Don’t Go Down in the Basement, Darling

Bad things happen in basements

we know

the Id beneath the floorboards

so Lester’s wife should have thought twice

about mocking his masculinity

in their basement

by the clothes dryer that doesn’t work well;

now Linda doesn’t work well either.

Badasses and Babadooks bide in basements

& the offspring of Horror Writers’


So the next time someone offers to take you

down the basement

or hop into a car boot

or trunk

if they’re North American

that basement of motor vehicles


You Hear a Noise

You hear a noise. It’s past midnight.

So what do you do?

You hop up, turn on a few lights, tramp down the passageway. open and close cupboards, bang doors, make a lot of noise.

Then you stop and listen.

There it is again.

Those bloody mice, you say, though you’ve seen no evidence of any.

It’s nothing, you decide, nothing. House noises.

You head back to the bedroom, turn off the lights.

Someone taps you on the shoulder.

That Kid in the Oven


A little kid climbs into an oven.

It is dark and sooty as a cave.

The kid turns on his torch.

The door shuts behind him.

Someone turns up the heat.


His brow perspires, his eyes begin to bulge,

His heart to race.

The kid scrambles to find an opening, bangs on the glass.

The door slowly opens.

The kid staggers out.

There, says a stern, kindly voice. How was it?

Life isn’t plain sailing. Just so you know.

Huh, who was that? The kid asks.

No one answers.


* courtesy of ‘The Drabble’ on which it has just appeared


Still Waters


Still waters run deep, his mum said

What did she know?. He took the plunge anyway

Swept up in its flow.

Emerged twenty years later,

Three kids, a mortgage, wife in tow.

Was it worth it?

Hell, yeh. Wished he could have let her know.


* photo from by Gabor Coyamo


Between the Flags


Two more drownings down at the Bay.

‘Swim between the flags’, lifesavers say.

Live between the flags, and you play it safe

But against such restrictions, the spirit chafes.

‘Don’t Drink Too Much’, ‘Gamble Responsibly’

‘Wear seat belts, bike helmets, drive responsibly.’

‘Don’t Smoke, Do Drugs’, the flags hem us in

& we’re scared little children, there seems to be no end.

‘Doctors won’t prescribe benzo- diazapines

Or other drugs of dependence’, and please no codeine.

‘Don’t Talk To strangers’, Be careful Online.

Swim between the flags and you’ll be just fine.



Dodging the Bullet


So far I’ve dodged the bullet

The Damoclean sword

But I know it’s coming for me.

I have its word.


It’s waiting in the rafters.

It’s waiting in the pews.

It has interminable patience

& that is not good news.


It knows my area of weakness

My Achilles heel.

It’s waiting for me to slip up.

It knows I will.


It will not be beaten.

It will not be assuaged.

I open the door tentatively.

It maybe in the yard.

Unstable Cliffs


Unstable Cliffs, the sign read. Extreme Danger. Stay Clear.

And I thought of the unstable Cliffs I had known:

The deputy that barked at me when I called in sick,

My cousin’s boyfriend who punched holes in the wall

Whenever he was denied,

And the glue-sniffing Cliff I taught in Year 11 who fell asleep

On the tracks and was run over by a train.

They should have come with warnings too.