tiger stripes


            4 carrol clarkson/simphiwe sesanti


because these were not my compatriots

though they looked like me & spoke my language

because my time was not my own but sold

in gated compounds, air-conditioned rooms

no ancestor spoke to me through my dreams

though I have braided my hair into corn-rows

no ancestor waited for me in the dark

now the line tentatively advances

& these braided lives have been transformed

as the first scratch in the earth writes the plot

against gas & batons & rubber bullets

my time was not my own but given

& these are now my companions

As if they looked like me & spoke my tongue



love’s damage


            4 sophie robinson


stutters ratio of white

violence through rigid trauma

murder of market abstraction

hypergraphic pressure & mark

broken letter resolution image

streaking low-end longing

falls into serotonin trance

disused words blank unknowing

chokes lyric razorblade blush

bled into bodily refusal

bypasses flush-left margins

shrugs off scattered fragments

intimate erasures & blackout



the third cowboy


4 frank olsen milne


cycles solo round the streets of cambridge

360 degree morning observation

a gaseous planet moving faster

at the equator than the poles

traces a yellow spectral signature

through parkers pieces & along the backs

charges flares & geomagnetic storms

disrupts the grids & sets the world on fire

radiant rider from daybreak to dust

when the stars sink into the western ocean

Thrinacian herds of red cattle

driven over the Amarillo gas-fields

arc-welding airships & MRI scans

cowboys? I guess you could call us that.




dead return


                                                                    4 jinny


interrogating eyes

from an unreachable past

dispossessed, at the mercy

a face that disturbs us

with the pathos of lost futurity

immobilised by the lens

to become a thing

blanched & water-marked

degraded by the decay

to which it too is subject

neither breathing nor moving

the marker of presence & absence

& between the two

the sign of our own future death


(with thanks to roland barthes)