Sunday, 16 September 2012

Literary Conceits and Experiments...

They sleep: dream the same dream, limbs-locked in a shared sleep of contingency and apprehension. They murmur the same words of protest and denial; their arms ward off in symmetrical gestures, a twinned hierophantic ensorcellement…

He sleeps: I am in a strange pursuit of a thing, it is a beach holiday the setting, a battle over my children, I am losing them, it forbodes me in my heart as the donkeys race across the shining sands in the distance as I traverse a world of sea-torn concrete, reinforcement bar protruding wildly, rustily… To the lighthouse, to the lighthouse… I gather my little ones and we escape into the lighthouse, the red granite, flaking whitewash, the feldspars, micas, quartz crumbling in the sea-air, and we enter the maze of stairs and passages, ascending to descend and exit elsewhere, a warren of precipitousness…

They sleep: the animals shuffle in the walkways between their cages, and ever-constant stream, some coming, some going, some sitting down alone or in groups. They appear to be a species of some cultural complexity, exhibiting signs of rudimentary religious devotion in their caressing of and gazing at the small votive tablets they carry. Group mimicry is apparent. If one animal breaks off communication with its fellows to absorb itself in temporary prayer, this seems to be a sign for the other animals in the group to follow suit. They are exceedingly placid, on the whole. A motorbike and sidecar in the snow. Lisaveta pours the tea. The brutalist facade of the employment agency has been partially refaced in mirrored glass. A mallard scuttles across the river before the identical emerald prow of the rowing boat. One of the chairs from the enamelled garden furniture lies on its side in the brown slush. Two dogs run into an alleyway. There is nothing in the newspaper, as always: the Devil moves the Locomotive. Venus is low and bright in the west. A helicopter comes over, circles, and leaves the way it came. Steeplejacks are laddering the spire, slowly, steadily. On the cleared paths, the gravel is purple, cream, russet and brown. One by one, the people blind their windows…

She sleeps: I am on a train with you, packed, shades of the cattle trucks - we are escaping, we are fleeing a cataclysm, there is you, my daughter, my friend, we are fleeing something terrible, we do not know whither we go, our fear evacuates us, and I have lost you all, and I cannot find you, frightened, confused, lost, concrete everywhere, brutalist concrete, a department store in concrete, or is it a hotel, Stalinist, but the town is Slough… people in pink and grey uniforms with nylon blouses and viscose sashes like their father wore… I lose my phone and my daughter’s phone and I cannot contact anyone, and all communication is breaking down around me…

They sleep: you lean, arms clasped behind you, hands at the elastic of your knickers, ankle deep in the warm bog, regarding sundews, and you reveal to me how they eat flies. Sundews are innocent of that very deep apprehension of, say, a group of horses clopping and pretty, so delicate about fellatio, and coming down the road, they pause among leaves sparkling with cunnilingus, whinnying. “Do you want some grass, that promise of sweet nectar treated somehow…?” asks a rider. The horse, like a foolish insect, on a par with incest, leans its head over the wall, curious enough to give some forbidden, shaking, pantomime of transgression, perilously close to the sundew’s unspeakable slightest touch. There our wasp-thronged pints suddenly found themselves, of course, stray of cider…

He sleeps: in the lighthouse, the precipitous maze, the children running recklessly ahead, my fingers only brushing their collars, never seizing, I lose them, I lose my children and all the people are getting in my way, I run up and down and in the lighthouse, pushing through people, but I have lost my children, but then I am with others...

They sleep: the area of intersection of two circles of the same radius, each centred on the other’s circumference describe the shape known as the vesica piscus: the fish bladder. It is a symbol used to depict the Womb of the Holy Virgin Mary, and as such, is often shown surrounding the figure of Christ in Majesty, reminding us that the Lord of Heaven is also the Son of Man. The full figure, including the circles, looks like a pair of buttocks. Who are the men following over the mountain ridge? We clutch the children harder to our breasts, and stumble on, ever upwards through the deepening snow. They are laying patios again down the street. Between the harsh rattle of the angle-grinder’s blade as it disengages from its completed cut, a single voice rises in song, a sobbing melody from the Middle-East or maybe Pakistan, based on a half-familiar maqam. The sun is getting lower by the day, and the occasional needle of autumn pushes through his guernsey and prickles his upper arms. There can be no innoculation against winter, flu-jabs notwithstanding. And when (fibonacci equation) approaches infinity, (ratio) approaches Phi. The pineapple ticks ominously at the crown of her headgear. There is no smoke in the bars now to get in your eyes: the public life or lice of dissolution has been banned, dissolved by Order of Parliament. Men mistake the entropic process for disruption: true disorder is the blandest, most even state of matter and energy. It is order that sets up the greatest tension…

She sleeps: why did I lose my phone? It was when that suspicious one was talking, it is all untrustworthy, that is why it was stolen and all is lost, and I am asking, asking, where is the way out? Where is my daughter, and where is my phone? They find her phone, but it is full of pornography, and I tut in mild annoyance, while a woman...

