Colin Campbell Robinson


from The Doors – the ghost variations



Part 3


this is the end, my friend

jim morrison




Here are double brown church doors with iron bolts and studs. Keeping out the heathens, keeping out the just.

Realising he has no memory he abandons himself.

The doors will not open. He will not enter.

Return at night, the house lit, blinded night, his face.

This may be a good result not that there is any way of measuring difference.

Having no memory did not mean senses are not conjured. Events occur as if by magic.

The men with black ties make another appearance, mortality in the evening breeze.

Where has he come from? Why does he belong nowhere?

Home is only here, he writes as if he is at home.

Who wrote the soundtrack to your memory? The songs are all the same. This is our tragedy.

He is not the only one without memory.

On the beach the gardener is lost.

The farmer cannot hoe the sea.

In the barn the sailor hid his fear.

The fisherman drilled for gold.

Is there a season or only a turning?

They cast stones but can’t read them.

The door slams shut late.




Blue door, white wall: bad cold in March.

How many blue doors? How many white walls imagined? Imagine as being here now or imagined as if in the past, hence nostalgic.

Nostalgic blue doors and white walls discussed by those with nowhere to go.

He came from a culture of shame, not sin. ‘To lose face’ is the worst fate to befall whereas she came from a culture of guilt, ‘to be innocent’ is the ultimate crime.

Words in space as if traversing the universe, planets of meaning fixed in their orbit bouncing their dark light off each other.

The order in which they are sighted determines their reading.

Blank page: the no-thing on which words are printed.

Respect space, respect spacing. Space and time; spacing and interval or, as the Japanese say, ‘Ma’.



Grey door, burglar alarm. Disc zone.

No one’s breaking in; you’re safe behind the door.

He read the papers. Re-lived the situation, set off the alarm, the red alarm.

Forget to shave or, at least, remembered but didn’t. To shave or not to shave is not much of a question.

Look in a mirror, any mirror. Choose the first face you can think of. Divide by two, multiply by three and the answer is?

Memory in the mist: in the midst of forgetting, in the missed opportunities. Choking on swallowed water, he could be drowning.

In the dream he blacked out and tumbled. When he awoke he fumbled for his dressing gown, steadied himself and made for the door, the grey door.

A slight trembling, a feint fear in his eyes, being incapable of saying anything as opposed to having nothing to say.




The mourning Gondola plies his trade, sings songs in a faint key. Raw umber and terracotta reflected, the gondola night and day.

Some time since, sometime since a visit, a dalliance, a cruise around the waters.

He reflects on cruising, on drifting. Hand limp in water, eyes opening, closing, the odour and the tragic gondola.

Proceed as if the novel is already planned, half written even (like the bachelors grinding their coffee).

The last glass cracked, no more drinking in memories. They’ve all dissolved in one lemon, in the ice, in the water at 5.00.

– Shall we discuss today’s aggressive rejection of nuance?

– Nowadays the particular is only to be found in the nuance.

Roland and Walter sitting by the canal chatting.

A Place where nothing will take place except the place.




Is white a colour?

White door. Number 11.

Go to ‘The Three Reasons’ on Gallowgate Street.

Through this door shadows come. This door is a bridge between two worlds: one is known as ‘in the dark’; one is known as ‘in the light’

Once their performance is done they (and you know who ‘they’ are) return over the bridge, which is a door.

In the vision something is oddly erased, interrupted, incomplete.

Tomorrow, ‘The Three Reasons’, yesterday, ‘The Three Falls’, and now ‘The Three Men’, one singing about prison, one reading his news (not ‘the’, his) and the third chuckles at his own wit and erudition.

There is a fourth man but he’s quietly writing in his notebook so we won’t disturb him.

I write on blank pages, my pen does not scratch, he thinks sipping iced water.

What time has he been given? How are the runes, the dice, the book or cards? Once he was told omens hid in the shadows. This is his fate.

All our words are but the work of shadow, figures of our consuming lack, he says.

He reads so he can write. With no reading nothing would be written.

Books are ghosts, they haunt us, he says.

Reading is a discussion between the living and the dead. Endless questions answered with questions, doubts, half theories and fullness.

We speak to break our solitude; we write to prolong it, he says.




Last night she came, as a child wanting affection.

On another occasion she came as she was in pain and sore with the end hanging over.

Where have they gone those who’ve gone?

Several answers but nothing fits. And she has left us with this and this is it.

Who else sees her and what do they see?

There to the country she fled and now she’s dead.



The ghosts are (in order of appearance): Roland Barthes, Samuel Beckett, Tomas Transtromer, Walter Benjamin, Edmund Jabes and my sister Jacquie Robinson.


Colin Campbell Robinson is a writer and photographer living on the Isle of Bute off the west coast of Scotland. His piece Noir appeared in Ink Sweat and Tears and he also has had work appear in Shearsman, Molly Bloom, BlazeVox17, Empty Mirror and Indefinite Space. Blue Solitude– a self portrait in six scenarios is available from Knives Forks and Spoons Press.




