Playlist: April 2020

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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, step into the fifteenth century.

April, Joanne Kyger in the song called ‘Belief’.

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, oracular.

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.

April, walking outside labyrinthine over…’

April, I can’t listen to Joni anymore.

April, the crisp sea air.

April, the police are everywhere.

April, I miss everyone.

April, if I could transcend already, the froth on a latte, the password required of me.

April, I make a donation.

April, if the story is lifted.

~

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~

Cocteau Twins – Rilkean Heart

Ariel Pink – Feels Like Heaven

Phoebe Bridgers – Kyoto

Dua Lipa – Future Nostalgia

Gena Rose Bruce – The Way You Make Love

Lil Rae, Pelican Tusk – ODYSSEY

Field Medic – POWERFUL LOVE

The 1975 – Jesus Christ 2005 God Bless America

Neutral Milk Hotel – April 8th

Felicia Atkinson – Everything EvaporateSky Ferreira – You’re Not The One

Goth GF – Horse Girl

Lil Peep – Moving On

Paramore – My Heart

Double Discone – Red Light

Grimes – Rosa

Cindy Lee – Plastic Raincoat

Gia Margaret – Groceries

Laura Marling – Held Down

Jess Williamson – Infinite Scroll

Porches – Xanny Bar

Frank Ocean – Dear April

Mitski – I Bet on Losing Dogs

Pinegrove – On Jet Lag

Angelo De Augustine – Santa Barbara

Hand Habits – Flower Glass

Peter Oren – Falling Water

Tim Buckley – Marigold

Julia Jacklin – Don’t Let the Kids Win

Fiona Apple – Under the Table

John Prine – Pretty Good

John K. Samson – 17th Street Treatment Centre

Mount Eerie, Julia Doiron – Belief

Songs, Ohia – An Ace Unable to Change

Bright Eyes – Forced Convalescence

Nic Jones – Master Kilby

The Lowest Pair – Shot Down the Sky

Lana Del Rey – Bel Air

Sun Kil Moon – Ocean Breathes Salty

Outer Limits Recordings – Silhouette

Pelican Tusk – Rhubarb’s House

Roddy Woomble – Context of Midnight

~

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flotsam

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flotsam I., A3 watercolour, by Jack O’Flynn
Flotsam 2
flotsam 2, A3 watercolour by Jack O’Flynn

flotsam

 

‘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
will begin
— 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.
Glycolic, afloat
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
without formula.
Not this.
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
arterial dreams
this crudely.
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
dreaming me
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.
Lighter, somewhere
what we see
without reason.
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
west coast
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
like unemployment
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
happiest adderall
to sob uncontrollable
to stop trying to see you
as snow,
if a former love should fall
very cool, like a two-minute Uber
costs less than lunch.
Ducter, he
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
to know
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
to remember
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
each other
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. 

Flotsam 3
flotsam 3, A3 watercolour by Jack O’Flynn
Flotsam 4
flotsam 4, A3 watercolour by Jack O’Flynn

 

(NEW BOOK) infra·structure

Pleased to announce this sky-blue baby, a collaboration with the wonderful Katy Lewis Hood, has been in the world a week now, and you can order from Broken Sleep Books, for a cool £6.50.

From the publishers:

infra·structure is a collaborative work shaped over a year of correspondence between Katy Lewis Hood and Maria Sledmere. The pamphlet was written following an Association of Literature and Environment (ASLE) conference on the Orkney islands, a wind battered archipelago north of the Scottish mainland. The poems respond to this distinct setting and share a dichotomous relationship where each ‘complete’ poem is mirrored by an ‘incomplete’ sister poem. Katy Lewis Hood and Maria Sledmere’s innovative dismantling of language echoes the destructive energy of the natural world. infra·structure is a highly original, must read pamphlet.

 

Cyclone

Cloud

Blue heart

 

NEW ZINE: tiny // seismic

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tiny // seismic

an anthology of creative works that came out of a course I taught this winter/spring titled ‘Writing “Nature” and Ecology’.

featuring:

Lily Allspaugh
Andy Barr
Matilda Eker
Signe Eriksen
Rosa Gilder
Angus Gillies
Lily Kuenzler
Hayley McGaw
Freya Stone
Ina Tribukait

~

Now available to read for free as a pdf here

or via issuu, here.

Playlist: covivid+chill

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which is to say, the hours were broke a sunlight. so we put on clothes and forgot what we owed to our calendars. this ‘we’ a sort of lipid, held too long. dolphin emoji. the end of all cauterized architecture, you go out at lunch with yesterday’s virals and plans are ceasing. plans are cancelled, crisping. play this list. I miss ‘us’. which is to say, suspension is only the length of a line where you want sleep for the morning. instamatic date nights, we give up a cutlery. lap keys. calories… livestream, light. my useless tickets.

the neighbours whistle in rounds. the isotope of you and I, washing machine, say once I ran glistering to active. mindful of only day, octave, schooling the goldfish. lovely supposition _leaps_ how they memorialise touching aslant. who wishes for rain. whose moon is a size. eeeeeeeeeEEeEeeee minus. st. johns wort. curl tail. once we occupied very sofas, listening for the light to get blue and it wasn’t emergency but something was bleeding. I’d like to walk around through the back of it / skin burns in window, awhile.

¾ time is taxing me back to the snail mail, waiting for the lyrics to ‘Movies’ and put me back on the porch, and put me back on the porch where you found me. adaptive, contagious, stupid egregious. blonde mops up the politics. pretending to speak of the stars, I only mean dolphin. pipsqueak! no infinite fulfilment don’t be / foster a wallace.  soft explosive give me a sentient moment, call it crisis, therein a high rusticity. always said I was a shepherdess; now herd me a meadow of sparkling, v simple flowers.

Playlist: February 2020

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Warning: contains dairy

These Piscean days, I lose whole mornings to night. I spread every hour like butter to sleep, back to the melt-world with its length which is only the sentence, dripping at the end of the knife a line. These nights are nothing! Paragraphs are so conceptual and I am always failing to come inside them. I wake up to ill-formed texts and forget my dreams. ‘There is a type of daydreaming that can foretell the future’, Jenny Boully says, ‘a type of dreaming that explains why nothing is being written’. Nothing gives itself up this way. In the diner, pressurised to justify something of which I have nothing to say, I took my leave of the mirror. I watch butter drip from the knife that is poised on a plateau. Honestly, I would eat truffle fries with Deleuze any day. He’s like, ‘what a relief to have nothing to say, the right to say nothing, because only then is there a chance of framing the rare, and even rarer, thing that might be worth saying’. In saying nothing, I dream my days and nothing gets written. It is a process but nothing gets written. Yes you can take the menu away. 

As nothing happens, indistinguishable figures surround me and my space key sticks. The mark between will melt in your mouth. Some of the figures make violence, they bear what I can’t say of the happening. They are dripping with the fat that won’t hold language. So I am struggling to say this to you. I had this beautiful dream of the world’s oasis, its heart, not the world’s but you know whose, what that dream belonged to, what heartfreak is it the dream contends. When you cut the knife in the middle and it melts all the rainbows around it. 

