I remember when my favourite
photo of myself was of me in
the dark wearing
an alligator mask.

It had nothing
to do with anyone
but the dog that lived in my heart.

He doesn’t have a name,
I haven’t named him yet and
he doesn’t have a name.

He loved it when I wore that
mask and I loved to wear it
just for him, to hide
my shame in plain sight.

Out of the dark into
the plenty I will bear
no cross nor settle no
score nor pay no rent
to you.


‘Untitled’, Bhupen Khakhar, c. 1973


I’ve a hard time casting
a shadow,
the rays don’t recognize my form.

There’s a fever in
my insides,
woolly and overgrown.

There’s no one on this
dull cove,
a bleak palette for a dream.

You’re meandering like
cold water,
can’t stay afloat in your streams.

I’ll plant a tree if you
nurture it,
though your branches are pruned.

There’s no dry-run for
this scene,
I’m unrehearsed for you.

We’ll build a room for
our haunts,
I won’t open the door.

We’ll paint over old
silver linings,
to abide once more.

The rays will recognise
these forms,
fused clay of the earth.


Hidden Gully‘, Richard Claremont 2016, oil on canvas


This poem is about a Lovecraftian figure that has been recurring for years in only the worst of my nightmares. It is Lovecraftian in the sense that the adversary is singular in its malevolance, immutable and incomprehensibly superior to the human.  This thing is evil in excess, powerful beyond belief and a virtuoso of cruelty and mindgaming through disguising itself as household items, inanimate objects, negative spaces, loved ones, movement or even as atmosphere. It is the consummate non- and anti-human, the stalking torture, a delayed execution. 


Formless haunt
abstracted cruelty
Capgras’ djinn,
cystalline mazes
physical paradoxes become
shrines to emesis.

A rabisu to my name
the playful insouciant evil
sentient cancer
the inverted cosmic black
foul electric.

Hijacked dream
astral hex
lurking dark traveller
seance prose
host charmer.


‘Miss Muriel Belcher’, Francis Bacon 1959


There were whirring nerves
when they heard
about the living ghost.

He brought a bouquet
and a grey stone flail
to the people’s court.

Wilted blooms with no thorns, 
a daisy chain and a hilt
of bone – a serotonin rort.

Will he kill us,
do we invite him?
What do we offer,
will we like it?

They shook the human hand
fleshy and bland
of the holy corpse

Their minds went inert,
when they had learned
that they had killed him years before


‘Two Figures’, Keith Vaughan 1966


There was a line you drew
and it felt like questioning
It probably had something
to do with destiny

I just thought I’d mention it

The paint is flaking off these walls
and I’d patch them but
it’s hard to move when there’s
mildew in these sinews

A blank cheque and rosy rhetoric

I can take a hit when it’s
punching and gouges
And good men don’t weep when
they get hung out to dry

These chambers are derelict

But I’ll evict you tomorrow
just like I said yesterday
I’ll evict you when I’ve found
a better place to stay


‘Excursions into philosophy’, Edward Hopper 1959


To me, the coupling of fabrics and textiles with people is such a rich and evocative pairing. It’s not just limited to items of clothing either, although they are such a large part of why I find it captivating. I’d like to write more about this subject or material and use it as a springboard. Here is a start. 


You wore white gauze
and dressed like the breeze
It blanketed your hills
and they glowed underneath

Come closer with
your cuffs encircling your
wrists of patchouli your
collar of violet and amber

You never took the time
to iron out the creases
so I used my hands to sweep them
off your tired shoulders

But it curled in a pile
on your bedroom floor
You just couldn’t bear to wear
this one anymore


Hanging undershirt’, Avigdor Arikha 1977


I’ll be careful when
I touch what is fragile.
Follow your hair and trace
our fingers to the middle
Where your ravine of soft beige
hides where your heart stays.

I think I’ll hide here and
soothe with the tide of your breath
until you find me
and let me go.


Section of ‘Pregnant Girl’, Lucian Freud 1961