Dark Horse Pictures by Andy Hopkins 

Read the poems below or download the PDF.  Download in various formats from Smashwords and Feedbooks.  Also available on Google Books.

Listen to a selection of poems read by Andy Hopkins on our audio page.  

FeedbooksGoogle Books


ISBN 0-9554056-6-1 / 978-0-9554056-6-2 

First published by
Selkirk Lapwing Press, 2007 
This edition published by Philistine Press, 2010
© Andy Hopkins, 2007 




            When it is winter in the soul place      


            Yes Michael No Michael     


            Ending Chairs


            Unspectacular Station Revelation       




            [a translation from silence]     


            Allonby Tidal Marks   




            Lines to More Lines    


            Dark Horse Pictures    


            Parakalo, on a Kefallonián Beach       




            New Year’s Eve        


            What God Said To Me On Cross Fell (and

                          everything I didn’t hear)     

When it is winter in the soul place


there is perfect complicity

nothing small breaks curfew

everything vast is taut

every sound has no cause and is the last sound.


When it is winter in the soul place


firs loom

wind has no influence


listen to the bronchia of forest.


When it is winter in the soul place


the air sits

it just is

water chatters water words to moss

ditch pool bears the meniscus weight of heaven, like Atlas.


When it is winter in the soul place


rock is backlit

there is the brackish ghost of fox

nothing else has ever paused here

but hoofed things pass this way


when it is winter in the soul place.



Yes Michael No Michael


Yes, if you could just sit there, please. No. Yes.

No, just. Just. Yes, in y. No, on the s. Yes.


Now if you cou.                        Can we j.

Listen pl.                       Ok, i.


No, knowing about Macbeth isn’t going to get you the job

you the job you deserve. Yes, I know you think I wrote you


when you wrote that I was gay in six inch letters on the

            wall. Twice. No,

I never told you I knew. Yes, I knew about the things that

            you stole, too. No,

I am not paid to be insulted, and no,

your mum won’t be coming to parents evening; yes, I will

            spend an hour on your report,

trying to phrase ‘vindictively ignorant’ into empowering

            standard English. No,

I don’t mind that you can’t stand me; yes, I hear everything.


corporal punishment is a bad idea; yes, it would mean that

            your attitude improved.

Yes, that’s a paradox, Michael. No, look it up, Michael.

Yes, I do cry sometimes at the end of the day when the

            classroom is empty,

but, no, not because of what you say. Yes, you have made a

            lot of progress this year; no,

I don’t think you’d believe me. Yes, I agree with you, your

            dad is a radgeful prat. No,

not to his face, Michael. Yes, all the praise for you is

            genuine; no,

I didn’t think it would change your life.

Yes, I do believe in you, I just don’t think that you do.


Now then, wh.              Could you p.

Please can y.                Alright, one l.




Ending Chairs


The meat and bones that start as dust will end up dusty in

            the black

or blackly thought in backs of minds by mindless boys and

            mindless girls

the world that keeps us warm at night is burning bones and

            dusty bones

the crap we talked on ending days like ending men on

            ending chairs

Monday starts with seven shades of this.

Monday starts with seven shades of this.


The plans that scratch out in the dust from dusty sticks and

            fired minds

that dream about the price of life improving life and costing


the pictures of the girls and boys that grow blown up on


the crap we talked on ending days like ending men on

            ending chairs

Monday’s wrecks are seven shades of this.

Monday’s wrecks are seven shades of this.


The laughing stock that has its day like baying stock hyena


will tear down bony celluloid and dusty plans alike because

the burning bones of ivory towers are next week’s fires on

            bonfire night

the crap we talked on ending days like ending men on

            ending chairs

Monday mixes seven shades of this.

Monday mixes seven shades of this.


The gunners and the brokers and the planted bulbs of them

            will be

tomorrow’s burning papers and the next day’s burning


the price of human celluloid is equal to the stock and on

the crap we talked on ending days like ending men on

            ending chairs

Monday ends with seven shades of this.

Monday ends with seven shades of this.


Unspectacular Station Revelation


                        I am reading

                        Guy Debord

                        at a table

                        in the station.


                        I am reading

                        Guy Debord

                        at a table

                        in the station.


                        I[i] am[ii] reading[iii]

                        Guy Debord[iv]

                        at[v] a table

                        in the station.[vi]




[1] I am waiting for a girl. She has asked for me to be here. It is very cold. I am very cold. I do not know why I am here. Kept flat in the book is a photograph to give to the girl to cheer her up.

