2 December 2013

Hotel Couplets // Lisa Robertson

It was a clandestine winter of television;
We were so tired of the fashion blogs.

The moist world was doing what it could
To think at pinkish dusk.

I say this from the position of having already been emptied
That summer I heard the chora in the beergarden.

Vitality, monstrosity, sociability, anarchy—these are standing in for a kind of sensing that hasn’t happened yet.
There’s a slicing rain horizontally striping the train window.

If ornamentation can be austere
It’s a form of brutality.

I started asking questions about the sculptural values that sound has
And how authority is installed.

Describe the silence there. It’s a recording of silence
A marbling or breathing through

Of sentences coarse, heavy, and blistered
About things that weakened.

By 1650, with her outdated ruffs and loyalties, her pipes, her horses and her Roman histories
I was an overheard language. I lay down in it with my own nerves and blood.

Each has the pleasure of a new proportion.
It can’t be solved, only articulated.

Your wind, your clean sky, places, food, sleep
It all agrees brilliantly with the shape of the earth.

In this attic room with the deep blue carpet and skylight
Imagining these small actions from my chair fills me with an even calmer happiness.

I was the flexible medium of the future and the impossibility of beginning.
I was longing for the visible.

I wanted it to be real kissing, softer than god.
Thirty seconds of weightlessness as one’s inner life.

Oh breast-bone and guts
My heart’s all over my body.

Charis is the graciousness
The discretion outside effort.

Poetry // Marianne Moore

I, too, dislike it: there are things that are important beyond
      all this fiddle.
   Reading it, however, with a perfect contempt for it, one
      discovers in
   it after all, a place for the genuine.
      Hands that can grasp, eyes
      that can dilate, hair that can rise
         if it must, these things are important not because a

high-sounding interpretation can be put upon them but because
      they are
   useful. When they become so derivative as to become
      unintelligible,
   the same thing may be said for all of us, that we
      do not admire what
      we cannot understand: the bat
         holding on upside down or in quest of something to

eat, elephants pushing, a wild horse taking a roll, a tireless
      wolf under
   a tree, the immovable critic twitching his skin like a horse
      that feels a flea, the base-
   ball fan, the statistician--
      nor is it valid
         to discriminate against "business documents and

school-books"; all these phenomena are important. One must make
      a distinction
   however: when dragged into prominence by half poets, the
      result is not poetry,
   nor till the poets among us can be
     "literalists of
      the imagination"--above
         insolence and triviality and can present

for inspection, "imaginary gardens with real toads in them,"
      shall we have
   it. In the meantime, if you demand on the one hand,
   the raw material of poetry in
      all its rawness and
      that which is on the other hand
         genuine, you are interested in poetry.




19 November 2013

Text of 'K draws a plum', from issue 8 of Nyx


Another place in another suburb skirting another city...

A girl, K, watches a plum rot. It rots well. She has been waiting for this one to turn. She bought it a week or so ago and put it in a bowl with some others, willing them along. She doesn’t understand the logic of decomposition, it is composition she cares about. Drawing rotting or rotten fruit is to her preferable to drawing ripe still lives. She likes the point at which they start turning – going from one state to another (the other?). When the skin starts to separate from what it holds in, it is time to draw.

She picks the plum out of the bowl and carries it to the scrap of outside. It leaves drops of semi-rancid juice on the floorboards of the second hand bookshop she works in. No one ever goes there anymore. The owner lives in Paris on a dead Left Bank dream and his parents’ fortune. He writes occasionally published poems, some of which are actually occasionally publishable. K observes the feeling of juice rolling out from between her fingers. Splash – a tiny circle on the ground. Setting it down, she begins.

Before this, she temped in an office. She was so anxious the entire week of anyone’s birthday because she knew there’d be a card to sign – and on account of the layout of the office and her being the most temporary worker, the card always got to her last or sometimes second to last. It wasn’t just the obvious hierarchy implied in the card’s progress around the office that made her anxious, it was the fact that by the time it got to her every birthday greeting from meaningful to semi-meaningful to trite had been used up, so all she was left with was a tiny corner in which to write happy birthday and an exclamation mark and scrawl her name, attempting to mask it into anonymity. She left before her three month contract was up and now works alone for just above minimum wage, five days a week. Despite hating having to work at all, this is a good environment for her. No people to have to talk to, no-one to tut and silently will her to clean up after herself, no noise or gossip, no birthday cards.

It is enough for her to hear the ongoing motions of daily life through the wall shared with a coffee shop. Plus it is, at least for now, a real enough coffee shop so when she goes in she doesn’t have to hate herself or anyone and there are no CDs by once revolutionary folk singers for sale in cardboard display cases by the till. Hearing the sound of the bell next door chime with varying frequency depending on the time of day reminded her of falling asleep as a child with the TV on and people talking and moving around her. The sweet feeling of being alone and yet still home. She knows the names of the people who work in the coffee place but doesn’t use them.

Coffee helps her concentrate. That and the lack of a computer means she can, if it isn’t raining, sit outside most days and draw, undistracted, uninterrupted – observational pencil drawings mostly, of forms found in the garden-scrap or decaying fruit she’d originally bought to eat. She’s free from obsessions and needs to check and reference, free from pussy rubbing semi-nude Russian babes who want to be her friend, free from emails from S (her flatmate) with subject lines reading thought you might be interested in this job :). She’s free from constant connection, free from seeing the faces of dead friends and relatives emerge in sidebars, do you know X? There are plenty of art books she can refer to if needed, but mostly she doesn’t because she is being careful about what to let in. Recently K finds her drawings growing increasingly intricate and taking on an abstract, alien quality. She doesn’t question why.

The small purple-red plum degrading before her, transitioning and subtly shifting, demands her attention. Not only because it holds her interest and allows her to locate herself in the world, but because it tells her that change is commonplace, ordinary, necessary and constant. To know that though it is dying (encroaching mould threatening the purple) it is also still alive, edible even. Its juice would still bead down her forearm and drip off her elbow if she bit into it. Its small spherical form sits perfectly in her palm, fitting without complaint, its weight is just enough, its texture pleasantly abject. So she draws it.

There is no future plan for this or any of her other drawings. They feel no need to live long and prosper or become prosperous for themselves or anyone. They have no value and yearn for less. They do not need or want to be seen.

To draw a line. To draw a line from me to it, K thinks, from it to me, between us. Life line. Constant edges tremoring under passing lights and shadows. Head line. Pupils shrinking and expanding with each unknowable atmospheric change. Heart line. The bliss of all that.


