Cab Ride, April 18th, 2013

My new video with Harper’s Bazaar about finding a place within an ephemeral world. Featuring love and New York City. Please share.

”In the third of his exclusive films for Bazaar, our roaming poet, filmmaker and model Max Wallis presents Cab Ride, April 18th 2013 all the way from New York.

The film looks at trying to find a place within an ephemeral world and focuses on New York and its walls of advertising for inspiration. It comes from Wallis’s next collection of poetry, supported by the Arts Council, written on the theme of modelling, with the tentative working title of Ephemera Turned Solid taken from this very poem.”

We talk about marriage for the first time

while I edit a Google document; consider vowels
in ‘Amen’. The half rhyme with hymn. How long
would it take to replace the words we have learnt?

Those we have mumbled. Or else, redaction,
how easy or hard would it be to rewrite time?
The sine curve of our last year: like a squirrel

that scurries across the wall. The flock of pigeons
shooed. A basket of laundry chucked from a window, see
how boxers twirl, how socks tell a story that isn’t mine?

Shortlisted for the Polari First Book Prize 2012
I’ve made it from the longlist to the shortlist. Find out who wins in November. xx 

Four independent presses have made the shortlist for the Polari First Book Prize, with the winner receiving a £1,000 prize for the first time.

Indie presses Salt, Wandering Star Press, Limehouse Books and Flap are on the shortlist and Transworld has also secured a nomination.

The prize, now in its fifth year, is worth £1,000 for the first time, courtesy of Square Peg Media. The shortlist comprises: The Frost Fairs by John McCullogh (Salt); Ey Up and Away by Vicky Ryder (Wandering Star Press); Becoming Nancy by Terry Ronald (Transworld); Exit Through The Wound by North Morgan (Limehouse Books); and Modern Love by Max Wallis (Flap)

Paul Burston, chair of the judges, said:  “This is a really strong short list which reflects the diversity of LGBT literary voices … The judges would like to congratulate the five shortlisted writers and would also like to  thank Linda Riley of Square Peg Media for her generous support in celebrating the inventiveness, distinctiveness and excellence of the very
best of queer writing”.

The winner will be announced on 26th November.

from Jack Frost and the Swans - III

from Jack Frost and the Swans


The mist comes in
like a stranger’s hands

and the trees are letters
and the sky their paper
and the roads are rivers
and the cars their boulders
and the houses are glass
and the people their statues
and the lakes are iced lochs
and the fish their explorers
and the fields are glaciers
and the walls their ridges
and the alleys are veins
and the cobbles their scales
and the colours all white

like a stranger’s hands
the mist comes in.

Max Wallis‘s first pamphlet, Modern Love, has been longlisted for the Polari First Book Prize. He is currently tweaking the final edits to his book of children’s book of poetry, supported by the Arts Council called Jack Frost & the Swans, from which this poem is taken.

Published on Ink, Sweat and Tears

Leaving Lights

Leaving Lights
after Roo Borson

To board the train for London without any sleep. Just one suitcase
limited by space: some skinny jeans, a vest, two pairs of pants
clothes that later littered bins outside a Shoreditch flat.
To do all this with busied eyes and a quiet smile.
To do all this with no swag
but a wad of cash in the wallet, a thrum in the chest,
the tinny beat of a three-year-old playlist on a sketchy iPod
to keep the mind going. To open The Poetry of Birds
edited by Simon Armitage, and to not read it.
To move an entire life south, past various borders
imagined over the years. Past the Mormon Temple, past Manchester,
past Birmingham and Oxford. To leave but always feel
that bite of northern teeth on the neck:
of Bolton, Chorley, physical-memories that do not budge
but rub against each other, like sticks towards sparks.
A shape of a place that fills the mouth. To see it all in the absence
it leaves. In the faces of friends bunched up in a bed, aged fourteen.
To wave goodbye via text messages, emails, status updates on Facebook,
and this poem. To grow into an adult on a diet
of Oyster cards and tube-lines. To attempt to decipher the future
in the brown haze of smog that lights the sky at night, these neon
kaleidoscope moments that short-circuit the brain, overheat all connections
until there’s no serotonin left: just us, bare, raw.
To know that everyone wishes for something they cannot yet grasp.
For the arrival of new buildings in old neighbourhoods. For the clatter
of slender cutlery over a boozy lunch. For the reek of sexy bodies
at five-am. For becoming – for just one night – someone else.
For concrete, bustling commuters, and that moment
when a seven-foot tranny asks you your favourite X-Factor contender.
To live a life that none have lived before. To not swim with the tide.
For wanting the palm without the dust. For knowing
that good things take practice and hard work.
To grow and grow older but not old.
To see the wishbone in every opportunity
the brackets in every discussion,
the full stops behind every sigh.

New Poem: Darkblind

I have left the blue land and its night-filled days.
Don’t look back to the mountain spine

that hemmed me close. All of it is in the brain
mental snapshots for my hippocampus.

If I think hard enough, they will change
the structure of my neurons, stimulated

simultaneously they will be burned
into my skull.

For now, I leave the land.
Retreat to a grey place cloaked

in brown noise, light, of concrete
and a glazing rain.

Follow me: @maxrobertwallis

Buy my book @Amazon.

Grøtfjord, Tromsø, Norway

Here, before ice floes stall the coast,
the beach is stationary,

except for the slow lap of waves,

as they wipe the foreshore and back
and turn to ice.

That dull strata

impossibly thin, like wafer or the layers
between you and me: veils

I could grab you through.

Satellites and instant-time,
phone calls from city to wilds.

We are like this place.

The wind doesn’t rise.
Just a wide gaping world

looking on without much to say

analysing the distance between us
in its own frigid terms.

Above, the lights flick and swerve
like swallows

before a thunderstorm.

Follow me @maxrobertwallis

Buy my book, Modern Love, here. Longlisted for the Polari Prize 2012.

New Poem: Small Expectations

When Harrods opened England’s first escalator passengers were given a small glass of brandy at the top to calm them after their ‘ordeal’. It’s funny, these expectations. Like three years of Physics classes, two different teachers, as I peered over the textbook at your face against a diagram of the sun. Those shy days, totally aware of each other’s movements; how many times we had cleaned our pencil cases; the smell of that certain brand of chewing gum. We wouldn’t answer questions sometimes, too caught up in the other’s hair. Our hands brushing as we reached to pick up the 1kg weights, the voltmeter, filled with static. When we finally got to it. One night under a barrel of school disco-ball stars. We almost threw up as we leaned in. Then it was over. And it was nothing.


New Poem: Making Chicken Liver Pâté for Three

Chopped up livers never looked appetising
yet here I am cutting them into chunks
to sauté with some butter. Sort of like how
the idea of a relationship split three ways
could never work. High risk/high gain,
this notion of liver toxicity.

Four cloves of garlic, crushed; snipped chives;
two sploshes of Armagnac; a dollop of Lurpak light
and an onion all fried together with chillis and ground up
mustard seeds and browned liver. Wait until
they are cooked through and blend to a smooth paste.
It tastes better than the conventional muck.
Just like we all did. Who knew love
was not like a heart, but a liver:
three distinct zones.

Published here:

New Poem: Blue Hours

I could press through the screen, zoom in,
step through pixels to be close to snow again.

Back awhile with nothing but the open mouth
of silence, snapping with the humming wind.

Look up, see the dark light of sky,
the cloudless yawn of the world.

These blue hours where everything turns,
dyed by light, by dark, by the moon.