The Poems


This is a collection of poems that have been arriving irregularly since 2008.

They are in no specific order and may well appear in other places and collections at my whim and the whimsy of others.


Table of contents:





With great respect and much appreciation I dedicate this small collection to my good pal Joan Van Houten, who’s been goading me to write more, sell my art and generally be a better person. She’s had great success in some of these areas and I’ve responded pretty dismally in others. Joan – you’re THE BOMB!

Phillip Barker

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The Famous Blue Bicycles

He cracks open a fresh deck of blue Bicycles
I watch him deal,
one from the bottom and three from the top
Pours a Makers Mark for the mark’s been made
I’d say something smart –
but I expect it’s too late to stop

Outside a dog’s barkin,
and some kid’s throwin’ a stick for it
But he keeps throwin’ it into traffic
Crazy lookin’ kid,
somewhere round thirteen I guess
Looks like the kind’d light up your cat –
a little sick
Or throw cricket balls onto your roof
on a hot still night
No jack’ll ever get this kid to confess

Someone racks up a frame in the corner
There’s money and aggression in the air
Too much testosterone and cheap beer
Some stud does a bad break
and hits the mark behind the ear with the cue ball
He’s holdin’ Aces and Eights – and the queen of spades
Wild Bill’s got a straight to the nine
Zap – seein’ all this – grabs the pot and makes a run
He’s just a little too slow – the cueball jumper brains him
Empties his pockets and throws him out in the street
Seriously concussed and bleeding like a stuck pig

I go behind the bar and make mochaccinos for the crew
And fix myself a chamomile and chicory
And pick up the blue Bicycle joker that’s layin’ on the bar
Shaved on two corners
The chump never had a show
And outside as the rain starts fallin’

I see the dog chase the kid through the alley
Snappin’ like all hell was breakin loose
Smart bitch that – she don’t take shit
And she’s draggin the seat of his pants
Part doberman looks like
I make a mental note to see if she’s around later
Feed her up a bit
Friends like that can come on handy

The night’s slowed right down
so I pick up my hat
And head for home –
after collecting for the cards
And broken cue
“Shut the light’s Bill –
and bud –
if you break it –
you’re payin !”

I head on down the alley –
hearin’ the buzz from the joint fade away
Water’s fallin’ off the rooftops –
broken down pipes no-one ever bothered to fix.
gettin’ near home
I see someone’s stuck a pin in my door-frame
my spare key and a gold ring are hangin’ off it
“Carlita’s in a mood” I think, and pocket they key
Put the ring back on my little finger
where I should have left it all those years ago
I’d hock it – but last time I tried that
it was fifteen stitches and a long time healing
When she demanded it back
and I only had the ticket to show

I look down
and there’s a battered old untitled book under the stairs
She’s left her journal too –
wants me to read up on all the things I’m missing
And the lips she’s been kissing.
I hate the way her kisses taste of tears
Sweet from her sugar jones
Salt from her her sorrow
Bitter from her years of being kicked around
I find myself wishing I was a habit she’d kick
But then – when she’s good – she’s the best
And I miss her dirty rice

I gotta shop
Tomorrow’s a holiday
And I don’t want to have to rely on the old Korean
for serious food
There’s a gray ghost down the block
She’s writing tickets and soaking wet
No mercy for the drivers today
She’s scrawled chalk marks on the tyres
They look like bizarre Haitian ritual markings
Grim veve – get outta here –
or there’s a price to pay
I get up beside her and see her hands
They’re delicate – a piano player’s mitt
But she’s got stick on nails
Glitter and crimson
Somehow they don’t fit
The malodour of sweat and cheap perfume
I keep on moving – she’s giving me the evil-eye
And I’ve had enough violence to last me a few hours at least.

