Silence of the Gospel – after Paul Éluard (1926)

We sleep alongside red angels who show us the desert without microscopics and without the soft, sad awakenings. We sleep. A wing breaks us, escape, we have wheels older than flown feathers, lost, to explore the graveyards of slowness, the only luxury.

*

The bottle which surrounds the cloth of our wounds gives in to the slightest want. Let us take hearts, brains, the muscles of anger, let’s take the invisible flowers of pale little girls and tied children. Let us take the hand of memory, let us close our souvenir eyes, a theory of trees liberated by thieves hits us and divides us, all the fragments are good. Who will reassemble them: terror, suffering or disgust?

*

Sleep, my brothers. This inexplicable chapter has become incomprehensible. Giants pass by, breathing terrible moans, giant’s moans, moans like the dawn wants to push through them, the dawn which can’t complain anymore, after all this time, my brothers, after all this time.

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. 82

“All this usury really fucks
me up” he said to the door guard.
“It makes me itch? You understand?
“When I was in that cage, oh yeah

“I could feel it crawling on me
like ideograms.” The guard smiles.
Unstuck in time, he has one task.
He’s met a million like this –

Bad money driving out the good.
“Hey there fella, could you get me
water?” How easy to just leave.
But the aesthetic demanded

A more apposite fate. The guy
held the glass and slurped, with a grin.
“I can’t believe I did it, wow
“I’m finally getting out. Heh

“I really fooled those old suckers
“worthless cunts who couldn’t read me
“given half a year and the books
“I cut up.” You’re very strange, Pound

said the guard, later, down the path.
When the poet tried to salute,
the visitor grasped his daft hand
and firmly held it down. Justice.

*

The apparition of these blood spots on the path:
Petals on a wet, black, bough.

Grange-over-sands

The quicksand and sea of mud
and the sea itself, running
with cold skies as long and deep.
Trees step out from cobbled banks
and the train’s rumble stirring
the café in the pale house –
I cannot escape from this

barbaric lyric’s enclave –
with the way that the world goes on
why can I still find this peace?
Maybe I should have chosen
to be the gull, the shaggy
dog in the rail underpass
whose soft songs betray no-one.

V.81

Sunlight pours onto the woods like
a proprietary logo,
And my movement changes, I am
now able to jump slow and high,

The trees are so crisp, they are cut
from the woods and become assets –
a simple tap and hold of A,
and the wood, leaves, something would be

mine. How well the code works, how well
the random terrain generates –
seeding nettles and cow parsley
over the seasonal bluebells.

How smoothly the particles fall,
how elegant the light engine,
how quirky are the NPCs –
here comes one now, out on a jog –

How quaint! I begin an event,
someone talks and I miss the prompt –
failing the conversation. I
activate my door and head in.

Congratulations! You have found
poplars today. The next level
begins tomorrow. One percent
completion remains an odd myth.

C to M

Unbelievable. Words are meant for pages,
not to echo over the fields behind houses
disturbing the moths in their evening light.
Words are meant only for games
and this is not a game. I said stop.
You need to speak now, we’re here.
I’m here, you’re here, we’re here.
What are we playing at? What just happened?
We had an ice-cream together
and it was like the last ice-cream piece
of the ice cream puzzle. But it’s gone.
We were like two intercity kiloton trains
that missed the crash we could have been.
Ignorant that all of us crash, it’s life.

But our verdict is not stayed by vague gestures.

