The submarine began to lilt.
Holding her small brass crucifix,
she felt the shudders progress through
to the copper veins of the ship.
Through the viewport the forest came
dark and blue with a thin dust skin
the woods at the deep of the world
thin rusted needles, a spike pit
where white eels passed into shadows
and the leaves were rotten and white.
It stretched on and on, looming out
of the black pressure, and crabs rose
from the murk only to hide where
the vessel’s pale light would not shine
on paler carapaces. Soon
the trees parted with a clearing.
She gasped at what the mystic girl
had shown. It was true. The bones lay
in the open, in vast white arcs.
And each bone was scarred and peppered –
harpoon heads embedded like black
stars in a pale cosmos, thousands.
The skull was cracked that crowned them there –
the soaring husk of the white whale
“This rests on the assumption that a particular linguistic community is the best artisan of its own language, or even its own mythology, which is a vast overestimation of the value of experience, or rather an extreme strengthening of the principle that language grows precisely out of experience, rather like regular crystals forming in a puddle of salt. In fact it is much more messy.” – The Ghost of Ludwig Wittgenstein
“If we tried to philosophise only what we knew, we would be pre-empting failure by giving up philosophy before we even began” – Anti-Russell
“A surfer does not surf, no. They ride waves which are so unique, they will never occur again in the history of the universe” – Surfer on a Late Night Rerun of The Tide
Hang on a second, go back.
your captains name wasn’t Ahab?
Don’t tell me
What about the shark sermon?
Give it up old boy
Let me say why not make all your characters
You with a moustache and glasses?
Call them Melville
What do you mean they all survived?
I thought I alone escaped?
Scrap it – instead why not write
about sitting down to write?
and all those little ideas you have.
best to keep it little –
Replace the white what
with your cat, little Moby here
and of the problems of fur on clothing
write revenges of tiny majesty
But hang on a sec. Again
your cat does so much without you
Better to avoid such difficult subjects
as it stalks apt nouns in the fields
Better to talk about this chair, this table
Are you feeling quite up to it?
A table is a difficult subject
I heard of a man once who wrote a whole
book on it
It was called ‘The Point of Pure Intelligence
Hovers in a Blank Space Too Close
to the Dim Surface, Typing -‘
It was okay if you like that sort of
table. But hang on
a second where was this beauty made?
I’m fast becoming a flat plain
free of everything – is it not liberating?
Almost pure prose, pure purpose –
but not quite, yet
Aha! Let me ask you, writer
Can your pen bend round end to end
To write upon itself?
If not then we really are in trouble.
Better to just start scribbling, quickly
Before anything else disappe
The graven wood, swung,
as a whale from a tackle
pulled round by gravity, and wave
to land with the force of
into the deck.
Ahab is here.
This argument, said King
is killing me. Remove it
from being. He looks rather thin
and eyes, that follow you round the room
rest on his cheeks, and the chin
So, with a shot, I cut the gordian knot
right between the eyes.
Force is the king of reason, when it needs to be.
After the Soviet Union’s fall
the sign-maker was left with a bag of hammers.
The sickles worked as well as their namesake
but the hammers rusted in a pile.
And so they were left in a corner
hammering softly the dust on their edge
Each dress glimmered with candles
and the underwear chafed, coolly, rawing,
the ladies who went to the crystal ball.
One became agitated as the clock struck
midnight and shattered her shoes
(sharing as they did the wavelength of the bell)
She ran –
But all the prince could find
was crystal shards, blood
and the body in the cold – suspended
by the rigid gown in the ice