Submission Policy

Mel BrakE Press acquires first serial rights to all work published. Mel BrakE Press also reserves the right to electronically archive any content published.

All other rights revert to author upon publication.

Mel BrakE Press has a liberal submission policy, and will accept poetry manuscripts (not books) for its next publication cycle, the Spring of 2018.

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We only accept submissions via email for collection of poems. Please send no more than 3-5 pages of poetry as an email attachment using standard MS format. We do not accept epic manuscripts:10 pages or more will be rejected.

Please note in subject line: "Submission".

Manuscripts that do not follow our guidelines
will be subject to rejection. We do not publish books.

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Thursday, December 15, 2011


We are very pleased to introduce the exceptional collection of Bruce McRae


Bruce McRae was born August 3rd 1954, Port Colborne, Ontario, Canada. Soon moved to Niagara Falls, then the village of Chippawa.

He studied film, radio and television production, 1972 - 1975, while playing in a number of bands in and around Ontario.

He moved to London, England, 1979, making song demos. Joined Restaurant For Dogs. Formed duo The Caretakers. Traveled city to city; Toronto, Vancouver, London - several times; and also Bristol, in the west of England.

He began poetry readings in London, 1994, and acoustic gigs. First poems published,
1997, hundreds of publications since.

Cosmo’s Little Adventure

The universe went bang.
It woke in a cornfield,
unable to remember yesterday,
ashamed and soiled.

The universe stumbled
down a country lane,
weaving like a prizefighter.
Never more alone,
it paused at the river,
munching on a stolen apple,
collecting its senses,
bending down to drink
of the sweetened waters.

The universe wandered
without aim or purpose.
It tried hitching a lift.
Dogs barked as it passed
the tilting barns and farmhouses.
It came to a village.
On the green in its quiet square
the universe smoked a cigarette
as evening darkened.

The first of the stars appeared,
awakening lost memories,
rousing forgotten emotions.
A warm summer night,
it lay on a lawn,
wearied, eyelids fluttering,
sleep coming down gently.
The universe dreaming
of light and of love.
Dreaming itself into being.

Dumbstruck Pantheon

Galaxies no bigger than a thimble.
Galaxies burning the last candle,
that believe themselves to be everlasting
bouquets thrown by a virgin bride.

Galaxies. Celestial tops and arid plains.
Fiery cartwheels in the long black of night,
with bluebells and fumaroles and gullies.
With green skies and a bit of a temperature.
With snowy summits of eternal yearning,
with storm clouds, desolate and vast shadows,
eternity yawning in the dread silence.

Galaxies craving the company of other galaxies,
gathering in groups and gossiping,
feeling sorry for themselves, fishing for compliments,
weary of holding up the sky, suffering for an eternity
from isolation, from a lousy sense of humour,
their timing off, their delivery awkward,
the one joke they know older than the dawn of light.

Galaxies gagging on superfluous atoms.
Drawing the circles of themselves, their former lives.
Clocks, but not for the telling of time.
Coins, but not for spending.

Faraway Suns

More stars than toads or moths or damselflies.
More stars than knots or wedding rings or roses.

From under my pillow I can hear the stars reflect
upon the hideous triumphs of function and form.
They influence my moods and fads in furniture.
The tears of the stars are what water our vegetable gardens.

Black stars. Furnaces of indigo. Of indefinite colour.
Stars that creak in the wind. That create weather.
Fallen stars I collect like acorns or raspberries.
Aloof stars, haughty and remaining at a distance.
Copper stars on silver wires, suspended from the impossible.
Flowers of wordless fragrances gathered at the river’s bend.
Little explosions taking forever to divulge their secrets
to the sleepy child, the fox, the worm and the hare.

