mind is, because of this youth, seemingly unimportant to the act. Exploitation, flirtation and rejection. The cycle continues. 


There is something European about the capital:

Mausoleums to art, vast colonnades

Imprison awe. On entering, a graduate

Looks over bifocals, tipped as if so lean

Inwardly; and you can tell by his mien

That he is overeducated, widely versed,

And underpaid. It says so on his badge,

Our museum attendants are zero-hour psychopomps

Directing us to empty exhibitions.

And, though every bureaucrat’s a weary Pilate,

Rolled-up sleeves, head hung in explanation,

Reasoning beyond reason for the application

Of a short-sleeves Barabbas to be, gently, declined,

Here among the keepsakes of the dead

Where skinny-legged Hermes bites his pen

Distractedly and dreams of embezzlement,

I most devoutly feel that, in occupation,

All institutions love antiquity.



To Steal a Leaf


Children are careless to life: and so I reached

Right overhead as we passed, and grasped a leaf.

Stolen, it shook the branch – which I had arched

Down with my young arms – and as we laughed

I recall the plate of green lay in my palm

As cool as copper. Feeling its gentle weight

My queries wondered. Wishing it no harm

I hungered still to feel it torn apart:

Its wax to fold, its fine capillaries

To disentangle. my fingers wet with green;

The scent of fresh-hewn stone or dew-kissed grass

To rub in the hands. I held the leaf: and then,

As the curious carnage-wish grew most acute

I could not break it. I stepped back to the tree

And, whimpering, said sorry for its hurt;

I laid the injured leaf down, sparingly –

A coward to my hands, but somehow braved

By thoughts of green, of something precious, saved.



We’ve all at some stage rolled a leaf in our hands, crushing the young, green life out of it. There is a certain tactile fascination in it: but there is something quite cruel in the act, which, though only a small gesture, still saddens me.


You will see my face


Stirring, silken absence by my side:

I hurt to wake, my heart unknowing leapt

To no resolve; but though your scent may hide

Still the face is kept.


I turn, and in that ghosted after-sight

You feel my gasp; and breathing frosts, I wept.

We’ll live to see it, though we died tonight;

Still the face is kept.



July’s theme, for the challenge I have with Blair (whose blog you should definitely follow, here: is “Sight.” This is a prelude, if you like, which fittingly starts with death. I do love a bit of fictional romance from beyond the veil. I blame reading Wuthering Heights when I was a small person. Anyway. The idea in this one is, what counts as “seeing”? Does the memory of an image count as a sight before our eyes; is the stimulus of light the defining factor, or is it the recognition which leads to sight? I’ve opted for a nice simple ode form, leading to another little question: is it the lover who has died, the narrator, or both? 


Image of the artist


As you get to work, I see you better:

Dark eyes trained to the lines, your fingertips

Following to form. Your neck tilts, dips

Like a bird over water; yearning closer to

Your image. A fringe of dreamy waves

Sweeps your face, caresses its own fine

And extempore design, as the pencil guides

Your hand to trace the beauty of it. Gentle,

Curves in motion, detail in the touch:

Shoulders lean, head drifts closer, as if

Impatient to devour that final sight,

Your true anatomy is drawn to relief,

The urge for beauty, the delight in colour.

Yes: as you lean close, I see you better.



For Blair. When I see you designing costumes, depicting characters, imagining worlds or just playfully doodling, it pleases me. I love to see you delighting in art. It is beauty, pursuing beauty.