Archives for posts with tag: silver

By way of a steel ladder in, and down.

Above, on the surface, a landscape of scars and industrial remains – mining vehicles and paraphernalia, abandoned when the will to dig faded, investors backed out, the seams exhausted. Tractors with shed tracks, shacks, winching: to detail the derelict machines would be irrelevant, not economical, not profitable, for the winter is modernity here, and the winter, for the foreseeable future, is the future.

The signs of human intervention are really the signs, too, that the winter here was, for the most part, the past.

The rails go into the winter, and the forest.

There are no subjects here. There is no discourse: no demand for speech, no ears to listen. No assertions are required, no negations prompted. No eulogies, elegies, allegories, categories: no litanies, no inventories. No pauses for effect. No stops.

If the wolves come, their eyes glow a vivid orange if the snow has freshly fallen and the wolves glance up and in certain directions. The sun is low, and there are no dead here, just as there are no living.

Elk, occasionally. Frequent blizzards. In the brief summers, clouds of mosquitoes, and the rotting sleepers of the railway line sink and crumble further into the swamp, warping steel.

A landscape remembers nothing. There are no memories. The wind keeps no diary, the snow’s journal buries itself and melts and is merely the record of a blank: the record is then overwritten by another blank – and if time could pass here, then all that would happen would be that time would pass here. But no time passes, because a landscape remembers nothing, and there are no memories.

As the planet turns, and the sun retreats, winter restores itself: sap slows, shrivels, accumulated fat begins to wane, sleeping mammals, wrapped in darkness, dreamless, in the pomp of their furs, are unaware of how they skeletonise over the raw months of their voyage, and will wake to weakness and to hunger. They were not kings or queens, and they will not be beggars: they had no riches, they will have no rags.

The wolves go into the forest, and then there are no wolves. There is no forest.

There is no winter. There is no snow.

Lastly, and firstly.



From the series, Silver of the mine of gold (ongoing: 2012–present)
This poem, January 2015


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In the silence of the disused shaft, the buried cries of desperate voices call out, thrilling with intent, warm, still, vigorous and manly with bonhomie, passionate, probing, aching with commerce.

On the surface, no one hears the twitter of these doomed canaries. Life goes on. Strolls through the shopping malls, beside the lake: one kind of love for those we care for, the five thousand forms of indifference for those we don’t.

Caged, unable to escape, the electric canaries tweet and flutter. Sweatshop labour in cyber-space, aspirations to climb in a cast-off regime. The mine owners at the opera, plush boxes, the latest nightingale. Soft gloves, the applause for ecstasy, trilling to diamonds and pomade. In the end, the gas of ages drifts into their dainty lungs, yes, all, oblivion comes over them.

Genetic programmes monitor our hearts and keep them beating.

In such dry conditions, their tiny bodies may be preserved for centuries. Perhaps, one day, an explorer may stumble over these corpses, and think them offerings to gods in shrines?

Across the global darkness, precarious messages are sent out: in a stupor of loneliness, survivors receive them. Is it so different with love?

The ferry presses on, despite the bad weather. Leaning over the rail, I remember you for a moment, but then quickly find a form of indifference to fit you.

It is bad weather, but only for the damned.


From the series, Silver of the mine of gold (ongoing: 2012–present)
This poem, September 2014

We solicit the metals, propose them from their sleep of ore.

Do this for us, we say. Here is your role. Rejoice, you have an end.

Startled, the words grow tense. In a moment, they may be arches.

Dreams begin to collect: crinkled fables the employers cannot condone, offering hints of hidden seams, infant workings.

Seduced from their natural course, their archaic lethargy, the elements must enter the warped fields of love, the fraught uncertainty of affection.

What lay secret and oblivious under the earth is now exhausted into our form of shelter. Our form of shelter, enchanted from our ignorance, lies secret and oblivious under a translucent earth.

At the terminus of each bond, a profound fatigue adheres: the stress and ruin entailed by all building. The other use for the river, the mine we never dug, love never endured.

The words, aroused from their torpor, open their eyes very wide, with no choice but to be innocent. We gather, and attend. Incapable of fixing the words to our appointed positions, we must watch as they close their eyes, before us, and revert to their natural state, silence.

Crowds of words and crowds of people melt away.

The mine opens and the mine closes.

The poem falls and the poem rises.

It is a place of egos.

