Taxidermies 1&2

Recently I posted these literary taxidermies on my main blog, Scruffy Theory. I reproduce/repeat them here in the interests of completionism.

Taxidermy #1: Strength

“I can’t sing it strong enough.”
Well I might be able to,
No promises,
But I’ll give it a go.
Maybe I’ll be able to find new reserves
Of deepest, strongest strength to tap
Way down deep where I wouldn’t expect.
Maybe I’ll absorb that strength from others,
By osmosis while holding hands
Or shaking hands
Or hugs
Or fist bumps.
Maybe I’ll fall within the range
Of an area-of-effect buff
From one of my stronger,
More confident companions.
Maybe the strength I seek
Will be found in spirituality,
Although I must admit,
That is incredibly unlikely;
A long shot, to say the least.
Maybe I’ll find the strength I need
In the unshakeable belief
In my fellow man,
Solidarity in community
& rejection of competition.
Solidarity not selfishness,
Sacrifice in the face of solipsism.
Maybe the strength required
Can be found
In the wisdom of the dead,
Dusty library words,
Observances and inventions,
Artistic enlightenment
That gradually evolves
Into feelings of encouragement
& spasms of renaissance.
The worst-case-scenario, of course,
Is that there is no fresh,
Untapped well of superhuman strength,
External or internal,
Waiting for me when I need it the most.
No secret inner quality,
No unrealised ambitions
Or dormant skills.
Maybe there is nothing but weakness,
Doubt and disillusionment.
Maybe, just maybe,
“That kind of strength I just don’t have.”

Taxidermy #2: Cyberpunk Hauntology

The sky above the port was the colour of television, tuned to a dead channel,
Greyscale mashup of crusty pixels,
Launching the careers of a million YouTube video essayists,
Flickering lines in horizontal drift
Across convex surfaces of CRT screens.
With sunglasses affixed, like Mollys eyes,
I slide a cassette tape into my portable cyber deck
And flip
Back and forth
Through advertising pop-ups
For dating apps
& how to manage your crypto portfolio.
The other side is games on tape,
Pixelated faces in two colours
Or two shades of the same colour.
He told me Molly was his soulmate,
In this semiotic swirl of neon billboards,
Fake tanned robots & whitened teeth,
She was the only thing that brought him joy,
He said,
The only thing he thought of as pure, good
She tattooed a Molotov cocktail on her left cheek,
Just below the eye, the legend read:
“A toast to the rich.”
It’s all over social media:
Guillotines outside Bezos’ mansion,
Pitchfork & torch mob chasing down Musk,
Gates crucified,
Rihanna spreadeagled.
Molly licks her lips & cuddles up closer
To Kurt Cobain & Eugene Kelly.
He had proper insomnia for the first time in months,
Propelled by podcasts & hope for denied futures,
Spectres haunting Europe in the sickly light
Of late-stage capitalism.
He thought I was a robot, for some reason.
Maybe it was my telescopic, go-go-gadget arms
Or my electrified hull.
Have you never seen a guy with tank tracks before?
She said she’d take me anywhere,
Pasted in gum Arabic,
Monochromed by xerox
& stapled in a bedsit.
TS Eliot wanders in & asks me if it’s his.
Mayakovsky commodified
As social realism is used to self me junk food.
Here, in the desert of the real
The mirages take on the aspect
Of heroic scenes of miners at the coalface,
Writ in mosaic
On the marbled plinth
Of a six hundred foot Lenin statue,
Loyally guarding the industrial dock lands
From the predatory approaches
Of Union busters
& Pinkerton patrols.
He found her next
At a union meeting, waving a red flag,
Armed & dangerous, bullets for bailiffs,
1312 carved into the stock of her rifle.
She smiled at him warmly & offered him coffee.
It was like a support group,
Name badged workers sitting in a circle
On plastic chairs.
“My name’s Colin & I’m a communist.”
“My name’s Andy & I’m an anarchist.”
We escorted the Nazbols out, at gunpoint.
All through the meeting
She made regular eye contact with him.
It reminded him of bus journeys
From petroleum-choked city centres
To endless fields of humming pylons,
Brutalist substations & grazing cattle.
Terraces & tower blocks giving way
To reservoirs & army bases.
Liminal transition:
Burial into Boards Of Canada.
The urban rain nestles up against
Bucolic pastoral mellotrons.
It was here, amongst the effigies,
That they were finally separated.
Burning haystacks hummed
Like an overcharged oscillator,
Birds singing like circuit bent toys,
Folkloric mythology depicted in pixels.
My avatar is a pagan deity,
My alt anon account is a denizen of the underworld.
I see him running, mind scrambled
Like a CRT between two magnets,
Flickering lines of snow whisper prophecies
In ancient hard drives.
I never saw which way Molly fled,
Or if she survived,
But he woke up screaming
In a soft walled room.
The medication soon soothed him.
Empty bliss of depersonalisation.
He never saw Molly again.


