A Theology of Thunder

The peculiar tale of the discovery and ordering of this manuscript will be told at a more apposite 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.

With regards to the numbering of the individual epigrams, the translators have here grouped the terms in order of likely relation, given the variety of their array and depth in the cave. Roughly (and this will be gone into in more detail in later articles) the lower the appended figure, the deeper into the cave its hieroglyphics were found. Numbers in square brackets indicate the rough location of repeated forms of the epigram, but changed. For example the repeated refrain of epigram 2 repeats unchanged within the system of carvings several times. But the figure of 21 [1.1] is one of these altered carvings, that appears in (roughly) position 21 but also appears redacted in position 1.1, which is to say, related to carving 1 spatially, but struck out, or reversed, or written in a different hand. One of the deficiencies of our manuscript is that it does not indicate which of these separations has occurred. But we considered that even an unsatisfactory preliminary exposure to these texts was worthwhile to readers of this series.

We will of course update you with any exegesis we receive of the religious system here denoted, and of any further carvings that come to light. If you are reading this, we assume you are of high-caliber and fully suited to do the exegetical or theological work required. We look forward to receiving your suggestions.

A quick word for the working title. Originally we had intended to replace the title which casts anachronistically back western intellectual categories into the ancient past. One of our interns suggested Vrontinalia but again, that seemed unacceptable. We assume that a new title will emerge in time through academic consensus.

– The Text –

1 The white moon is rung with haze.

2 The storm has no parent but rises out of the past without ancestor.

3 The storm neither breathes, nor holds its breath, but breathes and holds silence within itself.

3.1 The storm propogates out of itself in shapes different and indifferent, in the limb, the nose, the eye, the limbic system.

4 The storm is peace and war, and fear and love echo from it.

4.1 The storm is peace – thunder brings the force of silent contrast.

4.2 The storm is war – lightning breaks the branch and water breaks the land.

4.3 Fear echoes from the dark storm but love is bright in the eyes beneath it.

[…]

5 Nothing can stop the storm, neither can it be held back from where it wishes to go.

5.1 Only by moving the land under it, or by moving upon that land can an end be found.

5.2 The storm moves on, and beneath it the land changes, or does not change.

6 The air is heavy with rain.

6.1 Quenching will bring emptiness and fill the land, and press it down.

6.2 Water is heavy as rock, and yet the storm holds it dark in the sky.

6.3 A feather is light, and yet the storm brings it to the surface of the water.

7.1 The storm has an eye but cannot see.

7.2 The storm has arms that cannot touch, and cannot help but touch.

7.3 The storm has no head, and so when it thinks, it thinks only in patterns of water.

7.4 The thoughts of water guide the sky.

8 The storm cares not where it strikes.

8.1 It will strike the same place again and again until that place is wrack, as no custom has reach over thunder.

8.2 The storm’s finger points but does not blame.

8.3 Blame is for the breeze, and the small branch that taps on the window.

[…]

10 The storm cannot be read, for the world has tried to read the storm and failed.

[…]

12 When it rains, it pours, or the pour is missed.

13 [10.1] The storm is never the same, for sameness is never present within it.

13.1 [10.2] The storm is never different, for difference is not present within it.

14 The storm has no parent but rises out of the past without ancestor.

15 [5.3] The storm rests in the sky whilst it boils in the cup.

15 [1] Every day the goose flies low under the black clouds.

16 [2] The storm is afraid of the spiders web, and of the dew on the grass, for the spider is sharp and straight, and the dew is a small jewel.

16 [1] The moon’s black belly holds within it the storm, therefore watch for the black moon if you search for the storm.

17 [5.4] The storm tears when it moves against itself.

18 The storm will strike down the highest first, but will strike the dancer before all, though it loves a dancer.

18.1 The storm cannot abide disregard.

19 The storm is sad and slow, and the storm is fast and joyful.

20 The storm will wake the sleeper.

20.1 The storm draws unto one all who hear her.

20.2 The storm will wake and draw all unto one who hear her, and all that cannot hear her, but feel her.

21 [1.1] The storm is heralded from afar by thunder that ties time to the land.

[…] the storm without warning […] shores [illegible]

22 The storm has no parent but rises out of the past without ancestor.

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/

Two Poems

A Visit to Sylvia Plath’s Grave

Seeds of grass, pods of a clock
rock in the wind which picks up
and the dog barks once – we climbed
up green cobblestone steep street
and playground to Heptonstall
saw the abandoned ship drift
along a gravestone sea-path

and bump against the present.
It talked, the wind, it said words
from a wind tongue, softly, out
of itself in hidden verses.
A button is enough, placed
In her dirt. Sigh with the breeze,
over the empty space

The Ouse

The river never rests – pushed
by its own waters, it runs
pulled forward with earth-mass speed
round the bend in the land depth,
and at every moment, rain
sinks from the hills around – ends
with a collapse, its own path.