Since the earth subsided and the shaft collapsed, the mine has become an impromptu catacomb. The silence that obtains here, miles below the surface, is of a particular kind; and the darkness, too.

Ghosts still work the seam, pushing trucks and hefting picks, setting ethereal charges.

For the dead, of course – or so we are taught – there is no category left that they may fret upon, wondering of wealth or celebrity. Crushed, asphyxiated, pale from their subterranean labours, there is no longer any need for them to parse and comb through voices, neither their own nor others’, to modulate the tenor of the world.

She wakes in the morning, leaves behind a cloud of ghosts as she rolls from the bed and plants her bare feet on the bare boards.

How often Mother Nature secretes her treasures in remote, unlovely places, deep under the earth, in ice or bleak rock, among atomic fires, in Siberian emptiness or Peruvian fastness.

Pad, pad, pad – the sound his hands, clad in white gloves, makes as he applauds the performers at the end of the play.

It is a place of egos. The perfume she wears, haunting with attar of roses and a hint of limes; the wax he wears in his moustachios.

The sadness of gangsters at the lights, thinking when they did not mean to think, recalling victims and their untrustworthy friends.

The moment – divine in its ubiquity, mysterious as a god – intervenes, as always. Think: of all the gold worn in New York or London, Shanghai or Rome, how much of it is born in those cities?

The elegant pitfalls of simultaneous lives, the sudden drops. Occasionally, to find ourselves occupied by the affairs of strangers; more often, to find oneself a stranger, unoccupied.

It is a place of eagles.


from the series Silver of the mine of gold (open-ended: 2013–present)

When the light finally reaches them, they blink and think themselves saved.

In the pale cones of torchlight, the threads of immense and intricate webs glisten and recede into unfathomable shadows.

They are dreaming and their rescuers are only figments of their dreams.

Water from the surface drips and creeps down, bringing some infinitesimal tincture of moonlight, a breeze moving languidly over long grasses, the smell of heat and rust on abandoned wagons, the lines curving away into the green and unprofitable centre.

Parts of the ether collapse and then the molecules settle, the snow settles, the earth settles.

They keep journals and diaries, and their days enclose them, they wait for news, sometimes only for a sound – the slightest sound.

Because of the splinter of infinity in each word, they do not come to the end of their entries but float onwards, finding themselves day-dreaming over the page or lost for hours in the mystery of an attachment.

The ink calls down the sky and the spiders shrink for a few moments and then go on spinning.


from the series Silver of the mine of gold (open-ended: 2013–present)

Edges of snowflakes through a microscope, this will be a geometer’s winter, the ice forms in my head, soft, soft, soft…

How will these words travel? Her hands are soft, too, ethereal, so they pass through my skin, and every point on my skin becomes a small heart, everywhere she touches, my hearts beat harder, I am flushed, I will not keep this journal for days, now, but must sleep in order to recover.

It is not bliss she wants, not for herself, she is merely curious, watches me patiently through her large eyes, dabs my brow when the perspiration slicks it, I want the winter to go on and on, to be trapped here among the floes, I never want to be found…

Barrels and salt, cured meats, cold fruits, picks and hammers, bolts and twine, they have all pitched camp inside an inferno, only they do not realise it, am I the sole survivor of the massive lie, do all others belong to its wreck?

Often the ship creaks and shudders, if this is pain, then I wish it would hurry and end, if it is pleasure, I don’t fear it any longer, waking is the trapped ship, and the power that splits the timbers is the power of dreams.

The truth of life is to care for your things, for these things, only: back then, when I lived among people, they made me care for other things, she brings me the fever that loosens their bonds, sets them floating away, I no longer care for mirrors or guns, my reputation in posterity? But all those years, I did care for such foam, when she puts her small cool mouth to my mouth, I wonder, how could I ever have thought the stock exchange important, a home anything other than a furnished grave?

According to false laws, they rule: through such rule, they abide, more or less. Custom and truths hooked on the rock of passing comets, that is their society, my bones are like maggots, eating me out from the inside, it is not death she wants, but neither does she revile it, she studies me, as if I were a snowflake lying on the plate of a microscope, she is playful in her studious, child’s way, when this game is over, she will find other playmates, I am happy for her, these things are not love, perhaps, but better than love, greater, soon, I will not care for going on, I will not care for the task of breathing…

Sometimes, we break open a crate, and dine on the brittle jewels of frozen strawberries…


from the series Silver of the mine of gold (open-ended: 2013–present)

Dazed, they emerge: so long missing, it is unlikely they will ever quite shift the sense of a dream, their neighbours look at them strangely, then forgetting returns.

