Archives for posts with tag: construct

As if | all countries | were far-off countries | It was the way | he walked into the house | The moon | full of ghosts | Her voice | set the scared | rabbits dashing | She was saying | But I really do love you | In a poachers’ darkness | the path to the prey | and the pelts themselves | velvet and open

It just wasn’t | going to work | Like trying to hug a ship | But she wouldn’t | accept it | There were furrows and lines | breaking up | what was only | one thing, after all | as a ploughed field | is only earth

He could feel the trees | growing up through the public square | the streets | school-rooms | The fruit was cool in his hand | and he admired | its weight | compactness | precision | The air seemed scented with her laughter | so light | so fresh | so careless

But it wouldn’t mean anything | There was a parched feel to the day | to her life | Like heat | trapped in class-rooms | over the summer | with the children away | His thoughts evaporated | like white steam | The trees | shed their seeds | into engines | swimming pools | the carriages | of motionless trains


from the series construct (2012–present, ongoing)


As is well known, stories are always flowing into each other. It is something of a mystery where one story ends, and another begins. But more mysterious are those stories that end entirely, for we never hear of them. Can we even be sure that such stories ever existed?

There was the story of the girl who, through a series of enigmatic events, somehow mislaid the sun. An enormous thing, you might think, to mislay.

Another story concerns an eclipse, and its unforeseen effects on the inhabitants of a remote mountain village.

Or a separate story, but also involving an eclipse, of how some people vanish from their alpine homes for a while, but then eventually reappear, found higher up the slopes (some, though, vanish definitively, and are never seen again).

Some of those stories are vague, with ill-defined edges, and weak narratives; others are very clear and meticulously plotted, fulfilling to a high degree the generally acknowledged criteria for the successful performance of a particular genre.

But all are afflicted by the pointlessness of stories.

Once the parade has passed, the bass drum ceased pounding, the trombones stopped smearing the air with their raucous brass, the stories flutter in side streets like discarded fliers. (Reading, you see, is the parade.)

No one really opened the door to the garden with the nightingales; Max didn’t really have a terrible toothache; Kimiko’s hair never dropped forward a little from behind her ear, swinging against her temple, starting Yasujiro’s tears, he wasn’t sure why.

As for this story, has it entered the set of those stories that end entirely? How can we know?

Has Yasujiro stopped crying?


from the series construct (2012–present, ongoing)

Building churches on temples, and then building shopping malls on churches. Foxes living in the ruins at the heart of the city.

Ghosts living in the hearts of the foxes, and other ghosts living in the hearts of ghosts watching foxcubs play among the ruins.

(You watched foxcubs play among the ruins.)

The time to polish and perfect, and the time to let fall and move on, is the same time.

(You moved on.)

We were taught what to value. Then new rulers came to us (no matter their guise, they were rulers) and we were taught to value different things.

Either we were flexible enough to kneel to the new rulers, or we died.

(They came in the guise of friends.)

What should we call the inflexibility of those who refused to kneel?

Were they stubborn? Were they idealists? Did they lack imagination? Were they loyal? Foolish? Naive?

(We knelt.)

Building temples on the ruins of shopping malls, and then building schools on the ruins of temples. Foxes living in the ruins at the heart of the city.

Making notes on form in small notebooks, and then using the pages as kindling to light fires after the war came.

(Notes on the form of pine cones, feathers, snailshells.)

In the library where I first met her. Her hands and the shadows of her hands on the pages of large reference books. The persistent clinking of the bracelets on her wrists.

In the book, the philosopher had written: Eternity is always at the mercy of a moment. All things, the great, the small, the fragile, the enduring, life, death, and above all, the moment itself, are always at the mercy of a moment.

(We knelt.)

Building hospitals on the ruins of palaces. Building barracks on the ruins of hospitals. Foxes living in the ruins at the heart of the city.

Creation and destruction are the same process. Create and destroy as you are taught: the sum will be the same, the end will be the same. Nothing will happen.

(We built fortresses on the ruins of graveyards.)

