Mudflat Archive

The barn owl is an ancient vector
on the post in the blue silence
It slips a million years between
thin bones and structures of feather –
A predator engineered by galaxy –
Mudflats in the estuary pop and click
with the worms’ horrific cryptography –
Oyster Catchers read it as they pick
scraps from the crab corpse in the pool
then are torn from the sand by desire.
Tunneling into the cliff, the sea pops
and clicks rocks against recorded time
and daylight in the tunnel sketches webs
on the vault-line of the limestone –
Striations of land are sunk into the coast
the marsh holds a sheep skeleton –
The lady joins the doomed Gawain,
topless and expecting courtesy

We are ancient predators –
our eyes scan the front and the field
shifts and pulls towards us –
folds in the land are held straight
by our mind whose horizon is fixed
even while the body scrambles –
The lord of the castle leaves Gawain
to trek a last trek to the the rock chapel
in the green-black velvet valley –
cold in the morning – the horse
shifts and breathes under them –
the image of a single carrot impressed
into the horse-mind network
Mist lifts off the sweating body of the hills –
Sleep is slight like ice on a puddle –
We could not climb the stair quietly
the wood would crack and souls stir
stilling erratic movement of the eyeball

We remember dreams – of snakes
coiled around us, writhing on the bed –
of a silent goblin, watching, still,
until he fades – and tales of animals –
bouldering to find an adder nest
suddenly, and the shock was great –
a spider hides in the folds of a bag.
The engine pops and clicks as it cools
as the road humps over the land
holding us fixed, as the earth moves.
Swallows pop and click on the wires –
Geiger counters of each other’s name.
We are naked under these clothes –
she said it herself and I can feel it –
Scars on the land of the robes –
A bird warbles and beeps frantically –
then the fell runner whose hooves
scar the peat in flight from the lord’s hunt

Swallows struck from silver hang
in the sky like the bright moon
beyond three embracing drops in glass
and the black slate of the belfry –
the university where someone sits
in the library, feet up, on the phone –
and thrift clings to the rock pool –
small purple flowers held
for convolutional identification –
I hold the hand of an ancient woman
to help her through a gate and see
the old post office by the field.
We pass her later on the way
“I did think you would catch me”
I hold a red layered geode
someone had cracked on the beach
I hold a stone like a bearded capuchin
and bring it down to pop and click
rocks on the hard edged beach

My friends, there is no end
though the sun will soon expand
and the earth be smoothed
by the weight of the turbulent sea
There is no end – the habitable zone
will slip beyond us as we cling
by thrift, like thrift to the rock –
We might build a planet engine
to shift whole seas to tack our orbit
or we might not – it changes nothing
You want to preserve us forever
but we are preserved – I declare it
We are archived of ourselves
of this moment – I archive us.
Now tie these greens around your waist
and watch the grass move under cows
who carefully avoid (though they kiss)
the bluebells

The Field

THE ARGUMENT

An itinerant treads through the fields in London, Wales and England, picking through the debris of a culture war, heading back home to the north. They record the thoughts of objects and see the others talking and gesturing, haunted by visions and dreams of the past and future. The field repeats, each time slightly differently. In each field a different assemblage – maybe a castle, or a festival, or a bird

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V.88

The lake surface is dusk-white noise –
Just so many cut paper gulls
and silhouette ducks – then the dark
cuts across this inner distance

I sit in the greying evening
reiterate a dead song-form
– that of assuming the stances
of nature. But nature is gone

and what remains is a dammed stream
and what remains is a lake house
– people moan and run from nothing
and wheeze. I can’t reach beyond it.

There’s only the monotone lake
whose forms insulate nothing from
nothing. An image of a false
image. I make my offering:

In the morning, a red dawn comes
and fixes the sky in crystal.
Intergalactic prison ships
revolt and institute the new

through law. But for now, the moon hangs
in soft focus, and swans are fed,
by fallen branches whose mirror
in the lake caresses the sky

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

Heaven

In this place rain has fallen forever – a mist, the monsoon downpour and white noise. Then the forest, the edge of a forest where blackbirds call meekly and woodpigeons shelter on the curved branch.

Lightning cracks through everything in vanishingly small moments. And thunder unites.

Spaced along the eternal border are houses, backing on to the woods and in each, the back door is open and swings slowly since the wind is slow. Raindrops fleck the glass, and wet the mat.

In the centre of each garden, one of the risen stands, staring into the swaying woods which shifts with the intensity of the rain. It is warm, and their clothes are wet. They never look away. They want nothing except to continue to look. This they are granted.

The lord’s prayer dances on their lips, but it changes nothing, and means nothing. Still they call it, whisper it, softly. Its sound is completely lost in the rain.

They seem still, and at peace. And they might be

Duck

Does any animal float as well?
Resting on this peel of thickness
pedalling slowly, and honking

Duck taught the angels
how to fly – see them now
by the barrage, watching for tips –

just put your face in your armpit
and hang there, careless –
that is how to go about it.

Lessons such as that.
And how to remain calm
in the face of such rain

After duck stands up, wrings out his coat
he waves to the angels, who nod abashed
and calmly floats off into the sky

A Theology of Thunder

The peculiar tale of the discovery and ordering of this manuscript will be told at a more convenient time. The peculiarities of its form of recording deserve their own discussion – suffice it to say that the text is a gloss of a Hittite or eastern ancient Mediterranean language unknown until the ‘Vrontin’ carving was found in the cave in mountainous central Anatolia. It is perhaps the stub of an alternative development of a primitive religion, although the inclusion of unparsable terms makes its translation very difficult. To aid in comprehension, we have entered the most likely English counterparts, although it should be remembered that, for example, the goose noted in 15 [1] is probably not any species of goose that the reader will be familiar with, although similar behaviours have been found to exist in aggregate over many populations of goose across the world. The most difficult term to translate was found in carving 3.1, where a term for emotional brain capacity was found wanting. We have used the vastly unsatisfactory ‘limbic system’ as a stand in, waiting for a time when a translator with the right powers of sight can offer up a more fitting word.

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Three Poems after Amelia Humber

Goss

After Amelia Humber

The tongue of the cosmos mouth
drags its mist along the pond –
many eyes of the coral
or barnacle prayers impact
with a soft white thud and cloud
on the world’s hill – and deeper
the deep ink behind things seeps.

I stand in the softened copse
of the shore – rain drenched but warm
unnamed white flowers blow here
amongst the heather – their heads
bob and jump in the quantum
breeze – where I once might have thought
I now dwell with the land’s power

*

Coopers

After Amelia Humber

Strobe lights over the shallows.
The marsh flows, hardly, but still
it flows here with the thin grass
so thin and black, it’s like hair.
A magnesium surface
and water, as the flock-spheres
make their debris way through air.
In the mist there are things now
things you never wanted but
were offered for your viewing –
a procession of faceless
saints, a small black sheep hovers
legless, only seen in dark,
an entirely different sky

*

Point

After Amelia Humber

With a faint humming, negate
the sky as an unreached space
(a space we can hardly grasp)
and split open a vault – to
the dark above the grave pit
ridden with frost and snowlit
pourings – through this chasm tear
see the world as it could be
bare of all ground, all solids
floating in nothingness – then
between abyss and abyss
as it sees you – iris
vaster even than god’s eye
and the pupil that screams ‘live’

*

Painting credit to https://www.ameliahumber.com/