September – Robert Francis



At the burial

The men, groaning
at the fly blown flesh,
cluster in their deed
at the burial.
It is their charge to carry
this beaten meat
between soldiers and Caesars,
down aisles to the pyre
where maggots
shroud myiasis
and the pack sit in prayer –
‘Carry on, carrion’, they tick
as the inside exposes
their outsideness.






Tu Er Shen

A peeping pupil
inspects the immersions
of an officers mass
as he bathes –
a queer eye engrossed
behind a nook
echoes every cringe
I endured, hushed
Like Hu Tianbao.

by his subject’s
orders. Overcome
at the hands of he
who became Hermes,
for a moment,
to his Krokus,
but ended
as conductor
of thrashings –
a reverb hiss
of each fist
I solicit, hushed
Like Hu Tianbao.

Rectified –
the Styx spits
us out, but not before
a Hermes touch
tricks the skirts
and its monitors.
Despite all seasons
desperate to drill
divides in divides,
to file and fix –
it is this defiling
that designs
Tu Er Shen.






Struck Dead – Hushed up

I’ve perfected being hushed.
I tap my brow, grimace, exhale
every time I hear the Putsch-call:
Each to their own, as long as they …

…………..The pink triangle waited decades
…………..for its apology. I fear to ask for mine,
………… the whiplash fear of changing rooms
…………..where eyes face the locker door,
……………resisting every urge to turn
……………as the cubicle latch clicks – there’s nothing behind there.

Struck dead- Hushed up,
we’re drilled to be hushed
regardless of more and more
nights of long knives.
I still sit silently
sucking my teeth.






S/He is her(e)

Crowds of eyes abjectly spy
s/he is her(e) – passing by.

Splitting the act
in lithe limb struts,
in size nine stilettoes.

…………Mummy, look at that …
…………….‘Ello, darlin’

Like broken yokes,
reflecting old customs,
refracting the recall of our rise,
we hanker and repel.

………….Eh, look at the state …
xxxxxx… great legs mind.

Crowds of eyes abjectly spy:
Snipers slipping
in and out of focus –
s/he is her(e) – passing by.






In the beginning
We’re born naked and the rest is drag
Ru Paul

Foundation set and contoured,
s/he kissed the mirror
before hitting the stage.

I lean, waiting
for post-show
mop down, staring
at years of delicate
lipstick stains stuck
before my reflection …

In the beginning – flux.
Beings within beings,
never settled, never whole,
never sated behind walls.
Beings, cut up and re-membered
like tongue-tied kisses
where you forget the mark
between me object and me subject,
between the rims of lips that skulk on edges,
between gifts and grabbing.
We end kissing ourselves again, don’t we?

But the beginning – unrest.
Mutable collapsing of self on self
like frogspawn teeming with almost-limbs,
teetering in almost-sets to pierce their silica soils
and let in the floods.

In the quiet
when queens and queers
slip into something more comfortable
and drift home –
I still sense the tissues peeling.




Ya Ain Ya Lail

In the hide
a one handed thief
fingers the warp end.

Weaves lead our eyes
to gaps in the gelim.
An older man stood
in the crowd around
this shroud, his head bowed –
cannot recall the words
of his prayer.

An absent
stitch curtails looking back.
This is the lack –trailing us
over twisted stems and arabesques,

obscuring the vegetal –
held with the thief
in the hide.







It begins with
muted palms patting
couples down the aisle. Choking
back venom sneers, counting
out new market
cache and currency
as the bridegroom checks his pulse
and continues to pace with
a grin – a slick fish hook grin,
they let us in,
and the clean-up begins

at the wedding breakfast,
dew drenched in the cold slate
of springtime fog, surrounding
the city, the stocks and prayer,
where freshly blind lead freshly blind
through streets built on flesh
exchange, where caged canaries call
from the pits, and arm in arm
they follow the chorus down
through the coal stained dim.
The clean-up begins

through generations of
reconfirmed wolves tending
sheep on brown belt
enterprise zones
ploughed back for pastures
of paper flowers.
More muted palms
clap around
the first born’s font –
shepherding cools their sin
as the clean-up begins

to grow with its flock, deciding
too to join the queue
of muted palms and fish hook grins.





Pass over

Occasional clink-squalls of metal on metal, the tram whispers
over bogs of lichens and mosses where ruins of factory tracks
sit between chewed up cars, withered rusts of dying foxgloves,
terraces and red brick mills. Now Garden City Hotspots where artisans
turned toil to song – home to meets where eager eyes were braced
for its own sake.

Now, my marketing company work from a barn, new media bred
from nouveaux riche neighbourhoods, riddled with stainless steel
and glass, faux plants and tokens of trade, my bluechipped barn
farms consultants for consultants and cuntsaltonts and …

In the distance the unseen lungs of the basin bubble in the matchstick
models of crisscross waterways. Where Chance Glassworks followed
the ebb and flow, where grit from four corners passed Galton Bridge,
where rumbles clap an undercurrent, where a “proper pub” serves
its scotch eggs with balsamic dressing to twenty-four hour lawyers.