Category Archives: Mistaken for art or rubbish

George Monbiot’s agricultural policy

George Monbiot’s agricultural policy

Nobody expected them to thrive so well.
Life expectancy has plummeted.
The languorous, cruel kiss of cancer
Is a luxury that’s lost to most these days.
As for curing it: why bother?

The roads are not safe;
They’ll see you coming a mile off
And run you down on the hot concrete.
You’ll be bones before sundown.
Cities too have become their home;

Their calls echo down desolate streets.
Tendrils caress cracked tower blocks
And islands of rubble sprout saplings.
It all looks cleaner somehow,
But everything’s heavy with their stink.

The elephants barely lasted a month.
Why would they? They’d no idea what to do.
They’ve not been here for millennia.
You come across a skull now and then
But it’s best not to get too close.

Even the chemicals couldn’t kill them.
Even the missiles they strafed the hills with
Did nothing but make them bigger
And angrier. If they can’t find people
They devour each other. That concentrates them.

But the air is clearer to breathe, I think.
Forests sprouted almost overnight, as if
Unimpressed by our centuries’ efforts.
The sun seems brighter now too, and the stars –
Ah, the stars! We try to avoid the moon.

I saw George in what was Aberaeron last week,
Raiding a bookshop, of all places, for supplies.
We smeared each other with bear faeces
And hunkered behind the counter while they passed.
“It’s hard to measure happiness,” he said.

Appears in:
In the Men’s Room [2018]


The boiler-room-to-be

image (1)

This is my shed, of which I am very fond. Once pigs lived in it. Then it was a place full of work-benches and bits of old mouldy rolled-up carpet. Then I came into its life and cleaned it, sort of, a bit, and filled it with arts paraphernalia and filmed poetry videos in it, while also keeping rubbish at the other end. Spiders and mice thrived. Some sort of hardy plant tried to thrive too, but I did not encourage it. I like the shed so much I blogged about it once before, last year; and as you can see from the respective photographs, I have since repointed and repainted the south-facing wall, and painted the door a glossy red.

image (5)But the shed’s days as a shed are numbered. It is now a boiler-room-to-be. As I type this men are out there working on it; extending the height, having torn off the corrugated metal roof, with breeze blocks, cement, and stone taken from a sort of jutting bit in the front garden that they’re smashing up as they go along. Because I write my blogs in bits, by the time I get to the end of this, they will be gone, and it will be night. But they’ll be back tomorrow.

On Sunday I cleaned it out, transporting all the paint pots, demijohns, half-used bags of cement and arts paraphernalia to a rickety, partly rotten wooden shed further up the garden using a rusty second-hand wheelbarrow. After sweeping and dustpanning the lot I found this one little piece of paper left on the floor. I didn’t arrange it (honestly!) so I was pleased to see it bore a complete sentence; the last line from the last but one poem I recorded in the shed: Sculptures of nothing. I’d torn up each line and burnt part or all of the paper bearing the line during the recording. (For fun, I suppose, but with a veiled artistic intent too.) This, being the last line, was discarded unburnt. image

And there it lay on the floor of my empty shed like a bitter eulogy for the art I’d performed there in front of the camera; alone, frequently drunk, usually following five-or-ten minutes of painting, over the last year and a half.

To the left is the finished painting. Although perhaps “abandoned” would be the more appropriate word; I didn’t so much complete it as stop painting it. Now the roof depicted in the top-left corner is gone. The bit of hardboard above the door on which the piled tiles and tile box supported the camera are gone too, as is that annoying plastic thing that’s hanging from a beam that juts from the wall in the bottom-left. (I never really wanted to paint that, so its detail is even sparser than the other items in the picture.)

image (4)In the most recently recorded video, “Doubtless” , the penultimate of the 33 poems from “Mistaken for art or rubbish”, I began not by painting, but by cleaning up the shed; packing the things in boxes and removing them from the shot before recording my poem, learning it on the spot as I usually do with the shorter ones, and settling on the first complete take, which was the fourth attempt. As luck would have it, this was the same take in which I accidentally broke an unconnected striplight while swatting a fly. I took the above photo after I’d removed the rickety workbench, leaving only the shed itself and its organisms.

imageThe next morning the builders came, and my youngest daughter Fury was very interested in what they were doing, peering into the garden while we ate lunch.

