slave market

“So they all sleep with the crustaceans in Atlantis this night?”

“They do, my brother, they certainly do”

“The crabs shall feast on them and we are now rich men”


Threadbare the age-old cloak of compassion

pooled amongst just the unchosen, unlikely few

in the moulded snug lands of the ‘take it or leave it’

bloated top dogs and cold-bloodied blue collars

no call for homeland refugee labour these pampered days

of smart automation, contrivance, gadgetry and cool app

yet when the Sea of the Philistines reluctant tide delivers up

the naked, the starving, the wounded and the vanished

one and all fighting to survive where the domiciled thrive

loaded pistol facing peashooter at misty dawn inevitable

though ‘once upon a time’ Empires of polar opposite prevailed

‘once upon a time’ in the not so good old days, as in the now

mercy took an undeserved vacation to God knows where


Across the unswhept golden Sahara, Arabian Peninsula bound, travels antiquities slow coach camel train of no hope for the stolen ones; great promise for the nomad boss come journeys end Moorish bazaars. Guided only by sun, stars and without moral compass all the boss seeks from life is a good auction price for his mish-mash human bare foot, bare butt huddle bringing up the rear and a desert friendly antidote for thirst.


“The girls will fetch a good price chief”

“Yes, they should scrub up well. Did you cover up the one with yellow locks, her skin will burn otherwise?”

“I did chief, just as you asked before we set off”

 “Good, she is more than just a trinket; she is the prized jewel that will make us very rich”


The perception of an unwanted ‘migrant invasion’ of refugees

now supplants yesteryears much vaunted imported human flesh

bartered for in exchange for guineas and goats in those times long since past

as is, as was, no sunny spells for the displaced back when, today and beyond




False hugs and latent promises, a precursor to love? Maybe hate? She could never decide.  Yet here, in this glorified candlelit pigpen, immune from sirens, horns and streetwise revelry, the old guard are at play.

Leaning on the bar, dressed to the gaudy nines (dressed to the gaudy nines to blend in, no other reason) she watches the smiling priest engage in Russian Roulette.  That his opponent is a dextrous devil may care Cross River gorilla in a top hat, an irrelevance to both parties. After the big bang she notes blood and gore obviously, more interesting though, that the dead as dead can be, in foetal position upon the sawdust, corpse that was once a priest still maintains that smile, as the now smug grin gorilla blows away the smoke from the revolver’s firing chamber. It seems that he may have cheated.  Still, with no bouncers, no medics, the carcass remains in situ for the duration. Duration of what? Matters not.

In the far corner, by the armless, harmless statue of a very naked Aphrodite, alpha males play poker, they belch frequently, punch their fists upon the card table, take a piss in the shadows and pinch the bottoms of the waitresses as fancy and/or a surfeit of vodka on the rocks takes.

She has never seen these thing previous, never been to this allegedly notorious place before. Just heard of it on the grapevine. Thought she would take a look for herself.  Curiosity, yes; ideal location certainly.


“A cormorant drying its wings tells no lies,” so says the one-eyed, bald barman in the patchwork suit.

“Pardon?” she is more than a little confused.

“My gift for the evening. A parable, ‘A cormorant drying its wings tells no lies’…think about it.”

“Cormorants can’t speak, so they can never tell lies…haven’t a clue what you’re on about.” 


She ceases to lean on the counter, alights the bar stool with apt modesty, walks over to a makeshift stage. Fours tea chests covered with a large sheet of worn at the edges plywood upon which an anorexic woman of indeterminate age, her virtue preserved by just well-placed peacock feathers, not quite manages to play the off-key accordion.

“Will you accompany me? I need a singer.”

“I can’t sing, sorry. I only came over here to hear you play.”

“That’s what they all say.”


Shortly before the explosion that ripped the place, as well as the planet apart, she had tapped the barman on the shoulder, “Press this button if you’d be so kind.”

“Certainly Ma’am…there, job done…what is the button for by the way?”

“A detonator, nothing more…thanks, must rush.” 

Above ground and outside, smothered in blackest soot and rainbow snowflakes a rather pleased with herself fallen angel thanks circumstance that she, the last of her kind alive, indeed the last of all ‘kinds’ had cancelled that appointment to be sterilized.