*

In the inner city flat K sub-sub lets from a name she has never met, her flatmate, S, is on the phone to her mother. Her mother lives within an expensive zone of the city in a house whose value is largely based upon its ability to channel countrified charm (the farmhouse-style kitchen!), while still being located in the centre of the city. The mother is relating to S her foolproof recipe for meringues. She is thrilled to be able to share her secret (this woman has secret recipes for everything) with her daughter who will ensure its legacy through the generations. It spreads like blood on the shirt of a just shot man. Deciding not to tell S’s father about the asked-for pie-advice is wise, he’ll only negate it through not getting its significance, then it would dissipate, diffuse as dandelion fluff. Keeping it to herself means S’s mother can return to it in a pinch, anytime she worries about S – her bank account, her calves, her... prospects.

S believes in birthdays, a work life balance and her five a day. She counts them up and everything. Her body has been tested for all possible loitering infections, diseases and potential mineral deficiencies. She is not deficient in a single thing. She’s got it all.

The meringues are for the lemon meringue pie she is making for the surprise birthday party she is throwing tonight for K. Cakes are too predictable. Pies are fun. In accordance with her own private vocabulary, this is a ‘special’ birthday, the one which marks K’s ascension into her mid-twenties. A party was called for. A surprise party. S wants to be the person to throw this party because K and S will have been, by this birthday, friends for twenty years and this means something very specific to S. In the same way K knows that S’s symmetrical face means something in the world but is not sure what, she knows this twenty year relationship means something but is not quite sure what. K suspects that S still holds in her mind an ordered list of friends, from who she loves most to who she loves least. S suspects K thinks of friends as a consolation prize. Both are saddened by these suspicions. K has never had a surprise party thrown for her and S thinks she might like it, the element of surprise may alleviate any doubt.

Once, when S was a child, standing at the top of a tower looking down, she was overcome with a wonderful sense of calm, as though her insides had finally settled, found their place and function. They fit in her body as she did in the world. Watching the patterns of people from above, tiny as ants, hazily swarm and move in groups or as single dots she was able to track their evolutions and dissolutions into crepuscular Escher-esque designs. She related this story in the school playground once to K, who was so taken with her vision and strength, that she attached herself immediately.

S is ever expanding – widening, adding, multiplying herself, creating new selves for new purposes, for new modes of engagement. She can adapt and copy herself, tweak, master the new. She is able to step back and accept more and somehow not lose anything in the move. She is quite sure about life. She has her own systems and a strong, diverse internet presence. She has been publicly documenting her selected selves for such a long time that she has, from the outside at least, meshed into coherence – a wax seal, a signature. (But she knows its strengths and weaknesses.) People call her a ‘people person’ and ‘people person’ people can make things happen – facilitate, host. And a good host throws a good party. It’s important, S thinks, for anything to be able to happen at a party, within reason of course, she adds.

S prepares the flat, tidies, distributes ashtrays, text-reminds the guests. S prepares herself, exfoliates, plucks her eyebrows, shaves her legs, scrubs the dead skin of her heels, combs her hair, files her nails, paints her nails, applies layers of makeup, rubs her body with slightly iridescent moisturising cream, accessorises, highlights. Behind her eyes flash magazine images of new kitchen units, vintage tiles and unthreatening taxidermy. When she couldn’t sleep she’d plan her perfect home, designing every detail of every object. When she could, she’d dream of being inside an egg or swimming in a good bit of sea, warm hollows, cool clear water.

S has been preparing all day, and planning for longer. She is excited and can’t wait to see K, still her favourite person.

*

K stops in a park on her way home from work. She watches the long shadow of a brown butterfly on the grass creaking its wings. The shadow’s border keeps shifting on account of the subtle sway of the grass holding it. It is made of two motions: the butterfly’s and the grass’. Its ephemerality stops her from sketching it; that and she is busy laying out a picnic for herself in a small homage to Denton Welch whose In Youth is Pleasure she is just about to start – a birthday present to herself. She eats cheese and bread, she reads, that’s all.

When the sky turns and it’s too dark to read, K bikes home. S had told her she would be out and they would celebrate at the weekend so K is looking forward to having the flat to herself. She is lost in the pink sky caught in squares through tower block windows, she is keen to maintain her quiet reverie.
Perhaps objectively her building is not beautiful, but K likes it: people leaning over brick balconies smoking idly, ambitious geraniums precluding brick with their crimsons and corals, sometimes she even secretly enjoys the smell of urine in the lift. Before she goes in she watches for a moment a tribe of ants carrying leaves of what should be proportionally unfeasible weights. Occasionally she wonders if she envies them, their roles and relations are so clear and simple, ritualised and efficient, but she doesn’t know how to find out, it’s not the sort of thing you can ask. Still, knowing there are life forms far, far, far smaller than even ants made her feel like maybe she stood a chance or something.

She is thoroughly surprised when she opens the door. People leap and yell and smile and K is only still and terrible.

My body’s filling this room like a bad smell, she thinks. So much of it. Everybody’s looking at it, waiting for it to react, willing it to visibility. Some faces I know, some I don’t. Their expressions are paused, eyebrows struggling to stay raised, smiles faltering just slightly. I am molten and spreading. I am obvious as an adopted child, lacking the mannerisms of the rest of the family. Stillness, drinks levelling in glasses after the initial surge. People willing themselves not to start looking askance at each other.

Eventually K reacts, dispels the smell, opens a window. There is only one reaction. Anything apart from it would be savage, inarticulate. She regurgitates, only slightly off cue. Her body approximates girl-form, her voice gone but speaking.

Palpable relief. Dancing commences, sweating continues, stalled conversations restart. People nestle back into their seats, into wherever they were, into each other. The room swells and lives again. Nicknames are bandied, private jokes, each with their private history, come public. Banter replaces conversation, a ball thrown back and forth, to drop it would be suicide. S says ‘mingle!’ to K, a word that’s never sat well with her – germs mixing with other germs combining to make supergerms. Breaking in from the outside instead of breaking out from inside. Why must she talk at all? People are needy and insistent as mosquitoes. Bloodthirsty too. A duty to be coherent, to make sense, to express inevitable secrets and shames, to be intelligible, to be at all. Where she is there is nothing, no insides, no chatter. Soft as snow. Quiet like after a disaster. A dream to live without even the embellishment of a body, to know the territory and relate to it. Nothing more.

In the moment before she reacted she hated S. K knew S would have spoken to her mother and asked for special people to invite. She knew her mother would have loved S for it and willingly emailed a list of names and numbers with a desperate little note at the end emphasising the importance of inviting men, nice men. S would have pretended the hint was subtle and emailed something funny and tasteful back. K’s mother would have closed the laptop and sipped her coffee and had precisely one moment’s peace before allowing the next thing to worry her. S would feel, through some cosmic force of femaleness, K’s mother’s pain at having so barren seeming a daughter.

