Sin Cycle


Peter Kenny



My Mother groand! my father wept,

Into the dangerous world I leapt:

Helpless, naked, piping loud:

Like a fiend hid in a cloud.


     —William Blake





(i) Original


Horny, she was on my tongue before I knew anything;

sharing our sour mouthful under the Bramley tree.

Then He came. Grinding my bed-wetter’s face into dandelions,

wrecking their stalks, weeping their wart milk.


My skin was a surface he secured without slippage,

till His prick burst the ghost clock of my head.

Going, He slung my clothes at me. Now He’s everywhere: 

home, screens, the earworm in my head... Everywhere.




(ii) Formication


The Dictionary for Dreamers says insects

are worries, at least in dreams. Therefore 

all those ant poisons, the Raid and Nippon

under the sink, are there to calm me.


I loathe their collective mind, the purposeful lines 

that trickle from my ears onto my pillow. 

I hate how once you get one, you get more,

lofting bitten dreams in their leaf-cutter jaws.




(iii) Version


Mothballed, I tug one of my faces from the wardrobe,  

one with holes, approachable, stretchy enough not to alarm

the children, or their parents, in the park’s rubberised

playground when I stroll past them to the station.


I’m saying this for effect. Normally, I evade attention,

not wanting to be skewered in the moth display

of a Victorian museum that struggles for funds.

Stabbed through the thorax: freak-white versions of me-me-me.




(iv) Breakfast


I’m still smiling because I try to seem kind,

because kindness served cold is so underrated.

But, sometimes, a milk-white worm squirms in my gut;

my souvenir from your dumb country.


Raw, I’d forked down a slice of your bullshit pie,

a viable egg in that offal I ate to appease you,

one of those days you claimed to be pregnant.

Resentment like this? It moves; corkscrews. 




(v) Porkies


I know this is just words, but confession hurts: not agony,

exactly, but certainly discomfort. See, I used to suffocate

my truths. Now I liberate them to trample, unstifled,

in a grunter’s life of trotter and snout, stamping


their rude cuneiforms by the truffles in the mud.

Never again will I kettle them, sporting rubber boots,

into the slaughter house to make them palatable.

No more pork chops, sausages, nothing packed up in pies.




(vi) Stingtime


Quiet? Actually, I’m thinking. Populating silence;

dangling my egg-layer’s arse over hexagonal cells.

I’m waiting for the mob, with their mouthparts probing,

to clump hotly about the queen of my tongue.


You see, I’ve been worrying about everything

you never wanted me to say. But the honey’s robbed,

and Stingtime’s dance is here at last. And look!

I’m dragging my off-white guts across your skin. 




(vii) Commuted


En garde, I whisper, lunging onto the train, 

my elbows dexterous in their micro-aggressions.

We’re all on the same line, and I re-read

the same line, until a well-Wellingtoned woman


treads on the tail of my eye. She follows a red setter

carving through cow parsley into an open field.

He sprints, I sprint, into the priceless possibility

of a place with no station and nothing to stab for.




(viii) Hungerford Bridge


When I get to it, I can’t bear the corralling,

herded along some architect’s walkway,

to this decision: to cross or not to cross.

Lowing on Hungerford Bridge, half-mad, I stop


half-crossed in the middle, in parenthesis,

each option equally paralysing, stopped,

with the khaki Thames below, each step

blocked, and everything moiling everywhere.




(ix) Exit


In some other plural world, he’d shank you

in the precinct for your wallet. Here, he’s inching out

your downsizing; a masterclass in managing-out.

He explains your redundancy. Not personal, you see,


just that the low-hanging fruits were all cankered.

You dither, unleveraged, hands rasping at themselves.

Then one burrows in your pocket, kneading leather,

seeking the sore and milkless teat of your cash cow.




(x) Choke


Passing, Lady Fortune knocks me at the pool table

at the point where I might pot my third red

and get on the black. He’s back, that version of me,

the choker who doesn’t deserve it. So I choke again.


Inconsolable at the bar, but a bloody good loser,

hating my bastard self, hating what fault forbids

I should win. I never win. Never will win

this game on the green baize field of everything. 




(xi) Incorrigible


This. I twist my rictus into a pursed-mouth pout.

It’s how I want to be immortalised, with those randoms

in the background, and gurning at nothing;

a broken-veined Narcissus on the pull.


But first a sharpener in the bar, retouching a selfie,

to make facial eczema seem more like excitement.

I know my predilections: a full-bloused lady

of a certain age, possessed of a generous disposition. 




(xii) Rose


I smeared you, stretched you on my screen 

expanding sections of your skin,

till now I worm through storms for you.

I want to hack your passwords and your PINs


and howl for you inside the cloud.

