Literally every image link from one of my 2009 blogs now redirects to this; you can totally drop out of melancholy for a while but the cherry always finds you
New publication: Soft Friction by Kirsty Dunlop and Maria Sledmere
Here we present you a bundle of our dreams, wrapped in something like a rhythm, or did we mean a ribbon? Soft Friction is an intimate gathering of dreams from 2018, written during a summer of ‘existential soup’, fainting at gigs, pulling all-nighters and panic surrealism. Extracted from a longer diary, these fragments wear the sensuality and sass of an active dream life shared between two people getting high on each others’ brains. From dolphins thrashing in kitchens, to maths equations, celebrity encounters and shopping for underwear, the pamphlet runs through the four stages of sleep and wakes you with a cheeky tickle of incompleteness.
44pp (A5 B/W)
Printed on recycled natural paper 100gsm
Cover by Maria Sledmere
Published by Mermaid Motel
£5 inc. UK P+P
To order, email kirsty_dunlop[at]hotmail.co.uk or simply paypal £5 to this email with your postal address. For orders outside the UK drop Kirsty an email for postage.
Last year’s April was a leap year. For every 29th day I summoned to think of the hours as gifted, secret, strength. I spent the actual leap of February in somebody else’s bed, a cherished cliché: cradling sadness, cat-sitting, reading Anne Carson and rolling the word ‘tableaux’ around my stressy mouth, whose hostile environment required twice-daily salt-rinses. On the 29th of last year’s April, I wrote about vermillion and silverware, ‘the lint of your heart’ and hayfever. A friend and I exchanged tips on how to best work from the floor, how to make it your best work. I miss ‘working the floor’ in other senses.
What do you want is not the same as What would you like?
There was a reading group on Lisa Robertson’s The Baudelaire Fractal (2020), and the Zoom chat was elliptical pursuit, a good fuck pendant, fractal kissing and restless deferral. The word besmirch which isn’t a word search.
I remember cycling long into the hard sun; I recall better eyesight.
Okay, recently. Do you want to hear this? I spent a week of anticipation, languishing with migraines and digestive upsets and the kind of blues where mostly you curl foetally into the fantasy that really you, or this, doesn’t exist. Sip worry coffee and brush the hair, tweeze or shave, sit patiently on top of the abstract, waiting for something lucid to hatch. ‘Opening up’. A weekend bleeding, the minor cramp of womb in Autechre rhythm; then a further week of physical ailment whose primary treatments, according to the lore of reddit, included punching one’s spine, counting to ten, pinching between nose and lip and lying in hot baths. I did not have the baths, which seemed terrible and luxurious given how faint they could make me. I read two books by Samuel Beckett.
In Garments Against Women (2015), Anne Boyer writes that ‘Everyone tries to figure out how to overcome the embarrassment of existing. We embarrass each other with comfort and justice, happiness or infirmity’. It is awkward to smile and to squirm. To be red-faced and faint after a luxury bath. To be found frowning in the Instagram reel of somebody else’s dreaming. To apologise, to dwell upon, to ask for help. To be the one clutching a hot water bottle in the Zoom call; to hide or show this. To sip beer, the migraine coming. To say “hello” from the room next door. To deem something luxury, to partake of it. ‘I have done so much to be ordinary’, writes Boyer, ‘and made a record of this’. Say I learned this month how to paint my nails grape soda, define hypercritique, appreciate the slept-in curls of my hair.
It is awkward to be unwell, to express this without clear definition. “Sorry it’s all late, I’ve been sick” and to not elaborate on that sickness, the specific ways it kept you up all night, kept you retching or clutching something tight inside yourself which seemed to want to give birth. A stray barb or small contaminant. A numb pill. Transpiration is the process of water movement through a plant and its evaporation from aerial parts. Plants are not awkward; they just grow. Sometimes upwards, sideways; sometimes back inside themselves. Wilt logic. ‘Let’s be happy insofar as we were for a few days not infirm’ (Boyer). The ecstasy of a new morning where the body stretches out, the mind clears and one is ready to work. Who gets these mornings? Can they be traded? Is their delicious ease somehow fungible? What would I give for more of them? Fungus, rot, the fangs of lilies.
Maybe it starts with crisp garments. But pretty soon the neat attainment of day will unbutton. Watch it happen in Lorenzo Thomas’ poem ‘Euphemysticism’:
Some happily sing
They have joy for white shirts
Singing “O white shirt!”
And that’s just the start
What ecstasy to declare the white shirt! What embarrassment! The chiaroscuro of lily-white shirt against the everyday’s dull shadows, but then showing up ‘baby pictures / Of pollution becoming disaster’ and Thomas’ poem is all about this. Disaster. Headlines, emissions, confusion. And that’s just the start. ‘A man crashes with his shadow’, perhaps because there is no one else. I did this for months on end because nothing else was safe. I could go the long walk for my safe grassy spot and crash there along with my shadow. I crashed in sunshine and rain. Crashland. Why did I bring the lily. It was like being fourteen again and walking for miles just to find a safe, anonymous place to smoke or weep. Sleep crash. ‘In the prickling grass in the afternoon in August, I kept trying to find a place where my blood could rush. That was the obsolete experience of hope’ (Lisa Robertson, XEclogue). It was like staring at the potential of Marlboro Golds tucked behind books and wondering what version of me they belong to. Synecdoche. Rising swirls. The poem burns out but also gets better. Blood rush and screen crash are lyric in pop songs. Sorry my windows. They are getting cleaned today.
Narrate my day again to you.
Thomas’ poem turns to the reader: ‘I’d like to check your influence / Over these ordinarily mysterious things’. The poem takes pictures or talks about it. What is a photographer responsible for? Do they re-enchant or estrange? If someone took a picture at this point or that point, if there was evidence, who would need to be told. How do you photograph pollution? Is this merely witnessing? In the past year and more, I have become witness to my own inability to really see. Disaster itself recedes into medial condition, blood swirls, scratching matter. I think of the way Sibylle Baier sings ‘I grow old’…
Some happily sing the white shirt and are they complacent with their conditions of work? Influence! ‘Desire is a snowscape on a placemat’ (Thomas). I trace its snowy lines in the stray thread of this weave. Ant-sized bloodstain. Am I to be made safe, or eat giant buttons? Put your plate on a place elsewhere and devour the rolling hills. Artificial snow is delicious. Crinkled thread. The white line curls around my tongue like spaghetti. Lila Matsumoto has a poem, ‘Trombone’, about hammering buttons. I unbutton the top three buttons of my blouse to walk around in fifteen degrees, absorbing/zorbing, and call the sunlight oil inside me.
‘There is a risk inherent in sliding all over the place’ (Boyer). This is what language does. There is a risk in crackle, in static, in the O shape of ‘sorry’ or ‘love’ or ‘alone’. Petition to upgrade for bubble emoji.
Last night, on the train back from another city I had not visited since August, I opened Sarah Bernstein’s new novel, The Coming Bad Days (2021). I did not close this novel again for several hours, except to pass through ticket gates or beyond groups of steaming men whose presence was vaguely threatening. They seemed cardboard cut-outs, stumbling towards me. When a migraine began burning my temples, I took paracetamol and kept walking, reading. When the light became gloam I walked faster. When I got home I sat at the table and opened the book again, like a schoolchild eager to begin their homework (as a ticket to freedom) or revisit a dream. It is risky to write about something you finished barely twelve hours ago. It’s embarrassing, the way talking about illness is, or happiness. To gush. You risk offering a raw piece of thought. Something has stuck to you and you are trying to convey the exact, impossible, vicious way in which you are changed by it. Still steaming.
This is what I understand by gorgeousness. As in, I gorged on it.
In the book’s last third occurs a fabular moment. The narrator is often telling their inner life through external surroundings — textures and fluctuations of weather. This is also to tell disaster. It is not the dramatic crash so much as a slow, implacable violence whose consequence ripples below and above the surface of our lives. Sometimes there is rupture: a cyclist is hit by a motorist, a storm occurs, an unspecified act of harm is committed, a life-changing conversation alluded to. But so much is in the insidious atmospheres which turn between dream and reality, which refuse to be nailed to the moment:
I dreamt of a landscape, overgrown grass, trees blanketing a hillside, leafy canopies moving against the sky, a deep river bisecting the scene. Fat berries pulling on their stems, apples weighing down their branches. Then a breeze came through with a slow hiss, and I knew it carried poison on its back. Here was a green abundance that I could not eat, a cold stream from which I could not drink. Take care, a voice said. Take care to call things by their names.
(Bernstein, The Coming Bad Days)
In this Edenic scene of harvest and green abundance, nothing is properly named. The landscape is unspecified, generic, anywhere. The voice belongs to anyone. It could be a serpent, a god, an angel, a person. Unlike Adam, the narrator cannot name things in nature. It is not their purpose. They came to Eden in dreams and after the fall. What fruits of knowledge exist are overripe and almost a burden to their branches and vines. In addition to the biblical resonance, this passage recalled for me the fig tree motif in Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar (1963),the poison tree of William Blake’s poem from Songs of Experience (1794). Wrath is in the air, and failure. I want to wrap around the passage like a kind of vine. Hold and be held in it. Is language a kind of taking care? A watering cruelty? What are the ecological arts of attention and tending to, towards, against?
I was struck by the possibility that Bernstein’s narrator embodied the abject and porous, slow and injured thought of an anthropocenic subject. This statement feels inevitable. The only abundance they could conjure was unconscious and laced with ‘poison’. It could not be imbibed; was not nourishing. But somehow such dreams nourish the text. For all its depiction of coldness, cruelty and the failure of communication, the cold stream of suffering, the weathering of Bernstein’s lyric prose effects a possible intimacy. Weathering, for Astrida Neimanis and Jennifer Mae Hamilton, ‘names a practice or a tactic: to weather means to pay attention to how bodies and places respond to weather-worlds which they are also making’. I think of the narrator skittishly eating cheese sandwiches at the window of their office, every single day of the week. I eat this sandwich with them. What is it they see? Each iterative mention of the weather reminds us that the social and interpersonal dramas of the novel are part of the medial, immersive or remote dramas of climate. The agential presence of rain, frost, clouds and fog, the turn of the waves, the ‘glistening violet evenings’: it’s more than metaphor. It sinks into the prickling skin of Bernstein’s language. Maybe you’d want to call this a weathering realism.
This novel seized me to read with compulsion, the way a dream does come and the writing of the dream is luxuriance that only later you bathe in. Not quite vulnerable or resilient. Responsive. Exposed to something.
On the 28th April 2019 (no entry for the 29th), I wrote in purple ink:
We would do better to sleep now, I have been sleeping much better and trying to resist the pull of insomnia, trying to perfect a monologue. What comes and goes in a dream without noticing, whose handwriting on the sun you recognised chancing your luck with yellow corn and fields of trials against sensitive, colours of smear and floral obstacle. Hyperboreal data flow into the crinkle cut futurity. Applying for latitude, acid.
Not sure about ‘we’: did I mean the ‘we’ of me reading back, and the ‘me’ who was writing, there in the moment? Are you also included, reading this passage over one of my shoulders? Can we take care to name things in dreams? But when I dream of people — friends, loved-ones, family, colleagues the famous — as I often do, what happens when I write their names? Am I opening them up to something that could harm or exhaust them? Is their presence a giving over of energy? Am I to be persecuted by the purple, anonymous flower of somebody’s need? What if I didn’t even know? What if the mark-making of initials was key? Will it bloom or wilt?
Go back to sleep in the forest, soft cosmos of dissolving forms.