At the end of that Monday I took a few pictures of the work that had begun on converting the shed to be tall enough (and secure enough) to externally house the biomass boiler the government at (sort of) paying for us to install, and which will heat our old stone house in a green and friendly way for many years to come, we’re assured.

image_3It’s one of those renewable heating initiatives that seems to make more sense than burning a tank full of oil three or four times a year but involves an initial outlay of cash that would surely make anyone but the super-rich resort to extra jumpers or the burning of fossil fuels. I guess one day the technology will either be cheaper or fully subsidised? No idea. But the boiler won’t fit in the house, so in my shed it will go. And my shed will become a boiler-room. This picture shows the outline of where the metal roof has been removed from the wall, and the beginnings of the nex wall whose height will accommodate the boiler; and indeed a human being of average height. Which it didn’t before, except at the apex. The boiler will be in that corner, but I’m not sure how much room it will take up or whether it will want me in there being drunk and reciting poems at a camera balanced on top of it. It will probably be too hot to balance a camera on top of, for one thing.

image_1Finally, this picture roughly recreates the camera’s angle from the hardboard shelf above the door when it filmed me in the 32 videos. Funny how a roofless shed suddenly looks like an historic ruin, and the addition of a scaffold makes it look like an expensive renovation project. A day before it was just a shed.


You can just see the almost-empty oil tank behind (in dark green). I’m supposed to be selling it as I type this.

Does anyone want to buy an empty oil tank? It’s big and green and empty of oil but full of regret. It might have absorbed some poetry over the last few years.

Yours, intrigued,

A S H Velky

New Welsh Review review of “Mistaken for art or rubbish” by Joâo Morais

Note: shortly after this review was uploaded I received the below comment:

Please take this, what looks to be a whole photocopied review down. It’s OK to quote from a review, naturally, and certainly link to the webpage on which our review is extracted, but not to lift it wholesale. Thank you, Gwen Davies, editor, NWR.”

In respect of the wishes of the editor of NWR, I have now removed any parts of the review that don’t  discuss the poems, and those parts of the scanned document that contained reviews of other people’s work.

Part one:







Part two:
























Mistaken for art or rubbish video-recording photoblog

When I decided to publish my first book of poems, Mistaken for art or rubbish, I decided concurrently to record and post online a reading of every poem from the book – partly as an experiment, to see if I could memorize them and read them how they sound in my head, and partly with the intention of creating a composite work of art (of some kind) that would serve as an accompaniment to the printed text. That would help give it context, animate it, maybe even explain it – though that’s a bit of a dirty word in art criticism.

This blog post is a guided tour of that process through a couple of photographs taken on my wife’s iPhone of the “set” midway through the recording series, which set happens to be a fully functioning shed adjoining my house; which is convenient for a number of reasons, many of which – if you’ve ever had a shed – you’ll be able to guess.

My shed/set.

My shed/set.

This is my shed. Correction: this is one of my sheds. (I have several.) One of my sheds is made of stone, one is made of wood, and one is made of a dubious white corrugated substance which I’m pretty confident is carcinogenic.

This is the shed I chose to be my set. I chose it because out of the two sheds that were big enough (wood and stone) it was the one that had the best lighting and seemed most able to be converted into resembling the idea I had in my head of what The Artist’s studio might look like.

For the purposes of this post, “The Artist” refers to me when dressed in overalls and a beret (AKA costume I spent a whole afternoon pondering, thank you very much!) – as I appear in the videos. The Artist is both the narrator of the poems and the central character of most; he’s also actually me (dressed oddly) in one or two; but usually he’s an imagined person or a combination of several imagined people or no one person in particular – more an idea of what you might think an artist is, or what you might think an artist thinks it is, or what I might think you might think an artist thinks it is. In one he’s Damien Hirst; or rather, an idea of what I think you think Damien Hirst is.

