A gift of a bird […]



A gift of a bird is not
Taken lightly, nor can it be
Taken back: it is almost
Theft; yet this ruffled lark

Is mine now, I have stolen
Its grace and its name
For my own. I will take its
Wing to fly with, and leave

You in solitary, where you
Would like to stay, as I
Instead reach a greater height
Than I should have without it.


Echoes Underground

Welfare cheques from the welfare state. A vote’s as good […]

Echoes Underground


Welfare cheques from the welfare state. A vote’s as good
As any. I shall wait around all day, for the post.
And when I walk, under my hood I smile. A tired smile.
(And when the post comes, then I shall laugh.)

I see more rats than ever. (Myself included.) I think I’m going bald.
The girl around the corner almost smiled at me.
All I hear at night is shouting, deranged and broken.
(A rat scurries around my bare feet.)

—In the tunnels there’s never any room […]
    Nor once they have passed either—

I should sooner fall on my sword than speak my mind.
Sleeping tarmac, yawning alloys, dreaming concrete corridors—
The preacher says the end is not nigh: Eschaton Averted.

(—Nay: I shall expedite its coming.!.—)


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.


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

Song of the Tyrant

Whilst dreaming of a winter’s day […]

Song of the Tyrant


Look on my works


Whilst dreaming of a winter’s day
   Sometimes a tyrant thus would say:
My citadel is much too bright;
   Subjects, quash this ghastly summer light.

But at any rate or time of day,
   The tyrant to himself would say:
I know my subjects love me not;
   And left, my conscience, here in entropy to rot.

And so to seek his state of mind
   We his memories must find:
What happened on that summer’s day
   To force his fragile humour out this way?

But beyond the rationale of past,
   Still we suffer ’neath his sadist cast
      And, in fault, leave good action to the bitter last.