Matt Dugan







Living and the Dead 


I walk the same path into the city on the same day

graffiti flaked on broken cemented hips

houses lathered in bind weed and ivy –


the moon patrols the earths circling lips

on the day an island was losing its soul –

the lion sipped milk from a fleshless carcass;


We didn’t smell the fresh bread anymore

only chorizo and onion on wooden burnt sticks

cheap glass of Prosecco – a silver bowl of Wasabi nuts;

I could smell the lost and tattered drops of mint

spinning in gardens like twisted shapes,

as the crizzle skinned dead walk the same popular spots.


drained their eyes in paper cuts with last year’s ink

the news recycles and only simulates the repetitions

that all truth is sworn to the death of the living;


Angels played roulette on the floors of God’s abattoir

we saw the mushroom spiralling like sun from coral –

A leather of blue waves circling mannequins in paradise

an embryo of the fallout where hell was a grain of pacific sand

man strips away the flesh unwiring himself from the human looking glass,

our eyes shine like achromatic pupils dripped in one voice;

We kicked conker shells into soft glimmers of contaminated water

where our reflections fluttered on the surface like dirty lavender

far from the earth and it’s dog star –


Residing in a glass box where we can’t feel;

Through six shades of glass part of our world had stopped

people were talking but we couldn’t hear each other’s words

like the ghosts of friends behind screens who couldn’t see us.

As long as the glass doesn’t crack we will believe anything

while locked inside this glass box we have the world on button;


All we know is where the paper trail ends –

where the spiral staircase without a top floor leads.






I followed the trajectory of the worm

that lead me to an ocean that calmly whistles


(if you care to stop and listen)


The same sea water that Picasso

ran naked in turquoise and blue

Never have I seen such a bright sea

In indigo with sparkles of gold;


I came for the art, cheese, and pate pastiche

especially the local absinthe.

Where a fairy in emerald leads you

through a spectrum of luminous streets


distracted by her radiant presence

Antibes is a garden for no god

surreptitiously hidden from heavens;

where no deity can watch us from above.




What to Do Before the End of the Word


What to do before the end of the world?

we had sex.

It was most enjoyable –

an animalistic twisting sweat box;

limbs entwined

frustrations fused;

and afterwards –

We talked about the Abrahamic religions disputable origins –

I made breakfast before we became dust.




The Mask of Sainte-Marguerite


Under a eucalyptus tree

hidden by shadows of shoreline,

transparent waves ushered the sea-rocks

like herding water rats from ocean,


I saw the calming sea – its cunning allure.

an island far from crowds an underworld of dark sound and secrets ,

far from the licking of celluloid heroes

paparazzi, a glass sky stripped of any existence.


New dawn shaped from the cradle of lapping sea dreams,

between the scarlet bricks in prisons

arrow slits a ribcage of letters from a woman wearing the iron mask.

heard the shackles of cloud bearers

Remains of Crimean bones

Wounds beside an eyelet of eucalyptus

waving in a mask of sun some secrets stay hidden

like the final bar in a drifting bird’s song.






Never would we see through the wood of truth

hear the guarded secret of the murmuring worms;

ashes of documents held in black vaults

eye a pendulum of silenced voices.


They dropped madness into a glass of water

wanting to direct the arrows that pulled our strings –

when you feed the mad even more madness

only secrecy in locked rooms would remain;


A guardian of secrets can kiss a fool in front of a god

revealing to the cupbearer the midnight the sirens forgot to sing;


Change the colour and texture of the sea for one day

make fierce dragons come to life in twinned rooms with mirrors.

we see the damage it’s done on the surface

never see inside or beneath the carnage it unleashed;


The men with black hats who had fingers like camera straps

distracted our focus from the main decisions of the day

where our dollar and pound became

the gold stitching in pockets with coins made from petroleum;


the stitching unthreaded. The bare fields a black pocket left bare –

Replaced with the rattle of red bullets;

the metals to an economy of repetitive wars.


If we show you from the moments you wake

the daily prompts of ideological strategies –

Immersed in the dust that cakes the western lung;

You might catch the face that’s hidden in the cracks of splintered wood.













Poems have appeared in Osiris Poetry Journal, Ink Sweat and Tears, Lakeview International Literary Journal, The Journal, The Dawntreader, Ghost City Review, The Seventh Quarry, Matt was the Winner of the Erbacce Prize for Poetry in 2015 and Winner of the Into the Void Poetry Prize 2016, and was nominated for the Pushcart Prize in 2017 with his poem Black Swan of Barashevo, Matt also was the runner up and highly commended in The Road to Clevedon Pier Poetry Anthology Competition ( Hedgehog Press) and has two new chapbooks available One Million Tiny Cuts ( Clare Song Birds Publishing House) and A Season in Another World ( Thirty West Publishing House) due April 2018, Matt is working on his second full collection ‘ Woodworm ‘.


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