There is a sense of missing someone that grows an acorn in your belly. It hardens and rattles with new life. It burns out of place. Leaves you with a feeling of placelessness. Impregnates every word with the possible, the fizzy wake, the fear and hurt. Makes you grow sideways. Hey. To exist in no-time of not knowing when the feeling comes. Pastel vests are back in fashion. Pull over. Kisses. Rarest flower emoji that doesn’t exist. To be sometimes well and other times racked in a well-documented
madness that pays various attention to weather. Something painful. A few days of goodness seized. I would leap out the door, do 15,000 steps each day; so I would name the colour chartreuse when I saw it. Watching for changing bone structures in Zoom tiles. Your hair grown long and lemon blonde. My internet broke for a whole day and night. I felt old-timey in the pdf archive. Phoned you.
Bebby Doll – Weeks
Ana Roxanne – I’m Every Sparkling Woman
Zoee – Microwave
Cowgirl Clue – Cherry Jubilee
Laurel Halo – Sun to Solar
trayer tryon, Julie Byrne – new forever
Life Without Buildings – Sorrow
Cocteau Twins – My Truth
Kelsey Lu, Yves Tumor, Kelly Moran, Moses Boyd, ‘let all the poisons that lurk in the mud seep out’
Iceage – Gold City
Le Tigre – Deceptacon
FKA twigs, Headie One, Fred again.. – Don’t Judge Me
Porridge Radio – Wet Road
Angel Olsen – Alive and Dying (Waving, Smiling)
Big Thief – Off You
Perfume Genius – Valley
Grouper – Poison Tree
Sonic Youth – Providence
U.S. Maple – The State Is Bad
Sky Ferreira – Sad Dream
Waxahatchee – Fruits of My Labor (Lucinda Williams cover)
The Felice Brothers – Inferno
Bright Eyes – Train Under Water
Weyes Blood – Titanic Risen
Lucinda Williams – Save Yourself (Sharon Van Etten cover)
Not long ago a blog was destroyed. Inside the blog was a forest; what they called forest but by all intents and purposes was more the unknown contribution to chronology which made up many pages of codes and trees. Codes and trees. The liquor in a small pool was seemingly endless dirty martini, where olives float in lieu of lilies. I meant to say it was destroyed and the incident being customisable, now to look back, I see a particular man at sunset wielding buttons. Pop, pluck, glock. Boys share the same blouse as me. Then gingham and dungarees to write in the blog another hour or more, sleeves rolled, plunging seasons into seasons. Keep yourself sewn. Don’t get shot. This winter will you change your life. This summer will you lose it. All of the paper incineration. Sound of artificial camera flash in the dark, razor the code from the trees. This change, not the life, not necessarily. Scrolling the trees.
What will it take for the server to work? There was a dark room of my childhood filled with blinking lights, layer-bake hard drives, wires and cables. Bringing you coffee, I go there closing my eyes to the electronic warmth at the heart of the office. Whose office is this? How can I work there? Will you give me a job? I am a fine typist / I like the word ‘twilight’.
But not long ago, a blog was destroyed. We were in generic city, you know the one with buildings, and something swerved into us. I was scared at first, weren’t you? We kept left-clicking the breeze to stop, but the way your hair looked, lifted — I could’ve almost gone with it, the hum and song of the breeze just pink. Remembering lines like ‘January is endless’ and ‘the Northern Line is the loudest’ as I consent to give cookies, consent to be multiplied in the archive of giving me moments in capital city; where is my iPod? Small things you can do, exchange of fruit, the scale of it. Something swerved into us. I was scared at first, weren’t you? My blood was all scattering berries, clots, poisons. We knew the album was amazing. We said this many times. I said we have to see a doctor. Just a guess but the crescendo fucking kills me. I breathed too hard it was scary. The road was quiet but something swerved into us. Couldn’t tell if it was a truck or a set of emotions. Kisses from France. I was climbing to get to the good bit. This is a painful song coming on I won’t talk about further, being dull and adult, seeing old college friends lost. What is a moon. I said we have to see a doctor and we did, we got in line outside with our masks; it was a time before masks but I add them. Losing your pearls, losing your solace barometer. Remember X overmind of me. We were turned away at the last. Did not see doctor. Jellyfish. I wore the blouse that all the boys wore, proudly.
Driving to Brighton, not driving to Brighton.
The ocean washed up masses of cash, bank notes sticky with kelp and salt, tons of pennies in lieu of pebbles, bits of glass. I paid for a book of poems with a cheque signed on behalf of my father. I paid for my life. The blog lived inside of the sea. It was being destroyed and so the blog called tsunami. It had a world in it. Tsunami_93. Commission you tell me the endless failures of Wednesday, Thursday, watching the ants by the ocean accumulate broadband costs. Watching the ants and cash. Spiralling ants and cash. I said something swerved into us, it was fucking horrible. I saw it, the long hard crash of the numbers, upwards. The colony of allied ants just clicking away in the dark like we already knew them. A politician comes and goes from the hole where you fall through, nightly, clutching at sand. A burlesque of sleep. The patent glitter of policy, it gets in your body. The ants made a moat of the hospital.
Silently, you came to town in my closing dream which was killing our molars from kissing too much in any forsaken house by the sea, endless you climb inside me — figure this in, you figure this out. Sometimes the text at the bottom of the page just disappears. Tell you a blog was destroyed and my concern is for glutinous sentences, stretching. Planetary hardship was relative. Tell me, hold me. I write about dying in my diary, how will it feel to be six or five and not knowing about the dying, how will it feel to look back knowing you lived through it. Tear off the blouse the boys gave to me. There is a coming through of such dreams I have had, splashes of sick pink light, infinite distance — and can I say the animal I never met was nice, they were so nice, the album was amazing. The animal pronoun that therefore I am. Something swerved into us; it was the whole fat year of pink rain. Where a blog was destroyed, you put down the stone. It is shaped like a heart that needs convincing to beat.
Kept diaries of numbers kept easy job kept crying. Felt like portraits of femmes in rose blush and yellow and emerald green, leaking, felt like looking into you back from Matisse or wherever it was in generic city we saw what doesn’t is seen. Domestic bliss. I remember the wires in my childhood were totally opaque. Quiet symphony of dialup and call you. eBay and a “flurry of cosy ideas” says eye, closing for the last time, plated. Down a long gold tunnel and DNS error. “Are you alright? Are you alright?” I hate this question but whacking a drum and bass beat right HERE was good, if originally ballad but easy
to me, this song is less about a particular situation, and more about that feeling you get looking back
on things that have meant a lot to you, or you
feel could have meant more
I hide the application anyway. It is spring 2008, no forests exist, the bathroom sounds of lemongrass scent and harshest bleach. I’m sick. I’m sick of parks I want genuine forestry and a place to be lost and call you. I remember football on the low green, barging into silver, not knowing a wave meant more disease. Not knowing the waves as anything other than the earnest self-abuse of the sea. Salt heal. It hurt to listen by the long thin phrase of your cigarette, smoke getting up in the hours of my eyes. I remember kissing in tents / remember running home drunk from school. Remember who watched us. The man who squared-up for no good reason other than the sound his own voice made, which was a sound of bright cash howled from the sandy reminder. There are memory dunes where stuff piles up, stuff gets sucked or dragged away. Stuff gets pissed on. Something swerved into us and we did not phone the cops. I carried the hurt for a while instead. Walked from one end of the green to the other. Now in the city. On the mobile phone a big red sound passed beta-waves through us and you asked, “what was that?” and pleaded “please don’t die”. I minimise the year, I always reply. I fantasise portals to London.
Dreamt the prime minister was crying on Mars for the ninth time and it was a ninth wave and it was very bee loud it was glandular. Second wave, third wave, watch out for next winter. A man who swallowed all of the cash of the sea was blatant in wanting to touch this and ruin my life. It hurt to listen. A novelty sermon on visions, ecstasies, roses and bread. Something H.D. says about a jellyfish and will you sign up for infinity melt club — it requires the overmind, sad to miss, buoyed up by salt water always. We passed the number we wanted not to pass. Will Alexander writes that poetics is ‘a place where language becomes a fertilised concentration that explodes’. I’m talking about everything we used to do. Another life. Voice barely makes it to audible status. Every month I turn fifteen again and my mouth tastes of Yorkie bars, acid, ice cubes painted with crude sweet oil, Diet Coke, extra salt. Maria, it says, and I wonder. Someone is a shadow they are painting the walls with it, more and more, the paint fizzes up. Crude sweet oil, the blouse of the boys. Softly you bring me the water, more of it, enormous with cash, I hate it. I mix all the paint with us.
That person who used to work, I miss her. January is endless. Should the blog be destroyed? It was Platonic like kissing the stone at the place where sunflowers grew upside-down by a crumbled temple, they let us go. You say, “this is wretched” then turn on the radio. Elliott Smith in front of a mural, covering The Beatles. That I a girl from Maybole would like to be consulted; would like consultation. Because. The doctor turned us down. The river was frozen. Salt. Pretzels of fallopian tubes. Someone on the radio said poverty. The blog consolation of be love because you. Remarkably clean air I remember? What comes next is older and older, how early the cruel was, forecast, thinking in paradigms and not glassware. “You look young!” It might be I always hold out. Still you smash, the failures of Tuesday, no melatonin. Blissing Chamomile Mountain. Payne’s Gray, Davy’s Gray, Naples Yellow. Salacious impression of what is a gesture. I have all these dreams about ladders like—
The problem of the marry a cloud of the martyred morning
In the soft-touching laminate space of the morning
The promise of a landing, striped by the morning
We edit cumulus, collect yon fish by the morning
A rain passed wetly over our morning
The actual cat got into the morning
My proletarian alignment against the morning
Is only a maths class happening this morning
Did you want palaces in the light of this morning
To feel you never got hurt this morning
When it swerved into you in the morning
Of comparative hotness at morning
Equivalent to mattresses morning
That planets lie down inside us, warming
And the flowery agenda of what they would do to avoid this scarcity. Kept saying science, science like a car advert, £500, kept you awake at night. Salt. The technology trusts us! Liberating production to what freeing from labour a person being careful would order milkshake. Water this artificial strawberry. Audit the communal blog was destroyed. Salt and oil. A wheat field in a movie. I remember aspartame sunrise at which close to the not-top of Louise Bourgeois’ many ladders was a droplet of hooch blood, red-to-punk-pink. Under the fairy lit trails of Tuesday, I said FUCK YOU to the motorist, I said OUCH! Today is Blue Day, tomorrow is Green Day; expropriation of serotonin to Bad Day, it is quite a state; put back ice that you stay on, tulips; a sugar-lift etch to keep say [“I miss the nineties”] belong to my early days of still love indie. Weeks become necklaces I am choked inside them. Tending the forest, drive out of the city. Impossible tacos in landfills pass us, having never harmed animals. Nothing swerved ever in heaven; you get really close.
Study the lightning-shaped graze on my knee.
Burial – Chemz
SOPHIE – Is It Cold In the Water?