You are like the frame of everything;
I’m like your cracked painting.
And you’re mine. You’re my painting,
my nude by Georges Braque, a person,
but unlike any person they know.
I could never have said this til now,
it’s like someone is speaking through me,
my voice is no longer my own,
but I’m going to take this chance to say
I love you, M, I’ve said it before.
But I don’t think we ever got through
to a precise entailment of that statement.
You are the thorn in my side that I need.
You are the constant pain that lets me know I’m alive.
Or am I that to you? I’ve lost track. But that’s it;
If they tried to unweave me from this world,
they’d have to take you too, otherwise
what’s left would not make sense.
You’re like the light by which I am seen.
Without you I am not me.
We evolve together like the beetle and magnolia,
But who is which, changes.
Stop, let me make you a statue to yourself.
Let me be your pedestal. Let us hold us.
Stop, let me punch your enemies in the nose,
and redeem all your relations.
Let me become something that we become together
Let us realise that we become together.
Stop, let’s lie down here in our hole, our glass bauble
And work through everything in glorious variations
of sex, like we were carved by the ancients.
Things are going wrong all the time
And we aren’t owning it. Let us own it.

When we are hurt, we are the uneasy angel,
making uncertain vows to save us.
Now Editor, Stop. Allow us this
Of course things happen in unlikely ways,
Let’s not be melodramatic about it.
Leave the future to those who live there.
We are our fate.

V.80

Memory danger. It’s a pinch.
They’re in our heads, in our bodies
They could strike at any time. Know:
Memories are dangerous things.

They wrench our heads through time, it’s worse
even than the ground opening
and letting you plummet away.
Just to jangle from side to side

from rock face to rock face – insults
raining from their mouths. “Good lord, boy,
Call that falling!? A downy scrap
of feather would do it better.

Call that hitting your head? Go on…
Pull the other one! Try again –
Oof but that was okay, good byeeee!
AND THE DARKNESS SWALLOWS YOU UP.

So melodramatic, but yeah.
It’s like the world is scattered all
with massive invisible traps.
Bear traps with a ghost chain attached.

And then you drag the ghost around
as it complains mightily – “Please,
I’m as tired as you, my liege. But
can’t you stop that racket I’m sick”

V.79

See all the souls anchored to you
each faint and crackling golden line
like a nylon line, but neater,
each is a life you’ve saved in here.

You look like a heaven-flower
like an aurum tree. The fire-work
frozen in time, on the blue black
all the still-paths, the fizzing strings.

The key to self-hood is the gap
between what we would like to be
and what is. These things are all sent
to test us, see: to build us up

Without these moments we would fall
again, into the depths of hell
which is a flat, blank, pool of white
like milk. But tastless, vigorless.

Humans need this pain to grow full.
If there was fruit hanging from each
tree, we would never need to think,
never need a revelation.

And so, these two things connect us.
These metallic wires, our trellis.
To be saviour to each other
And see what newness can encroach

V.76

God will save you from this event
and here is how – she will give you
an soft egg, a beautiful egg.
Last one in the supermarket

cracked on the sun-baked shelf. And meat
reams and reams of gently rotting
meat in plastic packets. She wills
the whole toilet industry act,

to provide you with something clean
and needed to deck the cistern.
The power she weilds provides you
cans of sharp green beer, to last out.

And then, just in case, everyday
God in her grace provides to you
in the form of a pub, out there
in the garden, your salvation.

The pandemic will now return
all your neuroses in new forms,
stronger forms, forms like journalists,
videos of ventilators.

The fear of death will wipe you out
courtesy of God herself, show
you the emptiness of requests.
And then, silence. Your miracle.

V.75

When mercury was first designed,
it was as a lesson. Silver
and undulant like nothing else,
disguised as a solid jewel

Have you ever spilled it? It’s like
letting out a secret, unthought
and feeling the moral landscape
shift and set snare traps in your gut.

It’s fractal til it disappears,
like the ramifications of
any action. It rolls across
the surfaces with great interest.

It’s vapours send us mad, and fish
become mercurial in this
disregard they have of our minds.
To be quite fair, who could blame them.

In landfill sites across the world
it falls, year after year, into
the sources of our deepest fear.
Our breath stutters at its slick thought.

‘This is a tricky thing’ they said.
Listing it on the slate of things –
alongside sex, and time, and dreams,
and cave paintings, and tv