Any town will do.

Any town will do, any one at all […]

Any town will do.

Any town will do, any one at all
All stucco pebbledash concrete
All smoking pipes at breakfast
Any town will do

Any town will stand against the wind
Of lunchtime disaster flood
Of can’t-get-home-it’s-raining
Any town will stand

Any town could be my home
It’s kind of quiet here kind of
It’s kind of boring here kind of
Any town could be

Any town is less than zero
Add up the hours add up the
Add up the days add up the
Any town is less

Any town is quite the beacon
Fulgent dual carriageways at night
Fulgent words in void of light
Any town is quite

Any town I have visited, any one at all
All overcharg’d and oversex’d
All broken hearts and living wrecks
Any town I have

Any town will do, any one at all
All wrong song wrong time wrong face
All birdcage sings at crack of doom
Any town will do.


Close These Doors

Your door of late is ever closed, and yet […]

Close These Doors

Your door of late is ever closed, and yet
In a while, sometimes, I may see you
At your wax-lined window. This time is set—
A tragic minute or two before, again, through

(Tho it is hard to make in all this snow)

Those frosted panes I see dark, dusty naught;
Perhaps I hear words in the winter wind—
Wish to not be like lustful lover foolish caught
Making lonesome eyes through the blinds,

(Tho never pretending wit; I am honest)

Hoping fonde for your petty, pretty goodly match
Of heart to heart to heart — o, (dare I say?) care
Not tho for my martial love, do not dare to unlatch
Your door; but, then, yet — perhaps would do a stare

(Two amber embers in the night!)

From behind those curtains, as to reneed
Me of the being I am just glad to have once found;
I am as what you mayever require, never freed:
Attending everloyal to you, we shall
                                     (—all in good time, my love—)
                                                               be bound.


Th’ Next Day

This colossal land will e’er rise […]

Th’ Next Day

This colossal land will e’er rise
T’ meet your steps
This white paving will e’er break
Your shoes into your worn feet
And th’ people that you meet—
Their words are as th’ crake;

Heedless tho you are wise
Seeing all future paths
Heedless of th’ starling warnings
Chick’d in palsy’d throat,
Tales e’re wrote
O’er lesserkin’s fawnings;

Ah, but parallel lines in size
Ne’re-t’meet, like lips
Bitten and broken, that e’er sneak,
Skulk int’ backwoods crick like wren:
Ne’re t’ be like consummate lent—
So shall I turn th’ other cheek.


Death Walker: A Plague Hymnal

Tyrant flycatcher — why don’t you sing? […]

Death Walker: A Plague Hymnal


O Rose thou art sick.


Schönes Leben! du liegst krank, und das Herz ist mir
Müd vom Weinen und schon dämmert die Furcht in mir,
Doch, doch kann ich icht glauben,
Daß du sterbest, so lang du liebst.



I: A Prelude to Decline


      Tyrant flycatcher — why don’t you sing?
Are you, like myself, caught in silence—
Unadorn’d with the traditions of your kith,
      A voice never missed?
Tyrant of my heart, if only you would sing—
Yet do I wait amongst the blacken’d piles,
Adorn’d in masque stuff’d with herb and spice,
      Riddl’d underneath with blackened lice.

He got into bed
And bumped his head
And couldn’t get up in the morning

Thenceforth broke across the city a new age:
Weeks of joyous snow now crept to grey slush
   As LEVIATHAN strode the streets,
The notched sword named Plagia in hand,
Timed strikes to turn man to shadow:
   Lord LEVIATHAN, from distant land,
A county not of earth; from whence
The furies once rode high on sad wings,
From whence the elder gods of England
Turned and hid when Jehova bore His light
Upon the city of Londra, wherefore they
Might escape the Endless Death.
   Lord LEVIATHAN, from distant land,
Engaged in slow walk of decay:
Neither man nor child escaped his blows.

Ashes! Ashes!
We all fall down

It was in this age of bubonic horror
That I chanced down an alleyway
To escape the black-armoured knight:
At once I was confronted
By a visionary sight:

Beauty holds a human face
Purity a human heart
Innocence a young girl’s grace
And love a human’s art

For coming down that alleyway
      A beauteous nymphish angel
      Enwrapped in divine light
As carved of Eden’s clay,
As carved of Jerusalem marble,
As carved of whitest birch
   In aspect how overwhelming,
   In kind as none other;
At peace, aloof, denied the blackened, pox’d cast
Swallowing the streets:
      As shaped by Daedalus,
Labyrinthine in complexity of mind;
      As shaped by da Vinci,
Before her time and set to glide the stars with ease;
As she came afore my presence, I fell to my knees.