And this is his “studio” or place of work; it’s still a shed, even in the make-believe world of (most of) the poems. (In one it’s a “booth” in a factory.) The mostly cleared area in front of the shed was up until recently thick with unwanted plants (AKA “weeds”) and a grubby plastic trellis with a dying old man’s beard entwined through it. (Also a plant, not a severe case of neglect.) I plan to grow vegetables there next spring in a raised bed.

The shed used to be a pigsty, we were told, and we keep our rubbish in it. It seemed the perfect place to film these poems about art. All I had to do was remove several large mouldy rolled-up carpets and give it a bit of a sweep.

And put in my props.

Doubtist books logo, badly sprayed

Doubtist books logo, badly sprayed

This is the result of me stencilling my publishing company’s logo on the front door of my shed. It’s really badly done, which is often how things end up done if you do them the first time, unrehearsed. For this reason I usually run through a reading of each poem several times in the shed before I settle on a recording. I’m by no means a perfectionist – as you’ll be well aware if you’ve watched any of the videos. I don’t have time to be and I have no interest in being either; that’s not my artistic oeuvre  I’ll say. But I want to basically deliver most of the lines correctly and in order. If I pause too long or completely forget, I’ll cut it and retake. Once or twice I’ve surreptitiously referred to a prompt print-out in the internal window alcove. You can usually see me doing this. Once I actually re-edited in a line I omitted in a really long poem. This was naughty and it felt bad. It looked fine because I cut in a still of something relevant to that line. Once I nailed it first take. By “nailed it” I mean remembered all the lines. It was probably the worst performance as a result. Repeated attempts usually prompt “natural” changes in cadence and action and little improvisations become repeated instinctive tics.

This logo stencil was created because I thought I might spraypaint it on a canvas in the first poem, where it references such tools. I didn’t because by that time I’d decided I would spend five-to-ten minutes before each video working on a painting of what I can see in the shed while the camera watches me. This was actually my wife’s idea. I liked it. I still have no plan about what conclusion I will reach from this, at this stage – about halfway through the recordings.

The swoosh element in the logo, whose lower mark is the filled-in “O” in DOUBTIST, is a punctus interrogatuss (if I’m spelling that correctly); it’s essentially an early Latin ancestor of the question mark. Probably more an exclamation mark in those days, but it looks like a halfway point. This is meant to indicate the ethos of the Has Doubts series of books (currently numbering one); the questioning nature of youth applied as an artistic philosophy, I guess. I’m not young, but I’m trying to rediscover and maintain that nature which allows humans to develop so much in their early years, and whose later (often seemingly necessary) neglect prevents further development in many adults. I feel this is essential for happiness and self-improvement on a personal and special (as in “of or relating to species”) scale. And that’s what I think art should do. Even if it’s done inexpertly or amateurishly or unnoticed; this makes it worthwhile in my book.

I considered using the fanciful “doubt point” proposed by Hervé Bazin, but it seemed too owned and too owning. And too squiggly.

I will repaint the door at some point but I’m in no hurry.

Camera's view

Camera’s view

The above is the rough view of the camera when recording, which camera is placed on a roughly triangular bit of hardboard which has been attached to the wall above the door (presumably to stop crumbling masonry from falling on your head when you open the door). It wasn’t triangular; I sawed it so as to prevent its other corner from appearing in shot and obscuring much of the shed. When I did so I first had to clear a thick pile of debris and dust, under which I found a cache of letters dating back to the mid ’90s (around the time people still sent letters) addressed to a woman who never lived here.

The props seen here have amassed across the recordings. Many feature in poems; some appeared as a matter of convenience because there really is nowhere to put them. (One such recent example being the rolled-up trellis beneath the bench!)

There are acrylic paints and pastels from when I used to practise visual arts myself – generally a drawing or painting a year between my teenage years and my late 20s. One of those paintings, pressed against the wall in the unseen bit of the shed, collects mould and awaits a mercy killing I’m not yet willing to administer. It’s the distinctly unartistic depiction of a couple of large yellow peppers for which I received an A* in my art GCSE, which was the first and last time any official recognized body commended me for any form of creative expression.