A star-quelled night in a curious village.
I’m awake and listening to stories of epic proportions.
Tales of gods and animals, of eternal love and despair.
Saints wailing on the green sward in Capricorn.
Souls in Aquarius singing an epoch-long mal aria.
Faraway suns, their arms burdened with green planets.
Bright wells serving the will of the people, the strangest people,
who are very like us, and very much different,
who wish upon stars, studying their bones, and who wonder –
outlandish questions for which no answers exist.
Countless sums beyond number.

A Small World

The little planet thought it was an egg or a softball. It cried out for a mother, but no mother was there. Once or twice upon a time the little planet wandered off among the stars. Far from its sun it shuddered with the cold, and had only starlight to guide it. Soon it was lost, and again it spoke, attempting to be heard; again the little planet cried out and none came to its aid. No one was there to say to the little planet: There, there, little one; know that I love you . . .

No Blur I

I’m a cute little nebulae in Ursa Major.
I don wigs and wear theatrical costumes.
I love ballroom dancing and adore Segovia.
Some people think me a bag of old wind
or lofty statement of profound disillusionment,
that I’ve fallen foul of my own vast dimensions.
When, essentially, I’m freeform and debased.
I invest in and invent a composite destiny.
I suffer the indignity of beauty.

It’s from this sky-high vantage point
I choose to ponder meaning and existence.
I see the void consuming and re-creating light.
I see stars jostling in the vacuum’s expanse.
I squint at moons, planets, meteoroids;
they being small and uneasy in deportment.

No smudge I, I’m a celebrity, a minor deity.
A cradle, flower, eye-candy, wound.
And encourage guests into my cold kitchen.

Won’t you seek me out in the darker quarters?
Won’t you look upon me?

Among The Ashes

A pinpoint, so heavy
no light escapes
its black-eyed surfaces –
is the official story.

What they don’t tell
you about black holes
is they’re not black
and they’re not holes.

Singularities are signs
on the interstellar highway.
They’re always hungry.
And angry. And disappointed.

They’re doors and windows.
They’re houses on fire.
A black hole is
larger than its sum.

They taste of licorice,
smell like linseed oil,
and make a sound
as if whales laughing.

If you find one
give it wide berth.
Don’t mention the wars.
Never insult its heritage.

A former star,
black holes are sensitive
about their weight,
their lack of visibility.

Density and destiny
go hand in hand;
so we all know
where this is going.

We all serve fate.
In the long night
we all turn
to a higher power.


Are comets leftovers from the last supper?
Are they die cast in the casino of night?
Are they messenger boys delivering the good news,
telling us Newton was right or the mighty have fallen?
Are they primitives from the outermost places?
Cold and inert, do they every burst into song?
Haven’t we seen their names under the big lights?
Couldn’t we liken them to passersby, visitors
from a strange country, with odd accents
and carrying books written in age-old scripts?
Is it me, or don’t they seem like elderly tourists to you,
snapping photographs, gawping at planets and moons,
leaving a trail across our usually pristine carpets?
Do you never hear them muttering about dust and ice,
complaining about the solar winds and stellar prices?
Can it be they’re prescient, our futures already known,
that our every thought and deed is predetermined,
our fates laid out before us in some manifest plan?
Are our lives predestined?

Pluto, Or Bust

The edge of the edge of the edge . . .

After Pluto, then what?
More nothing. Ruin engaged
with the absolutes of nothingness.
Dark bodies of the void.
Tumbling ice. Imaginary fragments.
A ballet of rubble.

The first astronaut to Pluto said
what what what.
He saw the star was a sun
and said what.
He scanned Charon, muttering what.
He surveyed the starscape, longing
for home in the primordial whatness.

Pluto, which was, but now isn’t, a planet.
Like the tenth planet. Like Planet X.
Like a rogue planet
discovered by accident. By the Hardy Boys.
By wistful intuition.

Pluto, last stop on the Interstellar Express.
A buggy blot on a lens or a mirror.
A snowball thrown by a once-playful god,
a god grown vindictive and angry
among the excesses of pure abandon.