The human face, a craftsman’s pride
The human heart, an artist’s mould
A young girl’s grace is pure and bold
And human art, a muse’s bride

Such I knew this sylph was my Jenny wren,
A gift from Mother Goose and Great Yaweh,
And I fell at once — and was this not fantasy?—
Into a flared trance,         entwined.

Sing a song of sixpence for the king

Tyrant of my heart — why won’t you sing?



II: The Lord’s Choice


Ev’ry street is piled high now. A wasted
Generation, ushered to quietude unanswering
And aestus to pitch bright the purple stacks.
Such is the city: and rats around our feet again,
An easy exit from living chaos subdued by
Medicine untaught in modern colleges:
It’s all about who you know. I can help.
Just don’t ask me about the prophecy:
The cards are not in your favour.

Moonlight visits to darken’d households
The candle burning, casting shadows
Damp coughs, two in one, a second and a sliver
Soon the river will be clogged with bloated forms
And folks crossing the bridge will be wont to say:
‘I hope Mr Fox gets it next: he never was very nice.’
‘It’s their own fault. Good poise keeps it away.’
‘It’s the Lord’s choice whether we live or die.’
Who can blame them? Not I, partial to what I know.
I’ve read deep, and can say: one of them is right.
Mr Fox was always a brigand. But he didn’t deserve
This fate: nor his wife. She was a pretty one.
But I told them to seek me out. What’s a man to do.

This is only the start: and we’ll call it End Times,
As we are known to over any step we can’t discern
Or divine. Such is the sign: a common threat.
So I say, you must have faith. Trust in God
To deliver you, to shield your family, to spare
Over your daughter until another year.
The young countess is sick: a poet is writing
Love songs for her, to keep up her spirit.
But doctor, words aren’t helping:
What good is verse if all who can read are dead?

There is naught to say: so I steal out into the black night,
Crossing paths with the deceased and the diseased,
Walking down the alley where I first saw the light,
That alley where we first met, where we fell into each
Other, where I caught her eye and she caught mine:
And, walking amongst the discarded corpses,
Nameless, toothless, black-ring’d, blue-faced and silent,
I say a prayer: o, God, won’t you spare her over
Until another year?



III: When You Still Can Love


And, if I were to wake in the morning and find you gone.
Therein is the greatest fear of the father and the mother:
And, that being said, any who may love another;
To find you there, and find you lost, all in the same dawn.

The dead are doomed:
For those embraced by plague
    Cannot even confess without
    Fear of passing the curse onto
The good father in the booth.
I am ever hidden behind my masque;
    I am of the few that the parson
    Will speak to now. He speaks
Of a century of suffering,
But there is more I cannot ask:
    What of my Jennifer, pure and true?
    Tell me her fate: I beg of you.

Many have taken my tinctures, and some
All the better for it: yet neither my verse
Nor my alms have brought her back from
This looming brink. A turn for the worse:
I save the choicest ingredients for her,
Allowing my conscience to become heavy
With the thought of those I have allowed
To expire in order for her to survive. Yet:
Her fever will not budge, and she awakens
E’re night with frozen sweat. I have taken
To staying beside her when darkness falls,
My true identity yet unknown.

        Dear countess: your form is falling
        To atrophy: I know not what I can do.

The decrepit swarms clamber pathetically
Over the mounds, reaching for my hand.
More names to record in dour annals.
That familiar clang of the bell: gloss-eyed
       Ravens observe from gambrel’d roofs.
When the sun came out, the stench was all the worse,
Clinging to the herbs in my beak’d masque
              Like a blood-fatten’d flea. Parasites:
Yet bitten, I am not sore. Would that I might
                   Trade my grateful health for hers.

                    I am tired from the tears,
                   Aching from the hours awake,
                   Hoping that my love for you
                   Might be enough to save your life.



