John Short

The July Editor's Pick Poet is John Short

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The night brings change
that bubbles in his blood:
hands become claws,
eyes turn lupine, disappear
under coarse black hair.

Into the garden,
slinking through trees
limbs convulse,
appetite descending
on any nocturnal creature
nailed by moonlight.

His girlfriend’s angry,
so disappointed in him
and this unacceptable behaviour.
He must promise to change,
make sincere amends
or else they’re through.

In the morning, remorseful
he resolves to do better,
pokes a human head outside,
clears up entrails scattered
across the lawn.


Like a dark ugly spider
the language crawled across the land,
traversed rivers, forests,
trailing inescapable black webs
that covered towns and villages.                   
Some said it was obscene;
others called it a sinister tongue
but the schoolmaster said:
never make the mistake of hating a language,
it’s just a system, a tool, a universe—
you have to step inside
and shake hands with its mentality,
then someone said:
You talk too much, big mouth,
the dark spider continues to crawl
and in an hour who knows?


He’s in the attic conjuring 
or playing dice for his soul.
Roots of obsessions
appear in the blue triangle,
they promise deliverance
while sharpening their claws.

Once in there’s no reversal;
he wanders through a silent hall
of dismal groping statues,
crosses endless rooms
where demonic faces dissolve
under oil-paint darkness.

To escape the secret police
he hides inside his twisted mind
but it won’t save him
from the tool-kit drugs,
the nightmare distortions
the monster grimace.

He needs the spell of spells
But Magick is a dangerous bird.
It sings he needs a miracle.

John Short was born in Liverpool and studied comparative religion at Leeds University and Creative Writing at Liverpool University with Richard Hill. Later he spent some years in Europe doing a variety of jobs, finally settling in Athens for eight years. He returned to England in 2008 and began writing more seriously.

His poems and stories have appeared in several magazines in the UK, Ireland, The USA, Spain and France. In 2018 he was nominated for the Pushcart Prize by Stepaway Magazine (UK) and published a collection of stories: The Private Unmentionable Gargoyle under the pseudonym Hubert Tsarko, which is available on Amazon. He’s a member of the Liver Bards and appears at venues around Liverpool and beyond. He also enjoys Greek music, cycling and restaurants.