For a brief eternity, nobody was fucking anything that already got fucked and that was when the leaf started falling & another then a whole earnestness of them. Fuck. The way to keep strong is being meticulous about noticing clouds and writing shit down I stopped wanting to rain, I’ll fall asleep smoking. I’ll fall asleep smoking in some movie where my brogues are black as the wet night this all was conceived, draw my red curtains away from the moon that Nasa had a claim on and think about salad days, my nails painted trademark Billie Eilish lime. O salad days pacing restaurants, the rain is on; I remember the leaves swept in the door and they too were victims of a fate in their genes, once green. So I took samples and pressed them crisp between Moleskine pages in the sleep dimension, my writing was automatic and sullen, chlorophyllic, squeezed between menus, I was windswept inside it with the beach pouring out it was heavy. File this under the brush, bush, brush it back into language. I listened to the intricate complaints of the shrubs.
Between myriad Tuesdays, I became a psychiatrist of seashells, pressed to my ears their exquisite misery.
Time was a month of afternoons and then rivers of weeks and the sexual appetite of the hours then none. M. said in emails it all feels like soup. In no time I drink echinacea tea and wait for you in black velvet trousers, my pretzel crossed legs. The black velvet night is missing from other suns. There is no time. My chest is clearing itself of the leaves and a mysterious spore they call viral but is it just metaphor, is it the just continuum of falsehood, heavy as my tongue in your words and letting the owls out is only fake news. A black velvet night full of owls. The way to keep going is smoking at the window notwithstanding the smoke, I mean lean out like me and catch it. Someone drops loneliness pills from high windows, highest, like the song about throwing pieces out a twenty-storey flat…Your browser does not currently recognise any of the video formats available. And yet that song and for the love of bread and jam and here in our crumbling houses. Seedless. My brother does not understand tenement lust, the trend for it, but a tower-block remains in our town. Black velvet surrounds us, slapped between lunar slices cut from the nightmare of twenty-twenty. It isn’t your vision.
At five, he would drink all day diluted wine and snort at jellied nature. I love receiving your comments and photos and learning what is an amethyst deceiver and those in history who wanted us killed. If I am held down by world, I had a cold shower and lived in the hades of a woodlands that didn’t belong to me. Smell of tomato all summer in the glow of my window. Smash it all over your clavicles, the insides of your thighs, between your toes, the secrecy of your neck. Flesh of a very red vitamin C. Imagine owning the woodlands. Not to eat, I typeset all night to the sound of sentences, insects, let them lay me down later, I am all this humming snow. What sleep is it that comes three hours at a time, at a time without time that is never quite dark and five hours late. If the clocks go back. You say it’s impossible to write in these times and you are right, as anyone is to say of the impossible I feel it, here and closing in and peeling the skin from my cuticles. Not this. Backwards. When you ask what I’m doing, I’m quietly bleeding. In the hazard assessment, failing to be meticulous is not this. Failing violence. Touching green. I have a good kick at the heart and the head. The men are all down. Held down. You and I get so tired.
I want to know how she dies before the novel even opens. Lain down in the grass; the spine is split, our folds are torn. Because you say nothing I go into the orange department and juice my feelings very slowly in rapture. Waking up is to know not what happened. A blade is working in spiral formation – a blade tornado. What would rip us from orange and up, up to our tower block office at home? Dream pith all over the air around us, sticks. Walter Benjamin is very anxious about this, that you should not write dreams down before breakfast, should not attempt to narrate them. You break fast to break with your dreams. I dreamt I wrote copy for an orange juice company, who wanted their ingredients relayed as sonnets. It seemed impossible that orange juice should be so teeming with things other than oranges. The names were beautiful: canola oil, sodium citrate, beta carotene, cellulose, sucralose, Neotame, potassium sorbate, yellow #5, yellow #6 – and what could be seven? What could be less than seven! We are, we are…In the mix, at the end of the nineties, “soft drink turned a girl yellow.” I remember this as though I had been in hospital and the walls were all yellow for how much I stared at the pale and acceptable middle-class blue. Where was this, surely not in the news. I paint my eyes girl yellow, the colour of soft ghosts; I practice quietude, then sugary schemes of rhyme.
So what is the meaning of soft in your work, is it ordinary eggshells around the thing itself, is it orange peel, goldfish, autumn maple. I tread lightly on the question of being at all. These terms are so loaded. K. is reading novels where people casually set off fireworks, they do it all the time: they grab them from supermarket bins and set them off in the carpark because why would you wait. A catherine wheel for Asda and my blues is spinning, my blues in the washing machine, O rocket, a felt sense I could hug you then and the blues left a stain on the radiator. Dashes sparkle. We sit in old meadow in mud and the dogs roll over each other. We are not drinking cocktails. The transience of dalmations. What is the meaning of soft. Softness as a kind of value. I wish I could learn precision in language but it goes running over my senses and to be soft is to experience aphasia. Say in the meeting we stammer and get to the question, late morning before this, zoom before zoom, arranging the clattering scale weights and spices. I slept with Bachmann’s Malina under my bed. A blue skirt stain on the radiator. Blue heat rises. Dad says, “have you been listening to seashells again?” I fantasise gas flames.
Conch, scotch bonnet, wentletrap, simnia, drill and murex. Rose and sharp-rib, American carrier, Gulf oyster. Marmite mushrooms frying on the stove. You know there is a shell called ‘Coffee bean trivia’. In Brighton you could buy trays of them for a fiver. I bought Guinness instead, a half pint for you and I on the last hot day of the year. There was a kind of listening to sunlight. Softness as what could be damaged inside us: organ spleen, aura lamina, the shell of our bodies. Your cells soft mint as the cure. People are cycling to work; I barely leave my sofa. Various adrenalines assemble inside us. So far the shells have daddy issues because of the sea. Scrub hard and anything shines. I am under the influence of rainbows, umbrellas, a rim of salt.
I was fired from the orange department for wearing this blue on my sleeve. In the atrium standing there with Styrofoam coffee, swished blue from my dreams; compliments from the manageress and frowning at the meeting that never would last, and something we didn’t say. ‘Divine aphasia loves us dearly with some exceptions’, writes Jackie Wang. I sat outside Perch and Rest with lemongrass steaming from a cup I had purchased and the leaves blew into my face with rain, they were soft and important, licked and wet.
We were about to make love but one of us took concussion from the piece of citrine beneath my pillow.
I dreamt rabbits were climbing my beech tree the way goats do in Israel.
A small porcelain jug of milk, a blue jug, was all I could glean from the orange department, after my passing. Carried it home in cardboard, I passed through the walls. It is all because the clocks go back and a crack on the wall. Anhedonia, that I hold breadcrumbs and nothing left to imagine. At the late-night snack bar, composing these empty sentences. Do we get paid for the hour we lose? A soft wound is still a wound. “I would like truffle fries, I would like oysters…” This is something I once seriously wondered. Pools of oil in shells, a meltable system. You break crockery and throw it at the sun. It goes like fuck; it is fucking you brightly. There are still exits, listen.
Thee Oh Sees – Goodnight Baby
Little Comets – One Night in October
The Cure – Underneath the Stars
Oneohtrix Point Never – ECCOJAMC1
Moses Sumney – Neither/Nor
Massive Attack, Young Fathers – Voodoo in my Blood
Chlorophyllia: a pamphlet of poems written in April and May 2020 in the midst of lockdown, feeling falling, light sensitivity, the body as plant life and panic. Released as part of a 5-part series alongside Carolyn Hashimoto, Suki Hollywood, Ruthie Kennedy and Emily Uduwana.
Chlorophylliais a glassy architecture for gathering the leafswirls of those moments of seeming contingency, the offcuts of correspondence, and nourishing them in the hothouse of lyric hyperbole. Maria Sledmere offers up a pamphlet of weird dialectics and conversation: where dreams eat into ~reality, where herbal remedies glitch in the feed they’re found in, where green and blue meet zanily under the breeze of ‘Jolene’, where sleep is yet daylight’s constant longing and language is photosynthesised. Elon Musk crawls out of a Deleuze and Guattari parenthesis, Keats is filtered through Zoom mosaics, there are glimpses of Neptune rain and the speaker craves IDM aquaria. As increasing time spent online comes to dominate our unconscious with surreal imaginaries of face-reacts, screen freezes and the syncope of laggy encounter, poetry becomes a way of laying out those confusions of voice, scale, desire and bodily grammar.
