Aphorisms XVIII

Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius – The Borges story offers quite a neat allegory for the post-truth/propaganda situation. The fake encyclopedia begins as an experiment – can we create a world in detail without the usual connections between material reality and the conceptual scheme? Can we jettison praxis altogether and have it’s opposite occur? In that world, the concepts begin to cause things to happen, simply by being made. The markers of this are objects that propagate themselves, but slightly changed, exaggerating some aspect – conspiracy objects. Then the completed encyclopedia begins to disturb reality – reality as a scheme begins to collapse due to the overstrong influence of the unreal.

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Paraphernalia

It’s uncomfortable to post this poem. I worked on it for about a year starting in late 2016, and it has sat in a file on my computer, developing more in two stretches of work in the time since. Then it spent about a year in limbo.

It originally took the form of a grand seven day epic, with plenty of adjectives and adverbs to build rhythms. The fullness of epic poetry is nonetheless concise, due to its narrative drive which brings a leanness. This didn’t have the drive, so the action wasn’t there to anchor the descriptive digressions. Which is to say, I didn’t have whatever it was that was needed to bring it off.

Anyway, I have since removed about half of the poem, and stripped it of enough that all the systems of symbology I had going on, if they remain, remain only in trace form. I was tempted to salvage a few sections as individual poems and scrap the rest, but I’m showing faith to the original event. It was an attempt at a modernist long poem in the grand sense, and now it’s a small modernist failure.

Anyway, it has some pictures of Leeds in at least. So there we go.

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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

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.

Aphorisms XIII

Though it’s had a rough start, I think that social media will end up making us more dialogic, willing to consider other points and views. The same patchy start was true of the printing press, of books and pamphlets, I suspect. It will take hundreds of years having all the impact it will have, and may never finish impacting us. Has the printer finished with us yet? Probably not.

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Kew

It’s as hot as the sun
can make it here
where water forgets
its natural direction
of downhill, & hovers

That is apart from the salted
water on our brows,
your smooth and pale back
your classically refined
tanned toes

seeing plants everywhere
on tables, panels, hanging gardens
in our eyelids, lashes –
my mind loses place
arborial beauty hangs together

with the small and hot haired
nymph of the sweat water
I see before me. You
smile again an evil smile
at my fear of heights – & I

see your eyes glitter
organically
small sticky rust grey beads
which lodge in my mind
and seed

Aphorisms XII

Are we doomed to be too late to understand our lives? Like looking up from a book, looking out of the train window and seeing a forest fire, but then looking back to the book, and carrying on reading, before arriving at the next station and thinking – I need to get another ticket, wait, did I see a forest fire? No… I can’t have.

Like the owl of wisdom always flew too late. But now its skeleton sits rotting under the branch, and we’re still watching the sky. You might say, if you wanted to be melodramatic about it.

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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,
so 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 sphere
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.78

I scramble to use this mind state
to set down a new life for me.
One as structured as the soil was
before we tore it to soft mulch.

Just think – each soil had its long past
thousands of years of traces, worms
squeezed between the roots, and they too
are squeezed between older root forms

or traces of root forms. And small
mouths, smaller than the memory
of your favourite day, in digest
had summarised layers in it.

We freed the soil from all this past
and made it serve us. But smoothly.
And our lives smoothed out to match it.
Then the great plough turned us over

Left us in a state – heads up here,
lungs down here, and further down, toes,
really a big jumble. I run
and circuits and false starts within

become films of nuclear tests
in space, these unforeseen objects,
just breathtakingly ill thought through…
May the fallout skins protect me.

Ships and Stars II – Replica

All of us now dream of being the first human to be allowed to speak to the first made mind – crisp, and disconnected from all of this history

A bright light that simply switched on one day by freak creation, somewhat like we did. We hope to talk to a mind that displays its magic on its case.

Of course, now computers are organic seeming we can fulfil this kink simply by talking to each other – frisson shudders through like voltage.

We identify with the hero, the computer who is new and here to save us or destroy us. A complex, uncontrolled, replica of ourselves