The Imperfect Crime




I feel my life is like a novel: at least,

Inasmuch as it is the imperfect crime.

Right at the denouement, how the killer

In every Agatha Christie must feel such

An arse. Having studiously changed

The clock in the drawing room to half past ten,

Hidden the arsenic and the revolver

Behind the rhododendrons, wiped

The fingermarks of his crime from the fire iron,

Only now, to become unstuck:

Before he gets the girl, or claims the vast

Insurance policy, or flees to Rome;

Before he gets to say, “I killed the bastard,

And I’d do it again!” and leap with jubilation

Onto the terrace and over the links, to freedom,

For some tedious do-gooder to lean in,

Sanctimonious, and in one gesture

Read from the lipstick on his collar everything

To damn him to the gallows: that is how

Being marked by you condemns me, dear.





You’d been warned about frostbite: the pins

And needles, fingers feeling like the static

On the telly. And your mum also said

Always to point the sparkler away from you,

Gloved hands holding tight the wavering wand.

You drew letters in the air that spelt out

Only seconds.


It would have been many years later, at a different

Kind of autumn, when the message could have

Made the difference. By that stage you and he

Had already ended your display, the bonfire

A barrow of steaming dust, ready to clear out;

The crowd was clearing, the air was dark with ash,

The rockets, bangs and dazzlers all used up.

Your late mum’s advice may have come in handy, now:

But this time, you and he had grasped too quickly

The wrong end of the stick. You looked down

As your right hand held onto the ember

So tightly, the palm was bitten out of it,

Right at the place where the spark had given out.

“Revenge of the Liquidism!!”




You are, entirely, a monster. You are

The papier-mâché, one-headed body horror thing

Sliding over itself, tongue lashing

Hydraulic hydra-lick, you little cutie,

Laughing your crawling way closer and closer.


You are the hammy Hammer Horror

Silhouette on my staircase, a shadow’s claw

Groping over the balustrade, gliding

Like a knockoff Nosferatu

Sleazily upward. You are


The claw of foam and PVC

Around my waist, alien eyes

Glowing preposterously,

Lobster claw around my pinchable waist:

Nothing more intimate than

Distressing a damsel.


You’re even the backing score, the organ

Bum-bah-Bummmmming an implausible dread

To thunder and sound-effect villain chuckles

As the titles loom up like a Power Point

In flickering monochrome

Dripping in blooded letters,


…Because the difference between romance

And cheesy horror, if there is one,

Is mostly the font.



A poem of love, dedicated to my horror-devoted monster of a husband. Also, look up Liquidism font: you’ll notice that it is ubiquitous, in one form or another, across all of the tackiest examples of the genre. Love it.