Honeyblood – Super Rat
Billie Eilish, ROSALÍA – Lo Vas A Olvidar
Sharon Van Etten – Serpents
Widowspeak – Sanguine
Infinity Knives – In The Mouth of Sadness
Lana Del Rey – Chemtrails Over The Country Club
Xiu Xiu, Liz Harris – A Bottle of Rum
Fishtalk – Hummingbirds
Los Campesinos! – Got Stendhal’s
Tim Heidecker, Weyes Blood – Oh How We Drift Away
The Antlers – Solstice – Edit
Songs: Ohia – Boys
Field Medic – chamomile
Vagabon, Courtney Barnett – Reason to Believe (Karen Dalton cover)
Sun June – Everything I had
Coma Cinema – In Lieu of Flowers
This Familiar Smile – Flawed Fables
Hamburger – Supersad
Donovan – Colours
The Velvet Underground – Sweet Jane
The Replacements – Skyway
PART ONE: FLOWER NEUROSIS
There is a place where these supermassive roses might be planted. A harsh place that exists at thin resolution, we have to resample; I am doing the maths to know how 100gb permits her entrance. The process slows because this behaviour is not natural. Her entrance with the roses bundled in giant’s arms, and the long tresses of foam and seven neat words she has tucked in a satchel of crocheted pea proteins. She is attuned to a certain instant where it works that she plants the roses. They are gnarly, monstrous, thirsty. The roses are not sober. And the girl? She stumbles on her third negroni, abstracted, poured by the silent one who inhabits the hedgerows. Vermouth of sun, gin of moon, aperitif of the bitterwort and marshes, garnished with wedges of orange from overseas. These seven neat words I will not tell you with her lips sealed blood sugar, femme confection, a certain rain, a squall.
The clarity is lost a little when we adjust figures. But the girl is still there, in the corner maybe, bundled from sight with impossible flowers. What do we know of a girl and her flowers? She could be a waitress, a bridesmaid, a funeral attendant — but no, this is extravagance to belie all such professions. The flowers won’t fit in the picture this is. It is not merely to carry. Some say they are hyperobjects, but if so, what of the girl? She is also beyond human proportion; she would live a thousand years. Sprinkle hundreds and thousands of leap years merely upon breakfast, and yet at nineteen does she not look a million? If you were to splay the fine skin between her thumb and forefinger, you would begin to see the star stuff which flows in human capillaries. But at such resolution!
Of her face since nineteen, the narrator of Marguerite Duras’ The Lover [L’Amant] (1984) writes: ‘But my face hasn’t collapsed, as some with fine features have done. It’s kept the same contours, but its substance has been laid waste. I have a face laid waste’. So when the girl lay down for another of her size; they were a cloud, it rained, the girl awoke with child. But she gave birth to nothing but roses. She was a fixture of the processing plant. Initially, sealed in mousseline baubles, they were not even roses but rosehips clustered among thorned vines. And you would imagine these vines entwined with her spine, climbing them as if the destiny was always her neck. She would speak at night, tapping the fine glass, warming them as eggs. Give everything away: the rose-meat of petals and their pale, inward jam, hatching saps, their crying.
A cloud always passes, it creases the sky. Cars go in and out at night.
The fruit of rose, especially a wild kind
when I write of a Mary Sue
or brush her teeth, when she is more tall
than willow and yet I have set her colours inverse
so in reaching for rosehips she must reach into shadow
and isn’t that all
in the working day of dreams is deferral
of Edenic cinema, she grows in wilderness
also known as the fortress of lossy compression
where trees are shaky with original pixels
and her clothes are torn as mine would be
crying forever by the sea
with my dairy allergy for twilight
‘The blues are because you’re getting fat
and maybe it’s been raining too long’
and if she is me then I am she
rehearsing definitions for litany
via prayer, supplication, complaint
am I a melt vector on cutting board
you call me aslant with the knife tucked close
to cupid’s bow of my lips
‘she was noted for her command of dialogue’
but no one said anything
lipsticks: sweet chestnut, amarena red
tender rose and orange delight
shaking the rosehips all night for Roman god
of erotic love is just rare labour
of the shepherds in pleasantview, saying sorry
or what colour your blouse is, mine is damask
you could press to make attar
so I know how I love
is mother puts glitter on a wreath
of ivy and dying hydrangeas
to hang on the door, entrance Mx
I give you generally acceptable apples
the shop called jazz, they are wrapped in plastic
we look up to see the planets ‘almost touching’
but they are something else entirely
easy, lucky or free. These green diamonds
don’t occur in the wild;
she makes them from slices of apple
glitch effect plumbob
oil of rose is condensation
a playable simulation
novelist in decline
as I lick the sea wall
cast this upwards
to where another hour is ravished
you start to read.
PART TWO: SACRED PORRIDGE
Perhaps this would be enough of the rose-girl if she would stop haunting me. I dreamed Bernadette Mayer wrote a novel overnight, it was midsummer, she was 27 and had a fountain pen the size of the Eiffel Tower. Tell me what she was smoking, was it Marlboro or lemongrass? Maybe cloves? I get mixed up, I’m darks and pastels, nobody likes me. Open a beer to share regardless / Crude oil streams from her words. I became suspicious the rose-girl was a fiction of Bernadette’s, that I was stuck in the internet fiction and whittled away. There was a poem called ‘Thorn’ about a penis. Brexit or no Brexit, I was anyway hoarding tins of beans in the hope they would get me somewhere – a similar purpose to breakfast. Recite to me from memory these stats about lactose, creatine, muscle enhancement. I lift my arms to reach you, I am hauled to the new wall painted mint to match the green iris tea of your eyes, it’s Greenwich Park / I am spent with apple pips and cauliflower hallways. I want to be hurled across continents sprightly / put acorn in pocket. I am not her but she is me, here, in a harsh place. You are the smoothest nut! What was the novel? I don’t know, I have this line: ‘the negative capability of raisins’. Don’t kill the squirrels! Sunday you make porridge with peanuts, sour cream, biscuit, honey, drops of chocolate, muscovado sugar, extra milk of oat – why not acorns? The rose-girl watches. Her breath is a draught.
She is so huge you would miss her. All December the faint scent of her pea satchel follows me so I know I couldn’t possibly have corona. Plunge my nose in vegetal folds. I would be the aura of plasma around her sun, that’s all and merely. Does it rot? The size of these roses, really, is impossible to measure. Expect several hundred metres or miles, stumbling in the world of error where we go to buy bread. Is it for months you have been a tile, a talking head? You are very delicate and I stroke your nice hair, which loosens through the screen to meet me waterfall. I climb to the top of the beanstalk we braided from eating well. We read Lee Harwood in the rain, As Your Eyes are Blue, and drink mulled wine. I guess I am riding horses to catch up with the size of these roses, blue ones also, fat and mellow. Jackie Wang calls this ‘outlaw jouissance’; a phrase I wrote in my notebook, quickly. The line gets whipped! I think about Cy Twombly. The horses are all kinds of colours, but mostly the pearlescence of inside seashells, or mollusc aurora’d in a way that seems Björk or genital. I suppose the rose-girl arranges them nightly as saints do, genial; I suppose it is like Sylvanian families. Sometimes from copses of rowans, the tops of the miniature or minotaur trees, red-berried painted I read her Sylvia Plath. My poison voice must catch the wind exact, ‘The water I taste is warm and salt, like the sea / And comes from a country far away as health’, as health shall be a human dimension, unrhymed, the rose-girl considers. She is the only one of us who has seen a corpse flower, in a third-floor apartment where somebody important had smuggled the seeds from Chicago, where was she. The corpse flower is not a singular flower but a cluster of blooms, and so is she. It all stinks, I say, so I don’t have corona. If you touch the flanks of these horses so smooth your hands will vanish in gossamer, they become other materials, still smell like hay. This viscosity to friction feels good, it’s lush with endorphins — why don’t you try it. The water is warmly you and me, like the sea; it comes from the eyes of the rose-girl, crying.
There’s still time to shop, you collect from store
towards a possible come on let’s go of the literal
it stings, who you would be in the dream
not the enemy’s eye
or the unripe banana
I stayed in bed til mid-afternoon
writing feel-thesis, correcting citations of Clarice Lispector
it’s Christmas, you know
I don’t have corona
on the phone to Avanti the songs are played in such intervals
of 45 seconds as to make you hate
the very nature of a chord progression
is desire’s deferral and will you secure a seat for us
at motion sickness
what is necessity feels like
Velocity is I am washing my hair
with tar shampoo and cider vinegar.
Come close, wish soon,
Should I call someone?
It might be you,
explaining multiplication to me, you carry the one
and the two, and then I never do
read my old diaries
smelling of blood and sleep deprivation
acrid bulimia, spray of A7
garlic mussels, scarlet muscles
my brother says he will donate his plasma
for medical causes, have I fear of needles?
Lady bird shell collect
bathroom dust, antibodies, I am clean
and typeset like the stars. You open my coat
because of this Reynauds, too cold
to unbutton. My anhedonia
is cyclical, I stick little poems to the wall
they go like
once upon a midnight weary
came the lovers on a ferry
they were drunk and very old
but never had they had a cold
over the hills and overseas
they could be you or even me
It’s like the Friday of 2019
I read Hannah Weiner’s clairvoyant journals
from low-res pdf festive darkness
crying in trashland
and couldn’t stop tasting purple for a week
of otherwise phantosmia, what I smelled was
the crushed illustrious rose of infinity
pinned to my bittersweet nasal cavity
as I am to watch corpse flower time-lapse
resemble green diamond, they erect an umbrella
and a rare titan arum bloom
typing at the library am I
bike spoke, a concept strike
for closing the erstwhile windows?
Click to know mood…
We keep going
We leap in a pool of pure negroni
and my lungs keep coming up blossom of orange
and call you
welcome back to the room, you can open your eyes now”
Like probably I have told you before
about the band I am starting, a synth-punk
deathcore revivalist outfit called Yoga with Adriene
I have her permission, she says
May all beings be happy
Move from a place of connect
Present and awake
Love your neighbour
Things get better, they have to
It’s a revolution of the muscular laxation
of the life you find cored
If you have apple belly
thick-skinned of futurity, there will be a chorus and verse for this
that goes like scream
Motive, Trust, Floor,
High, Kindle, Salve,
Soften, Strength &
My thighs are burning brightly, it’s the end
friend of my Norwich or Brighton, Manchester, Glasgow
and some kind of New York resemblance
is ‘cracking America’ at the top of your list
I have never been to the south coast
of an average celestial body
yet watering your houseplants
I won’t go viral in the night with pills and tweets
There’s no cheating in yoga, you make it your own
as I do cartwheels on a leap day of acid comedown
they say I do it too fast
the flight gets in and distant cat miaows
as I do kiss you
a lot they say
catharsis is found in the blues
and green laps up the rest is stretching
if you can only find it
like the sweet spot asana with arm across chest
I am become rowan tree, flexing queen of the prom
you pluck fruit pastilles
from inside me the sea,
first try is easy.
PART THREE: TENDER ALPHABET
A. will write in the time of commute
B. prefers spearmint toothpaste
C. is inside of me
D. the size of Paris cumulus
E. is all you can eat, ecstasy
F. who I love
G. has grown
H. the hendecasyllabic I fail to write
I. doesn’t rightly exist
J. sends endless emails
K. is a joke
L. for loosening jewellery
M. with dark sweet cherries and doubles
N. conspicuous passionate weekend
O. checks the notification
P. of classical pleasure
Q. minds the gap
R. is a rising rat-souled singer
S. supposes the cognitive deficit
T. exists in lyric saloon
U. then driving me up the highway
V. to frangible lust I am
W. of shimmer lamb
X. into cowbell rhythms we go
Y. yellow warning of wind has been issued
Z. is a property of citrus
PART FOUR: FLOWER SHOW
In The Besieged City (1948) by Clarice Lispector, ‘the flower was showing off […] it too was untouchable, the indirect world’, ‘exhausted’, ‘What is the flower made of if not of flower itself’.
OPEN LOOP (
BOUQUET ( )
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ) )
The flower exclaimed a soft orchestral impression of breathing. Adults no longer snack in movies. Spent five hours on a train, six on Zoom, three in the outside air is nice. A time-lapse corpse flower, the music being used, pace of light. Heat syncope of the sea, we dive. Someone is hired to recover her pearls or pears. My skin is peeling from sanity gels.