Maria Sledmere hits the reader with a monsoon of language played at once in major and minor. It’s a blissy elegy with room for the amphibian and the paypal. For thinspo trees, waging snowstorms, missing bees. For solace and subscription. Here, loss concerns the heart-eye react as much as the dinosaur. Snowstorm is a person. Everything finds itself unshakeably sensory, and that whole heavy load — of being at all, of being here — is packed sleek into a Tesla. Chlorophyllia is an oil essential to any engine.
— Nasim Luczaj, aka [underthunder] and author of SWAT SIGHT
The poems of Chlorophyllia love a green thought in a green shade almost as much as they pant to leap in daylight. What does the enforced reproduction of the shit we’re in mean when ‘Continuance is lightfast’? Lyric is truly sound against death but how do the interruptions feel when to persevere – the shimmy of life itself – only serves to hold up the wicked ceiling, the needles underfoot? Fuck extinction. Memory was always lossy. The desert is wherever we are. Find your friends in vernal places, ask each other ‘what familiar year is it / Another encore of the air.’
— Dom Hale, editor of Mote and author of Time Zone, Firewall and Scammer
what if she entered the sliver of morning and haemorrhage left for her
on the rooftop, signal that someone was still coming in caustic shoes
theorising a free continuation of handsome disorder, to access the paywall and free us from pain
she could breathe here, just
to feel like getting trains, filming herself speak only to speed and lag
in practice of relative motion, to feel it
“how all the protests ceased” but not to look was to watch the hard tomatoes soften from green and the weight
to glow awhile, orange and I miss
a strategy of oratory whereby someone has a line from beautiful afternoon television, like “who would buy this house?” as if there were choices
next to the undiscovered shaven lawn
I’ve been having dreams about family and scaffolds
how she just lay there literally until the child began throwing soft toys at her in the 1990s
anyone could come to life and be numb
I want to read Graeber’s thesis on magic, slavery and politics
she didn’t say to me
do you ever feel free, for instance in fugue state when brushing your teeth
I’ve been dreaming about ancestors stuck on trains killing rabbits and eating crackers it was that easy
all season complaint of what’s coming, knowing nothing of photography
when you can’t measure the wind by the grass
she had this enormous laughter
dwindling into ambivalence if this isn’t a dream exposure
and we can’t enter houses
I’ve been trialling sentences, Bernadette Mayer says I’m not faulting being periodic but sentences with caps and end marks do seem so bloodless to me
You swing gazelle legs over the actual You wait in the room for the wine You pull collectives out of the sink
distracted, I watch through windows turn on my flash to lead workshops on trash and poetry as finance, like eons of speculation had brought us to nothing but numbers
and the anxious among us, cooking the numbers
I watch her slice an avocado in the dark and the police van opened to reveal us with leaves in our molars, perfect hello it’s autumn
in the bloodless sentence
dreamt I was tidying the rooms of siblings
this mad kind of everywhere acid I couldn’t clean up
in the panic of rich, linguistic Monday, you are part of the story, too smart for me
the interminable smell of pine resin, kimchi and menthol gum yes, just there
in lightness rimming
I made this commitment to sleeping ‘upstairs’
taking pleasure on my editor’s credit before the treehouse snapped
I can barely listen to music anymore it’s all error
describing her pain as shooting
when I smashed my thumbs in my eyes you kept going it was Jupiter
cruising down Alexandra Parade to send you the voice message of not seeing nightingales, a bathtub attached to a car I wish I could touch between times is when I most feel ‘we exist’ and just like that the cornflowers won’t die
and we can’t enter houses
and you end with the fresh heat of illusory commute
I could say anything new
in dumb, erotic anonymity where all this falls
she had lit up the sad remains of the tree
bound to other seasons, even look good
despite not hearing this live I like it, finally summer light on the same
even if we live
in adrenalised versions of trying to keep warm on the video call or wavelength
of audit continuum
she was all “it is up to the unassuming […] to represent reality” in The New York Times
and the well-oiled loss of taste
feels the same the shadow
years of tax avoidance edible sundown
what if she knew before all of us doubled in running away with me
I dream all my friends attending the burning
“where have you been”
and you could put this to archive
swipe left for the hidden indentation of nothing happening
20,000 years ago
mostly I worry if she lived in the dream I had to wake from
cradling the ersatz animal, sprigs of rosemary
having clambered reality over again and knowing you survived the scaffold GESTURES FOR LIVING AIR as the art was told “I just need to check your temperature” a rough kind of festival kiss that was listening
in the underpasses of everything prior to millennium
installs a magical feeling that :heart: you would be at the station
Patiency challenges the body’s borders, the fantasy of which converges with a policing function. This means reimagining the body as process without a centre, not a discrete biological or social fact, but an untotalisable set of relations, the body not as a static object, but as the ek-static convergence of processes always in excess of themselves.
(Rob Halpern, Weak Link).
Patiency: ‘to do with the body as a situation of suspended agency and disabused mastery. If this illusion of mastery is a privileged delusion, then patiency is its refusal’. Halpern gives the example of Ban, in Bhanu Kapil’s Ban en Banlieu (2015), who ‘lies down on the street in the opening scene of a riot’. So begins the novel and another historical opening. Patiency might be, I am heckled on the subway and so I lay down in the aisle. Or is that too much of a spectacle? It might be that I is not-I, just as ‘love is not love / When it’s a coathanger / A borrowed line or passenger’. We do patiency differently. So love that is love provides more than suspension or structure; it isn’t the person sitting beside you or even the vehicle. Limerence on a borrowed line. So things are thrown. I am lying down in the middle of lockdown, which feels like ‘response’ as such. In these casual Zoom calls, these meetings, it is like “Oh, well I spent that day lying on my floor, sorry.” I stop saying “just lying on my floor” since, over time, lying on the floor seems adequate. Almost, to a certain thought. We used to call these sad naps and could take them at work, for instance, with head resting on folded hands, or perhaps in the little vinyl benches round the corner of the bar, under the picture of Dylan and the roses, and the painting with the cut-away eyes, whose market value would astound us. When I say I lay down in the middle of a global pandemic, who am I kidding? Sometimes I turn off my webcam and lie down with my eyes closed, still keep talking.
I google ek-static and find a meaning for ecstasy, ekstasis: ek (out) and stasis (a stand, or a standoff of forces). So an experience of ekstasis comprises, as Alexander Riley puts it, ‘extraordinary situations in which one stands, temporarily, outside the normal interactional world in an existential frame of peculiar intensity and effervescence’. There was a night in lockdown I bumped into a friend and we walked along the river, bordered the parking lots of the broadcast buildings, looked at the false lights reflected in stout-dark water until I finally looked up and saw the huge harvest moon. This hour or so outside of the otherwise confinements of lockdown had felt ekstatic — for I was outside, on the edge of the river. I was talking again, for real and wheels were turning. Words, however everyday, had their electric shocks. But was this an extraordinary situation, this encounter? Context matters.
Types of lockdown ~ekstasis:
Zoom calls till dawn
Voices, hear say yes
The word haecceity
Streets without vehicles
The first day I discovered the meadow
Bluebells, daffodils, cornflowers
The innocent coughs of strangers in readings from a pre-covid world, if such a thing once existed
One infinite tin in the park with you
Oil pastel under my nails
St John’s Wort capsules
Applause on the recording from 2004
Misplaced pastoral (nostalgia) inside a sleep
When we didn’t know which window the birdsong belonged to
Coffee, five times a week
‘Like a cat can / See things out of order’ (Lucy Ives, ‘Picture’)
Soft sound twilight of notification
Gentle ASMR of the rain
Carousels of apophenia
The canal, the river
There’s a song that goes, ‘all that I have is a river’ and I remember it from more than a movie. An undergraduate, alone in my small room I was watching this video of a young Johnny Flynn and Laura Marling just sing this together and I thought it was an old song, oldest, the kind of thing you can only think when adolescence still is you. Almost ten years have passed since then. Ten long summers, more like winters…What a gift to forgo all but the river, to be young enough to possess nothing, cover it, or to let go for the water and what it carries. For you know everything is a new current is not even new, it was streaming before and now it is catching. And you let yourself into it or you don’t. You walk into, you walk by the river. You are carried, supine. Patiency.