They sleep: wordy woman, lexical lover, who rides a spear of wit: we slowly screw while reading Hegel for the challenge; St Paul too, to cock a snook, and conjure a stink of hell. Oh to ride, caught in that living nightmare of all those references to fellatio - oh to ride, to trot steadily down, doomed to a horrible death and cunnilingus in the sun-hot lanes, with the struggling insect, struggling for classical literature and the brown-green smell a blessed few minutes, before they tend overwhelmingly to the accompaniment of dung; to ride, to suffer for untold hours the pejorative breeze…

He sleeps: the others, I vaguely knew them but could not place them… We fall asleep, asleep in the dark, in our dream-dark, on a cold concrete floor. I wake, and I am in the same knickers as a woman, face to face, bound by a single pair of knickers, deeply buried in her, she asleep, and farting profusely against my balls, a vibration like a distant dentist… I feel her shoulders, it is not her, though the curves and points are reminiscent, but then a voice tells me I have got into the knickers of the only lesbian of our party, and I realise it is Fabienne from all those years ago… I drift…

They sleep: gracious, that fennel plant must be eight feet high now. Enough bouillabaise for the five-thousand. That grey seal, staring at me swimming in Borthwen that morning, staring like the skull of Death’s Horse, nothing but the sand-itch heat of a whisky hangover in my blood to ward off the sand-filled, sea-flung wind and rain. I wore my hat. It is well to dress for the occasion. The spine of a young mackerel, the molecatcher said repeatedly as he embraced you. I never spied any fins (quaintrelle, with spearpoint shoulders and your poise trim as a spry boat beam-reached to the wind, your nuanced instinct for rags and ribbons, you sit straight backed, curve your blades' twin coulters, flukes, trapezoid ribs falling ladderwise to your notch of hip and your folded legs, yet words will not come bar triteness, over-dramatised cliche: it's effortless for you. I cannot grasp you through simple desire) - the tiger-stripes of her ribs, those I could identify with. I danced naked from the waist down with you before the wedding guests. Later I squared a circle, only to remember it was a broken pentagram, or a diamond with a tail…

She sleeps: the woman foists a napalm-hot apple-pie, full of sugary pureé, molten, microwaved, I accept and eat it, she foists it upon me perversely because she supposes me rich, but I am poor and hungry although I have nice things and clothes, and my mouth is burned like a heretic forced to drink molten lead. She directs me to the exit, a grey door, it opens, a corridor ankle-deep in grey sewage, it deepens up to my thighs as I wade, then my neck and another door, and a corridor that extends endlessly, and this door has no handle on the far side, and the sewage is too deep and I’ll have to swim for it and commit myself to the shutting of the door, the imprisoning of my swimming form in endless sewage…

They sleep: our bed flowers around us, fed by sweat, spilled coffee, toastcrumbs, ash; the nervous sheets rumple into petals; our thrown-off duvet curls a nest for us screwloose birds. Svevo, as he tries to break free, for instance, claiming: “I am a silly man, puffing on ensnaring, suffocating, Manichaean, phallic smokesticks, addictive glue, grasping tentacles,” ceremoniously eats his coffin-nail cocks, inhaling burning acids, enzymes, figs dipped in semen, nipple-substitutes… Meanwhile the oh-so-precious Cyril of Jerusalem exclaims, agonising constantly as his bodily fluids are slowly sucked dry: “Who would accept the weakness of Mother Nature who hopefully had instruction from such lips, and a variance of psychiatric cures after she (who would under any circumstances subject herself to his will) performed the act of navel-gazing, and designed the sundews…

He sleeps: I drift awake, and am with a crowd, are we at university, some field-trip, we seem to be in a port… there is a pylon out at sea we are supposed to find important, but I am telling them all the techniques of photographic composition, but I realised I should be drawing, as everyone else was drawing, so I begin to draw randomly, not knowing what else to do, but realise the others are drawing the pylon, and I realise I have been unwittingly drawing the pylon too, although it is frustratingly indistinct, blurred, or obscured, or things kept interfering with my line of vision, or it may be my eyes, but I have to move to see it better, and I have to negotiate another lighthouse like the first, and end up on a seaside promenade…

They sleep: it is a mistake to think that it makes sense. It just is. The fuschia has done badly this year for want of sun, not rain. Uncoursed brickwork gives me the shudders. They do not dock dogs’ tails anymore. A different kind of ridiculousness. Do they not expect revolution eventually? Not in this country. A poet and an anthropologist are an unlikely match. Yet a facility with the sciences in him, and a lifetime given over to drawing and painting in her compliments their nature and relinks all their possible ellipses. His cardial raptures are annealed by his mordant determinism, and her dispassionate criticism is sapped by her ravished imagination. Together they make a four-faced coin, seasonally complimentary, the winds of all quarters blowing around a still eye. They are a piece of flesh-clockwork that chimes synchronously often enough to endure their cross-rhythms and syncopations...