Lenny’s mincing down the block
He’s a trip
His bright pink feather boa is soaking wet
It looks like a welt around his throat
And he’s wearing one of those Palestinian scarves as a top
Black and white cloth plastered to his fuzz covered chest
I thinks –
“Radical Chic Mu Mu” and start to laugh
“Darrrrrrrling! My favourite rake –
buy me dinner big boy”
“I can’t stay bella –
but here’s twenty for a wax and a shave”
He takes the pen out of my pocket
and writes a number on my hand
He does it every time we cross paths
The ink’s already running in the rain
“Thanks babe” I say – and head back home
it’s too wet – noodles will do

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Zero and the Black Queen


Standing in the main bar off of Idle Lane
When the doors swing open and the Black Queen
Slinks across the threshold like a working girl on a mission
Long, lean and lanky…
Skin so pale it’s blinding in its brilliance
Hair and eyes so dark you could find yourself lost for weeks
And permanently entangled before you thought to order room service

She looks around the room gauging the effect of her entrance
Spits a wad of gum into a planter
Already dead from the micturations of drunken exhibitionists
Pissing their life away
And zones in on me
With her finely honed sense of the ridiculous

“Got a light Mack?”
I say “no”,
And slide out of my dark brown overcoat
Wrapping it round her
The temperature in the room drops at least ten degrees.
I hunt through my pockets and pull out the “Carp-a-dime” zippo
Cheap fish – “One for the Kipper”
It doesn’t work – flashing flint
Hope it ain’t a metaphor
So I seize the moment
But it’s a slippery little sucker
And is last seen climbing the leg of the matron of honour:
blue hair, crooked teeth
and a face so hard it could crack walnuts if she paid attention.

I start to wonder about
The hallucinatory nature of the mise en scene
Have I been slipped some exotic concoction
In the very recent past?
Has some doc missed a syphilitic diagnosis?
Has the LHC been fired up at CERN –
Dropping me into some alternate universe
Or sending some parallax view into my world for a visit?
Ahh – then it hits – forty eight hours sleep deprived
Recording autoharp for the Morons Pentacular Choir
And parleying that eighteen hour inspirationless interlude
Into a 30 round set-to on the studio floor
With a bank of synthesizers
And digital recorder
I seem to remember recording a thirty minute argument
My upstairs neighbours duking it out
Over whether a dimly remembered recipe
Called for aubergine or artichoke…
My money was on asparagus.
I’m looking forward to working with Charly’s voice screaming
“AUBERGINE you fuckwit!”
Six eight time with attitude…

Nathalia Dzerzhinskaya is watching this dialogue
Crawl up my spine and explode above my head
Like a badly drawn halo.
She lights a Sobranie –
And looks vaguely intrigued.
Seizing the moment I say “Your place or mine?”
“You won’t make it” says our Natty
And drags me to a cheap hotel across the alley

I hold up the wall
while she negotiates for eight hours rent
In a pay by the quarter dive
And gets a bottle of Haitian rotgut thrown in

She drops me onto the bed and says –
“Sleep, Zero – you need it
And I have to write a jingle for your most despised
pseudo cola beverage before lunch tomorrow”
I take a slug of West Melbourne Rum Punch
And slide into a dream featuring a Polish Santa Claus
Extolling the virtues of real cola
Over badly flavoured citrus sugar water
The colour of dead blood
While Natty whispers relentlessly in my ear
“Things go better with…”

I wake up sometime later
Hearing the tap tap of Nat on her laptop
And a faint voice through her headphones
With the distant melodic strains
Of the German national anthem interleaved.
I croak out a laugh
She slides on to the bed
“Come for me, baby”
I mumble in a stylistically bereft moment.
She hoots
And gets off the bed
Opens the door and leaves
“Damn” says I “was it something I said?”
The door opens and Nathalia Dzerzhinskaya
Makes a grand and fitting entrance.
All 6’1″ of her pirouettes
Radiant – lustrous
Filling the space with grace
And a style all her own.
She takes a bow
Then pats me on the head –
Leans down and bites my ear
And whispers
“There, I came for you –

Another slug of Caribbean Fighting Juice
And I’m dreaming again.
I’m in a play,
A leading part,
But it’s in a foreign language
And I have the strong sense I’m missing something
Actually – I think I’m kind of missing everything.
I finally get it
It’s Titus Andronicus
And I’ve been incredibly miscast as Lavinia.
I look pleadingly for the audience
But the fourth wall has appeared
And somehow, Toto
I get the distinct impression
That this isn’t the Globe Theatre.
I look down and see a dissected hand
Flesh and ligaments pinned to the table
Like some alien insect on display.
Relieved that I’ve been recast as Titus
I realise this superb anatomical display is mine
And moving my left first finger
I wonder how the hell I’m going to handle barre chords
At the all-important gig
Booked for later tonight.