There’s a map of Wales that came with the house, an old beer mug given to me by a student of mine in Prague who is mentioned (though not by name) in one of the poems, pens, pencils, quills, a few unused frames intended to look like they’re patiently awaiting artworks to display – and the painting The Artist is working on throughout the recordings. Which is about half-done, I suppose, purely based on the amount of poems I have left to record.



This is a big rusty crowbar that hangs on a big rusty nail in the wall. There’s a bit of dead ivy or something next to it that won’t come off. It provides a handy method of emphasis in some poems, usually when the word “tool” crops up. The word “crowbar” rarely (if ever) does, so mostly it stays on the roughly rendered wall of what used to be a pigsty, but which is now elevated (or relegated, depending upon your point of view) to being a set for a series of videos intended as a work of art.

Stencil of Doubtist logo on beamThis first attempt at spray-painting the Doubtist logo (before I did the rubbish one on the door) went quite well. I did it on the main supporting beam that carries the weight of the corrugated metal roof. It fortuitously ended up serving as the second point of reference for framing the camera when it’s positioned on top of a cardboard box and some tiles on the aforementioned triangular bit of hardboard. The logo must be fully in-shot on the upper left hand side of the screen; the corner of the handle of the crowbar (and only the corner) must be visible on the right, in the middle. If you actually saw the precariously balanced camera during recordings, which I somehow instinctively feel you have no right to, you’d look as worried as I often do. Especially if you’d paid for it.

6This is the painting in progress as it is now; it’s the result of 17 short bursts (5-to-10 minutes at a time) of work, each done and recorded directly before the first attempt at reciting the poem. Actually, prior to “A verse for the averse” I painted nothing – because that poem’s about creative block – so I suppose it’s 16 short bursts and one fired blank.

Actually, I’m an idiot; I’ve just watched it again to refresh my memory and I did in fact paint – but at the end of the recording, having reached the inevitable epiphany at the end of the poem. And after drinking a very cheap energy drink and crushing the can onto the desk, where it still lies. I’d forgotten it because I never planned it (at least not in any real detail). This is proof of my authenticity and artistic credentials, should you be wondering.

I don’t know what to do with the painting. I wish I’d thought of it before; but I couldn’t, because having the script down that tight wouldn’t have suited my intentions. I’m not an actor (as you’ll see from the delivery of the more in-character pieces). I suppose I hoped it would be really good, really bad, or really… relevant. Or something.

Entirely predictably, it’s very average. It looks like the inside of a shed as painted by someone who can’t (and yet still does) paint. It isn’t art; but it is a prop. So I suppose there is some level of craft involved. It’s very complicated for something so simple, but only to me (and The Artist); it gives me a bit of a headache to think of it. And to look at it; partly because the wall looks nothing like the real wall in the shed (see below); partly because I don’t want it to look like that wall and it looks a little too much like it; but mainly because I don’t know what I want it to look like because that wasn’t “in scope” when I decided to do the recordings. It was important that The Artist was working on something, but beyond the idea of painting the audience, which I liked, I had no aspirations or plans for the conclusion of the piece. I didn’t want it to end, just to be happening at the right times.

This is perhaps why I haven’t yet won the Booker Prize. Or indeed the Turner Prize.

I did come second in a poetry competition once. But that’s only because I entered enough that year that it became mathematically likely.

The inside of my shed

The inside of my shed

This is the real inside of my shed. Stuff has piled up on that thing that hangs on the wall that used to hang in my shower whether I liked it or not. You can see the box and the pile of tiles on the roughly triangular bit of hardboard above the door. And you can see the bit of light coming through the slightly open (indeed unclosable, from inside) door. And the energy-saving light bulb. And the wall. The real wall, which is (albeit not exceptionally so for a wall) solid and wall-like. This is not what I wanted to paint; and not just because the camera is absent.

The window

The window

This is a different photograph of the painting, showing the shed’s only window and the third source of light, which illuminates the painting or my face, a bit, when it’s sunny. You can also see the flowers my wife held at our wedding, which are a recent addition to the set. They don’t currently have a speaking (or being-spoken-to) part.

