In the waiting room time is endless,
we mosaic moments together and wish we
were somewhere else. The famous penguins are
trapped and unaware of their many names;
the impossible blue pool. Light slides along
the edge of things, wishing it was
possible; bird shape thinks to swim underwater.
Light fixes time for us, holds it
out of reach, the curve of colour
we snap to keep, bending always away.
I intend to sit this one out.
Whose nostalgia is this anyway? Ice floats
down the corridor, wallpaper lifts. Its not
easy to refuse. Patterns disintegrate. I intend
to leave shadowless at midday, and walk
to where the world ends, over there.
There are armed guards and empty chairs.
Logic is a straight stick, although crookedness
doesnt have to mean wrong. The whips
and hooks of argument cant be beaten.
After smoky clouds and sea-fog there
comes steady rain. Memory is a fossil
with a heart shaped like a flower,
buried in clay. Sometimes it is necessary
to ignore the past, sometimes the future
simply doesnt happen. Does anyone know how
slippery the slope is? For example, yesterday,
rotational slump made sense. There are experts
who will, no doubt, happily explain the
semantics of forestry and make clever remarks
about the decline of branches in the
locale, but I would rather spend time
up to my neck in expensive mud
where the keen and certain dont survive.
Satellites spin above then fall like dust.
Information hiccups down the sky. In bed,
oblivious to mile-high traffic and the
clocks fluttering LED display, you mutter something
about paradise being somewhere else and lust
an easy option. You bristle with desire,
pour yourself into sleep like an oil
slick, stroking the spectrum of the dark.
The words teeth,
sweat and flesh
the poem, sound carries down the hall.
Outside in a van the surveillance team
are laughing. Fine detail is captured by
dials and wires, each moment is recorded
and notated. Everything has happened before now.
Rockets are on course, stars are plentiful,
and the swerving transit of your want
squeals and sparks a shower of accidents.
A wig of dead leaves and pencil
shavings; the height of fashion once. Still,
the suffocated look didnt suit everyone. (It
was always difficult to organise in spring,
too, when everyone swept up.) Turning blue
should not be confused with turning air
blue, or Hardys missus original air-blue
gown, which she was turning in when
I first met her. Not long dead,
she was rather quiet and unassuming, putrid
even. Hardy didnt seem to care, he
was lost in a wistlessness so wan
I couldnt tell who was who. Graham,
the friendly Blue Coat, warned us about
taking the stick for things we didnt
do. We did them anyway, and blamed
each other, choking on our indignant lies.
The dark snake of landscape slithers towards
us. There are paths for all, but
no maps or guides to follow. Each
loop conceals a heartbreak where bubbles of
time contain so much laughter it can
be heard in deep space as a
splintered sigh and breath of crystal mist.
I want to make the earth shake
so that I wont see myself shaking;
to run so hard buildings collapse, and
I wont see myself for dust. Each
moonscape looks the same, every stone remains
unturned. I am lost and have been
since day one; careless, jittery, and rubbish
at spatial awareness. See this coachload of
hope? I borrowed it from you. Where
should we go now? Havent a clue!
When you put your ear to the
wardrobe, you can hear a small, winged
orchestra. The banisters are less useful, although
they reverberate when struck. Wooden drones and
busy themes you can hum along to
are great for those difficult moments at
parties, when you realise you have nothing
in common with your guests, who are
earwigging their neighbours conversation and
around the plate. Fixed grins and buzz
fade for the girl on the stairs,
with her hickory fingers and bent antennae,
her black and yellow dress. Charisma descends
from the landing, insect love takes flight.
The air swarms with charm, strangeness, lavender
shades. Everyones going home to their own
hive so they can hum along alone.
I have a memory of old bones
piled up high, some kind of crypt.
I have a memory of concrete walls,
dry grass in sunbleached gutters. There are
contours of flesh, colourless and cryptic as
windblown sand dunes seen from afar.
Death is a set of shelves, piled
high with experience and memory. Without mind
there is only binary code and circuitry,
or nothing at all but an abacus
of skulls for immortals to play with.
Even with mind there is little else
that makes us different. Our flesh contains
space, and the spaces we move through
move us to imagine we were once
more than skin and bone. Life eludes
definition and description; death is peculiarly ours.
8. POLE POSITION
How spacious the Antarctic is, rather like
the remnant of a reindeers favourite or
only dream. Apparently theres a vacancy for
line work, someone to swirl and swing,
invent the warm hues of home. Morse
stitches requests to the atmosphere:
more paper, compass needles, Earl Grey tea.
The dogs are tired. A scientist is
to snow as weather balloon is to
atmosphere. The dogs are cold, the scientists
are confined to quarters. Theres a blizzard
obliterating the tracks our imagination leaves behind;
proving it exists is another slippery problem.
We are off the radar and almost
off the map; have lost the plot
and the nice brown teapot. How claustrophobic
this embroidered felt blanket of Aunties is.
Fresh fruit, fresh veg, fresh video footage.
Fast food, first time lucky; radio silence.
Individual lines do not make a whole
picture; slice and splice is the spice
of wife, left cooking in the kitchen.
Future static, instamatic; freeze dried lost ambition.
Quick Recipe: take something that isnt yours.
(Please stop flicking the pages of that
catalogue.) Handy Tip: how to make a
hasty exit: run like hell, pointing elsewhere.