[1] I am drinking a Medio Cafe Latte from Costa at a cold metal table nearest to the platform edge. The Latte goes cold. I am reading The Society of the Spectacle. I am trying to look clever. I am wearing navy blue, because I look better in navy blue. I have even shaved. I do not think about these things until later.

[1] I am not really reading. Three GNER trains come and go. My eyes try to scan every face in every carriage of every one of those three GNER trains. She gets off the train unseen, and a spiteful coincidence ensures that she goes home with someone who idolises her. Someone who writes poetry for her. I do not idolize her. I do not write poetry for her.

[1]‘What hides under spectacular oppositions is a unity of misery. Behind the masks of total choice, different forms of the same alienation confront each other.’ Later, when I am drunk, I will think that this is the most profound thing anyone alive or dead has ever said. Guy Debord said it, in The Society of the Spectacle.

[1] I have been saying ‘I don’t care I don’t care I don’t care I don’t care’ under my breath for an hour and a half. I have an unusually sharp pain in my stomach, I wonder whether it is maybe the Costa coffee.

[1] I stare at the Arrivals board and exhale loudly. I send her a text message on my Nokia 3330 (‘where r u?’). She sends me a text message on her Nokia 3310 (‘i thought id missed u. sorry. god, im so sorry’). I get on the 5.11 Scotrail Service to Stranraer. As it pulls out of the station she sends me another message. I delete it. I delete all her messages. I delete her from the Nokia 3330. I have to hold my hand over my face on the way home so that no one can see my eyes.









We achieve by the magnitude of small things. It all adds up.

All that is grandiose is hideous and infamous. There’s


failure in the vain, Roman clarity of a vast and sufficient


a bump on the purity

of pubic scrub, with its busts of grass;

this squelching mass of half-bricks and sheep muck

embanked on the wet, wretched delta

because. Because. Because


standing on the levee with a bitter fist and vista

of salt marsh, is a lesson: there is a way of things,

between the land and the sea,

Caesars. Caesars,


learn as your helicopters fall from the sky like hail. Caesars,

learn as your legions disappear into the murk of empire.


learn as the equal and opposite reaction crashes on the gates

            of Rome; Caesars,

no invasion lasts.





[a translation from silence]


you me same same

hand : hand

eye : eye

mouth : mouth




or photocopied and folded

by the sun, two together.

Neither original or copy,

eyes watching eyes watching eyes

with open fun smiles.


But now we’re not the same:

we are simulacra,

each of us a parallel line on the page of the bed


and when we speak

we speak in opposite directions.

No same same,

same difference.






Allonby Tidal Marks



        Al-                       Walk                            Stop;                             De-

    -on-                          slow-                          read                              -sire

  -by                           -ly;                              (here)                           is

     has                           wind                            what                            a

       tide                          smug-                           the                            wave  

         scribed,                     -gles                             tide                             ;

            marks                       each                             has                        des-

              like                            sec-                               writt-                     -ire

            mi-                              -ond                           -en                      is

          -ni                               word                            on                      a

          dunes                         aw-                             hint-                     back-

         hist-                           -ay,                            -er-                    wash

     -or-                             leav-                         -land                  ;

        ies                                -ing                        be-                      de-

           re-                                bro-                     -yond                     sire

             -e-                                -ken                         its                       bound

           -rased                            verb                           ken;                        to

        dai-                              thoughts                            also:                      the

         -ly;                               in                                         your                       ever

            nooks                           a                                         shad-                 last-

          for                               uni-                                     -ow                  -ing

         the                              -verse                                (here);            word-

      tide’s                           of                                       my                  -less

        ken;                        nouns                             heart                       wave

          pound-                    pound-                           pound-                   pound-

            -ingly                        -ing                                -ing                           -ing

              calm                           to                             id-                all                              be                        -eas;                          in-

              waves                        heard                         wild-                      -side

            wash                         ov-                                    -er-                            the

           here                        -er                                         -ness                        moist

       (even-                       ins-                                     root-                        loin

         -tually);                     -u-                                -ed                          in-

             hold                        -lar                                     in                           -side

              my                             con-                                  sand                      the

               hand;                           -tent-                      (here)                     wave

                this                             -ment;                          surge                    ;

                  place                          tide                           of                       we

               be-                           is                                surf;                  are

             -longs                          my                      foam                        (in-

            to                                heart-                        flecks                      -side)

             our                              -beat                             four                           the

               love                                writ                        feet                             wave

                .                                     .                                 .                                .







evil has no underground lair.

evil is not agoraphobic. evil likes

crowds and makes no sudden moves. evil likes.

evil has no colour preference,

does not prefer men to women.

evil practices equal opportunities.

evil thinks evil is fair. evil thinks.

evil thinks straight.


evil is good with figures.

evil has an eye for numbers.

evil uses semicolons.