I skirt the river in lockdown because it is a motion of passing when nothing else does except spirits and bodies, and the days are leaf, they are like easy to peel from the calendar, people are always saying O how the time passes, but into what? Time passes with you, otherwise I am waiting. The song that appeared in a search result. With you am I writing. ‘Dreaming is the best kind of waiting: it overcomes nothing, it does not try to separate itself from what it wants, from everything it wants. Dreaming just begins’ writes Sarah Wood, in 2007, which was a year I learned to starve myself among eons of bad indie. So I would dream hard instead; it was like whittling reality down to return to those childhood imaginaries whose nourishment was almost endless. To be almost endless, and good. It was the year before recession and so I had not learned the societal imperative towards ‘hope’. ‘If Hope can find oxygen, it will’, writes Lena Andersson at the end of her novel, Wilful Disregard (2013), ‘Starvation rations do not help […]. The supply of nourishment must be completely cut off’. You learn to breathe different air; you have to. Oh the rain really came today, I feel like saying / or send you a video. Told to have hope or having hope is different from living towards it. Soft falling hope was not that. In a 2019 discussion with Greta Thunberg, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez says,
I learned that hope is not something that you have. Hope is something that you create, with your actions. Hope is something you have to manifest into the world, and once one person has hope, it can be contagious. Other people start acting in a way that has more hope.
I’ve had it with viral metaphors, in the sense that I live in the era of post-viral fatigue and my body is sick with the carriage, ‘but I can’t stop expanding with currents convulsive’ (Halpern, Weak Link). Lana sang ‘Hope is a dangerous thing for a woman like me to have’ and the question became less about hope and more about that ‘like me’, a little hinge. I identified with a neighbourly extravagance, hydrangeas, pale blue-lilac from a middling soil; I left the gate slightly open, I smoked in the rain. The danger was in hope without architecture, so a ghost came in. Hope requires a manifest scaffold, perhaps. Weather that rails against it. The trace effects of a fire, of dream languor, particle physics. It was in the sentences we erected, passed on, hammered in, lifted and lay still, remembered…‘my present tense contracting the way love contracts me to the future from whose point of view this will have not been terminal’ (Halpern). The person on the Zoom call, PST, said to say goodbye, If you’re in California, don’t leave your house, there’s smoke out there.Stay healthy. Hope needs to be more than just ‘in the pipeline’. Maybe we need to blow up the pipeline.
2007. I lived in the years of ambient war. Later, too young, I would attempt to read Cyclonopedia: Complicity with Anonymous Materials (2008) and dream about pools of oil filling the end of my bed, like a menstrual stain. At school, we wrote essays in which we had to pick a side: for or against? The Iraq War, vegetarianism, a bypass for our town, surveillance capitalism? I could only think of deserts, not arguments; I wondered what secret plant could stem blood flow from a wound. I rarely watched television. In super rural mornings, December, the air smelled of engine oil, woodsmoke, fertiliser. Shit and snow. Something to-come that never was passing. I felt sanguine, calm without compare, sipping vodka + cokes against gym blocks. Back then, clouds were irrelevant. Instead, I scrolled the internet for answers and images. ‘That hope is just another bloated moat / is worth the ringworm, is it really so cute’ writes Nikki Wallschlaeger in Crawlspace (2017). Thinking in Sianne Ngai’s terms, is this ‘so cute’ ‘a sensuous quality or appearance’, or ‘a feeling-based evaluation or speech act’ (Our Aesthetic Categories). It’s cute that you dreamt it. The ringworm I mean, another parasite. So you circle in medias res, nibble a little of that time, but I thought I could jump the moat into future. Future was just a quality, like cute. Is it really so cute? The tiny things and changes. billie eilish in her video for ‘my future’ looks pretty cute, but it’s more than that. The soft falling rain would fill up the moat, the river, the lake. The dream was a body of water again. Speech fell upon us, fluid, then telling the nude and lime-before-lilac sensation. Something that gets inside us; a tooth around your neck, and pain.
Dreaming just begins. Derrida is beginning his lecture on Joyce, ‘Ulysses Gramophone’, with the signature of a date. This feels arbitrary enough – a date in lieu of a site specific. I would send letters in lockdown for the sake of sending a date. It was an act of patiency, a claim against time that could turn it inside out, let somebody else pop the bubblewrap for you.
I was looking for postcards that would show Japanese lakes, or let’s call them inland seas. It had crossed my mind to follow the edges of lakes in Ulysses, to venture out on a grand lakeside tour between the lake of life which is the Mediterranean Sea and the Lacus Mortis referred to in the hospital scene, as it happens, and dominated by the symbol of the mother […]. You will no doubt know better than I that the whole pack of postcards perhaps hints at the hypothesis that the geography of Ulysses’ trips around the Mediterranean lake could have the structure of a postcard or a cartography of postal dispatches.
(Derrida, ‘Ulysses Gramophone’)
The difference between the lake and the sea, is it tidal? Say I wrote to you by a general lunar insurrection: I refuse to be governed by hormones alone. I am lapped, turned over, the hours are upon me in wavelets. For a long time, months, the word ‘hospital’ also conjured ‘field’, and ‘crisis’, and ‘overstretched’, ‘overburdened’. Many fled cities to avoid this. What would a postcard from the pandemic look like? This sounds like the afterthought of a conference happening years from now. Send a postcard to your future self! I would rather dwell awhile in the mystical, sub bass pastoral of a common place that is billie’s future. The transparent dew in the process of dropping, clearest blue. But it was also the artist’s imperative, mid-March, to say something. To who? A postcard can be read by anyone, if they get their fingers on the mail, if they would risk that trace or touch.
You could circle the drain, if not the lake, like in the video where Soccer Mommy is at Palm Springs Surf Club and conjures an existential state by the weather: ‘I wanna be calm like the soft / Summer rain on your back / Like the fall of your shoulders’. A desert gets cold at night; its ochres turned deep into cobalt. What happens in the turn of those lines is the fall of rain is a bodily gesture, the fall of your shoulders. Like sigh before sleep or hold me. Both kinds of soft between element and form are just memory’s fall, and a longing that is ambient and prolonged like those four hour looped videos where the song is slowed down and rain sounds are added. Its weird twist is dark ecological: I love and you as the other with your shoulders, their fall, I love I am rain old rain we are just that falling or were. There is a sense, if vague, of when it happened, of summer. Somewhere. I would send a postcard with those lines and make a cliché of the feeling. Clichés are like rain; they fall all around us and that too is cliché. In London I learned to long for the rain.
My trips around the Surf Club, is that a name for this desert, some place out and aching, are not knowing what I’m looking for, the lake of life or death. There was a body of unknowable time at the beginning of pandemic that felt like a lake, a dark one with monsters inside it. You were scared to touch. The virus was a hyperobject and it lived in the lake and became us. So I thought what it meant to carry the lake. Like if you could tie it to your Kanken and drag the lake on a walk every day, make it lose weight. Could you test the lake, dump chemicals in it, starve it, piss in it? Was this abuse? My poor lake, resting at the edge of the desert. The lake was too much: overstretched, overburdened. Eventually I would bathe in it, but that was July, just before a morning of rain and the fall of your shoulders / brush back hair. Aeolian breath above the lake.
A thought crossed Derrida’s mind ‘to follow the edges of lakes’ in a novel. A very long novel but only a day. Sometimes we say ‘it feels Mediterranean’ and is it a warm breeze off the sea, a quality of something vermillion splashed against turquoise? Like Dorothea Lasky (if I remember her essay on colour correctly, perhaps there is a colourblindness to memory) I always loved that combination. But it grew too much and mostly I stopped painting in those colours. Can there be too much blue in your life? We compare eye colour on Zoom and there is what, somethingsomething pixelation of the soul, which is almost good, is it. The inland sea of WhatsApp green, or the rising tides of Facebook blue. An irritant gets into the ocean. This is how a pearl is formed, and we worry it into August.