A fault language of shiningly happy teenagers. Rosettes for the nuclear pony. It’s all total showers today. Condensery of lemonade gemstone, sertraline, the lapwing massacre in a Sufjan track / so I am endlessly sorry.
PART FIVE: NATAL SMUDGE
When everything started to wilt, the moon was too late. Untouchable stem of a name, yet the rose-girl knew what to do. She swallowed the world like a gobstopper, a lightbulb, a tulip. The arrogance of sundown was only that it knew how to try.
Turning over, see the supermassive rose in her belly.
Superstitious gemstones include violets and opals, sleepflower, nightshade; don’t @ me if you think they are cruel or kind. Marlene drops cranberries from the wall and you piss twice as hard in Scarborough Fair, are you sad, buy me blue cheese, there is vigilance in the dead. Rosemary for memory, thyme for a life you led, who sells it. Marlene says she misses Alisha, that’s not-me. Pray you arrive here safely, smudge of tarragon, mushroom photography, lines of flight.
We, after Sophie, after Frank, say Ask for everything!
Regarding conjunction, something about publishing, spirituality, knowledge and authority figures. There will be tension with Aquarius principle. A slip of paper. I was born at 06:20, in a thunderstorm.
[Oh yes! x]
The rose-girl had an overture: she tore wedding pearls from her branch-sized clavicle, let them scatter from the tub where she lay and the tub was a cloud, the pearls were snow. At the great conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn, she was a divorce child with her hair in two plaits we would climb up to kiss at the nape of her neck, that’s it, I play all my aces so we won’t die. These cards are beautiful, we turn them away. There will be no dying, not here or now. I thresh the rest of my skyluck, lager, my skylark. I’m lucky the mirror is showing up nowhere. Sometimes it is Freud’s voice, or an oil pastel. The foam from her brushed-down hair. Of the past you have given me everywhere, Andromeda, minipops, electronic renaissance. In writing the poem I am playing the cello, I am playing the cello of poem to death, why not?
It’s up to you
It’s down to you
Don’t be so mournful…
PART SIX: SCENTED AND GENEROUS
I had a dream about the diary with the days mixed up. Each day had its own fragrance:
Cognac, cannabis, dill pickle, mown grass,
libido enhancer, sweet vanilla, jasmine,
ylang ylang, who shares all, heart notes
of shrub, blackcurrant, oak moss, popcorn,
peppermint candy, lavender, ginger
castoreum, chypre, neroli,
understory, wooded and tonka,
ambery, orris, top note,
emily brontë rose, cinnamon,
hot shit, gold dust, brine of ocean,
roast aubergine cologne
near airstrip pheromone,
oil pipe explosion, special cinders,
vetiver, slots into psyche, balsam,
absinthe, cassie, frangipani, saffron,
strawflower aka immortelle,
black liquorice, lactones, myrrh,
sassafras, fruit loops, chocolate ice,
pamplemousse or french for grapefruit
martini and rockrose, peony,
tobacco, peppercorn, petitgrain,
scottish myrtle and soft fir,
nutmeg, new car, coffee brew,
pine needles, indole, musk of course.
Pitseleh means little one. Elliott Smith sings, ‘no one deserves it’.
I’m turning a petal to see you better / that I am someone’s difference.
If we were to wed in the childhood memory where you circle the prairie with diet cola and you always know what to do, I see the cherryade reds in you, sanguineous of first degree and alacrity pitching your letter. The post office is closed. I eat more peanut butter than Elvis and nobody stops me, I get it from Aldi. The day feels closure and we edge towards lockdown, I’m texting, Starbucks is open on Christmas Day, will you bring me something? Again, like the time we ordered starlit capitalist fuck lattes and dusted methamphetamine before shift; we were exquisite, fruit toast, the nourishing glitter in our hair was ace; we served 200 covers, sixty quid in tips, and you were scarlet in the uniform poem called A Scarlet Letter. Not the one or the many, just any. I knew this already. We had written them all! You have to have dashes of green to make red, tell Hilary, which is why I am writing to you from my rowan tree, fred asks is this a rowan bush, I say a rosehip, I don’t know what to do; the inchplant is coming up fast, it will ingest the television, I look forward to it. Brockley Station, Nina Simone, stomach cramps, star flood. Must learn how to climb / the branches brightly.
Write to me of conspicuous passions, such as aging, or the fairy fountain with permissible agelessness. Crystal arpeggio. The various glacés of Rome, ornamental corpse flowers, pistachio and your deep, carnal desire to dance. I brush all the sea-foam from the rose-girl’s hair and she would collapse in panic. What the heck is in this carpet. Can you send me again the dimensions, dots per inch in terms of the plant, or planet? There is much to do. I am sewn a yellow word and kissing you cherries to lemonade, black to blues. Needing earth for it, rich stuff, thoughts on allotments. Omnidawn is the word, when the camera pans out and one million people have streamed this song, the credits come up. O blush, Love’s refrain in summer! 500,000 ampersands, can you imagine it? My new grand dreams of porny conjunction…
You taught me how to shoplift the various accessories of girlhood; I’ve given it up. See how my brows disapprove!
December is cruel, the dark green foliage of tinsel and shrubbery, poinsettias, it’s kitsch. I learn a blue-grey song on guitar but it sucks. Mum makes paella for xmas eve etc. Pantone named yellow-grey the colours of 2021, Katy is raging as I might too; I had a poem about this from before f-sharp, it was all about cycling, snapped ankles, absolute melt. Get to you. The way you arc your arms just so is centrepiece: everything will be the same as the sum of it was, serving us dinner. Cryptocurrency, wrong-name, Tony Blair of bad air was trending, you do it last-minute, pronounce it soft, you wear a blue velour lace thing, fka misty. These are the suburbs where doors were slammed, and these were offered cookies. Fuck a lawn. But you dip your feet in scant oasis, you break off a piece of the dark chocolate donut. I have dreamed of this. Stillnesses are not without purchase. Another spam mail arrives, dear pal—
I am going out to buy us blowsy hours, belong and casual distortion. Black forest gateau and log of the roasted poem, emitting steamiest lines, pleasure days, no breaks just ganache is that thick language. We lay together, birthday of shadow work, wrote sunlessness. I draw dark green liner on their eyes like vines. Wish holidays longer. We enter the alone wood with natural lights they are strung they are simple, leafage pressed between them. 1800 dpi, virus gone, unmute the sea. You are warmly invited.
Mermaid Chunky – Gemini Girls
‘Til Tuesday – Voices Carry
God Help the Girl – Down and Dusky Blonde
Sunflower Bean – Moment in the Sun
Phoebe Bridgers – Graceland Too
M83 – Karl
Tomberlin – Hours (Katie Dey remix)
Gia Margaret – apathy
Felicia Atkinson, Jefre Cantu-Ledesma – And The Flower Have Time For Me
Massive Attack – Black Milk
Björk – It’s Not Up To You
Cocteau Twins – Orange Appled
Yaeji – When in Summer, I Forget About the Winter
Laurel Halo – Blue Notion
Sun Glitters – Somewhere, Nowhere
Robin Guthrie, Harold Budd – Beau, As In Beaumont
Lana Del Rey – Summertime The Gershwin Version
Joan Baez – The Rose
Karen Dalton – Ribbon Bow
Lucinda Williams – Met An Old Friend
Pinegrove – Morningtime (Amperland, NY)
Elliott Smith – Pitseleh
Vashti Bunyan – Here Before
Zoee – Used
Julianna Barwick – Inspirit
Pelican Tusk – Not What You Meant
Neutral Milk Hotel – Where You’ll Find Me Now
Cloth – Old Bear
Lawn – Rats
Mush – Revising My Fee
Big Thief – Not
Joanna Sternberg – Don’t You Ever
Belle & Sebastian – I Don’t Love Anyone
Bloc Party – Waiting for the 7.18
serpentwithfeet – mourning song
Magic Island, Zoee – Agony (Yung Lean cover)
Anna Burch – Can’t Sleep
Kelora – Ultramarine
what if she entered
the sliver of morning and haemorrhage
left for her
on the rooftop, signal
that someone was still coming in caustic shoes
theorising a free continuation
of handsome disorder, to access the paywall
and free us from pain
she could breathe here, just
to feel like getting trains, filming herself
speak only to speed
in practice of relative motion, to feel it
“how all the protests ceased”
but not to look
was to watch the hard tomatoes soften from green
and the weight
to glow awhile, orange
and I miss
a strategy of oratory whereby someone has a line
from beautiful afternoon television, like
“who would buy this house?”
as if there were choices
next to the undiscovered
I’ve been having dreams about family
how she just lay there
until the child began throwing soft toys at her
in the 1990s
anyone could come to life and be numb
I want to read Graeber’s thesis on magic,
slavery and politics
she didn’t say to me
do you ever feel free, for instance
in fugue state when brushing your teeth
I’ve been dreaming about ancestors
stuck on trains
killing rabbits and eating crackers
it was that easy
complaint of what’s coming, knowing nothing
when you can’t measure the wind
by the grass
she had this enormous laughter
dwindling into ambivalence
if this isn’t a dream exposure
and we can’t enter houses
I’ve been trialling sentences, Bernadette Mayer says
I’m not faulting being periodic but sentences with caps and end marks do seem so bloodless to me
You swing gazelle legs over the actual
You wait in the room for the wine
You pull collectives out of the sink
distracted, I watch through windows
turn on my flash
to lead workshops on trash
and poetry as finance, like
eons of speculation
had brought us to nothing but numbers
and the anxious among us, cooking the numbers
I watch her slice an avocado in the dark
and the police van
opened to reveal us
with leaves in our molars, perfect hello
in the bloodless sentence
dreamt I was tidying the rooms
this mad kind of everywhere acid
I couldn’t clean up
in the panic of rich, linguistic Monday, you are
part of the story, too smart for me
the interminable smell of pine resin, kimchi
and menthol gum
yes, just there
in lightness rimming
I made this commitment to sleeping ‘upstairs’
on my editor’s credit
before the treehouse snapped
I can barely listen to music anymore
it’s all error
describing her pain as shooting
when I smashed my thumbs in my eyes
you kept going
it was Jupiter
cruising down Alexandra Parade to send you
the voice message
of not seeing nightingales, a bathtub
attached to a car
I wish I could touch
between times is when I most feel ‘we
exist’ and just like that
the cornflowers won’t die
and we can’t enter houses
and you end
with the fresh heat of illusory commute
I could say anything new
in dumb, erotic anonymity
where all this falls
she had lit up the sad remains
of the tree
bound to other seasons, even look good
despite not hearing this live
I like it, finally
summer light on the same
even if we live
in adrenalised versions of trying to keep warm
on the video call
of audit continuum
she was all
“it is up to the unassuming […]
to represent reality”
in The New York Times
and the well-oiled loss of taste
feels the same
years of tax avoidance
what if she knew before all of us
doubled in running away with me
I dream all my friends
attending the burning
“where have you been”
and you could put this to archive
swipe left for the hidden
indentation of nothing happening
20,000 years ago
mostly I worry if she lived in the dream
I had to wake from
cradling the ersatz animal, sprigs of rosemary
having clambered reality over again
and knowing you survived the scaffold
GESTURES FOR LIVING AIR
as the art was told
“I just need to check
a rough kind of festival kiss
that was listening
in the underpasses of everything
prior to millennium
installs a magical feeling that
you would be at the station
and my bouquet emoji of blood
Fenne Lily – Solipsism
Sylvan Esso – Ring
Gus Dapperton – I’m Just Snacking
Sufjan Stevens – Run Away With Me
Fleet Foxes – I’m Not My Season
Chastity Belt – Ann’s Jam
The Durutti Column – Sketch for Summer
Frog – Photograph
Adrienne Lenker – anything
Tim Heidecker, Weyes Blood – Oh How We Drift Away
Bill Callahan – Sycamore
Gillian Welch – Picasso
Margo Guryan – Why Do I Cry
Norma Tanega – You’re Dead
Elliott Smith – Speed Trials
Kath Bloom, Loren Connors – Tall Grass
The Jesus and Mary Chain – Darklands
Alice Boman – Heartbeat
Edwin Organ – Self Alarm
Broadcast – Echo’s Answer
Cocteau Twins – Aloysius
Yo La Tengo – Bleeding
Perfume Genius – Valley
William Basinski – Tear Vial
Oneohtrix Point Never – Long Road Home
Patiency challenges the body’s borders, the fantasy of which converges with a policing function. This means reimagining the body as process without a centre, not a discrete biological or social fact, but an untotalisable set of relations, the body not as a static object, but as the ek-static convergence of processes always in excess of themselves.(Rob Halpern, Weak Link).
