Archives for the month of: October, 2016

Shall we go out, watch the ships sink in the storm | or stay at home, keep dry, chill | play with the cat? | Where is the moment? | How may we | place it? | Here it is, you say, but I | left some time ago, seduced | by the ghosts of other old women, before | our teeth dropped, our limbs | withered and buckled | our sexual parts | lost their flowers and were no longer | horse or bull or the clear | ring of sky in the clouds, a lone | bird flying at such height, slowly and lazily | as it seemed, and too | distant to identify | Certain important | questions are dying in us | Where can we | store this fire? | Keep it on hold, so it may burn us at | precisely | the right instant? | My heart is too | full of junk, failed | poems | old records, we can’t | leave the flames there, and if we | can’t keep things in the heart, what | then? | Marzipan, Marzipan of the golden eyes, fur of the white | of the first | snow of the Norwegian winter… | Leave the B by the C, it’s the familiar way | Untouch | more and more | wires | disconnected | lying on the grass, the man | up the pole | as if scouting | for an enemy or Devon | Will we be able to see | the sailors crying, do you think? | We wonder this | I love you, you say | I have a silence for you | Here it is

The coda is very long | We wonder why? | The main movements were immense, ancient, unstoppable, like glaciers, but now this muted music goes on and on | with no drama, only nuance, melancholy, resignation | Small fires break out | the city endures its own ruins | people meet among the shadows, they keep their voices low | everyone is dazed, concussed by events signalling the end | of a meaningful history | ten centuries raised in the blade of a bulldozer | pulverized visions, I love you, twitch of pupils dilating, the sound | of the west wind among rainy sycamores in November | all leaves down | It’s a great party, plenty of booze, good music, at some point | I have the feeling I’m on a treadmill | even my own body is a treadmill | and I wonder | if that feeling might be called a soul? | The war is an anti-climax | the stories from the refugees | conform to well-known patterns | and in the children’s eyes | as they gaze at the capital | you can find a prophecy: These may not be called fragments now | but they will be

The soul endures after death | but death endures, too, as part of the soul | you cannot separate them | they lead to each other | immortality is no memory | Unlike us, they had no written language | although stone for carving was all around them | They were very young, the children, but already they knew | sometimes water is for drinking | but sometimes | drowning

When it is all over, the ||

Abrupt | The broken | connection | Old | phone, hanging by its | cord | in a lit booth || “When they were last seen alive…” || Sometimes, stories go looking for them, but often | it is only silence and | a particular | twist in the void | a shape of nothing | in a shop | a faint trembling sensation | on the skin of your forearm | Glazing the whole | kit and caboodle | making it that | epic | window, your life || Truly, though, isn’t it | stumps of roses | the shattered fragments of | Monday and sunrise | the thread | you pick up and the | enigma of the | threads you | don’t sense, the | space in things | like one of those trains that stops at night | in a station, and the doors | open, but | no one gets on, and no one | gets off, and the train | waits?

I’m full of graves and guitars.

As if they’d give money for that!

It’s not frightening, it’s what I want. Although I don’t know. You won’t be there when it’s gone. That’s how you never even see anything.

If I could go up the hill, I could write a song as big as the cellar.

No, I’ll get round to it. Listen. If you don’t see how it ends, how do you know it’s ended?

Some of the graves are ships.

I spend eight hours of the day wasting my time. I’m not a romantic. I’d rather get paid. I like geometry, the calmness of those structures. If I could get to the top, I’d see what I’d lost.

Evenings are the saddest. Evenings in the hold. There is a song, just beyond the tip of the oh I don’t know.

They don’t pay you for your pain, they take money from you for it, because you’re no good at the things that don’t give you pain. It’s obvious, but I can’t see why. It’s bound to show.

There’s no darkness inside it, there isn’t enough room. You need space for darkness.

There’s no time inside it because of the war.

Just right on the edge of the maybe later, after I’ve slept.

Mondrian, for example. You think it’s ethereal, but it’s concrete for me. You just fill it with thoughts, so it isn’t. Even before I’ve started, you’ve started first. Always, so you don’t get to the voyage, not really.

Yes, if you said I was going to die alone and poorly dressed, you would be like the fortune cookie. Evenings are also beautiful, of course, if you make them like that. You have to put in more effort, the moon in labour, the horses in Cameron’s Field.

Its scalar. What do they say these days — granular. Einstein was right, so he was wrong.

I’m treading the vanishing path. I understand things by avoiding them. The more I avoid, the less there is to cause me pain. If you worry, that would be nice, for both of us, perhaps?

