Shifting Sands

Tears had formed, and as he closed his eyes tight, the pool burst free and ran down his cheeks like a tram track. The newspaper lay folded upon his lap. On its front page an image of a candy-striped deckchair was prominent, and italicised text accompanied:

“It is time we eliminated the reminder of our cloth-cap heritage. Move forward with the times, eliminate our industrial past. We have a master plan for the rejuvenation of the town. We began two months ago with the dilapidated seafront.”

But this is my home, he thought, this town has been my life.

On the number twelve bus, Bill watched his neighbourhood pass through the window. His head was pressed against the glass like a small child. He absorbed the impact of each rise and fall of the suburbs. What he saw was different from when he was young, when both he and the town were in their heyday. In truth, Bill’s neighbourhood had died many years previous; this was now just the place he lived.

The seafront was quiet in comparison to when he last visited. He approached the stretch of beach, next to the team staton, where the deck chairs were hired out. He paid his money then lowered himself into the candy-striped deck chair. He reached into his pocket to withdraw the small scrap of this morning’s headline.  Looking down he re-read the article and again a tear formed in his eye. Taking a pristine white handkerchief from his hip pocket, he slipped it beneath his glasses lens and vigorously rubbed the socket of his right eye until it turned red.

In 1950 he was handsome and suave.  He had worked most of the bars, clubs and cabaret establishments along the front; it was his life, his income and was how he met his wife. A host with a handful of one-liners, he supplemented his income calling bingo for the septuagenarians in the Conservative Club hall.  Ethel, in contrast, was a class act. She was beautiful; she glowed. He would stand in front of audiences at “The Pear Club”, and with microphone in hand he would announce her onto the stage. She’d twirl to the centre of stage in her golden ball gown with incredible grace; transfixed, he would watch as she spun her honeyed web around him.

This is our home, he’d think, this is our life.

In 2015 they had been sat on the seafront, a candy-striped deck chair each, both looking every wrinkle their age. It was one of the hottest days of the year, and the beach teemed with chalky sun worshippers. Ethel wanted ice cream, so he joined a long line of pasty tourists for what felt like a lifetime. When he returned with the treat she was gone.  He took a lick of his ice cream, but it tasted bitter, so he became angry he’d spent the final minutes of her life, queuing for this.

Now it was twelve months later. To his right, a shop front was being ripped apart and refitted, just as the store next door was being boarded up and estate agent signs placed on the façade. Directly in front of him was an old run-down building.  Rusted scaffolding had been erected to preserve the remainder of the building. Above the door was a faded sign, it’s lettering faint and indistinct to all but Bill: “The Pear Club”.

He began crying and the tears blurred his vision; the scaffolding melted away and the club was once again pristine and gleaming. Posters proclaimed acts of vibrant music and enchanting dance, of unique cabaret and a thousand one-liners.  There was a buzz about the venue and the sound of laughter and applause echoed from within.  Then, a figure appeared at the doorway in a golden ball gown. She lifted her hand and in a wave, cast her web, beckoning him towards her.

This was my home, he thought, this was my life.



Her & you & me

What turned the girl from writing ‘cancer do not smoke’ on packets

of fags and spitting up the bitterness of a glass of wine, i’d rather have elderflower or something less tart

to a girl who in the dark

consumes all substances and volatiles capable of altering


searching without noise for the one pill, fix, swig to

obliterate thinking


What turned her attention from the blackboard of learning and books cradled with knowledge, discussions on lawns, when summer time yawns hardest and dries

the land yellow

in search instead of darkness, absorbing and contrite not at all with mating call for those who do not fit and wish to slip, hook, line and sinker, down the rabbit warren


this was her hollow, without demand it sprung up a flower of despair, take a petal, eat a stem, share your woe

nobody else could understand what happened from one moment to next, when she exited her life and began to inhale deeply, the mysteries of earth

sucking close to lips every way she could, a hope to find within the harmony of the provoke an easement of kinds

What began the addiction to, getting smashed, blitzed, off her tits, really wrecked, until tables unturned and she grew wings and


to where nobody knew her, she could begin her love affair anew, take this drug, that drug, so many choices, who knew?

What did it matter if this life would last

just once more

she needed to feel only one way

and that was found in

the arms of heroin

and other substances

careful in their caress

to ausage their addicts unrest

What turned her from her former self, what moment, what imbalance, in head or heart? caused an irrevocable depart from all she was, and now, thin and wane, she no longer understands, that once, she did not need, all this to live, to subsist, to feed

she was able to tolerate the world of men

better then before perhaps

a sadness crushed that little part

of hope she had

for now in bliss she is closer than ever

to giving up and letting the intoxicate take her

as far away as she always wanted to be

from those who hurt

and judge

and make bleed

children of time

who grow into

her and you, and me



elastic phantasm


collage by Deger Bakir

Kate and I were the only ones on the beach. The rains were over but the sky was still gray and people were afraid to come out. Even the seagulls stayed high and landed in the beach grass out of sight.

I asked Kate to take off her shawl and she walked with it trailing behind her in the wind.

We had walked for over a mile when we came upon what looked like writing in the sand. The letters were too long to read and I tried to pull Kate along as if I hadn’t noticed them. Kate stopped and clapped her hands together. I kept walking but she pulled on my arm.

I was back in a dream I had the night before: I was on a beach, the sand was silver and the waves that crashed on the shore were a grown man’s height. I was staring at a jellyfish that had been dumped on the sand beside me. I had the urge to stomp on it, the way we tortured beached stingrays, fish, and sea urchins when I was a kid. But the jellyfish grew luminous at its core and a kaleidoscope of colors burst like fireworks trapped in a glass jar. This was the jellyfish’s brain, and these creatures were smarter than I was. Smarter than Kate and everyone else. The jellyfish shivered like it was cold and I could swear that it inched closer. I was afraid of what it might take from me.