Tripping, tumbling, hugging, always someone crying, kissing, gossiping, dancing, bottles, ashtrays, rolling laughter, music, abandon. Someone asks K whose party this is. Faces flip from young to old, she imagines these people ageing, no she sees them ageing before her eyes, certain lights, certain expressions, the beginning flecks of grey, widow’s peak, crows’ feet. All these landscapes. A girl bent backwards in a dance. Lines white and straight as the centre of a road. Smoke. Suddenly the sofa has room for six, everything is possible. Vertiginous stacks of records, precariously balanced cans, cups, glasses, surfaces rising to catch inch long bodies of ash. Slips and slides and smiles, what is meant and unmeant. Their acrobatics are admirable. S is a fantastic drunk – practically Roman with it. She watches and merges, somehow through merging she sees.

K feels stupid and maybe she is, maybe she has become stupid, stupefied. Fingers find no pulse. Inside a shell, under the sea. Pain and love and pleasure throb and retreat, always throb and retreat. Arhythmic flows. Too much outside, clamouring, demanding, fascinating, repulsive. Infinitely multiplying contemporaries. Seeds sprout, hairs grow.

S catches her eye from across the room. K smiles. It’s obvious for a brief moment what is happening and K is ashamed. When they were teenagers riding the bus to school together K would watch S’s eyeballs flicker as she looked out the window. She knew her own eyes were almost certainly doing the same thing and that it was natural and reflexive but still, it made her want to comfort S somehow. At those moments she felt most separate from her. And now, sometimes S’s energy made K nervous, uncomfortable. S would bustle about the house, constantly moving, cleaning, replying to emails, cooking, working, never seeming relaxed or content. To S contentedness was synonymous with apathy. She crackled in a way that set K’s teeth on edge, like she ought to brace herself for something. K senses S trying to get close. Seeds sprout, hairs grow, things always push themselves out.

*

Retreat.

K’s room. She stripped it herself. Nothing now but bed, desk, chair, drawers. But what, she wonders, does my liver taste like? Her brain a fat maze full of jingles. To be delivered from waste. The pleasure of the crowd next door accumulates like pressure compacting her brain into fossilised lumps revealing no ancient secret – this thing could never fly, we were right, pack it back into the earth. Airless spaces. But what, she wonders, are my insides brewing?

Through the rectangular window across the rectangular courtyard, over the painted rectangles and curved lines of the basketball courts, she looks in through the windows of her neighbours which checkerboard across the face of the rectangular building comprising the opposite block. Some lights are on, some off, disrupting the regularity, some windows are open, some closed, breaking the image of solidity. Sometimes she can see straight through their flats, the windows align depending on her position and she sees through to another sky, another world on the other side. She sees them, their screens, their computers.

Life insurance advert starring a once famous and relatively subversive male comedian. He plays the ghost of a dead white suburban father helping his family pack for their holidays. He says things like don’t forget your goggles Jack. The punchline is you only realise he’s dead at the end when the homely teenage daughter says it won’t be the same without dad to the mother who has never once hated her children or doubted her life.

Woman at a computer, only eyes and forehead visible, furrowing and relaxing between problem and solution.

Teenage girl dancing maniacally in her room, a window open filtering Oh Bondage Up Yours! mixed with Britney’s Piece of Me.

One person at a computer, another leaning over to see whatever it is making the first person laugh so hard.

Hands open to show honesty, eyes wide, imploring us to save something.

Animated blue capsules floating above the mouth and crotch of racially non-specific animated woman – curved shoulders, round hips – a promise of relief.

Pulling open a drawer a woman’s hair tumbles over the side of her face, obscuring all but the tip of her nose.

Heterosexual white teenagers at a house party enter an empty bedroom and start making out on the bed. The boy forces his hand down the front of the girl’s jeans, she tries to stop him but is overpowered. From behind a glass screen another version of the same boy bangs on the glass with his fists screaming don’t do it.

A beautifully laid table. Across it one man cups the cheek of another, they kiss.

The obese opposite neighbour in pink string vest sitting outside her front door smoking cigarette after cigarette.

A group of young men playing a trick on one of their friends, another young man who looks exactly like them.

Pink geraniums.

The reflection of a well in the teardrop rolling down the cheek of a starving African infant. 

Yogurt in tubes.

Stretching to draw a curtain.

Animated neon monsters colonising a toilet seat.

A man on the telephone beckoning his wife over to hear the good news about their debt consolidation, she in an ecstatic fervour.

Lettuce bouncing through air.

K is connected to everything, without metaphor. To imagine a line into the air and it be fire.
The dancing teenage girl sees her, they lock eyes, she laughs and waves, K returns both. She continues dancing. K smiles, looks away. Her room again. Stripped. S said, this is a sign of moral madness. S said, compose yourself.

One picture left hanging on the wall among the oily blue tac marks and pin holes (a pockmarked face). It is of her own reflection taken in the mirror of a steam filled bathroom. For reasons she will never know, some ghost inside the machine, the photo looks nothing like her, it does not even look human. The almost-face appears in the right hand side of the photograph but it is greenish. Where the eyes should be are neon yellow slits. Everything else is black.

The wall breathes at her. A vulgar open pore. The windows see. To be sealed is to be beautiful. Beyond this room, taste and touch. Sweat on a lover’s lips. But what then of that occasional florescence that blurs the edges of her skin? Evidence of absorption and emittance. Detection of a song from next door – a beacon, a call, a beam.

Inside the song a voice that is more than a voice, and inside the voice a world that is more than a world. The world swallows the voice, the voice removes the world, the voice becomes the world. The singer has connected her spine to her lungs to her brain to her throat to her cunt, bending them beyond their elastic limits into a new plasticity. All moving in one ecstatic yes.

K’s nerves rise to the surface of her skin – a semblance of heat.

The voice sings her insides out and draws the outside in, it cannot resist her nor she it. They entwine until there is no difference, until she is so much with it and it is so much with her that (at least for the duration of the song but always in a way) it becomes hard to tell them apart. Although this kind of union always necessitates a departure, a break that has to happen to avoid total subsumption, a trace will carry through, the trace will become a scar, the scar will build toward new flesh. A ring inside a tree, a star.

The plum disconnected its skin from its flesh, its flesh from its stone. And yet. Composure. Dissipation.

K gently tears the drawing of the plum out of her sketchbook. She sticks it to the wall. She knows exactly why. 