They want to pay you, so they can understand. If they can buy it, that’s part of the structure. You end up with the odds and sods, the bits left out. They can’t see the money in them. You try to show them, but they just take money from you, because they can’t understand. If they only looked closer, but they don’t have the time or the patience, they never really follow their eyes. Eyes are like wells, like rabbit holes. They don’t look down their eyes. They just see dice, but they don’t call them dice. It isn’t mixed up. There’s a grammar for it. Or, well — not rules, precisely, but still, a form of precision.

I’m not a romantic, I like circles, squares. Euclid. Rhomboids. Pentagons. Triangles.

They get paid, but they don’t see the moon giving birth to the foals. Then the money comes, and they see the horses.

They take the money off you, and show you the street. There’s plenty of room there!

I guess it is frightening, but eventually you’ll reach a circle, and then there will be no one. It’s like sleeping on a ship as it sails. Like the views you don’t see as you sleep. That part of the voyage, filled with everyone else. Even you.

If you don’t see how it ends, how do you know what it was?

Is it the last thing we have in common? How could you see? There isn’t a side or an angle. You can’t even negate it! How can you tell a song that it’s not a song? And why would you?

I give them the money I can’t afford, so they can go home and rest their eyes.

Graves are full of people like us.

All you can say is, it ends if you don’t see how it ends.

You see?

By way of a steel ladder in, and down.

Above, on the surface, a landscape of scars and industrial remains – mining vehicles and paraphernalia, abandoned when the will to dig faded, investors backed out, the seams exhausted. Tractors with shed tracks, shacks, winching: to detail the derelict machines would be irrelevant, not economical, not profitable, for the winter is modernity here, and the winter, for the foreseeable future, is the future.

The signs of human intervention are really the signs, too, that the winter here was, for the most part, the past.

The rails go into the winter, and the forest.

There are no subjects here. There is no discourse: no demand for speech, no ears to listen. No assertions are required, no negations prompted. No eulogies, elegies, allegories, categories: no litanies, no inventories. No pauses for effect. No stops.

If the wolves come, their eyes glow a vivid orange if the snow has freshly fallen and the wolves glance up and in certain directions. The sun is low, and there are no dead here, just as there are no living.

Elk, occasionally. Frequent blizzards. In the brief summers, clouds of mosquitoes, and the rotting sleepers of the railway line sink and crumble further into the swamp, warping steel.

A landscape remembers nothing. There are no memories. The wind keeps no diary, the snow’s journal buries itself and melts and is merely the record of a blank: the record is then overwritten by another blank – and if time could pass here, then all that would happen would be that time would pass here. But no time passes, because a landscape remembers nothing, and there are no memories.

As the planet turns, and the sun retreats, winter restores itself: sap slows, shrivels, accumulated fat begins to wane, sleeping mammals, wrapped in darkness, dreamless, in the pomp of their furs, are unaware of how they skeletonise over the raw months of their voyage, and will wake to weakness and to hunger. They were not kings or queens, and they will not be beggars: they had no riches, they will have no rags.

The wolves go into the forest, and then there are no wolves. There is no forest.

There is no winter. There is no snow.

Lastly, and firstly.

Down.

My favourite labels were definitely West End and Prelude early on | and I would look for those pink spines

The suburbs stretch out | It was Midwest in the cabinet with the verruca cream | Sundays like Ohio | I used to look at the airliners flying over, so high | my teens | and astronauts floating | and all that emptiness

Tracks

Provincial town | being chased through the streets by skinheads | and they spat in my long hair | they were the tough doomed kids in Sta-Press and Ben Sherman | they didn’t hear it, but I heard it | the lap of the long | doldrums of our lives | the route laid out | the allotted | becalming

Singing down the phone | to find the name

By the freight yard | and the abattoir | through the cuts in the chain-link fences | I mean | these aren’t places you want to hang out | working the night shift in winter | manning the guillotines | the carve and crimp of sheet metal | not music | dropping out of school | waiting for the parachute | to open

We searched at certain temperatures | because access wasn’t easy | like stumbling on a violet | pigment in a cave of dripping grey | raw in the flashlight

we boiled

care in dirty pans | floated on the scent of dragons | we’d drive for hours | city kids couldn’t know | from New York, from L.A. and San Francisco | and they were pretty blasé about everything

Doge and doze

Dodge and maze

Taking years to trace | those tunes that drove you crazy | Was it the right sound? The best sound? The new, the true, the actual sound? | Who knows? | Isn’t it

too early to say?

These were like older hip kids from Venice Beach in California or somewhere

To find a spot | a knack | a passion for imports | for Rimbaud or Roland R-8s | kissing the ear | a way of being | alive | an optimist | adroit

Look quickly, though, if you miss | it | rain falls among the ivy | in the Centaur Bar or Pulse Detroit

By a series of ornate maps, steered to the heartland. The palm of the hand more mysterious. More precious when held.