August: the commonplace between seasons. What was formerly meant by holiday. Halpern’s weak link is something about tendency, which is a quality of patiency, surely:
[——] = a common place we can’t sense, but upon which all we perceive depends
In the book, the double em-dash is more than that, because there is no gap in the line. I don’t know how to recreate that here. Rachel Blau DuPlessis often uses the commonplace of a line, this continuity, asking questions like
Did these years have to happen the way they did?______________ ______________. The poem, unwritten is concealed by the poem,
(Surge: Drafts 96-114)
This is from a poem called ‘Draft 100: Gap’. I feel urged to fill in the blanks, but then suddenly don’t. Mind the gap? I am mindful of my tendency to make lines into rivers. This is a temporal effect: ‘The body of water a particular time of day resembles’, writes Lucy Ives in ‘Catalogue’, not answering the proposition except to parenthesise ‘candida’ in brackets (). Parasites again. You can’t starve them so much as you must cut off the oxygen altogether. They want sugar! Like rubbing words out of your poem is a kind of excision necessary to let the reader in: an exchange of space. But is a blank also a body of water? Let us lie down in the blanks, one or more acts of patiency. The edge of my body at the edge of the lake, which was almost erased, became two-dimensional. Was it the politicians who did this, or the semioticians? Surge, surge, surge…
Without touch, I could not plunge into the body of water for several months. Returning was two-sided, flickering. It was turning the river to a mobius strip. The river that led to the lake? No pictures were taken, but words were written…
The other’s body was divided: on one side, the body proper—skin, eyes—tender, warm; and on the other side, the voice—abrupt, reserved, subject to fits of remoteness, a voice which did not give what the body gave. Or further: on one side, the soft, warm, downy, adorable body, and on the other, the ringing, well-formed, worldly voice—always the voice.
(Barthes, A Lover’s Discourse)
In his telegraphic dashes, Barthes evokes the voice on the line, between lines, electric crackle. I am on the end of a telephone listening to what I thought was rain but was only white noise or the manifest difference of space between us. For once, not time; though still there was time between us, before which we could meet. The body could always give more, which is why Derrida would venture the IRL lakes to follow a postal cartography. Here where I received this text, sparkle emoji, a picture of sunset forgetting I’d sent… But what if the voice became a body in tender distance? A kind of tendering in itself? If it was all we had of those months, and could cradle ourselves to sleep in it…
We look back on the years that are happening and wonder if they ‘have’ to happen this way. There are divisions, revisions; something that gives and receives. A year is impossible. The depth of a lake without measure. I could not tie it to my horse and ride away. Salt and sweet. The difference between lake and inland sea depended on your idea of ‘freshness’, but in Cancer season I delved in the water. We called it a loch, though named it was ‘Lake’. Always the voice / settles cool on the water.
Down becomes a colour. Peach stuck, clouded. A snapshot from my enviro-diary in spring:
I realised there had to be exits from ‘lavender country’, even if I felt implicated in the earth forever. What had I otherwise written of the wild mountain thyme, the purple heather. I had.
What Andersson wrote of hope, ‘If Hope can find oxygen, it will’ recalls Angel Olsen’s song, ‘If It’s Alive, It Will’ and you can’t help thinking about the ‘it’. This thin word of the thing itself. Love? The song, the poem? ‘My friend you are unique but not always / Some stranger in the well has surely felt your pain […] And all the things you’ve once said / Your thoughts exist in someone else’s head’. So we are parasites of a mutual speech, second body, patiency. It’s going on elsewhere,, echo,, echo. I saw the police queuing for pizza. I saw mothers outside supermarkets, I saw masks trampled into the towpath. I saw your breath left a mark on the bathroom mirror. If anything is taught now it is that pain is not unique in its total uniqueness. It is also a misting — these noticing moments like the colour of your eyes on webcam, or when I saw a friend by the river or the cygnets when they were still small, and charcoal. Touch, know that we live. ‘A moment of affirmation; for a certain time, though a finite one, a deranged interval, something has been successful’ (Barthes, A Lover’s Discourse). The weak link ( — ) of ‘a common place we can’t sense, but upon which all we perceive depends’ (Halpern). The more we send, the more links accumulate. This is not some metaphor leading into Connell’s chain, or the blockchain, the chain of being or food chain, but something like when I recently went to visit my Nan for the first time in nearly two years I saw she was wearing the gold chain I remembered. It remains a ghost fact against my clavicle. Gilded, some arterial link between times, the artefact worn of all years, not mine.
And did that path or the other lead anywhere?_________________?
________________? The other side of words_______________.
(Blau DuPlessis, Surge: Drafts 96-114)
A path can be dangerous, like hope. So I see it not as a route so much as this mark of the common place, where you enter the poem. Echo. It is not so much I who is writing. Someone is pouring clementine fizz into the glassware someone else will inherit. An embrace is made possible because of this. If it’s alive, it will. The other side of words or the strangers in the well you threw a coin into. I was always wishing on fountains. Could I eavesdrop on what went on inside your sleep? It was trouble enough to listen to mine. Quiet plash. Your breath like the ocean beside me, etc.
Hope and not-hope. I am obsessed with this passage from Verity Spott’s forthcoming Hopelessness (2020). ‘I hope. You hope’, she writes:
‘I wondered if it was enough to extract a sentence and hope something would ramify from there, like crystal’, writes Brian Dillon in Suppose a Sentence (2020). That word ‘hope’ again! To put faith in the art of essaying, you manifest from the sentence, say. But isn’t extraction bad? Verity writes an incredible sentence. Love contracts, there is a terminus, there is no harbour, is it that thoughts overfall or flow before water. There are strange moments where you fall into iambic rhythm, ‘would shrink like necks passed out’ and find yourself taking perverse pleasure in the pulse of that action, complicit. I fell asleep at the desk, put a crick in my neck. If Verity’s sentence is a crystal it is so splintering hot that to hold it I had already thrown it towards you like catch and here we are passing those lines between each other like ouch! or whoosh! as it goes through the air then starts to stream — is it light or water that sprays off the sentence, falling or lifting we get it back up we get going again, so being itself is contingent, there is a feeling of tilting, just touching between something like what Adrienne Lenker sings in ‘Mary’ — a most verbose song with the lines the lines the lines like fractals, repeats, alliterative, the rhymes inside it — ‘The violent tenderness / The sweetest silence / The clay you find is fortified / We felt unfocused fade the line’, it’s a blur then, even if the object is hard, ‘my vested shot’ like bullets are thoughts, ‘get fucked’ (a reminder that we die or desire, no, we could be ejected by the speaker, why not), leave holds inside us and the ullulation maybe of lift/leak/blink/light/love/cryssalis/live/like/laugh/will, hear the undersong packed inside the block, LA LA LA LA CAN I HEAR YOU? to put this in the kiln of language and wait, tender, splintered political speech is the romantic filibuster of ‘on and on and on and on’ worn in a ring without rose, lust, health, being messed up by time and order, ‘and change not come it not does come to who those wait’ as if to be the subject doing object to the thing itself, no is that not right, I’m in the stream of it, ‘where else’, ‘that change’, well I feel gentle to read this to you aloud and think poetry is it never could smile like lift this up what’s underneath, ‘screaching night’ of fizzy things in vessels, ‘pouring thoughts I made them up, so what’, a fall of your shoulders, softly, who cares, ‘wry out’ did I twist that humour is lyric always sincere, I care (?) is it the very empowerment or dressage of the poem that makes it ‘shot’, tongue tangled, get shot, ‘hurt the air’, ‘get fucked’, I love you, whole world is metamorphosis. It’s for love or dream or death, ‘if you fall great down’ a white-hot crystal. Stammering light of I love you. So keep repeating the sentence forever it’s the estuary (ex)change in my head where the diamond melted; I go out like a river, a light, it’s so many; I lift crisp, iridescent leaf to find you in process…‘scarless along the rib, as if to say’ (Halpern). Small wet thing w/ almost wings. ‘Soon come’ is a charm I have held all summer, ‘Where goes? I guess’ / the flight, the train, the swim, the breath…
According to my diary, in 2020 I had nineteen dreams about breath. These are some:
but maybe this is a lesson in being able to let go and breathe deep and keep going, rather than hinge on another lag. Oh hinge is another app right, maybe I should get that.
I started to do long deep breaths.
I would come out in the breaks to breathe fresh air among the tumbling ivy. My aching head, my burned-out lungs. I eat too much!
A lavender girl with this expensive complexion and a close-shaved head was underwater for a very long time and when she bobbed to the surface, numb and curled in the foetal position, she moaned something about “I wanted to give up my breath”. And we realised this was the currency of all these submersions: losing your breath. There were many people doing it, just bobbing to die in the water.
I don’t have a shortness of breath or any particular fever beyond what you usually wake up to after too much sugar
Last night at four in the morning I finished A Breath of Life in a sort of tired rapture, still very awake, leaning back into my eyes and my soul a while, the sense that it might go on forever, whatever ‘it’ is, cross-referenced of course with Àgua Viva
Started to have trouble breathing, a sort of slanted weight on my chest. I guess sometimes I suffer from very minor sleep apnoea, like the Beach Fossils song
Disorientating to wake up from a dream with so many people, almost like I couldn’t breathe, my heart was racing, I had to pull off my jumper
I feel this pressure, like I won’t be able to breathe and I won’t. In the dream I was between two tribes and there were guns I suppose, other weapons. Loosely I was in love with someone on the wrong side and so my loyalties were confused and I knew my life was at stake, the others having pressed knives to my throat to warn me, given me a bracelet I knew contained a location tag. I want to be dazzled by leaves and tiny pieces of unmentionable silver.