Truffle smell is just vapourised rhizomes, baby.

A refuge cove, pastel-hued in some new time before dusk and dawn that was not night, unnameable, not even twilight. I feel it is a word only islanders know. I was swimming so freely in this cove, my soul was archipelago, and I knew it was the end of the world, breakfast, not the cove but everything breaking up, it was happening, at long last, and we were so calm. We were so calm in our pieces. Disaster is archipelagic these days. The other person was asking me questions, confused, and I was saying it is only that things will change, and you knew and you knew, like Nico. It all breaks up. Can I convey to you the beautiful feeling of the water, which always continues? How I touched that chalky rock like it was a planet, how I said (being spoken) it is told to believe, the scales are disordered; if we keep touching the rock it only can happen. The water surrounds us smooth as cream. The sea level rose around me; I felt rosy, I knew I wasn’t the only one — I couldn’t wait to feel truly atomic, after all. The violent figures would extinguish each other, I won’t say like love.

~

Have you heard Grimes’ new album? For me, it is more like, I felt so light I could fall above earth, like angels descending. We might catch each other on the way. Our wings would stick, like my hair in your glasses.

After the end of the world, like the single annihilation of a mountain, bmbmbm, a kind of love that eats you from the inside out. A love without purpose. I read this satirical piece in The New Yorker which goes something like, but what about when there aren’t many fish in the literal sea? What then? Is there an app for that? Someone keeps scrolling for other expressions

…and the fish will catch you back 🙂

~

The scene in my dream was like the one in Antonioni’s Red Desert, where she swims around the turquoise bay, she is so bronzed and this is the lightest moment, the music, before industry almost. Childhood’s idyllic shelter is water.

I wonder about the shelter of water. What is it to swim and not actually swim, from my perch in the city, a milky white cat at the end of my bed? You end the things you say with salt. Chalkmatter colours my black leather shoes. It only snowed or almost snowed; they salt the roads so poorly. At the end of The Topeka School, revolution just is the kid doing asphalt sketches in front of the cops. I read that book by an early winter, on the old Virgin, heading north. The full spectrum of my psyche swings between two types of moon: the black cat and the white, the lunatic cappuccino continuum. miaow / miaow / miaow. It is a foamy thing, otherwise slender, dusted w/ safest chocolate stars. I could mew for a future, should it work. I sleep through the pickets; I am wracked in guilt, I wake with a cold full of head.

Why don’t you tell me a story?
Why not yesterday’s?

Reality is bladderwrack.
My dreams are thickening; they scent so hard.

~

It is mostly, surely — I’ll tell it properly later — that the story has to come out backwards. You pull the child safely away from the water, you unravel the knotweed ribbons of time, you tweeze a poison stem from my lips. Why would you? I had forgotten the cove was an island, a place to be always alone. Robert Pattinson pulls the kelp from her belly. Why would you let her fall in love with the water? You can have these luscious, indulgent memories, salt spray, and still be unsure as to who they belong. This is our state of it now. How long had I lived in nature documentary, ambient music, instead of the freak of my heart? The freak of my heart was a golden foam. The island was upside down; its bowels were dripping into the sky, there was so much lava, gold-dripping lava. The sea all warm with thermal energy. The sea gone almost gold. I go to see a movie about the smallest glacier in the world, and Iceland is a word I cherish like fruit. 

So eerie, only the splash her legs make slicing the water. There was no sound

Two types of cat, they eat up my thoughts like golden commas.

It was between what I wanted to say. It was covered in gilt and leaf. Before I slept, thinking the unsaid is a tan line and surely if I took off these clothes you would see it, crinkling frost of gold, how the not-saying had burned the skin of my chest and back, how it was all there, so plain and white, negative scripture — what I had covered. If you could insufflate the measured lines, excoriated pores of deepest carat. Shame is expensive. Whose fault is that violence? The moon-cats, white and black, they blame the sun. The scratch little hieroglyphs from the skin of my arms.

~

It was the interruption of a ship. A wreck. I fell for it. She leaps off the rocks of her refuge cove. She fucks up, walking through the park in tears. It is only Monday. The ship is a ghost. What do we mean when we say ‘alone’?  It sailed away to a moonscape, burning. The child wants to know what that also means. Eudaemonia. The ship coming back, as it always will until the end, which is the after we’re in, we’re ever. 

I want us a mountain. The strangest isolated music, whose voice was all. I dreamt somebody was threshing corn, impossibly on the side of a mountain. There was an operatic howl from the sea. I could feel these landscapes start to collapse, this deep impending heat, inland and littoral, which would surely explode on a note I couldn’t reach.

The rocks resembled faces. I found my inlet. The rocks like flesh.

~

‘Walking thus, hour after hour, the senses keyed, one walks the flesh transparent’, writes Nan Shepherd in The Living Mountain, ‘But no metaphor, transparent, or light as air, is adequate. The body is not made negligible. But paramount. Flesh is not annihilated but fulfilled’. Am I afraid of this fulfilment? 

Every hour a transparency you catch on not-sleeping. 

Brain function down by infinite percent. 

Pareidolia is a symptom of material contingency. My transparent success of walking this back to air, a bodiless gratification, ephemeral as rainbow. It’s coming around. In time, to erase like a tan line, missing the call of a thought.

The train goes north to Aberdeen, and I want to keep going, to go as far as Inverness then west — so painfully do I miss the summer, the midges around the loch, the rich excess of Highland rain. We took photos at the mirrored curve of the road. The crazed church cat, wild heather and car rides, rice cakes. Now the light is pink on granite, there is snow on the hills. 

That break I took, listening in the corridor; ‘How to Disappear Completely’. Labour’s psychic debt is a cup of tea. And why are the blossoms here already?

~

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There’s this line by Karen Dalton in ‘Remembering Mountains’, ‘Do you think the seasons change? / Without your heart’. It’s a miracle when they do, and I hear Sharon singing it, and I love the name Sharon. I can’t stand the sight of snowdrops and crocuses, when colour still hurts because it throttles towards the overlap of the year, a loop I won’t complete. I wear it necked. They used to say I look like her. ‘Are you dreaming?’ asks the song, and I wish I was, as if I could sleep, and it is five in the morning of a Wednesday, indigo light / cheap lager, and I am watching Joan Baez on the BBC. It’s Edinburgh, 1965, and the crowd sing along in the chorus, and she is so beautiful and soft, the chords familiar, ‘O the summertime / is coming’ and I can hardly bear it, the fact of this five in the morning and the promise of leaves, long hair and warmth. Angel Olsen: ‘If it’s alive, it Will’, ‘So That We Can Be Still’. My heart among strangest cacti trembles. Whose purple heather belongs to the mountain? Her voice will carry me through the morning light, the screaming gulls, the missing sea. My cousin gives birth to a boy. And I melt on the blue I wake up to / in this flat that isn’t mine. And when the others sing along Joan murmurs, that’s beautiful

What are your favourite books to read? I used to think, I used to think…

Everyone watches in such stillness and awe. ‘I watch you grow / from a child of shimmer’, Julia Holter sings on a fragile, chiming version of one of Dalton’s songs, ‘My Love, My Love’. What belonging does the shimmer really want? It feels like the loneliest fragment, plash of a fountain, so significant. As I write this, it’s starting to snow: rich flakes of not-snow, the long and melt of it.

