Archives for posts with tag: variant 1

The city inside him rarely fell still. It was a mistake, he was sure, to think of himself as separate from the city, a sovereign state, even though, it was true, he could leave the city and go elsewhere if he wished, a village on the moors, a small port town on the south coast, with a snub white lighthouse, in winter. He didn’t contain the city, as a phial contains a particular liquid; and he wasn’t a passive object, like a white screen upon which the city was projected in a series of images. Everything was more porous than that: the city was a field of interactivity, in which the citizens were participants, coming into and out of existence as thoughts fire and fade in the mind, as lights go on and off in a building. Pronouns felt increasingly deceptive to him, the clumsy “I” and the “you”, the “it” and the “me”. His mother was in the advanced stages of dementia, and despite the grief and disorientation he experienced at watching her metamorphosis, he marvelled at the way his mother’s brain had progressively jettisoned parts of what had once been essential elements of her life, including her son, whom she had loved and cherished for decades, and including even herself. It was terribly cruel, to be introduced to her over and over again, the person she’d borne in her womb, and dandled and taught, guided, punished and adored, now he was somebody with a question mark for her, a “Joe?”, or “the television man?”. A conjuror inside her was making items vanish — a goldfish in a bowl, a white rabbit, doves — but never returned them, so her world, in theory, grew smaller and smaller, less and less populated, more and more empty. She was a periodic table, dropping members, first without mercury, then without sulphur or plutonium: failing connections plucked from her titanium, cobalt, zinc… Instead of the full 98 elements, hers was a table of 50 or 40, a dwindling amount. She was far less her “self” than she had been ten years earlier, her husband, two children, pets, her home, all had been mislaid in the mysterious zone of forgotten memories, their status problematic, their survival unknown, perhaps they were only extant in fragments, shards among the shards of broken dreams. Was she any less of a person? Of course not! She had her world, her routines in the assisted facility at the hospital: it was only that, quite evidently, she was not in control of who she had been, and she was not in control of who she was. She was not her self. Other powers held her in their sway, and yet they weren’t malicious or impish, they had no sentience, they were impersonal, systems that ran with no aim and no choice, cells that helplessly mutated, chemicals that were forever combining and re-combining in different formations, atoms that rose and fell in their own tides, swept back and forth, fluid and unresting… In other words, she was a collection of energies, but not in a stable or fixed condition, but like the collections of great patrons and museums, over the ages, first accumulated, painstakingly, treasures sought and added in, built and built up, then broken down, when finances or circumstances forced it, scattered, some artefacts destroyed, others lost, still others drawn into the holdings of new collectors, representatives of nascent empires, newly wealthy republics. And he was like this, and even the city was like this. And the girl in the boat looked so lonely, he felt like weeping: did she have any idea, how sad and how funny it was to mourn an illusion, to cling to a wreck that seemed so young?

 


from Semapolis | City of Signs
(series of poems, unfinished, 2012–present)

Advertisements

There were dragonflies in your ears | The soft fume of your voice was wavering | the evening grew drowsy | no more children | to be had | Warmer than mother | the peach rush | long over | let fall | the orphan summer | Across the bridge | car headlamps were coming on | they went superfluous | and we watched them | all go | from the tall grasses | to chatter of the city and the shore | the conquering | the built careers | The nape of your neck | under your | lifted hair | a single yacht | left on the sea | turned about | I blew, softly and your voice | went out

Honeysun | late in the era | to the fuzzy | pulse of bees | can you hear | your voice | fading? | Draw apart | the velvet curtains | reveal the stage | flattened | mountains of the bed | clocks still | on sentry duty | the front door | open | The prompt | distant | crack of an axe | from the orchard | a brush | of far-off | falling | Candles | floating to a western dawn | stay calm | zoom out | in a certain | lack of pity | First | to touch | heads of small flowers | the perfect | quiet | a dry | sea floor | blood flush | in the paper veins | we stirred | with the sound | of children’s voices | coming back to us

 


from the series fleeting pixel (series of 1,000 poems, 2012–2016)

Back to the party | No one is interested in what you say, except the boy, and he is later | when you are dead and there are palm trees | If you had money, this place would be different | it would appear to be | more under your control | and though appearances can be deceptive | deception sustained for any amount of time | will do for truth, and besides | appearances can be veracious, too | They say it was her greatest work | her most radical | I say | it is full of tired modernist/postmodernist clichés | most of this was done | back in the day | the 19th/early 20th century day | and the rest | no one gives a fuck, or if they do | they should get out more | go where real things are happening to real people, principally | to me | Back to the party | the brains being peeled one by one | and the drugs kicking in | all the promises you made | about loyalty and beauty | flushed down the pupil | into the unverified place | a darkness | conjuring the various spectres of faith | the tried and tested | routines | operates | And Jim has this great trick with matches | he looks pretty cool in his cowboy shirt and hair | slicked back like a windswept sumo’s | while Ted is hawking his theory | of itinerant concepts founding a groundless reality | but no one is interested

