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Today I played Joni Mitchell’s ‘Blue’ backwards

Expecting to hear the Devil

But instead causing time and matter to condense and reverse

Thus causing considerable change within myself and the universe



                 from Eleven by Stuart Buck







Les Bulot







Absinthe Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

What I Don’t See





Stuart Buck


Stuart Buck is an ex-chef turned poet who lives in the valley of the poets, the Ceiriog Valley in North Wales (birthplace of John Ceiriog Hughes). He has been writing poetry for a year now and his work has been featured in the Erbacce Journal, The Seventh Quarry, Under the Fable, The Stare’s Nest, Cultured Vultures, deadsnakes and the Yellow Chair Review. He has recently begun performing poetry live and when he is not writing can be found running a literary blog, juggling or listening to music. He has a long suffering wife and a not so long suffering daughter, with a baby boy due in February. A fairly recent convert to poetry, it now takes up all of his mind at all times and is completely in love with the works of Plath, Cummings and Bukowski.

blog at www.stuartbuck.wordpress.com






Les Bulot


in my dream i am back at les bulot

cautiously trawling the fish soup

afraid of probing its depths and

finding myself hopelessly out of

my comfort zone wishing i had

opted for the sirloin steak

which you were now pushing

around your plate with the silver

cutlery making blood and cream and

the lissom pomme-frite mingle

sensually on the bone china plate

and now you are laughing at me

because i have found sand in

the bottom of the bowl and you

say that it shows it is authentic and

i push the bowl aside and sip the

wine and breathe in the salty air

and suddenly i am aware that this

is a dream and my heart breaks a

 little inside as it does  each time

 i leave les bulot and return to

the stark fire i now inhabit alone.





The kitchen filled with heady perfume

Sweet cumin and star anise

Aromatic fennel and mace

                Black gold brought back on steamers

                Opulent saffron – sensual gossamer strands

                Sumptuous vanilla – pod lithe and supple speaking of seed and semen

The crackle and snarl of the spice trade

Hits the fiery smoke of the dry copper pan

Producing hedonistic piquancy

                Nutmeg brought back

                To halt Gods pestilence

Pungent ginger for men

To lie with another

The meat lays down its final flight

Landing skin side down in the torturous heat

Crisping instantly and turning rose to milk

                Cortez and Culpepper

                Alaric and the Pharisees

                Of clippers and cayenne

The cream and the sea

The tide and the turn

The heat dies down

Leaving questions with no answers.



I remember him now and then

When I’m feeling brave enough to recall my childhood

Mr. Strathclyde

He was a welcome break from the ceaseless banality of the suburbs

I’d see him every Saturday morning on my way to work

Damp panatela clamped between his gums

Stained string vest and pyjama bottoms

Smirking like he’d just told a dirty joke that no one had heard

‘Morning sport’ he’d yell at me over the thrum and whine of his lawnmower

I hated sport

But I liked him

‘Morning Mr. Strathclyde’

His lawn was immaculate

Set square perfection

He’d tend that lawn until they took him away he used to say

I never saw Mrs. Strathclyde, although I knew she was lame

Sometimes you’d see the curtains twitch in the bedroom upstairs


One Saturday I was walking to work when I noticed a weed growing in the centre of the lawn

Right in the middle, defiling it

The next week there were more weeds

The grass was getting longer

Clover and moss burst through the pristine layer of grass

A crisp packet lounged in the corner, its garish maw gaping obscenely

After that my dad lost his job and we moved to the other side of town

I never saw Mr. Strathclyde’s lawn again.





Since my brother and I

Sit stitching wings

Onto butterflies


cross stitch

knit one

pearl one


Release from the jar

We speak not

Of family matters

Of trivial demeanours

Like our mother

Lying in effluence

While my father

Unravels like a spool of thread

We speak not

Of the debt

The dogma

The destruction of

Our beautiful wives


Since my brother and I

Create sweet music with

Each other’s ribcages

Like flesh and form

Snuff boxed silhouette

Black crow dreamscapes

We daren’t speak

Of little boy blue

Deciduous trees

Death incarnate

And the rattle and hum

Of our mothers

Bronchial fire


Since my brother and I

Lay still inside one another

Acid reflux and shameful glances

Boiled sweet reflections

Mist eye menders

Hospital trolleys ambushed

Sent back to whence they came

We do not have time

For trivialities

Such as life


And the flames that lick

Suck and caress

At our parents ethereal chaos


Since my brother and I

Plough fields of youthful ambivalence

With rusted tractor wheels

And rabbits slit from ear

To twitching ear

We do not have time

To discuss the cancer

Or the amputation of limbs

The war in the east

Or the son in the west


Since my brother and I

Live only for ourselves

We do not have time

To attend funerals

And light pyres

For those we love

And those we lost

While we were trading places

And melting like wax

Into the eyes of eternity.




Today I played Joni Mitchell’s ‘Blue’ backwards

Expecting to hear the Devil

But instead causing time and matter to condense and reverse

Thus causing considerable change within myself and the universe

Butterflies began stitching themselves into cocoons

As my eyeballs melted and ran like tears down my cheeks

The screams of a thousand lost souls were swallowed

And choked on

And spat out again

My teeth pushed back through my gums and burst out the gelatinous mess

That once was my face

Millions of bullets returned to millions of guns like faithful dogs

The sky turned green and the grass turned blue

Every musical note returned to its instrument

Every thought turned to a silent whisper

And every human being turned into a glint in no one’s eye

From my vantage point

As a puddle on the floor of eternity

I briefly spotted Richard Dawkins crying into his teacup

Before he too melted and I absorbed him

Through spiritual osmosis.