The mysterious Nathalia
Stretched out on the bed
Watching me.
Watching her watching me
“Talk dirty to me”
Imagining her smoky accent
Regaling me with slow recountings
Of her erotic adventures
And predilections.
She flips me and spoons in
Snuggles down and cuddles up
A throaty laugh and…

She remembers a time in Northern Australia
Hiking around looking for art and artists
Writing stories and going native.
Out on her own she got caught
Downstream of five days monsoonal rain
Woke up to find herself on an island
Surrounded by an infinite expanse
Of crocodile infested dirty surging water.
In her pack –
A chocolate bar, some trail mix
And John Howard’s hagiography
For toilet paper and firelighting…
Two days waiting for the water to subside
To a huge mud puddle
I drift off to her description
Of a two hour shower
After a days scrambling dash
Back to civilisation
“Snakes on everything!”

Into the periscopic view
Of a saurian amphibious predator
Totally fixated on
And feeding
In no specific order
And not necessarily
Mutually exclusive activities


Back into the light
“What a man!”

Speaking of which
I pad across the room
To spray the porcelain
And rid myself of a days coffee and rum
“Something’s missing” I think to myself
Shortly after wondering “Where the hell am I?”
I turn around and see scrawled across the mirror
In deep red lipstick
“You’re a hoot!
Gone for brekkie with la Brigida.
Brunswick Street!


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Zero In Love


Zero, in love again
just like Berlin
And Monte Carlo

A Blue lady
Hand in hand with her flower blossom girl
Walking down Orchard Street
With their cool alley-cat strut
Red flowering, blushing assassins
Two sage women
Under the last rays
Of the Westering sun

And Zero, in love again
Walks in the reeds
By a quiet lake
To the lazy river

In a perfumed garden
Twilit sensory overload
Meets his match
In a dusky blue lady
and her cool, sweet
Flower blossom girl.


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Zero and the Surrealist’s Daydream


Zero, cave bound denizen
Caught short in a surrealist’s daydream

“Curious”, he thinks,
“The way things go”.

His sordid history catches up
Twice in as many weeks
The pain of resurrection
Slashed-eyed madness yawning –
Burning hair –
He bleeds out
One slow millilitre a moment
Seeping through the lesions
Of obsessions once so lovingly
The madness exorcised –
One dose at a time
One sleep cycle obligation

Dripping through the cracks
Unsealed ceiling
And hurtling down old needle tracks
One more whistle-stop tour
Through the abandoned territory
Of Yesterday

Hallucinatory yearning
Now returning
Blunt-force traumatic
Pre-stressed structures failing.

The sensory overload
Of lurid karmic contracts…
Once thought cancelled
Or stamped, indelibly, “Paid in Full”.

Chews the hand that medicates him
And settles for less
On this fine “gimme more” day


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Zero and the Chinese Whispers

Negotiating a shaky path
Through an unexpected
And thoroughly disconcerting
Internal traffic jam

Slowly modulating textures shift
Soothing on the psychic FM station
Broadcasting for a week of Sundays
On some deep internal frequency

The alchemicals kick in –
In the furnace thoughts congeal
In the bubbling alembic
Seven dark ideations per hour distil
Producing one light relief daydream per day

A precisely hand written cypher
Arrives by lethargic carrier pigeon
Ninety-two years,
Three months,
One week
Two days
And fourteen hours late:
“Send three and fourpence…”

Charleston, long out of style
He brushes down the tux
Digs the white tie from the bottom drawer
And makes an appointment with Gudrun
Valkyrie Maitresse de Dance
At the Stellar Studios
On a Verdun back street

He’s making book
On the outcome
Of this morning’s peak
Neurasthenic gridlock

Eddie Cochrane slides in
Breaking the ambient flow…
“I’m havin’ a…”