It is so fast and soundless
this – small orgasm of force
trillionfold, rumble drowned.
So perfectly the river
is loved by the rainfall – I
would have such friends

Loki

Okay. The colours of the world
are so bursting from everything
when I drive the car home that I cry
or almost – just to see the patterns

how subtle, how elementally subtle
there is no easy way to say this
how the greens between greens are vast
hold whole languages with space to pass by.

the trees at the traffic lights, with branchmass
reach out for a future less worrisome
in a concorde of orange, yellow, and greens –
Fireworks pretend to the complexity

and brightness of these trees.
This is not hyperbole. Reach, I say.
I go home and make the beds
for my family, forget the night –

except your eyes, holding mine
like a caught spider in their blue fire
never relenting, and your smile. My friend,
I create endless worlds to match it

Two Poems

Crowd

The vast pack turns now – howls
it echoes in the dark
locks of the valley cliffs
The whole hive mind stiffens –
an enemy appears
and soon becomes shadow.

The light of the howlers
is a dim-burning light
not hot like communion –
cold; cold as hill mist tears
that graze clean the day’s grime
From forgotten arches

Running silently through
damp places on the hill
Babbling under black clouds
And devouring, slowly
At first, skin from your flesh
And then, thoughts from your brain

Sun Worship

And as poetry dies a death
or is reborn – which is
the same, until it isn’t
And the sunlight takes on a sharpness
And the world begins again to end
quite unlike a mint falling to the floor
and breaking
cleanly in two upon the tiles
and the sheerness of thought stacks
so steeply –
Did not a roman slave walk
the dry paths of this split-cream coast
Does not this man hang such
washing as has never been bettered
in the warm air
Does not the mother walk a beach
as her dog exacts nothing from
the sea
as slow the waves pull down the coast
and the sun’s fog blurs horizons
and a thousand small discomforts –
there is still much to do
even on last days, which may fade
walking through a sliding glass door
as if to return shortly
but never returning (all this
in the sun)

Here, look up through the parasol
at the sun encased in black fabric
does this seem gaudy to you?
The prehistoric stands on a cliff
watching those same horizons
as the birdcalls change.
Ask for help from the sky-trails
as they spread into the blue.
Note the ferocious beautiful
of pre-bomb flares falling on the city
But note you may be thrown off the bus
by those who don’t understand
that a flower can exist in a wasteland.
Place your hands often on
warm heads of hair –
Cope like this – in sunlit ripples
on some body of water
some body of air

Aphorisms 1

Often, the cry of the cynic is one of jealousy towards hope. I know this from personal experience.

*

When someone gives up on a joint project, it takes on the features of glass – cold and transparent. And behind it you see the back of the one who left. If the joy you shared was real, the project will feel emptied by their disavowal.

*

I love it when it rains, I love it more walking in rain, living it. I love thinking on the memory of a good storm, but sometimes that is easier than going out and making new memories of the storm happening right now, outside.

*

There is something beautiful in taking something meant as an insult, and wearing it as a badge of honour. It throws light back up the ass of the insulter.

*

A translation is an excuse to write something new under another authority.

*

“Whatever such a mind sees is the flower, and whatever such a mind dreams of is the moon.” A state we should strive for, so long as we remember that, not only beautiful, still, and peaceful, the flower has the nesting insect, eating it from the inside out. And the moon is bright, and hangs outside of our world, but lunar craters are cold, dead and sterile.

*

In poetry it is sometimes easy to look for crunchy language, rather than a true picture, or letting one build its surface over the other. But then, capturing things is not the kind of thing language does, like a graph, or a sum, or a photograph, despite these all having their subjective aspects, or hardly capturing anything at all. It evokes, but must evoke on the terms of the reader. But do I do any of this? Do I even think it when I’m writing?

*

The writing feels right, it isn’t like what has already been said. Some of the language that comes is new, in new ways, some of it is couched in dull or dead forms, which have to be revised. But what does this feeling of ‘needing revision’ consist of? Of resentment, of defining the succesful in terms of what I am not? Not old, not hackneyed, not used up? Writing a poem is equal parts what I like, or think is successful, and what I don’t like about what I have written, what is unsuccessful. It can’t just be one or the other. And it can be more. Sometimes I feel nothing about a sentence. Does that matter?

*

Resentment as a concept, a superiority of approach, defining yourself against Them, ‘what they do is bad and I don’t like it’, this concept has a lot to do with how taste develops. And this is okay, so long as we know it.

V.66

Short breaks in the lambent parade
of life arrive at the greasy
spoon in the market. The hot oil
soon replaces everything else

with crackling. Money slips and slides
from hand to hand around here, but
in a way somehow comforting,
like a hospital, compared to

a hospice. Rain comes in again,
an intermittent then constant
grey wash to tamp down all the days
into a lead sheet over me.

Words can be used by anyone
at any time, and this fact is
a casket leant in the corner
in a dark dickensian house.

The small bright machine in my hand
clicks and whirs and sells me products.
My low social achievement score
is indicative of distaste

towards crucifixion. I speak
and instantly eyes are on me,
disapprovingly rolling round
and round and round and round and round