Archives for posts with tag: sentence

With increasing fragmentation into neuroses and suburbs, hotspots and passions | fracturing east | devolving into sunsets or stock markets | the maze of orchids and techno | subplots or side alleys | the notion of a state or a grand reality begins to erode and the public realm is lost, becomes a rare or mythical beast / glimpsed in a forest of haze / a dragon or white leopard || SENTENCE no longer belongs to anyone, and its cornucopia of cities spills and sprawls into the electric complexity of a single head, a glimpse of seagulls in a blustery wind | in a bleached photograph from 1958 / an esplanade in an English seaside town, on a day in summer / forgotten by everyone || The more, the merrier the saying goes, but | Three’s a crowd | In this flawed synopsis, the individual begins its long rise, a figure haunted by society, its SENTENCE fraught with competing or ill-defined or / contended or / gloriously unconstrained or / deformed meanings [and/or], each one a home to which one never gets back, a lover one casually discards but then, later / when one tries to remember / remembers as beautiful || Solitude and anonymity, those two astonishing conditions, affect these increasingly labyrinthine individuals, and they tremble as their commercial existence, their value in terms of capital, fluctuates | moment by moment | Clouds of money cover the sky, and the flags hang limply on the flagstaffs, a great storm is coming or so / I’ve heard

Whole lives lost in illusion / whole cities vanish into mistaken aims / Is it the case that a few words might have saved them? We cannot know, and in any case | the words were never said, or if they were, were never heard


from the sequence, sentence (2012–2018)
(this poem, June 2012)

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.


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.


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.


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.




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.


from sentence | angels of order
sequence of 100 poems (2012–2018)
(this poem, March 2016)

Pushing silence to and fro | the words like hands | sculpting snow or sand, and the wind always waiting | We don’t necessarily like the sound of our own voices but | we grow used to them | At night, in dreams, though, our voices | climb out of our minds, out of our mouths | and scuttle around, taking ships to the desert, or asking the dead to be happy | in other words | we stand apart from our own voices, and notice that | they have a glittering, alien shell | a maze of definitions | a public ice | and it dawns on us | perhaps even our own voices, after all, are not | our friends?… || In the defile between the mountains of buildings | I make my way along the meaning I make | from the sense of the day | My sentence can extend out space and time in fairy glamour | and each proposal convenes a cosmogony || It is not the generals who order armies to advance, but | the words | not the politicians who | inherently harassed and compromised | tweak and fade their lies, but | the words – it is the words lay down the grids that | generals and politicians | adopt | it is the words | mould the people into the clichés they become, and the words, too, that | in their tendrils and their filigree, their gold like smoke, their silver in fumes | in arabesques and serpentines and curls and coils | offer the vines of voices | ornate escapes from overly | controlled courtyards and gardens || From bubble | to | bubble | the wizard orator | climbs | from bubble | to | bubble / stone to stone / ascends the heights of persuasion | lays out a sparkling trail of truths | and never looks back to see | how the iridescent, vacillatory stepping stones he took | have popped into the ether, leaving him | no way of returning | to the place he set out, but by | confabulating just such another string of glistening words | that people may follow, as if it were law || Half in yellow and half in red | we stroll in our queer coats | following the shrill and mazy notes | the music of the pipes we play | heading for a portal in the mountainside | which will lead us who knows where – some kind of paradise, perhaps?

