Global Warming

(A Lipogram)


An ill mallow in a loggia, a marginal

growl, a growing nag. Algal alarm,

a wan bog, a blown worm on a lawn,

a lamb born in a binbag. A ragbag lion

agonal, a low moan, a growing nag.

A liana growing in limbo, a worn

rainbow, abnormal rain. An albino

gorilla aglow, an animal aria, largo.

A long low moan, a wrong aroma,

a brawling oilman in moralling garb.

Malign lingo. Wonga mania, grim loam.

A glib million gambling on oil, a raging

mob now blaming granola or a long ago

Big Bang. Raw war: no win, no air.


Published in 14 Magazine, November 2022

Drought Dread

The cloudless sky is a writer’s block.
Every day without rain is yellow-edged,
a torn page, a keyboard that’s seized up.

I’m in a novel without compelling sequel,
cliff-hanger where Voldemort’s only just
arrived. I want a fifty-two-week boxed set,

the ground’s rickety shelves to buckle
under water’s freight. I want unpunctuated
rain, a blizzard of words in a summer

without white space. I want foghorn wet,
Bleak House autumn in Victorian London,
the full-on Dickens novel, Dombey and Son

without sun. My mind’s a palm tree packed
with parakeets, spine a cracked mud path,
all pages lost to a storm that never passed.

Published in Finished Creatures magazine, Summer 2022

See me read it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HWYJmNeq8U4

The Last Days Of The Giraffe

She stared down from her beige towerblock
onto an alien plain: zig-zag of roofs, wingless
cranes, zebra crossings and a sea of litter –
the new neighbours behaved like bushpigs.

Once she used to hoof it down the Thames
reflecting on The Shard, to graze on acacias
next to London Bridge. Her rubber-lined lips
twitched at the soft waft of lemony wattle

like a sengi scenting ticks. After she fell
from the tallest of stories, they tried
to reassemble her into an okapi, giraffe
in almost all but neck. But the waiting list

for a specialist in backs was way too long.
Towards the end of her lengthy decline,
a chain of restaurants was named after her
but chicken pide wasn’t exactly her thing.

When she died, the coroner reserved a verdict.

She stayed a towering presence in the memory
of residents who laughed about her high-minded
taste for mimosa, how they nicknamed her BT,
how it was all a big game and then it wasn’t.

Published by Ink, Sweat and Tears, December 2021


The weeks play out in peaks and troughs
charted by the parabola of his back –
he meanders from one room to another,
all wreathed in the same leafy wallpaper.

Every morsel of groundsel is a Groundhog Day –
there’s no furlough for a hungry caterpillar.
He knows an airborne killer hovers over
his world of constant foraging, a beak

swooping out from behind the green curtain.
Nonchalant about the hair-raising danger,
other caterpillars give him sage advice:
Bruv, it’ll get you one way or another. 

One day his restricted life will be lifted
by the gods gifting him a pair of wings.
From the cockpit of his modified body,
he will gaze down goggle-eyed on a land

reconfigured, where for a few precious weeks
heaven was a place of herbal teas, perpetual eating,
garden meals the boundaries of liberation.
Where will his new-found freedom take him?

Published as part of the Fife Contemporary Arts Festival 2021

read it here too: https://www.fcac.co.uk/exhibits/julian-bishop/

Starbucks In The Gutter

Down with the dandelions,
legs sprawled across dirt, he’s down
on his uppers with sod all
but a hold-all, a drizzle of old coppers,
a used coffee cup.

Ground down, down at heel, he’s worn
down to the bare leather
stitches of his sole. Horizons glimpsed
through sticky plastic lids, the envy
of a warm sip of latte,

coughs of muttered pleases,
ravenous for any small change.
For this is what he is –
flat, tight, a Costa cup on his knees,
a sloshed dosser in need

of a top-up, for a shot of sympathy.
Chucked in the gutter,
his stars are buckled, fucked up,
while we cradle the stain
of a disposable cup in our hands.

Starbucks In The Gutter was runner-up in the Aryamati Poetry Prize 2020


Your silent storm was building for years –
a five decade span of deliberate laxness
taking its toll. We noticed it in the whiplash
of broken cables beating against bared ribs,
a correttore of botched repairs to conceal
hints of age, shoddy clothes riddled with holes
and authorities who chose to chiudere un occhio.

I crossed you once; the distress was palpable:
the length of your body trembled, knuckles
white as you struggled to keep a grip, smile
overstretched, sagging like worn-out elastic.
How could you hold yourself together in public
while beneath, weakened by a scandalous state
of neglect, your stricken heart was about to break?

Polcevera was printed in the first issue of The Alchemy Spoon in 2020