13 Variations on the Theme of Madness: a Composition for Violins, Electric Guitar, Cymbalom, Voice and Chorus of Mechanical Birds

1. Eyes like flies, a tongue like bees. Happy trapped thoughts. Up, down, up, down, I’m coming.

2. The king face down on the riverbank, his double doubled up with the usurper’s glee.

3. Silence on the stair, a hand or maybe the shadow of a hand reaching clawingly for the bannister.

4. Sing a song of sixpence. Who sneezed? Laughter in blue halls and sobbing under archways.

5. The cockroaches waltz through your kitchen, raffish and debonair.

6. Tired smiles, trembling smiles, forced smiles, anxious smiles, wily smiles, wily crocodile smiles, vile wry wily crocodile smiles.


Now, start again.

8. An idea for 13 sequences of 13s. Let me write that down. On second thoughts.

9. Uncle Mick smashes through the water towards us. Our terrified laughter incenses him.

10. You called him Pillow Head. A childhood monster, nonsense, a nothing. Thirty years on, you’re still talking about him.

11. Lights going on and off in front of everything else on and off can’t you see them don’t they bother you on and off it’s too much

12. A rug, a cross, a book, some windows. A grey face drooling stories, murmuring murdered memories.

13. The sign says STOP. A hand holding a skull. This is supposed to be a symbolic moment. Stop talking! They’re not listening. Close now.


All texts on this site are the copyright of James Knight. All rights reserved.


13 Disturbing Objects, Recovered from a Hypnosis-Induced Nightmare

1. The head of a porcelain doll, face shiny with white paint. A red slash denotes the mouth. The eyes resemble those of an insect.

2. A fifty pound note, on the back of which is a handwritten message, in thick black ink: NOTHING NOTHING NOTHING NOTHING NOTHING NOTHING.

3. A greyish-yellow cocoon, the size of an adult’s head. A faint whirring noise can be detected coming from inside it.

4. A well-used copy of the complete works of Shakespeare. All of the words appear to have been burned onto the pages.

5. Something that could be a hand, or perhaps a cephalopod of some sort. When we attempt to examine it more closely, it loses definition.

6. A grandfather clock, whose hands have been replaced with knives. It strikes the quarter hour with a rasping clatter.

7. A blue rose.

8. A cardboard box full of smashed lightbulbs.

9. Some sort of primitive adding machine, with levers, buttons & dials. Although it does not seem to run on electricity, it glows faintly.

10. A twisted, resinous form; perhaps a dismembered tree.

11. A saucepan containing a reddish liquid, in which a small green fish swims tirelessly, in clockwise circles.

12. A shop window mannequin, onto the back of which a pair of skeletal ostrich wings has been inexpertly grafted.

13. A brown leather handbag, zipped shut. Occasionally, something flutters spasmodically inside it. We have not opened it yet.


All texts on this site are the copyright of James Knight. All rights reserved.

13 Sounds Heard by a Mannequin on a Stormy Night

1. An intake of breath like a rush of cold water over rocks.

2. The ticking of innumerable clocks, muffled behind cotton.

3. The red sounds: laughter, shouting, barking, roaring.

4. The cranium of space opening on constellation hinges, then angels falling, bellowing brightly.

5. Something scuttling along the wainscot.

6. The dry, papery sound of men’s voices in the coffee-stained conference room.

7. A flicker of silence, like an owl’s eyes among spectral trees.

8. A sobbing orgasm.

9. Splintering wood. Open up! Open up! We know you’re in there!

10. The drawl of a lost poem, smoking into space.

11. Liquid machines expelling knives, bottles, parakeets and prisms.

12. A vow that turns into a curse, close to the ear.

13. Industrious chatter, a metallic clang. A voice like a tower: Silence on set, please!


All of the texts on this site are the copyright of James Knight. All rights reserved.

For Kneel Downe

Reading you is a fumbling tumble down a rabbit-hole, a fall into a black hole, a journey through a wormhole into a mad mad universe that is a mirror to your gladly mad mind

Reading you is a shock, a surprise, enchantment for grown-ups who don’t think like grown-ups, kids masquerading as adults (when they can be bothered), feverish-fingered followers, psychonauts, dreamers

Reading you is like happening upon Allen Ginsberg shooting poems in a sci-fi film set buzzing with androids, hybrids, violence, danger

Reading you is like crashing through the looking-glass

Reading you is like bungee-jumping into eternity

Reading you infects my dreams with virulent viral oneiric dramas, hardboiled scenarios simmering in neon-shocked smoke, harsh voices talking tough, wolfish fun

Reading you exposes the less prolific, makes me feel a bit ashamed as I place my matchstick monsters next to your towers of invention

Reading you connects the disconnected, aligns the maligned, delights the disenchanted

Reading you reminds me why reading is important

Reading you I’m reading you – a true voice and a true friend


Kneel Downe’s book, Virulent Blurb: Fractures, is out now.