Archives for the month of: July, 2018

The present had grown mysterious. It floated like mist at the heart of a derelict building, the windows all blasted out. You had to clamber over the rubble in the street, massed before the entrance, and by the time you’d made your way into the interior, you were back on the street, facing a derelict house full of mist.

In an odd way, you never reached the present. And the place the present was kept — the past — was also inaccessible. By the time the present had occurred, or you were able to make sense of it, it had been packed into another derelict house, the house of expended things. And the house, because it had no doors hung in the doorways, and no glass in the window frames, couldn’t prevent the mist from entering it, and floating over the old, ruined armchairs and settees, drifting up the rotten stairs, dampening the peeling 1930s wallpaper with lupins and butterflies.

The future, too, was inaccessible. The future was the place all the presents pointed to: it was a kind of phantasmal museum, with collections of hopes and dreams and plans, none of which could possibly ever come to fruition, because by the time they came to fruition, they were already in the past — the future was a place people browsed round exhibits of elapsed projections. The future, therefore, made up the ghostly triumvirate of derelict houses, the three houses of time.

Of course, this ghostly triumvirate was actually just the same property, perceived from different points of view.

At the heart of the mystery of the present — and thus, at the heart of the mystery of the past and the future, too — there was the moment.

Nothing could have been more perplexing or bedazzling to your imagination than the moment. It was the trace of an enigma, or the skeleton of an enigma, an enigma that had died and lost its life. It was as if a building had had all its foundations removed, and yet, instead of collapsing, floated.

The crystal machinery of the moment was more complicated than the burning neuron forest of the human brain, yet simpler than a black crayon dot on white paper. It could be divided and divided and divided, and yet never broken down to its constituent element. It multiplied everywhere, in its billions and billions, and yet everywhere it vanished. When it vanished, it left no trace, except for the world. And the world suckled from the moment like a baby at a mother’s breast.

No one could name an individual moment. It wasn’t like a street — like Pearson Street, say, or Bokutei-dori. Too small to attach a name to, it didn’t work like that. The moment was general and anonymous, and at the same time, precious and utterly specific. It was translucent, and yet totally opaque. It contained nothing, and contained the universe. It was discrete, and yet attached to its fellows in long strings. The moment was there, whether you dreamed or not, whether you were alive or not. It had no witnesses to the way it moved, and yet every human life could be said, in a sense, to be a profound and extended testimony to the nature and effects of the movement of moments. Restless as the sea, still as a snowflake caught in a spider’s web, built in a gap in a drystone wall across a moor, on a windless day, in Yorkshire, England. It was the essence of the art of the riddle: from the Babylonians to the Anglo-Saxons to the PhD students dozing in their quantum cocoons, the moment was the spring, the first explosion, the first thought.

As for novelists, story-tellers, singers, musicians — what would they be without the moment?

The moment was a transcendental mechanism. With each new moment, the entire history of all things was transcended. Nothing was preserved, everything had to be rebuilt and the whole planet and its narrative shored up with logic and assumption, culture and hearsay. Your imagination was bound up into the moment, with its paths of orbit, divergence, bifurcation, circling, shattering. The moment’s precipice stood before you. To leap from the ledge would be to enter an entirely new world: it would be an act of sublime baptism, of absolute alchemy, of the radical and pervasive transformation of everything, from the core to the perimeter, from the edge to the centre. No one could survive that leap. You certainly couldn’t. And yet, what choice did you have, but to jump?

The moment is the supreme construct — a fabrication of such beige and vanilla humility, you can easily overlook its presence; but a fabrication, too, of such imperious and angel-subduing pride that even within the confines of a wristwatch or a sugarcube, its tremendous landscape rears up, with icy peaks and vertiginous ravines, to remind you of an 18th century copperplate print of the Swiss Alps, pitched at the trembling brink where the picturesque and pastoral morphs into the Gothic and sensational, where Reason plays Russian roulette with God and Satan and that whole starry crew of unleashed dogs and singed and smoking wings and letting-go…

When we’ve finished here, do you fancy a coffee?