Remember when the world seemed plenitude. She was 24, her voice a soprano hillside, ribboned with crystal. 

Dude, the river is a drum machine.

~

There is an era I long for. 

~

When the rabbit appears, is it like Donnie Darko. 

When the rabbit appears, is it like in Donnie Darko. 

I guess I could never get the physics.

I always felt too meta. 

When the rabbit gets away.

~

‘Knowing another is endless’, Shepherd intones, ‘The thing to be known grows with the knowing’. I don’t exist apart from the knowledge of others. Somehow that’s soothing. Like never really knowing what you know of me, and not to know that. I give little pieces to the sun, like wine gums of soul. The sun could chew my life to its sugar and cinders. It gives me a tan line. I think about solar panels installed in the desert, a solar forest, a solace. Send a stupid text like, all of the funk is cherry coloured. Waft between; what bleeds of a middle, you press the knife in. They were playing it in the restaurant, ate to eight, and I knew this would happen forever, and I knew it had already happened. Black stuff gushing straight out from the centre. The bookings cease behind Billie’s lashes. She gets up to eat her ocean fish and the sky is an ocean eye, skinned by a knife.

Angelina, I had written so long — I wanted you to show me how to wash windows, like in the Pinegrove song, or how to paint the walls pink like in Betty Blue, or how to be painted that smutty colour of being extinguished. You would pull the ladder away. There is a ladder scene in a film you say is super beautiful but I haven’t yet seen it. 

~

Bright Eyes are coming back! Spotify has a playlist called lofi love. I have seven unread messages; I keep deleting the apps, choosing colours to flush the hours, wishing I was outside if I felt less ill, changing skins, crying in public — 

The republic of crying in public! The spun out sky is another seduction. I took notes, returning to Anne Boyer’s A Handbook of Disappointed Fate. I was particularly struck by her use of the word ‘encradling’. It seems this is something a cat can do. There is a fountain made of glass we cry beside where we used to make wishes. The secret is the fountain is a harvest of tears. In the dream where me or the girl was clung to the rock (who is she) and I knew that in touching the rock I would survive the end of the world. My paw on the rock, I would promise. Well the rock was whittled and polished and shaped, and now it’s a fountain. ‘The harm will come’, Boyer writes, ‘it never doesn’t’. We only cry beside it, cradling kittens. This is so metaphorical, he says in the movie. We can’t cry exactly inside the harm; it would be like trying to trace your own flesh with a cloud… ‘for the harm may also be like an entry in the encyclopedia of what has not yet been written’ (Boyer). Shamefully, I am still more interested in wishes than knowledge, even if the knowledge would allow me to be. 

                                        A waste of paint! 

                                         An elixir of less!

                                        A precious index!

~

Watching the figure skaters twist and snap their ankles on ice — temporality of wishes — love that spark snap kick when they leap and pull each other backwards, forwards. Some of them are infinite flowers. Halo selfie in lieu of sleep, so graceful I dream of the tessellating rainbows. Watching The Love Witch, Spinning Out, Parasite, Ismael’s Ghosts, The Lighthouse.

~

These Piscean days are strange and excessive. Spread rainbows from the jar by your dreams and remember the all-night messaging, the synchronised falling asleep two coasts apart on autoplay, other Aprils. You look cute without glasses. I get ID’d at Sleazy’s, give the bouncer my whisky to borrow. He’s like, ‘Good night?’ and foolishly I tell him of the day, one sip on the train. That is not what he meant. I go to Aberdeen and back. I read the whole of Patrick Süskind’s Perfume in one go. In the novel, the Marquis de La Taillade-Espinasse has a theory that ‘life could develop only at a certain distance from the earth, since the earth itself constantly emits a corrupting gas, a so-called fluidum letale, which lames vital energies and sooner or later totally extinguishes them’. So his theory is trash or whatever, but what if I am scared of the earth inside me? Mum, did I really eat mud as a kid? I gathered petals from roses and watched them float in a soup bowl, calling it rosy cologne. I love the bit about developing an angel scent, so ‘good and vital’, what happens towards the end is success. I am scared of the invented theory of an earthy sickness, so I eat truffle fries with Deleuze in my dream. I am trying to garner immunity. You have lamed my vital energies! I dab my wrists with liquid tobacco, maple and cherries. I want to seem resistant to the fluidal theory. I want the teeth to sink in my wrist, a taste of pulse. Maybe like Nan I need to get close to the mountain, melt with its snow and sleep there. ‘No one is the only one‘. I am totally extinguished. They would dredge me sick from my earthly perch and call me hahaha a virgo. Sleep has its pulse like a feline body of sugar and grass and plasma. Sorry, I’m feeling milky. Sick tidings, bro. What is the odour of fresh-fallen snow? In the library the scent is quiet. When I get stressed, sometimes I experience a phantom olfactory glitch. I smell what isn’t there, this extra-sweet and ersatz presence. What is the scent of a coming storm? Who is behind me? I joke that I can feel it in my breasts, some quip from a movie, bruising me.

Melt-world of the fridge makes ice of this milk. And who would pour it?

There are so many storms of this month you could fill a class of primary children with their names, and they would take off their coats to fly with the wind and in the Red Desert story, its central heartfreak, that was the tale of the kites, to fly by your coattails, his heart murmur that almost broke us. I was sorry to cattily tell you the story. And so to gather up those fish, get caught again, you stay inside the essay.

Pour me a storm? What of language catches.

~

From the stage on Valentine’s Day, Angel addresses the crowd, my sweet lad, and the dusk flavoured Buckfast on the walk to find you, darkest blueberry red assessed, and the gossip would settle its glitter on song, and we would have cried had she played ‘Sister’, but to fall upon ‘Lark’ was ultimate. As if she were singing Angelina, farewell or washing windows, as if we were singing along in the car and this was the long and winding road to Arran, St Abbs or Skye. We have all these earnest chats about burnout. It’s been a fair while since I’ve seen the moon, or even the news. It snows but doesn’t settle.