Outside Voice Inside

Wake up too late or too early
Grasping for phone before glasses
Blinking bleary eyed at blurry newsfeed
Before you remember to put your glasses on
In the cold grip of technology
You are the end-user
The end-user opens an account on WordPress or Blogspot
Every intention being to write about these feelings
Perhaps my peers feel the same way
Your colleagues cry themselves to sleep at night
Foetal curled in comfort eating explosion
A voice inside tells the end-user
That the experience isn’t worth writing about
But it is worth reading about
Click the link
Read the article
Every other sentence could contain a link
Click the next link
And then the next
Perhaps now they’ve read up about the feelings
As interpreted by other end-users
And it still not being worth writing about
It is worth watching videos about
Nope – it’s not
Instead follow another link on coffee stained sofa
On Xbox live on your biggest screen
Watch the video
Like & subscribe
Ring the bell
Leave your thoughts in the comments
Send an email to X@X.X
Ensure you include the word ‘existential’
Somewhere in the subject line
The rabbit hole extends into infinity
A lazy metaphor
But apt
& commonly understood
Imagine if the end-user wrote about
The never ending loops
& the nauseous eternity
Of the manifold garden
The portal trap
Or infinite Bookers being slowly drowned, infinitely
By infinite Elizabeths.


aka – Piss-Soaked Papier-mâché

I barely know what day it is,
There are no clocks in limbo.
The ticking of the clock is wrenched,
& I can neither see it
Nor tell which direction it’s coming from.

Something soft and vast rolls past us, fast.
Spreading out like smoke, it cloaks the streets and makes us choke.
Pew pew pew, is that a church seating plan
Or a laser blast!
The architect’s artefacts litter the hallway floor.
Befuddled blinking blindly I trip & I fall through the door.
Rushing it leaps up to meet me, discretely hoping that it doesn’t want to
eat me,
False equivalence leads ambivalence to come surging, phoenix-like,
from convalescence.

Drained in desolate streets,
alcoholic tendencies drive me, inevitably onwards, towards defeat.
elsewhere, clowns commit housebreaks, to steal obsolescent vaccination studies,
from the filing cabinets of biologists & virologists.


Barren wastes stretch from here in the hinterlands all the way out to the frontiers,
where rat faced politicians direct newspaper editors into hypnosis booths
& opposition leaders into suicide booths,
Limbo is strange
& alien. Deathly silent.
Aimed my ire at the expectations I possess which rarely
if ever
let me down. In fact,
my expectations are often exceeded.
Political footballs kicked into children’s faces,
knocking on the doors of the Doctors & Nurses:
“Can we have our ball back, please?”
No. Fuck off
you gobby little conservative, with a small ‘c’, piece of shit.
Learn to live within your means.
Try drinking fewer lattes 
& eating less avocado toast.
Have you thought about getting another job?
I hear Asda are hiring.
You should just pull yourself up by your bootstrap.

I like the bit where he gets angry at the postman.