IV: Eulogy of Fire


There are no bards willing to tell the tale,
How Londra was swept up by Lord LEVIATHAN;
We are too busy dying to contemplate.
So it ends, a final song I have penned myself,
Betraying my wrath against the Lord of Light:

     Great God! a hymn for your own child,
     Whose body you did not protect.
     Her grave is fostered by rosemary,
     Placed there myself for remembrance,
     For I shall not betray her memory.
     Where was your unending kindness
     When the reaper knelt beside her bed?
     Where was your infinite wisdom
     Whilst her flesh paled, and turned blue?
     Gone! what once was white and appl’d,
     Rosy like Dawn’s early fingers,
     Fresh in bloom now a wilted rose,
     Stolen from life’s arms and delivered
     To your kingdom. For I am the rotten
     Fool who desired her damned to stay
     In such black years as these;
     You are the one who gave her quarter
     Beyond the temperamental humours
     Of our country’s strife, and your angels
     Were the ones who so gently lifted
     Her up on kind wings to a kingdom
     Of eternal renewal. O, God, fault
     My wrath: my envy of her death:
     My greed to keep her in my arms
     When she was always better suited
     To Heaven’s right embrace.

     Such is my song of sixpence.

Still the lord in black takes beloveds in the night,
Doling out the wasting itch without an end in sight;
Now I walk without my masque, and let my echo ring:
Tyrant of my deepest heart, if you could only sing.


Article XXI

This era is finished; it cannot walk […]

Article XXI

This era is finished; it cannot walk
Again. To start so young. That is
I: to cross the White Room and
Come out in strut of pleasèd gadfly;
Take my arm in Christmas-light
   Neon and bright.

This whole passage is complete; it
Is followed only by markers. So shall
It be now, marked for later: “bring me
Hanging honour,” so I may shew thee
A craven flock that takes flight
   Into the night.

Now for thee I bear a symbol. ’Twas thee who
Carried light unknowing in a stage
Unknown to thought but deep in
Courier’s journey; I accept thy seat
Inside my history; o, oval charm
   Resting ever fair.

No heaven too perfect for thy calm:
     No hell better suited to thy stare.


This Old Dame

I came unto a tavern where my speech […]

This Old Dame

I came unto a tavern where my speech
Was met by confused wails. Nothing new;
It has been long since drinking halls welcomed
This old dame. Now all is out of my reach.

Where once I was the talk of all the men,
Now my dress is seen as archaism—
Such colours arouse a worker’s holler
In the depths of this rotten drinker’s den;

Yet once I walked with Spenser in the trenches,
We, arm in arm, did tend to battle-gore
Splashed around like school-childs playing in puddles;
Yellow decay’ng stumps give less worse stenches,

Aye, less worse (and better) than the alleys
Packed with mottled cats and broken bottles!
And, yet, such beasts are tamer than the soldier
Whose riddled corpse wafts vengeance on the breeze.

This old dame is too sleepy for a joke:
So nice ’twould be — to share my companie
With a good old Tom from yesteryear’s dawn;
Yet I fear they’re all buried ’neath the oak.

So here it is: my invite to a friend dear,
To find a spot where I may talk at length
To common folk of broad cheek’d inviting;
I have much of time! I shall be waiting here.



The burg is silent as the train pulls in […]


The burg is silent as the train pulls in.
Crow-feet trees cast fractals on shot-thru violet.
A light, lingering mist slinks around your ankles.
A hill in every distance; cobbled streets.
Although abandoned, you declare tonight
To be a winner. One to find a friend.

The barriers between our own meagre lives
And the Other are, this night, waning.

In the town, scant figures cross your path.
You follow a pale figure, feminine and
Dress’d upon the head with a thorny garland,
Who promises a Good Time awaiting
Down those winding cobbled sideroads.

The figure is gone by the time you reach
A bootleg establishment, where people dance
As if they might rot away in timelapse
Before your eyes. Tho magical, it is almost
Inhuman, how their forms begin to merge.

But there are other warning signs that do not
Take on such an aetherial quality. Take note.

A dance for a ducat, a twirl or two? Nay, nay.
They do not share your city-eyes (nervous
And blinking); more natural and booz’d away
On a mead that has you stuck to your seat.

It’s a long life for some. So drink up.
You’ll only end up howling at the moon
Again anyway, even out here; you can do naught
But wait for the inevitable: a trap of fate.

