Hello Sadness – Part 2-6

The next morning, I took my dad on a walk down the road. We spoke cheerfully about nothing in particular. On the way back to the villa I suggested we go back via the pine wood. It was exactly half ten, I made sure. My dad was walking ahead of me because the path was narrow and full of brambles, and he was pushing them back as we went so I wouldn’t scratch my legs. When I saw him stop, I knew that he’d seen them. I came up behind him. Salil and Elsa were sleeping, laid out on the pine needles, looking rugged and happy – I mean I told them to do that, but when I saw them I felt devastated. Elsa’s love for my dad, Sal’s love for me, could that have stopped them? They were equally beautiful, equally young, and so close to each other… I glanced at my dad, he was looking at them without moving, intensely, and he was strangely pale. I held his arm –

    – Let’s not wake them, let’s go.

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V.85

The cold warriors are dying
Amongst events they slip away
like the crackle of a spray can
and its hiss which turns to a roar

The cold warriors are dying
The second movement of Dvorák
lingers in the musky swampland
of Florida, among torn flags

The cold warriors are dying
falling away one by sad one
like mist withdrawing from windows
leaving thin dilemmas for drips

The cold warriors are dying
their children are melancholy
unsure quite what this means to them,
despite, of course, a soft fizzing

The cold warriors are dying
for arguments cannot outlast.
The eyes of history open
and see streaming neon glazes

The cold warriors are dying
gears that have not turned for long years
shift and let off streams of gold rust
Things are glowing with potential

Victory at Guernica (after Paul Éluard)

I
Quiet world of rundown homes
Of night and fields

II
Good faces ready for fire faces ready for full speed
For refusing the night, for injuries, for impacts

III
Faces ready for anything
Here comes the void to fix you
Your death’s going to be an example

IV
The death overthrown heart

V
They’ve made you pay in bread
Sky earth water sleep
And the misery
Of your life

VI
They say want good intelligence
They ration the strong judge the mad
Make charity divide one penny
They salute dead bodies
They barrage themselves with niceties

VII
They persevere they exaggerate they are not of our world

VIII
Women children have the same treasure
Of spring-green leaves and pure milk
And of legacy
In their clear eyes

IX
Women children have the same treasure
In the eyes
Some men have defended it if they could

X
Women children have the same pink roses
In the eyes
Each one lets out its blood

XI
Fear and courage to live and to die
Death so difficult and so easy

XII
Those for whom this treasure was sung
Those for whom this treasure was gashed

XIII
Those whose despair
Enrages the desolate flames of hope
Let’s crack open together the last bud of the future

XIV
Outcasts the death the soil and the disgust
Of our enemies has the dull
Colour of our night
We will defeat it.

Aphorisms XVI

Aphorisms can be like a diary of thought, and, like a diary, shouldn’t be considered a final opinion. But there is no final opinion. We can always speak again. And even death cannot finalise our opinions, since the possibility of opinion rests on the fact that it can be revised. It remains possible that we could have changed our mind, even after we are gone. Our last opinion is not final, in that sense.

*

Representation is never perfect, there is always something beyond, a possible beyondness to representation. But through representation we are placed into direct contact with this beyondness, and feel the real through it.

*

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A Last Grave

For H.B

If you’re there, then now would be it
the time to let an autodidact rise
with the dreams of his grandchildren

And as I say this, to myself
Under the graveyard tree, who is,
I think, nourished by the dead,
And yet lives, a breeze softly stokes
the leaves, each a red flag, and green.

A pile of ash keys against the wall
turns to dust, and the rain begins –

touching a white poppy in the field
but under the ground, under, waits
something, a crowd. A mass,
that moved once, and will move again.
For we know what happens,
when we bury a seed

Vague

Behind the facemask of my mind there isn’t a lot happening. The dullness of disaster has arrested complex thoughts with its neutralising swarm, experienced as a blank mass descending over everything like snow, or asbestos over an old factory. Which isnt to say I’m having a particularly bad time. After all kids would play in it like snow, and were presumably happy for those moments, even as the traces of later pain knitted themselves into the depths of the lung. Although I do have chronic pain of a kind, it’s really not anything to send letters home about – I can still enjoy the bubbling steam of the coffee machine that cost me £4 in a charity shop. These cheap, or at least notionally cheap pleasures help us in the mornings as they grow darker, colder, here in the north. For the best skill in life is to hold on whilst letting go, and knowing when. The chances of death are still certain etc. etc.

