(http://cdn.emgn.com/wp-content/  Mexico-Street-Art)




Pieces of eight, pieces of nine,

pieces of china lying scattered on the floor,

left in a ley of line.

My mind is in pieces,


vague remnants of thoughts,

iterating incoherently in the vast

universe of my head,

in a blank space of noir

helplessly holding on against the onrushing tide

of nothingness gripping one outcrop of image

reaching an outstretched hand for the semblance of another.

Whither me?

I, myself, alone in a night of my dreams,

a sleep-walker treading where fear has fled

having laid to waste my black-earth creativity.



Malek Montag

Rochester, 2017


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Those Delicious Summer Moments


Image Credit: http://www.henkvanrensbergen.com/wp-content/


Brooding, moody high

Low sky charcoal dense, and wet

With sweet summer rain


Sultry sweat on sheets

Damp under boiling skin on

Long hot steaming nights


Another year draws near its end

another delicious summer of your conception

as a whirlwind to a tall, dark tower,

an impetuous storm breaking in every direction

while I stand watching over you,

staring at a mirror, seeing me in your reflection.



Malek Montag,

Rochester, 2017

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American Gods


You know you’ve read a great book when you close it for the last time and feel like a distant member of your family has passed on, or you sit in your favourite chair, place, restaurant and stare at a wall wishing you’d written that.

For me, Neil Gaiman’s weighty wander through wintery Wisconsin, and other parts of The States, fits in with my pantheon of ‘greats’ that includes Evgene Zamyatin’s We; Mikhial Bulgakov’s Master and Margarita; Angela Carter’s Passion of New Eve. The simple qualification for entry to this exalted list is a need to leave me wanting more, grieving at the end as the final words pass before my eyes, and, the essential part, wishing I’d written it. The attribute of ‘greatness’, for me, is not whether it encourages me to rifle a book from cover-to-cover in a single sitting, but rather how it makes me feel during and after reading.

One Sunday afternoon while sitting in my local Sunday Lunch café, a gentleman I’d never spoken to before was moved by my reading of American Gods to walk in off the street and interrupt my perusal of Gaiman’s world. You see, my food had arrived and waited for me on the table. I was letting cool before eating and this guy assumed I’d forgotten my meal in favour of the book. This was some measure of truth in that. I found in American Gods a duality of response: I could neither put the book down, nor read for too long – such were the images and inspirations conjured in my imagination.

I was quite surprised to learn Gaiman had written American Gods in 2001, although the cultural clues were always there. Still, that time before ‘everyone’ got a mobile phone and we lost our youth to that digital hand-held device makes for a glorious realm of conflict and opportunity: the old gods, and ways of life and community, being swept aside by gods of new media, and ways of life and community.

This latter point Gaiman, for me, didn’t delve into in depth. It was just there, happening, stirring into action and building for war. Only, there was a twist to it. That twist was alluded to throughout the the novel with Shadow’s prison-learned skill of coin slights and the deceptions he learns of, takes part in, through Wednesday. However, Gaiman displayed the richness of his imagination and creative abilities in imagining a world and a country forged under the heat of migration, immigration and slavery. I think, possibly, The U.S. has a unique place in this world because of its history. Could Gaiman’s homeland  challenge that? I think I could, but it lacks the geographical expanse in which to wander (Shadow leaves the winter of Lakeside and travels to the spring of Kentucky in a chapter.), and how much of the true Briton remains on these shores?

The answer to that question is probably immaterial in the face of the colour of the narrative and vibrant story-telling offered to the reader in American Gods and it does, for me, remain an inspiration.

Ps, I see a TV series has been created based on the novel. I stress the word ‘based’. It has not been my pleasure to view this offering from Media (I have only read reviews on http://io9.gizmodo.com/american-gods-fantastic-first-season-ends-with-shock-a-1796197953) but I wonder if there won’t be a mass murder of the not so innocent? Who knows? Not me. It’ll be some minor media deity and a TV executive. Perhaps.


Malek Montag

June 2017


Picture Credit: http://creofire.com/wp-content


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Grant Me My Freedom


Grant me my freedom here that I may wander

under this cloud of twisted green and brown

and coarse lattice sieving out brilliant light

among humanity distilled in a wooden cask

holding the yellow aroma of fire and heat

and charcoal black greed, burning feverishly

with pure power in a crucible marked peace

where corruption shovels in its currency.

Bleed me, feed me and purge my hunger

for happiness while I hang on my rood

under the blazing, unblinking eye through this

swaying canopy, this winking cloak of lethargy.

Help me find solace in the rain of white light,

ease me into redemption and cure me of need,

of the succour of a lover who sees not my equality

but heeds my slavery to her will; who cannot

respect my faults under her judgement. Deliver me

from that cursed heaven, this blighted haven,

the pasture of poison ivy where I lay my weary head.

Give me the keys to the caged door keeping me

bound to her bedpost so that I may walk free

and be one with myself amid these deciduous eaves:

at once the barren skeletal claws of bitter winter;

and the glowing richness of life in beautiful spring;

home to those who sing; shelter to those who burrow;

the walls of my uncommon Hell, the bone carpet

of my darkened dell under twisted green and brown,

my bloodless sacrifice and the thorn of my crown.