Patiency: ‘to do with the body as a situation of suspended agency and disabused mastery. If this illusion of mastery is a privileged delusion, then patiency is its refusal’. Halpern gives the example of Ban, in Bhanu Kapil’s Ban en Banlieu (2015), who ‘lies down on the street in the opening scene of a riot’. So begins the novel and another historical opening. Patiency might be, I am heckled on the subway and so I lay down in the aisle. Or is that too much of a spectacle? It might be that I is not-I, just as ‘love is not love / When it’s a coathanger / A borrowed line or passenger’. We do patiency differently. So love that is love provides more than suspension or structure; it isn’t the person sitting beside you or even the vehicle. Limerence on a borrowed line. So things are thrown. I am lying down in the middle of lockdown, which feels like ‘response’ as such. In these casual Zoom calls, these meetings, it is like “Oh, well I spent that day lying on my floor, sorry.” I stop saying “just lying on my floor” since, over time, lying on the floor seems adequate. Almost, to a certain thought. We used to call these sad naps and could take them at work, for instance, with head resting on folded hands, or perhaps in the little vinyl benches round the corner of the bar, under the picture of Dylan and the roses, and the painting with the cut-away eyes, whose market value would astound us. When I say I lay down in the middle of a global pandemic, who am I kidding? Sometimes I turn off my webcam and lie down with my eyes closed, still keep talking.
I google ek-static and find a meaning for ecstasy, ekstasis: ek (out) and stasis (a stand, or a standoff of forces). So an experience of ekstasis comprises, as Alexander Riley puts it, ‘extraordinary situations in which one stands, temporarily, outside the normal interactional world in an existential frame of peculiar intensity and effervescence’. There was a night in lockdown I bumped into a friend and we walked along the river, bordered the parking lots of the broadcast buildings, looked at the false lights reflected in stout-dark water until I finally looked up and saw the huge harvest moon. This hour or so outside of the otherwise confinements of lockdown had felt ekstatic — for I was outside, on the edge of the river. I was talking again, for real and wheels were turning. Words, however everyday, had their electric shocks. But was this an extraordinary situation, this encounter? Context matters.
Types of lockdown ~ekstasis:
- Zoom calls till dawn
- Recorded poems
- Voices, hear say yes
- The word haecceity
- Streets without vehicles
- The first day I discovered the meadow
- Golden hour
- Bluebells, daffodils, cornflowers
- The innocent coughs of strangers in readings from a pre-covid world, if such a thing once existed
- One infinite tin in the park with you
- Oil pastel under my nails
- St John’s Wort capsules
- Parcel arrivals
- Applause on the recording from 2004
- Misplaced pastoral (nostalgia) inside a sleep
- When we didn’t know which window the birdsong belonged to
- Coffee, five times a week
- ‘Like a cat can / See things out of order’ (Lucy Ives, ‘Picture’)
- Soft sound twilight of notification
- Gentle ASMR of the rain
- Tree climb
- Carousels of apophenia
- The canal, the river
There’s a song that goes, ‘all that I have is a river’ and I remember it from more than a movie. An undergraduate, alone in my small room I was watching this video of a young Johnny Flynn and Laura Marling just sing this together and I thought it was an old song, oldest, the kind of thing you can only think when adolescence still is you. Almost ten years have passed since then. Ten long summers, more like winters…What a gift to forgo all but the river, to be young enough to possess nothing, cover it, or to let go for the water and what
it carries. For you know everything is a new current is not even new, it was streaming before and now it is catching. And you let yourself into it or you don’t. You walk into, you walk by the river. You are carried, supine. Patiency.
I skirt the river in lockdown because it is a motion of passing when nothing else does except spirits and bodies, and the days are leaf, they are like easy to peel from the calendar, people are always saying O how the time passes, but into what? Time passes with you, otherwise I am waiting. The song that appeared in a search result. With you am I writing. ‘Dreaming is the best kind of waiting: it overcomes nothing, it does not try to separate itself from what it wants, from everything it wants. Dreaming just begins’ writes Sarah Wood, in 2007, which was a year I learned to starve myself among eons of bad indie. So I would dream hard instead; it was like whittling reality down to return to those childhood imaginaries whose nourishment was almost endless. To be almost endless, and good. It was the year before recession and so I had not learned the societal imperative towards ‘hope’. ‘If Hope can find oxygen, it will’, writes Lena Andersson at the end of her novel, Wilful Disregard (2013), ‘Starvation rations do not help […]. The supply of nourishment must be completely cut off’. You learn to breathe different air; you have to. Oh the rain really came today, I feel like saying / or send you a video. Told to have hope or having hope is different from living towards it. Soft falling hope was not that. In a 2019 discussion with Greta Thunberg, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez says,
I learned that hope is not something that you have. Hope is something that you create, with your actions. Hope is something you have to manifest into the world, and once one person has hope, it can be contagious. Other people start acting in a way that has more hope.
I’ve had it with viral metaphors, in the sense that I live in the era of post-viral fatigue and my body is sick with the carriage, ‘but I can’t stop expanding with currents convulsive’ (Halpern, Weak Link). Lana sang ‘Hope is a dangerous thing for a woman like me to have’ and the question became less about hope and more about that ‘like me’, a little hinge. I identified with a neighbourly extravagance, hydrangeas, pale blue-lilac from a middling soil; I left the gate slightly open, I smoked in the rain. The danger was in hope without architecture, so a ghost came in. Hope requires a manifest scaffold, perhaps. Weather that rails against it. The trace effects of a fire, of dream languor, particle physics. It was in the sentences we erected, passed on, hammered in, lifted and lay still, remembered…‘my present tense contracting the way love contracts me to the future from whose point of view this will have not been terminal’ (Halpern). The person on the Zoom call, PST, said to say goodbye, If you’re in California, don’t leave your house, there’s smoke out there. Stay healthy. Hope needs to be more than just ‘in the pipeline’. Maybe we need to blow up the pipeline.
2007. I lived in the years of ambient war. Later, too young, I would attempt to read Cyclonopedia: Complicity with Anonymous Materials (2008) and dream about pools of oil filling the end of my bed, like a menstrual stain. At school, we wrote essays in which we had to pick a side: for or against? The Iraq War, vegetarianism, a bypass for our town, surveillance capitalism? I could only think of deserts, not arguments; I wondered what secret plant could stem blood flow from a wound. I rarely watched television. In super rural mornings, December, the air smelled of engine oil, woodsmoke, fertiliser. Shit and snow. Something to-come that never was passing. I felt sanguine, calm without compare, sipping vodka + cokes against gym blocks. Back then, clouds were irrelevant. Instead, I scrolled the internet for answers and images. ‘That hope is just another bloated moat / is worth the ringworm, is it really so cute’ writes Nikki Wallschlaeger in Crawlspace (2017). Thinking in Sianne Ngai’s terms, is this ‘so cute’ ‘a sensuous quality or appearance’, or ‘a feeling-based evaluation or speech act’ (Our Aesthetic Categories). It’s cute that you dreamt it. The ringworm I mean, another parasite. So you circle in medias res, nibble a little of that time, but I thought I could jump the moat into future. Future was just a quality, like cute. Is it really so cute? The tiny things and changes. billie eilish in her video for ‘my future’ looks pretty cute, but it’s more than that. The soft falling rain would fill up the moat, the river, the lake. The dream was a body of water again. Speech fell upon us, fluid, then telling the nude and lime-before-lilac sensation. Something that gets inside us; a tooth around your neck, and pain.
Dreaming just begins. Derrida is beginning his lecture on Joyce, ‘Ulysses Gramophone’, with the signature of a date. This feels arbitrary enough – a date in lieu of a site specific. I would send letters in lockdown for the sake of sending a date. It was an act of patiency, a claim against time that could turn it inside out, let somebody else pop the bubblewrap for you.
I was looking for postcards that would show Japanese lakes, or let’s call them inland seas. It had crossed my mind to follow the edges of lakes in Ulysses, to venture out on a grand lakeside tour between the lake of life which is the Mediterranean Sea and the Lacus Mortis referred to in the hospital scene, as it happens, and dominated by the symbol of the mother […]. You will no doubt know better than I that the whole pack of postcards perhaps hints at the hypothesis that the geography of Ulysses’ trips around the Mediterranean lake could have the structure of a postcard or a cartography of postal dispatches.(Derrida, ‘Ulysses Gramophone’)
The difference between the lake and the sea, is it tidal? Say I wrote to you by a general lunar insurrection: I refuse to be governed by hormones alone. I am lapped, turned over, the hours are upon me in wavelets. For a long time, months, the word ‘hospital’ also conjured ‘field’, and ‘crisis’, and ‘overstretched’, ‘overburdened’. Many fled cities to avoid this. What would a postcard from the pandemic look like? This sounds like the afterthought of a conference happening years from now. Send a postcard to your future self! I would rather dwell awhile in the mystical, sub bass pastoral of a common place that is billie’s future. The transparent dew in the process of dropping, clearest blue. But it was also the artist’s imperative, mid-March, to say something. To who? A postcard can be read by anyone, if they get their fingers on the mail, if they would risk that trace or touch.
You could circle the drain, if not the lake, like in the video where Soccer Mommy is at Palm Springs Surf Club and conjures an existential state by the weather: ‘I wanna be calm like the soft / Summer rain on your back / Like the fall of your shoulders’. A desert gets cold at night; its ochres turned deep into cobalt. What happens in the turn of those lines is the fall of rain is a bodily gesture, the fall of your shoulders. Like sigh before sleep or hold me. Both kinds of soft between element and form are just memory’s fall, and a longing that is ambient and prolonged like those four hour looped videos where the song is slowed down and rain sounds are added. Its weird twist is dark ecological: I love and you as the other with your shoulders, their fall, I love I am rain old rain we are just that falling or were. There is a sense, if vague, of when it happened, of summer. Somewhere. I would send a postcard with those lines and make a cliché of the feeling. Clichés are like rain; they fall all around us and that too is cliché. In London I learned to long for the rain.
My trips around the Surf Club, is that a name for this desert, some place out and aching, are not knowing what I’m looking for, the lake of life or death. There was a body of unknowable time at the beginning of pandemic that felt like a lake, a dark one with monsters inside it. You were scared to touch. The virus was a hyperobject and it lived in the lake and became us. So I thought what it meant to carry the lake. Like if you could tie it to your Kanken and drag the lake on a walk every day, make it lose weight. Could you test the lake, dump chemicals in it, starve it, piss in it? Was this abuse? My poor lake, resting at the edge of the desert. The lake was too much: overstretched, overburdened. Eventually I would bathe in it, but that was July, just before a morning of rain and the fall of your shoulders / brush back hair. Aeolian breath above the lake.
