But what we make

Roaches scuttle over plastozoic middens

heaped beneath the boiling crimson sky

and poison squalls sweep through streets

lined by crumbling concrete monoliths

with skeletons of wilted steel.

Deep below, neat rows of uncorrupted

gold repose in sterile catacombs

while the bleached, unburied bones

of our descendants lie exposed and

scattered by apocalyptic winds.



R. P. Burley


Living dead

A sour stench creeps from the corpse

on her living room floor;

skin grey and greasy like

wet cardboard, jellied eyeballs

staring at the ceiling.

When the smell becomes too much to bear

she scatters fresh supermarket flowers

on the rug where he fell,

daubs his cheeks with cheap rouge

and combs his blood-soaked hair.


He was her father,

her lover,

her best friend – 

all things always.

The one who filled her emptiness

and kept her deepest secrets safe.

She pries his stiffened finger from the trigger – 

hides the cold, black steel

behind expired olives

and dusty cans of cannellini beans.

The final touch: a Picasso print,

just the right size for the blood-spattered wall.


Satisfied, she kicks out the recliner

and turns on MasterChef.



R. P. Burley 


Come, little sparrow,

perch upon my windowsill.

I would whisper to you through the pane

my hurried thoughts and deeply pondered dreams.

I seek solace in your humble song –

those wholesome notes may harmonise

my melancholic malady,

bringing succour to my cold, beleaguered mind.


The air is barely bothered by your flight

but beneath your softly feathered breast

I know there beats an eagle’s heart.

No garish parrot’s plume can match

the gentle pleasance of your earthly hue,

and the swift swallow wishes

it possessed your careful poise.


Fly, little sparrow,

do not linger with this base and selfish creature.

My window is but one dull breach

in a world of others more enticing.

Flock with your familiars and

tend your cherished nest –

all I ask is absolution if

I fix an eager eye on your return.



R. P. Burley



I dream that vile parasites twist in my skin –

the coiled creatures creep beneath my sallow cheeks,

congealing in the grey crescent moons that hang

below my tired eyes.

With a patient hand I slice my flesh to pry them out,

leaving bloodless lesions,

though even with a thousand cuts the worms still writhe –

a never-ending legion gnawing at pink sinews,

threatening my fragile frame.



R. P. Burley