I want to haunt and hate and say your name,

and squirm inside your crimson bed,

I want to invade your sick, unsleeping head.




(xiii) End


I can’t let go because it means we’re still talking

and my tongue is a skeleton key that might slide in your wards.

I can’t stop talking, though you clamp on your headphones

listening to your playlist of freedom tunes and fiendish tunes.


I can’t let go because I knew this would happen;

that you’d be tempted somehow, and the end would come.

Now you say my sayings, as if you said them first.

Seems what we shared belonged to you. And always did.






I suppose I rocket out my stupid heart,

because of your eyes. Mad how those trifling jellies 

suck me in with their sombre low albedo.

I waited years for this conjunction,


and here we are: we are a doubled star.

But suddenly you’re making excuses.

Something about a husband, dragging you 

in retrograde, shouting, through the pub door.




(xv) Eyes


Lovelies, I wear these shades for your protection.

My eyes are powerful and, like Plato’s eye beams,

radiate persuasive intelligence. Fact is, I can see

through walls. I know what it’s like to be God 


observing every private gesture; tracking every soldier ant.

Omnipresent, I single no one out. Believe me,

it’s purgatorial watching the living through their walls,

agitating in the sticky amber of their rooms.  




(xvi) Swordsman


I’ve always tried to seem so fucking noble,

even my farts smell of new-baked bread.

I debase people I love. Their succubi have

season tickets to squelching late-night screenings. 


But I want those I broke, smashed-up their hopes

and soaked their sheets to still, secretly, quite like me. 

To be someone who, if I hadn’t been such a bastard, 

they could’ve shown to their gorgeous mother.




(xvii) Sacrifice


Remember the old woman screaming?

Her cat proud of its Aztec offering:

a cock blackbird, its chest ruptured, 

spilling the hedgerow and wildness and gore.


Free, somehow, yellow beak blading the pane,

and me having to do something; to touch it

still hot, stuffing the black feathers into the bin. 

What’s from outside, she said, mustn’t be inside.




(xviii) Siamese fighting fish


I’m bored stupid in the box room,

so I taunt the scarlet fighter in its tank.

It unfurls from Java fern,

wants to murder the mirror I’ve shown it.


Then I catch my idiotic reflection, 

see it float above the street in the black window.

Face gloating over its game, I hate myself,

loathing whatever thing is watching me.




(xix) Living fossil


Greetings! I know it’s hard to believe, but I’m a coelacanth.

You’ll have noted my obsolete armour, my ponderous fins,

my soulful, forking tale within a doubled tail? No?

Then scalpel me (not now shipmates), and you’ll find my brain-case


contains not brain but ninety-eight-point-five percent pure fat. 

How could I know anything with this fat fossil of a head?

With synapses like frying chips? So come on skipper, spank me

back into the blinking briny. I’m happy with the dark and deep.  




(xx) Vacuum

after Joseph Wright of Derby


Observe how I pop the white cockatoo in vitro

and employ a vacuum pump to suck out its air.

I know some of you are upset, especially

the girls who appear to be crying. I merely


mansplain a principle of natural philosophy.

But telling you seems to make no difference.

This part is delicious and – if you pay attention,

thank you – your darling may even revive.




(xxi) Neighbours


Upstairs, zombies leave the hall light burning. 

They don’t give a stuff for communal bills

or me, the bloke downstairs, who they lumber.

But despite their pumping music, the scuff


and shuffle of their boot-busting dances,

I almost enjoy their sheer vigor mortis

as I fritter my time, feeding the meter,

frying eggs, fumbling with my duff plumbing.  




(xxii) Elevation


I’m not in Japan, but lay my head near the sea.

My iPhone tells me that the pillow on my Brighton bed

has an elevation of seventy metres.

Moreover, I carefully chose this location


to be safe from the great wave whose inevitable surge 

will be caused by some collapse in the Canaries.

I am not crowing, but I’m safer than those I know

in flat Hove, to whom I say one word: tsunami.




(xxiii) Death


Whew. Early Wittgenstein says being dead

is not something I’ll experience in life.

Death will swerve me, fall on some rival poet

yawning for air in their anxious hell.


I wonder if living in perpetual fear

is a carapace I’ll shed in death?

My fear sliding sideways to nip some blowhard poet 

sipping macchiato in his comfy beach café. 




(xxiv) Passing


Now, before me, the dead trees come alive.

The glass of the sky is dimpled with light

the lead of the branches, the lead of the boughs,

holds up the light and structures the light.


Now, before me, the dead trees come alive.

Twigs and branches start smoking with starlings 

and I realise several inexpressible things

I’d meant to say, were better left unsaid. 









Peter Kenny lives in Brighton, UK.  He writes poems, plays, libretti, and short stories.  He also has published children’s fiction as “Skelton Yawngrave.”  For more visit