A thought crossed Derrida’s mind ‘to follow the edges of lakes’ in a novel. A very long novel but only a day. Sometimes we say ‘it feels Mediterranean’ and is it a warm breeze off the sea, a quality of something vermillion splashed against turquoise? Like Dorothea Lasky (if I remember her essay on colour correctly, perhaps there is a colourblindness to memory) I always loved that combination. But it grew too much and mostly I stopped painting in those colours. Can there be too much blue in your life? We compare eye colour on Zoom and there is what, somethingsomething pixelation of the soul, which is almost good, is it. The inland sea of WhatsApp green, or the rising tides of Facebook blue. An irritant gets into the ocean. This is how a pearl is formed, and we worry it into August.
August: the commonplace between seasons. What was formerly meant by holiday. Halpern’s weak link is something about tendency, which is a quality of patiency, surely:
[——] = a common place we can’t sense, but upon which all we perceive depends
In the book, the double em-dash is more than that, because there is no gap in the line. I don’t know how to recreate that here. Rachel Blau DuPlessis often uses the commonplace of a line, this continuity, asking questions like
Did these years have to happen
the way they did?______________
______________. The poem, unwritten
is concealed by the poem,
written.(Surge: Drafts 96-114)
This is from a poem called ‘Draft 100: Gap’. I feel urged to fill in the blanks, but then suddenly don’t. Mind the gap? I am mindful of my tendency to make lines into rivers. This is a temporal effect: ‘The body of water a particular time of day resembles’, writes Lucy Ives in ‘Catalogue’, not answering the proposition except to parenthesise ‘candida’ in brackets (). Parasites again. You can’t starve them so much as you must cut off the oxygen altogether. They want sugar! Like rubbing words out of your poem is a kind of excision necessary to let the reader in: an exchange of space. But is a blank also a body of water? Let us lie down in the blanks, one or more acts of patiency. The edge of my body at the edge of the lake, which was almost erased, became two-dimensional. Was it the politicians who did this, or the semioticians? Surge, surge, surge…
Without touch, I could not plunge into the body of water for several months. Returning was two-sided, flickering. It was turning the river to a mobius strip. The river that led to the lake? No pictures were taken, but words were written…
The other’s body was divided: on one side, the body proper—skin, eyes—tender, warm; and on the other side, the voice—abrupt, reserved, subject to fits of remoteness, a voice which did not give what the body gave. Or further: on one side, the soft, warm, downy, adorable body, and on the other, the ringing, well-formed, worldly voice—always the voice.(Barthes, A Lover’s Discourse)
In his telegraphic dashes, Barthes evokes the voice on the line, between lines, electric crackle. I am on the end of a telephone listening to what I thought was rain but was only white noise or the manifest difference of space between us. For once, not time; though still there was time between us, before which we could meet. The body could always give more, which is why Derrida would venture the IRL lakes to follow a postal cartography. Here where I received this text, sparkle emoji, a picture of sunset forgetting I’d sent… But what if the voice became a body in tender distance? A kind of tendering in itself? If it was all we had of those months, and could cradle ourselves to sleep in it…
We look back on the years that are happening and wonder if they ‘have’ to happen this way. There are divisions, revisions; something that gives and receives. A year is impossible. The depth of a lake without measure. I could not tie it to my horse and ride away. Salt and sweet. The difference between lake and inland sea depended on your idea of ‘freshness’, but in Cancer season I delved in the water. We called it a loch, though named it was ‘Lake’. Always the voice / settles cool on the water.
Down becomes a colour. Peach stuck, clouded. A snapshot from my enviro-diary in spring:
I realised there had to be exits from ‘lavender country’, even if I felt implicated in the earth forever. What had I otherwise written of the wild mountain thyme, the purple heather. I had.
What Andersson wrote of hope, ‘If Hope can find oxygen, it will’ recalls Angel Olsen’s song, ‘If It’s Alive, It Will’ and you can’t help thinking about the ‘it’. This thin word of the thing itself. Love? The song, the poem? ‘My friend you are unique but not always / Some stranger in the well has surely felt your pain […] And all the things you’ve once said / Your thoughts exist in someone else’s head’. So we are parasites of a mutual speech, second body, patiency. It’s going on elsewhere,, echo,, echo. I saw the police queuing for pizza. I saw mothers outside supermarkets, I saw masks trampled into the towpath. I saw your breath left a mark on the bathroom mirror. If anything is taught now it is that pain is not unique in its total uniqueness. It is also a misting — these noticing moments like the colour of your eyes on webcam, or when I saw a friend by the river or the cygnets when they were still small, and charcoal. Touch, know that we live. ‘A moment of affirmation; for a certain time, though a finite one, a deranged interval, something has been successful’ (Barthes, A Lover’s Discourse). The weak link ( — ) of ‘a common place we can’t sense, but upon which all we perceive depends’ (Halpern). The more we send, the more links accumulate. This is not some metaphor leading into Connell’s chain, or the blockchain, the chain of being or food chain, but something like when I recently went to visit my Nan for the first time in nearly two years I saw she was wearing the gold chain I remembered. It remains a ghost fact against my clavicle. Gilded, some arterial link between times, the artefact worn of all years, not mine.
And did that path or the other(Blau DuPlessis, Surge: Drafts 96-114)
________________? The other
side of words_______________.
A path can be dangerous, like hope. So I see it not as a route so much as this mark of the common place, where you enter the poem. Echo. It is not so much I who is writing. Someone is pouring clementine fizz into the glassware someone else will inherit. An embrace is made possible because of this. If it’s alive, it will. The other side of words or the strangers in the well you threw a coin into. I was always wishing on fountains. Could I eavesdrop on what went on inside your sleep? It was trouble enough to listen to mine. Quiet plash. Your breath like the ocean beside me, etc.
Hope and not-hope. I am obsessed with this passage from Verity Spott’s forthcoming Hopelessness (2020). ‘I hope. You hope’, she writes:
‘I wondered if it was enough to extract a sentence and hope something would ramify from there, like crystal’, writes Brian Dillon in Suppose a Sentence (2020). That word ‘hope’ again! To put faith in the art of essaying, you manifest from the sentence, say. But isn’t extraction bad? Verity writes an incredible sentence. Love contracts, there is a terminus, there is no harbour, is it that thoughts overfall or flow before water. There are strange moments where you fall into iambic rhythm, ‘would shrink like necks passed out’ and find yourself taking perverse pleasure in the pulse of that action, complicit. I fell asleep at the desk, put a crick in my neck. If Verity’s sentence is a crystal it is so splintering hot that to hold it I had already thrown it towards you like catch and here we are passing those lines between each other like ouch! or whoosh! as it goes through the air then starts to stream — is it light or water that sprays off the sentence, falling or lifting we get it back up we get going again, so being itself is contingent, there is a feeling of tilting, just touching between something like what Adrienne Lenker sings in ‘Mary’ — a most verbose song with the lines the lines the lines like fractals, repeats, alliterative, the rhymes inside it — ‘The violent tenderness / The sweetest silence / The clay you find is fortified / We felt unfocused fade the line’, it’s a blur then, even if the object is hard, ‘my vested shot’ like bullets are thoughts, ‘get fucked’ (a reminder that we die or desire, no, we could be ejected by the speaker, why not), leave holds inside us and the ullulation maybe of lift/leak/blink/light/love/cryssalis/live/like/laugh/will, hear the undersong packed inside the block, LA LA LA LA CAN I HEAR YOU? to put this in the kiln of language and wait, tender, splintered political speech is the romantic filibuster of ‘on and on and on and on’ worn in a ring without rose, lust, health, being messed up by time and order, ‘and change not come it not does come to who those wait’ as if to be the subject doing object to the thing itself, no is that not right, I’m in the stream of it, ‘where else’, ‘that change’, well I feel gentle to read this to you aloud and think poetry is it never could smile like lift this up what’s underneath, ‘screaching night’ of fizzy things in vessels, ‘pouring thoughts I made them up, so what’, a fall of your shoulders, softly, who cares, ‘wry out’ did I twist that humour is lyric always sincere, I care (?) is it the very empowerment or dressage of the poem that makes it ‘shot’, tongue tangled, get shot, ‘hurt the air’, ‘get fucked’, I love you, whole world is metamorphosis. It’s for love or dream or death, ‘if you fall great down’ a white-hot crystal. Stammering light of I love you. So keep repeating the sentence forever it’s the estuary (ex)change in my head where the diamond melted; I go out like a river, a light, it’s so many; I lift crisp, iridescent leaf to find you in process…‘scarless along the rib, as if to say’ (Halpern). Small wet thing w/ almost wings. ‘Soon come’ is a charm I have held all summer, ‘Where goes? I guess’ / the flight, the train, the swim, the breath…
According to my diary, in 2020 I had nineteen dreams about breath. These are some:
but maybe this is a lesson in being able to let go and breathe deep and keep going, rather than hinge on another lag. Oh hinge is another app right, maybe I should get that.
I started to do long deep breaths.
I would come out in the breaks to breathe fresh air among the tumbling ivy. My aching head, my burned-out lungs. I eat too much!
A lavender girl with this expensive complexion and a close-shaved head was underwater for a very long time and when she bobbed to the surface, numb and curled in the foetal position, she moaned something about “I wanted to give up my breath”. And we realised this was the currency of all these submersions: losing your breath. There were many people doing it, just bobbing to die in the water.
I don’t have a shortness of breath or any particular fever beyond what you usually wake up to after too much sugar
Last night at four in the morning I finished A Breath of Life in a sort of tired rapture, still very awake, leaning back into my eyes and my soul a while, the sense that it might go on forever, whatever ‘it’ is, cross-referenced of course with Àgua Viva
Started to have trouble breathing, a sort of slanted weight on my chest. I guess sometimes I suffer from very minor sleep apnoea, like the Beach Fossils song
Disorientating to wake up from a dream with so many people, almost like I couldn’t breathe, my heart was racing, I had to pull off my jumper
I feel this pressure, like I won’t be able to breathe and I won’t. In the dream I was between two tribes and there were guns I suppose, other weapons. Loosely I was in love with someone on the wrong side and so my loyalties were confused and I knew my life was at stake, the others having pressed knives to my throat to warn me, given me a bracelet I knew contained a location tag. I want to be dazzled by leaves and tiny pieces of unmentionable silver.
She went away and I was sort of left in this state of zero energy, desperately trying to gather up selected marbles to give out to whoever was still left in the boarding house. And then I sort of dried up, paralysed, barely able to breathe.
A few people joked about moshing. I miss the rupture of something going shoulder to shoulder. I miss the general blaze of sweat. How is it to breathe in a basement.
