Aphorisms XXIX

Why do we hold unalloyed engagement with a show, an act, to be the most valuable form of engagement? Especially when the matter of the art is smooth and brushes at the attention with a feather.

If you do things with your phone, to engage, it can result in a deeper engagement with the matter of the art. To make pictures while you listen to the jazz. To read the mythology in the background of a painting (here to simply look is to completely ignore the painting.) To play the videogame.

To call your friend and have them hear the music through the phone. Rather than sit, absorbed, where you will forget to be with the art, and instead just watch it. Often the alloy, hardly the element.

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A Silent Coaching

To be better feels like being a rose, opening

under the moon, a cut rose in a vase.

I want to feel like that rose, in our house –

It is an issue for me, it is unclear why –

this flower. I am involved, we are involved,

in each day, plumping ourselves like a bouquet.

The key feature is this – the satin petal,

curving, and of course the thorns. 

I assume so much each hour, I cannot move

but for assuming – If anything, I have sat

in quiet rooms, making plans for transformations

that would impact me later, my feet in the water, 

my head opening, giving me more options

for living – like absorbing the air through my skin,

and making a painting. 

I might just sit here for an eternity,

playing videogames with my friends – 

or I might eat a peach ice cream. 

I would build a world more just, and expand

into intergalactic space, a rose, orbiting these suns. 

My friend would do this better – don’t I know it.

On a scale, these options are as practical,

as ever anything was practical – a bee

climbs into a flower, brushing pollen on its legs –

that is practical.  No, I will sit in my vase,

dropping petals. Specifically, I will wilt.

Support me in this, support me

by allowing me to be away from you. Know

that I love you even as I go into the other room. 

There is no deadline for this – there is only

the living root line which knots around us, finally.

I will take a step out of the door, know I will return,

later, with flowers which you may cut and vase,

before we arrange and eat our lunch.

Aphorisms XXVIII

Condescension of Revolution – It is so easy when you look at what such an upheaval costs, first, in violent reaction and, then, the counter reaction which tends to follow. But when a political arrangement will not change, has no inbuilt manner through which to change it to make it more democratic – when the tantrums of imperial powers set their unwieldy mass behind autocracy and freely exercise and defend their monopoly on violence – then what else is there left to do? As the gridlock tightens, as reaction tightens, the temptation grows and grows…

And when democratic revolution can be undertaken peacefully, for the most part, the arguments against it are dulled to a whisper.

What am I saying here? I’m saying that there is space for a democratic revolution even in a nominally democratic system, a system which bears traces of democracy already.

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V.136

The house was on a steep. The sun
was belly button of the sky –
hot head, the red light of my blood
pearled with bright neuronal pearling.

They were shouting, I could hear it
from upstairs. There is so much love
in an exasperated scream.
In a textured chocolate croissant.

Sleep will take me soon and collapse
lose pertinence. After such days,
brimming call-centres of the heat
enrich my dreams. Hello you’re through –

Oh Sam, I know you’ve lost so much
and words are not the kind of thing
that can change our minds – but sometimes
I try to try – you were captain.

Life is a penguin, no life is
penguin egg cracked and just sizzling
on a cast iron pan. Oceans
shifted and took your ship out south.

I was stranded, you said, in cold
and night that lasted months. A light
on my far sailboat caught your eye –
you look up from your fire, and cry

V.135

and history may say alas,
but cannot help nor pardon –
ruins of empires are flowers
in Europe’s garden. Let more fall

’til empire is a lost nightmare
on endless dunes of autumn leaves.
Death-pale warriors and a king –
bearing black stars and stripes, and old –

were sent to quell humanity
wherever it was found – they cried
in joy as kind democrats died
and bestowed themselves red honours…

Now with desolated brains, shout
Vote! to us as we cry – power.
The only response they merit;
tears of sadness as we laugh hate.

All those they murder wait for them
in hell, with visitor’s tickets –
given dispensation to see
lives relived if the roles were swapped

Imperial officers scream
for their fathers as they clock it –
they are to be shot, shortly,
chopped up and put in a barrel.

V.134

I sit at the graduation
courtyard outside the function tent
drinking a red velvet latte,
and eating two halved eggs, just think.

I hover over the dry grass
and there was quiet in the shop
where I chose my sandwich. I eat
and others join me in the square

where poetry seems a stand in
for certainty – a red brick wall
a landscape of reds, wires and vines.
It’s the philosophy building.

I take a mint from a blue tin
with 50 mints in. Lunch poem.
It was onion, and cheese – the kind
which has no name. In my podcast

academics speak of poets.
I take another mint. My, my,
so many things call for worry,
don’t they. It puts me on notice

and I press my index fingers
together and against my lips.
All this. Let these celebrations,
I freshen by breath, let them in

The Witch of Endor

A worried king came to me, lord knows why
to measure his luck against the Philistines.
Strange how an eldritch technique can change
from heresy to dogma for reasons of state –
anyway, for all my murdered sisters I gave
him just enough doubt to put off his aim –
he’ll lay down his sword from anxiety, then
lie down and slide along it, slowly, to rest.
I slaughtered a calf to give precursive thanks
and fed him libation to his own pierced flank.

When the gods ascend from out the earth,
justice sees tyrants come off the worse.

V.133

The slogginess and haecceity
of the evening away from you –
trapped in a metre that repeats
while dust mites settle on my face –

make me feel like a half-played game
packed up with cards badly shuffled.
The blueness and depth of the sky –
against the gold of these string lights –

that’s the thing that passes the night.
I send a picture of the sky
through the sky to you in your bed –
it looks inky black, you reply.

//Words encrypt me and decrypt me
depending on the time. Neural
phenomenology in dreams
has a logos before language –

and reveries are chained and flayed
by the stumbling explanation.
I try to describe a rain field
which constitutes a fraught meeting

but it doesn’t quite come across//
I have homework in the morning
but for now I will listen – there’s new
tarmac on the road and it’s crisp

The Flood

The Rain: streaming with direct argument through the air.
The Sea: calm as children swam with their dogs at the whispering surface.
The First Doubts: felt by those who stood by the rivers as they rose.
Torrents: under arches, creaking bridges.
The Water: rising, day on day – perhaps we had hit a galactic cloud of ice, which melted through the plum atmosphere. But it was so relaxing that the scientists lay down, or swam with their dogs in the lakes which were overcoming the cities on the plain.
God: when contacted, denied involvement.
The Priests: unworried, they lay in the belfry and felt the water lap their ears.
The Spire: up out of the water, the church became a rock in the sea, which pierced the bottom of a boat that had been constructed for fun.
The Boat Crew: relaxed. Went into the water slowly and quietly.
Soon: the earth was blue and yet the rain didn’t stop. It poured between the stars in an unknown mechanism, doubtless to do with the meanings imbued in some partial beginning when pure energy thundered out of the centre of things.
Soon: water filled the galaxy, and then the spaces between the galaxies.
Underwater Stars: booming in the depths.
Comets: moving very slowly, leaving trails in the intergalactic ice as it spread in the manner of mould with a dispersed origin.
The Water: perhaps streaming from black holes, connected to another, drowning, diluvian plane.
The Water: glub.
The Water: glub.
The Water: glub.