Thursday, 17 July 2014


This is a poem of mine that was published in the July 2014 edition of the biannual Brittle Star Magazine

Please see the bottom of this post for a recorded version of the piece spoken by me.


Sometimes he felt like he was outside of himself, looking with slight disdain at the expressionless features of his face, but still feeling his face somehow, numbly, like putty. This happened a lot in taxis. Often, he was attached to his body the way the lens in a phone is connected to its owner as it snaps the selfie in a mirror. Sometimes it was worse, much worse. Sometimes he felt like he was just a volume of paper thin skin encompassing nothing, a human balloon terrified of pins, trying to pretend to everyone that everything is normal, when he was actually terrified, rigid with worry that he might just pop at any given moment. This mostly happened in the build up to office socials. Occasionally he was overcome with remorse. He would feel like he had been entirely unfaithful to his previous selves by attaining so little, by forgetting their dreams, by allowing their passions to be slowly doused in alcohol and BBC reruns. This mostly happened during hangovers. His generally applicable panacea of aimlessly surfing Vimeo’s Staff Picks would no longer work in these instances, so he would walk. Preferably up and down things, like ramps and stairs, regular repetitions of similarly sized steps, but outside, so he could feel the cold or heat on his face. This left few options in his vicinity that were suitable, namely the assortment of multi storey car parks whose ramps and stairs he would ascend and descend in alternation, up the stairs, down the ramps, down the road and up the ramps then down the stairs and so on. The guards were always too busy chatting to notice him and incrementally, with each step he took, he would fill out. Not feel good or anything like that, just that the terror would go away. As he climbed he would slowly lose the feeling that he was his own double, or that there was nothing inside him and he had to hide it, or that he was only the sum of other people’s opinions of him. These walks, usually at night, lit by neon, were the only times he started to feel that the grammar-less 20,000 word email full of misspellings that he usually felt himself to be was sort of fixing itself, adding full stops, using spell check, becoming legible. The car parks were his tower of babel. He was building with his feet, up and up, piling on top of each other, ever higher ramps and stairs and stairs and ramps. Precipitously, endlessly, he was reaching for himself, for his one unitary self, whole, sure and pristine. But every time, sure as with the biblical tower itself, the moment would come when he would shatter. Like a warning that you can and should never try and approach an ideal, even yourself, let alone God, just as he was able to gather a glimmer of relief, each and every time, he would splinter back into a thousand anxieties, a million viewpoints, each with their own language, lost and confused. In the broken wake of his collapsed edifice, he would return home haunted each time with all of his facebook pages and twitter profiles crowding around him and shouting at each other like demented and vengeful spirits.

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Ode to Sand

Pure sand, how did you
accumulate, impalpable.
your divided grain
and sea belt, cup of the world,
planetary petal?
Were you gathering by the scream
of the waves and the wild birds
your eternal ring and dark unity?

Sand, you are
of the ocean,
which in your innumerable rocks
deposited the seed of the species,
your nature with its green
bull’s seminal roars.
Naked on
your fragmentary skin
I feel
Your kiss, your murmur
running over me,
tighter than water,
air and time,
into the lines of my body,
forming me again
and when
I continue roving
along the sea beach
the impress of my being stays for an instant
in your memory, sand,
until air,
or night
erase my grey stamp in your domain.
Demolished silica,
scattered marble, crumbling
from the sea depths,
marine dust,
you rise
in the silvery
the throat
of a dove,
you extend
in the desert,
of the moon,
circular and brilliant
like a ring,
only silence
until the wind whistles
and terrifyingly appears,
the pulverised stone,
the sheet
of salt and solitude,
and then
the sand, enraged,
sounds like a castle
by a squall of violins,
by the tumultuous velocity
of a sword in movement.

You fall
until man
gathers you
up with his spade
and in the building
serenely you appear,
to stone,
to form,
joined together again
to serve
the will of man.


By Pablo Neruda

Translated by George D. Schade