The voice as light and the word as beginning | Will o’ the wisps | deceiving elves | scaly and brine-soaked creatures from | the old pots of folklore or fairy tales | The elegant equations, written in salt or chalk | how the squealing hordes of goblins and flippertigibbets called | the forms of the void | mock and screech our sense, and with talons and corkscrew fingertips | trace the lines of our limits, the very | announcement of the state we’re in || When the voices cease | piles of silence resume themselves | like cones of pale sand | in the temple gardens of Ginkakuji | where snow | whitens the greens of the pines | in the air and in the water | of the pool


from sentence | angels of order
sequence of 100 poems (2012–2018)
(this poem, October 2012)

We are close now. Up the steps from the main forecourt, to the grand entrance, opening onto the east, north and southern sides | The magnificent doors in gilded bronze | took only 15 years to complete | set in a frame of rosettes and lions’ heads | We pass into the splendid vestibule, and then on | through the famous “Bouquet of Lilies” doors | surrounded by their frame with stylised suns and various plant motifs | into the Hall of the Ancestors | Our feet click and echo on the parquet floor, the scent of varnish is overpowering | drowning the perfumes of the flowers on display | as if the living flowers, too, were somehow coated in varnish | At the end of the Hall of the Ancestors, we approach a tremendous pair of alto-relief silver doors | nearly 17 feet tall, and weighing 20,000 pounds | it is rumoured they are very difficult to close once open | Proceeding, we pass along the capacious, rather clinical connecting hallway, which was inserted into the building during the major reconfiguration of 1971–73 | The architects’ austere modernist aesthetic is evident in the pure white walls, and the white ceramic tiles of the floor, the side doors in African blackwood, their fittings in platinum | The hallway is very long, rumoured to be the longest in the world for a building of this type | In some sections, the lighting is subdued; in other sections, the lighting is very bright | We are walking for a long time, through opened pairs of more doors of African blackwood, and the effect is of moving through a rather dreamlike confection of a hospital, a lush but entirely anonymous corporate headquarters, with a hint, also, of an art installation, or a film set | Arriving at the end of this corridor, we find the discreet, black oak door, in plain frame, through which, in their time, some of the most famous and powerful figures in history have passed: this door may only be opened from the further side, there is no handle facing us — fortunately, the door was open, though unguarded, and we passed through


from the sequence of 100 poems, sentence (2012–2018)
(this poem, August 2014)

The angels of order are endlessly seeking to assert a reality, but all they succeed in doing is constructing boxes or pockets of emptiness | a sublime domain | beyond the powers of assertion to enter | As the angels of order proceed, so moment by moment the pockets of assertion collapse, thereby instituting a new vacuum | the willow trees moving in the wind | Just as we are created by the angels of order, so we are addicted to their activity, which has become a form of drug or obsession for us | Simultaneously an opiate and a stimulant, this SENTENCE holds us

In imbalance, our gift | What the sea gives to our touch, and what our touch / gives to the sea | Falling into a hazy sleep | a gorgeous inequality / Perhaps in a kiss or a shy gesture | a secret desire to rectify | towering differences, the snowstorm inside the moment, the moment | rushing through the years


from the sequence of 100 poems, sentence (2012–present, in progress)
(this poem, June 2012)

It is an offence against life to remain consistent | a joke in poor taste not | to grow embedded | with contradiction || The glittering circuits of syllogisms | break or complete themselves | twinkling on and off | In the forest beyond the city limits of SENTENCE | a MINDLESS darkness grows as night falls, and a MINDLESS light swells | as day arrives || The delicate necklaces of syllogisms | their clasps | locked or open | rest at the bottom of the pool || Carp with sumptuous metallic silver scales | are bifurcated through | with signs and the signs | split and shimmer | the lights on these scales | sparkling and rifting | fray and shatter | are dubbed and re-dubbed | echo and splinter | decay and erode | breed and vanish and | recur in | reconfigured iterations, and the carp | glides on through the water with its | spiritual signature | written into our eyes and | clinging, like tiny lemon-yellow snails | on the undersides of the lush green | leaves | of our dreams || Long, long ago, SENTENCE called the faithful to its centre, and set | a pattern for the stars and | laws for the atoms to obey, but now | I live in a gun-runners’ suburb | among rusting cars and fires | and here, magic is practised, the genies of assignation and ascription | work their hesitant and ephemeral miracles, spells | all fall under for | who can escape the confines of a moment, and who | can endure a place without names | a world | without pieces? | And thus, we follow the dancing line, the | invisible voice as it | apportions a defile | through which we go | perhaps half conscious of the subtle and manifold and perpetual | incantations of the angels of order who | neutrally and without motive or end | act us into being and allow us to become en-mazed | by reactions we believe are | actions | drifting through the city | an hypnotic state | unresolved | everything floating | beautiful and indefinite | our whole lives performed upon a stage | of half sleep | every clear and perfect detail | the workmanship | of ancient spirits, and the streets | the forests, the seas, the heavens, all of it | the sum of an intricate and inexplicable arrangement of | slanted illusions || In a labyrinth so translucent we do not even perceive its | existence | we move and believe in freedom or | mostly just | don’t care