You have passed evil in the street

and not noticed. evil does not

mind. evil does not



evil says evil is ethical. evil says.

evil rationalises. evil can paint. evil has skills.


evil condones. evil sends condolences.

evil can wear a party hat.

evil can stand at the cenotaph.

evil knows merlot from muscadet.


evil is not the opposite of good,

but evil knows what naïvity is

and where to look for it. evil commits

no crimes of passion. evil has no passion. evil

is mundane. evil blends in, but

evil desires; evil desires.

evil was not a problem child.

evil has friends, evil has.

The friends that evil has are not evil.

evil knows the difference

between right and wrong.


evil does not start things. It wasn’t evil. It is never evil.

evil causes no controversy.

evil is lawful. evil is unequivocal.

evil is not special.

evil never stands out.

evil does not do anything.


evil is neither vulture or hyena.

evil is a clean beast

and does no dirty work. After all, evil does nothing.

evil does for those that do

the work that evil wants done.


evil enjoys itself.

evil knows itself.

evil exists for itself.

And evil knows. evil





Lines to More Lines


We (well, me

and him) wait differently penitent. We lay hands on,

mutual hands on the mutual bricks between us. Our

eyes don’t meet; respectfully we peer

neighbourly into each other’s sour pipes.


Flush. The awkwardness passes past us, parts, and sluices

            down the slope;


his goes one way and mine runs parallel.

Lines link us,

agreements we did not agree to. It’s a great leveller

– the muck of equality; our waste flows


through lines to more lines, Victorian guts, shallow modern

            intestinal cuts,

gulping duodenum and plastic abject shadows.

There is a grid on grids, a grid of grids, a grid with grids.


His ribcage heaves like oak buckling.

He locates the problem with a blind, visionary eye. Fixes it.

Jerks. Thrusts. Nods.


These are things you don’t chat about. We don’t shake


He tamps the two covers down. We walk stiffly mute to

            our own territory;

it terrifies us more than death.





Dark Horse Pictures


Some day soon you’ll find me in a picture.

Lost for words in a dark horse picture.

Caught on film in the collage of your memory.

A stolen,

still, black and white reminder.


            With peel away names and scratch away faces,

            a grazing herd of dark horse pictures

            is flash bleached against your skyline. I


saw I was ambushed in your landscape I

heard I was airbrushed from your photo I

thought I was glued into the margin I

feel I was ripped out of the canvas I’m


            anonymous I

            have no eyes I

            have no laughter I

            have no memory I

            am immaterial history


            in exposed films with startled faces

            I look just like a dark horse picture.


Black and then white and then gone.

Black and then white and then

Blackandthenwhiteandthen                                 gone.





Parakalo, on a Kefallonián Beach


I did not want to come.


You could take me over a rock like a slave. Or

I could pull you out of the water

onto the same hot rock, like a lava goddess, scintillating,

            sacrificially real,

worshipful. Leave musing, because you create me

and I have only discovered that

in the shallows I am shallow;

pull me in and pull me in

and pull me into

the deep water

away from danger and into

the deep water;

make me intimate. Intimate to me

so I can be connected; so I can be connected

to swirls in eddying stone and a rock of immediate sky;


to the rush

of froth and sand and water and blood and come

close to being

every erection on the beachfront, every boulder on the


You are everything that is not me: the tongue vibration of


hip curve of sea and lancing electrics; I am unearthed.

Parakalo. Please. If you please. If you want to please. You

            are welcome

if you want

because I want that you should want to

and so do. I want to be light looking,

to be water touching, your mouth kissing,

the heat and breeze licking, the sand formless forming. You

            covering me,

revealing me. Beaching me. Overwhelming me. Absoluting

            me. Parakalo.

Take my goods and make me a better good.

Without your desire I am ungood. Parakalo.


I did not want to come.

I love that you love and I want that you want. Me,

I need to feel you and the sea and the sun and the pull

of surging relief and sand and water and blood and come

to the surface and arch yourself anew. If I could

shoot out of the water: merman or rocket; or

if I could take root in the tide and move thorough and slow;


if I could, could I be forever; could I never die,

but be the lap of water slapping onto volcanic, sun-

            drenched rock

the cupping of coupled elements, attached to the moment,

along the shore drifting with the pull and pushpull and pull

and therefore welded or melded to forever; or could I be


about to be, on the cusp. Boiling in the water.