A Hell Of A Night Out

Neptune is Nut’s eyeball.
A breath cryogenically preserved.
The home of weather.

But don’t expect free delivery.
When on Neptune don’t complain –
you should have known better.

Because Neptune is a hum-job.
It exists to please you,
to pleasure the senses.

Come, visit its windy temples.
Approach on your knees.
Mistake dullness for simplicity.

I enjoy its gas mountains
and venereal rhythms
and the blue before all others.

I go there in my dreams.
I go moon by moon,
toying with the delicate network

of tragic wishes and whispers.
I sip from its chill.
I embrace the dualities of perfection.

Big Wind

On Uranus they’ve rid themselves of puerile jokes
and childish puns concerning body parts.
No street signs warn of impending perils.
There’s no complicated system of taxation
to thoroughly confuse the average man.

It’s a long way down through its shredded cloud cover,
the puckered depths a shrouded mystery.
Perhaps you’d find a parking lot or shopping mall.
Perhaps a swimming pool, one difficult to maintain,
what with the ridiculous winds and frosty temperatures.

I imagine the sunsets on Uranus are fairly miserable.
I imagine unattended resorts and cinemas.
That the tunnels there are often closed for repairs.

Pioneer, beware the false idols of weightlessness.
Pilgrim, travel hopefully, depart often, arrive seldom –
Or one must suppose, as so little news gets back to us.
Or so one guesses, which is the nature of space travel –
your destination will many times elude you.

The Vain Planet

Like a church bell, Saturn rings
in the supernatural octaves.
The belle of the ball, he is a she,
her face always being turned away,
its make-up smeared in an infinite
vanity mirror, lips and cheek
anointed with crushed flowers,
with essence-of-meteoroid.

Saturn is spilled perfume
or knot of butterflies.
Behind windswept scaffolding
is a factory at night.
The solar system’s bullet hole.
A reason for wonder,
for childlike delight.

An artist in a fit of pique
threw down his palette,
and Saturn became –
stains of colour and dun light.
The loveliest attraction
in a void half-perfected.
A carnival sideshow.
Songbird in an ice cage.
An eyeful. A slideshow,
with and without substance.
Always being born.
Always dying.

Out Of This World

Jupiter, where it’s difficult getting a foothold,
the Masters of Kinesis having ruined everything.
They’ve ruled with a gassy fist in a paper glove
and don daft and purple pantaloons.
We, the Jupiterians, demand wise council
and are instead buffeted by high winds,
by rhetorical gusts and blustery semantics.

Jupiter, dependant on tourists for our livelihood.
A day is a year long, every month a June morning.
Space-fishing is a cottage industry.
Because we’re oversized we bow to gravity
and have yet to fully explore and exploit the skies.
Of course we acknowledge the slight possibility
there are other lives on other worlds –
but it doesn’t seem bloody likely.

Jupiter, with its many fine motels,
superb restaurants, and beaches as you’ve not imagined.
Never mind the crashing comets,
there are relief grants and global wide health plans.
And we would welcome your little red rockets.
However alien, we encourage the vicissitudes of Man.

In The Asteroid Belt

A hat would serve little purpose
in a place such as this.
Neither would espadrilles or blood-red lipstick.
You wouldn’t bring an espresso machine here –
and why would you want to anyway?

Here, between Mars and Jupiter,
the main theme is about leaving it all behind –
the cocktail parties, the soap operas,
the fancy-dan can openers and flavoured straws.
The whole point is a fresh outlook, a blank slate,
a new way of looking at death and at love.
A last chance to take stock
of what appear to be our ever-dwindling options.

Employing extraordinary means and methods
you’ve come a long way in the mighty blank.
You’ve traveled by whim and prayer.
You’ve arrived at a place of no surrender,
no retreat, with no chance of changing your tact;
an atom amongst the pinballing remnants
of what might have been but never was.