Turn up the music, turn down the thoughts | a beat will get you through | when logic breaks apart | Go to the bar where the pilots go | in Shanghai | where boys and girls | dressed as mermen and mermaids | swim in glass tanks | swim and dance | of course they have plans too! | Or go to where the crowds are going | will you find | what they are finding there? | Though England made me, MDMA saved me | now haul up the golden anchor | and listen to the glassy sound | of the breeze ruffling crystal sails | make landfall on a weekend island | of furballs and murmurs | and paywalls and murders… | On background TV | in a serious programme | a trivial guru is asking | Of course, doesn’t it follow that | if, as life goes global, the intensity and regularity of the state | we may call solitude grows, then | now, Jim, my man, tell me | how did we find our way | into this Killjoys’ Kingdom? | We make the choices, or so | we are told | We are in control, or so | we are told | We are making progress, or so… | We like the rush | the forward momentum | infinitely prolonged | or the illusion thereof | flight without landing | cruise without ports | dreams without sleeping | When you wake | crowned with seashells and pearls and intricate bones | your body smells of decaying kelp | on a humid shore | where Jules, dressed as Pierrot, stares catatonic into a mirror | and the avaricious waves | paw pale sands | Back to the office, a few hours now till Monday | reaping less and less | what more and more | strangers sow | And though one is lonely | in her cap and braid | and one is lonely | in his sequins and someone | else’s  hair | if you are a passenger | go to where the pilots go | and stay there

 


from the series fleeting pixel (series of 1,000 poems, 2012–2016)

Helpless | Lay the heads of the angels gently down, they have | worked the long day through, though the fields | appear untouched | Fold their wings | creaking | awkwardly beneath them, have they never | needed sleep before, has weakness | not assailed them? | Can you not adapt to the bright | void where the synapse asks | and is not answered, or only with | more light, more light, yet | more light, with no | darkness to hang a scale upon, no shadow | to aid orient or to hint, at least, of depth, tomorrows or directions | only an absolute dazzle without edge or core | so we | lay the toys of our questions down, and simply cease, yet | cannot | cease, but simply | wait, yet | simply | go…

Brute | Showing the bible to a seagull | Years of famine, the Chinese | drummed all the sparrows out of the air and killed them | for eating grain | so the locusts came | and ate the crops | so the people starved | only not | the leaders | A fear of telephones is not so foolish | Fear of voices at the end | of the line, fear | of silence or ringtones, fear | a voice may vanish from the realm of sound | forever | One must be sensible | adult | rational | this is what the world is made for | the clunk and jostle in a march of rocks, the delicate | spray of ferns animated | by the waterfall’s jets, the | steaming exclamation of geysers, the exquisite | creep and fume of desert dunes, these are each | made for our reasons, our + and – and our @ | Ask the dead, therefore, to | remain dead, to lie | so very still | decay, of course, in the correct way | according to the natural laws | and all this rolling glitter in our heads | this gold and silver of disturbance | its time is over | Forgive me, then, as, helpless | I am asked “Flower” and answer “Flesh”, am told | “Honey” and answer “Steel” | Can’t | make the proper kind of sense | to hold things in the place agreed, but instead | drop the Zen stones and panic | Be | bitter in the sweet hereafter | restless, ever | malcontent | grow more dullard and less quick, mossbound, with a slow | limestone drip | When the mountain | closes over the children, let me | be among those inside the mountain | not left, alone, trying to remember | how the music went, not left, alone, trying | to forget | the music…

 


from the series fleeting pixel (series of 1,000 poems, 2012–2016)