As I pish pash down the monstrous streets of Paris

The rain makes the cheap neon shimmer and shiver

I am approached by a creaking vagrant

Shuddering and Grunting

Coughing and Wheezing

He pushes a shopping trolley containing maize

I secretly wish he will pass me by

But of course he does not

‘Want some corn’ he asks

‘That’s maize.’  I say

‘That’s not fit for human consumption’ I say

He laughed

Raised his hands to the skies

‘None of this is fit for human consumption’ he screamed

I bought some maize and trudged on

How could I argue?





Wet concrete

I spit out my tooth

Tea stained enamel

Silver filling

Blood follows

I can hear the siren

Its drawing closer

The blood mingles with the rain

The tooth is washed downstream

The ambulance is here

Its midnight

My chariot beckons


I blink

No one sees


He comes to my bedside

And tells me all things must die

I stare through him

At the teeth chattering on the walls

At the decaying bouquets

In the corner of the room

I took his hand

And he smiled


I am four years old

I slip off my stepping stool

And crack my tooth

I am thirteen years old

I kiss Mary Kitts

I feel her tongue in my mouth

I am fifteen

I fall down the stairs

The cat licks my ear

My knight in shining armour

I am eighteen

I am drunk

I fight with my dad

He swings first

I am twenty-one

She breaks my heart

I am twenty-five

The night is stained with semen and sweat

I am twenty-nine

I never saw the car coming

I never stood a chance


I wake up

I see dim light below

It is the birth of a galaxy

I know this

But I do not know how I know this

I blink

The light changes


Glows fiercely

I blink

The light turns from red to green

Dozens of smaller lights circle around

I blink

The smaller lights have become sentient

I watch them watch me

They dart in and out of my vision

Some approach me

Some keep their distance

I blink

The creatures have become hostile

I blink

The creatures are gone

I see everything

I blink

A planet appears

It is blue

I move towards the surface

The clouds cushion my descent

They are comfortable

Like pillows

I blink


The impact from the vehicle

Travelling at seventy miles an hour

Flips me into the air

My head crashes first into the windshield

Then the concrete

The sounds I hear envelop me




The siren

The beep

The click


I am staring at a blank canvas

I blink

Mountain ranges burst forth from the land

Splitting the world asunder

I blink

Rivers flow

Like tears

I blink

I feel each tree

Each leaf

As it punches through the ground

I blink

I am a bird now

I am everything that ever was

I blink

I see planets

I see galaxies

I see the universe

And I see my wife

Sat by my hospital bed

In tears

Stroking my hair

Begging me

To just wake up


I am seven years old

Chris Rogers is punching me in the stomach

Everyone is cheering

I struggle to my feet

Pick up a rock

And smash it into his face

His teeth fly out

The screams part the crowd

The teacher grabs my throat


I wake up

My wife has gone

Her bag is on the chair next to my bed

She will return to me

As I have returned to her

I blink.




absinthe makes the heart grow fonder


Sometimes I stare

At the enamelled absinthe poster

We bought from a thrift store in Montmartre

An overpriced attempt

To become more cultured

I look at the lady

In her green dress

And her green hat

Pouring green liquor

Into Emíle Cohl’s cup

And I remember

The night before we bought it

We sat up all night

In the cemetery where Dumas was buried

(I had to tell you who he was)

And we drank from a bottle

Of pale green absinthe

And convinced ourselves

We were hallucinating

(Though they stopped putting wormwood in years ago)

Desperate to feel

To mean

Something more

Than just bones

More than just an enamelled sign

And a return ticket home.


What I Don’t See


To the BBC News,

When I look outside my window

I do not see famine

I do not see rapists and murderers

I do not see pit-bulls mauling children

I do not see poverty

Or Aids

I do not see the failings of the health system

Or a cocaine snorting politician

I do not see people growing old

And dying

I do not see gangs of feral youths

Stabbing immigrants

For iPhones

I do not see cancer

I do not see the rain

I do not see obesity

I do not see guns


Grand Theft Auto

The movies of Eli Roth

Or anything else causing violence

I do not see prostitutes

Or drug dealers

I see two sheep

One chicken

And lots of hills

Please report this at once

To cheer everyone up.





Led through sparkling trees

Laburnum and wild garlic

Hand in hand in hand


Gossamer explosions net the arches above

Delicately spiced petrichor dances in our minds

A band of brothers with sinner in our midst

A vivid recollection brought back with time


Each footstep thick with sin

Envy and lust ferment in my blood

I am taken to my riparian grave

To soak among the new beginnings


Then plunged beneath by hands and grace

A lassitude assaults my bones

Within the brine and succubae

I breathe my first again


I entered as death

As evil

As hatred

And born again

I rise

A saint

A god

A man.




Les Bulot – submitted to The Poetry Review

Spice – unpublished

Brine – unpublished

Eleven – published in The Seventh Quarry 2016

River – submitted to National Poetry Competition 2016

Maize – unpublished

Blink – published on deadsnakes as a featured poem

Absinthe makes the heart grow fonder – unpublished

What I Don’t See – published on The Stare’s Nest

Reborn – submitted to National Poetry Competition 2016


4 - Afterword

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