Stranded on the immensity of the ocean, I am treading water. The giant fish-object silhouette hovers in the deep, just on the edge of the dysphotic zone. My eyes are sliding off its almost-imperceptibility as the water laps around my ears, as the waves pull me up and down. My stomach is turning and turning to try find a way out, but of course there is none. Dread is with me in the cold water, amongst the water, invisible. My eyes are wide, and cold and I am in constant tension waiting for the attack.

Then something changes. I relax, see the surface rise away from me in its liquid glass transformations of the grey clouds. I take a mouthful of water and taste its saltiness before I open my lungs and breathe it in. It is light and cool inside me and I now hover, buoyant as the water, breathing the ocean in the dark. And moods are like this, aren’t they? I suppose.

V.84

When the angels heard an old one wake
A black supernova, eye crack
deep in the centre of the ‘verse,
trained on earth, and dreaming dead dreams

They made sure Dave got a guitar.
The birds stopped singing for a week,
just to listen, but he was kept
rapt by the way his fingers swept

chords it seemed from inner spaces,
unleafing. He joined a band, and
they did okay. But that was all
just celestial practice for

The time he was needed. The cloud
of darkness was drawing near – felt
in quarrels in the studio,
in breakups in the near future

and the slitherings of money.
The angels watched with bristling wings –
here it came. The moment planned for
so long ago. The room was dark.

At the first solo, the beast wept,
but ploughed the stars for earth still –
at the second, it screamed and tore
apart, raining down. Dave just smiled.

Aphorisms XIV

Pronouns again – A teenage girl bought the airfix. “Did she?” says my friend. But here is a place where I would say ‘they’ – uncertainty again being the aspect relevant to explaining why. I don’t know them…

*

Can there be a superlative without the disgust of the ordinary? Yes. In fact, that is a prerequisite. It’s not the difference from the ordinary that makes something superlative, but a superlative relation of that thing to us, experiencing it. And the disgust of the ordinary often slides in surreptitiously at the back. It may seem stupid to say that the best film has no relation to other films by that fact, but it is stupider to say that any film could satisfy the language game of suiting the squirly set of conditions for bestness taken in the tool like sense. The best tool for the task does that one job better than the others. But a film without an adjective, has no one task. I guess it’s a classic example of language going on holiday.

*

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V.83

I am one with all the insects
that will one day eat my body
When I have stopped, and am resting
In a sense, when resting is gone

I am one with the plants that grow
of me, in my head, in my trunk
I will give to the cold flowers
what they once gave to me: a hope

I am one with the air I breathe
that will burn me and dissolve me
for aeons, my skeleton rests
until it too crumbles like cake

I am one with the diseases
that will grind me down, as my mind
flares and splutters like a damp flare
in the faint waves on the dark beach

I am one with the words of things
the vast and tangled forest where
nothing can change without changing
everything. My paths will go on

I am one with the small beings
that fizz in and upon my skin
with legs and arms and carapace
made of me. I will be made free

A Daydream

Your face is golden in the sun,
Your body glistens wet –
Your fifties swimsuit draws my eye
I dream of its caress.

Sylvia, if I could be
A bather in the past,
I’d lift your head and kiss your cheek,
If you’d permit me that.

I’d draw your darkness with my tongue
from your deepest place,
I’d feel your heat, your grasping hand,
I’d notice in your face –

The genius of stranded souls
upon a crackling beach,
then words would form upon your lips
of poems you would teach –

the lighter horse, your latter ride,
and walks upon the crags,
some peaceful versions of your life.
Your death was such a drag.