Laying waste to the old system, taking down the proud, leading them to the ditches and the dams: taking their spectacles from them, teaching them, for the first time in their lives, to work.

(We valued living above all things, even ourselves. What we had been, what we had cared for, or had believed we cared for, we let go.)

In the library, we had been taught to value romantic love. From the books, powerful ghosts taught us the value of bombs, the value of caresses, the value of wealth, of sacrifice, of cerise lipstick, of liberty, of guns.

Building furnaces on the ruins of prisons, and then building farms on the ruins of furnaces.

(We did not kneel, we died. Or: we knelt, we died.)

Foxes living in the ruins at the heart of the city.


from the series construct (2012–present, ongoing)

We had no time for the mountains || Elegant and fluid, the lines took you on and on || Sleeping in a train, the landscape passes, there are gulls on ploughed fields, mist, telegraph poles, the subtle fatality of details | you can neither tick nor cross off || Kitchen scents and presences after | he left the room for a moment | Steam’s faint odour | of heat, metal and moisture || Populate the years || And we found there | the years, the years and | only the years || She didn’t start a beggar || Life was unkind to her || Her taste was for simple clothes, plain black, ropes of | pearls || Did you know, a pearl is a “living jewel”? || Another tiny fork in reality: which car should she take? || Everywhere, there are mute things | and we must bid them | “Speak”


from the series construct (2012–present, ongoing)

It was a common sight. She had fallen asleep on the train, a book open in her lap. After several consecutive days of cloud and rain, the skies, with their truth, cleared, and unexpected sunshine suddenly lightened the carriage. The train, however, was delayed, and stood, motionless, in the countryside. She wasn’t aware of any delay. Her head pointed down, and her pale blonde hair hung untended, the strands loose, faintly pagan. The words, untended too, lay imprinted on their paper, a shadow cast across the neat, geometric valley formed by the book’s delved spine. What negligence! she thought, observing. Or, what a poor novel! She rather envied the sleeping woman, who looked so calm, so natural, so part of a process, like slender fronds of green weed waving slowly along their lengths in a slow-moving stream. She has abandoned the words, the story, and soon she would abandon her dream. It was our fate. We could stay faithful to no one thing, only to everything, and the manner of our faith was an unwilled, a helpless treachery: wisdom would always be rueful. When the train started moving again, still, she didn’t wake. Around her, the headlines were the usual sad mishmash of hatred, disaster and celebrity. The sleeping woman looked so unoccupied, a part disengaged from the rest of the machinery, permitted inertia. Her lover was fascinated by her shoulder bones, and would spend hours looking at them, or stroking them. Sitting on the edge on the tub while she rested part submerged, he’d gaze down at where her body had collected small nooks of water, foamed with ethereal pavilions of soap, like tiny rock pools hinting at the iridescence of corals, a fairy landscape. The corridor, though, was endless. She marched in her silver jumpsuit, conscious of the slow strobe of the disc-shaped ceiling lights as she passed below them one after another, a scent of disinfectant, the metallic sheen of a power that had no centre, no direction, no morals, no perimeter. Her heels clicked out a strut, a martial beat, too cool to be incorporated within the national anthem of an ephemeral third world tyranny. When the walls fell open, despite her guns, there were red deer on a highland ridge, their breath vaporising in whirling sleet, and the weather was like the materialisation of a gradual and deepening embitterment. Where could she go now?


from the series construct (2012–present, ongoing)

