The Tall Lighthouse
John McCullough

John McCullough’s poetry has appeared in publications including The Rialto, The Guardian, Ambit, The London Magazine, Magma, Staple and Chroma.   He teaches creative writing at the University of Sussex and the Open University. 

He has a Ph.d in Shakespeare and friendship

from Sussex and lives in Brighton.

photo - Chloe Barter


the lives of ghosts

Strongly located in the gay & transgender community, McCullough's poems explore the idiosyncrasies of lives played out in relationships which, though offering camaraderie, are also friable & liable to splinter, since all aspects of identity are

up for grabs.
                                                                                                                   Ros Barber

Ghosts from the lives of ghosts

I couldn’t see them, but your smoking wicks                                                   

seemed proof enough that they were hanging round –                                    

seduced like me by chestnut desks, your wasteland’s                                  

jay-filled slopes, those looming stacks of books.   

Night after night in an antimacassared armchair

you shut your eyes and spoke to roaming masses:

Regency belles at war with enormous dresses.

Move the candle flame to prove you’re there.

In dreams, I’d ask if you were a hallucination,

you who stroked my chipped glass bangle

but never the wrist inside, who fiercely gripped

the copper headboard but refused all ministrations.

I returned one day to a silent room with a candle. 

Sliding through shadows, I blew it out and stopped. 

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