He was sad
he was low so low
he was finished
he painted
he painted his last picture
silently bid his goodbye
and walked out through the door
decades later
the gallery attendant
who for years sat beside
beside this last painting
a masterpiece
his favourite
his friend
strange subject
a door
rich in colour
rich in warmth
rich in hue
dazzling shimmering
he was sad
he was low so low
he noticed the keyhole
and peered through
each night
and noticed
and saw
a speck
a figure
far away
a figure painting
a figure waving
he kept
his secret
then one day
silently bid his goodbyes
and walked out through the door.

Patrick McManus (UK)

From ‘Beyond Bedlam: poems written out of mental distress’, an anthology published in 1997 by Anvil Press

597. Fishes!

cat keenly
scampers in
frog in mouth
a rana temporaria
family ranidae
stuffs it in
my bookcase
stupid cat!
puts it at dewey
597. fishes!
not 597.8 frogs!
but at least she
knows her bed
at 636.8 cats
family felidae.

Patrick McManus (UK)

From Cement and Water (Phantom Rooster Press 2006)

Allotment Digging

when digging
on his allotment
in the middle
of the night
under a full moon
he came across
dug up a coffin
and peeked in
and saw himself
and was reminded
of his fatal accident
involving a flymo
and he quickly
and guiltily
replaced the lid
and filled himself in.

Patrick McManus (UK)

First published in magma

Drip Drip

Illustrated 'drip drip'
drip drip
drip drip
tap drips
drip drip
drips tap
can't sleep
drip drip
sleep drip
can't dream
drip drip
dreams drip
drip drip
drip night
night drips
drip drip
drip drip
drip demons
demons drip
drip drip
drip trip
trip drip
drip drip
flip drips
drips flip
flip drips
drip drip
dawn drips
drips dawn
drip drip
day drips
drips day
day day
drip drip
drip drip

Patrick McManus (UK)

From On The Dig (Frisky Moll Press 2010)


midday on platform 1

There's nothing remarkable
about his appearance —

a bit of piercing
a black hoodie
a tat or two

I fear for her,
as his tongue moves slowly
in out, in out of her mouth
and his pelvis thrusts

and his eyes close
and his beefy fingers knead
at her short shiny skirt

her eyes are wide open
they glaze into nowhere

she leans limp
against a concrete pole
surrounded by his body

pink daisies wilt
on scuffed plastic shoes

a pink backpack droops
from stick thin shoulders

I want to push him away — to say
go find someone your own age — 

the train arrives
he leads her
through the open door

Elizabeth Nicholls (Western Australia)



If you could see the mauve spot
and the black circle as a Tube Station,
and the blue spot close by as a concept-designed Plaza,
then you are looking over my shoulder.
We could go south from here to the red square
of Fertility and Breathing,
loose and light in our appreciation of Beauty,
or we could go east along the signature black river,
turning right at Clarity roundabout
and on past the Pyramid
and the grey and green municipal buildings
to talk about the soul of things
on point and plane of the main shopping area.
Choose any coloured square — green, blue, grey —
and let's eat and drink Bauhaus style.
You once talked of this drawing
as an accident of paint-box and trigonometry.
Were you joking? Can you not see life is here?
In the cute eyelash lines and coloured dots (of various colours) —
the symbolist pyramid.
Come on, let’s take a walk to the Noughts and Crosses
we love... pink... white... pink... white.
How does it feel to be in it?
Not convinced? Put this down to me.
It is hard to encompass in words
the intelligence of this design.
Go then, go, but where to?
The outer rings to ponder things for a while?
Or leave here the way you came in?
Or stay with me in this paradise?
Stay with me in this Kandinsky. Or go?

Anthony Costello (UK)

Please be reassured

Please be reassured
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Self-maintenance is unnecessary
as servicing and consumables
are provided frequently.

Efficient operation is all
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along with appropriate noises
produced within projected timeframes.
Devices of your class are numbered
among our assets.

In the event of malfunction
repair may be feasible. If not,
repositioning may
be available. For example
a refrigerator
may become a cupboard.

In this eventuality
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Alternatively you may be placed
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hazardous components will be removed,
together with any components
that may be attractive to scavengers.

In this eventuality
please be reassured
that no action
is necessary.

Jackson (Western Australia)