Nothing below the Wrist, Nothing above the Clavicle

The Grand Odalisque by Jean Ingres, remixed by Nicolas Amiard

Nothing below the Wrist, Nothing above the Clavicle

She had about her four tattoos, as I recall,
Each one of which set within a sea of un-inked skin –
So ringed around her bicep was a Celtic braid,
And a seeing-eye was watching from her shoulder blade,
While her backbone bore a butterfly, tucked in the small,
And finally, a blood-red Moon where her ankle met her shin.
She always seemed so prim, and with her bashful eyes,
That her even having any came as some surprise.

Then one day, after we’d moved-in together,
I noticed something odd upon her breast, above her heart –
A kitten’s paw-print, still a little red with new.
She shyly fingered it and murmured “this one’s you”.
Unlike her bodywork, we didn’t last forever,
But I saw her yesterday as if we’d never been apart –
So easily we talked, it was quite a trip,
Till I saw a rose was peeking-out upon her hip.

Plagiarised Love

Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko on

Plagiarised Love

All my honeyed words, I stole,
From radio and Hollywood –
They showed me how to play my role,
And made me think I really could.
I practised in the bedroom mirror,
Studied glossy magazines –
And ev’ry night was one night nearer
To my moment on the screen.

All my heartfelt tears, I bought,
From sellers with expressive eyes –
I took on ev’rything they taught,
To help me tell more honest lies.
I practised in my dreams each night,
With tailored suits and sexy cars –
I’ve surely breached their copyright,
To fall in love just like the stars.

Sleight of Heart

Flirtation at the Well by Eugene de Blaas

Sleight of Heart

I’m far too smart to believe in magic,
But what the heck have you done to me ?
I know what’s what in law and physics,
But why can’t my mind just let you be ?
I used to scoff at the thought of Hell,
Now I’m shaking and sweating under your spell –
I’m far too smart to believe in magic,
But your bewitching is plain to see.

I feel your beauty cast its glamour,
A wave of the hand, and you lead me on.
I can’t think straight through all this clamour,
I’m a helpless mark for your brazen con.
But worst of all, it’s magic by stealth –
I’ve set my own spell, and upon myself.
I let your beauty cast its glamour
And all of my common sense is gone.


Photo by Gianluca Grisenti on


You told me how you loved me,
As deep as the magma beneath our very feet –
Erupting, flowing, building, forever,
Melting the stoniest heart with its heat.
You told me how you loved me
As tall as the Andes, and ev’ry bit as tough –
I thought we were raising mountains together,
But in the end, it was nothing but a bluff.

Qwerty Sonata

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on

Qwerty Sonata

I can hear her fingers dancing, dancing,
Over the keyboard, rat-a-tat-tat.
The tempo always five-to-a-heartbeat –
I can tell her typing, wherever she’s sat.
Her fingernails, a little too long,
A tambourine of bracelets, an octave higher,
Grounded by the bass of the spacebar,
And the leak of her headphones bringing the choir.
I can hear our fingers dancing, dancing,
Stretching for shift, then back to home –
The double-letter quavers, the patter of delete,
And the rhythm of return as a metronome.
But not all keyboards are tuned the same,
Staccato or reverb in stroke-length and gauge.
I like it the most when we harmonise together –
An orchestra of typists, filling up the page.

Crisp Pages

Photo by Luis Quintero on

Crisp Pages

I borrowed the book from the library, years ago,
From a casual glance.
I fell in love with her title, I had to know
What on Earth she meant.
She promised me adventure, she promised me grit,
And an epic romance.
And over a sleepless week I devoured her wit
Till my lust was spent.

I stroked her crackled spine and embossing,
And tried to read her all again,
But couldn’t concentrate my brain –
Until my mum returned her, unawares.
In later months, whenever I was browsing,
I hoped to chance upon her between the heavyweights,
And see how many readers had stamped her with their dates,
But someone had purloined her, made her theirs.

I sought a copy later, long out of print,
For a foolhardy sum –
She sits on my bookcase still, and perfectly mint,
If gone a little brown.
But it’s good to know that she’s always there, close by,
For a time yet to come.
Though to tell the truth, I’m terrified to try –
For what if she lets me down ?

Is she quite as good as I remember ?
I just recall her basic plot,
And ev’ry year there’s more forgot –
But that, I always say, just makes her better…
Can she be as thrilling and as tender ?
Can all of her details make a striking whole ?
For that’s where the Devil lurks, and so does her soul.
I think I’d rather lose her all than regret her…

Ferris Wheel

Photo by Guilherme Rossi on

Ferris Wheel

We both deserve better,
But we’re never gonna find it –
I know that we’ve settled,
But I kinda just don’t mind it.
I know we’re on the slide,
But we’re sliding not so fast –
It’s been a longish ride,
Neither bumpy nor a blast.
So how it is that we just seem to last ?

I know I oughta leave you,
I feel like I deceive you,
I feel you feel it too.
Yet once we’re at the top, it’s such a view !

I’m terrified to go,
But I’m terrified to stay –
Things are, I don’t know, kinda sorta okay.
I’m never gonna gush,
And I’m never gonna swoon –
So really, what’s the rush ?
I know that I will still be here in June.

Less roller, more coaster,
Less helter, more skelter,
Both tunnel and love,
Both fallout and shelter.

We both deserve better,
But we just don’t hate the norm.
Why be a go-getter
When the water is still warm ?
I feel we oughta shake up,
Into separated lives,
We’re waiting for the break-up
That never quite arrives.
And round and round, our roundabout survives.

You know you oughta leave me,
You think that you aggrieve me,
I think I disagree –
I’d rather stick it out than be set free.

I’m unconcerned to stay,
But I’m nonchalant to go –
Let’s wait another day, then, before the big heave-ho.
And most times aren’t so rough,
And you’re far the best I’ve known –
I don’t love you enough,
But I love you more than living life alone.

Traps & Loops

Photo by Wendy Wei on

Traps & Loops

I’ve got a sampler at my feet,
I’ve got a long synthetic beat
I’m strumming my guitar,
But there’s no-one on the stage but me…

It backs me up just fine,
And it always keeps in time
When I’m strumming my guitar,
But it never lets me change the key

I’m a one-man band
With my digital friends,
Just playing a solo that never ends.
And I can’t speed up,
And I can’t slow down,
So see me next week in Camden Town.

I’d love to sing a duet with someone
Who’s backing me up in analogue.
Could you syncopate me, someone,
To put some roll in my rock ?

I’d love to thrash about the stage,
I’d love to whip you to a rage,
But I’m strumming my guitar
To a hundred-and-twenty beats, inspite.

I’d love a ballad to unroll,
I’d love an easy slice of soul,
But I’m strumming my guitar
To a hundred-and-twenty beats, all night.

I’m a one-man band,
And it takes too long
To set up the backing for every song.
So I can’t slow down,
And I can’t speed up,
So see me next week in Lower Sidcup.

I’d love to sing a duet with someone,
Without the need of a metronome.
Could you be my freestyle, someone,
And let my tempo roam ?


Photo by Angshu Purkait on


Love, like jazz, is something I’ve never braved,
It’s never been in my bracket.
Never been tempted, never been close-shaved –
Whatever, I’m happy to lack it.
But you demand my offbeat soul be saved,
And freed from its long-sleeved jacket –
Assuming me as crippled and enslaved,
Or thinking I just can’t hack it.
But I have all the fellowship I craved,
Without it costing a packet –
So love, like jazz, has passed me by unscathed,
In all its faff and racket.