If I could always be about to be, to give always.


And not to come.


I did not want to come,

but the blanket of the moment

descends, rises, irrupts, erupts, implodes, absorbs, exhales,

holds, expels, slows, speeds, shows, blinds, clears, muddies,

            flows, ends.

Parakalo. Now.

Parakalo. Now.

Parakalo. Now.






On a hill walk, we passed over them.



Prefrogs, they teem, a spill, a slick of apostrophes pooled;

            commas exiled

from a dialogue that should have happened

elsewhere. Or else never. They are at first a delight, a


Then a realisation. A souring miracle: they are unfrogging.

None of them will outlive this drying muddy flurry of

            puddle; they will unfrog

in this scoop, this evaporating dirt-womb.

The bitter, cosmic joke is a spoke of the drought that

            ossifies us all.


Now they go on nibbling and worrying at fronds. In the

            shallows some are already still.

Soon, passed over, unseen by us, they will turn on each

            other. Overwriggled,

this will become hell. Nature is unedifying, always. Un-


the gasping, squirming unlucky will eat the dead lucky,

the neighbourly last few will be cramming

cannibal, lapping, plosive mouths

as the pool slowly


They will lie unfrogged on their sides, the gorged with the

            gouged. Gorgons.

Done for. Forlorn. End stopped.


I love you so much. I love you so much

because you make me focus on the ifs: ‘If only we could…’

            undo dones.


Nothing in this world cossets us; we are all running out of


so tell me it doesn’t matter and pull me away.





New Year’s Eve


It’s a time for people who aren’t here;

let old acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind,

but a little light litotes keeps ´em close and closer:

they are not here, they are not here, they aren’t here, in the

            not here:

the absent, ‘absent friends’ tangibly making their absence


They are almost here, at the shoulders and elbows of those

            who aren’t absent yet.

Look. See? See them in the blur


of the reflection in the kitchen window – in the not here.

Their underworld grey faces fish-eye out of the fish-tank

            dank dark:


the unnumbered hordes of centaurs, popes, poets, harpies

            and the minatory

of memory, half-unwrapped mummies, leeches.


   They too cram to the table; they too crumb the carpet;

they too spill wine and break crockery; they too foul your


   hooting, screeching, belching; shades misbehave.


Laughter cracks the looking-glass. In fracture, the present is

            rippled by the future;


   new year bells muffled, a single room, warm night


   a slim book, watching mother and child, prose sotto

                    voce; and days:

   two walk, three walk, four walk.


I am not sad for the past absent, they are happy enough

            damned and past absent.

The future imperfectly shimmers.

I am sad that the future absent are not here, yet.




What God Said To Me On Cross Fell

(and everything I didn’t hear)


And I did stop to listen, whilst out walking, by the cross

            against the sky.

And the fell was empty. And I did try to hear. Even the

            radar turned to hear.


And God (may have) said: I AM




The radar turns. Maybe it has noticed God, up on a cloud.


it has an ominpotence of its own.


I, however, am man satellite. Mute. Turning

the puny balls of my eyes to outstare the sun,

tilting on my axis to the heat’s voice,

daisy to the day’s eye, my

skin coaxing the wind, my ears desperate to eavesdrop

something. I’m alert to the inaudible

progress of aeroplanes across my awareness


knowing my x, my y, and my z

in radar space time, here, here and now. But I don’t know

what inexorable progression of calculations

turn matter into ropes of data; data into logic;

logic into is; is into the plain logic of a descending plane

            across the Atlantic.

The radar turns, bored. Is still, attentive. Is waiting for some

            un-god or ungodly thing.

Knowing, co-ordinating. There is

a blanket of coverage. It waits. It waits.

Patient as Christ, it waits

for a second                  deviation. Because


... if the radar ever twitched like a cat’s ear ...

... if the coiled loops of synapses suddenly had a signal to


... if the network heard something

... if the network heard something


the unforeseen. The barely possible. An unpronounceable

incalculable. An unknowable known unknown, y’know?

A plot in the unplotable points of a plane’s journey to zero.

A spider work of newly prefixed, new binaries; pre-, post-.


... if there was

something in the distance.


All our releases are available free of charge, but if you like what you read, and would like to make a donation to Philistine Press, you can do so right here...

  Site Map