Temporary home | A stateless existence | You hardly call, I get the odd message, the wind | shovels leaves about | drop a star into a paper cup | A dead horse drags us around | we untie it from the cart sometimes | flog it mournfully | tenderly, almost | then when we can’t | care anymore | lash it back to the cart, set out again | stumbling among the cars and vases | the promotions and flings | It’s a kind of quantum film | Larry’s saying | It’s about the gaps between points of view | Maybe | No, really | This time it’s Jem-Jem speaking | It’s about the arbitrary nature of narrative | You say: It’s too long | I stand outside, smoking, looking in through the glass wall | at the hyper-cool design | you sitting at the bar with the boys | and Sam | forever checking her fucking phone | I think | how faded and old-fashioned this place will seem | in a few years’ time | how those fine | columns of space we inhabit at this moment | will be vacated in a little while | and fresh occupants will take them up | plotting their own stories | devising plans | new ways to allocate | the world of resource at their fingertips | Could be in a bar in some backwater in rural Croatia, or Poland, or whatever | Jem-Jem tells us | And this could be on the screen, but we don’t speak Croatian, so we don’t know what they’re saying | why she pulls a gun | So it all depends on the point of entry | the type of visa | the local language | the degree of engagement | the history and craft of the gun-makers | It’s warm for this time of year | and once again | I join the huddle of elegant refugees | smoking on the pavement | Is Jem-Jem right? | I wonder | Are we all being screened? | It’s post-modernity, right there, right in front of your eyes | Larry insists | …quintessence of the contemporary, or some old shit… Sam carps, nasal as ever, scrolling | We go back | the house bright and calm in the early hours | and among these strange, new moments | and white orchids | the way we smile before saying goodnight | an ancient sadness

 


from the series fleeting pixel (series of 1,000 poems, 2012–2016)

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)

Everything is made of loneliness | which may be defined as a particular proximity to death | a state of intimate estrangement with one’s surroundings and with other people | a sense that life is sterile, childless | If one is alone, somehow one’s voice doesn’t carry, and other people’s voices, even those of close friends, don’t quite seem to reach you | There is a shortfall, a zone of muteness, at once vague, occluded, peripheral, but acutely cold and clear, motionless, like bright sunshine on a landscape one early morning after heavy snow | Distance permeates each object | the sugar cubes in a café bowl are precisely sugar cubes, but in a calm and unspectacular way, have Samarkand in them, or Atlantis, the Sea of Tranquility | Paradoxically, they contain what they are not — they contain where they are going, what they have been, how, at a point in their past, they were not sugar cubes, and how, at a point in their future, they will cease to be sugar cubes… | Is loneliness lack of love? | Not necessarily, not directly | A lonely person can be deeply loved, and love deeply, but the same odd embargo on intimacy remains enforced | Indeed, a lonely person who is loved may feel even more lonely | even more childless | A mockingly precise relation to space is one hallmark of the lonely | but even more so, a fraught relation with time, a hyper-awareness of moments and months and years passing | an instinct for ephemera | that each thing is lost, even in the event of its approach, the exquisite | instant of its presentation | its brilliance lying, in part at least, in the fact it cannot return | it must go this way | it must change | it must pursue its natural path | into other things | even the dead | mighty as they are | still possess a butterfly delicacy | a flit and ragged lift | they evince | an inability to stabilise their meaning to us | (sometimes we think of them, sometimes we do not) | they are restless | pinned butterflies in cases whose wings | unnervingly | still occasionally move | A lonely person has a very poignant relation to monuments, and to the monumental: in Rome, you can be very lonely

Looking across the city, he felt as if the churches had cracked, the palaces slumped, statues lost arms and heads | As if a whirlpool of fluid stone and tarmac, brick and plaster | were turning slowly | and at the centre, a darkness, calm oblivion, drew the whole city towards it, and downwards | into nothing | His friends might laugh at him | flip a coin | angle a bottle of beer into themselves at jaunty café tables | mount their scooters and snarl away into the bright, warm evening | driving off somewhere into the intimate splendour of their lives | but what had they left behind, in the shape of the person they knew by his name? | His loneliness proved the whirlpool was there | Into his existence, silent and beyond blame or cure, the city stealthily crept and crumbled | moving, invisibly to others, but tangibly to him, with the seething inevitability of fresh lava | a whole planet on the move | heading into the hole in his head | where children lay | sleeping soundly | so sure, the previous evening, that they would never sleep again

 


from Semapolis | City of Signs
(series of poems, unfinished, 2012–present)

It’s been the king and queen of days, but now its reign | is almost over | Too busy to come to terms | with anything | I’ve drifted through life | secretly idle | accomplishing nothing | though on this king and queen of days, it seems | a wonderful nothing | replete | with perfect details | bugs like jewels | ochre spotted petals and orange pistils | the sound of your helpless laughter | over some stupid joke of mine, it is all | in the timing | Now it’s the hour of the axe and the scaffold | the lopping off heads | the rise of the mass | We’ll slip out, and join the beggars | the long queues of us | the lazy and the fraudulent, the sick and the weak, the | workshy | And I suspect the end will be | superbly bathetic | a flump and a sigh | the forget, the forget… | Cold will come | Shadows will come