Under the shade of coffee trees, sleeping securely. Wandering the ruins of an ancient city, an outpost of the past. Our voices reach to here.

From the floor of dry wells, the reproach to unfallen rain.

Assigning.

Dead sounds, clinks, clicks, shuffles.

River in the desert. At the Hôtel de l’Univers, ill for several days, delaying departure.

Our love deepens. It begins to eliminate others from our table, our bed no longer furniture but a plain. We secrete, in our future, positions.

From Mirage A to Mirage B: transport of weapons, food. But we have established Mirage K, on a lonely stretch of the coast where slaves can be exchanged for guns loaded.

Immediacy is both created and lost by these new projections. Origins are sought: ends delineated. By a series of worn maps, steered to the borderlands.

Held up for days by the volcano. Chic bars in the gentrified quarters where once the poor were assembled into generalities and forbidden their cages with canaries and goldfinches.

The proponents of Mirage A grow more radical by the day, expanding the powers of the federal government, investing vast sums in superstructure and dams. Materiel is delivered to reinforce the menacing fortifications of Mirage B.

On the black marble bar, the white book of philosophy: understated techno in the background, vintage road bikes hung from the exposed concrete ceiling. The dreams of lonely sailors, for weeks under the ice, the meaning of their nuclear submarines as yet undetermined, the scatter of relation uncontrolled, the rates of reindeer migration.

By a series of burnt maps, guided to your body. Loss of possibility for the others. Your long fingernails, the tear in the rind of Californian oranges. Scent of zest.

By sleigh, the curtailed frolic of the music of Hungarian saddle-bells, the snow extended to the fleeting haiku of Japanese pines: no release from my sadness, but the florid veins, the braid on the ambassador’s uniform, the expression of calm, oratorio.

Refugees heading for the myths of Mirage Y. An oasis with palms and peaches, hummingbirds, figs. Wanting to be here now: our love’s credo. The skyscrapers tumble in their disposable grace, stand for the future. Images of chameleons, a butterfly’s tongue. Salt cargo. Great storms. Spillage.

Asserting.

Crimson grammar. The spurs and offshoots of an echoing reference, the galleries and chambers of a widespread mine, only partly abandoned, wholly abandoned: revisted. Industrial gold from the cough of sick labourers, the libretto of magic forests and charming wolves, the Tokyo dreamscape rendered imperial, the aerial servants of Fujitsu and Dallas Semiconductor. Connected information, via the lines of Applied Materials and Rohm, airless Edens in Dustless, the place where the minds gather, the mind gathers.

Describing.

Later, the history of the dominance of Mirage B. The Jang Dynasty, the neural cape, a Patagonia. Chipped and rotten sabre, thrust south into the sea and the wind, loneliness for Hong Kong wanderers. A kiss in a bottle. Her heartbeat, felt under a hymenal hand. The veils of membranes peeling away, her dress of aluminium in the English usage, his cock erect and related to crows: made possible by boron and gallium.

Recapping.

Describing.

Concluding.

By a series of flawed maps, to a perfect objective.

March, 2016. By my own hand. From my own eyes. To your own lips. To your own signs.

Shearsman | 109 & 110 | Winter 2016/2017

Two poems, Inside a book and The most wonderful production, have been published in Shearsman, Issue no. 109 & 110.

My thanks to the editor, Tony Frazer, and staff of Shearsman.

Please support the magazine.

Fragile beast | Take off your bison head, tingling, swinging | Take off your bear’s head of glass, jaws | swagged with blood | feckless | beast | Hero of the underground | rest your heart, put it | aside awhile | lay your claws beside the bed | let sleep | syphon you off into darkness and the one | true quiet | Futile | beast | forget your purposes, drop a compass | in a forest pool | set off in the direction | not of the ogre’s | fortress, but of the nightingales, wrap yourself | in the soft, green leaves of their song, ignore | the squalid tumult at its core || What does white lace | mean to the barmaid? | And the sultry cowboy | why does he care so much for those pretty guns? || Elect | a lovely murderer | Worship | a broken god | Avoid, if you can, waking | under stars seething | with furious life | Forget, as you wish to, every word she said | Watch the others | wrestle the ocean | for a while | restless | beast | Leading | voice of the avant garde | abandon the cabaret, settle down | to sell insurance or teach | literature in some | doldrums nook || Why must the mirror | lie so of you? | Where do the crowds | take your little matter? || Huge the voice that pounds inside your brain, a volcanic roar and multiple rumble | of stampeding hooves | yet no one | takes issue with a word you say! || Prophet from | an unwritten bible | haranguing pleasure- | seekers in a park | just shut the fuck up! | Add to the generous mass, the dangerous yeast | of your intangible spirit || Close this book of waves and shells | awash with plundering threat and rumour, the sea’s | reiterated whisper | and slip off into your silent life | delicate | tender | troubled | beast