Diary that evening free. Traffic going past, the vehicles pulled on invisible wires of destination. A sideline. Sidelined… It meant something different. Those small, domestic catastrophes, kettle boiling dry while the stroke victim lies a few feet away on the kitchen floor. How was it the journey had vanished from her, and she had grown cold and mechanical, with no more scent of lemons, sweat or sea-salt than a speedometer in a car contains traces of moorland heather or sudden flurries of snow? But he was wry: a person is a teacup, the storm of life swirling inside; and a proprietary mole, mistaking his molehill for a mountain. It was natural to be shaken by hurricanes and typhoons, but foolish to care too much what happens after the dainty china has shattered, brittle smithereens littering the ground. Storms make no note of your address or license plate no. The pool only looked deep because it held a reflection of the fathomless sky, so perfectly blue that cicada noon. Angela had cancelled, and Bobbie moved away. She had discovered the empty centre. From now on, he imagined, he would have to live here. Existence under these conditions — well, it was forced, artificial, like those new capitals invented by tyrants or economists, entire cities concreted into swamps or jungles, whole populations displaced. Why weren’t people more cautious, he wondered? There was ever-present danger, and each moment was a story with a clear moral, like the skeleton of a gazelle decorating the edge of a drying waterhole. The ends would never meet now. There was the TV, programmes to watch and form opinions on. She had never felt so desolate. The wipers began to sweep away the first flakes of snow, and, because he was at the wheel, the car began to accelerate.


from the series construct (2012–present, ongoing)

Onset of mood | with wealth more moments | for feeling to flow | nuance and half light proliferate | and new flaws in mind | to nameless modes of living | suffer and bear | fissure and further | fissure | gnaws in space where once spirit was | no action to evade | nor athlete to exercise | but leisure and lethargy | leaving one prone | to looms of anxiety | more abrupt sourceless laughter | more subtle woe | For we, the frontier | first part of the wave touching on shore | seeking escape in fables and stupors | bring poor countries to our chalets with fast trains and wifi | with affordable fees easily render | distance our fief | make natives as theatre | backcloths to stars | in white yachts long sculpted to sleek lazing in bays | or in private planes lofting on cities | cleaving through clouds | to unknown streets in towns | spoken in tongues alien to our own | and at dusk | separated from partners | the strange breeze blows | through the branches of strange trees | and each moment says “no” | when you ask for an end | by bright modern buildings | an ancient fate | to be yourself | but yourself alone | a feat of the lost | fought for pain’s hoard | outrun the fleet | but only buffeted by others | sole guardian of a silent fort | in sterile iambs | to frigid flutes | left on an island | of want and device | foregone by children | deserted by “friends” | and forgotten by fête

They were cajoled or tricked into helping the traffickers, threatened or blackmailed. They were just teenagers from poor coastal towns in Egypt or other impoverished African communities, and were put in charge of the boats carrying illegal immigrants across the Mediterranean | towards the “promised land” of Europe. Many of these kids were caught, arrested and imprisoned, while the traffickers themselves, who never set foot on the boats, remained free to continue their activities. It seemed trite to him, but the economics of grief and of pleasure were part of the same economy. The key thing, he thought, was how to get away from this place: always, only, how to get away. Life was relentlessly cruel: it made anywhere unbearable. Just watching his lover turn over in sleep was proof of that. Indeed, sleep itself, the condition, was proof: the body couldn’t bear itself in a conscious state, it had to flee. Life was unremitting flight. He was rolling down an incline. What was shaken around as he rolled, in dreams, could never be accessed. Sleeping and waking were not the same. A sleeping person is not a wakeful one. He lifted his iced mineral water, but didn’t drink: instead, he was overwhelmed by a sense of disdain for his own sadness. Too much sorrow slowed you down. You needed to have only the right amount of sorrow. Outside, sounds of preparations for the carnival punctuated the evening calm. He would take photographs, of course.


from the series construct (2012–present, ongoing)

A compromise, like the cloudy film of a cataract. A saga of sinew and steel, but great loneliness, an unsayable distance inherent in humans.

While in tight alleys, street yakuza battle for animal turf, their bosses fly over the huge construction sites of post-war cities, eyes on higher crimes, the future of business.

You will lose brothers and sisters, and attempts to anneal the tragic brittleness of your family’s mettle will fail. Swordsman in an era of guns, as glory is engulfed by matter, battle will become your motto, battle like a form of prayer.

It was a commercial failure, and the studio folded. Alone from her did he elicit a performance of such chaste violence, though she had only three years to live. His attitude brought upon him the hatred of the extreme right: several times he was beaten, and once his face was slashed by a razor.

