Steven Bruce is the author of Thrown Up and co-author of Dark Matter 8. His work has featured in Picaroon Poetry, Building Bridges, No Tribal Dance, Forword, and the Black Light Engine Room Literary Magazine. He has read at many live events including the Stanza, Crossing the Tees Book Festival, and the Electric Kool-Aid Cabaret.

Pinturas Negras (published in Building Bridges International Anthology of Ekphrasis)

Steven Bruce writes with a surgeon's knife rather than a pen.
Bob Beagrie, Lecturer and Poet

Steven Bruce's poetry is intelligent, sharp, and demands to be heard.
Mandy Maxwell, The Stanza


Her dainty fingers moved across his palm.
  ‘Your hands are rough,’ she said, kissing them.
  ‘Oh, thanks for noticing,’ he said.
  ‘They’re still my favourite part of you.’
  ‘What, my hands?’
  ‘Yeah,’ she said, sitting up. ‘I had a scary dream last night.’
  ‘Oh?’ he said, continuing to stare at the ceiling.
  ‘Yeah, I was at my mother’s grave—’
  ‘That is scary,’ he said.
  ‘No, that’s not the scary part,’ she said. ‘When I turned to leave there was a gaunt, pale man, standing on the path. And his eyes bulged out of his head. And he didn’t have a mouth, but he was still trying to talk. It sounded like he was in pain. And then a huge dog came over the hill. Well, it wasn’t a dog,’ she said.
  ‘What the fuck was it then?’
  ‘It was more like a lion, but it had wings.’
  ‘Holy shit,’ he said. ‘Then what?’
  ‘Well, the lion ran towards me, and I woke up.’
 He pulled away from her, from the sofa, and walked out of the room. She reached across and picked his phone up from the coffee table. She began rifling through it.
  ‘What the fuck are you doing?’ he said, snatching the phone. 
  ‘I was checking the time.’ 
  ‘You’re full of shit,’ he said, shaking his head. 
  ‘You have something to hide like?’ she said. 
He grabbed her by the hair and pushed the corner of the phone into her temple. 
 ‘After everything you’ve put me through,’ he said, twisting the phone. 
  ‘Stop, it’s hurting me,’ she said. 
He pulled her up from the sofa and slammed her through the coffee table.
  ‘Look, fucking look what you’ve made me do now,’ he said. 
He punched the wall. She picked herself up from the broken glass and limped over to him. 
  ‘I’m sorry,’ she said. ‘I never—’ 
  ‘Oh, you’re sorry. Always fucking sorry. Well, not anymore. You can fuck off to your bullshit family. See if they’ll help you,’ he said, pacing the room. 
  She peered out of the window and watched a young couple looking at a house for sale. 
  ‘Looks like we’ll have new neighbours soon,’ she said. 
  ‘Fuck it, I’m going out,’ he said, putting on his jacket. 
  ‘Where are you going?’ 

She limped into the bathroom, leaving small crescents of blood on the cream carpet. She took out an olanzapine tablet and swallowed it.
  ‘Forgot my wallet,’ he shouted. 
She came out of the bathroom and smiled at him. 
  ‘You want me to make something?’ she said. 
  ‘No, I’ll go to the chippy if you want?’ 
  ‘Yeah, please,’ she said. ‘Get my usual. Oh, and a pineapple ring.’
  She sat on the sofa and noticed his phone amongst the coffee table debris. She picked it up and read the last message. It was from Lisa Gilligan.

If you can get away tonight it’ll be well worth it.

She stood up, bounced the phone off the wall and put her hands over her face.
  ‘They didn’t have any fish cakes,’ he shouted. 
  ‘It’s okay.’ 
He came into the front room holding a bread knife.
  ‘You want some bread cutting?’ 
  ‘I’m not hungry,’ she said. ‘Who’s Lisa Gilligan?’ 
  ‘What?’ he said, looking over at his phone.
  ‘Have you stopped taking your pills?’ 
He bent over to pick his phone up. 
  ‘Crazy bitch,’ he said. 
She picked up the iron owl ornament and bashed his head with it. His body shook on the floor. And then nothing.

Her dainty fingers moved across his palm. 
  ‘Your hands are rough,’ she said, kissing them. 
She limped into the bathroom and tossed the hands into the bathtub, alongside his other chopped up body parts.

She sat on the toilet, opened a fresh bottle of gin, and stared at the askew seascape painting on the wall. She could hear the ocean’s waves. And then it was quiet. 
  ‘I’m sorry,’ she said, pushing a handful of tablets into her mouth. 
Her lips wrapped around the neck of the bottle and she guzzled it down. The bathroom door swung open. The young couple she’d seen earlier entered. 
  ‘Please, please help, I didn’t mean to do it,’ she said. 
The young couple stared at the bathtub. 
  ‘Oh, beautiful taps,’ said the young girl.
  ‘Well, if the taps are beautiful we should move in immediately.’
  ‘Hey, fucking look at me,’ she yelled.
The couple left the bathroom laughing. 
  ‘Hey, wait, don’t leave me here,’ she said. 
She chased after the young couple, but they had vanished. She rushed back into the bathroom, and the bathtub was empty. 
  ‘Eric?’ she shouted, searching through the house.
  A shadow crossing the upstairs landing caught her eye. She stood at the bottom of the stairs.
  ‘Eric?’ she said.
The gaunt, pale man’s head appeared, over the bannister. His eyes bulged, he crawled onto the stairs, and let out a loud, painful groan. She stumbled into the living room and stopped at the coffee table. It was now in perfect condition. She knelt on the floor and covered her face with her hands. A hot breath pressed the back of her neck, and then a lion’s roar pushed her to her feet.
She removed her hands to see Eric sitting on the sofa.
  ‘Come, lay down,’ he said. 

Her dainty fingers moved across his palm.
  ‘Your hands are rough,’ she said, kissing them.