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Zero at the Witching Hour

Silver vase dripping by the table
Red petals spread across the sea green carpet

I’d fly, but wherever I go – there you are
with your curses and enchantments
The black book with the names and images of your beloved dead
casting a pall over everything you touch

Hot, still day in Tokyo… wear a mask

Your lungs wheezing and whistling
as you chain smoke Lucky Strike
and burn benzoin and dragon’s blood
seeking one more bizarre erotic high
from olfactory nerves that ceased functioning
forty-thousand cigarettes,
and god knows how many lines of blow and skag,

You become your own altar
and my bequest arrives in the mail
your book of shadows and hand made tarot
the poppet you created to keep me in line
an emerald-tipped hatpin still piercing its heart
It smells dimly of myrrh
and you

I write your eulogy
then burn it on a bonfire
out behind your old pottery
the wheel still spins

And your last note to me
wrapped in gold lame
tied with a purple ribbon…
“take care of the kid will ya?
I don’t think he’ll make it on his own”

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Dragon Mountain

it’s cold on the street
old tropes dancing in the snow
dirty winter coats
return to you on Dragon Mount

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Phantom Be-Bop

Back off of Smith Street
Little Mo – laying it down

Old Jack, drunk and screaming
In a schizoid break to beat the game
Playing matador with trolley cars
Tilting at windmills
Shitting on the sidewalk

And the Kick keeps pounding
Double bass murmuring
Like aural chocolate
Dripping into my ears.

The sharp back taste of codeine
And the long mean itch of despair…

And the cars are flying
And the young Chinese boys smile
And offer a taste__
and beer laden athletes
Fall in the gutter
And choke on their own bile

A buzzing sweet and low saxophone
B3 and Leslie taking the pulse

‘N the all night laundrette
Full of working girls
In out of the rain
No money tonight
And they buy me coffee
And we discuss co-dependency
And Blaise Pascal.

Phantom be-bop – fast 12/8


“There are only two kinds of men:
the righteous who think they are sinners
and the sinners who think they are righteous”.

Blaise Pascal

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A Day Late, A Dollar Short

Sitting beneath the bridge
Tricked out in a thirty dollar suit
Life reduced to a representational muddle
A slow trickle of suppressed remarks
And refusenik agitation

She oscillates precisely
A well oiled flesh machine
Producing all the standard accusations
Right on cue
Never a word out of place
Or a thought left unsaid

They sit for hours
Concocting theories to pass the time
Each more outrageous
Than the previous
Infinite variance

He identifies the one apprehensive moment
When the nimbus surrounding her
Drew him
Like a moth to a flame
Or like the needle in his pocket
To her magnetic north

Haggard now
He accepts her offer
With civility
And hears
From her cracked and paint stained lips

“I grow bored with your monotonous unsophistication.
I think I need another brew

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Canto C: Isadora


Silken ribbons of light
Wrap your pallid pulsating throat
Pastel isadora
Embracing some obscure breathless pursuit
The chronic fatigue,
Bereft of beans
Mind clean,

In truth –
Beyond hyperbolic shock
All value judgements aside
You have become
Once and forever
At least
Crowned for a day
And a long, asphyxiating, night
The Mistress of Tranquility Disturbed

based on ideas purloined, then mutilated, from the Surrealist Compliment Generator

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Billy Riley


Billy Riley’s clock is running at it’s own pace
Drunken drummer fractured paradiddling style
Stuttering across metre, tempo and common-sense
Days, piling together
Months splayed across the calendar’s floor

If there once was a logic to the
Chronological structure of sad Billy’s days
It was gone,
Vacationing somewhere warm
Or off in hiding
Snowbound and restless

And Billy stumbles on
Cigarette to cigarette
Meal to prefab meal
Day in,
Day out.

We’ve all heard it said
“Everyone has a story to tell”
Some, a headline to sell…
But William’s tale went cold
Long ago
On a killing field.


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No Byline

He was my antithesis
And I watched helpless
As he lost himself
Back then
As the old stars dissolved
Dull galaxial entropy
From far off

Guitars spent years
Whispering of it
Resonant winter solsticial lament

He watches the duotone
Dark shades of death
Artistically tame
Bad still-life:
One dimensional fantasies
Carved in stone
Dying slowly in here
While out there
A small sojourn
The daily disenchantment
Of the prepackaged
Finely calculated sound
Of the next big thing
The prepurchased
Sounds of tomorrow

That then, was not it.