~

Free Love – Bones

Sufjan Stevens, Lowell Brams – The Runaround

Melody’s Echo Chamber – Snowcapped Andes Crash

Sharon Van Etten – Remembering Mountains (Karen Dalton cover)

Perfume Genius – Describe

Weyes Blood – Lost in Dreams

Culte – It’s Too Cold to Be Spring

Joanna Sternberg – My Angel

Joan Baez – Will You Go Lassie Go

Conor Oberst – The Rockaways

Julia Jacklin – Don’t Know How to Keep Loving You

Billie Eilish – xanny

Ratboys – Peter the Wild Boy

Deeper – Pink Showers

The Orielles – Come Down on Jupiter

Disq – Loneliness

Sorry – Starstruck

Kississippi – Cut Yr Teeth

(Sandy) Alex G – Salt

Nice As Fuck – Angel

black midi – Sweater

Hannah Lou Clark – Trigger Happy Kisses  

TOPS – Witching Hour

Hatchie – Stay With Me

Wild Nothing – Sleight of Hand

Grimes – So Heavy I Fell Through the Earth

Arthur Russell – I Kissed the Girl from Outer Space

Nekkuro Hána – Loverspy 

Tan Cologne – Cave Vaults on the Moon in New Mexico

Bonniesongs – Dreamy Dreams

Bright Eyes – Waste of Paint

Heather Woods Broderick – Wyoming

POLIÇA – Little Threads

The Concretes – Miss You

The Mountain Goats – Tallahassee

HOLY – Heard Her

The Hollies – Jesus Was a Crossmaker (Judee Sill cover)

American Football – Never Meant

Roddy Woomble – Everyday Sun

Radiohead – How to Disappear Completely

Lana Del Rey – Terrence Loves You

Playlist: January 2020

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I am trying to find a narrative arc for this month. It is somebody reaching out to say, I can’t let you be. There has to be a simile to describe white sheets, expensive linen and French cologne, detritus of a Joni song and the world, the implacable world beyond windows. What is this like and is it really like this. Too much world in the song. A crease is a melody also, or a cramp in the song, the bit where you fall asleep in the story. Rising and falling in tempo, you climb right into the album. In a room of friends, all of them peaking at various levels. An arc is a part circumference of the circle or curve. I only have the bassline in my head; it is a soft morning bass, ‘Forgotten Eyes’ maybe, but it won’t get me up. D. had an endless playlist and the hours were indigo, endless. I am trying to find a narrative that goes up, but it comes down and is also left, right, start + a. I forget, I forget. Nobody knows where b went, but that’s okay. Joni I’m sorry but I just can’t listen. I want to cheat and do all the levels at once.

I say there is too much world in the song, but there is so much leaf in the leaf and again it is a thing that folds, then falls. 🍃

She says the cat might look over your face before you fall asleep, paw your features, but it is only because she wants in. There was a fold in the day that we lost, because our heads were fog, because of that blur I think in plural. There were various selves I could not chart because the grid-lines were squint. Can you shorten this? Bernadette Mayer says maybe if you grow your hair long you write longer poems, and ever since she cut hers it’s all short lyrics. I want to shorten my emotions to a cut: yes, this is that, yes, say it. Imagine going into the salon and saying I want a haiku haircut. 5 x 7 x 5. Your eyelids fat wet petals of overlay. Nothing works but shapes, and I pass them silently through sheafs of language, and I don’t say much about it. 

Gold flakes off cheeks, mascara blackens my vision. Is it okay to not brush your hair or get dressed or think about anyone else’s necessity. I bring a velvet satchel to the party and empty my grief in lottery tickets. Everyone is happy. It is so easy to pick a number.

At six in the morning, watching him do card tricks. 

Is it so easy to pick a letter?

I get home at nine and while everyone heads to work I am watching Morvern Callar again, putting tinned soup on the stove, watching this film simply for the scenes at home with the cassettes and the fairy lights. Plum-coloured nail paint, that’s how I remember it. I watch it on mute, feel eerie. 

~

Google says I have to validate my identity. There is a toll for walking the way that we do, so fast, defeating the days, and I felt the bright sensation of a coming air, like this was performance. The layering…oh it was, surely, 2018 and I felt the first flakes while listening to Songs, Ohia — maybe it was ‘Tigress’. Had I known then I would buy a tiger coat, two years in the future? Drink cups of green tea in the empty morning, stalk my email? Certain messages grow in spines of grass, until they are so tall we pluck them for the gaps between speech. ‘God watched us talking in the mirror’, Jason sings, and I think I’m some anonymous, single star. 

Extinction chews us over.

You could tuck me away in the sheets; I don’t protest the air.

~

saying now when the feeling came
strongest: how I miss the future, it’s sideways surrender.
— Lotte L.S., ‘As If to Misread Song’

There was a storm, and the streets were quiet for Saturday. It felt really good to battle the weather, to write long email, to listen to Sharon Van Etten and wallow. I would only do this for a while, a week say, and then the threads would release and I’d come home soaked in rain, with extra red in my tresses, I’d say the emails were terrible flowers I couldn’t bear to read. You can read a flower like an algorithm; it takes a certain kind of smartness. Outlook says, your inbox is 97% full. That in itself is confession. My eyes smart. The flowers…they have a strange way of opening and something of poison honey in them warms, and I want them. Cats are allergic to lilies and raisins. I put petals on my tongue and think about the word ‘beautiful’; how pointless it is, and good for nothing but everything. The lecturer asked us to chew on a raisin. I listen to Jack Halberstam give a talk on nothing, the exclamation of Gordon Matta-Clark, ‘nothing works!’. Jack asks, ‘What does it mean to destitute the world?’ and I feel jaded and warm, and an hour or so later I order soup, and the soup arrives late. We talk of failed dates with the children of the sun, and know this is also study. What they said or did not say, that counts. Nothing is hypothetical, only the walls of buildings we move through. Why do you sleep in the middle of the bed.

When I first wrote this, it wasn’t raining; but now, on the flipped side of yesterday’s blueprint…

I like that bit in The Dispossessed by Ursula Le Guin, where Shivek says, ‘I am going to unbuild walls’. This initiates a general phrasal collapse, like how all of us were Instagramming sunsets at the exact same time, all across the country that Sunday. And it felt more important to look at those sunsets than read the news, collating each one, the various colours. In the car, telling F., you know I always wondered if the sun actually sets on the east coast, but now that I’ve seen it…

I can’t tell if this feeling is vertical or searches horizons to meet.

S. says, I’m going to find out where your wound is. 

Le Guin: ‘the hand you reach out is as empty as mine’. Why all the letters dissolve on the keys of my laptop, so I type in the alphabet of blur. Why all the luminous grey of Tuesday. Oil in my scalp.

~

Another question mark, a cascade of candy canes. The sky’s pale outro, my twisting gut.

Jason sings, ‘We’ll be gone by morning or be together by then’.

A.’s hair is curly again like the hair of the girls in Mystic Pizza. I think of K.’s story about the girl, is she a girl, who sheds all her hair and it is monstrous and she is chastised by society. She is followed by the fall of her own dark locks. We share teenage stories of hair loss, scaling cliffs, or in the kitchen. Sometimes I find a tiny black curl in the carpet and think of the commas still between us. 

Evan sings, ‘Can I believe in the me before I knew you beautifully?’. 

If you let all that hair like a river, if you let the stream continue. All my life feels like content repeated, the last time I saw him was the middle of summer, the last time I wore cobalt and cardinal together. I love like the rain in combination, additive river, a clarity. K. says you just need to be lucid, there’s Clarice for that. Am I also an alarmist? 

The sky is a needless worry. 

The sky is a needless worry inside me. 

I require surgery to cut out the sky. 

When they found my stupid heart, they said it was a wind turbine and set it to air. 

I had all these essays to write, I was blue.

I see chunks of time as colours: years of purple, silver and green; minutes in violent red; seconds of airy teal; golden months and bloated months of solemn navy; glowing yellow mornings; decades of rainbow; the indigo hours between me & u.