The desert begins its long rise, its return | Having vanquished it for so long into an oasis | the antennae of the city, its lovers and artists, loners and murderers | tremble and sense | a new thirst beginning to invade their mouths and hearts | In half sleep, in twilight | in cool places at the edge of time | in moments of | epiphany or stupor | the shadows of the wings of the god of silence | pass over them, and they begin to yearn | to get out of here as soon as they | possibly | can


from the sequence, sentence (2012–present, in progress)
(this poem, June 2012)

It no longer simply gives shelter — it no longer ‘simply’ gives anything — but offers itself as a mirror or a labyrinth, as a beautiful obstacle, as an object like a stone inside your heart | With reproducing “and”s and “also”s and “but yet”s, its maze-like structure, reminiscent of the rippled, convoluted surface of a human brain, invites us further and further into a complexity of folds and planes and voids, and artifacts that are neither planes nor voids nor folds | It has left behind the literal world of the desert, the bare place of sand and water, the functions of shade and sleep, and commences to expound itself in luxuriant metaphors, hollows inside the eyes that refuse satiation and floating assignations, which, prone to the next day, and a changed prospectus, create the mirage of an infinite ambiguity, a terminal inability to focus, an inherent shake, wobble and blur | No longer content with mere utility, it begins to delight in decorative swashes and ornamental gestures, and develops an extensive network of styles and manners, which in themselves begin to resemble mazes, requiring study and classification, mapping, debate | However, it is no longer flourishing: although it continues to grow, it starts to exhibit signs of a certain staleness and fatigue | Decay has arrived, not merely as the inevitable expression of a natural order but as an event artificially willed, consciously constructed | For a while, this decadence is not a problem, but then parts of the maze, weakened by disinterest or over-specialisation, troubled by irony, debased by a facile intention, begin to fragment off, to become sub-mazes, secrets, gardens, fetishes…

They attend the play, and they comment on the production | The set design, the standard of the acting, the director’s interpretation | When the last performance is over, and the theatre is empty, the rows of seats gather a kind of hush to them, and the building forms an egg of potential | This happened a long time ago, and the play has since fallen out of fashion / Does it haunt a single neuron? | Does some faint trace of a single over-wrought soliloquy / scrape against the moon and cause that planet to stir and shift its light by some infinitesimal amount? || To the human mind, all things are toys, and the world of the past is like a giant toybox | filled with inert and staring dolls, their eyes | awaiting the glow of recognition and return, the caress | of a flawed and passing god | the privilege | of seeming useful


from the sequence, sentence (2012–present, in progress)

At once, divides. As a sea, with wake. Dacha, from desire. In the forest, of your youth. In the glade, the horses | clouds of small flies | and the light like milk | pouring. In the clearing, of your memory. In your memory | of desire. At once, closes. And is seamless, after the episode. Like a sky, after our glance. Like a love, after our love.

Put flowers into it. Sunflowers, in winter. Like lumps of bell or | dead dragons’ heads | hung.