He revels
In the writer’s dry perception
As she hides what she hides
And imposes a strict internal curfew
Her dreams alight with terror
Her days awash with pain
She falls with the thoughts
Seeks the healing heart
Locked in a painter’s brush

The metalwork goes up
While I embrace
The eternal truth
Of riding the wave

I adore your competence
Your mind, diving deep
Where no roads reach
wide-eyed gaze screams
thoughts sought
folie a deux
Burning minds iced down
Fuelled relentlessly
By originality’s irresistable urge

High praise – but no byline kid
I listen to your bitter exit

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Jo Jo’s Dream

Slow dissolve of self
winging with the eagles high
above the river

Inside, the dopers wasting time
their burning quest
the thin bones of another high
Chewing the chude
Same old same old
their lyrical recitations
as flat as a fine crepe
Inside, and warm
but out in the cold
as spirit’s succumb
to internal gravity’s
slow inevitable pull
gone back to the pipe
the bottle
the injecting room out back
tripping with Syd
masturbating to the pole dancers
strutting the stage
licking each drop
as it falls
from the chalice
within his lost boy,
fantasia fuelled
dream for the day

It’d be amusing
Should be funny
Someone should laugh
The clown laureate here
cracking wise
crack shot eyes
The human saga
Part, the first
By this tuppeny bard
gyring in on your frenetic orbit
On sky wings, face aglow
No well feathered nest for this freak

Praise ye gods of mirth
ye demons of mire
The white hot blur of creativity
Or lunacies first light
this poet bird
falling from his perch
“Is it sundown?”
“Maybe in America cher”

So now, the last word
The masses mourning
He, ripped from perversions underbelly
“With this ring I thee subdue”
Poor satyr,
wind whipped
fluid corroded
jerking off in the back seat
of a deep red cadillac

“Move on folks,
nothing to see here!”

prayers, lifting on smoke
hold sway over grim death’s grin
river, uncaring

based on the titles of poems by my mate Jo Jo Von Bargen.- LONG MAY SHE WRITE!

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Lithium Toxic


lithium fuelled moments
Dull – like a morning fog
Or shroud across my mind.
A long slow weekend in Turin.

Eyes closed – listening to the echoes
In a square full of doves.
Reverberant billing and cooing
And the susurrus of morning coffee
Al fresco
Delivered by obnoxious waiters
With unctuous voices

On the frontier
Uncomfortable with the mania
And the long obsessive rituals
So hard on the road
When no one speaks the language
Sliding into the dark
The black dog nipping at my heels
While I whimper in a cheap hotel.

The logistics of avoidance
And the oft counted pavement bricks
In the square below the balcony
While the nausea of vertigo
Fights with the shrill need
To complete the task
For the seventeenth time

At the crossroads again
Waiting for old Scratch
or the hypodermic relief
As I sell my soul
For another month of normalcy


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Tall Tale

Another tall tale
Cold wind cuts like tiny knives
down Victoria Road
blossoms on the tarmac or
floating, pink in the gutter

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Louise Louise

The bleeding ghost
Waiting on my doorstep
Singing a song
Says “it’s time to go”
“Well, I ain’t going nowhere”,
I say
So she hoists herself
On her own thin mast
Turns, and sails away

Down Victoria Road,
Into a night so dark
It could break your heart
If you had a mind to let it
Or if it crawled in under
The door of your defences
While you were distracted
By a vision of Louise
And she’s
Telling me it’s love again
Found a new boy
But lost him somewhere
And she can’t remember when

Her vampiric hangers-on
Have sucked the life
Outta everything ’round here
So I pull up the stakes
And walk away too

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“The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.”

William Gibson, Neuromancer

White noise from the traffic
At a distance
Nothing specific to latch onto
In the cacophanous gurgle.
The urge to surf,
And ride a wave
of the Sophist’s “progress”.

