Two Poems by Stephen Nelson

To Build a Home


The future of housing is the yurt, or the portable eco-cabin

along the coast where dry grass struggles against pebbles              

in the sand, and little beads of gold wash up in whale shit.

Not everyone will survive but there will always be grass rolling

inland and cows and sheep like contemplatives lost in dew. 

Once again the horse will be holy and you and I will travel north,

as far as the bleeding moon, until the wild Atlantic welcomes us 

back to her rippling belly, as if we’d grown young again and could eat 

ice cream guilt-free, without guile, without the mortgage

on a salubrious Georgian semi outside Edinburgh. The moon does not spell doom,

but doom is mood spelt backwards, and the world could not be crazier right now

if it broke into a schoolyard carrying a handgun and a sack of religious dogma.

Maybe the bombs will blow our limbs to sea and we’ll find redemption

in an arc of light above our heads as the moment appears 

on God’s tongue like a pearl of glistening saliva.


For a second, you escaped the pain, my childhood memories creating

a seaside paradise, your voice an ecstasy of sorrow as you wandered

down a path beside black fields where suicidal boys are found.

Your letters, your emails. I breathed the paper and it rose, floated

into weddings along the way, where you dance, though sick,

most probably exhausted and coughing God knows what narcotic residue.


This morning I woke with the longing of August, and I tried to reach you,

haul you into blinding sunlight from the storm of my dreams,

the storm of the seasons, the cosmos trickling in and sparking storms 

amongst orange-faced politicians over yin/yang race wars.

Is this a sign that the Earth is ascending, this tearing at identity 

and an aftermath of sighs? I don’t believe calamity is useless.

I don’t believe my moods are inseparable from the horror of Aleppo,

or the storms of the Mediterranean, or your savage girlhood in Lancashire,

New Zealand, Wales. I am here to gentrify that, goddamn it, and sow

this elemental wheat field. I am a sparkling periwinkle apocalypse!


There’s been nothing but telepathy between us for weeks now and really 

that upsets me. I need the firm assurance of your body next to me, 

the struggle for release through years of abuse finding shore and shelter in the warmth of my hand.

From my bed we’ll go anywhere. We’ll build a home and consecrate it with cow dung.

We’ll hug the coastline like gemstone butterflies, re-enact matrimonial rituals

in a ring of standing stones. Our refuge is nomadic, while the world seems stunned 

we’re not alone, or abandoned, or something other than a run-down housing estate 

in a whirling, galactic metropolis.



Space Cats


Teacher’s a ride but I don’t know what that means

and am afraid to ask, and anyway I can write 

better than any of them, especially the boy next to me 

whose writing is a scrawly mess. I am kind not cruel,

watching you write on your hand while the schizophrenic boy

tells stories about the island on his arm.


Teacher says I can write and reads my story to the class 

about the lions and the hunt, the way they sleep

and pounce on prey and devour a carcass in the blazing sun.

She asks if I was a lion in a past life but I just smile

because Jesus is the Lion of Judah and we don’t believe

in reincarnation in our family.


You take drugs to escape the hunt and girls I know

smoke weed at break and giggle through class.

Teacher knows but teacher is a fool who sits me next to a boy 

who did something so bestial it made the whole school vomit. 

He tells me Jesus was an alien from a parallel dimension 

and laughs when I say I believe in the devil.


I saw teacher at the market buying crystals from a stall.

She wore a shawl and beads and looked like an Indian

with a shiny dot between her eyes. I looked at her and felt

so weird, and when she said hello I blushed and couldn’t swallow.

I ran away and found you under a tarpaulin with your girlfriend

listening to rock, kissing her and smiling, and once again I blushed.


You have the marks of a tigress in the forest and we can both write

because we’re super-ascended space cats with a mission to save the world. 

That’s what teacher said when she read our stories to the class;

but I believe in Jesus and you believe in your girlfriend

and take drugs to ease the pain, although I’m not sure why they stalk you.

It frightens me when I lie in bed at night and think about it.



Stephen Nelson is a Scottish poet and artist. His books include Lunar Poems for New Religions (KFS Press), Thorn Corners (erbacce-press), and a book of visual poetry called Arcturian Punctuation (Xexoxial Editions). He is a contributor to the The Last Vispo Anthology, has exhibited vispo internationally and has published in The Sunday Times, Magma, New Writing Scotland, Eratio, BlazeVox and other magazines across the world. Check out his blog of vispo and asemic writing at www.afterlights-vispo.tumblr.com.



Image credit: Andrew Malone

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