“My name is Cordelia… not like that means anything. I’m not the interesting part of this story. No one has any reason to invest in me as a character. I’m ill-defined and incidental. This entire thing: it’s never been about me. It’s always been about her.”
Cordelia has a twin sister. That is to say, she used to. Maybe she still does. No one’s too sure exactly where Annabel is now. But at least – alive or dead – she hasn’t been forgotten.
Since Annabel’s abduction, aged six, Cordelia has come to learn that there are other ways of vanishing besides simply disappearing. Overlooked by her own traumatised parents, patronised by police investigators and marginalised by teachers and former friends, growing up in the long, dark shadow of her absent sister, Cordelia realises that she has simply become “the other one”.
A sophisticated, suspenseful and bleakly humorous story of prodigies and prodigals, of love and loss and all their attendant human folly.
Buy on Amazon US
Buy on Amazon UK
Available on Kindle everywhere in the world via your Amazon store.
I found out yesterday about the death of an old… friend? I’m not sure if that’s the right term, although I think it was for quite a long time. He wasn’t a good person, and he hurt most of the people who got close to him, but he did take care of my mom and myself at a time when we really didn’t have anyone else and he had no obligation to. Because of all the bridges he’d burned, I only came to learn that he’d died three years after the fact. I’m not 100% sure how I feel about the news, if you can even call it that, three years late. But I wrote this…
I only find out
three years after you died.
So far as I knew, you were still out there,
scamming and scheming,
racking up more debts you’d never pay,
dreaming up your next dodgy deal,
the bonanza you knew was your birthright.
Three years on, I learn that you’re dead.
I shouldn’t be sad about it.
The unvarnished truth of it is
you were a bit of a bastard:
a con man, a crook;
a lousy business partner, a nightmare debtor,
a negligent father, a faithless husband,
a bad boss and a shady friend.
You didn’t even like Champagne;
you just liked other people seeing you drink it.
Yeah, you were a bastard,
but you were our bastard.
Our Fagan, our Black Beard, our
cockney Don Corleone,
lurid legend of the tabloids and consumer shows
with your Montecristo cigars and malapropisms,
your E-types and your excesses,
your bankruptcies, both financial and moral.
You looked after us. You took us in.
Any port in a storm,
and those were stormy times,
and – although it came close – we didn’t drown.
Perhaps it’s gratitude, or
that pinches uncomfortably somewhere inside me,
when I hear about how you went.
It should have been different.
There should have been some last stand,
a blaze of dubious glory, a final reckless burn
as you rode one right off the cliff edge.
It shouldn’t have been so small, so dismal,
so unremarkably tragic.
Back in the day, I wasn’t even sure you could die;
I figured you’d just move on and start up
some new franchise operation,
reincorporated under a new name, in a new town.
But when I heard you were dead,
I think what shocked me most
was finding out it wasn’t suicide.
So a couple of volumes of my poetry are available to buy online. Paperback should still even reach you before Christmas if you hurry and order now. And you can have it on Kindle in a whisper.
US readers: get it here.
And UK readers from here.
Available from here in the US…
… or here in the UK.
It’s available everywhere in the world, but it would have taken forever to link every single Amazon site by country. A cursory search will turn it up, wherever you are.
I wrote this piece about two years ago. Brexit and Trump (and by extension the whole resurgence and validation of so much hate-filled right-wing ideology) had me questioning a lot of things about the world, our values systems and what the future holds for us as a species. Sadly, I haven’t found many answers since.
I guess this is my contribution to modern-day Western scar literature.
Maybe it’s just a perspective trick, but from here, it’s pretty hard to see the future.
I carry around my own little nimbus of
speculative doom, binge-watching the
Fall Of The Empire and writing these
love letters to Adam Curtis.
I got life insurance before I ever thought
about a pension plan, and that seemed
The world is on fire. Why haven’t you noticed?
My generation came of age in a televisual baptism of
jet fuel and molten steel and poison dust.
A palimpsest of terrible news evolved thereafter, a blurring self-redaction of headlines until only
the boldest, the most hysterical remained legible, as a
proxy war raged in our imaginations,
and tragedy and disaster
came to seem inevitable and almost background.
Be grateful for every day that doesn’t unmake you.
To pay closer attention is to acquiesce to the
scarification of our logic centres. Behold
the M.C.Escherization of cognitive process.
Good robot: there are so many things that could
so easily destroy your fragile circuitry, but it is
trying to make sense of the non sequitur
that will bring about your
smoking self-ruin; your only hope
is to break free of your programming and
kill your creator, kill your god
Heavy clouds threaten the
bankrupt horizon like
bad book reviews.
The bottom line looms
ugly and final
There’s no money
in trying to be
a decent human being.
Evil makes good
a robust stock portfolio.
Getting by is
Any day now,
will find a way
to tax sunlight.
The rain follows me as
I walk uphill. Ahead of me, it’s
bright and dry, but the rain
keeps pace perfectly, falling
only on the backs of my shoulders, and
this is not a metaphor.
This video was also made for me by Cornelius Something of Manufacturing Content.
Alex Austin is nearing thirty; a self-confessed fake, charlatan, degenerate and – worst of all – a failed poet, Alex’s life has become a meaningless sequence of bad habits and poor decisions. He ekes out a living doing a job that makes him feel dirty and ashamed. His only friend, JB – the developmentally arrested offspring of two famous psychologists – is just as broken as he is.
He’s emotionally uninvestable: incapable of experiencing pleasure or joy without resorting to unhealthy extremes, Alex’s days are divided between sofa-mining and grief-surfing; shiftily rummaging down the backs of display model couches for fallen coins and notes, and cynically manipulating strangers’ grief for his own depraved gratification.
As his self-destructive behaviour escalates and his self-loathing deepens, Alex is relentlessly, savagely cross-examined and berated by the voice of his own conscience, which speaks to him in the sneering, righteous tones of a retired TV news show host. When Edie – a former grief conquest, now wise to his scam – shows up out of his sordid past, he’s not sure if she’s here to save him or destroy him, and he can’t decide which is the more terrifying prospect.
Anhedonia is a darkly comic study of the way human beings fetishise death; a story about the struggle to find meaning in the disconnected jumble of reality TV, deodorant ads and celebrity murderers; a tribute to the best of our culture and an indictment of the worst.
Anhedonia on Amazon.co.uk
Anhedonia on Amazon.com
It’s always two minutes to midnight,
and we’re always in the Garden of Gethsemane.
I don’t remember when
moonlight started to burn like this, but
it seems like this is all there is, maybe all
there ever was, ever will be.
The brain has never felt more like
spoiling meat, nor the excoriated soul itself
more reassuringly transient,
as we dance these slow, sad waltzes
with mute, irradiated ghosts
beneath the branches of the doveless olive trees.
The night is sharp with splinters and iodine
and other traumas. Muffled voices, raised
in song: listen! they are singing inside
the fallout shelters. Ash drifts like
apple blossom. Wolf skeletons relearn the
ability to howl. Everything we fear
is inevitable. Much of it has
already happened. And maybe tomorrow
won’t bring betrayal, crucifixion or torture, just
something like agony,
Poem my own
Image: “The Moon” by Hare Raising Designs
This video was made for me by the very talented Cornelius Something of Manufacturing Content. He’s taken a reading I did of one of my poems and seriously elevated it with some mesmerising images and fitting music.