You sit there, until a man sidles up next to you—
A black hood covering but empty eyes—
Company at last. He puts a hand on your shoulder,
And he whispers: Y’alreet mate?
You’d better watch out tonite.




A. J. Sahnow’s debut horror
novel, The Groop, is out now!
Paperback | Kindle
Paperback | Kindle

Ice Jesters of the Anti-Moon

As I walked through a pallid grove at night […]

Ice Jesters of the Anti-Moon



As I walked through a pallid grove at night,
   Past trees the chalken moon did spread its glow;
   ’Tween fulvous cedars something seemed to shew:
   Intruder moon crawled from our own moon’s light.
Now miles apart in my own view it shook:
   This second moon ’came coloured as the grave
   And birthed new sky ’round sable architrave;
   Shadows grew gaunt upon the woodland brook.
Had mirage or daydream entranced my mind—
   No hashish daze could bring such sights abound,
   To create a twinnèd mantle of rays
One half stars, the other colours that bind.
      I could not fathom that unearthly sound;
      The colours changed ’fore my confounded gaze.



Then, from behind the cursèd satellite
   A sheen of zymotic shades did gather;
   In their wake came forms of lunar lather:
   Born of anti-moon, they grinned in cruel might—
White, skel’tal ice-clowns hung from above
   And stared down at the earth in base hunger:
   Their crude claws of basalt were no younger
   Than the earth that upon we lived and loved;
I saw our fate was clear, an ancient feast
   For grinning idiot monstrosities—
   Aberrant jesters of the anti-moon,
Primal gods insane as daemonic beasts.
      I kneeled before solar atrocity,
      Doomed under the glare of imposter lune.



What fate was this — to die alone in fright,
   Whilst all my loved ones gathered together
   Staring high at stars, not knowing whether
   They were prey to dreams, or to die that night.
These wicked comics knew not what they took—
   Without absolution, resolution,
   At beast-jesters I screamed retribution;
   But still with rude, rabid hunger they shook;
Still their stretchèd masques stared down, reveling
   In pungent fear our species did exude:
   Their cosmic cackles then filled the night air,
Echoing through atmosphere, levelling
      All man’s cities; so numb was my mind’s mood—
      In death, I could only think it unfair.


A Common Evil

Old walls, old cycles […]

A Common Evil

Who’s there?



Old walls, old cycles.

Old walls—
                 a common evil,
                 divining a daemon.

The castle of a dead empire.
        Lost, for a second.

Safety in solitude.
               A seventh chance.
               A hidden glimpse.
               An honest smile.

A greeting — old friends,
                        old walls.

Sequestered in liturgy,
        but focus wanders;
        and we return to—



A building site
                      as a temple.

            False history—
          but truth lies
                down the way.

           to the human heart,
religion.                   The self
            cannot survive
without                    your kind glance.

See me, or—
                                 be me,
as I wish that I could be you.

    And then cut away,
    close-up of sweet smirk,
    shadow of hooked hand on wall.

And such small portions



Shot through ochre—
Brighter than the sun.

Leaning towards restraint,
We cough up mounds of
Grey paste,
That we trudge through
Day by day.

Under it all—
What is there?

I can tell you:

Several spheres, marked by curious lines,
Connected — and grand eyes,
Watching — soft — lingering—
Obscured and denied.

Alabaster mask,
Connected — and staring out,
Carven features — soft — lingering—

Do you understand?




                  Than the last end,
            The false start.

Survival, day by day.

Not to repeat
Again, again again—

Survival: this time we move inside old walls,
                Sketchy signal,
                TV flickers.
                Fair features.
                Nobility, eternal history—
                How to engage damage
                And yet still wake up.

And then, morning:

For lo! the wishèd day is come at last



Differing wavelengths, changed masks.

I have no god—
           but I know He watches.

Silence matters.

Tracks lead to streets aglow,
Great Creator knows my moves:
But approval is ’fuscated.

       Never mind.
       You must find the path—

Chaos differs, but time stays the same.
Shadows again, on the windows shut.

Almighty! what gift—
What look thy give—
Lord! what have I done?



Adages can lie—
You cannot simply deconstruct.

You must create,
        and whether it real or not,
        you must foster care.