I thought the dream was over, but now Kate was there, too, and it was real and there would be no waking up safe and sweating and snuggling against Kate.

I heard Kate reading aloud the words dug into the sand: “It’s happening.”

Kate looked at me and laughed. She was never afraid of anything and I knew it would be bad for her in the end. I had to protect her from my dream, from the jellyfish and everything else. I thought I might be able to carry on as if the dream wasn’t absorbing us. Then Kate said, “What’s happening, do you think?”

“What?” I asked.

She pointed to the letters. I forgot myself and looked where she pointed and read the jagged message. “Ah. Fuck,” I said. I felt the sand sinking down around us. I was there beside her. I was somewhere else. The sky was black and the clouds were gone and I dragged a stick along the sand. I was cold and I was sweating. I wrote. I was lost at sea.

Then I felt Kate’s flesh on my flesh. We were moving. She had hooked her arm around me and she was talking again. It was a gray day at the beach. We didn’t walk but we took steps and after a while we left the prophecy behind us. The seagulls flew a little lower and I felt comforted in spite of myself.

I continued to scheme in my mind. In a war like this the only thing we had was subterfuge and surprise.

A collaboration between Gordon Flanders and myself.



You’re too comfortable
in silence.

You live in a society
in which
ask their mothers
for abortions
instead of ponies
and boys are taught
by their
the best ways to
a woman.

Give me something
“Domestic problems
are found all over.”

You’re alive in an era
where starvation
is an issue
that we’ve just
been bothered
to solve
and children,
younger than your firstborn,
are passing bullets
instead of notes.

Tell me now
how you’ve “liked”
that relief fund
you saw on Facebook
the other day.

You go through every moment,
an over-oiled cog
in the machine.

You’re living.
You’re alive.


Tell me that you are
and I’ll show you
the dead that still bellow.




The alienation within you is not alien at all, it’s the most human reaction to coping with your emotional needs… in a roundabout fashion.

~vintage and modern magazines, card paper, handcut



File 24-05-2016, 12 52 18


You can hardly contain a smile when he announces he will be working away for the next two nights. Sorry baby, he coos. A mental sweep of the upcoming family calendar reveals the kids are on a sleepover tonight. The smile becomes a Cheshire grin. This nugget of information is dropped, casual, into a text  to “D”. The phone becomes something of fixation for you, waiting for him to reply. Later, you stomp around the house shouting at the kids, furious at the cunt for not leaping at this golden opportunity. Fuck him; no longer “D”, he is now know as “X”. Still livid, you cold-kiss your husband as he leaves for the airport that evening.


You have been buzzing all morning, gliding across the kitchen as you prepare breakfast. “D” has booked a room in the Plaza Hotel for tonight. You were never in any doubt he would come good. You drop off the kids at their friends house and “The Bitch” greets you at the door. She of perfect postcard house, and perfect striped lawn, and perfect doting husband, and perfect gleaming teeth; the kind you’d love to punch down her perfect fucking throat. Today, you have one over on her, hoping beyond hope that she can see in your burning eyes that you are going to get fucked-stupid tonight. You drive home, squirming in your seat, the heat between your legs building as your thoughts drift to a near future.


You think about how desired you feel when “D” speaks, when he talks about how much he wants you. This is different from your husband, with his snatches of mumbled grunts as he leaves for work. You think about how you shiver as “D” wet-kisses his way down your spine, fingertips grazing over your arching ribs. This is different from your husband, with his rolling over after he has come in your mouth, too tired to go down on you after his busy day at work. You think about the way “D” listens and reacts to your body, to your gutteral sounds, contorting and entwining you into ever more pleasurable positions. This is different from your husband, where he heaves away on top, or behind, or under; the uniform thrusting of his member, pushing forward yet becoming more distant with each stroke.


You recall it wasn’t always like that. The wedding was the most memorable day of your short life, surpassed by birthing of your girls. You both got lost somewhere along the path, took different directions at some unseen junction. A relationship grown apart like many a clichéd twentieth century breakdown. You think about your family, and how you are tethered by the expectation of social conformity. The expectation of purity and perfection, the facade of mother and wife on your outer defensive carapace, rampant desire burning and curtailed within. One night is not worth losing all that, is it? Conflicted, you reach for your phone and tap out a text, cancelling tonight’s irresponsible tryst



You are home, luxuriating in the morning afterglow. Your left hand caresses your breast, pulling at an already erect nipple. With your right hand you run a fingertip tip across your slick slit, mimicking his tongue from hours earlier. Your clit is engorged, eliciting a murmur from your lips as you discover its sensitivity. Your hand becomes a blur as you finger-fuck your pussy, hard, imagining his powerful, thick cock filling you. Breathless, you collapse back full of memories and hopes of the future, and sleep.


You awake to the trill of the door bell. You smile at “Bitch Face” and hope she cannot see in your eyes the embers of the fiery whore you became. She of perfect house, and perfect lawn, and perfect doting husband, and perfect teeth; you would swap places in a heartbeat. Snapped back to reality, you ruffle the kids hair as they sprint past you to the kitchen. You metamorphose into Mother, no longer the voracious lover. You feel the guilt grow through the day, scouring clean the memories of your dirty passion.


Husband arrives home with his briefcase. He ruffles the kids hair and laughs with them. He kisses you on the cheek with lips of ice. Tonight we should fuck, he suggests with the sensuality of a brick. He leaves to shower away his own lovers scent. You and he were happy once, maybe it could be so again. Wipe away the tears from the cheeks he often bruises. You owe it to your children to put aside thoughts of your own happiness. Give in to your place in the world, content yourself in trying to make acceptable this life you have created for yourself.


Why dream?


Repeat, ad infinitum.