Guinevere 4

Tintagel, Cornwall. The Dark Ages: King Arthur and most of the rest of the Knights of the Round Table are in Newquay for Sir Percival’s stag night. It promises to be one hell of a bash. Only Sir Lancelot, Guinevere and Sir Galahad remain in the castle that is Camelot. Galahad, not a boozer at the best of times, has suffered from insomnia of late and simply couldn’t face attending Percival’s celebrations. And so it is that while the ‘cat’s away the mice do play.’  You see for some little time now Lancelot and Gwen have been conducting a clandestine love affair. Usually it has been an escape to the railway sidings; the deepest corners of the forest and the caves at the back of Poundland yet this day, in a fortress that for all intents and purposes is empty, the lovers consider it safe to stay home. No preying eyes and all that. Yes, today it is upon the Round Table itself where the congruence of desire expresses itself.

Unaware of all this is Sir Galahad once again denied access to dreamland. He rises from his bed chamber and pops downstairs to the kitchen, a peck of goat’s milk in his favourite pewter mug the object of his particular desire.  As he brings the nocturnal thirst quencher to his lips he is suddenly taken aback by an extremely loud crashing sound emanating from the Great Hall.  Plainly something is amiss. Galahad decides to investigate.

For their part, and at the very peak; the very fulfilment of carnal desire and having been going hammer and tong at it for the past hour or so a very naked Gwen and Lancelot both in a state of some considerable shock extract themselves from the tangle of their union. What has happened is that in the heat of passion the pair have managed to break in half the legendary Round Table. It is ruined beyond any repair.

We join the scene as Galahad makes his entry – an entry that causes the lovely Gwen to scurry around the place in an attempt to recover her clothes which lay strewn all about and therefore recapture at least a vestige of modesty. It is with extreme embarrassment, not just about being ‘found out’ but also being caught thus that she is consumed by a cold shudder from her head to the tips of her toes as Galahad wolf whistles her and bellows;

Galahad: “Blimey, I didn’t know you had a dragon tattooed on your bum luv. Nice one! See you kept your socks on Lancelot you old romantic you.”

Lancelot: “You haven’t seen me trousers lying about anywhere have you?”

Galahad: “No mate. What a bloody mess – look at The Round Table it’s buggered beyond belief. Sacrilege I tell you. Christ, it was made out of mahogany especially imported from the Amazonian Rain forests before the embargo on such timber came into to force. You Sir are in shit street. I mean I’ll keep me big gob shut about you shagging his missus but as for the table, well mate you’re going to have to put your hands up for that one I can tell you.  Art will go mental over this you know that.”

Lancelot: “Crikey, I hadn’t taken it all in. I need a plan me old mucker. Any ideas?”

Galahad: “Bolloxed if I have if the truth be told. Down to you old son.”

Guinevere returns from the shadows of the darkest corner of the Great Hall, her decorum and her decency restored.

Gwen: “First of all you can keep your witticisms to yourself and your eyes off my bum Galahad. Secondly, given the plight we now find ourselves in we have but one simple choice. A hasty and less than ideal one yet we must, simply must purchase a new Round Table before King Arthur returns.”

Galahad: “And where ‘dragon girl’ do you propose to make this acquisition at this late stage in the day – all the shops will be shut.”

Gwen: “Make one more mention of my bum and I’ll swing for you.”

Galahad: “Yes please.”

Lancelot: “Shut it Galahad we’ve got some serious thinking to do.”

Gwen: “IKEA sell tables. Let’s get one from them.”

Lancelot: “The closest IKEA is in bloody Bristol. That’s a full three day ride up the A38 then the M5 just to get there let alone getting it back here.”

Galahad: “True. That’s out of the question, Art’s back here early PM tomorrow he said, and he’ll have a zonking hangover so his mood wouldn’t have been that good at the best of times – now this.”

Gwen: “Wuzzocks! Have neither of you heard of the internet. We shop online; pay a little extra and they guarantee next day delivery.”

Lancelot: “Right let’s go for it.”

Galahad: “It was you two ‘going for it that’s got you both in this mess. I’m off to bed.”

