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
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 areup for grabs.
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.