12 November 2013

An American Poem // Eileen Myles

I was born in Boston in
1949. I never wanted
this fact to be known, in
fact I’ve spent the better
half of my adult life
trying to sweep my early
years under the carpet
and have a life that
was clearly just mine
and independent of
the historic fate of
my family. Can you
imagine what it was
like to be one of them,
to be built like them,
to talk like them
to have the benefits
of being born into such
a wealthy and powerful
American family. I went
to the best schools,
had all kinds of tutors
and trainers, traveled
widely, met the famous,
the controversial, and
the not-so-admirable
and I knew from
a very early age that
if there were ever any
possibility of escaping
the collective fate of this famous
Boston family I would
take that route and
I have. I hopped
on an Amtrak to New
York in the early
‘70s and I guess
you could say
my hidden years
began. I thought
Well I’ll be a poet.
What could be more
foolish and obscure.
I became a lesbian.
Every woman in my
family looks like
a dyke but it’s really
stepping off the flag
when you become one.
While holding this ignominious
pose I have seen and
I have learned and
I am beginning to think
there is no escaping
history. A woman I
am currently having
an affair with said
you know  you look
like a Kennedy. I felt
the blood rising in my
cheeks. People have
always laughed at
my Boston accent
confusing “large” for
“lodge,” “party”
for “potty.” But
when this unsuspecting
woman invoked for
the first time my
family name
I knew the jig
was up. Yes, I am,
I am a Kennedy.
My attempts to remain
obscure have not served
me well. Starting as
a humble poet I
quickly climbed to the
top of my profession
assuming a position of
leadership and honor.
It is right that a
woman should call
me out now. Yes,
I am a Kennedy.
And I await
your orders.
You are the New Americans.
The homeless are wandering
the streets of our nation’s
greatest city. Homeless
men with AIDS are among
them. Is that right?
That there are no homes
for the homeless, that
there is no free medical
help for these men. And women.
That they get the message
—as they are dying—
that this is not their home?
And how are your
teeth today? Can
you afford to fix them?
How high is your rent?
If art is the highest
and most honest form
of communication of
our times and the young
artist is no longer able
to move here to speak
to her time…Yes, I could,
but that was 15 years ago
and remember—as I must
I am a Kennedy.
Shouldn’t we all be Kennedys?
This nation’s greatest city
is home of the business-
man and home of the
rich artist. People with
beautiful teeth who are not
on the streets. What shall
we do about this dilemma?
Listen, I have been educated.
I have learned about Western
Civilization. Do you know
what the message of Western
Civilization is? I am alone.
Am I alone tonight?
I don’t think so. Am I
the only one with bleeding gums
tonight. Am I the only
homosexual in this room
tonight. Am I the only
one whose friends have
died, are dying now.
And my art can’t
be supported until it is
gigantic, bigger than
everyone else’s, confirming
the audience’s feeling that they are
alone. That they alone
are good, deserved
to buy the tickets
to see this Art.
Are working,
are healthy, should
survive, and are
normal. Are you
normal tonight? Everyone
here, are we all normal.
It is not normal for
me to be a Kennedy.
But I am no longer
ashamed, no longer
alone. I am not
alone tonight because
we are all Kennedys.
And I am your President.

Whoever You Are Holding Me Now in Hand // Walt Whitman

Whoever you are holding me now in hand,
Without one thing all will be useless,
I give you fair warning before you attempt me further,
I am not what you supposed, but far different.

Who is he that would become my follower?
Who would sign himself a candidate for my affections?

The way is suspicious, the result uncertain, perhaps destructive,
You would have to give up all else, I alone would expect to be your sole and exclusive standard,
Your novitiate would even then be long and exhausting,
The whole past theory of your life and all conformity to the lives around you would have to be abandon’d,
Therefore release me now before troubling yourself any further, let go your hand from my shoulders,
Put me down and depart on your way.

Or else by stealth in some wood for trial,
Or back of a rock in the open air,
(For in any roof’d room of a house I emerge not, nor in company,
And in libraries I lie as one dumb, a gawk, or unborn, or dead,)
But just possibly with you on a high hill, first watching lest any person for miles around approach unawares,
Or possibly with you sailing at sea, or on the beach of the sea or some quiet island,
Here to put your lips upon mine I permit you,
With the comrade’s long-dwelling kiss or the new husband’s kiss,
For I am the new husband and I am the comrade.

Or if you will, thrusting me beneath your clothing,
Where I may feel the throbs of your heart or rest upon your hip,
Carry me when you go forth over land or sea;
For thus merely touching you is enough, is best,
And thus touching you would I silently sleep and be carried eternally.

But these leaves conning you con at peril,
For these leaves and me you will not understand,
They will elude you at first and still more afterward, I will certainly elude you,
Even while you should think you had unquestionably caught me, behold!
Already you see I have escaped from you.

For it is not for what I have put into it that I have written this book,
Nor is it by reading it you will acquire it,
Nor do those know me best who admire me and vauntingly praise me,
Nor will the candidates for my love (unless at most a very few) prove victorious,
Nor will my poems do good only, they will do just as much evil, perhaps more,
For all is useless without that which you may guess at many times and not hit, that which I hinted at;
Therefore release me and depart on your way.

11 November 2013

meat / blood / memory / war

excerpt from ITSOFOMO (In The Shadow Of Forward Motion), a collaboration between artist David Wojnarowicz and composer Ben Neill, created in 1989. The full length piece is nearly an hour long and includes 4 videotapes, Wojnarowicz' spoken texts, and music by Neill. ITSOFOMO has been performed and exhibited internationally and includes the same footage that Wojarowicz used in the film Fire in My Belly.



also from ITSOFOMO:

When I put my hands on your body on your flesh I feel the history of that body. Not just the beginning of its forming in that distant lake but all the way beyond its ending. I feel the warmth and texture and simultaneously I see the flesh unwrap from the layers of fat and disappear. I see the fat disappear from the muscle. I see the muscle disappearing from around the organs and detaching itself from the bones. I see the organs gradually fade into transparency leaving a gleaming skeleton gleaming like ivory that slowly resolves until it becomes dust. I am consumed in the sense of your weight the way your flesh occupies momentary space the fullness of it beneath my palms. I am amazed at how perfectly your body fits to the curves of my hands. If I could attach our blood vessels so we could become each other I would. If I could attach our blood vessels in order to anchor you to the earth to this present time I would. If I could open up your body and slip inside your skin and look out your eyes and forever have my lips fused with yours I would. It makes me weep to feel the history of your flesh beneath my hands in a time of so much loss. It makes me weep to feel the movement of your flesh beneath my palms as you twist and turn over to one side to create a series of gestures to reach up around my neck to draw me nearer. All these memories will be lost in time like tears in the rain.