Blood maps a recalcitrant journey | Desire mimes a stolen play | French William, and scalded Harald, stuff your mouth | with long-suffering words | and they | offer you the limits of your speech | leave you mired in what you call your own | tongue… | Brilliant | tangents | drive the detour on | You spend your days | fixated upon | the doings of the most famous troll | and total your beautiful car | against the wall of a hardware store || Grand the wrought | iron of your mansion’s gates | aspirational the towers | but in the bedroom’s early hours | the hours of fidget, crick and aftermath | though the dragon’s corpse has yet to start | stinking | the genius | swords of your early forays are still dwarfed | by the mounds of scales | of your slain prey | The years | with their soft | moth mouths | begin to bite | You realise | that second thoughts absorb your fate | and your saga ends in differing, in a dull stranger’s | bar-room story | Bathos awaits

If you cannot get control, then achieve at least the illusion of control.

In the German Gymnasium, no swordsmen but liqueurs. Spectacular arrangements of flowers, their seductive display of pure nudity — is there anything more naked than a flower? — and green and white geometry, architecture of sulphur and cream. A muted air of the glasshouse, a waxy residue of plastic-wrapped passages through the conduits of commerce, attaches itself to the lilies, and the establishment’s ambiance is subtly compromised: dead feelings. Contrived into position, the petals emit a faint under-image of barcodes and spreadsheets and vans.

In the German Gymnasium.

The joy of modernity is over, the forced games of post-modernity are over, or should be over, but both hangover.

This is no longer the London of Karl Marx and Rimbaud, nor of the Blitz or of a brutalist concrete revival. The city has settled eerily, like a sunken ocean liner on its side. The damage is ingeniously massaged away and dispersed. Neither fascist excess, nor revolutionary zeal, nor liberal decadence hold sway: that would be absurd, any significant re-structuring of the capitalist vessel seems to belong less to the domain of necessity or possibility than to the arena of taste, of manners. Bad taste, and bad manners. If you cannot gain control, you cannot lose control either.

I am of Puritan stock, a whey-faced, doughty roundhead among cavaliers. The clink of my pike and pot helmet and breastplate can easily be heard in the charming landscape dotted by the translucent, ethereal volcanoes of martini glasses. Tramping up the stairs in my Paul Smith armour, I feel guilty, incapable of taking pleasure in a place designed for pleasure and the performance and embodiment of style. No matter how hard I try, I cannot relax into the present era, the fashionable scene. I am clunky and humourless, and of course no less narcissistic than the cavaliers around me — indeed, probably more so.

The new has become a brand, like sonnets, like handguns, like Tarantino. Modernity is a sheath over the past. Make of that what you will, o my masters!

Calmness is a signature look in the German Gymnasium. Not sabres, not rapiers, but mobile devices and Tissot watches. Complete command over the syntax of the efficient expenditure of wealth is highly desirable. We speak in control. We express success.

No Prussian hard-cases, no punch bags the dark tobacco colour of gleaming tropical beetles.

The poets of that era, with their dueling scars of hashish and an innocent belief in art and in the efficacy of iconoclastic weekends in mountain retreats or dingy bordellos, each carrying the neat, jumbled prospectus of the future in suitcases of glass or ivory or petroleum, would not fit in with the clientele of the German Gymnasium.

The icons come self-broken. The weight has gone — for all the impressive floodlighting around the latest urban grand design — the substance has been syphoned off into the realm of the digital, the bombs begin as pixels and the dead have their twitter accounts, their extensive menu of clichés to choose from, the bereaved have information packs on funeral services and coping strategies, the astringent snow to heal in Norwegian fjords or Swedish cabins.

The poor and their “explosive cause”… The magma of history, churning away, unseen, in the chamber below ground: only when it is extruded onto the surface does it become lava.

In my notebook, “social injustice”, “relative deprivation”, the policy statements of politicians haunted by the notes from silver horns — a cold jubilance on winter mornings calling to the hunt — fluttering pearl-decorated fans or strutting in tight breeches. The prophylactic of modernity. The glass pyramid of I.M. Pei, stretched over the treasures.

In the German Gymnasium, the energy of coherent errors is no longer available to pump the situation up into the status of a symbol.

I wondered, as I looked around, whether the sensation of gaining control, or of losing control, offers the greatest bliss?