I want to feel like the blanks between dreams, ekstatic spaces between sleep (fall asleep to yr voice again), are bodies of water. Àgua Viva: running water, fresh water; variously translated as stream of life. Another writer who wields the dash, flies on the line, which is also the spray, the beam of light, is of course Clarice Lispector:
Today I finished the canvas I told you about: curves that intersect in fine black lines, and you, with your habit of wanting to know why—I’m not interested in that, the cause is past matter—will ask me why the fine black lines? because of the same secret that now makes me write as if to you, writing something round and rolled up and warm, but sometimes cold as the fresh instants, the water of an ever-trembling stream. Can what I painted on this canvas be put into words? Just as the silent word can be suggested by a musical sound.(Àgua Viva, trans. by Benjamin Moser)
Who is she talking to, writing to? The fine black lines of moth wings draw up a thought. It is a cashmere reality and I am tugged at the holes. In the subjunctive, only ‘as if’ writing to you; she can preserve the stream, the weave, the cold splash of secrets. This is only towards the act of communication itself. All works of ekphrasis, all spirals of daylight, all times I turned on the tap and for what? Could I wash myself back into a blank, or what luxury to preserve in the mud on my shins, the marks of ink up my arms, mascara’d tears around my eyes, the blood running down the inside of my thighs? In the water, it would all run into trembling lines, purple blur, it would circle the drain, would never stop————————————
MUNA – It’s Gonna Be Okay, Baby
Tim Heidecker feat. Weyes Blood – Fear of Death
Lens Mozer – All My Friends
Disq – I Know What It’s Like
Martha Ffion – Nights to Forget
FKA twigs – Water Me
The 1975 – Frail State of Mind
The Kundalini Genie – Can’t Get You Out My Mind
Bright Eyes – Just Once in the World
Lucinda Williams – Overtime
Joan Baez – North Country Blues
Elliott Smith – Pitseleh
Sia – Breathe Me
Bloc Party – Biko
John Prine – Bruised Orange (Chain of Sorrow)
Joanna Sternberg – Nothing Makes My Heart Sing
Big Thief – Mary
Angel Olsen – Waving, Smiling
Sarah Davachi – Play the Ghost
Tomberlin – Wasted
billie eilish – my future
Yo La Tengo – Nowhere Near
La Force – You Amaze Me
A.G. Cook – Crimson and Clover (cover)
DJ Shadow – Midnight in a Perfect World
lime green triangle
and Spicer says, ‘don’t worry I will tell you everything’. this is the dream where you appear as a lime green triangle and there is nothing I can do _ lime green isosceles learning spelling looking at the great internet for hours, very lightly _ lime green isosceles learning your angles /
\ if you appear to me lime again, full-flesh of note
I know a great red splash will appear on the side of the morning, best side, coffee breath not four hours on call, or shepherd style. So how a triangle holds me like every brushstroke, something gestural in lieu of a writerly end. July, july, like who is writing?
out of your window the mews were, smoke-warm lung
accident) is a landscape even real? where is my juul, my eye?
There is this line in Katie Dey’s ‘Bearing’ (mydata) which goes, ‘I am warm by her username’.
None of ever disembodied; always a record of brushstroke, beautiful people on the pavement outside and bouncing a trite kind of fungible language, who goes. To shop for that same geometry. It tumbled out of the wow so luminous. this dream I kept having about going for half a Guinness with you / and all pretty drunk on aphid dependence
is jangle expensive impressionable air!
look up from the mic it’s there, like yellow flower
went in tesco wearing a mask
felt lux of outside
purchase protect like
there is so much of so little bread in the world
‘But I write
you tomorrow, I always say it in the present’, says Derrida, of a bookleaf letter.
Look who’s shining back, sarments of a username. what is the use value of
removing the bees from the kelvin meadow? sweet carb, sometimes
I am barely iris
and the milk is sour trochee / streak of copper
want to draw us a room to live in
depth of field, dappled motion. Like a ramen hack
all it takes slight pinch of telling you everything. like we camp this close to the website
with duckmice, star anise . . .
that season I got everything early. and it was all good, kind to me
very bloodful much dawn, little saltish, waking only to sleep again to vague
dreamnote will you go
sent up to Parkland or like
a sluice of weather, let me swipe it from yr brow. wild
reclaiming the word for thyme vibration
abundant / gold sounds / this
you is more / Disentangle
prettily the screen again, hair in fist and first / make space for your
space it_ Don’t worry I will tell everything
by the sheen of my wrists a bracelet
of upstroke acoustic lines of steel, latching sun.
Best side, coffee a short breath upon pale-coloured air is how have you slept,
synchronise “morning” for warming, always already
I had that poem about the warm London air and
wanting to kiss us, where did it go
cut thru a land &
dumb smoke without snow as it was in Glasgow, then
lemon balm smoking a natural data by summerised fountain, four
in the not now morning
O wow like salt lakes
look at us float! no money
you can or can’t say swim
you swap pronoun for leaf
leaf is barely iris
leaf is barely eating
leaf is barely anyone
I was so happy to just say afk : )
breathe me / is only the accidental priceless picnic
of being barely alive like
somebody taking a polaroid, here in my doll’s dress
I-i mean leaf never felt sick as america, except to say sickening!!!!
the worry of telling you everything, that’s practice
so much I would crisp by it, hot swear
nude in the
new soft animal shapes
“golden green, red blue”
These are just lights! growing sideways
you pull up slick at the station, leaf coming
before say come
round the corner you
narrate my emails
deleting erotic gasoline, plainsong smelled of triangle
caught you in chord. lime green over Laura Nyro
say what I held in my hand was just
or tiny bird
the heather all over the heather
wild I keep wanting to say it would never go
just about purple
best thing I ever saw or heard
no name of a name
learning to spell say oxeye by the layby
eat three almonds, live in Japan
liked songs make wonderful life / it’s coming
Aye Nako – Sissy
Tacocat – I Hate the Weekend
The Kinks – Rats
Orange Juice – I Guess I’m Just a Little Too Sensitive
R.E.M. – Crush With Eyeliner
CAN – Moonshake
Khruangbin – Time (You and I)
Klein, MONG_WOONG – V3
PJ Harvey, Thom Yorke – This Mess We’re In
U.S. Girls – Rosebud
King Krule – Stoned Again
Sonic Youth – Bull in the Heather
Thee Oh Sees – The Axis
Sun Ra – When There is No Sun
Fire-Toolz – It’s Now Safe to Turn Off Your Computer
NNAMDÏ – Glass Casket
Thanya Iyer – Always, Be Together
Christelle Bofale – Moving On, Getting On
Toro y Moi feat. Old Grape God – tron_new_rose_hifi_v2
James Blake – Are You Even Real?
Porridge Radio, Lala Lala – Good For You
Immaterial Possession – Tropical Still Life
Sharon Van Etten – Malibu
Silver Jews – Animal Shapes
Modern Nature – Halo
Fair Mothers, Faith Eliott, Esther Swift – Monochrome
Magnolia Electric Co. – Josephine
David Bowie – Wild Is the Wind
Karen Dalton – Little Bit of Rain
Christian Lee Hutson – Northsiders
Portishead – Deep Waters
Elliott Smith – Whatever (Folk Song in C)
Sparklehorse – Sunshine
Joan Baez – The Wild Mountain Thyme
April, the quarantined month is sweet. Not cruellest, for that would be February. What is the human capacity for crying exactly? I had cried all 28 days to water the snowdrops, saved the 29th for one great, acidic cry of my life.
April, I dreamt you had leapt from the hole in my head / and the hole in my head from the length of your light.
April, we name our sadnesses arbitrarily. The sadness is a euphemism for what we are tired of saying, and even saying ‘these times’, and even saying the strangeness. To live in the sadness or strangeness, say
April, a shattering epiphany that I still
April, my kindest regards.
April, the dying narcissi.
April, I never signed on to be locked indoors, never signed on for these losses or debts. Never signed on for these sadnesses and yet they are happening, belonging to someone in pain upstairs, lending a movie, tending a wage.
April, the sadness of paragraphs.
April, I watch you teach at a distance, blue-dimming with cans of juice.
April, The Baudelaire Fractal.
April, the pedagogy of longing. I lose dull words. I teach myself not to need you. I learn to need the living itself. Lil Peep screams in my ear, ISN’T LIFE BEAUTIFUL / I THINK THAT LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL. This is a kind of instruction.
April, the sarcasm of flowers.
April, I walk in the underpass reading the red paint, Make the rich pay. The president is everywhere and nowhere, confected aleatory; a bad rhizome, the president has bleached his words. Tap root political, it can’t get out. The water doesn’t flow here. There’s lead, but no leader.
April, I found a Jason Molina lyric buried in a poem by Peter Gizzi. I had been writing about the undersong but this was ‘Oversong’, the verb ‘to be’ eclipsing ‘me’.
April, I wander the lonely rhubarb clouds, an hour or so. The world on edge.
April, there’s lead in the water.
April, I would polish your cutlery.
April, someone on the radio is defending his advice on a bleachy digest.
April, say hi to Angela for me.
April, where are your showers?
April, what would I ask of your showers?
April, the poems. Mary Ruefle filling the 22nd with sunflower hearts, or was it her friend, ‘Please Read’. How I misread wilted for waited, waited for wilted. Seeds of words. How I knew nothing about the orange blossom excepting its smell, which I drunk so hard, not knowing the name but only how passing a top-note I wanted it all perfumed within me. This form of quietness akin to heat or light. Who would design this, and all that beauty.
April, the air is cherried with synonyms. You spit out the coolest noun for this.
April, I eat breakfast at six in the evening.
April, you are teasing me with readings and the old response; I have no ability. My year folds back into last, remembering the burn in my stomach, wanting to get there fast and slow, the scenery seen from a train. Manchester blossoms before Glasgow and the song about the orange room, the pinks in the street, the wondering. I did not know then that I would take you, carry a little seed in me.
April, I have so little to say.
April, sprained ankles.
April, the canal is glistening at dusk.
April, the supercut / us.
April, in these uncertain times, you are the discount. Please let me out for a walk, on all things said, the passing around of a line.
April, James Schuyler remembered you to a French pear and the sulphur-yellow bees. I was nostalgic also, pollinating the document with all my normals. What difference it made. They said a world.
April, the pollen set free.
April, the edge of the world is grey.
April, the sunlight’s adultery.
April, what sex?
April, fuck you, that was yesterday.
April, I’m reading Lee Harwood again for the sea that I miss. Infinite sea that I miss.
April, I want to run down the slope of the universe and think a single intelligent thought.
April, they are absolute units.
April, the rivers are so low I’m starting to think ‘they’ need sertraline. Sweet relief of the rain.
April, fuck it I love you.
April, it’s always somebody’s birthday and now they’re blowing out candles on Zoom.
April, you buy me groceries.
April, I’m starting to think I once met a girl called April. She wore her hair in elaborate braids, and the kirby grips shone in the sun the one day in July when I ate ice lollies by the fountain at the end of all I remember. The roses were over-watered, all colours of the sun. Generous, redundant, you tossed in bank notes to wish this was over.
April, Lee says ‘her beauty undresses the sea’. You picture that, the flicker where the dress is the same as the blue as she is the sea.
April, I wear blue and roll myself out where the sun would set.
April, I can’t stop quoting Clarice.
April, I want somebody else’s salt.
April, the pink moon, the Lyrid meteors.
April, there’s something I want to delete.
April, I was crying for the violinist on the radio, crying for those in her apartment, dying. Two of them, she said, barely in their forties, choking up.
April, I felt like a meme. A bad guy.
April, make the rich pay.
April, it was so on the nose the writing was giving me zits and I’m sorry. Keep thinking this is it this is it this is it and I’m sorry.
April, step into the fifteenth century.
April, Joanne Kyger in the song called ‘Belief’.
April, this stamina of maintaining the romance of living.
April, naming us yellowest flowers.
April, a lunar-resistant photography sings.
April, give me the negatives.
April, it all started on the eleventh. I went a ritualised cycle in the sweet warm rain, with flies stuck jewel-like to the sweat of my chest. I kept going and going until my heart gave out a charitable breathlessness.
April, you have a shark smile and I wonder what it is you might do to me.