In chic bars, in far-off cities, gold has flowed into the rings on the fingers of wealthy, professional people: sunlight glints with the sweep of a racket, wave of a hand.

It is as if a giant fist has bashed their hometown, causing the whole settlement to buzz faintly as if still vibrating, impossible to get an accurate picture, a signal too weak, forever dropping out.

In the darkness, their skin has taken on an alien pallor: the new caress is not the old caress, enters at odd angles, cannot connect with what used to be, and lovers look unsure, smile nervously, sadly — loss has brought the foreign home, missing had become a state of mind, return too unexpected.

The blow of absence in a subterranean world has jarred their spirits, dislocated their souls — they move at subtly different speeds to all others, as if they carried the earth of the burial with them, cannot muster perfect focus, or own again the streets they pass through, show delight in the new devices.

The sirens call, the gates open, the smoke rises: it is all as it was before, but not for them. Try as they might, the trivial has engulfed their lives, their children have grown so tall yet lost weight, the ones who replaced them are callow and naive, disinterested in talk of endurance and fatigue, will not share in the promotion of legends.

In twos and threes, in small groups, in poor and unfashionable bars, they gather in shadows, seeking to eke out the precious remnants of the elapsed event — it is rare to grasp, at the time of their rising, the peak of lives, the rest must be a descent and lessening, possessing the lightness of afterthoughts, a gentle belittlement, right to the touch of babies’ skulls.

Some are not even sure if they really have survived: some — the best, or the worst — mourn the passing of the disaster, and wish a return to the darkness, regretting a death so deceptive they’d thought it home.



from the series Silver of the mine of gold (open-ended: 2013–present)

How did they get here? A map of interests, with hazy borders. Zinc. Potash. Iron. Gold.

Feathers and pearls. Winding the gramophone, as the shells come in with a whump and a crump, over the dragonfly-haunted lawn the air is jaunty with tunes, young scions practise steps to the latest dance.

Access is blocked to the source of oil. Bearings brittle. Across frozen tundra, in camouflage whites, the sons of labourers and beauticians trudge with rifles, sights telescopic, try to see through orders for better futures, willingly slaughter according to past culture, expressing themselves in rapid live rounds, easily tempered, obedient to a Cyclops regime.

Borders in the tongues, as well, in the burr, the slang and the brogue. Attitudes to the sun inculcate infidel slants, sort at birth the buckets for the true religion, the buckets for the right and pure, the buckets for the sacrifice. To these, gods grant absence of pity for their enemies, boys and girls who, under an impossible moon, might have glanced across to each other and gone the way of flowers, open with scent and touched to nod and sway by mild evening breezes, the sound of fiddles and songs wiring them to a new location.

Precious resources, the water and the loam: coal for power. Warmongers haunt anvils, forge unions from molten states, whipping on ghost horses, building the race right to exclude. Through the limited visions of little spirits, meat is invited to the abattoir, meat comes to the menu whole.

They stand alone who die alone. They die together who fear to stand alone. Kill together who join together. For who can stand alone? In the bones, the rattled marrow, after the rats, the bones of the wrist, after the fish and the worms, bones of the fingers, after the months and the fire, carpals and phalanges, the sabres are curved quiet in rivers, and the bones of slain horses and their bold cavalry riders will live eternally in the memory of the nation, later vaporised, slipped to a different name, annexed by torpor or viral meme.

Invest in the makers of flags and munitions. Prepare for contention: they murder for justice, the motherland weeps, the motherland is hunger, the motherland and the fatherland, the fatherland demands, the motherland pleads, how long can the fatherland accept, how much more must the motherland take, suckled by wolves, washed up among flint and sapphires, handed a branch with a magical bird, spewed from a volcano, slipped from the womb of a tiger, whipped from a god’s tears, established by saints, claimed as home, given forever beyond migration, and in the bunker of the skull, the sublime leader digs in, issuing directives, assuming this great task, bearing the burden, hardly sleeps but makes no fuss, thinks further, plans vaster, unworthy, and yet higher than us.