It is but we who hurt each other.
It is only we who make us bitter.
Jove’s litter, Man—
And we live here, for now.

Verona shewed us light;
            but for now, the Tusks
            dig deep in our ribs,
            and our dying eyes see
            sweet sunlight, borne history, and innocence.

Nymph, in thy orisons
Be all my sins remember’d



Seven simple statements.
Seven forms of fate.
           Seven muses lie by my bed,
           and dictate solemn the date.

Four sisters of order;
Four days that are shewn.
           Four rules to channel your luck,
           and plead we notice too late.

One kindness is given,
One kindness received.
           Hold breath in reverie silent,
           Before thy great silver gate.

Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name;
Please hear these words:
We did not choose this—
We did not—



Surrounded now
                                            by angels,
                           another gift.
Lifted by iron wings
                       you know better than I.

Did you see us waiting for you?

Exhumed fluids


You entwine two worlds:
All those yet to be
             Those who have left.



Voices whisper ’round ruins
Tongues never remain, yet
We hear them.

Almost silent—
Catch them, bottle them,
Seal them in writing—

And never speak them again,
For words are stronger
And crueller than you or I.

Let them be,
Or else expect
To hear them — murmuring
Jealousy in your ear at night.

Can you see the face—
It lives in the curtains.
It sinks low on the yellow lace.



Something has made its way in.

Distorted now, pitched lower,
Childish din, sallow face. Crawling.

Do         you       understand

Lord—release me.
I can’t stop it.
I think it—

             The sun, equidistant, a million miles.
             Reach out — now, green grass, children frolick,
             Water never seemed so fresh.


             Everything adds up. Food never tasted so good.
             This is the life. Good wine. Red. Like the old days.

Something crawls up the back of your neck



There are ghosts in this town.
There are soft sighs on the breeze.
Summer’s sweet vengeance.
I turn, and cover my eyes.
I am a sundial.

We create beings we can’t control,
Left at the mercy of faceless hives:

But — there are those
Who carry the light.

I have met one,

The corrupted corrupt,
Tainted needlessly.

But still live those
Free of the Dark Mother’s grin:
I have seen the beauty inherent in the soul.



Barbed claw-blades.
A night gaunt’s tickling talon—
I cannot run, these
              old walls have me

I lie vulnerable
As teeth enclose
     around my wrist:

No escape.



         Not every
         a ritual.

We are young,
But pain is ever pain.

         is ever

What can we do, but try again,
Ad nauseam.

Not every sacrifice calls a god.
Ancient city,             so distant.

Waiting for the rain,
             to drink deep and catch
             a glimpse of the lonely spirit
             as it wanders by.

We were strangers



Such a strange face
            that frames those spheres.
Many decades will pass,
            and lines shall appear
On my face, as well
            as your strange face.

Yes, lines will grow,
            but keep your strange spirit,
Keep it clear and soft,
            like your strange face.

Did I see you?
Did you see me?
Do you underst—

I know what I see.



Room umbrageous.
Voices — weal or woe?

Frozen in darkness.
No knock.
Footsteps — by your bed.

Eyes light up.
Laughter — unkind.

Cadence discords.
And so it unravels.

Then, crushing what he chanced to mould in play,
The idiot Chaos blew Earth’s dust away



The serene song of Cherubim,
Strained descant.

Wait for the walls,
Barriers between sight and vacuity.
A never-ending white
Like static in the synapses.

To guide the hand
Like a tutor,
Like a sibling.

But, leave it.
We make our own way.

There is much time
To fret and strut,
To observe the whistle
Of the wind.

We lift each other up,
Words at play.



In the boughs of yellow trees.
Hiding in plain sight.
A simple dedication.
Dedicated eyes,
Cracked alabaster mask,
Trapped outside dichotomy.
Unwavering mark.
Sprinkle ingredients
For invocation to
Summon a yellow sprite
From boughs of
Yellow trees.
A subtle mistake—
Now, catastrophe.
And in a foreign town,
In a foreign land,
Many years on:
Something has found you—
Something from which
You hoped to hide.



Finnegan erupts, and realises
                            he cannot go back
                            this time.
An unmarried mother concocts
                            a tale, and creates
                            himself again.
The half-conscious desire
                            to embrace, to shy
                            away, to care, to
                            shake in dismay.