She went away and I was sort of left in this state of zero energy, desperately trying to gather up selected marbles to give out to whoever was still left in the boarding house. And then I sort of dried up, paralysed, barely able to breathe.
A few people joked about moshing. I miss the rupture of something going shoulder to shoulder. I miss the general blaze of sweat. How is it to breathe in a basement.
I want to feel like the blanks between dreams, ekstatic spaces between sleep (fall asleep to yr voice again), are bodies of water. Àgua Viva: running water, fresh water; variously translated as stream of life. Another writer who wields the dash, flies on the line, which is also the spray, the beam of light, is of course Clarice Lispector:
Today I finished the canvas I told you about: curves that intersect in fine black lines, and you, with your habit of wanting to know why—I’m not interested in that, the cause is past matter—will ask me why the fine black lines? because of the same secret that now makes me write as if to you, writing something round and rolled up and warm, but sometimes cold as the fresh instants, the water of an ever-trembling stream. Can what I painted on this canvas be put into words? Just as the silent word can be suggested by a musical sound.
(Àgua Viva, trans. by Benjamin Moser)
Who is she talking to, writing to? The fine black lines of moth wings draw up a thought. It is a cashmere reality and I am tugged at the holes. In the subjunctive, only ‘as if’ writing to you; she can preserve the stream, the weave, the cold splash of secrets. This is only towards the act of communication itself. All works of ekphrasis, all spirals of daylight, all times I turned on the tap and for what? Could I wash myself back into a blank, or what luxury to preserve in the mud on my shins, the marks of ink up my arms, mascara’d tears around my eyes, the blood running down the inside of my thighs? In the water, it would all run into trembling lines, purple blur, it would circle the drain, would never stop————————————
and Spicer says, ‘don’t worry I will tell you everything’. this is the dream where you appear as a lime green triangle and there is nothing I can do _ lime green isosceles learning spelling looking at the great internet for hours, very lightly _ lime green isosceles learning your angles /
\ if you appear to me lime again, full-flesh of note
I know a great red splash will appear on the side of the morning, best side, coffee breath not four hours on call, or shepherd style. So how a triangle holds me like every brushstroke, something gestural in lieu of a writerly end. July, july, like who is writing?
out of your window the mews were, smoke-warm lung
accident) is a landscape even real? where is my juul, my eye?
There is this line in Katie Dey’s ‘Bearing’ (mydata) which goes, ‘I am warm by her username’.
None of ever disembodied; always a record of brushstroke, beautiful people on the pavement outside and bouncing a trite kind of fungible language, who goes. To shop for that same geometry. It tumbled out of the wow so luminous. this dream I kept having about going for half a Guinness with you / and all pretty drunk on aphid dependence
is jangle expensive impressionable air!
look up from the mic it’s there, like yellow flower
went in tesco wearing a mask
felt lux of outside
purchase protect like
there is so much of so little bread in the world
‘But I write
you tomorrow, I always say it in the present’, says Derrida, of a bookleaf letter.
Look who’s shining back, sarments of a username. what is the use value of
removing the bees from the kelvin meadow? sweet carb, sometimes
I am barely iris
and the milk is sour trochee / streak of copper
want to draw us a room to live in
depth of field, dappled motion. Like a ramen hack
all it takes slight pinch of telling you everything. like we camp this close to the website
with duckmice, star anise . . .
that season I got everything early. and it was all good, kind to me
very bloodful much dawn, little saltish, waking only to sleep again to vague
dreamnote will you go
sent up to Parkland or like
a sluice of weather, let me swipe it from yr brow. wild
reclaiming the word for thyme vibration
abundant / gold sounds / this
you is more / Disentangle
prettily the screen again, hair in fist and first / make space for your
space it_ Don’t worry I will tell everything
by the sheen of my wrists a bracelet
of upstroke acoustic lines of steel, latching sun.
Best side, coffee a short breath upon pale-coloured air is how have you slept,
synchronise “morning” for warming, always already
I had that poem about the warm London air and
wanting to kiss us, where did it go
cut thru a land &
dumb smoke without snow as it was in Glasgow, then
lemon balm smoking a natural data by summerised fountain, four
in the not now morning
O wow like salt lakes
look at us float! no money
you can or can’t say swim
you swap pronoun for leaf
leaf is barely iris
leaf is barely eating
leaf is barely anyone
I was so happy to just say afk : ) breathe me / is only the accidental priceless picnic
of being barely alive like
somebody taking a polaroid, here in my doll’s dress
I-i mean leaf never felt sick as america, except to say sickening!!!! the worry of telling you everything, that’s practice
so much I would crisp by it, hot swear
nude in the
new soft animal shapes
“golden green, red blue”
These are just lights! growing sideways
you pull up slick at the station, leaf coming
before say come
round the corner you
narrate my emails
deleting erotic gasoline, plainsong smelled of triangle
caught you in chord. lime green over Laura Nyro
say what I held in my hand was just
or tiny bird
the heather all over the heather
wild I keep wanting to say it would never go
just about purple
best thing I ever saw or heard
no name of a name
learning to spell say oxeye by the layby
eat three almonds, live in Japan
liked songs make wonderful life / it’s coming
Aye Nako – Sissy
Tacocat – I Hate the Weekend
The Kinks – Rats
Orange Juice – I Guess I’m Just a Little Too Sensitive
R.E.M. – Crush With Eyeliner
CAN – Moonshake
Khruangbin – Time (You and I)
Klein, MONG_WOONG – V3
PJ Harvey, Thom Yorke – This Mess We’re In
U.S. Girls – Rosebud
King Krule – Stoned Again
Sonic Youth – Bull in the Heather
Thee Oh Sees – The Axis
Sun Ra – When There is No Sun
Fire-Toolz – It’s Now Safe to Turn Off Your Computer
NNAMDÏ – Glass Casket
Thanya Iyer – Always, Be Together
Christelle Bofale – Moving On, Getting On
Toro y Moi feat. Old Grape God – tron_new_rose_hifi_v2
James Blake – Are You Even Real?
Porridge Radio, Lala Lala – Good For You
Immaterial Possession – Tropical Still Life
Sharon Van Etten – Malibu
Silver Jews – Animal Shapes
Modern Nature – Halo
Fair Mothers, Faith Eliott, Esther Swift – Monochrome
The daylight was like ordering pyjamas off the internet. Light blue. Sky broke for when it rained and the hills were seen as old pornographers watching us pass like gifs. I’m grown into us to reach for the kettle, for the internet, wearing my silks, something’s on the boil and it’s not quite tea. I think of some other season and know it is cornflower, not quite light, not quite blue of dawn because it’s been a long time since I’ve seen the dawn. People are buying vintage files to play dialup connection. The old pornographers eat their cameras for warmth. I’ve seen them do it to be secret, fucking careful to be made up in a lovely afternoon with blusher, oranges and Russian vodka. It’s the same thing you lie down for, sometimes lying down because I can’t get a word, or a line, can’t catch or watch. You have to watch it for happening. The daylight was like that, then pulling on silks, moth-fringed, light blue it was like the colour of the internet turned inverse for ‘its’ children. They were still making artillery in the system, so we could sleep here peacefully and not be disturbed by the old pornographers and their bits of camera. The sexual motion / of foliage all up in my software. It wasn’t that we had any tension, there were other kinds of ars poetica, but something’s on the boil and it’s not quite tea.
There were other kinds of daylight the colour of the internet and not the quite blue of this tea. Because sky is making us pass like gifs in such loops as I can’t get a word. The deteriorating resolution of you are not bloodleaf. Because June is super lovely, moth-fringed, pulling on silks. You pass a lot of grasses, long-grown from their natural habitats, watching the drops fall out of the sky for what, for love. I don’t know what shape it is they make on the surface of water, but I watch. The old pornographers were making a nature documentary at the edge of the forest, which was inaccessible, badly rendered. So I could sleep here peacefully, I came out of the shower in cornflower to tell them the best blue spots they could film. The colour of the internet is touching a liquid, then it goes through the lens, fucking slow, so huge, it belongs to this season. Snapped. The tree was just that down the middle, sort of bruised where it had stood, not light blue, lightening out into favourite tone. The old pornographers scolded my aura and told me these pretty white lies. Like. Say your best tree was a willow and we do it lightly, willowy, that’s how I know what tallness is, like pulling on silks in London. It’s the same thing because I can’t get a word, moth-fringed my mouth is pushing up cobwebs. (*) The loop is very beautiful it feels like you are grasses, lots of them exist unmown for hours, how at dawn for the children, light blue, how they enter and trample; only the old pornographers trespass for profit.