I spend so much money on pens.

I’m such an alarmist! Always messaging, messaging. Why though: mistaking her middle name for Rose, reciting other names out loud, wishing it were June and I were lost on the west coast, feeling the rain whip me out of this slump. 

~

You still exist and I feel good knowing it’.

~

Alison Rumfitt has this poem, ‘Pollution is Just a Mindset!’ and ‘We’re all going to get swallowed up by a big / whale angry at what we’ve done to all the whales’. I want to know the difference between the big whale and all the whales, like is the big whale part of the other whales, and since the speaker ‘had a dream about it’, she knows ‘it’s at least metaphorically sound’. That’s how I feel about the days now, they have to be at least metaphorically sound. That’s just the bar I set. It’s lined with tequila and milk. S. says sometimes a spoonful of milk will settle your belly, like if you are so hungover you can barely keep down the air. 

Perhaps that’s just it. The fog in my brain is pollution. I need a spoonful of milk. A glass of charcoal. In class, we swerve from the topic of stars to molecules of oxygen. C. sings don’t piss in my oat milk. There are passive aggressive adverts for Oatly everywhere and so everyone is writing about oat milk but I already had a line about poems ‘brimming with oat milk, / cornichons, kimchi’. Our best fermented days. Alison writes, ‘It didn’t look like a whale but I knew it was a whale’. That’s how I know about the fog in my brain, the long and bulking whale of it.

~

I swallow myself on read. 

You left gleaming’. 

You shouldn’t feed cats milk. 

You shouldn’t feed your child to the tiger. 

I had so many babies, they were all just poems, and I fed them to the tiger. 

I put on my coat.

The poem is a rectangle.

The whale was only algorithmic.

Is that the same as metaphor.

The tiger was soaked in French cologne.

The tiger was starving.

The whale is a wave.

The whale is a mean old daddy. 

The whale ate the rat.

I give it away for free.

The whale and the tiger, fucking each other.

I found the appropriate clip art and dragged them into your golden ratio. 

I wish it were really rectangles and not always squares.

Instagram addiction.

Our theme is ‘climate change’. 

I need to start deleting emails.

~

It turns and it turns. Make of the heart a spectacle, so you could pour it with what Sophie Robinson calls ‘dynamic emoji’, so you could feed it popcorn, synecdoche, wrap it in sheets like Kafka’s hunger artist. Harvest each beat until you are ready.

~

‘I am going to unbuild walls’ from the squares. I am swallowed in the pictures you post on the internet. Some of them simple compositions of shadow and light, black and white. Spooky quality, quiet mew. Sometimes there are people, and this hurts because people are so beautiful and knowable, but ultimately…

Sometimes, in the distance, like at the top of Buchanan Street say, we see the turbines, tressled in lilac.

I draft the email, the sky is a needless worry inside me. The future is or was always surrender, but here I am with my yoghurt, ignoring the sell-by. I want to ferment the future inside us. You can always recycle, but does it work ‘in the end’?

~

Lana Del Rey bought her Grammy dress from the mall, a ‘“last-minute silver” vintage-inspired gown’. Time shimmies.

There is a pause where she turns just so, a moment prior to smiling where you know the smile is her personal glitter. 

You can’t put it on paper. 

Time shimmies under the moon.

I start to think of paper as something you have to continually feed, so writing itself is no different from keeping a Tamagotchi, say, and it’s the telekinesis of keeping a pet in your brain. The writing is sometimes a snake, sometimes a rat. I can smell it like new rain or the sheets after sex. Time is hunger for writing. A lick of it. Sometimes I wake with a bad taste in my mouth and can hear him in my ear, screaming THERE’S LEAD IN THE WATER

I want something sultry.

I want the impression.

It’s as if all the sequins came off the dress and clotted the pipes, and I could die glamorous and pointlessly poisoned. It’s just the old way you die in writing, falling within the rehearsal of speech. I didn’t expect to see you, etc.

She looked good after all. Sometimes the dress just fits and you can get it for six hundred dollars. I sleep in those sequins because I don’t sleep. 

~

After the workshop, M. and I saw a dead pigeon. She took a photo.

~

Imagine the weather were French cologne. 

He is so lovely in the red and the blue
He is close to the stream

In motes, the arc of it caught in sun.

You take a photo, then another, another. I love this.

~

The arc is a nightclub moted
with fragments of moving lavender.

~

Sometimes it’s fine but then I zone out, start replaying these moments. The allowance of volatile quality, another baby, I didn’t open the door, I mumbled down the buzzer I’m sorry. Tesco is so empty. Lorde sings ‘But when I reach for you / It’s just a supercut’. I have to believe it all gets better. D. gives me chilli jam for Christmas, my arms are full of marigolds, C. says hello, I want to collapse. It happens again; is there memory?

Brexit message from the Principal.

All I can smell are the other expenses. Silver and gold are so much silver.

HOW DO YOU DO IT?
HOW DO YOU DO IT?

January slants backwards. I forget how to dance.

Type this / typify

Report search prediction…

I dream a checkerboard transparency and see the bars resolve. A pick-up truck is dumping a garden-load of shrubs on the Gibson Street tarmac, a place they’re re-laying; the streets resolve into alien characters, Megadrive graphics, the shopfronts boarded up. This is a different city, believe me. In the dream there is a river, a lavender river, and teenagers go there to play at drowning. There is a whole millennial economy of breath. Someone with a shaven head says, “I just wanted to forget my breath, just for a moment”. No, maybe it’s “I wanted to give up my breath,” as if that wasn’t the same as dying. No, maybe it’s, “believe me, the air is better down there.” I’m in this disaster, it held me too, and I wanted to slip in the lavender water. And J. was holding a guitar, wrapped in fairy lights, and it was just like the movie I saw on her story. 

26,240 words already.

‘What also touches me […] is the unendingness’ (Hélène Cixous).

Apparently there was snow, I stayed up all night and I missed it.

And Phoebe was singing I love you in someone else’s song. And that was enough. 

~

Bright Eyes – Hit the Switch

The Beatles – Happiness is a Warm Gun

Big Thief – Forgotten Eyes

Savage Mansion – Karaoke

The Weakerthans – Sun in an Empty Room

Brick Distributor – Another Personality

Nasari – Spoilt Milk

Danger Mouse, Sparklehorse – Star Eyes (I Can’t Catch It) (feat. David Lynch)

Sylvan Esso – Coffee

Lorde – Supercut

Mitski – My Body’s Made of Crushed Little Stars

Pinegrove – The Alarmist

Adrienne Lenker – Angels

Anna Burch – Not So Bad

Porridge Radio – Sweet

Soccer Mommy – circle the drain

Nap Eyes – You Like to Joke Around With Me

Lens Mozer – All My Friends

The 1975 – Me & You Together Song

Frances Quinlan – Your Reply

Quirke – Se Seven 7S

Double Discone – Espionage Industriel

Wuh Oh – How Do You Do It?

