Orlando by John Mackie

my friend the bass player lives in Orlando he is not gay and tells me he’s safe but still I fear I feel the scale of the homophobic horror that burst the brains and hearts of those who only wanted to dance and fuck together I say this to two I love on social media […]

A Black Widow Waits by John Mackie

As they shut off the power For water and light This is her ambition – to Write in nails across The hardened hearts of those Who built a metal wall on The glass flecked Rubble of her mother’s house By the collateral crater That swallowed her son A Caterpillar tracks In her father’s garden Behind […]

Sredets by John Mackie

so clarity at last; away with conditionals hedged round with maybe perhaps you running away from the uncertainty of bombs in the marketplace, a place on a list of possible non-conformists, the casual revenges of puritans in Kabul be sure come here with fear and we will shoot you as dead as hope under a […]

Nobody Calls The Police by John Mackie

Hear them hammer and tong it he is sobbing panting COPD or something like shouting out in broken bursts “stop it please stop it get off me please I can’t breathe please stop” louder now, “please stop or I’ll call the police” she laughing, triumphal, “nobody calls the police” a cry, a thump against the […]

For Mohamed Bashir al Aani by John Mackie

praised be these tireless black flagged wahabis excising idolarity razing monasteries of more than a thousand years standing and the Bal Shamin shrine the Temple of Bel tomb towers of Palmyra all returned to sand this agitated man apostate poet doubly sinning brought to his knees in the dust with his son before the scything […]

wild jasmine by John Mackie

wild jasmine ready to burst in the mountain commune heady intoxicating a promise of spring in the Pas de Calais a two man tent my cocoon for kids perched on a hopelessness of mud is being ploughed in like horse-shit here, with tear gas and water cannon we welcome you to spring see cherry blossom […]

Ghost Dancers by John Mackie

smoke, magic, trance, the hypnotic reiteration of drums: more things than in your philosophy Horatio: not mazed by the feet gilded with bells dowered in dust? of course then Kill – it is after all your default response to the challenges of learning and the title deeds of land   The Massacre at Wounded Knee […]

From Waterloo Bridge by John Mackie

“From Waterloo Bridge” was written on the occasion of the National Union of Mineworkers’ march through London in June 1984. I read it at fund-raising events in support of striking miners and their families, where it attracted the attention of the composer Howard Skempton who was performing “The Durham Strike” and other coalfield songs at […]