Here look at the tiny bird nursing her young which are tinier still, it’s the same thing as knowing it rained and a goldcrest buoyed up on the birdbath, tiny thing, not quite vodka. Because I can’t get a word, there are gilded flakes in my colourless tipple – visceral realists! – like anything we had off the internet, like this particulate stuff that fell from the sky. I want to be fucking careful to light blue the mise en scene of this feeling, tell it slow to flicker. Be made up in a lovely or a line, can’t catch or not be disturbed by the old pornographers, whose interns were cameo sylphs of such beauty as to even sleep peacefully here, or inhabit the air. It was like the dream of Bloomsbury and the supermodels draped over carts that advertised mustard to the masses and it made no sense except mustard can boost your metabolism maybe, yellow it is, so I ride my bike beside them. I’m grown into us to reach tension, summer thinspiration, I dawn because it’s been a long kind of daylight to find this, pulling on silks, dust caps, yolks, some time since the colour of the internet turned up bits of camera. The contact sheet of ruinous cornflowers, raindrops stained; pinned animals appear in separate parcels, how it all looks side by side is not quite vodka. It is yet a shard. Archival. I’ve seen them do it for happening. Warmth. Freedom is the edible mischief of knowing poetry could never. Warmth, warmth is keeping a secret, local to cygnet, melt & forestry slenderness. The daylight blusher made love of your face, I’m fucked.
Sun Ra – Realm of Lightning
Run the Jewels – yankee and the brave (ep. 4)
Spellling – Dirty Desert Dreams
Noname – Song 33
Fleetwood Mac – Storms
Laura Nyro – Broken Rainbow
Connie Converse – Sad Lady
Ratboys – A Vision
Big Star – Dream Lover
Bright Eyes – Mariana Trench
Coma Cinema – Tall Grass
Gleemer – Brush Back
Feng Suave – People Wither
Tricky – Fall Please
Let’s Eat Grandma – Glittering
Soko – Being Sad Is Not a Crime
HAIM – Gasoline
Kelly Lee Owens – On
Tomberlin – Tornado
Slowdive – Some Velvet Morning (cover)
Mogwai – Take Me Somewhere Nice
Bing & Ruth – The Pressure of this Water
Ecco2k – Hi Fever
Lil Peep – driveway
Ashnikko – Cry (feat. Grimes)
Donny Hathaway – I Love You More Than You’ll Ever Know
These paraesthesia days where there is a thing like too much or less of light, continuing to know ‘what went wrong’ with the license. There is a Crispin Best poem about your inbox filling up lightly, your inbox lightly fills; but the word he uses is gentle. I like it when I’m looking for a line from ‘a poem’ and I can’t find the line, and the poem gently eludes me because it is a caterpillar already cocooned, and you have to pluck the caterpillars from the wriggling tree of the book, or is it a forest before thought, because pretty soon it will be swaddled in the transformative and what comes next is too much to give wings, it’s anamnesis, intangible, the pines in the wind. Max says Red Bull got their asses sued for claiming their drink gives you wings and I want to attest to a singular experience in which I spent pocket money on a genuine can, silver and blue, and the sugar made me fly from one end of the period to another, during which such time piled up in triangular grains at the side of the rainbow road. Is this the same as the sugar elixir you give to save bees? But I can’t go back, my wings are wilted, there’s less appetite. I write this with rainbow spectres spilled on my fingers through polished crystal; like I ate the apple from the old Apple logo like the one on the old computers at school. And we’d sit on those stools in art class writing for hours on machines where a thing could not be ‘saved’ except to desktop, where it would chill very lightly for a dusty season or two, and then be removed by a cursorial drag of September instance. I want to go again, be there, drink cheap vodka at lunchtime and write my magnum opus on radio design and fall into the white-tiled toilets crying. Later I would do the same at work. Lorde sings ‘It feels better biting down’ but the bite was out of the apple already, like the bite from your arm. Marks we have shared of our flesh. I have been sitting at windows again, waiting for caterpillars to appear in the floats of my vision. They are gentle and beautiful and ripe for the pluck ‘and that’s love’. I can’t find the poem about the inbox that gently fills (whose?) but I like the bit in Best’s ‘Nature Poem’ where ‘you can hold a tiny leaf and say “leaflet”’ and ‘you can tell me “don’t worry your sadness isn’t going / anywhere let’s just be alright together awhile’ because it is so gentle towards the sadness, subjunctive, cradles it into a lessness, that’s why the line folds just so, with us just there before ‘anywhere’ because we go in the going, that’s crossing a line. Why do my toes buzz when I sit too long and is this what people in novels call ‘cramps’ and when I say people in novels I mean primarily men because ‘pins and needles’ is too feminine, domestic, except I knew men could sew and I knew sailors and waiters who could stitch up in no time and once I was wounded and let them hold me on the planks or the bar with red thread to stitch up my sorry knee and each stitch was a tiny vicarious kiss and the thought occurred to me there isn’t a word for that, a tiny vicarious kiss the way you can say of a tiny leaf, ‘leaflet’, or of a cat, a kitten. Maybe you just say ‘feather’. Well anyway, your inbox gently fills where I can’t find it, the petals for roses, not of them, and I sit here looking for synonyms while the world can’t sleep or burns and I can choose to cocoon myself in the almost not-knowing of other fevers. Sifting through the less of each other, days pass into messages, like people used to say for a trip to the shops. I see things shuttered and strangely detached from their context, objects afloat in the space of what was. You would fly over all this, laughing at me with your endless, sanguine energy. Turns out the poem is actually called ‘your inbox gently fills’ and maybe it’s like the making of love is like looking for a title, you want to complete and not complete, you want it to go on or finish forever in this one whole thing, still rippling, this ‘big and spooky’ world again which is always the outside-in of it, the best you’ve had, asking about the mouthfeel of Hegel or something. It’s not about names though, right?
Feels like the hospital inside the hospital inside the poem. Feels like you disinfected the irrelevant conversation to make it clean again, whole again. Her voice feels clear in a way I can’t explain or speak to, that’s not the point or why I would squeeze more juice from the aloes for the sake of my cuticles. When the caterpillars start harmonising, high pitched squeals of light, I know it’s like saying which of us is speaking to the violent affirmation of nothing like rainfall? They die in your tread if you let them. I want this to stop like the world, and helicopters fly over the scene of writing which is my little head, or a sonnet by Ian Heames. In the dream it is September and already ‘over’ in the ladies basement, washing our hands for the atmosphere to the tune of ‘drink water / good posture / good lighting / good evening’ which always made me think of shortcuts to a Schuyler poem, like saying I love you, like how many times Prynne gets away with saying that in The White Stones is super beautiful waking up at 6am with this huge yellow hardback bruising my chest and it’s only that ‘good morning / I see you’ in this place which is less than air, but sirens. And a slant of light he had said I would know, even with everything over, the memory strays in solar resonance. I had never done such lines as the posture of quartz in the month’s end, gloss hair, cut with lace, a noted conditional; but I am selling these paintings to support the purchase of salt, shadow and one day a purple diamond in general. It’s nice The New Yorker noticed the amphibrachs. That’s my name and it’s not. I once told Callie it sounds like a Pokémon. The air here, glistening, is super effective. 18 degrees with a 0% chance of rain. I pedal the loop like I haven’t before, then / Celadon coloured scrunchie, release huge hair and the special aporia of all this falling.
What if thoughts are snacks. I carry them around and worry their edges, like peeling the skin very gently where the body just gapes because it is tired and sorry and your hair is long and I tuck myself behind the prospect. ‘Socially distanced tins’. When you give up the fruit of the internet and the caterpillars lap at the sugar and they have cascaded from the breadfruit tree in the song called ‘Barbary Coast (Later)’, ‘a dancehall there / where the sick folks go’. I gather up such caterpillars, when strong sometimes / a waltz is made… in the rain that you play in, in the lozenges sucked of the sunsets thick in your blood and another apology for ‘clogging your inbox’, a gestural stretch of the arm is pattern. If your thought is a peach and the slice of the peach and I open the tin very slightly, prise you out, and you slick there in syrup all over my internet. Such limbs. And I would cry at this kindness as the wishes allow. Wherever the mail arrives there is starlight. Dancing to Peach. Syncope. Little heat in my foot. Imagine all the email was fruit, the gentle pile-up of apple peelings, my laptop hot from the former resource wars (is brutal). ‘The more I see / the less I scream’, soft feelings, soft feelings.