Thunderheads boom across the docks
Two big ones –
Up north
The anvil’s getting punched
And out to the east
Somewhere behind the high rise
A crack – and the echoes and reverberation
As the wave hits the buildings
And glances off the water.
Sets up a resonant buzz
That takes residence in my head
As a low and mean synth drone

Two huge juggernauts
Black and seething in a bright sky
And the oppression is palpable,
Swirling, and the white noise turns pink
Bloodshot ears – a waft of ozone.

Naj swings down off a disused crane.

Sometimes at night – twenty or thirty ferals
Will go aloft
with sticks and pipes
Sometimes a sax –
or a didgeridoo.
And fractured music highlights
The grim desperate beauty
Of Night City neon in the mist.

She’s wearing her usual leather jacket
Ripped up lining on the left side
From her misplaced knives.
Immaculate 501s, black sneaks.
Mirror shades and razor cut black hair
Long nails gleaming crimson in the sun.

She pulls a stiletto
Flicks the blade
And kisses one side of my throat
While scarring the other
Laughs – and pulls a fifty off my roll
And hands me a microsoft –
“Learn Latin in 7 seconds”
She whispers –
Bites my ear
And heads back
To the high places.
While I turn
And return
To the crawlspaces.

“Night City was like a deranged experiment in social Darwinism, designed by a bored researcher who kept one thumb permanently on the fast-forward button.”

William Gibson, Neuromancer.



Minutus cantorum,
minutus balorum,
minutus carborata descendum pantorum



Respectfully dedicated to my mate Joan Van Houten.

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Mona Lisa


I wake up to some New Romantic crap
Blaring from the speakers downstairs
So sweet it’d kill a diabetic
And I want to kill the prick
That superimposed Keats over it.

Mona Lisa’s up on the roof
Long gone into overdrive
Been down the block on Canning Street
Where a house is burning

Some guy wanders past
Said it’s the House of Chrome
Three kids fucked up
Smoking bongs and sniffing fuel

He reckoned one of them
lit the wrong container

Four dead
The three kids
And a wayward civilian
Just getting home
From a heart transplant.
Got hit by an errant gargoyle
Launched from a third floor ledge
By a tank of exploding propane.

Some days
Your luck just runs out.

Johnny drops over
Looking for Mona
He’s got these designs
Drawn up his left forearm
“Practicing for a tattoo John”, says I
“Mnemonics”, he says
“Some things I don’t wanna forget.”

Mona’s still flipped out
Five more minutes with the chrome crew
And she’d have been a Mona candle
She’s shaking like a leaf in the wind

The Count leans over
Zeroes in on her
And tells her to get with the program
There’s business on the boil
And the biz waits for no one
Money and numbers

I head down to the wintermarket
Leaving them to their amphetamine raves
And bullshit “edge”

Edge needs talent
And as amusing as they are
Talent eludes them so
I rent a room in the New Rose Hotel
To give myself a break
And outside my window
The flickering fragments
Of a giant hologram rose
Cast hallucinatory patterns
Across the fading paintwork.


based on titles and ideas stolen wholesale from the Sprawl Series by William Gibson

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Standing In The Shadows

She stands in the deepest shadows
Leather clad, mirror shades
Seething attitude
She slinks like a hungry cat
Shadow to shadow
So much more
Than a peripheral vision

The high bright stark peaks
The deep dark perilous depths
Lost in the strangeness
Her courage never wavers

At firm arms length
Tyrannical distance
She keeps me at bay
With relentless persistence

Dark and dangerous
She leans into my days
Steals into my nights
And in her jagged, razor-sharp manner
Explores the terrain carefully
Detailing the lines
and curves
and kinks of me

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Postcard from Woolloomooloo


Watch her stretch
Silhouetted against bright sunlight
Something so smooth on the radio
“I Thought About You” – Johnny Mercer

The time she crossed my event horizon
A bizarre singularity
She cried for days
While I removed the spells
In which she came enmeshed
Wanting nothing
But a break in the clouds
And to see her angel’s
Outstretched wings

The moment her hexes were dispelled –
Early morning watching old TV
And this salesman’s wife asks
If he plays up on the road…

“If some dame says she wants to vibrate on my team I tell her…”

“Ahhh – belle –
They just don’t write lines like that no more”.
And we both cracked up
And she was healed.