Palm – Memories of Winter

Hatchie – Obsessed

Pet Shimmers – Mortal Sport Argonaut

Disq – Parallel

Julia Jacklin – Body

Happy Spendy – Take Care of Yourself

TOPS – I Feel Alive

Katie Dey – So You Pick Yourself Up 

Hovvdy – Ruin (my ride)

Purple Mountains – Nights That Won’t Happen

Songs, Ohia – Tigress

Karima Walker, Dominic Armstrong, Bobby Carlson – Blue Thread

Van Morrison – Astral Weeks

Sharon Van Etten – Give Out

Phoebe Bridgers – Two Headed Boy (Part 2) (Neutral Milk Hotel cover)

Red House Painters – Have You Forgotten

Bob Dylan – Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right
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Playlist: December 2019

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There is this Anne Carson poem, ‘God’s Work’, which ends with the line ‘Put away your sadness, it is a mantle of work’. By chance, I was reminded of the poem via some post on Instagram that came up an hour ago. I want to think about this ‘it’, like how it is the sadness and also the work, and the pronoun of living, the abstract embodied. ‘Mantle’ is something that covers, envelops or conceals, it is a portion of the Earth, a sleeveless cloak or cape. Is it also the bevelled edge of a door? One can be mantled with a blush, the mark of a covering shame. Is it a mantle of work to hide your sadness, or does the ‘it is’ refer to some other thing whose outcome is that we must put away our sadness? We must close a passage of time behind us? Notice I am switching to a plural pronoun, because I have entered the poem, sharing the position of both addressee and speaker. I am the the person with this feeling; I am the person addressing this feeling. To speak at all, I am doing the mantle of work. There have been these tectonic shifts in my life of late, the underlying move or loss that is a portion of everything. ‘Put away your sadness’ asks you to imagine a physical form for the affect, a classic poetic move: my sadness is a bird, my sadness is a stone, my sadness is a rose, a scrunchie, a sea. These are things you can put away, tie back; or you can hide with a cloud, or you can dive in. Typing in ‘my sadness is a’, Google suggests: 

addiction
a smile
a father introduced
a souvenir
a smile
a text
a joyful dance
a science

It seems these things are all correct, at the present moment. For instance, I drink from this mug and I think about Prague, and how it looked in the rain of a flickering image. That is a souvenir, but it is somebody else’s rain. The internet offers ‘Healthy ways to deal with sadness’, ‘Why am I sad all the time?’ and the old adage, ‘It’s okay to feel sad’. I have been reading Heather Christle’s The Crying Book (2019) and Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking (2005). Didion insists, ‘The way I write is who I am, or have become, yet this is a case in which I wish I had instead of words and their rhythms a cutting room’ where one could ‘touch a key and collapse the sequence of time’. In one of my favourite Laura Marling songs, ‘The Captain and the Hourglass’, she sings ‘Behind every tree is a cutting machine and a kite fallen from grace / Inside every man is a heart of sand you can see it in his face’. I love the pessimistic, teenage fatalism of this album, Alas I Cannot Swim (2008), its jump cuts of warning and love and familiar pain. Is the man the whole of humankind, or men in general? What if instead of words we had the bark of a tree, its abrasive shavings; a shaven novel or heart of sand in which to bear our suffering? Dissolve is imminent. There would be the rings of your life, the brief achievements of flight, but then the fallen linen, the tired old string, the particles blown. Didion wants it all at once: a simultaneous display of the frames, the scenes of a life. You would then choose what to cut, reassemble or stow away. What doesn’t matter to be dispersed. In the cutting room, a mantle of work is required. And what of the work that is to write who you are, when what that seems is only pencil shavings, sawdust and woodsmoke? 

I have not walked in the woods for so long, and the last time it was with you. But let that not be the last. I was cloaked in so many layers; I could not get rid of the cold. It was a damp and green, needling feeling. It was not so much inside as around me

Heather Christle puts it really well, this question of the cutting room and the cry: 

Maybe we cannot know about the real reason we are crying. Maybe we do not cry about, but rather near or around. Maybe all our explanations are stories constructed after the fact. Not just stories. I won’t say just.

It is a relief to write while crying. There is something comforting about the simultaneous flow, as though letting two substances at once run through you: one being language, the other chemical; each in a woven relation. Crying, then, is the anarrangement (ana being Greek for ‘up, in place or time, back, again, anew — OED), of a state of things that are happening in life, in the body, in the social, in various temporalities. There is the before and after of a break; there is the running on, running behind, the sense of feeling this from ‘above’ or ‘below’. Like when for ages I didn’t properly eat the world was a glassy thing I was seeing from underwater, poking the ripples, falling backwards. To cry is to indulge in both prolepsis and analepsis, to slip and collapse, to blur and feel into. A friend says, you have to work through and not around it. I try not to cry about, but recognise the ambience of sadness. I won’t know until later what is really happening, what narrative this can all be placed in, or slip from. 

Somebody nearby is playing a flute really badly. 

The chime of a text message. It’s okay to feel sad. 

In the office, friends and I exchange tales of election night. One of us is trying to fix a puzzle, the other drinks for sorrow; there is a mutual sensation of violence which can only ‘end’ in blackout, keying a car, throwing a punch, posting a rant or falling through sleep’s amnesia. For a while, I could only listen to songs that came out before this happened, and before the Tories were a bad new government, which felt forever ago. 

What if daylight itself became elective, and that was the bold democracy of what it was to enter a day. Do you choose the light, or does it summon you? I just make playlists.

The moon has been flagrant of late, or was it right before. I remember seeing rainbows around the moon for days at a time. I remember that seeming too much, like I’d overdosed on the dust of this planet, like there were molecules of colour in my nose I could not sneeze or shake out. Like there was a terrible high about to happen. 

I have not seen the moon at all this week. 

I write this raining. 

A thought of the before and after which remains unfixed and semi-colonic. It is to say and not say of what was said. 

There is a special release in crying by bodies of water. I believe in a clairvoyant sadness, one that predicts some upset to come. It is the body’s sincerity of knowing. So you cry by the sea, or lately, a river. All that I have. Cry your eyes out by the Clyde. When you arrived, I was reading about the horror of purple, that ‘which hurts both sides’, ‘the horror’ (Hannah Weiner, The Fast). I wear it around my sleepless eyes. It is a bruise colour, the muscular failure to move through the day; it is a pile of clothes, a burgeoning energy of the horror. So I turn to blue, which is a star, or a gas flame because someone is cooking. 

That line in Joni Mitchell’s ‘A Case of You’, from Blue, a lifesaver every Christmas, which goes, ‘Just before our love got lost you said / I am as constant as a northern star’. And it’s that ‘I am’ that I like, the moving throughness of it, the insistence that this is and not was. Because there is something of forever which is getting lost, or a wound that is hidden and cannot be healed. That is forever opening up. For we were so close, a year ago. And of course Joni flips, deliciously, to the mundane. She asks ‘Constantly in the darkness / Where’s that at / If you want me I’ll be in the bar’. As though to look down in your soupy negroni, you would find that hot abyss from which love is turned, over and over. And maybe you’d shed a few tears in it. And you’d struggle to say the location. 