Put your sex into it. Frizzled | withered | of the brown plain | the grey plain | in winter and sometimes | there is snow. Long, long way to walk. Clump, in your boots. Stubborn old child. Eyes like angels counting on their fingers | yet to learn | of evil. Hands | caged in unknown | tensions: hands, very soft, like angels dying in their sleep. Ignorant of the shapes | of all the caresses they may form | the gates | they have not but must | open. Perfect. Like a sky, during our love. And the light | just light | with a little wet | salt | pouring.

Put your back into it. Labour, to a stench of bitumen in April. Your thoughts | scrunch like shovels | scattering gravels: put your back into it. Hunch your shoulders | drift from | job to | job. Squat down in your own | heart | brooding and mute | observe | how the moments are polished and | cut | each to an acme | each | like a view | from a tall tower, looking down | over the brown plain | the cold plain | frozen | wishing to be | completed by snow. Perfect. Like a glance, as carbon goes by | hooded in a jewel | in a mask | of diamond. Hostage | to loss. Unable | to accept | defeat. Like a god, after neglect. Like a science, after a new science.

A new scene. Feet hung down like the heads of dead geese on | long white necks. It allows | you to travel. At once, with ships. As a sea, with wakes. Find a | private Russia. The ideas | fail here, you feel | the immunity of peasant boredom, how time | inoculates them | with the summers’ | towering volumes of | sky | a bastion | of empty blue | no thought will ever take, no | word could dint | the land beneath is | littered with “fucks” like | glistening needles | like stalks of straw | you | lie down at | nightfall | in the stables of your own heart | and feel how | all the horses of your youth | are beginning to | run.

A new sea. At once, divides. You’ve aged. Love has re-made you | taken a little | of the god out | put in | pinches of | children’s laughter. A land, clustered with the word “BUT”. The virus of roads | has not left you.

Put journeys into it. Teeming with junctures, it has become a semapolis. Showman, it performs | the old routine | miracle | of being one and at once | divides. In a sideshow booth | in a side-street afternoon | soda and no sex and flies, and the empty bottle | in your hand for no reason, and then | the evening | in a no-horse town. An imponderable melancholy, like joy | after true joy | like a good lie | after the best lie.

Foolish old child. Mouth | very quietly | humming with the | millions of words to come. Brow | troubled | scooping up the pearls of | teenage troubles | chucking them in a bucket, see | how they turn to | atoms | obedient | going off to school | to classes they can’t abide | like History or Latin.

At once, reforms. As a sea, with wake. Put your | mind to it. As it creates, so it | vanishes. Dacha, from desire. And the light like truth | sculpting the glade | the horses | in the heat | their heads | hung down.

A new scene. In the petrified forest | silent | imprints of birds | sing. It has become | a habit of ends.

This is a bad day. People will die in housefires, and you will never | write this poem. To have fought so long | for your place in injustice – is this all there is? The weather is no longer | the weather of desire | of sunflowers | of glorious | marks. Imagined | disaster. Already, heading out of here. At once, you can’t remember. At once, it closes. Like a sea, with wake. Like a book, with story.

Figure it out. It has no need for you, and yet | waits for you. Beautiful, and flawless. Like a sky, filling with dawn. Like a love | before our love.


from the sequence, sentence (2012–present, in progress)

