Archives for posts with tag: construct

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)

The young do not know they are young. But the old know they are old.

Monuments in moments.

I have the sensation that the subtle glue holding the world in one place is growing dry and brittle. Is this what trauma feels like? A breakage, a lack of sublime continuity, so the parts no longer seem to relate to a whole.

I thought of a building, long since demolished, I used to pass on my regular commute: wittily, a graffiti artist had painted DEJA VU in huge letters on the wall facing the train tracks. Passengers, like myself, travelling at the same time each day, and with each day broadly similar in terms of work and routine, every so often over months might look up from a book or a paper out of their mild morning abstraction, and see the building floating past again, with its DEJA VU…

She was cynical in the fresh, irritating, but charming way the young are cynical — with a certain enthusiasm and sense of style. They affect to know things you can’t possibly know until you’ve been alive for many years. She was all Oh yeah! So? Whatever. She didn’t understand that a sphinx should pay attention to the desert. But he was genuinely cynical: old, and bitter, living in a used-up world, among fools and wolves.

He was one of those Sauls who, on his way to Damascus, realises he’s left his laptop at home, and needs to go back to collect it, and thus misses his own conversion.

Buddhas and dust.

It was a lament for buildings as yet unbuilt.

I don’t think I will ever fall in love again. This is partly a matter of regret. Can one love enough? I don’t suppose love can be measured very easily, the “how long” or “per cent” of love… But I’m grateful to have loved. Although, like the Chinese philosopher and the butterfly, the status of such things must surely be uncertain? Perhaps I only think that I have loved? And when love does arrive, it will be a noon inside a noon?

“It will do for now”.

The edifice grew more and more transient, more and more speculative. It was an assemblage or accumulation of illusions. He understood that the desert doesn’t pay any attention to the sphinx. It continues on its granular way. It doesn’t even note its essential continuity with the statues of mythical beings, warriors, queens and gods. Mao masses in suits. The edifice is the whales, not the krill; the ship, not the waves. The patient, not the virus.

The broken with their begging bowls, the dazed rich, languid in their limousines; the celebrities, seduced by their own cults, the anonymous, duelling with their shadows; the fashionable, fixed on the pin of a spotlight, the poor, prescribed their ghettos and their early deaths: he saw them all as part of a fabulous economy, each playing their part, each equally unimportant.

She had lived only long enough to realise that life was wonderful, but complex. When she’d been a child, life had simply been. Ambiguity and motive began to perplex her: injustice, cruelty, pain. He had lived too long: for him, life was simple and terrible. Of course, he had known a time when life was complex and wonderful. But then things had grown at first too complicated, then progressively similar and repetitive. The patterns became too easy to recognise. Death, at one time adored but inconceivable, began to take shape. Death was the only edifice that he could believe in. It was the only substantial building. Everything else was just life.

On the first truly cold day of winter, she breathed with a huff and watched the vapour of her condensed breath float in a cloud, and it was important.

She sensed she was young.

The young do not know they are young.

But the old know they are old.


from the series construct (2012–present, ongoing)

The fuse of loneliness lit, they wait for the explosion that never happens. In their waiting, life collects, like rainwater in natural basins in the rock. There is the gradual accumulation of small disappointments, the trophies of unanswered telephones, bus tickets, the wilting of white chrysanthemums. By the light of the explosion, details glisten, and the explosion’s roar drowns the sound of every gesture.

Where the sentence begins, so ends the whole range of possible other worlds. And the establishment of one connection is the necessary annihilation of all other connections — and this annihilation is like the explosion the lonely anticipate, having lit their fuse. It is a form of clarity, the generous absence of object or incident, the description, by withdrawal, of a sensuous space, such as one might find in a quiet modernist gallery displaying a small, select number of artworks. There, space is cut as if by a couturier. We can imagine the soft, decisive crunch of the scissors through the cloth: the hem is tugged down, the sleeves are very fine as they brush against the sides of the tailor’s face. The moment before the chrysanthemums settle. Checking the timetable on her phone.

And with the beginning of the sentence, too, the annihilation is reconfigured, the whole order is moved about. It is not merely to turn the kaleidoscope, so that the shattered cathedral of the pattern changes — but to look through a different kaleidoscope entirely. I have incurred the wrath of a samurai’s daughter. Hi there, it’s me, the egoist. Their smiles, a kind of emotional flotsam drifting on the surface, evidence of a distant catastrophe: the inert serenity of wreckage floating in a current, like inane ducks bobbing in a line. The shaving away, year by year, incident by incident, of the chance of joy — note: problems with serotonin.

For a while, there was no conversation. The gale of talk had blown itself out, and he became frightened that there was no map to this landscape, no route they could follow that would take them out of the silence. It was strange, how panicked they felt at just a small failure of speech. The loss of golf, the supposed oddities of a mutual acquaintance, very swiftly and mysteriously led to the surface of an unknown moon, where his footsteps in the ashy, faintly phosphorescent dust trailed away behind him, bifurcating the entire world with his solitude, reminding him of the fate of Crusoe on his island. And she couldn’t think of a sentence to start the encounter moving again. She, too, experienced sensations of vertigo: she sensed an alien planet blooming inside her own skull. There would be no pity. No ascent. No recognition of her talents, incarnate with their unique frost design. No fingers in the right arrangement, no grand ceremony, no orchid, perfectly offsetting. None of this, none of the perfection. Even as it happened, she was aware of how curious it was that just a few powdery pinches of speechlessness could engender such distress.