I remember dressing as a wise man for a play at school, wearing a homemade crown and parading slowly towards a manger. Somebody was acting the part of the star, and we followed them. 

Somehow in a notebook I wrote, ‘I am going to be fine. I am going to shine at it’. To be shiny in this being fine, I wrote that in a café and I remember my hands were trembling, my earrings were not real gold. 

There is this dream from last night where I wear a blindfold made of a banana leaf, and you are helping me cross this road, this road that is river. 

In Goodbye, First Love, there is a hat that floats away in the river where Camille is swimming. This happens at the end. It is either too late or too soon, and she is crushed. This is the wiki summary. From the film I remember the widening shot of the river that flows on but closes, and the sunlight, and crying as I watched this at six in the morning, after reading about it on somebody’s blog, the link now lost. It was almost spring and I had not cried since winter. Back when I would add things to my weekly list like, ‘more on lattices’, ‘a setlist’, ‘a more explicit weave’, ‘reply’ and ‘pack’.

Writing this now, am I attempting to ‘put’ this ‘away’? 

When he tried to be practical, mentioned ‘In the long run…’ I could only think of that song by The Staves. It was a churlish note, curled at the edge and not mine or yours. That night, there was a cat called Olive, a taxi to Greenbank, sleeping in a friend’s sister’s bed, waking up face to face with Sophie Collins’ small white monkeys again. In the notebook I had written in a slurred hand, ‘I wish I would cry now but I feel afloat’. It was the elated tiredness, the denial. I had a freezing shower to cool my shame. 

Climate breakdown is also a breakdown of the heart. We have to admit that. Something is always stinging, ‘I’ve been thinking’, a mug of hot water. I could not sleep, I was reading Clarice Lispector’s Agua Viva in fits and starts, which is perhaps how it demands to be read:

I swallow a mouthful of blood that fills me entirely. I hear cymbals and trumpets and tambourines that fill the air with noise and uproar drowning out the silence of the disc of the sun and its marvel. I want a cloak woven from threads of solar gold. The sun is the magical tension of the silence.

A spoon of blood, not sugar, not jam. It is the hot lump in your throat when you cry and the blood that is anyway. About to. Remember I bled for thirteen days, or was it more. It was because of hot liquid, a rush, a pill. How you nourish yourself or not. A friend says, when I cry on buses and trains I listen to specific kinds of music and pretend I’m in a movie. Is it detachment we want from that? Would there be cymbals and trumpets and tambourines in this movie? I want you to put me in it, the noise. I want to stand at the front of the gig, be buffeted. I want to be bashed around like a note that won’t break from the instrument. I want to find a post-it note stuck to my back, but what should it say? Over time, I garner respect for the sun. It is not that my nocturnal years are ‘over’, but I am wondering what it would mean to truly love and rejoice in the sun. The giver of life, not Byronic darkness. To lie in a colourless sea. What would this clarity that Clarice writes of look like, the woven cloak of ‘solar gold’, its ripples? Is it the mantle one could wear to cloak a sadness? But what if the sadness was the clarity itself? I say, I think you are brilliant. It is a mantra. It is a giving away. When the van swerved and nearly hit me, I felt the sunlight so incredibly brightly. The east coast, the sense that this was someone else’s morning. The silence remains still, and I look for it in that ‘magical tension’ of the said and unsaid, and I am doing what Didion does with her grief, the magical thinking that is arranging all these scenes at once for something to emerge as possible. That is trying to sort a timeline or feeling yourself ‘invisible’, between things, the living and dead, an incomprehensible love. 

In Ariana Reines’ recent collection, A Sand Book (2019), the pages of the final section, ‘MOSAIC’, are black. She introduces the scene that prompted this section with italics, 

The sun’s warmth kept filling me, and what had begun as a slightly above-average warmth kept growing. It was starting to fill my body, and just before I totally surrendered to it, I had the inkling this might be something like the “bliss” I had heard about in old books. I had to sit down.

What is relayed as a religious experience, a spiritual experience, is then a series of transmissions (‘MOSAIC’ is in reference to Moses). But it is also fundamentally a solar experience. I think of Laura Marling’s heart of sand, something grazed by a coming warmth, the lap of a sunlight like the sea. A hot liquid thing that is coming inside me, causing the bleed, the bliss, the generous massage of some hormone. It is embarrassing writing, it demands a hot bright mantle. To feel it, feel through it, you have to sit down. You might go to the bar, as Joni does. In fact, I write this lying in bed, as is often the way. There is nothing to set out for or plan, so much as the needling of this ‘inkling’. 

I go to see Little Women, and focus on Jo’s ink-stained fingers.

I have not been ‘on holiday’ for so long but if I did I would make a solar panel of my opening chest and lay where the river and the light would take me. I think the black space on Ariana Reine’s pages is just as important as the whitely capitalised text, ‘EARTH IS SPECIAL […] THERE IS NO “BACK” TO GET TO’. We can’t get back to any bliss other than what is felt in the present. And there has to be so much energy. Put down your phone.

Dorothea Lasky says she tells her students ‘not to have a plan, but to collect things and poems and then put them together’, there is this ‘holy idea’ of ‘emergence’. I write mostly by assembling quotes I like, streaming things down (for to ‘jot’ implies a decisiveness, an almost violence) whenever they do or don’t make sense. Text myself so the thought is received as though in reply. I have all these poems from the month I don’t yet know how to assemble. They are as much of the rain as the rain. Someone comments on a fresh sense of ‘scarcity’. 

I wish I had a river so long’. And there is no snow here. The lines feel hard and overly sweet. 

Candy canes hang upon the tree.

On Christmas Day, we walk by the canal and stop by the locks. The trees seem anorexic, as in a Plath poem; as though they had chosen to strip this pure and gleam on the water. They too will see from below, but they know a different renewal. 

I can’t say a certain five letter word. 

I want to know what the seven words are in the Weyes Blood song. 

I wish I could swim in an ocean / As cold as’ a line I can’t finish, listening to Grace Cummings as though it were autumn all over again. But people on the internet are still going wild swimming. The world is not everywhere cold. The caption reads, literally all I want for xmas. 

Two photos on different accounts of a landscape blurred by the motional train. 

It’s funny, I even wrote, ‘it’s like The Topeka School and the failure of language’. 

To sob into the warm, soft fur of a cat. 

The want of a cigarette.

Astonishing winter light.

I couldn’t finish the wine. 

In The Fast, Hannah Weiner writes, ‘I didn’t know any golden light people, but I knew a couple of blues. I knew I had to be rescued (I thought of it that way) by a blue, or someone near it’. One of my closest friends and I both Instagram a snapshot of ‘River’ on Spotify at separate points across the festive period. It is this secret, not-so-secret gesture of the living-on, the warmth and possible. I think she is one of the golden light people, in loops, and I wonder what I am, if one of the blues. Who else is a blue? But I have always loved green eyes. And the Earth, which is a globe of something like green and blue, (de)pendant on/of the universe. Whose. And I have seen the garden in four seasons now, but just barely. The scene is still swinging and won’t stop to focus. 

