13 Ways of Looking at Beetles


Beetles know that a huge percentage of erections aren’t caused by desire,
so that standing on top of a skyscraper is to be astride a city built from fear.

6 beetles watching 2 women fight are reluctant to pull them apart,
beause this is what the movies tell them they’ve been waiting for all their lives.

A beetle realises the danger of releasing himself onto an abject world
where people tightly cork their pleasures in bottles in case they ever need to get them off the shelf.

A beetle likes the cold and empty solitude of vodka.The woman prefers the warmth of frothy beer.His afternoon face is scratching her, his tongue, all muscle, is a dead weight. A lump of meat that he moves slowly.

A beetle measures time seeing soap shrink in the dish,and already wants to dress her in yum-yum yellow, before lowering her into shark-infested waters.

In Italy, a beetle shoots at a woman for taking a bunch of grapes from his vineyard, then, laughing, opens his truck door to her and drives all night to Poggi Bonsi, where beetles follow her in packs when she ventures out alone.

A beetle realises he is growing old when, amongst the collection of guns and knives stored under his sofa,he finds one he used to use  to cut the telephone cords in women’s flats.

A beetle gets a pram for his 21st birthday and does 2 clumsy things for his son: knits a cardigan with two, too long sleeves, and carves a wooden horse.

A beetle stands in his Formica kitchen, the pinnacle of his achievement, plastic wood pushed into all the scars and scuffs of his embedded temper.

A beetle leaves a woman instructions for her working day: Dear Slave, spoke-shave the wagon wheel,strip the chairs,stain the grain on John Cleese’s table,Love Master.

A beetle’s neckerchief gets caught in the belt-sander,and he escapes strangling only because it’s made of silk.

Without balls, the beetle wears the tightest briefs,though he still jiggles the change in his jeans pocket as a substitute. He is not sorry to lose that cock which can no longer smirk at him.

A beetle is unsure of how to deal with her “fuck me” heels.He fantasises her marching among an army of  long, slender legs, some of them grazed from kneeling down in front of him.
But he doesn’t know if he wants her to press the heel into his chest, or fall over herself getting away from him.

First published in Lockjaw Magazine. http://www.lockjawmagazine.com/vol1/13





Ghosts Treading Water

book, Spain

On 27th October the third novella in my Spanish Spectres series is released. Ghosts Treading Water completes the story that started with Filled with Ghosts, shortlisted for the novella Saboteur Award in 2016.

I remember one good party at the farmhouse. Dad made benches and tables, painted them green. I found twin, gold slow-worms under a stone, and in the early hours a badger loped up the path, bigger, more bear-like than I’d imagined them.

The stream at the end of the garden turns into a river, which eventually becomes the sea. There’s a jetty with some planks missing, and you can sit on the remainders, slippery with moss, dangling your feet and viewing the mud below. During fake tides, the brown water rushes over gulls’ footprints and obliterates them. Stiff legged gulls, their footprints spiky like snowflakes.

Leading towards the mud is a grassy embankment carved into by exceptional high tides; the soft earth is washed over and under, the water secretly burrowing, so deep chasms appear. Shallow depressions in the bank fill with water that freezes in winter; stamping on them, cracking the ice, makes a snapping that leaves a satisfying echo in your bones.

Swimming in the river feels incredible; it’s broad and fast-flowing, with no bridges spanning it. Barges crammed with refuse and leisure-boats compete for space in the deepest part, the middle stretch. Hundreds of gulls follow the barges as they push the oily water ahead. Towards the edges, water barely covers the mud banks and the narrow, pebble shore is dry except at high tide. Wharf mud is grey, and objects solidified by it look fossilised, ropes still wait stiffly, though the boats they once restrained are long gone, either sunk, rotted, or taken away. I recall Mum’s favourite expression, “I’m at the end of my tether.”