Old World

On Mars you can never catch your breath.
You could walk all day and never get there,
that pretty pink atmosphere, its alien sun.

If you enjoy thunderstorms you’re on the wrong planet.
There are no roads, no bridges to be washed away,
no inns to gain harbour.

On the little red rock there’s not a bush or a hedge,
its stone gardens unattended, arctic, lonely.
We miss green, question ourselves,
and feel always inexplicably light-headed.
Phobos bodes unwell, and Deimos is careless,
both casting a thin shadow.
The stars there appear multi-dimensional.
Sparks without fire. The incense of Heaven.

Everywhere is the same destination,
superbly mapped, if never traveled;
but no signage, no rest, no hurry.
You’ll find the wind on Mars slight, pale with fine dust.
Ancient wadis bearing remnants of age-old ice,
hydrogen frost confirming a curious natural history;
and one that can never be written.

We sit in our domes and whisper rumours of home.
In the aftermath of a prehistoric apocalypse
we marvel at the abrasive landscape,
wondering upon the meaning of men.

A blue star wanders the pockmarked firmament,
Earth a hissing world on a static path,
we Martians otherworldly to the off-worlders.
Those long abandoned, who are the envy
of our future classes. They who have mass
but are made mad by starry influence.

No Restaurants, No Atmosphere

There’s not much fun to be had on the moon.
No oranges. No tunes. No cheesecake.
Grey compares itself only to grey,
growing comfortable, becoming satisfied.
A last carnation is continuously expiring.

The only hotel is closed for winter,
which I can assure you is a very long time.
There was once a pub, but now no one can find it.
Just a few footprints to capture your interest.
Just dust moaning to other dust.

Although bloody cold in the absolute vacuum,
we do have the stars, mon frere,
and these move unceasingly.
In a place where it’s always half past midnight
there’s a beautiful Earthrise
to occupy the mind and assuage the senses.
There’s an overabundance of quiet on the moon.
But, alas, no parties. No rivers. No rhymes.

A Song For Singing

The third stone from the end,
Earth is a blue spasm.
Children of tyrannical carbon,
we enjoy the warm waters,
its salt stinging in our veins.
Home of the tentative slug,
here’s where we keep the waitresses.
All roads there lead to the Triassic Era,
to a reptile sunning itself
or tiger stalking beauty.
We hold geology at arms’ length,
much like a bad stink.
Not to mention the psychic landscape . . .

From old diaries and letters we surmise
a planet much contented without us.
A motherlode for realtors,
gods seeking personal redemption
admire our polar sunsets.
In its looking-glass I too see myself,
a product of genetic preconditions
and Darwinian permutation.
Even angels need a place to fall,
mistaking welcome for culpability.
The aliens have to land somewhere.

Earth, a windy perch for the nightjar.
Often referred to as an island or ball
or bell for ringing; the brightest rose
in the night-darkened garden.

Good night, sweet dirt,
you would want to cry at your end,
our world brightening and eternal.

Parting The Veil

Venus lies bitter on the tongue.
The rivers roll past unnoticed.
Your sorrows weigh little.

My fellow investors, I’m being informed
Venus is rich in unnatural resources.
Smoke is its main export.
Dirt is going dirt-cheap there.
There are seventeen words for Welcome.

But the Venusians are a funny lot.
They speak little and say less.
A number are employed in the lava industry.
And, like for many of us here at home,
love is considered a commodity.

When I’m tired I go there
in the rocket in my mind.
I enjoy its heavy metal anthems –
melodies you can cling to desperately.
There’s not much birdlife in the caustic fog.
A few swans though. The occasional waterspout.
A number of large meals laid out.
And eight or nine seasons.

Holidays such as Easter on Venus
are quiet and informal affairs.
Celebrants run in to, and from, a burning building.
Treasure hunters leave immense treasures.
They fall to their knees in praise of cold water.
Their politicians tell them the same lies
we’ve eventually become accustomed to.
At night you look up into a vague light.
You begin there.

