Stuart Clough


Full-time business writer. Part-time poet. One-time philosopher. @stuart_Ov Thank

Selection of recent and not-so-recent poems (late drafts)

Acid rain was big in the eighties

Do you remember acid rain?

Growing up with that fear,

lakes full of coke bottles,

rain falling and shearing the sheep,

saving those hill-farmers

not one but two jobs!

Acid rain never fell for me,

never burnt my face off

to let me watch it

wash down the drains,

carried off from my

unskinned eyes.

So many things these eyes

haven't seen! Bergen,

the egrets and gosshawks

of western Finnmark,

the roving lout of a Rasmussen

through the eyes of a schoolgirl.

Or LA, which is all we thought

would be left to escape to,

back in the eighties.

That's what heydays do to you!

Fill you up with thoughts of the end,

then make you old while you wait for it.

When did the Economy start? Anybody know?

When did the economy start?

Did the invisible hand creep

round some door, turn the hands

on some clock, and get things started?

Did Adam or Locke cock up?

Forget to place the ad in the gazette,

too thick in the head, bellies and heads

fat on tulips and the French weakness?

Some say it was Robespierre:

they say he slipped it in

with the first thermidore

and no-one dared look him in the eye.

You'd have thought Napoleon

might have said "who's that raising up?"

But the talk was that his little lad

was giving him panic and he missed it.

You can be on an island, say Corsica,

Say illyria, say Jamaica, haha!

Anywhere there's sea and a little sand

the economy will have washed up there

and you know someone, some curious

little gobshite, will have scooped it up,

swallowed it whole, and shat it

all over town to get over the flavour.

Maybe that's how it started?

An infestation, what you got down your shirt?

Fuck, the economy, yeah that's here now,

no turning the clock back old boy.

What does a pearl look like from the inside out, anyway?

The whole dirty cosmos

spreading out like that.

Not like a picnic blanket,

in the fuggy final days of summer,

covering the prickly earth.

And not like a picture frame,

holding something precious

for a small number

of somebodies to see.

As a child you could wonder,

could I strap on a jet pack

and fly outside of everything,

see how thick the edges are?

But as you get older,

and learn the realities,

like human propulsion,

like dumb evolution,

that power on LED lights

can't blink on your arm

in the outer quadrant

of infinity because

you are stuck here,

in finity. It's where

you can see only see

the facade of the atom,

and recognise the facile

wish of wanting to look

back through your own eyes.

Things don't look the same

on the inside as the outside.

It can take you well into

your adult years to learn that one,

even with the help of 16C lobotomists

and well-judged assumptions:
you may as well ask what a pearl
looks like from the inside out, anyway.

My girlfriend

My girlfriend,

she spends twenty minutes

with the airbrush

every morning.

My girlfriend,

she's pretty as a picture,

pixel perfect –

just unreal.

Spam I am


Just woke up in a can

with a horrible realisation:

I've always been made of spam.


told me as a child,

parents must have kept it

As their own quick-fry secret.


At least I'm a child of my age.

Advertise me with morning TV tat,

make sure that font's Cooper Black.

Metababe II: Reprisal

When Adam clean

pulled me out of the earth

and man-handled me

into the function and form

of an image reborn:

was he working

to a coded pattern

embedded in heaven?

Was every hair on eyebrow and toe

downloaded to his dexterous nodes?

What tools did he use

to make me so?

Fine-tooth combs, sponges and spoons

only offer human detail

but they'll never be pixel-perfection

will they? Everyone knows

you need laser printers

and those magical cad/cam machines

to fashion the Eiffel Tower in 3D

– you can't fudge it

and hope no-one notices.

No, the Kingdom of Heaven

here on earth will not be a replica

for these very reasons.

Clearly Adam just made the best of it.

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