You can also make out the collection of brushes encrusted into a solid disc of dehydrated paint, removed from the old ceramic beer mug at the start of a recent video after the shed and its goings-on suffered 3 months of neglect while I went to London to help feed and clothe my family.



This is the little glazed alcove that provides natural light, as mentioned above. Sometimes I put a drink in it and usually I’ll have a knackered old print-out of the poem I’m reading folded up in there to refer to in-between (or occasionally during) takes. It’s wrinkled from being read in the bath, which is where I usually make time to memorize and recite poems. That’s a dime in there, catching the light; it ended up there after the poem “Alchemy“, in which I (as The Artist) threw a collection of coins (of mixed denomination) around in apparent exasperation.

The other day there were about 40 flies trapped in the alcove; I killed them with a harmful and environmentally unsound spray, but have not yet removed them and have made no plans to.

Occasionally a plant grows from the corner. I kill that too, inasmuch as I am able.

It is my shed, after all.

Props in the shed - paint etc.

Props in the shed – paint etc.

A close-up of the array of props that are intended to convey the atmosphere of The Artist’s habitat. Among these are some purely personal pursuits which I like to jokingly dress up as subsidiary efforts of my publishing company – like a large demijohn of blackcurrants in vodka. and two jars of fermenting North-African style clarified butter, AKA “smen”.

There is an empty beer bottle. I genuinely forget why; this is not where these are usually kept, and, unlike when I began my early experiments with poetry recording on my old blog, I am almost always sober during recordings. And of course there’s the messy plastic palate that like most of my artistic equipment would have come from either Hobbycraft or The Works at least a decade ago; and there’s a desktop vice I bought on a whim from a village shop in Maenclochog some months ago. It was a bit of an Alan Partridge moment I think. I got talking to the woman behind the counter and got carried away with my own idea of being grown-up. (I didn’t expect her to have a vice in an old box round the back when I asked for one.)

Overall, it’s a rough and messy approximation of anyone’s reality, but its colours and shapes seem to form a kind of coherent whole; and it’s nice for so many of my unused possessions to have a temporary newfound purpose.

Below the bench

Below the bench

This is the floor below the bench (or desk, depending on my mood); there’s a fermenting bottle of blackcurrant champagne down there, but that’s none of my business. It became apparent to me some time after the fourth or fifth recording that little things occasionally appeared or disappeared from the set. I grew to embrace this and now practise the same mischief myself between takes. The set, like the painting at its centre, has become an evolving thing. But this troubles me less than the canvas and its contents because nobody (including me) will presuppose or demand a narrative from the set.

I believe that’s rising damp. Certainly it’s damp, and it’s coming from below.

Mistaken for rubbish or art

Mistaken for rubbish or art

And finally; this is the real shed. The corner you don’t see in the videos. A pile of festering bin-bags and half-empty paint pots. That seems fitting to me, although it does mean the smell isn’t always pleasant in there. Fortunately there are so many other competing elements assailing the senses that not even the most pungent binbag can dominate the shed sufficiently to distract me from my artistic vision. Some would say that this rubbish is the tail-side of the coin to my artistic “head”. Actually nobody would say that, but you can imagine why it pleases me to have it there: arriving, sitting, silently breaking down and occasionally being set about by mice or flies in my absence; watching me and watching you behind the camera and leaving in-between poems like a disgruntled theatre-goer making a break for it in the intermission.

The rubbish will probably last longer than the art in this shed, although I have a vague fantasy about cleansing the area more entirely in the distant future and housing the bin-bags in a separate structure nearer the drive. One day it could be a real artist’s studio! Although I can’t imagine I could assume the role of The Real Artist who would inhabit it.

Whatever the conclusion of the series of videos, I half hope I won’t film any more (for future books) in here, as I feel I ought to branch out and be more inventive – film outdoors, in the street; maybe even read in public.

But just as the K-Foundation or Damien Hirst should not be judged for the wealth of their artistic materials (£50 notes, diamonds, expensive megafauna, embalming fluids, etc.) nor should Alexander Velky (or The Artist in this volume) be judged for the poverty of his.