After school, she would cut us the apples. After the scholarship, I would cut up the hours for the tree D&G say is Chomsky’s, acid-hard, and I find myself in the trespass of yesterday. Whose node goes there. Snacks please. Crispest, best. I like the bits where he (Best I mean) steps back and lets it happen, like ‘i let summer take over the house / for however long it needs’ (‘Don’t Call It A Dream’), which is how this feels, small-caps sense, which is a title that makes me think of a Crowded House song and maybe this is played somewhere, Freaks and Geeks say, did we watch that the heartbroken night before Christmas where I walked to Dennistoun to eat dinner and it didn’t snow but it could have, why not, make love. Life’s bad teen comedy is a situation tragedy of the not-going-forward, into the absolute and the man who has walked five times past my window this morning, now he carries Sophia’s cereal. Summer is crawling across the bad efficiency of risk assessment and I miss trains, even buses, mostly the lightfast feeling of passing by an evening sea. Bluest of green and bluey greenness a mad men would write in the advertised plural…Like a praying mantis, this is a common species of pain.
If you fold into a leaflet. If you let this go. The caterpillar crawled into the last of your Tennents, yellow can left by the river, distant tin, and it grew on that fizz into the county sensation of other nostalgias. The cough syrup afforded by terminal contract, it sticks us to base and we want to go further, cherried, flex our last before cutting season. If I spread my wings for however long it needs to be summer all over, the clairvoyance of airborne diseases and how we began as larva is just wage precarity. I look at such attic moths across the moon as is permissible in lyrical chrysalis / fruit pickers required in the north / and you choose not to kill One hour after the other, starting to hatch. I feel not gnat. Summer takes over the longest passage in To the Lighthouse and it is choosing to not read, milkweed all over your throat, it is choosing the patience of the old cicadas. But I am thus plucked and I float. What does Alice Notley mean by pastly?
To be known for spirited performance, the caterpillars fuse in devious multiples. The past is a margarine tree that you climb and I wait for you there in the climbing, spreading myself on toast like stars or tiny seeds of pollen the cataclysm would otherwise eat, being as selfish as saying ‘my brain was glowing’, not same as before, my friends just pretend to be ants on facebook. Big <3. Guitars collect sex at the gift shop. The light vibrates in the loss and it’s lemon and green, it’s in major key, it’s trying / you can’t treat it.
Whatever / fuck modernism / if it can’t be in favour of insects / I can’t feel the blood inside my capillaries. Better to sit beneath the breadfruit trying to describe paradises you’ve never even been to or won’t or can’t. What he said of lightspeed and photons, bright infinite pop, answer the question, the little ellipsis in O’Hara’s ‘Now It Is Life…’ and I’m pulling all away, the fuzzy excess of the cygnets, the dog that refused, the picture not taken. The additive lyric, the flash of ‘Vanished’, the casual vernal sensation of having been here before and loved it. General keyboard smash and it’s all there is now, here, you can have the nothing that turned…
Running a workshop on Friday 15th May, 1-2.30pm as part of the Stay at Home Fringe Literary Festival. Free & all welcome.
In his book Modern Nature, Derek Jarman refers to his home in Dungeness as ‘the idea of my wilderness garden’. Suffering with AIDS-related illness, Jarman tends to his windswept crop of plants and flowers as a way of staying in time, planting for renewal, resilience and tending to the cycles of the seasons. As we find ourselves confined indoors, this workshop asks how we might cultivate our own wilderness gardens in writing. What arts of noticing can we practice to keep attuned to ‘nature’, our bodies and the tiny changes of daily life occurring alongside the monumental dramas of our contemporary moment? We will experiment with journaling, free-writing and asking what it means to write, dream and feel through crisis.
April, the quarantined month is sweet. Not cruellest, for that would be February. What is the human capacity for crying exactly? I had cried all 28 days to water the snowdrops, saved the 29th for one great, acidic cry of my life.
April, I dreamt you had leapt from the hole in my head / and the hole in my head from the length of your light.
April, we name our sadnesses arbitrarily. The sadness is a euphemism for what we are tired of saying, and even saying ‘these times’, and even saying the strangeness. To live in the sadness or strangeness, say
April, a shattering epiphany that I still
April, my kindest regards.
April, the dying narcissi.
April, I never signed on to be locked indoors, never signed on for these losses or debts. Never signed on for these sadnesses and yet they are happening, belonging to someone in pain upstairs, lending a movie, tending a wage.
April, the sadness of paragraphs.
April, I watch you teach at a distance, blue-dimming with cans of juice.
April, The Baudelaire Fractal.
April, the pedagogy of longing. I lose dull words. I teach myself not to need you. I learn to need the living itself. Lil Peep screams in my ear, ISN’T LIFE BEAUTIFUL / I THINK THAT LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL. This is a kind of instruction.
April, the sarcasm of flowers.
April, I walk in the underpass reading the red paint, Make the rich pay. The president is everywhere and nowhere, confected aleatory; a bad rhizome, the president has bleached his words. Tap root political, it can’t get out. The water doesn’t flow here. There’s lead, but no leader.
April, I found a Jason Molina lyric buried in a poem by Peter Gizzi. I had been writing about the undersong but this was ‘Oversong’, the verb ‘to be’ eclipsing ‘me’.
April, I wander the lonely rhubarb clouds, an hour or so. The world on edge.
April, there’s lead in the water.
April, I would polish your cutlery.
April, someone on the radio is defending his advice on a bleachy digest.
April, say hi to Angela for me.
April, where are your showers?
April, what would I ask of your showers?
April, the poems. Mary Ruefle filling the 22nd with sunflower hearts, or was it her friend, ‘Please Read’. How I misread wilted for waited, waited for wilted. Seeds of words. How I knew nothing about the orange blossom excepting its smell, which I drunk so hard, not knowing the name but only how passing a top-note I wanted it all perfumed within me. This form of quietness akin to heat or light. Who would design this, and all that beauty.
April, the air is cherried with synonyms. You spit out the coolest noun for this.
April, I eat breakfast at six in the evening.
April, you are teasing me with readings and the old response; I have no ability. My year folds back into last, remembering the burn in my stomach, wanting to get there fast and slow, the scenery seen from a train. Manchester blossoms before Glasgow and the song about the orange room, the pinks in the street, the wondering. I did not know then that I would take you, carry a little seed in me.
April, I have so little to say.
April, sprained ankles.
April, the canal is glistening at dusk.
April, the supercut / us.
April, in these uncertain times, you are the discount. Please let me out for a walk, on all things said, the passing around of a line.
April, James Schuyler remembered you to a French pear and the sulphur-yellow bees. I was nostalgic also, pollinating the document with all my normals. What difference it made. They said a world.
April, the pollen set free.
April, the edge of the world is grey.
April, the sunlight’s adultery.
April, what sex?
April, fuck you, that was yesterday.
April, I’m reading Lee Harwood again for the sea that I miss. Infinite sea that I miss.
April, I want to run down the slope of the universe and think a single intelligent thought.
April, they are absolute units.
April, the rivers are so low I’m starting to think ‘they’ need sertraline. Sweet relief of the rain.
April, fuck it I love you.
April, it’s always somebody’s birthday and now they’re blowing out candles on Zoom.
April, you buy me groceries.
April, I’m starting to think I once met a girl called April. She wore her hair in elaborate braids, and the kirby grips shone in the sun the one day in July when I ate ice lollies by the fountain at the end of all I remember. The roses were over-watered, all colours of the sun. Generous, redundant, you tossed in bank notes to wish this was over.
April, Lee says ‘her beauty undresses the sea’. You picture that, the flicker where the dress is the same as the blue as she is the sea.
April, I wear blue and roll myself out where the sun would set.
April, I can’t stop quoting Clarice.
April, I want somebody else’s salt.
April, the pink moon, the Lyrid meteors.
April, there’s something I want to delete.
April, I was crying for the violinist on the radio, crying for those in her apartment, dying. Two of them, she said, barely in their forties, choking up.