When I Put My Hands On Your Body - 1990

10 October 2013

Two, of a kind, a kind of two

a new kind of rhythm, a new, kinder rhythm, a kinder new rhythm, kind of a new rhythm, a rhythm new of kind, rhythm of a new kind, of rhythm -  a new kind, of rhythm a kind, new! kind, new, rhythm of a, of kindness a new rhythm, a kind - new of rhythm, of a kind new rhythm

her kind torches houses, her kind houses torches, torches her kind houses, houses her kind torches, her torches, kind houses, her houses, kind torches, houses torch her kind, torches house her kind, her house torched kindly, kindly torch her house! her kind houses torched... torch her kind houses, house her kind torches

an apostrophe indicates a kind of loss, a kind of loss an apostrophe indicates, loss of a kind an apostrophe indicates, indicates a kind of loss an apostrophe, loss of a kind indicates an apostrophe, loss of an apostrophe indicates a kind, a kind indication, an apostrophe of loss, a kind apostrophe, an indication of loss

and Anne Sexton, 'Her Kind'


I have gone out, a possessed witch,
haunting the black air, braver at night;
dreaming evil, I have done my hitch
over the plain houses, light by light:
lonely thing, twelve-fingered, out of mind.
A woman like that is not a woman, quite.
I have been her kind.

I have found the warm caves in the woods,
filled them with skillets, carvings, shelves,
closets, silks, innumerable goods;
fixed the suppers for the worms and the elves:
whining, rearranging the disaligned.
A woman like that is misunderstood.
I have been her kind.

I have ridden in your cart, driver,
waved my nude arms at villages going by,
learning the last bright routes, survivor
where your flames still bite my thigh
and my ribs crack where your wheels wind.
A woman like that is not ashamed to die.
I have been her kind.

(listen)
I have gone out, a possessed witch, haunting the black air, braver at night; dreaming evil, I have done my hitch over the plain houses, light by light: lonely thing, twelve-fingered, out of mind. A woman like that is not a woman, quite. I have been her kind. I have found the warm caves in the woods, filled them with skillets, carvings, shelves, closets, silks, innumerable goods; fixed the suppers for the worms and the elves: whining, rearranging the disaligned. A woman like that is misunderstood. I have been her kind. I have ridden in your cart, driver, waved my nude arms at villages going by, learning the last bright routes, survivor where your flames still bite my thigh and my ribs crack where your wheels wind. A woman like that is not ashamed to die. I have been her kind. - See more at: http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/15297#sthash.1hPB2xm9.dpuf
I have gone out, a possessed witch, haunting the black air, braver at night; dreaming evil, I have done my hitch over the plain houses, light by light: lonely thing, twelve-fingered, out of mind. A woman like that is not a woman, quite. I have been her kind. I have found the warm caves in the woods, filled them with skillets, carvings, shelves, closets, silks, innumerable goods; fixed the suppers for the worms and the elves: whining, rearranging the disaligned. A woman like that is misunderstood. I have been her kind. I have ridden in your cart, driver, waved my nude arms at villages going by, learning the last bright routes, survivor where your flames still bite my thigh and my ribs crack where your wheels wind. A woman like that is not ashamed to die. I have been her kind. - See more at: http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/15297#sthash.1hPB2xm9.dpuf
I have gone out, a possessed witch, haunting the black air, braver at night; dreaming evil, I have done my hitch over the plain houses, light by light: lonely thing, twelve-fingered, out of mind. A woman like that is not a woman, quite. I have been her kind. I have found the warm caves in the woods, filled them with skillets, carvings, shelves, closets, silks, innumerable goods; fixed the suppers for the worms and the elves: whining, rearranging the disaligned. A woman like that is misunderstood. I have been her kind. I have ridden in your cart, driver, waved my nude arms at villages going by, learning the last bright routes, survivor where your flames still bite my thigh and my ribs crack where your wheels wind. A woman like that is not ashamed to die. I have been her kind. - See more at: http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/15297#sthash.1hPB2xm9.dpuf
I have gone out, a possessed witch, haunting the black air, braver at night; dreaming evil, I have done my hitch over the plain houses, light by light: lonely thing, twelve-fingered, out of mind. A woman like that is not a woman, quite. I have been her kind. I have found the warm caves in the woods, filled them with skillets, carvings, shelves, closets, silks, innumerable goods; fixed the suppers for the worms and the elves: whining, rearranging the disaligned. A woman like that is misunderstood. I have been her kind. I have ridden in your cart, driver, waved my nude arms at villages going by, learning the last bright routes, survivor where your flames still bite my thigh and my ribs crack where your wheels wind. A woman like that is not ashamed to die. I have been her kind. - See more at: http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/15297#sthash.1hPB2xm9.dpuf

9 October 2013

from Cocteau's Le Livre Blanc

Nothing embarrasses me when talking about sexual relationships, but modesty holds me back when I come to describing the tortures which I am capable of suffering. So I will describe them in a few lines and not mention them again. Love breaks me in two. Even when I am calm I live in constant fear that this calm might cease and this anxiety prevents me from enjoying its pleasures. The slightest setback ruins everything. I find it impossible not to see the worst side of things. Nothing prevents me from losing my foothold, even if I have only slipped. Waiting is one form of torture; possession is another, through fear of losing what I possess.

Doubt caused me to pass wakeful nights walking up and down, lying on the floor, hoping the floor would sink down, eternally down. I promised myself that I would not say a word about my fears. As soon as I was in H's presence I plied him with complaints and questions. He said nothing. This silence either drove me into a frenzy or else made me weep. I accused him of hating me, of wanting to kill me. He knew very well that replies were useless and that I would start again the next day.


13 September 2013

'The exquisite corpse shall drink the new wine'

sky opens like heart, heart opens like sky, like legs, like cunt, like mouth, hinged, hungry, little birds, like fingers, spread against blue sheets, green sheets, grey sheets of rain closing sky, white sheets of paper rippling outside revealing patterns of air, hung over edges to dry, blue sheets, green sheets, over edges, head hung over edge, supine, feline, palm upward, skyward, to receive, to give, fist opens into palm, palm skyward, to detect, to bestow, palm closes into fist, to fight, to drag, knuckles graze along ground, beads of blood like marbles each one, joining in rivulets running down ranges of knuckles, gathering in pools at the wrist, a reflection, not ugly not beautiful, clear, pupils dilate, hungry, spread against face, against blue green sheets of face, the lashes, the shifting colour of irises, now brown, now green, petals in ones and twos, love, not love, ardent yellow centre like yolk, dumb with pollen, one function, pulling legs off ants, off spiders, love, not love,

pillowcase, unrumpled, pink, cat paw grit, big toe, craned neck, toss this way, toss that, nothing becomes fire, sticks against cold, nothing becomes fire, black freckle in green eye, blue freckle on white shoulder, blue nails, red lips, flight of stairs, foot kicking empty cigarette box, foot kicking mouthful of teeth, red lips, beads of blood like marbles, joining in rivulets running down ranges of mouth, gathering in pools at the hollow of neck, a reflection, clear and ugly as sin, sinner’s reflection, clear and ugly, beheading, behearting, short wooden boxes, coffin, confession, operations of hurt, zip zip zip bag is closed, door is closed, arms are closed, mouth is closed, eyes are closed,

in missing bodies fall apart, shoulders, head, headless body, cock, fingers, strewn across blue sheets, green sheets, murderous, murderess, destroyer, white hand, pink tongue, wet cunt, blue nails, brown curl,

in missing bodies come together, new logic of bodies, new bodies of logic, far and near, one, another, a new monster, fingers, brown curl, wet cunt, head, shoulders, white hand, cock, pink tongue, headless body, blue nails,

together in lines, words, fresh monsters, new things,

a game of Exquisite Corpse -

6 September 2013

Ploughshares

Lyndsey Reese has written a little essay about a story of mine on the Ploughshares blog.
!