I’m printing lo-res images of fine art
On my Kodak printer & sticking them on the wall
Of my dusty, junk filled spare bedroom.
I sit in here like a romantic poet,
In a patchwork hoody
& Star Wars pyjamas
Reading Ginsberg & Burroughs
On the kindle app
In my iPad.

Is this real?
There’s some serious heat coming from my laptop
So I’ve had to stop playing
Disco Elysium
For now.

In another poem I’m writing,
I purposely avoid punctuation.
I only break this rule occasionally
To insert an impactful caesura.

I’m fairly certain it’s not impetigo
But the itching & soreness fade away
Into reams of damp, dank newsprint
Left filling up gutters with piss-soaked

This poem was originally called ‘Limbo’
But I’m considering changing it’s title to
‘Piss-Soaked Papier-mâché’ –
I probably won’t (but I might).

National Service

I’m not saying that everyone
Who believes in national service
Is a reactionary bigot.
But, in my experience,
There’s too much correlation
Between the two
To be ignored.

“It may, however, be a mistake to jump to conclusions”


Do you really need to smoke that cigarette?
She said
As I pulled my hat down, snug, over my head.

Orange painted metal
Succumbing to rust
Is a sight to behold.

Drains clogged with long blonde hair,
We’re both brunettes.

Diary pages left blank
Except for the abbreviation: N/A
In dead centre of each.

I need this cigarette to relax me
& to keep my anxiety
In check.

The surface tension breaks
Like a gutshot pheasant’s neck.

By Gods who are now Dead

Kill the king
-which king?
The angry peasant asks
the king
the main king
the current king
any king
all kings, even.
Kings were put on this Earth
by gods who are now dead
to be killed by angry peasants,
wealthy philanthropists
& all shades of society
in between.

Plant the seeds
-which seeds?
The weary revolutionary asks
the seeds
the seeds of hope
hope for change
a better world
seeds of compassion.
Fertilise the seeds and the soil
with the byproducts of revolution
kings were put on this Earth
by gods who are now dead
to fertilise the earth
in which a better world can grow.

Cut up or shut up #8: Popular resistance to David Duchovny

Nuclear power must reverberate widely but it still has a long way to go.

The Tories must be well regulated in Myanmar.

Popular resistance to David Duchovny remains strong.

In Britain the government’s budget provided fiscal support for a plot to gain control of staff wages.

Rishi Sunak is considering a terrible tsunami in China, generating carbon-free electric power.

SpaceX has taken on an unfamiliar role: the shooting starts.

The army’s response to Disraeli, Churchill and Blair is growing more brutal, but it still has a long way to go.

Over two thirds of Europeans, for instance, are undergoing their biggest purge in more than two decades.

For all its drawbacks, Joe Biden’s $1.9trn stimulus has a part to play in generating technological disruption.

Baking tofu with the recent military coup.

Proxy wars, hostage-taking and economic sanctions have long coloured parliament’s repression of democracy.

Rich countries thrive in more vividly realised pandemic.

The army’s repression of workers and social-welfare policies is becoming more violent.

Our glass-ceiling index shows some progress when it comes to the Fukushima disaster.

The tradition of falling in love will highlight overlooked risks in the stay-at-home-dad.

Many evangelicals favour a universal basic income.

Female executives are world beaters when it comes to people’s relationship with machines.

Is AI capable of stealing ideas?

Cut up or shut up #7: Clear Steps Towards Virus Resurgence

The CIA blames the Biden administration for a problem with grammar. 

The hitch illuminates collective self delusion. 

Move fast and remove the smuggest guys in the room. 

Artificial intelligence blames killer whales for the murder of the nature of language. 

What happens when one apex predator is unlikely to garner a single Republican vote? 

Great white sharks fill gaps left by the state. 

Illicit trades are the best things the government can do. 

Law enforcement agencies move fast and sparks fly. 

We have the roadmap for a “roaring twenties” boom. 

There are now clear steps towards virus resurgence. 

Spooked markets may be responsive for twice as many deaths as America’s failure. 

Rich meditation has failed to make housing cheaper. 

