Archives for posts with tag: construct

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)

We had assembled the tower | now, we waited for people to visit it | But the channel was wrong, somehow | time was leaking away | I was growing weary, chaperoning the famous diva | the “Great Voice” | who could imitate the songs of robins and nightingales | but who sounded less | imposing ordering perfumes or cigarettes | The guards in their smart uniforms | of khaki with white fittings | flat peaked caps | trembled with yawns | and gazed stolidly out into the timeless | void of the plain | What was in their eyes? | No one waited for answers in those days | everything was rushed | Silence was a unicorn | galloping through light snow | and the air was filled with the sound | of complaints or elegies | of barter and soliloquies | theories and insults | a stew | a bruit, which | perhaps | as you drew further away | might mute and dampen | down to a murmur, like that | of a distant avalanche | destroying a village, or a helpless | party of skiers | Hotels, travelling, the endless | shopping | the desultory | rehearsals | none of this | was my real life, yet | it took up | nearly all of my days | and the diva didn’t even sing | so often | the era’s | taste was changing | and soon, plague | would close the theatres, the meteor | fall and instruct us | on the necessity for a new beginning

No one’s fault, and no one’s story | But we were restless, and melancholy | so we tried to explain, anyway | Perhaps we were too attached to Reason? | Scientists set off the beacon, plotted | the demographic | yet whole generations went missing | forgotten by love and lost in malls | Two lit trains, passing in a tunnel | your face as I kissed you for the last time | a sense of opacity even in | the slightest detail of a | fingernail and a caress | as if I were one of Odysseus’ oarsmen | watching Odysseus writhe and weep | as we rowed past the isle | of the Sirens | Bemusement, then | the tapeworm’s | view of her gut | a racket inside the sapphire, a menu | of empty compulsions | and always | it began to feel | between us | as if we were trying to build a pyramid | starting at the tip | A landscape, dotted with suicides | dipped in brandy and cologne | the deer’s | understanding of the hunting horn | That was the day | I saw the unicorn



from the series construct (2012–present, ongoing)

It was never possible, and so I left | Writing was how | I just kept coming back | Dawn was enough | the morning followed though | noon | each day | built its own skeleton | When I touched the bones, I felt them tremble | as if | they didn’t want to be bones | On the clearest | evening of the year | they were not bones

Dropping out of school | joining the revolution | getting away when it all went bad, police to police | migrating | Tramp tramp tramp… | Making the road my lover, an excuse | to keep a greater loneliness at bay | Sleeping in an abandoned church | or factory | or school | it was the sleep caught me | made me who I used to be | and I left | no bones behind me in the morning



from the series construct (2012–present, ongoing)

For those who owe their allegiance to a different order, life passes at a tangent, massive and undeniable, and yet with its intractable and relentless entanglements, which may lead to great suffering and despair, irrelevant.

The sun of the astronomers is not the only sun. And the geometers should not ignore their own shadow.

Supermarket chains. Conductors on buses, dabbing themselves on particularly hot days. Hunting for the tickets. Waiting at the hospital.

British Empire, with tattered colours, pith helmets and khaki. Musty aromas of kerosene and camphor. It is as if these uniforms are still worn, the lingo of wallahs and jolly is still being spoken. This, for big data or meta-fiction, for ripping up the clubs and click-bait.

The mass wearies with its noisy ghost, its unwittingly belligerent parade.

Won’t they ever shut up?

A distance enters all things. Our human distinction: our world of choosing. What power do we have over things — what power more intense and more extreme — than the power to forget them, to take the next corner? And the manner of our choosing is significance. Once, the Taj Mahal meant something to me. Once, the post box; once, the Who; once, the teardrops of Burmese jade. You open the old shoebox: you climb the ladder to the attic. Plato’s attic. The photos, the wallpaper with storks, the optical disk…

This too-solid flesh?… No, not at all. The body is a haze of arrows, a mist, a project forever postponed. The shoebox, the ladder — the souvenirs, the footsteps of climb: but each thing is only a honeycomb of distance, a spectral object constructed of the almost infinite number of ways we leave it. Will you ever kiss again, for instance?

The angle of the spirit is wrong. You don’t understand their slang, or want to take the drugs they take. But neither do you want to offend. It isn’t moral, this difference, or not especially: ultimately, maybe, it’s a question of mood, a particular gravity to your sensibility, a way the birds of prey fall in you, and not in others.

The distance. Locations, barren, remote, such as are sought out by lovers of glaciers and volcanoes.

Yes, of mood. The melancholy of looking at a person you were once in love with, but no longer love: the time that has passed, the water under the bridge, and then the bridges fallen into the water, and carried away. Later, the stream diverted. Later, the sea run dry.

The gulls in the centre of London have a particularly melancholy cry, as if they were mourning the loss of the waves and the end of land, but they no longer need either. Let the cold, beery waves crash on Silurian pebbles, the land bite out to its own gape and quiet, and the dizziness of the purely inhuman begin: the gulls on the roof of King’s Cross station have other interests, a separate limit to their concern.

All men are islands. All women, too. The continent is the sound of a stone rolling very slowly, gathering smaller stones to it — a dry, dusty rattle, and close up, a clicking and crunching drone, sometimes a roar. From the peak of the high summit, you feel as if you can hear the wispy clouds tearing on the sides of the mountain.

Blindly, from a memory that is only loosely your own, children fumble through the darkness, wanting what they must have.

It comes to them.


from the series construct (2012–present, ongoing)