 


from the series construct (2012–present, ongoing)

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the meaning crumbles and you don’t know | what you thought at that time | why you thought it | you don’t recall it | (why did you think it?)

lie close to her | she’s resting maybe | half asleep or | reading a magazine | you’re conscious | of the blood going into and out of her heart | it seems unreal | that she, and you, depend on | such a vagrant thing as a | heart

not only the monuments | ‘Capital’ or ‘value’ | ‘purpose’ or ‘truth’ | but tiny and fragile things | form | the fortress of the butterflies

you notice – for how long? – how the moment magnetises everything to it [the boat, the sunlight spearing the water, the dogs barking, the time | in the watch on your wrist] how | everything’s intensely attracted to that one order | bonded |

turn away, though, and it’s all | repelled | a beautiful shape of emptiness | occurs inside you, the thing | you built from your life, and instead | everything is rushing into place, unable to escape | the dazzling and | incoherent | magnet of a new | moment

right now, you’re bringing to significance | what you have | the whole delicate | fortress of your mind, your ideas, sketches, plans for the future | your [BUTTERFLIES SWARMING] desire, your mountains of letters, your succinct | critique

into and out of | focus | they go, all those | things you want and care about | and half see and | don’t want and | don’t care about

precise and elegant as words in a fine font | but imprinted in the vague | medium of the luscious | pulsating | walls | of your vague and | scatterbrained | heart | everything is exactly where it should be, but | it won’t | stay here

 


from the series hypergrammar (open-ended, 2012–present)
(this poem, July 2012)

The asphalt and the verge, the white lines and the yellow lines | the red signs, the lights | the hum of the mountains, sleepy dynamo | the mountains | cracked like the watercoloured green-blue | eggs of robins | by a blackbird’s orange-black eye | hatched and cracked, then hatched again, but not often | for each thing a siren | then the torpor and the flies | in summer | the torpor and a crisp | absence of flies | in winter | apparent | clarification | extensive | dust | Add speed, briefly | Then back to the lay-by | the firecrackers of the static | voices thrown down | over | A furnace where the clouds are forged | body shop for the shining chrome | each fly should be accounted for | You are in love with your lieutenant | but the love is nine-tenths boredom, skin cast aside, the rockets and the gerberas | enslaved by phantom thoughts | the engine fallen quiet | a shape of grit, Ohio | a Siberia in oil | and the lay-by | waiting | Accelerate, briefly | and let in the dead light-hearted from their tomb, a holiday, then | brake | halt | all the dead fall inert | a small golden | fly’s corpse by your coffee | no record | Putting slowness into | the grandeur | but that slowness | was there anyway | it always will be | and slowly, slowly | the mountains are hatched | cracked open from a paper-skinned | egg of sky | and drawn | shimmering | towards the horizon: no, not this | horizon | but further from your route | further, beyond | your jurisdiction | you halt them, the mountains, briefly | set them to the asphalt and the weeds, the Coke cans | squashed and shot | but then slowly, slowly | they are drawn away again | as you are | into the lieutenant’s arms | and a profound and monumental inattention | secures the darkness | and the polluted sapphire | of a fly, too | and all the criminals | and the saints | with their absorbing sins | are drawn away, further and further, from each other | responding to the calls | all must hear | but the love is one-tenth living | but he casts your skin aside | for every thought of other days | and nights | and for each thing, a siren

 


from the series fleeting pixel (series of 1,000 poems, 2012–2016)
(this poem, July 2016)

They told him about | the debt and the problem with sunspots, but | he just had his feelings, and they were | strong | feelings | at that, and they washed | all those people away

Hid tigers | under his | long | fluttering lashes

They explained about | hours and the | curriculum | Their voices sounded | so far off, a dry | susurrus | of bees on a | deserted | island

The truth was raising its immense post-industrial cities around her, but she liked the downy | hair on his upper | lip, a | silver | haze of freshness

Kisses bigger than | Kant, strawberries | stain | Descartes

Semiosis came for them and carried them off and yet | somehow | they were still here and | she liked the band, their sound was so | hesitant and tender

Fell out | of her skull, like a fledgling | out of a | nest [it took her | years to recover]