Crushed by the wheels of context, events are given a false balance: of life, perhaps 97.5% is wild, and cannot be tamed, but along the margin of the 2.5%, as along a bleak shore where poppies grub a bloom from dunes of coarse sand, we eke to live out our days. Thus to a highly organised cult of delusion do we subscribe, while our bodies howl and he felt attacked by the beaks, talons and screams of treatise, tome and tract. There are fireflies in the north. Your wife will slip from you, and your honour be lost.

Fighting amongst white hens, cooped and hooped among mackerel and barrels, their bright swords essay slashes of crops and wings, the doomed blood writing.

Certain heroes seek relief from the war, the out of woodland streams and cool water palmed to dry mouths, the faint echo of skirmish rightly sang down by the incessant duelling of nightingales. Night falls like a different ethos. Violent truth gives way to the illusion of peace.

Buddha cannot save us, our desires teem like fluid schools of fish in the sea, their sides like tin flash and foil in the thresh and fade. Pent swerve, volte face. Yet meshed in silver, still only fish, the sea a prison, thought an element.

To die in a caustic landscape, winter’s junkyard and crucible, a place bare of pity or hands – even an enemy’s hands – crimson of wounds announcing ends and other in the fields of pure white snow, what could be more fitting?

Allege your standing, fantasise your exit. It is no shame to release yourself from the most savage of life’s clauses. The studio goes under, the crews must seek other work.

Silence, the uncompromised; silence, the complete. The slightest portion of silence may contain millions upon millions of words.

Feverish, he could not right the boat of his reason. In the early hours, in a time lost to clocks, at the base of his skull, with the glittering intrusion of the bit of a drill, a goblin’s voice, squalid and shrill, gibbered and gibbered and gibbered…


from the series construct (2012–present, ongoing)

Marooned on the planet Suburbia, she rested by her parents’ pool | Nepal in the earbuds | Education had drawn her up | then set her down | in this strange new world, her childhood, old world | haunted by the gauche figures | of ghosts she once had lived, she had been | taken | by the gleaming | UFO of irony | and in moments of inactivity, all the Buddhists put aside, half visionary | in the rustling centres of dreams’ prairies | the miles and miles of golden wheat | cynical voices softly skimmed her head | peeling away the layers of innocence and right and good, and inserting instead | something more replete with lies | more skewed and plural | more faithful to the faithless | tenor of uneasy life — something | more complicated | It was, and wasn’t, Kansas | Her brilliance, she thought, would see her through, see her at least | a fair distance, and then | she would find a place to rest | take stock | of the limits and the damage | get ready to go again | There was never anywhere else | she knew that by now | and she liked the way | the red crescent of the parasol | intersected with the imperious | emptiness of the summer sky | the case that is itself, the fabulous “now” | There were worse places to be washed up | than this placid corner | of impersonally crumbling concrete | which stretched around her forever | with its hotspots of barbers and tanning salons | the abode of hairdressers and middlemen | a place she could stay wrecked awhile before | resuming her metropolitan nights | caught up in the dance of caress and mutation | entranced in the embrace of heiresses and mermen…


from the series construct (2012–present, ongoing)

Died in his sleep on the train | It doesn’t matter which train, where it had come from | where it was going | If you’d believe me, Daniel said, we’d both be happier | She laughed, but the days had to end | There are different kinds of futility, different styles, she thought | and the pine trees rose around them | blank, as all things are, for a moment | then alien and beautiful | then oddly comforting in their otherness, as long as you didn’t have to stay with them | then they weren’t there | She was trying to remember something she was sure was important | but the only thoughts that came to mind were pelicans, in the shallow water near the shore of Hen and Chicken Bay | It was like trying to find the heart of a snowstorm, or the first part of the sea | as Milly asked, at the tips of caresses | Is it all a kind of story? | It was the funniest thing, they managed to get lost, and found themselves at a completely different party! | They were young then, much more carefree | open to accidents, opportunities, with less sense of obligation to anything | except, perhaps, the living moment | You have to build the connections | to make the woods real | such as, a fairytale | So: The ogre tore out the snowstorm’s heart | Daniel had started to cry | Don’t you believe me?


from the series construct (2012–present, ongoing)