April, I felt like a meme. A bad guy.
April, make the rich pay.
April, it was so on the nose the writing was giving me zits and I’m sorry. Keep thinking this is it this is it this is it and I’m sorry.
April, this stamina of maintaining the romance of living.
April, naming us yellowest flowers.
April, a lunar-resistant photography sings.
April, give me the negatives.
April, it all started on the eleventh. I went a ritualised cycle in the sweet warm rain, with flies stuck jewel-like to the sweat of my chest. I kept going and going until my heart gave out a charitable breathlessness.
April, you have a shark smile and I wonder what it is you might do to me.
April, I really miss Nice ‘n’ Sleazys, pints of Guinness, gigs & readings.
April, the air is a silver curve.
April, you are thousands of results.
April, the change I can’t have.
April, the little black cat tried to get in the door and for a while we sat there and then scooping her up I held her awhile, her wee beating heart next to mine. The warmest thing in weeks. Her glass eyes looked to the curve-glass moon and we both were momentary slivers. I went inside and washed my hands and the soap bubbles… and I hope she got home eventually.
April, it felt stupid as a miracle.
April, consider the orchid.
April, it made of us talking heads. I dreamt I went through the screen and it was all a quiet darkness of matter, having read Karen Barad, having watched Twin Peaks. Is it that you go through your own eyes, zooming, watching to see what they’d do in the afterglow, repeating yourself. Here is the other Maria, etc. I watched you on someone else’s story, like a bad cartoon, the bad rehearsal of all of our laughter, a bad white powder.
April, I hate this.
April, my pins and needles.
April, Marianne Morris says ‘Never lay in the dirt elated’.
April, my dad sends me pictures of lambs.
April, it gets so I don’t want to call anymore because it hurts more not being with you in the summer, the summer, the amiable feeling.
April, the president says to try light and heat.
April, you are rice cakes, sadness and crushed velour.
April, the world is not primed or administered.
April, ‘they’ failed ‘us’, etc.
April, blue masks lay on the pavement like plasters afloat in the pools of my youth and I wonder whose wounding was minor, to take that off.
April, I swim in it.
April, a lesson.
April, I felt in the fortress of dreams the falling into after-this. On a spinning top at the park by the beach and we held on forever / and all my old friends were shining.
‘Hear me, hear my silence. What I say is never what I say but instead something else. When I say “abundant waters” I’m speaking of the force of body in the waters of the world. It captures that other thing that I’m really saying because I myself cannot.’
— Clarice Lispector, Água Viva
I crawl like an insect down the ladder
and there is no one
to tell me when the ocean
— Adrienne Rich, ‘Diving into the Wreck’
On becoming a body,
the little abundant shines and its pores are clotted with dust.
I saw what sound it was a wave makes
when startled by gestures towards this torsion
a long beach, the false irrigation of beautiful islands.
The melody was a long intimation of losing faith
in what is meant by a certain colour, not
this blue which runs in the prussian rain.
I want to run up the spine of your back
and settle the amygdala city, tie
my lyrical wrists in mobius fibres
and return the rights to speech.
Do you want to continue?
He was born and beautiful,
he might have seizures. We interfere in definition.
The depression of time is a beautiful curve
in the small of morning, named
after the call you wanted.
Blue dust of feeling.
Blue dust of biblical name.
I worry for his tiny heart.
in the radical millions
when I say this bird
is a nameless bird, plotting
and pecking the wreck
I go down
in such hunger
I go down
The world is stuck.
I sing to you
in the echo, in the rich
and greatest loss.
Who hurt us?
I had a dream we were swimming
in the San Pedro Bay, just like the video
it was almost sunny. There will come a time
when my car won’t start
if I ever have a car
in a lightless world
the structure of passion is a ritzy hotel.
Your hour is a fucking astronaut.
Imagine Disney injected
Imagine a fire in the minibar
at the back of your mind.
As the relation to your wreck
I call it ship, I still want
the elsewhere conduit of thoughts
to sign my brain as treeware
in the black black gold
my oleochemical, fear of soap
and gaussian world is a kitten.
She burns it all up.
On becoming this back-lit
history of pixels, we pour into jars
the last of sea-glass, liquid shingles, I cut the bird
into salad I cut this sort of pristine hope
to feed the kitten.
I thought the picket
was shining in rain, a sound.
Something is drawing us out.
I make a romance from your shoes
and the kissable way of these days
is a no-show, mewing, the marketing
of genital shame, the apocalypse breakfast
tastes of salt. Come back into my life,
I always found you
with a breath laced in pesticide,
a currency of morphine
back like a thrush, I want to wreck
the multitude of this song
with its hyperthermia, its oil-made
hide of feathers.
You want me to be less literal,
littoral I like your wildlife.
what we see
What can soak
up the dark this good.
I like your messages.
I like to react with my abstract halo.
The rediagnosis read depression, to kill
not clean the long and beautiful rain.
Prising the daylight from its packet
I want April, a lot
of lilac song.
I go down to the nervous water,
deep in mammalian blood
I am, I am
not breath, not bird
my body is a poke of air
in the book. And it lets in
the crudest wind, reminder of gold
in the room where we woke up last October
in my father’s house
in the valley
where frost never leaves the cornicing forests
or sets its voice to speak
for the sodas and junipers.
If we could just avalanche into orange
like the song, Mount Eerie would be a genuine place
to kill or not kill the birds we oiled
in the prussian rain, they gleam
doesn’t in the colourless streets.
We share a little nest
of noctilucent materials.
I was jobless
as the natural light, listening
to your comedown opening chord
which is to say, I think we should stop
seeing, I think we should stop
seeing at all. I roll around
in the oil of this
to sob uncontrollable
to stop trying to see you
if a former love should fall
very cool, like a two-minute Uber
costs less than lunch.
could break me
the ultimate mosh is us.
I have said that he could and he could
I have said that too much.
To float like capital
back to your panic
I smooth my sleepless residuals.
Ducked it, ducked it
you come back, holding a blink
that time is a gleam, we had a guest speaker
passing out in notional
structures of passion.
I wrote everything down.
It is a wreck to think in the beautiful rain.
It is all that dissolves
I hope to meet in code someday
again, to set this
in parenthesis, very lightly
choosing to run
the artificial palms
horizontal across your eventide.
This was all ours in the poem.
Prospering, we’d know
so much more than mineral
in the flotsam
way, a lot of coffee
fills our faultlines
and the tar sands sing, and the quicksands
go astray, what of the waters
don’t touch what we were
to sing something
hurting, to rainbow
the quoted weight of your heart
is only debris
I go so long in the rain
to break her
I go so long in the run
as to make a beach
in loops of oil
to empty my purse
of mermaids, to feel like
the only decorated islands
in the United States of America.
This poem was written following a talk I gave on Energy (W)rites: Telling the Embodied Stories of Energy, as part of The Curatorial Fellowship: With the North Sea series at Peacock Visual Arts, Aberdeen. It responds specifically to Lana Del Rey’s ‘The Greatest’, where the mournful twangs of a classic rock ballad play out over sunset scenes of Long Beach in the San Pedro Bay, whose four decorative ‘Astronaut Islands’ were built in the sixties to camouflage offshore oil derricks and muffle their sound pollution. Classic rock is a genre and industry founded on oil: vinyl is a type of plastic made from ethylene (found in crude oil) combined with chlorine (found in salt). PVC, the resultant material, is a highly toxic form of plastic, for both our health and the environment. Perhaps it’s only ‘natural’ that Lana would style a kind of vinyl-nostalgia to sing of various kinds of tainted existence. If her earlier work was dubbed ‘Hollywood sadcore’, we might note this recent aesthetic shift as something more like ‘anthropocene sadcore’: where the cinematic eulogising of wasted youth, ‘the greatest’ American Dream, is played out against the false beauty of late twentieth-century petroscapes. But alongside oil there is also water, and the brilliance of light, tone and pigment. There is haze and trace and repeat. Lush tints within variant opacity. A khoratic space where the colours soften or harshen into each other and something of form is held between, with varying paleness or intensity. It could be Billie Eilish singing of ‘burning cities / And napalm skies’ in the apocalypse unconscious of her song ‘Ocean Eyes’; it could be a flare of orange burning into Grimes’ ‘permanent blue’, its elegia for opioid bliss and extinction. The weird pleasure vistas of a scene we can’t quite name. An improvised blur or break. What the water speaks as a force of shimmer. The accompanying visual works are by multimedia artist and sculptor Jack O’Flynn.