5 September 2013

Poems for today

What Was Told, That
- Rumi
translated by Coleman Barks

What was said to the rose that made it open was said
to me here in my chest.

What was told the cypress that made it strong
and straight, what was

whispered the jasmine so it is what it is, whatever made
sugarcane sweet, whatever

was said to the inhabitants of the town of Chigil in
Turkestan that makes them

so handsome, whatever lets the pomegranate flower blush
like a human face, that is

being said to me now. I blush. Whatever put eloquence in
language, that's happening here.

The great warehouse doors open; I fill with gratitude,
chewing a piece of sugarcane,

in love with the one to whom every that belongs!



Be Near Me
- Faiz Ahmed Faiz   
translated by Naomi Lazard

Be near me now,
My tormenter, my love, be near me—
At this hour when night comes down,
When, having drunk from the gash of sunset, darkness comes
With the balm of musk in its hands, its diamond lancets,
When it comes with cries of lamentation,
                                             with laughter with songs;
Its blue-gray anklets of pain clinking with every step.
At this hour when hearts, deep in their hiding places,
Have begun to hope once more, when they start their vigil
For hands still enfolded in sleeves;
When wine being poured makes the sound
                                             of inconsolable children
                      who, though you try with all your heart,
                                             cannot be soothed.
When whatever you want to do cannot be done,
When nothing is of any use;
—At this hour when night comes down,
When night comes, dragging its long face,
                                             dressed in mourning,
Be with me,
My tormenter, my love, be near me.               

13 August 2013

Sc

Orange, but dark, almost turning, almost turned, soft, perfectly so, and cold, fitting like a human heart in my hands. I scoop out cones with a teaspoon, place them among the apples, trying my patience, greed, spinning tops. Other oranges come visible through association – tangerines in a bowl (like at J’s), turmeric stained mortar (pestle?), carrot soup circles on the stove. All are circles, the tangerines, the mortar (pestle?), the soup drops, the cones. I remember the rods and cones of eyes from biology, how they tessellate behind our eyeballs chugging to make colour and depth of field.

At the end of Rumblefish when the world goes grey for Rusty James, when he goes deaf for a moment, and blind, the horror of new boundaries, new enclosures, the horror of the in/sensible...and turning back there is nothing.

In Scented Gardens for the Blind, each room a threatening mass of objects.

Is it a sin to see the world through books? Dis/association or connection-empathy?

But this cone of melting colour, the strings in my teeth, my hangnails dyed orange. Yesterday a seven year old spelled 'luscious' and told me what it meant in terms of colour, he moved his hands as he was explaining and I chided myself for being impressed that a child could act like a grown man, I saw my secret pity and was disgusted. Anyway 'sc' is the sound for that colour.

9 August 2013

“Next time I will be born not on a planet, but on a comet!” - Marina Tsvetaeva

'Exiled in Paris in 1923 the Russian poet Marina Tsvetaeva projects herself headlong into submissive space. "I was born to be carried away," she wrote, and then she was. Running between countries, using strange punctuation, dashes, exclamation marks, ellipses to write poems like telegrams, the most advanced technology of her time, she was a ball of longing projected onto the European landscape.'

-- Chris Kraus, 'Emotional Technologies', Video Green  


Bound for Hell

[Translated from the Russian by Stephen Edgar]

Hell, my ardent sisters, be assured,
Is where we’re bound; we’ll drink the pitch of hell—
We, who have sung the praises of the lord
With every fiber in us, every cell.

We, who did not manage to devote
Our nights to spinning, did not bend and sway
Above a cradle—in a flimsy boat,
Wrapped in a mantle, we’re now borne away.

Every morning, every day, we’d rise
And have the finest Chinese silks to wear;
And we’d strike up the songs of paradise
Around the campfire of a robbers’ lair,

We, careless seamstresses (our seams all ran,
Whether we sewed or not)—yet we have been
Such dancers, we have played the pipes of Pan:
The world was ours, each one of us a queen.

First, scarcely draped in tatters, and disheveled,
Then plaited with a starry diadem;
We’ve been in jails, at banquets we have reveled:
But the rewards of heaven, we’re lost to them,

Lost in nights of starlight, in the garden
Where apple trees from paradise are found.
No, be assured, my gentle girls, my ardent
And lovely sisters, hell is where we’re bound.



from “Poems to Czechoslovakia”

Black mountain

black mountain
blocks the earth’s light.
Time—time—time
to give back to God his ticket.

I refuse to—be. In
the madhouse of the inhumans
I refuse to—live. To swim

on the current of human spines.
I don’t need holes in my ears,
no need for seeing eyes.
I refuse to swim on the current of human spines.

To your mad world—one answer: I refuse.

                                      •

They took—suddenly—and took—openly—
took mountains—and took their entrails,
they took coal, and steel they took,
they took lead, and crystal.

And sugar they took, and took the clover,
they took the West, and they took the North,
they took the beehive, and took the haystack,
they took the South from us, and the East.

Vari—they took, and the Tatras—they took,
they took our fingers—took our friends—

But we stand up—
as long as there’s spit in our mouths!

May 9, 1939

8 August 2013

Fly

As I was dreaming of you, a fly – I know the one, it had been, despite the open window, or because of it perhaps, in my room all day – kept landing on me. My t-shirt, falling against my body, left exposed a sweet patch of flesh just at the top of where my arm met my armpit. This is where the fly kept alighting and waking me up. How silly that a thing as small and nothing as a fly could wake me up – not once or twice, but perhaps five times during the forty minute nap I had allowed myself, the nap I would in my dreams refer to as a siesta, because you had used that word the other day and reminded me of it and how much sweeter siestas are than naps and about Spain, where, incidentally, you now most probably were. I wonder if a cold beer is pressed to your lips yet... I grow hot at the thought of it. And so the fly, alighting there, (was it the sweat?) woke me over and again, and each time I swatted it away with the hand that was not curled beneath my head and fell back to sleep to try to dream of you again, again to try to dream of you. And each time it woke me, I woke with a deeper sadness at your not being beside me in any realm – real or dreamt – and though I felt your name on my lips I knew that that alone could not bring you to me. Instead I was left half asleep, half awake, the breeze running so along my bare legs, cooling them, and you not here but not there either, so sweet and so sad.