With that Galahad leaves hoping for 40 winks. Gwen nips off to get her iPad. Together Lancelot and Gwen review the online catalogue and order the only ‘round’ table IKEA sell. Early the next morning a sign written horse and cart turn up and deliver a giant flat packed table. Gwen and Lancelot have difficulty getting into the package – that is until Lancelot grabs hold of Excalibur from the wall and prizes it apart.

Gwen: “Do you think he’ll notice it’s smaller than the old one and has a smoky reinforced glass top?”

Lancelot: “Haven’t got a clue luv. It’s these instructions that have left me somewhat bolloxed. I can’t make head or tail of them.”

After an hour or so of struggling the new Round Table is complete. Lancelot, sweating his cods off and with hands proudly on hips notes it is extravagantly smaller than the original.

Lancelot: “Bloody hell Gwen didn’t you check the measurements before you ordered. He’s bound to notice. It’s more bull’s-eye than dartboard. From the gallery it looks like a bloody foot stool.”

Gwen: “Not really they were all in metric and you know I can’t get me head around that. What we going to do? We need a magician to sort this out.”

In unison they bawl: “MERLIN!”

Somewhere deep in the forest, an owl sat serenely upon his shoulder an old wizard with a crooked walking stick awakens.



red sky at night racy promises seduce, offer up pizzazz come dawn’s early light

no overindulged brightest star withdrawal symptoms this cloudless summers day


he ambles about her rustic garden, buttercups and daises yawn, stretch their petals

the old palisade fenced perimeter a stained-dew spider web gothic cathedral basilica

skyward, on the tired chimney stack a prancing whitest dove chances his ‘worth a try’ luck

the floozy ‘seen it all before’ Jezebel pigeon nods her ‘OK, if you must’ affirmative nod

he, her ‘never forever’ prince charming; her, his ‘one-morning stand’ tasty bit of alright

“Good luck to the both you, you’ve got it about right. Cockcrow sex, maybe a little sustenance and thinking time is all we need in this world”


back indoors, kettle on, slice in toaster, click of radios ‘on’ button

bad, sad news from his beloved La Belle France

he contemplates the mind-set of the no kiss goodbye misled

embracing suicides supposed glory; those who take ignoble death as fated

“Don’t they know that beyond this conscious realm there is naught to entice but a now and forever longest sleep blackness?” his question tossed into the ghostly paradise

no movable feast, nothing unblemished, no heaven or hell awaits the counterfeit martyr


he sheds more than a single tear

bites back his runaway bottom lip

wipes away the snot, burns his toast

Getting older

My dear Shirley suffers…lack of coffee (in my case); lack of enjoyment of said substance (in hers) afflicts the both of us! So unfair.


I give a rictus smile to the bawling, mewling lump of snot in the pram. He’s cutting his first tooth and is a little upset says mummy. Well love, I am tad upset too as I’ve just paid a small fortune for this coffee and had high hopes of enjoying a little me time in the sunshine. Why don’t you take the barely amoeba along to the seafront where he can compete for noise with the shitehawks? You may not enjoy it but the rest of us will. Yours Ms Menopause. Xxx

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cafe 4

three days away from caffeine

a revelry of symptom’s run and hide

a banality of sensibility takes hold

he craves the addled smog of instability

wants back his barbed contradictions

‘Mother Nature wears her newest gown’

Does she indeed, the silly cow

he prefers her off the shoulder number

dragged through a hedge backwards look

what good a table outside a café without the twins?

his feral nicotine pines for caffeine’s brotherly love

what good pen, paper and reverie without ghosts?

“My, you look well…looking better already”

“Mind your own business. Fuck off”

a low punch, a cheap shot

he should care yet does not




she confiscated idle thoughts the dreamer cast aside

sold them on to deafest ears, said they belonged to her; she lied

just a waitress in a dark café, where stargazers came to muse

take black coffee, sip cognac, exchanging gifted views


the dreamer never caught her eye, so very lost within himself

claimed the impassive high ground, left her on cold-shoulders shelf

her full-fledged infatuation, an ever complicated thing

still, she had faith in fairy-tales, would be his Queen if he were King


in the clean up after closing time, lay forgotten by the door

a crushed note, scribbled words that told of a refugee, of a war

“Reality stole my sanity, a sniper my true love,

the wild ocean drowned my generation, there is no God above”


when nightmare foretells tragedy, darkest demons take to play

in the shadows of conclusions, is born the hurting castaway

the waitress shared with him small secrets, in return the dreamer spoke of fact

side by side, yet poles apart, a new born love in the abstract





Mark Arian - Tutt'Art@- (2)