Malek Montag

Rochester, June 2017


Picture Credit: http://pixdaus.com

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My dutiful beautiful eyes


My dutiful beautiful eyes
slept long and dreamed
they were blue as the skies,
yet morning broke it seemed
with my limbs tied in a tapestry
of a long and feted fantasy
where a pungent pink chameleon
dressed in a gaudy green sarong
singing his bawdy, greedy song
sung the raw rhythm of our lives,
of the wombs of his scarlet wives
who lie a-bed in a screeching din
in time and in tune with their sin.
We watch our own crucifixion,
our blood-red penetration,
impaled in rooms behind a bar
where other’s fantasies go far,
as far as their membership,
as they press and push and grip
in squelching and juddering jolts,
in a raping rhythm where time halts
on those grinding bed-springs of lust
with every lick and paid-for thrust.
Now my once dutiful beautiful eyes
struggle with hope yet want to find,
though tinted with blackened dyes,
solace from patriarchal carnal bind.


Malek Montag

Rochester, 2017


@Malek_Montag15 (twitter)

Picture Credit: http://2.bp.blogspot.com/ Oil paintings by Harding-Meyer

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My game.

And cards flick over revealing

their faces in honest, bare objectivity.


Naked fingers cold, curling unstained,

digits free of another’s untamed

scent that’s faded like damp sweat,

like dew under a mournful sun at noon,

grip the sim stiff objects of my attention.


There’s time wasted,

time drawn from my liver

by time’s long bow scraping the strings

of my deep despair as I borrow

a card from the fatigue blunted,

faceless pack as the hot and cold

colours fill the atmosphere

I fear:

a picture,

an image of life,

my life, etched on laminated paper.


The King of diamonds, full of life,

full of riches, a rotundity of joviality,

my mirror image, my antipathy.


A Jack, any Jack from the blessed pack

is the jack of all trades, but never the master.

His efforts to please turn to appease

the desires of the faithless harem.


The Queen of Hearts who holds all the cards

in her sweet clammy hands sings softly

from bright eyes whose vivacity

resides at the other end of Her suit.


The Ace of Spades, the loneliest of the lonely,

the card singled out as singular, the one,

the only, the decidedly lonely, defiantly alone.


Pick a card, any card, and lay it with its fallen

fellows and I will show you the length of my time

here in my space, my void and my fortitude.


I play the game, and play on alone in the deep black of night

with the curl and twist of a club or a spade dreaming

of diamond eyes,

and a warm, beating heart.



Malek Montag,

Rochester, 2017


Picture Credit: from, http://3.bp.blogspot.com/ (My edit for mood)

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The Day of the Running Rat


A purple haze gathered above, framed by rooftops of factories and receding cloud. The haze turned to violet, then cherry-red, then yellow. Another morning dawned on the warehouse, another day began like many others preceding it.

The regularity of this life in work faltered this day as I wandered half-sleeping across the yard to the main door. There, sitting by a pile of pallets, was a rodent, a rat that would bring such calamity to my morning stay.

At first, I ignored it. It was only a rat after all. For sure, as all such creatures do, it would scurry off when the footprint of man landed in its vicinity. But as I walked the crooked line to the sanctuary of the warehouse, it watched me while I watched it. Two outlawed gunslingers of an old Wild West One Horse Town eyed each other. No words fell on our ears or left our lips, but a solemn oath was sworn, unsaid yet binding all the same. There was a game afoot and one of us would triumph.

While the drivers moved the vans from the security of four walls into the yard to be readied for a day’s toil, I kept watch on the vast chasm of the roller-shutter door. The rat watched it too. With the movement of our beasts of burden, it roamed around the yard avoiding steel-toe-capped feet and expletives, looking for an opportunity, waiting for its moment.

“Look, a rat,” called Dave, one of the drivers.

We moved as one to his position, moved in joint enterprise to trap, but it eluded five grown men and hid under one of the vans. Others searched. Torch-light flashed, as eyes peered. Nothing. It was as though the rat disappeared like a puff of weak smoke on a blustery day. As my colleagues crawled about the yard hunting their quarry, I waited by the door, kept a sentinel watch on the precious place behind me. Broom in hand, nothing got past.

Another driver, Jimmy the Newbie, asked me to get him something buried deep within the warehouse. With no sign of the rat, I felt I could loosen my guard, slacken my watch, and help this colleague in need.

Task done, I returned to the door just as Dave drove his chariot of fire from the yard, leaving the patch of concrete it had covered to be caressed by the ever-lightening sky. And there, mere feet from the gaping hole in the wall, sat the rat.

Quickly, I hauled a barrier or two before its path. Bins and rolls of plastic stretched across the smooth warehouse floor of the shutter’s threshold. I went for my weapon, the broom. The rat saw its chance and charged. A shout went up.

“Over there!”

I turned in time to see it, but too late to prevent its egress. The rodent leaped with lithe agility and cleared the impediment. I chased it, swung the broom to catch it. In the peace of a moment, I heard my heavy breath scraping and its tiny claws scampering. My anxious eyes watched it evade my sweep, and twist and turn and vanish under a pallet of bleach, into the warehouse with little chance of detection.

Thus, were the shades of my place of employment polluted, and I defeated in my attempts to prevent invasion. Cometh the moment, cometh the Rat. Till tomorrow, my friend.


Rochester, May 2017


Picture Credit: https://static01.nyt.com/images/2015/ New York Times/Louise Zergaeng Pomeroy

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