What Reines writes of how there is no ‘back’ of the Earth to get to. I think of the back of a tapestry: a ragged collation of stems, snipped-off threads, criss-crossing lines. A simultaneity, a mess, a work in progress. When I am trying to write about the anthropocene, about what is happening, about the earth, is it this ‘back’ I am trying to write. It is not to get back to, but a back that is happening, the other side. I have been trying and failing to learn crochet; I think those who succeed are beautiful and perfect, I won’t turn over their lovely creations. In her song ‘Other Side’, Grace Cummings sings ‘The fall of a raindrop / Returns blue to the daylight / Your mind must return / To behind your eyes’. One drop of blue can restore the day. I think of Bob Dylan’s ‘Tangled Up in Blue’, living on Montague Street, in one or more stories. The worried thread. It is like putting on makeup to stop yourself crying, but doing it anyway, later in rivers of mascara and other clichés. When you are watching a movie and the crying is about to happen and you feel it as a sparkle, because it is not about the movie for which you are crying, but something around or near the happening, the space of it, being there in the other imaginary. And then what is going on ‘behind your eyes’. Crying happens in a space. It is all the prettiness we do while we can, which is a mutual hurt, a hot slide of a tear that catches your neck and means something small and inexplicable. 

The Bright Eyes song ‘Train Under Water’ begins, ‘You were born inside of a raindrop / I watched you falling to your death / And the sun, well she could not save you / She’d fallen down too, now the streets are wet’. I used to think that song was about miscarriage, now I know it could be about any kind of love and loss. Remember when Jeremy Corbyn said something offhand about getting the train to Orkney? I dream about the sub-thalassic train sometimes, northerly moving, passing by jellyfish and flashes of shapeless light. Where are you going, where have you been. The milky unborn thing that we bear yet. Feeling sick from relative motion. It is the glassy way we watch from behind falling water, all of our lives. What touch do we really share of each other?

The air is a key change.

At the reading, Gloria says something like, we have all been thinking of writing as a practice of moving through the days, a practice of living, of marking time. Here are the days I give you in words. In Utopia, her little red book, Bernadette Mayer writes, ‘Everything you or I or anybody says always seems 100% wrong sometimes, unless you keep forcing it to be closer to the truth’. There is a truth quality, say, to the way plants photosynthesise or a starling assembles her nest. The percentage quality in which I can or cannot get out of bed, and whether you are ‘Active Now’ or in fact just barely online. Again, it is a question of green. 

Marianne Morris has this beautiful poem, the last in her collection Word / World (2018), that a friend and I once read aloud together on a patio in summer at the XR climate café, the first I’d attended. Everything seemed shimmer then. The poem, ‘Lion’s Gate’, is a prose poem of some intensity. It is about what it means to love and to hate, and what is worth keeping. I really want to quote the whole thing but I can’t, so I’ll make do: 

We do not want to go back with more questions pertaining to life on this Earth. We must learn them before we leave, loving every possible second upon this beautiful Earth, because we will not come back. We will move on elsewhere. It is like a heart breaking feeling suddenly, I see it all so clearly and I want this moment to stay. This feeling of certainty that the only thing that matters in this life is that you enjoy your time here and keep thirsting and seeking and do not resist the lessons, rush towards them and learn them all, so that you can die to yourself, die into light. 

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~

 

Green Day – 2000 Light Years Away

Caribou – You and I

Market – Told

Angel Olsen – Lark

Fleetwood Mac – Dreams

Pinegrove – Skylight

Rob St. John – Your Phantom Limb

Laura Marling – Tap At My Window

Karen Dalton – God Bless the Child

Joni Mitchell – River

Grace Cumming – Other Side 

wished bone – Pink Room 

Nirvana – Something In The Way

Wilco – An Empty Corner

Belle and Sebastian – We Rule the School

Vashti Bunyan – Winter is Blue

Connie Converse – I Have Considered the Lilies

Bright Eyes – Train Under Water 

Big Thief – Dandelion

The National – Guilty Party 

Organ Tapes – Simple Halo 

Björk – Sun In My Mouth

Eartheater, LEYA – Angel Path

Mitski – Last Words of a Shooting Star

Albums & EPs of the Year 2019

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There is a town that is not this town. I don’t think I’ve been here before but I have, and over and over, it’s what you don’t think. An elegance gets you. I sit with my back to the space heater in a living room that was never my own. We pay our landlords to leave us alone. We’re nineteen forever. The lyre is tossed across a sonnet. There is a summer we are bound for. Hey, I said, the millennium hurts. In the town is a bar and in the bar is a jukebox. I don’t have coins. The sunset is lurid, like somebody spilled all the chemicals, spilled all the chemicals. I shake out my pockets for the midtown drunks. I look for your figure. I don’t have coins. There’s only this list. Where are we are when we say where we are. The song. Bart-t-t-ender. I love this and this. I loved.

Previous lists: 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018

~

Albums:

Aldous Harding, Designer

Angel Olsen, All Mirrors 

Angie McMahon, Salt

Better Oblivion Community Centre, Better Oblivion Community Centre

Big Thief, U.F.O.F

Billie Eilish, When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go

Black Banshee, Metamorphosis

Black Belt Eagle Scout, At the Party with My Brown Friends

black midi, Schlagenheim

Bliss Signal, Mumdance, WIFI, Bliss Signal

Bon Iver, i,i

Carla dal Forno, Look Up Sharp

Cate Le Bon, Reward

Chromatics, Closer to Grey

Claire Cronin, Big Dread Moon

Com Truise, Persuasion System

Deerhunter, Plains

DIIV, Deceiver

Felicia Atkinson, The Flower and the Vessel

FKA twigs, MAGDALENE

Floating Points, Crush

Frankie Cosmos, Close It Quietly 

Frog, Count Bateman

Grace Cummings, Refuge Cove

Hand Habits, placeholder

Honeyblood, In Plain Sight

Infinity Crush, virtual heaven

James Blake, Assume Form

Jenny Hval, The Practice of Love

Joanna Sternberg, Then I Try Some More

John Coltrane, Blue World

Julia Jacklin, Crushing

Lee Gamble, In a Paraventral Scale

Leif, Loom Dream

Katie Dey, Solipsisters

Kim Gordon, No Home Record

Lana Del Rey, Normal Fucking Rockwell

The National, I Am Easy to Find

Nick Cave, Ghosteen

Plaid, Polymer

Portico Quartet, Memory Streams

Purple Mountains, Purple Mountains

Robert Sotelo, Infinite Sprawling

(Sandy) Alex G, House of Sugar

Savage Mansion, Revision Ballads

Sharon Van Etten, Remind Me Tomorrow

Thee Oh Sees, Face Stabber

The Japanese House, Good at Falling

Thom Yorke, Anima

Tiny Ruins, Olympic Girls

Vagabon, Vagabon

Weyes Blood, Titanic Rising 

Wished Bone, Sap Season

Yohuna, Mirroring

~

EPs/Singles

Aisha Devi, S.L.F. Versions

Aphex Twin, Peel Session 2

Four Tet, Anna Painting

Free Love, Extreme Dance Anthems

Lanark Artefax, Corra Lin

Laurel Halo, DJ-Kicks EP