April, I really miss Nice ‘n’ Sleazys, pints of Guinness, gigs & readings.
April, the air is a silver curve.
April, you are thousands of results.
April, the change I can’t have.
April, the little black cat tried to get in the door and for a while we sat there and then scooping her up I held her awhile, her wee beating heart next to mine. The warmest thing in weeks. Her glass eyes looked to the curve-glass moon and we both were momentary slivers. I went inside and washed my hands and the soap bubbles… and I hope she got home eventually.
April, it felt stupid as a miracle.
April, consider the orchid.
April, it made of us talking heads. I dreamt I went through the screen and it was all a quiet darkness of matter, having read Karen Barad, having watched Twin Peaks. Is it that you go through your own eyes, zooming, watching to see what they’d do in the afterglow, repeating yourself. Here is the other Maria, etc. I watched you on someone else’s story, like a bad cartoon, the bad rehearsal of all of our laughter, a bad white powder.
April, I hate this.
April, my pins and needles.
April, Marianne Morris says ‘Never lay in the dirt elated’.
April, my dad sends me pictures of lambs.
April, it gets so I don’t want to call anymore because it hurts more not being with you in the summer, the summer, the amiable feeling.
April, the president says to try light and heat.
April, you are rice cakes, sadness and crushed velour.
April, the world is not primed or administered.
April, ‘they’ failed ‘us’, etc.
April, blue masks lay on the pavement like plasters afloat in the pools of my youth and I wonder whose wounding was minor, to take that off.
April, I swim in it.
April, a lesson.
April, I felt in the fortress of dreams the falling into after-this. On a spinning top at the park by the beach and we held on forever / and all my old friends were shining.
April, I can’t listen to Joni anymore.
April, the crisp sea air.
April, the police are everywhere.
April, I miss everyone.
April, if I could transcend already, the froth on a latte, the password required of me.
April, I make a donation.
April, if the story is lifted.
Cocteau Twins – Rilkean Heart
Ariel Pink – Feels Like Heaven
Phoebe Bridgers – Kyoto
Dua Lipa – Future Nostalgia
Gena Rose Bruce – The Way You Make Love
Lil Rae, Pelican Tusk – ODYSSEY
Field Medic – POWERFUL LOVE
The 1975 – Jesus Christ 2005 God Bless America
Neutral Milk Hotel – April 8th
Felicia Atkinson – Everything EvaporateSky Ferreira – You’re Not The One
Goth GF – Horse Girl
Lil Peep – Moving On
Paramore – My Heart
Double Discone – Red Light
Grimes – Rosa
Cindy Lee – Plastic Raincoat
Gia Margaret – Groceries
Laura Marling – Held Down
Jess Williamson – Infinite Scroll
Porches – Xanny Bar
Frank Ocean – Dear April
Mitski – I Bet on Losing Dogs
Pinegrove – On Jet Lag
Angelo De Augustine – Santa Barbara
Hand Habits – Flower Glass
Peter Oren – Falling Water
Tim Buckley – Marigold
Julia Jacklin – Don’t Let the Kids Win
Fiona Apple – Under the Table
John Prine – Pretty Good
John K. Samson – 17th Street Treatment Centre
Mount Eerie, Julia Doiron – Belief
Songs, Ohia – An Ace Unable to Change
Bright Eyes – Forced Convalescence
Nic Jones – Master Kilby
The Lowest Pair – Shot Down the Sky
Lana Del Rey – Bel Air
Sun Kil Moon – Ocean Breathes Salty
Outer Limits Recordings – Silhouette
Pelican Tusk – Rhubarb’s House
Roddy Woomble – Context of Midnight
I dream I am driving, and the accident with tomatoes mattered less because I was going to slam myself, my assemblage of metal and flesh, quite deliriously into the tree. He once teased he was good at slamming. Before there was yesterday, I had watched you with the beef variety in the centre of the plate; how you held the knife quite close so the skin would almost burst, I held my breath. Red would split upon red, the tremble. Is it even red, this colour they ascribe to the fruit we always said was vegetal? Breakfast, another cut between my legs. Breakfast, the people who queue outside for their messages. Two metres apart, we exist at the opposite stems of each other.
To think of it now, my mind flowering as though on modafinil, recovering a single pollen of thought. It is this: I would crumble to every yellow you asked of us, sweeping me from your sunsets as nobody would dare come online.
As the plot develops, you are pushing the knife, really pushing it into the fruit. You are going quite steady, through the seed. I feel a warmth from the skin of the keys. You can’t go through with it; you drop the handle and check my pulse. We loll around, considering things. We are two lopped halves of the edible. I felt like Whitman, licking tomato juice from the knife of the man who doesn’t exist. Who made you a man? You could just as easily have been a sunflower, boy. We loll around, considering things; we sway in the wind that doesn’t exist. I want to be as sure as the land. The land outside is an area, and the area is X, it doesn’t exist.
who / that / it
There are millions of infected tomatoes living right now on this planet. I find it triggering when someone pretends to count them. I set my alarm clock to March, knowing we’d even get back if we tried, if we were silent as we are. I cycled hard up the hill to meet this, dreaming the fruit upon my return.
The clocks go forward, stupid clocks!
Fiction makes us go places. All the signs said, for circumstances beyond our control—
Move you between ex and why.
I dream of a quarantine beside the sea. My brother is ordering luxury coffee, the air is good, I feel it stir in my chest. The air is time, but we can’t buy it. I leave fat tips with coins I can’t use. Why is it for ‘me’ or ‘us’ that the world exists? You took the single when you wanted the double. No, it is not that at all. We thank the people who serve us duly. You have served me the last bad song of myself.
‘Of crushed red tomatoes, you turn it down to just an orange glow’ (Bernadette Mayer, ‘Very Strong February’).
In lieu of my thesis, I kept making playlists. Which argument is it that would strangle the days, leave them to simmer
Then strangle the days to a blazing teal.
‘Something is going to happen’, writes Sartre in Nausea, ‘I see myself advancing with a sense of fatality’. It is our curse to be so viscously stuck to ourselves. I don’t know what that’s about, what any of this means. Imagine a laptop on top of a laptop. I am helpless in the form of a sentence. Why are my keys so warm, from what tip did we insufflate?
‘The Nausea isn’t inside me: I can feel it over there on the wall, on the braces, everywhere around me. It is one with the café, it is I who am inside it’ (Sartre, Nausea). There is no island from the virus, no Nature to look back, sashaying her endless oceans of hair, like the restaurant manager portrayed in a surly review on TripAdvisor. I am nauseous with a virus inside me I can’t even see. Maybe we are close to a birth with it. A long, interminable pregnancy.
The twang in my chest was a causal relation between ventricle rivers.
I feel trapped in the body inside my body. It’s always looking back.
A friend messages with the apology, ‘Still need to reply to you but my days have been frustratingly full of speaking at videos of other people speaking at a video of me and so on forever and ever’.
Can you adjust to the nausea? I drove a car very hard, knowing I could not drive the car, knowing it would end so badly and the creosote bushes would sing to me. I drive us back to the virtual diner, where you leave all the olives and sip a red scare.
The nausea comes in the form of abyss. It is good to hear you speaking, the lemon trees growing, your hair losing tone because of the days.
If people were chalking ‘We will be okay :-)’ on the riverside walkway, I would do a Ben Lerner, via Whitman, and pour sympathy out in paint: ‘I project myself—also I return—I am with you, and know how it is’. Do we know how anything is? I have been texting my nurse friends with everything and nothing to say. I cross bridges for no reason than burning it backwards. Could you say this to a river? Can fire kill a virus?
I project us backwards into the current, knowing the absence of voice would sweep me, swallow a flower. If we forget how to speak, if we get through this.
Swallow a fruit.
On the other side, politics chokes.
One day, we will live post-email and lilac you sit on the sill of my window.
If I had a thing to say, it was not worth saying.
If I had a thing to say, it was not worth saying.
Something is going to happen. You spear the tomato, eventually, and it is so trivial.
I want to live in the blood that makes us so trivial, harvest my red, be less of love and more inside it.
Somebody I don’t know on Zoom is called upon to define their practice.
If you were never already in reach. ‘Distance is here the expression of a certain loss […] which is “losable” only insofar as it is within my horizon’ (Ahmed, Queer Phenomenology). I watch other rituals on the feed, tomatoes conveying their life like sunsets, oozing Billie Holiday songs on a glitching sea.
Your former melancholy.
I want you to draw them.
I want you to draw them, very slowly
until every one is a baby.
And you make a baby of my tomato.
And you make it very strange.
And you give it as seed.
Sequined with topics.
These bundles of fatalist apples of love.
I sketch out the yellowest nets.
I should have sent no poems over the sea, I should have envisioned the breakfast of distance, I should have swam while I could.
I would like to arrive dishevelled / at the edge of things.
Smell of wild garlic in Pollok Park / you polish your shoes / I miss you.
So this is it that survives ‘you’:
‘The joyless, atrocious, sad “pleasure” is in the details of the suffering, in the suffering itself, in the taste you taste to the bottom where nothing forbids you to suffer, and each cruel dish, so relished, offers the heartbreaking pleasure of being able to feel.’
— Cixous, Dream I Tell You
When someone on twitter has already written, had lunch twice just to feel something.
‘In order to avoid saying “I,” the author eats incessantly’ (Ben Lerner, Angle of Yaw).
My heart freaks out at your avatar. It happened again and I’m sorry.
Adding these smiles of coriander, you discover dawn’s vanity in the mouth of a crow. It is adding its cries to the plate of tomatoes. Such seasoning loses the seasons. I would drown you in oil / before you could make / the cut of my life.
Remember green infinite days
Remember growing backwards
Remember gross affairs with inelegant consequence
Remember green & finite money
Remember glistening sheets
Remember guessing who would be there
Remember gestalt was a thing
And you make it very strange, this thing that will happen. Immensely belonging to no one. Her body a pyramid. Enter it.
Motionless, causing a solemn offence.
Outlook fails to open a page.
Something is waiting. Remember it green & infinite.
Easy for you to say of a fall. Feels spooky to have speed dial. No news is rhizome.
Catch you on zoom.
Hate us for saying it.
I adore us.
Sacred tomato, last supper,
cut me on cam. What do they look like?
You are yellow and red you are yellow and / red you are yellow and yellow and yellow.
Stereolab – Infinity Girl
TOPS – Colder & Closer
Deeper – The Knife
Ellis May – War on Territory
Porches – I Wanna Ride
Squid – Sludge
Thee Oh Sees – C
Porridge Radio – Pop Song
Catholic Action – Witness
Savage Mansion – Weird Country
Disq – Konichiwa Internet
Life Model – Saskia
DOPE LEMON – Streets of Your Town
Sufjan Stevens, Lowell Brams – What It Takes
Sharon Van Etten – Staring at a Mountain
Lucinda Williams – Sharp Cutting Wings
Broadcast – Lights Out
Half Waif – In August
Sun Glitters – UUnnrreeaall
Kelora – X24
Grimes – Delete Forever
Moses Sumney – Virile
The Weeknd – Hardest to Love
Minor Science – Spoken and Unspoken
DjRUM – Blue Violet
Princess Nokia – Gemini A COLORS SHOW
Laurel Halo – Zeljava
Brooke Bentham – Control
Good Good Blood – Sanctuary Mornings
Real Estate – Falling Down
stmartiins – Holly’s House
Ratboys – A Vision
Waxahatchee – Lilacs
The National – Never Tear Us Apart
Beth Orton – Blood Red River
Phoebe Bridgers – The Garden
Bright Eyes – Persona Non Grata