I had better not scratch

I had better not scratch

It itches,
this odd blood in my veins;
An irritation
that throbs irregular venom-stings,
tumefying the heart
like a lie whispered to a child: Come with me; I won’t hurt you,
words that dance
over milk carton pictures;
words that swim around
in broken parents’ cereal bowls.

It itches,
this invisible darkness;
wild, white fire
stripping away the core of the soul,
softening bones,
like a branding iron on the skin of a heifer: Sh, sh, it’s only a cow,
a marking that leaves
more than just number;
a marking that lives
under the skin.

I had better not scratch.

Instant Noodles at Dusk

Instant Noodles at Dusk

Dusk’s last breath puff up the curtains
in a flash of the post traumatic kind.
A crocheted-cliché,
peach-purple duvet
drapes the mountains in war paint;
Redwood generals’ shadows on attention,
and disorderly Pine infantrymen
struggling against the wind
(some broken, most wounded),
shattered limbs on display.

The war hero sighs into the bowels
of an instant noodles cup;
dumplings shiver
((uncooked liver))
when he whistle-whispers untold stories
of courage
and guts
served on government-sponsored battlegrounds;
no-one listens,
save spiders with hairy legs
that hang on his every word.

Death is but a chap in a rented tuxedo

Death is but a Chap in a Rented Tuxedo

Death’s just around the corner
of ninth and twenty-second;
swearing at the rain,
he straightens his comb-over,
summons a cigarette
from the depths of hell,
which hangs from his chapped lips
like a limp dick.
He bawls a fist at the rain;
the thumb and ring finger
on his left hand
sink away into his skull;
he’s pretending to inhale (smoking kills),
massages his temples,
for there,
beyond his own reflection
in the coffee shop window,
he can hear the morning newspapers
his name
in vain.

A New Villain


Dawn chomps blotches through tiny eyelids.
Irises afloat in that irresolute space
connecting reverie and reality;
relief comes in gushes of ecstasy—
those razor-beaked ravens weren’t real,
and today is Saturday.

A Captain America digital eye blinks:
thirteen lazy minutes before cartoon time.
The boy relishes the moment,
rolls over and wraps himself in his duvet—
on the curtains Batman KRAPOWs! the Penguin,
Spidey skulks atop a kind of Empire State.

A new villain rips through thin air,
elegantly intrudes and startles:
red locks rising and falling
within the flow of an undercurrent—
her speech bubble screams Danger!
She holds hands and tangos with Death.

Her minions: an army of amoeba jelly-like creatures,
and in her left hand a mysterious disc
(of power beyond words, no doubt).
Irises afloat in that irresolute space
connecting reverie and reality
when she knocks on the window.

The boy’s bladder goes weak.
Batman pulls up his nose and stomps a boot in disgust;
Spidey’s smirk is clearly visible underneath his ridiculous mask.
A long nail taps on the window now— a sign of impatience—
the disc sparkles with menace,
her speech bubbles with droning anger:

“Ranger, come and eat your cereal!” says mum,
leaning over and switching off the pool pump.
“Wow! Can you see the shapes
of the water’s reflection on your curtains? Trippy.”
Ranger jumps out of bed and changes his shorts.
“Oh, Range, I found a cool new villain in the cereal box.”


words by Ramon Ramirez

art by Craig Hopson

The Search for Young Years Lost

The Search for Young Years Lost

The old man’s combat boots soles
echo the sound of drums,
the taste of ramen lines his gums;
over mountain drool streams
he trudges,
uphill, into forest’s belly
he hobbles;
battle wounds never healed,
muscles scream
like those goddamned warplanes
in his dreams.

Phantom pains below the shoulder
where the rifle butt butted;
he climbs over a boulder—
a cramp in the neck
where the rifle strap gnawed—
looks down at the rising steam
over the onsen, blue,
where young soldiers once frolicked
without a care in the world,
without a clue;
his crooked smile’s melancholic.

Breathing hard, he reaches the clearing
just after lunch;
walks around the shallow grave
where they buried the boy
(he couldn’t be sure, but he had a hunch),
lied down on his back
and looked up at the sky,
ominous now,
the clouds a darker shade of black.
When the rain comes down
in dirty Perspex sheets,
he shuts his eyes and starts to cry;
forgiveness comes from beneath
in the form of young bones
that squeal,