Crematoria, too long idle, are poked from their sloth. There is still time to measure your coffin. Write home, while home still stands. The graveyards are coming, dressed in scarlet and khaki, and all our sons and daughters look so fine in their cool fatigues. God put death in the foundations: but we get to choose the building we hold.

Those who will not belong, must be expunged. Those who belong must gather more and more, obey deeper and deeper commands.

Sleeping through the barrage, we imagined it was music. We waited to find what would happen when the music fell quiet.

Has it stopped?



from the series Silver of the mine of gold (open-ended: 2013–present)

Paper cities are burning, you bring the fire yet do not feel the heat: our city stands, not yet a paper city.

Pleasure barges and speedboats, yachts and oil tankers, on the black currents of type all sway to the tides and the signs mourn their own beautiful simplicity.

We are more complex as our powers of solidarity wane, and the battles grow digital and thus may be switched off or put to sleep until the morning.

Love, that most harassed of signs, at once reinforces and undermines our complicity in acts of breaking up and walking away, not seeing, finding ourselves unable to care.

It is a puzzle that grows more pieces, a desire outstripping our will: we wish to value each other highly, yet our principle means of contact is commerce, and this process bends away like a river, and forks into such intricate deltas, we set out each morning yet never return, the water is lit to solder and strikes of silver, losing us in its adventure, victims of episodes and anecdotes, lacking a comprehensive theme.

As we go deeper into the mine in search of wealth so it takes longer to return to the surface where we seek to afford the air and shelter.

By artificial light we see all things, and natural light becomes almost a legend to us, who toil to survive and for whom the leisure of the sun is a luxury.

In the gardens of the master’s house, the light is too bright and the poverty of the hours grows onerous for those who own time and yet can find no use for it.

The old poet has become an embarrassment, filling his pockets with sugar lumps and drinking leftovers, haunting a café in which he no longer recognises a single tune, disowning the words he once wrote to tie a war to his own mouth, and to tie his mouth against yours. Bards are passé, and the leopards hunt, still, if they are permitted, so… who cares?…

I fold up a burning city and walk through my city.

So I rent the sun and wonder how much it will cost for an hour of the moon.



from the series Silver of the mine of gold (open-ended: 2013–present)

The voice is calm, I hope they are paying him well. There is no need to panic, we’ll keep you informed, meanwhile enjoy…

What was the driver thinking? The vessel, so far off course? Out of satellite range, the falling snow takes on a primitive power, a revival of long-suppressed presence, remote from experiments on pilots and controlled tests for hypothermia.

In chic bars and jolly boozers, the festive season is under way, the apocalypse comes not in laser beams or neutron bombs, but a proliferation of plastic bags, a tendency to leave without | saying goodbye.

The tanker lists badly. One engine dead, one on fire, leopard in the snow, kitten on a piano.

The kiss came like a prophet from the desert, her lips maraschino, his heart, artillery, firing a mad barrage, all they could do was drag bodies from the wreckage, it was a slow number, they begin to kiss again.

Fallen from the radar, already the insurers are being woken, friends and relatives, long sealed in bags and stored in freezers, take the messages that will so entirely | divert the courses of their lives, of course we will do everything in our power, our thoughts are with you now.

Her thoughts were on the pine trees, the light show of the aurora borealis, he had no sympathy for the navigator, slumped at the controls, baby with a moustache, evil lemur on a vine, it was a zombie-themed evening in the hotel, the holiday of a lifetime.

The architect is stressed, she is talking to the foreman. He had all the makings of a prophet, but nothing to prophesy. While the pattern is consistent, no alarm bells ring, the survivors | removed their parachutes and checked their position.

It will certainly affect the production process, it may be months before we know for sure. Her gospel was rejected and settled into the mouths of deviants and fanatics, stalling paradise, possibly for good.

It is an illusion to believe life has ups and downs, it is perfectly flat. He wondered whether the presents would arrive on time? She despised the work of science, it was merely moving atoms around, a limited vision, but no one would restrict the flourishing of words, they were greater than the people who spoke them, escaped the people who heard.

On an impulse, the wounded pilot put on her jacket with the rings of braid, and staggered off into the jungle, no longer concerned with Santa’s schedule. Behind her, monkeys began to congregate around the cooling fuselage, and he replaced the lid, trying to make it seem like nothing had changed.


from the series Silver of the mine of gold (open-ended: 2013–present)