If “Rhymes for all times” (Has Doubts: volume two) must be shot here too then I’m sure the right props and costume will add a sufficiently different ambiance. Heck, maybe I’ll buy a different-coloured bulb for that light.

At some point in future I’ll blog in more detail than you’ll be grateful for about the actual videos.

Yours restlessly,

A Velky

Mistaken for art or rubbish

“Mistaken for art or rubbish” is the first volume of poems in the Has Doubts series, written by Alexander Velky and published by Doubtist Books in 2013.

book cover (clean)Its theme is art:

1) What is art?
2) What’s it for?
3) What’s it worth?

The volume uses allegory, autobiography, biography, history and polemic to get to the heart of art. And to break it and rebuild it: bigger, better, stronger.

The collection is currently available as a paperback publication in a limited run of 200 books (with about half remaining). For information on how to order a copy, please click BUY.

You can also read all of the poems and watch video performances here:

  1. Please don’t fund my art
  2. Alchemy
  3. A duck with two heads
  4. Poems about nothing
  5. An interest in cartography
  6. Martin Brady likes your link
  7. The art factory
  8. My art is greater than your art
  9. Top ten indefinities ever
  10. Your Nazi tattoo
  11. A verse for the averse
  12. Damien Hirst responds to his critics
  13. Lost object
  14. Doubts
  15. “Celebration Mix”
  16. Sonnets for plop
  17. Art school
  18. Money to burn
  19. How to decide whether something is art
  20. Cost
  21. Poverty
  22. All that is free
  23. The box
  24. Torture porn
  25. Dead by Christmas
  26. Klára
  27. Destroy your art
  28. Ill of the dead
  29. Economics
  30. The crowning
  31. Sculptures of nothing
  32. Doubtless
  33. Mistaken for art or rubbish

Mistaken for art or rubbish

Mistaken for art or rubbish

My “art” is stacked against
Wrought-iron railings, painted black,
In front of the building
I’ve recently lived in,
Awaiting the bin men as
Bits of cardboard or hardboard,
Decorated in acrylic or collage
And as dusty as 2D objects can be:
Canvases neither canny nor uncanny.

They’ve followed me from flat to flat,
Even up and down a few hills,
Never having to excuse their presence;
They won’t pay their way by paying bills:
Their pleasance is a time that kills,
But they fit neatly behind furniture,
Between wardrobes and walls,
Even upon walls, until one of them falls,
Awakening me at three a.m.
With the sense of a forsaken friend,
Or the forgotten gist of a to-do list.

I’ve come to resent them.
As much as I once loved to present them
I hate now to behold them
Unfolding from every case-unpacking.
I’m lacking the longing I once had
To provoke such exclamations as
“I never knew you were artistic!”

“Look at me,” they seem to scream,
“I have so much to say!”
But that’s all they’ve ever said.

Good art should ask questions,
Because what are answers but
Questions when they’re dead?
And what is art but something you did
That nobody told you to do?
That you did just because?
That you did just for you,
And can’t possibly be or mean
Anything to anyone else?

I imagine art comes from the heart.
I don’t remember where they came from;
Only dates indicate their inception:
And only I can decide their fate,
So, better not never but late,

I imagine them looking down on me
From creatively named colour schemes
Watching over me in my new home,
A place I plan to be happy,
Frowning at my audacity
In pretending to be an adult.
They find the same faults with me
That I see in them,
I think.

This morning they watched me walking
To the bus stop
As far as perspective would allow.
Where are they now?
If the council will allow it
They are on their way to landfill:
Sentenced to a full stop.

For a decade I’ve produced one or two a year,
And they’ve amassed around me like a fear,
A sorry phobia of walking forwards,
Or a foreword that never
Gives way to a story.
No more.

I only hope they’ve been taken by someone,
Mistaken for art or rubbish,
By the time I return tonight
To unlock my front door.

Appears in:
Mistaken for art or rubbish [2013]




Just a trope in your narrative,
A tincture in your soap:
Not a presence to be noticed
Without a microscope.