Handy Recipe: eat out. Quick Fix: now.
Past fantastic, present imperfect. Do you want
a vacuum cleaner that never loses suction,
or a box of matches? Its tempting
to light up and suck the whole
thing skywards in a cyclone swirl, but
reality kicks in: its nearly dinner time.
10. TIME CURVE
Travel, said who, is like war or
sex; exciting, but not very interesting. Stationary
or stationery? said the station master. Depends
whether you want to write here or
stand still; where you are travelling to.
Doctor Death was well-known on railway
platforms throughout the country; he took photographs
of ectoplasm which was us moving about
and mailed them to strangers. Shock tactics
and unexpected visits always seemed to work.
The celebrity of movement, however, is not
a substitute for the little moment. Plenty
of whats and whys are the result
of incremental changes. The big wheel turns,
the train inches along towards its destination
with its cargo of doppelgangers sweetly swaying,
time curving weird between here and there.
11. LONG BAG
A chevron marauder in a plastic tank.
Nothing to be afraid of until rockets
hit home and splinter our strung-out world.
What spurs us on to change anything
comes back to discomfort. Would it take
the echo of jackboots. Could it be
something in the air or our psyche?
Can I press the button now? We
love our beat-em-up toys and
tribal symbolism; our private lives being driven
by compulsions we dont understand. The yellow
fog slowly clears, the danger signs are
dented and rusting. Glass hearts shatter and
and it doesnt matter if I lay
in a bulldozers path, because the facts
are hidden behind the business of war,
the economics of oil and political desire.
12. THE PRESENTS ARE UNDER THE TREE
My pink sequinned Moroccan slippers have been
fed to the multicultural machine, with its
insatiable hunger and nicotine breath. It prefers
yellow but Im hanging on to those
for Christmas. Id offer to trade but
why keep pumping the money handle, when
I have cupboards which spill more plastic
ivy swags and cherubim than decent? No,
the eye has it, in unblinking sweep
and certain vision. The shoe shine boy
is leaving town, out of leather pocket
and striding toward a factory-free horizon
where the only generator is his heart.
Im going too. Im going to undo
myself from whatever Im tangled in and
just take off. Watch me fade away
into the distance as though Id never
13. RED SHIFT
This music is full of moths. Draw
in the dust and twist your hair,
you wont hear with your fist
the subtle wow and flutter of red
as it flies away into eventual silence.
Better boys will kiss your tears away
says Ricky. Go and find them then.
They will all be playing guitars or
dying. They will all be so kind
it wont be obvious, at first, that
its music that they love. And death.
The wind-up gramophone unwinds, decides to
stop. Insects invade your hair, nest there
in a tangle you forgot to unknot.
Joe whistles a sigh of admiration; tries
to shrug off his admiration and desire.
Moths twist into night: dusk draws in.
is no Pop Art version of
end of community, unless it is
sound poem where screams and thuds,
drip of blood, can be heard
police horses hooves clack and canter
a muted, green, Vaughan Williams overture.
there; this is all wrong. There
be roaring. Also a gaggle of
swearing, and the smell of dope
sweat. Warhol would make it neat
black lines containing the violence, mischievously
the cordons penning men in,
would make it small-minded, locals
tag with jovial policemen. Id
sweets, lounge about, or plant plants.
I much prefer pastimes and quiet pursuits
which dont demand lots of brutal statement.
Cherrylickers and fingerpickers, tunes you can flirt to,
get bits between your teeth. Another key
and zing go the strings of your
polyphonic heart, as long-legged women swing
past, en-route to the dancefloor. Hey,
I was only looking
no need to
be terse or self-regarding. You have me
to admire you, the mirror plays tricks.
The keyboard plays tricky time signatures; the
keyboard player plays the crowd. Oo baby
my account is overdrawn. I will never
be a major player or keep time
but my shoes are good, and I still
know how to make them dance. Who
says fruits forbidden, these days? Check me,
with my bouncing cheques and forked tongue;
Im moving up and in, full-volume.
16. THE SPEED OF FADE
Verdigris is cupric acetate or carbonate. It
is green or turquoise, and beautiful or
mournful. Certain atmospheres cause blurring of the
day: hours, sky and tone. No division exists
between joy and pleasure. Blow your own trumpet
and bridle up for the long ride.
Its no good being shy on horseback
when the lake has dried up. Forget
about transmission, rust is happening right now
between your toes and along your back.
Oil the difference and seize the day:
say the birds.
They are rarely wrong, having hardwired notation
and an intuitive grasp of air. Soundwaves
are no colour, and echo is only
an echo, only an echo, an echo
trying to attract your attention, our attention.
17. BIRTH PAINS
Quite simply, no. Just one is enough.
It is all so elegantly haphazard. You
say design, and I say eugenics. Lets
agree to disagree. Repeat after me: no.
And sound like you mean it. Eugene
can go figure out reasons for living,
but I have a headache right now
brought on by the image of waste
and sewers. The sentiment is not sentimental.
The sediment is settling, mind runs clear:
my interests are the limits of everything.
Which keeps on multiplying. Tell me, does
it always add up the same for
you? I have never heard of anyone
who was in on the choice, originally.
I mean, at their own point of
origin. Please remove your blindfold, this instant.