Midway, we paused, turned, and looked back down the staircase | It was a tremendous effect, a kind of cataract of white marble, spilling away in mathematical fashion, and narrowing into the gloom below | I felt a little dizzy, put out my hand to cling | to the cool, smooth stone of the bannister | After having taken in this sight, we returned to the long climb | Arriving at last at the top, we passed through the “Doors of Regret”, and began to ascend the famous flight of steps beyond | Built in the ninth century with 4,500 narrow steps and 13 stories | the Kem-in-on Stairs, zigzagging up a sheer face, offered a tremendous spectacle | It took us over half an hour to complete the climb | and on the spacious landing, we took advantage of the rows of handsome Empire bergère chairs | set against the wall | Our guides | highly knowledgeable, and indefatigable in their determination to inform us | of all the details of the treasures contained within this fabulous building | explained that the chairs were c. 1815, of gessoed and gilded beech, upholstered in a sky-blue silk | with ornate embroidery in golden thread | of laurel wreaths, stylised suns and eagles | designs so rich we felt embarrassed to use the chairs as seats, and not to stand and contemplate them as the works of art they undoubtedly were | Higher, then | Our footsteps echoing on the bare marble floor | then muffled when we stepped onto rugs | we left the landing, via a handsome set of plain doors | coated with a thick cream gloss | and began to go up the carved wooden staircase beyond | the curved bannisters and lush deep velvet red of the steps | producing a sense of the grace and inevitability of nature | of organs swelling and enclosing | as we ascended | via a sombre, somewhat blank and secretive side-door | the sandstone spiral of grey-brown | a shell-like whorling and steep incline | around the central spine of ancient build | diverted from the usual route by barriers with signs informing us | of restoration work | we passed through a service entrance | into a shadowy stairwell, musky with several different odours | tobacco, steamed cabbage, fresh paint, even a scent of human urine | and as we went on up the stairs | we passed several rooms | mostly with the doors closed | but some with doors ajar | and one room in particular | struck us as oddly desolate | unoccupied, with stepladders, brushes, and dust sheets laid on the floor and over furniture, the walls scraped and prepared | for fresh rolls of paper | This staircase grew darker and darker | the higher we went | and yet there was no sign of a ceiling above us | or of a skylight | and we wondered if now was the time | to finish and go back, but | after some delay | we decided to proceed | and having negotiated | a narrow gallery | possessing a fine balustrade | of wrought iron | decorated with a motif of tulips | we found ourselves faced by another majestic flight of stairs | of supple marble | pale in the twilight | flowing upwards as far as we could see | Undaunted by the scale and magnificence of the staircase | we continued on our way | though alone, now, without our guides



from the sequence, sentence (2012–present, in progress)

At last the time for simple beauty comes | away from the immense distraction | of responsibilities | The walks through the forests | the spicy scent of pine cones | the children running along peaty paths, the girls in silk frocks | sleeveless | one in apricot, and one in lime | punctuating the quiet with squeals and screams, but then, moments later, with the grave | peace of their study | as we come across | fly agaric mushrooms | with their fairytale fever | their hectic | flagrant | drive to flirtation | The girls peer, fascinated, at these | deadly abodes | of goblins and toxins | Our lectures | are awed, but delicious to us, as we warn our children | of the poison within | such sweet | exteriors | The shadow of our fears | and hence of our | purpose | intensifies | Then we walk on | and the fairies and the elves | creep out | from under the trees and | watch us go || So, this is the famous “present”, a time we had almost forgotten: now we indulge ourselves, taking advantage of all its amenities, and those other, implied regions of time, the past and the future, we allocate to them | a condition of | sumptuous ethereality || Our love is a reasonable beginning, we are sure | a first step | a template | The failure at the edge | is not our | concern | quite | We deserve | some rest from the restless | quizzing of our own | spirits | Today, we may bathe ourselves in the most perfect and calming | oblivion | of them all | This day | is ours | and in its | heart | we may relax, and grow small: | we may forget | the others

They know that all the time, the armies of the god of silence are assembling on the plain, yet who can blame these innocents for their desire to escape SENTENCE’s “labyrinthine” web of responsibility? | Pull on the thread of a single word, all the other words | shift slightly | and some of those other words | lead to places, perhaps, we do not wish | to go || Yet is it not also true that we should honour the beauty of the moment, pay proper attention to the details of the life before us? Even though | the city is imperilled and the threat | grows greater with every instant, is it so foolish | to bend down and peer | at the frost in a spider’s web, or to tell our | serious-eyed children | how migrating swallows | sleep on the wing?



from the sequence, sentence (2012–present, in progress)