Sometimes, just sometimes, the intoxicated Time devil

drunk on his own success, slumps into a benighted stupor

it is upon the occasion of such seismic cracks a tsunami of memories

comes to flush out what has passed, a double-take much better than before


By plea of frozen tears, the mind’s eye gallery opens its cryptic doors

and as mayfly’s to an ominous dusk, excited habitués race here, there, everywhere

to assimilate that which has long since been archived, now dusted off, displayed


A rendezvous perhaps

two soon to be lovers

a chance encounter born of fate

oblivious as yet of the unsullied bond

twixt vivacious flesh and abiding soul

no care in the world over anything or everything

unaware of walking canes and deathbed musings

that one-day will unmask a fault in fortune’s haughty wheel

affording them a brief escape, when Time takes of its wasted rest


Twixt thus far stainless sheets those green lovers scramble to discover and invent

knowing then, forgetting now, that sometimes, just sometimes, nothing is impossible



Buckfastleigh, Devon, August 2020: “First we take Melton Mowbray, then we take Buckfastleigh,” the words of Empress Nicola Sturgeon, who since securing Scottish independence following the debacle of the UK’s exit from the European Union now seeks to build a Greater Scotland with a view to have, as its seat of government, the small market town of Buckfastleigh, Devon. She added, “The choice of Buckfastleigh was obvious, indeed a no-brainer, for the place is something of a Mecca to Scots far and wide what with the sterling work of the monks at the Abbey there knocking out the ambrosial nectar that is Buckfast Tonic Wine, or more informally known as ‘Buckie’, my nations tipple of first choice.

Since Nicola had her eureka moment when it dawned upon her that the entire pre-Brexit British Army, save for the ‘English officer class’ consisted of Scottish squaddies only, the invasion, ‘payback time’ as she preferred it called had been inevitable. Thus far, the marauding Scots, with Nicola proudly leading from the front, have taken and drunk dry every brewery town in England from Carlisle, to Faversham, to Taunton (although reports from Taunton do suggest they found the cider brewed there not particularly to their liking as it came served in glass bottles rather than their preferred plastic fuselages).

As of now, the massed forces of Nicola’s Tartan Army stand at the gates of Buckfastleigh Abbey itself. Indeed, the door to the gift shop there has already been breached, the shelves now empty of tonic, although the assortment of novelty pens, coasters and tourist maps remain intact.

There is only one man who can save England from the humiliation of defeat and occupation under the Empress’ new regime.

San Pedro, Paraguay, August 2020: 40 years retired, and now domiciled in Paraguay, former MI5 secret agent extraordinaire, Twatersley Fromage OBE, arrives back in his San Pedro apartment a little the worse for drink and notices a new message on his ansa-phone.

Mumbling to himself whilst attempting to aim Percy at the porcelain, Twatersley stands confused, “Well fuck me cried the duchess!  What was that message all about? ‘We need you back in England sharpish, Twato; Nick Ola & the Scots are at Buckfastleigh’ the chap said. If they think I’m going all the way back to England just to attend a rock concert with a band I’ve never even heard of, Nick Ola & the bloody Scots, they’ve got another bloody think coming. Cheek of it.”

Outside, sat upon the balcony enjoying a last snifter before taking to his bed, Twatersley spots a carrier pigeon sat proudly upon his window ledge. The message the bird delivers is from none other than Lord Carruthers of the Foreign Office in London. It explains in some detail the plight of old England; that a gal named Nicola Sturgeon had led her army all points south of Hadrian’s Wall; that the ‘officer class’ were all ensconced in the Gentlemen’s Clubs of Mayfair fearing the worst now that the once great English nation had no current means of defence; that Balmoral and Windsor had fallen to the rampant Scots and that the monarch herself was in hiding; worse still that Nicola had decreed all fast food outlets now offer only deep fried frozen pizza and Mars Bars.