He watched them | propping up the | dangerous building with the | scaffolding and | buttresses || In their bodies whenever they wanted to, almost, they | could find rare flowers | with | powerful, tropical scents and they | could spend hours | picking off the | petals, one | by | one

And on the TV they were busy | measuring the distance to the | end of space, but | he just | yawned and | opened his eyes | wide, and | she knew the season was | changing, because | she saw | indolent tigers | moving through the forest again | It would soon | be the time | of the hunters

Running out of money, dying young, leaping into the mouth | of the volcano || I lie on my side on a | puce chaise longue in a | deserted chateau | draped with wedding-cake | cobwebs and | overlooking the | slow-flowing | river in the | sheltered | autumn valley below… … … … || I laid out all those | moments in a line | like sweets to | lure from the | woods | the beautiful | ogre… || And on the TV, some | politician | of whatever | persuasion | is laying out | a route map | a | road map | an | idea of | progress, but I | just like the sound of the word | ‘mercury’ | when you | say it || Plaster falling | off the walls | and the chandeliers | all | slumped and tangled || You have | more room in one | interesting dream than | they can conjure | from a thousand | visions | of | normality || And when you kiss me, where are they going to | put that | in their history? || Insurance and | security, they have their | plans to their | status | blueprints to what’s | real | build all | night long | and they | pile all their | precious | powers over | signs | into something | someone else | once told them || You know, I don’t | really | get it || Meanwhile, birds and squirrels eat all the sweets, and the | ogre doesn’t come, and you whisper into some stranger’s ear | ‘honey… honey… honey and mercury’…

 


from the series bliss point | angels of disorder
(open-ended, 2012–present)
(this poem: July, 2012)

Our room suddenly fills | with the corpses of stars | floating | We welcome them in | We are royal | A lightning | silence | spaces our thoughts | Take out | your silver | teardrop earrings | lay them aside | on the dresser | let me | kiss your lobes | pinprick | holes in your lobes | Tiny | portions of darkness | I will carry away | slip them into | a greater darkness | lift them out | slip them | back in | On their sides | our old stories | rot, we | are still young | we’ll leave them | by the trail | their carcases | hollowing | Some | still turn and | whinny | or moan, legs | mournfully kicking… There will be others | we are | just starting | Yet, I wonder | as we | walk on, and I | look back, are we being | too cavalier? | Maybe those were our | best stories? | and these | are the most beautiful stars?

 


from the series fleeting pixel (series of 1,000 poems, 2012–2016)
(this poem, July 2013)

Returning to old haunts | quarters of the city you haven’t visited in years, or is it only for months? – how, anyway, with you, they’ve changed || An ancient churchyard, with its pocket of lush garden, surrounded and walled in by office blocks and skyscrapers, kept back like a secret or held in reserve | like a kind of spiritual fire escape | it isn’t quite how you remembered it || The copious rain of this summer has slicked and beaded and lubed the plants with moisture, the stone is darker from the years before, even the shadows feel wet, and the gloom of the interior, sliced into a slender vertical slat through the partly open door, seems almost submarine, belonging to the stoven hold of a sunken galleon, or to a building from a drowned village on the eastern coast || Today, as the rain cocoons the violet skin of your umbrella, you recall the signorial heat of last August, how the sun filled this courtyard with its direct light and late afternoon shadows, and in a corner the grass pulsed to the dry serenade of an urban grasshopper (how did it get so far into the city?) || Like oil floating on water, your consciousness flows over the mumbled headstones, paths and encroaching vegetation, a smooth but (to you, at least!) a sometimes unsatisfactory co-habitation, and the sea of the streets and buildings | carries you / as you carry them | away… || On that occasion, as you ate a sandwich, sipped from a bottle of Evian, you looked through a book by Luis Cernuda || In the end, you don’t have much time left, and who knows if it isn’t better to live like this, stripped of possessions, perpetually ready for departure | You kept glancing up, sensing this place was the location of a hidden and recurring | nativity | but the nature and identity of the thing being born seemed to fall just beyond the limit of your conception || Perhaps you already knew that those moments would be the subject of a gently fraught nostalgia?