Breaking into a bank | of cloud | The journey dissipates our past | the destination looms like another chance | is it? | We have somehow happened on | end days | the rising, the rapture | the numbed | hours of the hospital | white light of the clinic and the camera, no | purple flush of sea anemones, inane | commute of jellyfish across | miles and miles of mindless ocean… | Unwittingly, we’ve seen | the great peak has passed | the city has fallen, but the forest has not yet | arrived | They should have | cut off our heads | why didn’t they? | We go our separate ways | and evening comes on, the sun | gives a longer lease to the shadows | Whisper in my ear | Say nothing, sweetly, gently, I just want | to feel your breath against my skin | Shall we talk about the lilies and the emeralds? | Just speak, and breathe and let me | feel we are still close… | No, I’ll | speak about the everything, the all, the whole | shooting match | the heights, the summits, the royal | Yes, do, it’s the same | just one of the meetings | on the day we met | And the treasure? The inexhaustible?… | No. I forget. I forget.

 


from the series fleeting pixel (series of 1,000 poems, 2012–2016)

I knew it was a tragedy, but nothing would form in my head | People used that expression, It seemed like an eternity | I wondered how they knew? | There were the small, neat, blank steps of knowledge | the descent into the pool | things packed in boxes as you might | on moving apartment | the body swelling and vanishing, swelling and vanishing | as I thought deeply or grew distracted — the pulse of the green light | at the end of the jetty in Peach Tree Bay | and the darkness it put out into: such a darkness, and the way | darkness connects to darkness | filling in the breakages | building a kind of non-map | to plan our non-journeys, of which | there are more and more each day | and your fingers accidentally | switched the phone to Airplane Mode | — just such things, and the turquoise coral | Routines would take the place | of the living we’d intended | we’d make small modifications to the design | endlessly perfecting a prototype we would never | as it turned out | bring to production | Then there were the angles again | the pristine vacuity | of our new ignorance | and the point the road branches into sloth or shock | an eternal | lack of return | Building walls to hold the walls in place | mute, a long while | staring at the apricots in their plastic punnet | it was up to you | to drag the planet into its fresh alignment | with the sun | but by then | the truth had appeared | cold and neat as a cube | of ice | faintly alien | and we had to choose | how to disregard it | The girl in the next seat | was Japanese, she said | her name was Shiori | precisely just such information | and the dry sticks which break against | the rings of Saturn | shattering the leaves as fine and thin | as moths’ wings | In the evening, earlier than we meant | we tipped the glaciers and the sulphur and the lakes | into sleep | that was what we tried to call | our structure, our stability | Her not coming | came again and again like waves | and I needed to make do | with darkness, which was traditional | And from that darkness, her not coming | came to me, at last — but not the only last, I know — and it seemed | like an eternity

 


from the series fleeting pixel (series of 1,000 poems, 2012–2016)

Very gradually, it dawned on us | that things were not going to turn out | as we wanted | Dreamed of being architects or foreign | Dreamed of not hurting people | We were drawn to the derelict buildings, the remains of industrial giants | where they made cars or tools or wove textiles | now their floors | a blizzard of rubbish | But in between | we used to hang out at the river | where the rich kids went to pretend to be poor kids | We’d feel that sparkling vapour in our hearts | The white, cool, bittersweet thrill | The time — the time always short, but meaningful | and the drummer is giving it some | In our hand-me-down boots | we jumped in the snow by the railway tracks | Our epics were local, private, oddly throwaway | but no less epic for that — the twist of sycamore seeds into the drained pool, the first bourbon | the first time we heard Ornette | We knew we lived on islands | vanishing slowly under the sea | and it should have been desperate and futile | but somehow it wasn’t | we were okay | we’d survive, kinda | there would be boats | and higher land | in the meantime | a stillness under lamps with the sewing machine | and the papery flicker of moths | the scent of mother’s Dubonnet | were masterpieces of living | and we guessed they were important | because the artists so loved them | and nothing could be done to save them | they were too precious | And the clever kids | thought they’d get away | but they never did | and they never quite | saw how they were stupid | and I’m glad | who needs more pain in their life? | We each need | just exactly the right | amount of pain | otherwise | we’d never feel melancholy | As the quietness heightens | at night or on very calm days | the fridge speaks of pharaohs | the sheets make shapes | for languid bodies | stretched out | heads | spilling odd thoughts | was this, after all, what we’d asked for? | The fingernails, clipped from you | the moustache of milk | and the small gasp | of pleasure and lack of air | as you put the glass down | the stetson made of golden felt | Going away to school | Believing in much more | than the forgotten dead | the clubs we went to | the ties we severed | the dude | the Chevrolet | the beat-matching | Being new | with the brave jump | as the roads taught us | with all that was left | moving forward | with only the future, forever

 


from the series fleeting pixel (series of 1,000 poems, 2012–2016)