The Messenger

Mercury doesn’t ask questions.
It’s a planet, damn it,
and doesn’t care to speak
of such trivial matters.
It doesn’t need to know
anything about anything.
Like a child with a toothache,
it’s coddled in realism.

Mercury, a no-nonsense world,
its pockmarked ass pointed to the sun
but its gaze directed toward Heaven;
its eyes pleading with the stars’ jury.

A house that’s settling.
you won’t see ghazals being written there.
It’s far too far to tune in the radio.
And just try getting an electrician.

Mercury is ageless, give or take an era.
Unmooned, it is above despair,
unconcerned with the human condition.
It’s a world that’s taken to its bed
and is weary beyond all contemplation.

Or Clouds Of Angels

The sun, claimed the noted astronomer,
is comprised of serious green zigzags.
At its core are fragrant triangles
powering vast engines.
It’s ever so warm and inviting.

The sun, the eminent astronomer said,
has a tattoo of outer space
on its left buttock cheek –
admitting later to exaggerating
the full extent of his experience.

In truth, it’s a gigantic teardrop,
he continued. The sun is a button.
The left nipple of a goddess
human sorrow has partially undressed.
It’s a mouth saying Oh or No.

The class shuffled nervously at their desks.
The sun, the astronomer insisted,
is a pig in a party dress.
It’s a knot of burning sparrows’ breaths.
What we thought junctures of energy
and matter are merely gooey atoms.

The sun, he carried on, now in full stride,
is a monument to cosmic abeyance.
It hangs from a length of chicken wire
and bathes the wounds of a leper.
An ounce weighs no more than a gram.
Midnight rarely visits her.

So, the sun is a woman, we assumed,
the astronomer’s voice trailing away,
his attention focused elsewhere,
the lost rays lording it over the fallen.
And darkness winning.

The Worry In Dark Skies

What did Mars say to Venus
that caused her to blush?
What did the astronaut see
on his way to the sun?
Who murdered Plutonian summer?

So many questions to ask,
time doing its terrible two-step,
space expanding to fill itself,
light in two minds
whether to stay or go.

Is Saturn really a hamper
of dirty hotel linen?
Are Neptunians angry
over the state of their moons?
And where in hell has my rocket gone to?

There’s so little time to posit theories,
to even whistle a tune.
There are so many stars to count
it’s no wonder I’m mad with sleeplessness.

A pervasive curiosity,
the entire night is rocking.

Heady Stuff

Beyond the bounds of physics
and gravity’s bonds.
Beside the laws nature provides us,
under a seventh moon,
two light rays converging
after a long journey,
two atoms crossing paths,
a blue sun, the neutron pebble,
a fiery decimal tailed
by numberless zeroes . . .

To the house of the proton.
In a chair of quantum packets,
you and I starry fixings,
miraculous sparks, awareness
our incredible burden.

So we chat about choices
and the value of money.
So we sleep late.
Revel in childhood memories.
Pine about love.
We go to the movies,
attempting to lose ourselves
beneath the pinwheeling galaxies.

Children of the cosmos.
Babes in the void of wordless chaos.

Here And Now

Space-time is doing a striptease.
It’s showing us its stretchmarks,
its multi-dimensional wrinkles.
Space and time aren’t wed,
they’re conjoined twins,
the left hand of a monster,
the right hand of the beast.

Space, with its thin shanks,
its almost-abandoned laneways,
its quest for power.
Time, going anti-clockwise,
doing its own thing in its own way,
and to hell with Providence.
The two of them canoodling
throughout history and the cosmos,
looking for an edge,
making it all seem to happen.

Space-time, its dreaded conundrums,
the skewered narratives,
the ramblings without end,
the last sentence first
and first sentence last.
Its lessons and rhythms.
Its epitaphs and deep waters,
here and now not here and now –
but it could be and would be and is.

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