It is thus that Fromage once more fires up his trusty old Lysander, makes it to the Atlantic seaboard whereupon he takes the swim he never thought he would have endure again in his life. Some three days later he rises out of the ocean upon the pebble beach of Slapton, South Devon. After a two-hour jog, under cover of daylight (the Scots use the daylight hours for sleep and hangover recuperation) he arrives at Buckfast Abbey.  A tubby friar gives Fromage the low down as to the goings on vis-à-vis the ‘sweaties’ encamped on the edge of Dartmoor ready to commence their final attack come dusk.  Using the binoculars he had stuffed down the front of his Union flag embroidered speedos, and from above the cloisters, he is taken aback to note that the massed army of the Empress is full charge toward Buckfastleigh and the liquid prize it holds.

“Well I’d never have credited it friar. There she is, I see her clearly at the head of her troops. A bare-breasted Caledonian warrior Nicola, sat side-saddle upon one of (if I’m not mistaken) her majesty’s very own Arabian thoroughbreds, a pack of yapping West Highland terriers and a few bewildered Corgis keeping her company, and in her wake as far as the eye can see legion upon legion of these ginger wrong’un Scotch types, their uniform a blend of tartan kilt and 1978 Scotland World Cup acrylic drip-dry football shirts each with ‘Saint Archie Gemmills’ name emblazed thereon, the swines.

Yet Fromage is a man of action and has formulated a cunning plan. “Friar, do you have about your person a fishing rod…good that’ll come in handy…and friar, if my memory serves me well the Abbot here always has a case of Talisker single malt…tastes like fucking mud yet hits the spot alright…do go acquire a bottle with haste and affix it to the line of the fishing rod if you’d be so good.”   

Within minutes, our hero strides the battlefield alone, save for a bottle of Talisker dangling from the end of a fishing rod, and bravely confronts a now, at the very entrance of Buckfastleigh, Empress Nicola. Following her, albeit visibly knackered many thousands of puffed out foot soldiers, some even bent over, hands upon knees, all coughing their rings up.  Although taken with her knockers and rather smitten, he tries not to let it show (a difficult thing when clad in just speedos), he puts Queen and country first.

“What is that you dangle before me Sir?”

“Madam, it is a thing to savour…look see…you know what it is, how sublime it can be when swallowed. Play you cards right and it could be yours.”

“Play my cards right?”

“Oh yes, the Abbot even gave it a good dusting with his favourite alter cloth.  As you can see it is sparkling like a jewel fit for a queen, or in your case an Empress.  Would you like to touch it?  Wrap your lips about it?”

Nicola alights her mount, walks serenely toward him as if to fall foul of Twatersley’s sneaky little plan of taking her hostage, then using her as ransom by way of which to negotiate with the Scots for a once again free England. However, in his dotage Twato makes the one crucial mistake he would never have made in his prime, namely overlooking a thing called the ‘Glasgow Kiss,’ a long nurtured speciality of the Empress and her kin.  Said ‘Glasgow Kiss’, a head butt of lethal consequences is applied. Twato drops to the ground, dead as a Dodo’s dick.

England is doomed to a future of servitude under the rule of Queen Nicola I, Empress of Greater Scotland. Come nightfall her army find their spirits lifted even further as she tosses them Twato’s severed head, and suggests they team up for a game of footie.



Vacant eyes hidden behind chicest Ray-Bans

a snow crystal heart that now beats out of tune

she studiously ignores the song of the skylark

spits feathers at the weeping blue sky egghead moon


No hiding place on dankest heathlands

no ‘touch wood’ good fortune there to be found

just a carpet of late bloom purple heather

masking what once was a freakish merry-go-round


Her shortcoming, a reason for being

her advantage, that she cares not a jot

her shelved quandary that unanswerable question

that of the ease with which he untied love’s flimsiest knot


Deep in thought she turns back the pages

scours the snapshot album stored inside her head

Fujifilm captures of illicit tryst’s in Paris; in Brussels

of making love on Napoleon and Josephine’s hush-hush bed


In her path, not that she will notice

a cross-legged ghost plays just for her the mandolin

yet as with the sweet birdsong, a gift from the heavens

she neglects all things without and within


For this ‘been around the block a few times’ girl named Britannia

her ex-lover, a charmless chameleon, nothing more

she should be drowning in the tears of her own sorrow

for her enclave can never be as it was once before