What’s the scope of your horror or
The horror of your scope?
What’s the worst you could wish for?
Do you think you could cope?

What’s the word at the art school?
What’s your damage? What’s your dope?
Give yourself something to work with:
Give yourself enough rope,

And don’t hope to be able to
Bring it to the table
If you introvert yourself to
Make yourself capable

Of composition. Compare then
He who is culpable
For fabricating a feeling
With she who fakes a fable.

There’s no difference nor indifference
To me discernible;
I’d just as well now try torching
A bridge unburnable.

Birth a baby, call it Burden:
Have a child, call it Hope;
Change your own name to Sacrifice:

Can a man who makes his fortune
Singing songs about pain
His second album to his first’s
Relationship explain?

Had I the wherewithal to wear
Appropriate hats to
Any given event: all being
Well, that would doubtless do.

Appears in:
Mistaken for art or rubbish [2013]


Sculptures of nothing

Sculptures of nothing


Substantial vultures
Stalk ailing prey
Through elephant graveyards
In the cold light of day.

Veiled intentions
Are unspoken pacts;
Aesthetic pleasures
Are unproven facts.

The senses succumbing
To an unholy haze;
Memory’s spectrum
Made so many greys.

Meat in the field,
Meat in the street;
Meet in the bowels,
Meet in the peat.

Cultures of mourning
Anticipate grief
While the light of the evening
Rises beneath.

Songs of the spirit
Sung by the lungs;
Stairways to heaven,
Short a few rungs.

Answers are questions
In the ears of the young:
All of creation
Contained in one tongue.

Inklings of instance
Demanding Danegeld:
To have and to hold,
Be had, and be held.

Performing bonobos
Operate guns
At picket line borders
Under Indian suns.

Figureless shadows
Blind the best seers;
Personified fears.

Informative stories
Battle for space
With virtual debris,
Leather and lace.

A plague of knowledge
In a Trojan toad
On the hard shoulder
Of an empty road.

A salty parchment
In a mouldy cave
Begging to be bartered
To a better grave.

Uncontacted tribesmen
Throw spears at planes.
Veteran surgeons
Transplant their own brains.

Amateur masons
With excellent tools
Build structures to die for
For ungrateful fools:

Houses of sand,
Cathedrals of stone,
Castles of happenstance,
Coffins of bone.

Worms of reluctance
Digest our best hopes:
Unwritten letters
In sent envelopes.

Pragmatic dogma
Proves crime doesn’t pay:
Sculptures of nothing
In marble, in clay.

Appears in:
Mistaken for art or rubbish [2013]


The crowning

The crowning

A red eye glints and squints,
Shedding a single brilliant tear.

A paradigmatic hatching here
Of efforts extracted across stints

Is worth a planet’s held breath;
A ritual symbolizing death

And rebirth, and death again.
The worn seat that bears the newborn’s weight

Is sworn to beat out the whole heart rate
By popping the cork to this new reign:

A circle of metal, cold;
A priceless work of art, framed with gold.

Appears in:
Mistaken for art or rubbish [2013]




There is no argument yet made
That’s not economic:
No fundament spoke sundrily,
Nor topical tonic;
No, neither is there any act –
Or even inkling
Of thought, or muscle memory –
Nor any other thing.

There is no conversation
That is truly idle:
No human breath or sign exchanged
Which is neither grooming
Nor bridal; no, nor are tears shed
Upon another’s end
Excepting when the dead is thought
To be a foe or friend.

There is no true motivation
To act an isolate:
Because, to culture’s brains and bits,
Economy is the gut.
And, ah, how I would borders scrub –
The freer for to be,
But freedom’s price does vary so,
Depending where you be.

I would exchange my hot young blood
For your equality,
But no exchange is fair, played out
In this economy.
So much goodwill, so many gifts
I would impart for free,
But giving just breeds taking – in
Any economy.

I would that all my words were wind
And my wishes were rain,
But my intent is all I own
And my verse is in vain;
For many things I wish I knew
And had the art to show,
But I – like you – have work to do
And my fair face to show.

Appears in:
Mistaken for art or rubbish [2013]