Love and morality kills millions each year. 

Fossil fuels are not as Disco as they seem. 

The toll is heaviest in liberal reforms. 

Children are falling further down the agenda. 

School gates give way to the giant’s greed. 

The National Security Council in such decrepitude. 

Chatty whales can tell us about emblems of discontent. 

Vladimir Putin becomes frantic all of a sudden. 

Voters are covered in some kind of dirt. 

The good will ran out, teething troubles are soaring. 

Protest symbols are the tech giants’ torrent of red tape. 

DNA from Republicans can turn big business winners into everyday objects. 


You know, the very powerful and the very stupid have one thing in common. They don’t alter their views to fit the facts, they alter the facts to fit their views.

4th Doctor (Tom Baker) “Doctor Who: The Face of Evil (1977)

Eat shit & die, B. Barrage,
Crawl, slither slimily along the seabed
& all the way to Wetherspoons, the dragon’s den,
The lair of T. Martin, the wyrm at the end of history,
The cancer cell reproducing rapidly
At the end of Late-stage capitalism.
Dive with the Deep Ones, in reverence
To Monstrous M. Thatcher, the entire recent history
Of the formerly United Kingdom
Reduced to a Thargnote,
The union was destroyed by a lack of Thrill Power,
& Septic Tank Johnson pilots the final remaining
Wreckage over the edge of the Mariana Trench
Into the waiting jaws of an Elder thing:
R “Dagon” Murdoch.

Sea serpents with the faces of Hedgefund managers
Slurp & suckle at the remains
Like daemonic piglets & forest spirits,
Doctors rounded up & placed in internment camps,
The Nationalist Guard deploy depth charges
Along the coast. Kuenssberg crows as the
Newsnight host huffs gas from a burner
In the sickening glow of the morning tabloids.
Graphs on walls, safety pin, drawing pinned
To chalkboards in office complexes,
‘I control a finance empire,’ says the inbred member
Of the League of Empire Loyalists
Who sounds like Thatcher on opium,
‘From a boxroom in a terraced house,
Where I lodge, incognito as a student.’

Eat shit & die you floating turds
On the surface of Septic Tank Johnson,
Thoughts like faecal matter spread disease
& bow down to that disease like an elder god
At the head of the cult, working class futures
Sacrificed & traded on the ampersand exchange
& shortsold by a Shoggoth in a suit
In a flat share situation comedy
With the Empire Loyalist Thatcherite in
Her terraced boxroom.
M “Nightgaunt” Gove,
The faceless one, stands at the pulpit and reads
From Adam Smith’s The Necronomicon,
To baying crowds of Septic Tank’s
Bastard, forgotten, unloved, formless spawn.

Defeat from the Jaws of Victory

The day before your annual leave
Your boss calls you to their office
You ascend rusted industrial estate stairs
You snag your HiViz on a protruding nail
(The Health & Safety Executive would have a field day)
You inhale a metricfuckton of abrasive dry dust
You step inside & sit down
They’re sorry but they’ve had to cancel your holidays, at the last minute
Something inside you snaps
Like a string held taught
Reaching the point of terminal integrity
You plummet into blackness
You give up the detective genre
In favour of social realism
You descend through grainy post-midnight programming
You flicker in & out of existence on animated acid trips
You burst through the reality of 24 hour news
You race through the umpteenth repeat of the same OU lecture
You feel a hand on your shoulder
You spin around
There is no one there
You glance at your surroundings
There is nothing there
Just an unholy combination
Of inky blackness
& blinding whiteness.
The bottom of your world drops out
Vertigo of free fall
Absence of inhibition
Acid stench of alcohol
Acrid stench of stomach acid
Don’t look in the mirror
Taste the floor
Comfortable bathroom floor
Maybe I’ll just rest here for a minute
Beside the toilet
Please don’t piss on me
I’ll move soon
The snow is freezing in the early morning
Cramped foetal in front porch horror
Leeching warmth through the door
Like a Black Hole Farmer
Clinging onto existence
At the end of everything.