Above the trapped miners, a full moon was beginning to rise on the ninth night after the collapse of the shaft. And it troubled her, as the perfume of blossom in spring unsettles the air: how could you know whether you had, or had been, truly loved?

It was not a fable, but she thought of the river, and the painted lines on the corner of the building at Cormorant Street, with dates like 1902 or 1933, each indicating the record of inundation, each a high-water mark.



from the series construct (2012–present, ongoing)

It was already the end, but no one moved | as if staying in their seats after the film | like generals commanding dead divisions | The channels kept up their broadcasts | shops were full | signal was good | Soon we floated into another story | decorating our apartment, carefully | choosing the wallpaper to illustrate out taste | making love like | nesting in nothing for a few seconds | planning our holidays | Driving into the desert, Russ’s old Dodge | an olive meteor with a tail of dust, it felt | heroic, and yet | too sudden | like a hat blowing off the head | of a passenger standing at the rail | spinning up and away, into the sea | very small, and the waves | very many | On the other side | waking to a sound of gulls | then hiking for two days | all the time, feeling as if we were building | what we approached | At last, after camping on a ridge | we came to the cave system | known as The Giants’ Dreams  | Google it

Wishing the words back into life again | As if in a medieval parable, puzzling over | a choice of apparent evils | to take the road which leads | to empty success, or the path | ending in honourable failure | Looking back, things appear | less clear-cut | life’s insistence on fertility, entanglement | draws into league the saints and fools | the knaves and angels | often leaving mere mortals | marooned on isles of bemusement and rue | In any case, I soon left that town | and, swiftly | this ceased to be my story | The rhododendron forests were in bloom | the air at altitude so pure | we felt there was no atmosphere at all | Was there no hope? Of course not! | We had the young | to fashion a simpler tale | For you, though, irony grew | inescapable, like a form of gravity | Finding yourself jostled | in a crowd of hermits, forever | glancing towards the exit | while far to the north | in terrible snows | dead soldiers broke | free from their frozen posts, and reached out | to take up their frozen guns



from the series construct (2012–present, ongoing)

Her lonely chores | Her day that was like picking titles for abstract paintings | Land Ahoy! | Cannibal Island | Hypergammaglobulinemia | Alone With Others | Pausing, toothbrush in hand | pushing through the curtains of the mirror | into the magic forest | Walking for hours until she came to a glade with short grass, like a suburban lawn | The sound of children playing in the plastic paddling pool | Riding the bus to school | listening to pop | feeling the back of the seat so hot in 1976 | her skirt damp with perspiration | the boys geeky or full of a dumb swagger | Show Offs | The Speed of Tears

At 17, she feels so old, her arms like rotten timber | with fan-shaped fungi growing on her | Hopeless, the world deprived of destinations | the blue hole of the sky into which sounds were falling upwards | She wishes she didn’t have a navel | it spoils her stomach | and the car is a grave, or will be, one day | Her mind is full of lilacs and skulls | a boy’s penis erecting | alien and comical | a dew of sperm | At this rate, how will she ever make 20? | Even 18 seems distant | the years like remote huts left behind in Antarctic expeditions | The Tigers Listen to the Flute | Fifteen Raindrops Long

Old people at bus stops, with their weird clothes | blinking | gawping at nothing much | tortoise, parrot, turkey, slug | The god, Apollo, will turn them into small brown shrubs | with their handbags still hanging from branches | ancient black shoes tangled in the roots | where amber millipedes coil like the parts of dismantled watches | I Fancy You | Heart of the Strawberry | His street from space | An order constructed around Sta-Press and swimming pools | with NASA in the background

The funfair in his cranium | the slides and waltzers | denuded of serotonin | stripped and rusting | He notes how the weatherpersons mention “areas of depression” | The cool girl in the black dress | with her honey-coloured skin and blonde afro | is she a writer or something? | maybe even in a band | His feelings, laid out like surgical instruments on a tray | a limited choice | and he knows | all cold and dangerous to touch | The Weird Boy and the Bear | A moment of happiness, so flimsy | like a parachute that seems to open, but then fails | delivering him to the blue quick ride of the sky | Ships, and Their Thoughts of Sinking

In class | measuring devices | Adjacent | incline | millimetres | arc | perpendicular | What will they do with the lions? | And the lioness’s roar? | Walk the long dead pavements | through the estate | Her parents are dinosaurs | big bodies, tiny brains | grazing sedately | unwittingly, each evening, itemising the different manners of their defeats | If you think in angles, you only end up with angles | If you think in circles… | The children play with the snake | and put it into black structures | On the train into town | she is in Wisconsin | like Russia is | like Minsk, and Kiev, and Guangdong | No one riding today | Like rollercoasters with only shadows | Delta Series, No. 5 | Monkey and Coconut Milk | It is hard to put a shape to absence | draw clear lines around it | One day, there | One day… | Carriage on the charm bracelet | Vacant Lot | He is not coming today | the boy with two scalpels for eyes | And soon, the holidays… | Land Ahoy!



from the series construct (2012–present, ongoing)