(forthcoming Five Seasons Press, 2016)


Hariot Double probes the life and work of Thomas Hariot, mathematician and astronomer, and that of Joe Harriott, Jamaican saxophonist, with focus on the New World and London. Hariot’s scientific expertise led him to explore and describe Virginia (now North Carolina). Harriott travelled in the opposite direction to immerse himself in the London jazz scene. Both were pioneers of their respective crafts, involving cross-cultural shifts. These narratives are paired via a central section which deals with the contemporary world. The poems included here are from that part, "Intermean." Alan Halsey’s illustration is one of 58 graphics executed for the book.



rsz hariot double

© Alan Halsey, 2016.







Bank on Bones


Marks of promise laid across

spectral vaults. To grow

a counting house must feed

on absent life: one half or more of We

means They.


The layout says it, a bed of bodies gobbled

behind limestone and marble—

quiet operation, busy traffic muffled.


Threadneedle: a retort difficult to pass

without a secret formula.

All turns to prop what’s fixed,

flow and stock.


Over the water, a message buzzes:

get each Doe (John or Jane) hooked on a loan

and parcel the risk, longtail

so it isn’t seen.


A nice little BISTRO

(Broad Index Secured Trust Offering)

and the yield goes on forever.


Swaps on swaps on swaps, hard not to join in

though the value comes from something else



Muck to gold, the old dream is a bubble.


What moves outside the bell curve?

Who steps in to help the mug?


Somebody wins.







 I sang it once before:

a fit of quick design and years waiting

in remote space.


Just another brief—scrape the pox

from a tent or cave. Brass call

to sort any trouble for good.


Ask Alexander. Gleam of a sword, barrel

on a crown of rock. Smirks

at turbo-armour, zubberdusty.


They kuttle hurra

like bees to a tamarisk.


Will anyone force the pass? clamber

in snow, strip meat

from a frozen sheep, dash in a tunnel

through scrub and boulders.


Stall/go. Thought bubbles.


Out of place

you could tread on a pressure plate,

get a dose of confetti.


Tab-turn, flash. Our daily chant

speaks tribes not a country.

Must be spited for yesterday’s broil.


Coins from a grain-bag

spill, three handfuls. As smart

a devil as what we slip

by night.


Swillswitch, a great game

and who’s the cleverest?


Alone, some hood by a checkpoint,

EDU—CATION, serves a reply

to buttons and facings.


Must be the worst. Behind

there’s bitter almond, wild rose, a rivulet

then sand cloud.


Goozur-like we guard a thing not ours.


Boneland with poppies

to spike yumanity.


If all were settled, jung-i-kalūs,

we’d feel this sun a bull’s eye grape.


Patience to make the thing worthwhile,

an empty prayer,

flag at a turret-post.


Dreams are the soul in flight.

A surge-rider won’t take anything back.






Ruinad: certain phrases are taken from the vocabulary of Persian, Hindostani and Other Oriental Words in Lady Sale’s Journal of the Disasters in Affghanistan 1841-2 (1843) or from the text of this work.

zubberdust = overbearing, with a strong arm (hence “zubberdusty” in Kipling, “A Conference of Powers” and Soldiers Three).

kuttle hurra = cut someone’s throat.

Goozur = rumbling noise or passing earth tremor (from Sir Alexander Burnes, Cabool: A Personal Narrative [1842]).

jung-i-kalūs = a fight or battle ended.





Terminal Break


Runrunaway to make your strip of sand

              fun yourself out

                        stamping a village

                    It’s not hard

              to not


                      roof-tiles, footings

                            slip or keel


                                      Anyone’s blind

                                                  to particle bleed

                                             who wants

                                  to loaf



The eel tastes of petrol

         the seabird spills a lighter & bottle cap


You sneeze black in a camera smile






                           Cross-blade whirring head

                     of giant worm, a toothed wheel

               throwing back spoil


                                   Phyllis, Ada—



                      from Royal Oak portal


                                           find gnawed bison bones

                                  in the old Westbourne


                                                 fast water


                                        ice eras


                                 grassland and forest


                     then on through tangled rod and gut—

               sewers, power lines, foundations


      even the eye of the needle, between Northern Line

and escalator tunnel


                                        find beneath the smashed Astoria

                              glass sauce bottle stoppers

                      marmalade jars


               both bores skirting Denmark Street


to the Plague Pit (No Man’s Land), 13 skeletons

       out of 50,000 laid in three years

                  under Charterhouse Square


                              pressure-sensored to veer correct

                                      push off last ring


                                               for the next advance


                                      in slow-budged clay


                              poison to plough

                         but mouldworthy, waterproof


              a blue-green thread



                                     under madness


                                                 bides the roll

                                           of new traffic