A Lipstick Called 'Matador'


On the floor lay a lipstick called 'Matador'.

I opened it. Swivelled it out of its case

into a small obscene phallus. Red as blood.

Bright as its namesake's cape. I pictured a face.

Saw the smear of colour as it slicked over

the soft cushion of lower lip. Delicately marked

the vee of cupid's bow. I wondered how many times

it had glossed a pout. Or sketched a smile,

to enhance white teeth, or maybe not so white.

I see a woman grimacing. Snarling into the mirror

in case a stray smudge has smeared her teeth.

She rubs the mark away with a matching red-tipped finger.

Then drops the slim black tube into her bag. 

Amongst the receipts for Tesco and Boots, her car keys

and phone, in a cute little leopard-skin case.

I think of what she might have said. Words swallowed

and regurgitated to other people.

Carried from work vocabulary to street talk.

Morphing into endearments as her mood changes.

I saw her scarlet smile stride into a boardroom. 

Her heels tapped out the Morse code of confidence.

And I wondered if that lipstick helped her to progress?

To happily air-kiss colleagues and plant a sloppy imprint

Upon her loved one's cheek. Or was it just the bright colour

of bravado. To hide the shaking of her hands

And the nervous sweat that streaked her back?


From Silmar to Highway 101


The engine roared, deep and throaty.

Settled to a grumbling purr.

I clasped my hands over his belt buckle.

The silver Bald Eagle dug into my hand.

I felt the heat that glowed through his shirt.

We turned north to highway 101.

The pillion seat was an accepting curve

and the horse-shoe of my legs a little too short. 

I settled my feet and felt the vibrations hum.

The Harley sprang like a cheetah

along high hillside roads. Through veils

of shimmering heat. Hills rose stark and sun-glazed.

Warm air under-toned with after-shave

knuckled my face and ballooned my T-shirt.

My hair was a writhing banner roiling behind me.

I took in the tumbleweed that rolled

and the knife-sharp shadows as they cut the sandy ground.

Bearding at the feet of rocks hot enough to cook on.

Spiralled up into the hills, we raced on.

The lights of L.A. began to flicker behind us.

The sun slowly descended in shades of blood and wine.

In the distance loomed the pale outline of the sign.

High on the hill. Klieg lights hurled cones of white light.

To enhanced the symbol. It drew dream-seekers

from around the world and proclaimed one word only-


He put our backs toward it and opened the throttle.


The Fancier


He saw her from afar.

She was his bird of paradise.

He coaxed her gently. Laid traps

baited with affection to entice her.

Until she ate from his hand.

He caught her. Lulled her with soft words

to keep her close. Tried to cage her.

Yet she flew so high he feared that she

would not return. Still she flew.

Always improving. Gaining strength.

Able to see through the hood.

Break the jessies'. She soared.

Spread her wings. Used her strength.

Always at the end of his fascination.

Lured back for tit-bits time and again.

Wooed by whispered promises of love.

His need to tame her grew.

One day she flew higher than ever.

He imagined her gone.

To live with hawks in places he could not reach.

So when she returned. He wrung her neck

And cried for her.


Facet Joint Injections


The x-ray glowed.

Black and white in a surreal room.

Bones showing white, and tissue a soft grey mass.

Lead aprons. Blue scrubs. Big lights.

Anonymous eyes peered over masks.

Machines slid on gantries. Serpentine loops of cable

hung like intestines wrapped in black.

I lay face down, head twisted sideways.

An oddly angled view of the screen.

It displayed my vertebrae, stacked one upon the other.

Beads in a bony abacus - and a dark vertical line

that was the needle. I watched it move.

Guided by the surgeon's deft hands.

To probe the small spaces between my joints. I flinched

when it touched home. I smelled starch rising

from the white landscape of the pillow.

Gazed at the x-ray awe-struck, mesmerised .

My eyes pulled by the strange magnetism

that bizarre things possess. I flexed my fingers into fists.

Fluid entered my spine. Latexed hands pressed me down.

I hoped that time would run quickly and I knew

that this was what victims feel like.

When they are tortured.