Is all the pain worth it?
The long nights of weeping
Obsessive meandering
Through dark inner landscapes?
I wouldn’t want to miss a second of it
Constantly on edge
As she redefines herself
Reinvents her life
And slips away
From me, and us
And what could be

The night she found Jimmy Yancey
And played the most devastating blue piano
Into the predawn
With me playing slide guitar
And spurring her on

And I watch her stretch
Like a contented cat
And she’s still chasing her tail
As I still chase her tale


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Lean hungry music
from a radio downstairs
Streetwise, breaking glass
a siren in the distance
punctuating the night’s beat


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Liverpool and Darlinghurst


Somewhere near the corner of Liverpool and Darlinghurst
Sittin on a high stone fence
Got the dobro out and jammin’ a bit to kill time
Watchin’ the red light district snooze
While the hot Oz sun drained the colour from everything
Waiting for night

Beating out a slow sixteen with the slide
Getting my D tuning chops together
Mumbling the words
It Hurts Me Too – a little Elmore James
And Sitting On Top of the World
The Wolf
And realising there’s nothing new

Didn’t have the case open
But cats are throwing golden dollars on the pavement
And other cats are picking them up
One guy slips a tenner into my levi jacket
Walks away – turns back and slips another into the other pocket
“Help – I been mugged in reverse!”

Later on I’m walkin through the underpass of Central
This woman’s playing a beautiful version of Willie O Winsbury
I split my take with her – she gets ten in the machine heads
I go and grab coffee and wonder where I’ll sleep tonight
Me, my dobro and a bag of clothes
with Wilhelm’s I Ching sittin’ on top

Synchronicity in slow 6/8

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Sittin’ out in my yard
Watchin’ the old man on the stoop across the way.
Dark grey clouds whippin’ low.
Listenin’ to that black dog
Howlin’ his blues away
I take great pains not to notice
The icy breath across the nape of my neck

Old crow swoops in
And steals the cheese
From my cheese on rye
Gives me the evil eye
As I break into Crow Jane
On the National Steel
The old man starts cackling
And the the crow grabs the bread
And takes to the sky
And I take pains not to notice
The icy breath across the nape of my neck

Lately down from Norfolk or somewhere,
Sways through the weeds,
Smiles and says
“When the omens abound love
It may not be time to resist
it may be time
To simply leave”

Considering her sage advice
I pick up the guitar
Tips my hat to the man
Whistle up the dog
Take Sheila by the hand
And walk away.


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Cho Lon

some kind of truth is out there
many half-truths to sift through

by quiet water
crimson neon in the mist
“Eat at Joe’s”

green, yellow, red night passes
and now morning chai beckons

young Ma brings me fish and lime
hot feast to see in the day

down and out, Cho Lon
hepo rolls, persistent clap
book a ticket home

shadow-box with alley cats
staccato dance out of time



dedicated to my mates that went…

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Chicory and DDT


I spent yesterday wanting to write a poem
Instigated by some of the many
Things I’ve watched you throw away.

I found my chicory coffee
At the back of the cupboard
But it tasted of bugs
It raised thoughts of you
Hating the daylight
Disgusted with yourself
Scuttling in the dark
Caught on the epee’s brittle point
Her fatally accurate wit
Her temper a blunt force assault.

Natalia – raging happily as is her wont
Screaming about the pictures of your mammaries
You gave away, so recently
To a “nice boy from Bristol”
Who carried a 7 inch flick
With a badly rusted blade

You, finally escaping capture
Split the scene
Sitting on some dirty local bus
Heading out of the shallow bright city
To be found in the desert later
Miraculously brought back from your little death
As ever, ignoring your individuality
Dismissing me, and yourself
From the deep beige blandness
You have decided to make your wallow

I check my watch and climb the stairs
Irrelevant thoughts like ghosts
Drift behind me in the heat
Prolonged inaction putting the lie
To my central detached stance
And I watch you wander in
And strike the bell
For the Priest in the mountains
Saying mass and baptising monstrosities

Don’t you think you could
at least try
to give the appearance of caring?


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Rainy night, Munich
Your face, lit by lightning
Overhead, thunder

“Things will get better”. you say
Me laughing, “How could they not?”

