Gothic cacophony
the vying spires of Ghent
mottled black and grey
gnarled and spiked as lizards tails
weave the woolly cumulus
of Delft-blue skies brushed
by Vermeer and Van Eyck
like a cooling breeze from historyGhent-3
a single crow caws across
the red clay rooftops
the golden ships on every dome
this old town once lord over Europe
the bells ring boom and bust
send not for whom
it falleth as the gentle rain
the enduring memory
of white doves and geese
in the market cages flapping
against the steely good manners
of Belgians. A truck full of
dead immigrants spills
across the newspapers
like black coffee the morning after
so much meat to be had
in this town but not
a drop of milk.


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Amsterdam by Rona Macdonald
In Amsterdam the endless backdrop
of passing cyclists silhouetted like
old cine film click-clack of sprockets
pulled through by the antique light
of frosted glass lamps thermal diode
valves bypassed avenues of history
dammed open rediscovered technological
backtrack hidden shortcut alleyway
In the American Hotel the staff
and the décor remain mysteriously
unchanged since 1940. You like this?
–The solicitous waiter whispers in my ear
appearing unexpectedly at my shoulder
with the imperious poise of a high-class dentist
Yes, Ja, dank u, let me see the dessert menu
while you remove my upper left molar
tilt my chair back to gaze upon
Amsterdam-2 by Rona Macdonaldyour beautiful Dutch future. How I ache
with the weariness of a tattered British
passport token of disputed nationhood
Go on drug me, pull it like a sore tooth
and when I wake present me
with a battered old black bicycle
so that I might take my place among
the pretty blonde girls on Leidseplein
for which I believe I should also require
a cloth flat cap, a denim waistcoat
and a cigar.

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The Sleep Corporation

Sleep Corporation-160815

Well, here is the cover for my next book, out soon. Published by the wonderful Terry Grimwood’s wonderful The Exaggerated Press. 31 short stories, dating from as far back as 1991…. nearly a quarter century. One man’s life, for what it’s worth. The first story is about me and a 37-year old grandmother I went out with when I was in my twenties (bless you, Lizzy, are you out there somewhere?), and the last one is about the lonely suicide of Alan Turing. With a whole lot of much weirder and wilder stuff in between, such as supermarkets bigger than cities and haunted bicycles. Copies will be on sale soon and you can get one off me in person at this upcoming gig on 27th October. I seem to be increasingly doing my own book covers these days, which is nice. This image began life with a poem on the blog a couple of months back.

I’ll be talking about a few of my books then, including The Brahan Seer, and The Rhymer, the latter of which has been reviewed again recently at The British Fantasy Society and Future Fire.

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The Carpenter’s Labyrinth

The Carpenter's Labyrinth


Musical language of wood:
plane and saw and feather
router chamfer sand dovetail
mortice tenon mitre
battens joists branders
dooblins hangers midrails
transomes astragals scrolls
stringers winders scribe
splice bullnose apron plate
at night the joiner sleeps and slips
into a maze of turns and braces
triple cripple studs glued and screwed
as pit props under sleep he scurries
beneath the varnished world
a mere mouse in the house of riches
his signature perhaps a spot of blood
or scribbled sketch or jotted sum
where no light shines beneath
a wainscot, skirting, architrave, while
no proud aristocrat spies it now
yet it shall make some future apprentice
wonder, pause and smile.

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Loch Ryan

Loch Ryan by RM-030715As the long waves roar
caress the endless strand
turn over shingle
sifted fine as sand
the age-old thoughts
now pace the boundary
that narrows out
where land and sea merge
in milky watercolour
for the first time finding
sized to fill my fist
an undamaged oyster shell
each to its aeon between tides
one life in the balance
empty, open, all pearls gone
silk mouth spilling only dust
a perfectly phrased question
to close the heart around.

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Corsewall Woods


Summer morning remembering
scintillation of boyhood holidays
the light of dawn fresh
and rich as local milk
glimpsed through fronds
of old tall trees, cool
from the whispering leaf shade
into unreachable brightness
across ripening fields
a white house distant
whose green hill conceals
the sea beyond, imagined

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Nocturnal Empire

Nocturnal Empire by Douglas Thompson-250615


Merchant City Friday night
urban rhythms as trafficlight
gridiron criss-cross zigzag
bass beat jazz blues
intersect stop start
rumble of passing cars
on cobbles, tarmacadam
red light, green, amber
ambiguity, uncertainty
tartan weave fabric pattern
waiters and waitresses
wending their way
bee-like between flowers
tables slowly blossoming
with people with adornment
of conversation that paints
the air in muted colours
dissonance twelve-tone
slow twilight and light rain
piano and trumpet
flirt, seduce each other
test talk circumnavigate
then come together
jarringly, melodically
gulls step the crow-stepped gables
inverted sky glimpse puddles
as time lurches slowly on
like a passing beggar the sigh
of dissipating traffic jams
remember to forget the time
and other debts gone bad
beneath the moonglow dial
clock face poker face steaming
the walking dead stalked still
by the reptilian tollbooth spire
black and bristling spines
of ledgers where our lives are writ
drink up the cost of love turned sour
and spit.

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