       To see oneself in a mirror
       and realise:
                            You are the
       voice in your head.
       To see your hair
       grow long,
                            grey, and fall out.

       To begin again, for what it’s worth.



Mist sinks low on hilltop,
Ensconced in coddling cloud.
Move behind glass.

City walls of craggy brick,
Music sets the scene.
Heartbeats, fast and irregular.
Like a foolish boy.

Capture short moment to laugh,
Dancing invisible together.
Just interrupted.

Kind heart sets other aflame,
Simple tongues,



A call from beyond,
Fathomless notes
                           notes between—

       The peace
       of repetition.
       Sand calls

       Creep between shadows



Cast aside sickness
Get on your goddamn knees

Eyes I dare not meet in dreams

Spit out blood,
                Tusks split bone,
                        return to your death,
It ends here,
                Tusks pierce organs,
                        see your own ghost,

In death’s dream kingdom

Life flashes now,
                Tusks spear heart,
Wish you spoke,
                Tusks remind you,
                        better to have loved—

For lo! the wishèd day is come at last—

                and lost—
                speak in your own ear—

And such small portions—

                soft spit, those eyes, I love—

Be all my sins remember’d—

                dead between sheets surrounded
                by old walls—

We did not choose this—


We did not—


My God!—



Go, bid the soldiers shoot.


Three Love Songs, Part II: Summer, Severance, Sighs

Three more poems treating upon the idea of romance.

Three Love Songs, Part II:
Summer, Severance, Sighs

Song of Summer

Lost lover—
freed secrets from beyond the ochre mist,
   our tryst—
sleeping in yron dusk, lovely buttons,
slim neckline, adored.
A canto to your eye, an hour never bored;
to pass the while with golden company,
   many seconds pass in your light.

Gained shadow—
loose marbles of Geryon-size,
   my prize—
quiet now, dear love; your mouth
betrays our pact, condemned.
A verse for the oath from which this stemmed;
and concealed, stored in
   marble box I keep ’neath my ruins.

Guided path—
I think of summer days together on the grass,
   where I sighed amidst your form
and introduced you to a world
   beyond the world.



Song of Severance


            She grew upon a bough of jade,
            Trickling roses grasped o’er slade beyond;
And through the glens, her bright frond glowed,
Lighting up this darkn’ing land of slowed respite.
            A silver frost encroached with bite unseen
            To pluck her from the life she had been born:
      But tho night claws with toxic tooth, morn protects,
      And throws its silent voice and detects harm;
Base shadow is betrayed and thrown back to calm peace,
Whilst pure kindness in mortal form is given keys eternal.

            I found her upon the flowered earth,
            Shed from the boughs of her birth-tree;
And as she sat, her hands masked what she would see before
The elements themselves conspired to make sore wounds.
            A sheen of ice separated the moon’s light
            From her severed form, as it shone bright gem;
      I lifted her faerie form, and we danced, her dress’s hem lifted
      To reveal earthen legs of sap, gifted upon
This single damzell with which to waltz under yon boughs
From which she was shed; we held ’neath the lune’s arouse, yfere.

            We footed gaily upon the sable sea,
            Ensconced within our dreams, she finer
Than I could have ever been; altho I ween’d a minor feare,
That time is ever fickle, this severance drew not near afore
            Our plaintive nostalgia for what could draw below;
            Instead our lips amet, betraying solitude and thro’ terror,
      Hidden yet by the crystal waves lapping our ankles, rarer tho
      It be — this love of severance, a man and nymph so bound
By existence’s love and irony: that yet our dance was sound, clear,
We wept foresight: for we knew that passion’s end was rising ever near.



Song of Sighs

Make a sign with me, good love;
I’d chance a kiss for you,
If the weather allowed.

A slight patter through
The gambrel-roofed avenues
Where we hide.

A penumbral peck
Is worth the fear of being found,
You in that silken dress.

It fits you well, spiderweb
Wrapped around your waist:
Caught, just like I.

Don’t close your eyes, O girl;
Night will soon close
As rain falls on our shoes.

We shall return apart; so it must be,
Our movements sheltered
By o’erhanging lights.

Your soft breath upon my lips:
A small sigh exudes
Your eversweet scent and taste.