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Cheap Red


cheap red and baby
talking our way through the night
politics, perversion
and all accounts “paid in full”
her smoky laugh at dawn


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“Nil desperandum carburundum illegitami”


Jealous right from the start
The smooth soft segue
as eloquent sexuality
is overtaken by
Sensuous insensibility
The screamed, dazed accusations
And the unrestrained implications
Of your ecstatic irrationality
Has me walking out the door –
And leaves you
With another empty frame
For your trophy-room floor

In the street,
Off of a long haul ocean vessel
Conducting port operations,
Cantankerous foreign sailors
Navigate the foreboding metropolitan centre.
One lies drunk on the sidewalk.
A fuming salvage yard dog,
Barely restrained, slavers
At the prey just beyond its chains,
Lying like a wide-girthed child’s plaything
In this nonsensical city
Moving to the aggravated machine beat
Of “All you can eat”

A little later
Sitting in the corner
Of my favourite diner
Down on Smith street
Ham and eggs – tabasco –
Weak white coffee
I pick up a mind numbing magazine insert
Spinning up its “enthralling food reviews”
The joke is marinated shanks
And that cynical table is set
With an indiscriminate centrepiece
Of the writer’s haughty reality

I find myself gazing across
at the horrendous mountain range
Concrete and steel,
And in the irascible corporate headquarters,
The adversarial empty mind
Spaces of the “free market”
The frantic trading of cards by good salary men
goes on – as they go about their business
Pursuing an irrational ideology
With their dissatisfied undulating insanity
Doing nothing to upset the frivolous apple cart
Or lift the confusing, abusing drain covers
Of this astonishing theory gone mad
And in a moment of contemplative idiocy
At his overworn desk, in his underworn life
John Q counts every dollar in his billfold
Every cent in his purse
And unrealised dreams don’t matter
To our John Q
Who, by an ostentatious coincidence
Had that very morning
Been laughing at the leveraged wit
Of a journalistic twit
In my favourite diner on Smith

Underhanding a ball back to some kid
Dodging school and playing with his mates
In a quiet piece of urban greenery
Cirrus angel’s wings giving the lie
To John Q
And his “bigger piece of the pie”.

Incredulous in the city
I think back to the old man
Hung himself in the barn
When the drought bit deep
His indomitable spirit ground down
The intangible rewards no longer enough
Numb and impoverished when the sawmill closed
And the plausibility of life behind a plow
Faded as the trucks came
And subdivided four hundred acres
half a mile away
Forever obscuring his view
Of the eastern skyline
And rising stars

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No Doubt


The night reeks –

It speaks to me in an undertone of spilled gasolene
And all the bitter inadequacy
Of burnt rubber on tarmac
Over-perfumed teens
Not so subtle subtext
Stale sweat and sex

Brawl happy adolescents strutting –
Sad dull peacocks preening
Come out to watch
The street illegals drag
Maybe catch a couple of bareknuckle rounds

But out behind the House of Stoush
The night is still.

“No bout?”

“I doubt it!”

And the bepurpled goth androgyne
Drifts down to Lincoln Gardens
For its monthly dose of
Blood and adrenaline

I laugh
And think to myself
“This cat needs a serious sense of hip replacement”


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Once more drop into that sweet submission
A quiet sip of heartbeak and regret
Bruises, deeper than flesh
Love, that’s harder than bone

Suffering the brutal adoration
Of the bar room saints
With their abstract logic
And their Heineken miscellany
Of slights to be avenged

And the strippers from hell
Dancing inside their tiny cubes
Wrapped around razor edged poles
Knowing that the taste of vinyl IS
The taste of love

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Thematic conundrums
bite like bad lemonade
The eerie scent
of Formaldehyde.

goes about his
quiet, exotic business
like a man possessed
of a secret
sinister purpose
that will brook no scrutiny
beyond the most mundane

The Big Weird
collapses like a house of cards.
As the bedrock shakes
and the lies
that have constructed worlds
are exposed
like raw nerves,
red and aching.
Worlds collapse.

Pop coca-colonialism
at its most vicious
and insidious
– Discuss.


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