She sleeps: I cannot swim endlessly in sewage, locked in to an interminable drowning. I retreat and there are teenagers there behind me on the stairs, laughing at me covered in shit, and I realise I am in a Tarkovsky film, and I’ve failed something, but there is another door, and I walk through to sunlight and an Italian plaza, but I am still lost… and vagueness… and then a railway platform, sitting in the midst of crowded, impenetrable throngs, and knowing the apocalypse was imminent, and I have my daughter and my lover back, I am on his left and she is on his right, and I am hopeful that we shall escape, and he is hopeless that the doom is already upon us, and I want to touch my daughter, but she is not quite within reach, and I strain as a grey shadow begins to loom over the earth, an eclipse, a darkness expanding above us…

They sleep: we peer at the pink glands, dew-primped stalks, deadly aureoles: endangered, modest, contained... easy to condemn a predator; a fly might sketch death so; we admire the tricks of beauty. Circumstances kiss her on until she has invented those leaves that are generally flat-meeting. Quite apart, a new omphalotic art demarcates their upper surfaces from the sin against religion, the sin of inaction, the sin of myocardial infarction, or simple heartbreak. Though covered with hundreds, will you not shun such warmth of the sun on stalked glands or tentacles? Defilement of men does battle with many of these designs, producing worse than mere profligacy of the cold breeze, a tiny drop of glue, a clear and more abominable ectoplasm… and my lover giggles a grey mucilage that is more thrawn, difficult and twisted than the curse of any prostitute, and quietly giggles as she, now extremely sticky and viscid, slowly, lingeringly, reads beside me…

He sleeps: on the promenade the pylon is as indistinct as before, but my children are back with me, and we have to steal something from back in time, we can travel in time, but the thing we have to steal is unknowable, but we go back to 2.47 to steal it but our enemies have already stolen it at 2.37 so we go to 2.27 but our enemies got there before us at 2.17, and this continues, and if we do not succeed it will be the end of the world, or if we do succeed, but in the wrong way, it will still be the end of the world, but we somehow beat the paradox - thank goodness for the oneiric ellipsis - and we are running through the dark and green lanes, and driving, and then my ex is there, and there is a shinglebeach, horseshoe shaped, very high and very steep, like a cliff of marbles, russet rubble, orange, purple, red, my youngest slipping away, my fingers nerveless, my ex not helping, my youngest slipping and lurching further into the avalance and my fingers refusing to clench tighter as millimetre by millimetre his slender wrist…

They sleep: pewter tankards, glass-bottomed to espy your enemy’s approach as you drain your cup. That dim shape, seen darkly, raises it thus its hand in threat or greeting? Or a window to catch the glint of the Queen’s Shilling slipped for sly solicitation to the ranks. All stories are lies. Nothing is true and everything is permitted as the old man said. Be careful how you sit down. A bookshelf, covered with dust and cobwebs, all the words unread. I scan the titles: The Optical Consciousness, Krauss; Moby Dick, Melville; De Anima, Aristotle; A Journey Through Ruins, Wright; The Secret Life of Trees, Tudge; Mary and Maria, Wollstonecraft; Matilda, Shelley; Mr Palomar, Calvino; Daybreak, Nietzsche; In Praise of Folly, Erasmus; The Greeks and the Irrational, Dodds; The Bardic Apostles of Innisfree, Tansey; Le Square, Duras; Madness & Civilisation, Foucault; Mrs Dalloway, Woolf; Murphy, Beckett; Les Liasons Dangereuses, Laclos. What does the life of a man require? Food, shelter, and culture. The last is why all materially-based political systems will ultimately fail, ha ha. Since the caves, since the caves, my friend, culture has been the concomitant of consciousness…

She sleeps: and the darkness grows and I am not afraid to walk in the shadow although my lover wants to live and is frightened which shocks me and I want to touch my daughter but she is out of reach and I am holding a bottle of wine and I want to suggest we all drink to the end of all things but it is tucked under my arm and the darkness is growing we clutch each other but I cannot reach my daughter and I discard the wine and I still cannot reach and then there is a sudden blast…

They shock awake, lock arms tight around each others necks and when their hearts slacken their pounding, they murmur their nightmares softly in each others ear. Her head spins with the echo of the blast, and he finds he has been sleeping on his nerveless arm. Gradually all demons, shapes, portents, threats and confusion drift away from them, and they reluctantly return to sleep.

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