31 July 2013

Abdellatif Laâbi

Burn the Midnight Oil

You must stay up all night at least four times a year.

        There aren't enough crazy people around me to go further than that. A single sleepless night isn't worth much when you're on your own. It needs to be shared. Only then does the city open up to you without thoughts of death. Gargoyles carry out their work as exorcists. Muezzins get drunk on street corners. There is always a couple who get married at dawn by drawing lots. The Partisans' Chant becomes a drinking song. Satan starts to wax lyrical and hands out unbaited, red apples to the worshippers. Feet trample on a treasure-hoard of stars. The taste of sex rises in the mouth like lemon on oysters.
           
        Only vagabonds can be poets.


The Elegant Sufi
   
When the Sufi discovered English wool, cashmere, and silk scarves, he tore off his coarse, woollen robe and said to himself: 'I'll feel more comfortable wearing these cloths. They will make my genuflections more graceful. I'm going to cut my hair and trim my beard, brush my teeth three times a day, use a good Eau de Cologne as a deodorant, chuck my tattered prayer mat away and replace it with a genuine Zemmour rug. I will show myself neat and tidy in front of God and I dare say my prayers will become purer. Henceforth, I will no longer live on alms. I'm going to find myself honest and honourable work. I will mingle among my kind, become acquainted with their preoccupations, find out about their blasphemies and initiate myself into the secrets of their terrestrial attachments, taste their earthly wines, and little by little lead them back to the path of the Mystery. After all, my life would only have changed in an outward way, but I will have paved a new path towards mysticism, that of the elegant Sufis.'

24 July 2013

PANK

Hey nerds! I wrote a dirrrty story, it's at PANK. Sweet.

22 July 2013

Hand/heart

His white hand or his hand which appears white (almost as though he were wearing a glove) flashes periodically out from behind his head. I keep trying to predict when it will come again, which rhythm it is responding to or making, but I cannot. As soon as I think it has stopped entirely it begins again in a hurry - once twice or more in quick succession. Tap tap flash. But it's not quite a tap, a tap is lighter and more ordinary yet it is not violent as a slap, maybe it is a beat, a beat beat of an unpredictable heart. I sympathise. I empathise. I perhaps allow myself to think I am it and it is me. An unpredictable heart beat beat stop.

11 June 2013

'...tilting at what is not there'

An extract from Flannery O'Connor's "Some Aspects of the Grotesque in Southern Fiction" (1960)
plus a rare recording of her reading it (from Open Culture)

In these grotesque works, we find that the writer has made alive some experience which we are not accustomed to observe every day, or which the ordinary man may never experience in his ordinary life. We find that connections which we would expect in the customary kind of realism have been ignored, that there are strange skips and gaps which anyone trying to describe manners and customs would certainly not have left. Yet the characters have an inner coherence, if not always a coherence to their social framework. Their fictional qualities lean away from typical social patterns, toward mystery and the unexpected. It is this kind of realism that I want to consider.

All novelists are fundamentally seekers and describers of the real, but the realism of each novelist will depend on his view of the ultimate reaches of reality. Since the eighteenth century, the popular spirit of each succeeding age has tended more and more to the view that the ills and mysteries of life will eventually fall before the scientific advances of man, a belief that is still going strong even though this is the first generation to face total extinction because of these advances. If the novelist is in tune with this spirit, if he believes that actions are predetermined by psychic make-up or the economic situation or some other determinable factor, then he will be concerned above all with an accurate reproduction of the things that most immediately concern man, with the natural forces that he feels control his destiny. Such a writer may produce a great tragic naturalism, for by his responsibility to the things he sees, he may transcend the limitations of his narrow vision.

On the other hand, if the writer believes that our life is and will remain essentially mysterious, if he looks upon us as beings existing in a created order to whose laws we freely respond, then what he sees on the surface will be of interest to him only as he can go through it into an experience of mystery itself. His kind of fiction will always be pushing its own limits outward toward the limits of mystery, because for this kind of writer, the meaning of a story does not begin except at a depth where adequate motivation and adequate psychology and the various determinations have been exhausted. Such a writer will be interested in what we don't understand rather than in what we do. He will be interested in possibility rather than in probability. He will be interested in characters who are forced out to meet evil and grace and who act on a trust beyond themselves–whether they know very clearly what it is they act upon or not. To the modern mind, this kind of character, and his creator, are typical Don Quixotes, tilting at what is not there.


9 June 2013

Just Like A Human! 18 short stories about animals

Monster Emporium Press made a book featuring ants! cats! dogs! slugs! snails! fishes! lions! cockroaches! gazelles! foxes! wasps! and many more in/glorious creatures.

If you wanna buy it contact me, it's only a fiver and it's like, totes amazing.



4 June 2013

Margarita Karapanou

from Kassandra and the Wolf 
(1974)

Mother's Present
One day, my Mother, Kassandra, brought me a lovely doll as a present. She was big, and she had yellow strings instead of hair.

I put her to sleep in her box, but first I cut off her legs and arms so she'd fit.

Later, I cut her head off too, so she wouldn't be so heavy. Now I love her very much. 


31 May 2013

Nice monsters and scary sprites

My 'review' of Harmony Korine's Spring Breakers is out now on Mute. Read it!


18 May 2013

Nyx, A Noctournal

My new short story, 'K Draws A Plum', is in the latest issue of Nyx, A Noctournal. I'm really excited about this publication and encourage you all to pick up a copy. At the moment though the colour version is only available on pdf but will be available in print soon. If you want it in print I'd really recommend you wait for the colour version as the art work in it necessitates being seen in full colour glory. This issue also features work by Tom Moore whose work you should absolutely check out here.


An extract from my story:

The small purple-red plum degrading before her, transitioning and subtly shifting, demands her attention. Not only because it holds her interest and allows her to locate herself in the world, but because it tells her that change is commonplace, ordinary, necessary and constant. To know that though it is dying (encroaching mould threatening the purple) it is also still alive, edible even. Its juice would still bead down her forearm and drip off her elbow if she bit into it. Its small spherical form sits perfectly in her palm, fitting without complaint, its weight is just enough, its texture pleasantly abject. So she draws it.

There is no future plan for this or any of her other drawings. They feel no need to live long and prosper or become prosperous for themselves or anyone. They have no value and yearn for less. They do not need or want to be seen.