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Jane Salmons




We ride the escalators in pairs
upwards past the plastic palms,
the static rapids. Our flawless skin
shines blue in the half-light, the smell
of palma violets hangs in the air.

We dare not speak, nor touch,
for fear of waking the blinking eye
while above us, through the criss-cross roof
of steel and glass, the planets glow.
We do not know their names,
or if we do, forgot them long ago.

The hum of neon guides us
to our gods – Gucci, Prada,
Michael Kors.  Consumption courses
through our veins driving us higher
to our great design.



Jane Salmons is a teacher living in the Black Country.  She is currently studying for an MA in Creative Writing and has previously been published in Snakeskin, I am not a Silent Poet and Creative Ink.  She also spends her precious free time creating handmade photomontage collages.


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Emily Wilkinson



Emily Wilkinson is an interdisciplinary artist and poet based in Shrewsbury. She works with collage, words, writing, paint, textiles and bookmaking. Emily has exhibited in Shropshire and Scotland, and was artist in residence at Wenlock Books in 2014.  Website:


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Kevin Reid





Victorian Sisters

Hardy. Well preserved. She mothered them.
They found her alone. The rose still kind
on her lips, olive still ripe
on her skin. It was winter.

Her fun faded. Her shadow grew bolder
than her former self. Pale and wasted
with rough play. Her mouth torn,
twisted. Her pallid curls sad pink.

She survived the attack. The loss broke her.
She couldn’t speak about it.
Her trust frozen. Grey. Her love cracked.
The family had kept a pet crow.





Kevin Reid‘s work can be found in various online and printed publications including: Under the Radar, The Interpreter’s House and Domestic Cherry. Wordless, an image and text collaboration with George Szirtes, is published by Knives, Forks and Spoons Press.

Note: I was fortunate enough to be guardian of these three genuine Victorian dolls, which are part of the Angus Council Museum collection. They have never been displayed and only kept in storage and I was granted permission by the collections manager to photograph them while in my care and share in whatever way I want. They have since been returned and will probably remain in storage forever.




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Word & Image by Helen Pletts and Romit Berger





I want to remember the way back.
It seems Orion has the compass’ foot,
Swinging his other leg out into the dark
With the confidence of a man who walks on stars.

I use the skills of the corncrake tonight.
I need to remember in the hatchling hour, that I was here, –
Under this weight of milk white galaxies,
Unable to lose my way, – still, – under this same star.






Words by Helen Pletts ( ) whose two collections, Bottle bank and For the chiding dove, are both published by YWO/Legend Press (supported by The Arts Council) and available on Amazon. ‘Bottle bank’ was longlisted for The Bridport Poetry Prize 2006, under Helen’s maiden name of Bannister. Working collaboratively on Word and Image with Romit Berger, illustrator, since 2012.

Image by Romit Berger who says “I am a graphic designer and artist, living in Prague for the past 
ten years. In 2008 I joined a writing group – English is not my native
 language but I graduated from an international school, so it is a part 
of my life ever since. I feel that the dual process of finding words to
 describe mind images and illustrating written words, opens a new 
exciting dimension of creativity for me.


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Word and Image from Michael Bartholomew-Biggs and Howard Fritz





Take Two
After Howard Fritz

A flock of geese migrating, startled
by a minor earthquake, interrupt a couple’s
tilted tête-à-tête. Her headscarf’s pink
and contrasts with the drink she clasps –
a red Cinzano he’s just bought her.

With his sleek black head, white shirt
and dark-sleeved dinner-suit he is his own
unchanging manifesto – and resembles
all the geese which fly by swiftly
as old lies he’s told or ghosts of former lovers.

She negates him: pale uncovered arms;
black velvet breast that sports a brooch – a trophy
butterfly. But who is pinned to whom?
The geese are metaphors departing,
dollars taking wing, not spent on her.

They play the scene against its fractured backdrop,
advertising their own love affairs
as much as acting out their parts. They’re stars.
The geese are extras: feather-weight careers
can cruise above the wreckage of this script.



Michael Bartholomew-Biggs is poetry editor of the on line magazine London Grip and also helps to run the North London reading series Poetry in the Crypt.  His most recent collection is Pictures from a Postponed Exhibition (Lapwing 2014), which features artwork by David Walsh.

Howard Fritz is a London-based artist:  See here for more of Michael Bartholomew-Biggs’ responses to Howard Fritz paintings:

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Cherry Doyle





When I told you I’d trick the moon
right out of the sky and into your wine,
your eyes said I couldn’t be trusted;
you knew my kind that come
on the breeze, under the crow’s wing,
when hope needs us the most.

My hands are rugged, eyes sag
with the weight of a forest’s century,
that I fished the sky for stars, until
I found my nights in the pit of your heart,
and I leave each morning, unsure
if I’ll return at dusk, a woman.


Cherry Doyle lives near Cannock Chase. She has been published in Cannon’s Mouth, The Cadaverine and was the Leaveners Poet of the Month for June 2016. She is completing an OU degree in Creative Writing, and tweets occasionally @ms_n_thrope

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