If you stand and observe a thing for any length of time, presently the rind of your assumptions surrounding it begins to fall away, like a fruit being peeled, and what lies revealed is an entity without context or purpose, self-enclosed and serene, offering a scent of alien sweetness

 


from Semapolis | City of Signs
(series of poems, unfinished, 2012–present)
(this poem, July 2012)

The thoughts one entertains | like those insects who wander indoors on summer evenings

You never | saw her again

 


from the series fleeting pixel (series of 1,000 poems, 2012–2016)
(this poem, July 2014)

Ghosts of oil | smeared on the silver | ground | of a basement garage || a map of | excess | leakage | and flaws || Lovers | trying to | form | each other || Edges | blur || The connection of | potential fire | holds them but | not everyone, not all of the time, may | bear | hazards in mind

They drove out and sunlight flooded the car as they came above-ground || She put the music on and their memory | turned into a road | and the road | didn’t turn into a | memory…

 


from the series hypergrammar (open-ended, 2012–present)
(this poem, July 2012)

We live in cities | You’ve never heard their names | Demographic | Demographic 1, 2, 3 | In our millions | a hundred jewels of small fires | to go round | Demographic | Demographic 1, 2, 3 | We die in hospitals | slowly | across the years | Flyovers | Subways | Lift-shafts | Highways | Demographic | Demographic 1, 2, 3, 4 | We are not | waiting for you | In our millions | shadow gathering | Demographic | Demographic 1, 2, 3, 4 | We live in cities | with different reasons | for war | and different | figures moving in our dreams | weed fronds | waving to and fro | in dark bays | below busy shipping lanes | to the rulers’ drives | of dirty tides | Demographic | Demographic 1, 2, 3, 4 | We live in tower blocks | contract diseases | with ancient names | You’ve never heard their voices | We live in cities | Demographic | Demographic 1, 2, 3 | We run in gangs | We speak in tongues | you don’t know | exist | Makes of cars | sweet wrappers | trucks at lights | scripts you can’t decipher | Demographic | We make new sounds | when we make love | new sounds | old sounds | Demographic | Demographic 1, 2, 3 | We drift through streets | under polluted trees | We stand in doorways | sweat in summer | and in winter | we freeze | Demographic | Demographic | Demographic 1, 2, 3 4 | We mound like sugar | beet and like | cabbages | we rest quiet | like medicine balls | in nocturnal gymnasiums | We grow | like crops | like crops | we are sown | and harvested | Demographic | We collect in crowds and from crowds | when the time comes | we slip away | Demographic | Demographic | We watch planes go over | We work in shops | and bars | factories | offices | we cross dusty | streets in summer, and in winter | we cross | streets piled with snow | Demographic | We gather to wed | we gather to mourn | Demographic | We drift out into yards | the corners of chain-link fences | the Red Room’s windows | the garage door | we follow foreign stars | on Twitter | we follow local parades | Demographic | We smoke cheap cigarettes | and watch the trains leave | Demographic | Demographic 1, 2, 3, 4 | We live in cities | You’ve never heard their names | Others go before us | and after us | others come | Demographic | Demographic 1, 2, 3, 4 | We are alive | in our millions | a handful of small fires | to go round | You’ve never heard our names | Demographic | Demographic 1, 2, 3, 4 | 5

 



from the series method | dry conditions
(on-going sequence of poems, commenced 2012:
this poem, July 2014)

Scattered | our enemies | Long | branches of blood | in Chartres, on Instagram | this | kind of sky | only a loophole | in sleep | Smite | Smite | Smote | Smite | Smitten

Semites | Whey-faced | Walloons, Tasmanians with their haunting eyes, Yankees | Jutes with sheep and curds, soft-voiced | Thais, expert with mopeds | Pearls falling | loose from a necklace | the necks | how they bow, and twist | how bare | Smote | Smite | Smite | And you, barefoot in the evening, among daisies | You, and I, and the others… | No going | halves, now | but taking all | shall we | gather by the river, gather | while we still can | one blood under one house | and shall we | be sure | to know the signs | we make ourselves | so when our eyes open | after sleep | we may still | be?

 


from the series fleeting pixel (series of 1,000 poems, 2012–2016)
(this poem, July 2014)