To draw a line. To draw a line from me to it, K thinks, from it to me, between us. Life line. Constant edges tremoring under passing lights and shadows. Head line. Pupils shrinking and expanding with each unknowable atmospheric change. Heart line. The bliss of all that. 

10 May 2013

April

Raindrops trill and shivering on the window
being blown simultaneously away and towards by the impact of the wind firing towards us as we fire towards or through it
bullet feathering through space
shrill as the same point over and over with still no response and so still shriller and shriller

This could be the saddest dusk
I've ever seen
Turn to a miracle
High alive
My mind is racing
As it always will
My hand is tired, my heart aches
I'm half a world away here

white cliffs
dissections
sudden at the window
jutting like a hipbone pressing in
sinking in digging
a whole four and a half days since those hipbones sweet and matching (I pray for their symmetry)

sitting tight on the blue sofa waiting
a grumble here at something else
unloading the dishwasher to kill the time

I look into the sky wanting his comfort and symmetry
for the knots to ease in his lower back for a good night’s sleep for a bowl of oats for forgiveness again and again
the sin repeats itself like the sun

1 April 2013

Litro

I wrote a thing. The thing is here.

15 March 2013

Irrelevancies

Weeks pass...

Flag hanging out of a window curling and uncurling in the wind, dog tongues, fruit roll ups, curl uncurling. The image of a red towel as revolutionary signal in the book I am reading, it rolling out of the window – a sign.

Feet, ankles, knees pressed together, red hair, book open, straight back.

Ink spill tree branches multiplying against the blue, later against the pink and orange.

Billion pound panini.

Bread gets cold and heavy, a preponderance of wet sandwiches for the guests.

Drunk too many times, I can tell by the stumble of my boots against the concrete. Hollow heels reverberate in my spine. Other spine tingling things; new smells of new people.

Cheese cracker grape cheese cracker grape.

Sometimes all my friends are crying.

If asked I would tell all my secrets. 

I trace my finger around the embossed one six six four, around the rim of the wine glass, praying for seduction. The table outside is a good a surface as any.

To not be the widow, hunch backed and smoking in the corner of the yellow sofa, clutching the purple hot water bottle perpetually to her chest.

7 March 2013

Rock Steady Eddie’s

Radio’s out of tune, fuzzy, loud too, they can do the safe option, I do think investment’s a good idea for when you understand and want to take the risk...

A cough, deep, old and full of mucous,

Welcome to Lambeth sign, zero romanticism, no scrolling italics, no upwards slanting place name full of hope for a new life, a new place, a new start,

filthy blue fans, heavy smell of frying oil.

Two women, I’m one, the other’s older and sadder, well she looks sad but who knows, I look sad too, her fringe strings over her forehead, her brown hair pulled back in a ponytail, booth no. 5, sitting across from a man who’s ignoring her.

Americana memorabilia, golden age, 50s and 60s, or alluding to that – a giant framed Grease poster (grease here too is the word), but none of us were there for that, no teenagers here with two straws in one shake,

...if you get anything from the 50s or 60s, if you get the right thing, the value could be colossal, better to put your money in vintage memorabilia than stocks or shares – how many guitars you got? well I’ve got 141.. 141!

Five white bald heads popping out of the booths.

Elvis posters too, one taking up the whole wall, black and white except for his blue, presumably suede, shoes. In full Elvis mode, primed, young, powerful, beautiful, knees thrust, passion pulling him to his toes. Above the frame one of those American road signs: Elvis Presley Blvd. Around the cafe: James Dean Drive.

- Happy birthday son, happy birthday, you’re 50 again this year are you?
- 49, 49, maybe next year...
- (Another man) 49?
- Haven’t lived yet. You?
- 55. Funny enough my birthday’s the same as my mother’s and my brother’s is the same as his daughter
- Yeah but that happens sometimes doesn’t it?

The man whose birthday it is is the owner, or at least the guy behind the till serving. He wears an old fashioned 50s diner hat, white, boatish and dirty. White coat too, nice. His shoulders don’t move when he walks, he floats as he walks between the booths to serve the customers.

Someone sings, it sounds good though I can’t make out the words because the radio’s so loud.

A Beatles poster, some Marilyns, tin pictures, little frames. An Elvis doll hung mid hip thrust behind a bell on the wall.

The man opposite keeps looking over to where I look when I’m not looking.

She is good to me
she knows where I’d like to be
but it doesn’t matter

Bob Dylan’s best song ever... The people on the ground floor let their rubbish blow around and I don my rubber gloves and pick it up and in full view hoping to shame them,

There she goes
there she goes again
racing through my brain

A man, fat and old and white again wears a wonderful brown cowboy shirt. The points of its collar are silver capped and he has something like a sheriff’s badge on a chain pinned just above where his belly begins to paunch.

A mysterious sticky substance coating the wings of birds on the south coast...suspect it maybe due to a ship washing out its...

Four small wooden rectangles, each bearing one of the following words: What Would Elvis Do? Hung on a vertically descending chain.

A picture of George W Bush with Osama’s beard, hair and clothes: Wanted.

I feel so real
I feel so real
and I owe it all to you
love is such a wonderful thing
freedom from the chains that held us back for all those years

With the cowboy sits a woman with extremely black hair and a very neat straight fringe. Her voice is extraordinarily high and squeaky. I adore it. What is it about women with these voices? Like the girl in Twin Peaks and Audrey in the 80s Little Shop of Horrors.

- Is it really your birthday today? I ask when I order my second tea
- No, I don’t know why he said that, my birthday was last week
- Oh well happy birthday for then then

He stands and listens to the woman’s complaints and helps as much as he can. He then floats to table 6 – the numbers are written in pen on red paper sellotaped to the tiled wiles above the booths.

There is no political assumption
to our revolution
we are our spirits
in the material world

He is caretaker, mother, father, priest. The costume, the uniform, the outfit. We ask politely for food. We confess our needs from our booths.

Money money money money, mo-ney!

Arnold Schwarzenegger floats past on a bus with a a giant gun.

Marlon Brando is here too.

Many wild birds have been affected by the ‘waxy substance’ and heterosexual men eye each other up just as women do

A woman: middle aged, clean, well dressed, a brown furish coat, bright pink scarf, skinny legs, cute ankle boots, a bag from Risky...

So whatcha doin for the weekend? Email me, text me...

The woman talks to herself: no one, she’s wrong, a friend of mine, a casual friend....(her blue earrings)...stupid...I’m putting more away....and they told me Jake and Colin, you’ll be kicked out the kingdom...

You’re giving me a heart attack
trouble maker!

The woman stands to drink her tea: people just use me. She puts her scarf on, her mug down, and shuffles out.

The cowboy looks gentle, touched as they used to say. All these people are touched. I guess I must be too.