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)
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
Voices, hear say yes
The word haecceity
Streets without vehicles
The first day I discovered the meadow
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
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
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,
(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 lead anywhere?_________________?
________________? The other side of words_______________.
(Blau DuPlessis, Surge: Drafts 96-114)
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————————————
I am trying to find a narrative arc for this month. It is somebody reaching out to say, I can’t let you be. There has to be a simile to describe white sheets, expensive linen and French cologne, detritus of a Joni song and the world, the implacable world beyond windows. What is this like and is it really like this. Too much world in the song. A crease is a melody also, or a cramp in the song, the bit where you fall asleep in the story. Rising and falling in tempo, you climb right into the album. In a room of friends, all of them peaking at various levels. An arc is a part circumference of the circle or curve. I only have the bassline in my head; it is a soft morning bass, ‘Forgotten Eyes’ maybe, but it won’t get me up. D. had an endless playlist and the hours were indigo, endless. I am trying to find a narrative that goes up, but it comes down and is also left, right, start + a. I forget, I forget. Nobody knows where b went, but that’s okay. Joni I’m sorry but I just can’t listen. I want to cheat and do all the levels at once.
I say there is too much world in the song, but there is so much leaf in the leaf and again it is a thing that folds, then falls. 🍃
She says the cat might look over your face before you fall asleep, paw your features, but it is only because she wants in. There was a fold in the day that we lost, because our heads were fog, because of that blur I think in plural. There were various selves I could not chart because the grid-lines were squint. Can you shorten this? Bernadette Mayer says maybe if you grow your hair long you write longer poems, and ever since she cut hers it’s all short lyrics. I want to shorten my emotions to a cut: yes, this is that, yes, say it. Imagine going into the salon and saying I want a haiku haircut. 5 x 7 x 5. Your eyelids fat wet petals of overlay. Nothing works but shapes, and I pass them silently through sheafs of language, and I don’t say much about it.
Gold flakes off cheeks, mascara blackens my vision. Is it okay to not brush your hair or get dressed or think about anyone else’s necessity. I bring a velvet satchel to the party and empty my grief in lottery tickets. Everyone is happy. It is so easy to pick a number.
At six in the morning, watching him do card tricks.
Is it so easy to pick a letter?
I get home at nine and while everyone heads to work I am watching Morvern Callar again, putting tinned soup on the stove, watching this film simply for the scenes at home with the cassettes and the fairy lights. Plum-coloured nail paint, that’s how I remember it. I watch it on mute, feel eerie.
Google says I have to validate my identity. There is a toll for walking the way that we do, so fast, defeating the days, and I felt the bright sensation of a coming air, like this was performance. The layering…oh it was, surely, 2018 and I felt the first flakes while listening to Songs, Ohia — maybe it was ‘Tigress’. Had I known then I would buy a tiger coat, two years in the future? Drink cups of green tea in the empty morning, stalk my email? Certain messages grow in spines of grass, until they are so tall we pluck them for the gaps between speech. ‘God watched us talking in the mirror’, Jason sings, and I think I’m some anonymous, single star.
Extinction chews us over.
You could tuck me away in the sheets; I don’t protest the air.
saying now when the feeling came strongest: how I miss the future, it’s sideways surrender. — Lotte L.S., ‘As If to Misread Song’
There was a storm, and the streets were quiet for Saturday. It felt really good to battle the weather, to write long email, to listen to Sharon Van Etten and wallow. I would only do this for a while, a week say, and then the threads would release and I’d come home soaked in rain, with extra red in my tresses, I’d say the emails were terrible flowers I couldn’t bear to read. You can read a flower like an algorithm; it takes a certain kind of smartness. Outlook says, your inbox is 97% full. That in itself is confession. My eyes smart. The flowers…they have a strange way of opening and something of poison honey in them warms, and I want them. Cats are allergic to lilies and raisins. I put petals on my tongue and think about the word ‘beautiful’; how pointless it is, and good for nothing but everything. The lecturer asked us to chew on a raisin. I listen to Jack Halberstam give a talk on nothing, the exclamation of Gordon Matta-Clark, ‘nothing works!’. Jack asks, ‘What does it mean to destitute the world?’ and I feel jaded and warm, and an hour or so later I order soup, and the soup arrives late. We talk of failed dates with the children of the sun, and know this is also study. What they said or did not say, that counts. Nothing is hypothetical, only the walls of buildings we move through. Why do you sleep in the middle of the bed.
When I first wrote this, it wasn’t raining; but now, on the flipped side of yesterday’s blueprint…
I like that bit in The Dispossessed by Ursula Le Guin, where Shivek says, ‘I am going to unbuild walls’. This initiates a general phrasal collapse, like how all of us were Instagramming sunsets at the exact same time, all across the country that Sunday. And it felt more important to look at those sunsets than read the news, collating each one, the various colours. In the car, telling F., you know I always wondered if the sun actually sets on the east coast, but now that I’ve seen it…
I can’t tell if this feeling is vertical or searches horizons to meet.
S. says, I’m going to find out where your wound is.
Le Guin: ‘the hand you reach out is as empty as mine’. Why all the letters dissolve on the keys of my laptop, so I type in the alphabet of blur. Why all the luminous grey of Tuesday. Oil in my scalp.
Another question mark, a cascade of candy canes. The sky’s pale outro, my twisting gut.
Jason sings, ‘We’ll be gone by morning or be together by then’.
A.’s hair is curly again like the hair of the girls in Mystic Pizza. I think of K.’s story about the girl, is she a girl, who sheds all her hair and it is monstrous and she is chastised by society. She is followed by the fall of her own dark locks. We share teenage stories of hair loss, scaling cliffs, or in the kitchen. Sometimes I find a tiny black curl in the carpet and think of the commas still between us.
Evan sings, ‘Can I believe in the me before I knew you beautifully?’.
If you let all that hair like a river, if you let the stream continue. All my life feels like content repeated, the last time I saw him was the middle of summer, the last time I wore cobalt and cardinal together. I love like the rain in combination, additive river, a clarity. K. says you just need to be lucid, there’s Clarice for that. Am I also an alarmist?
The sky is a needless worry.
The sky is a needless worry inside me.
I require surgery to cut out the sky.
When they found my stupid heart, they said it was a wind turbine and set it to air.
I had all these essays to write, I was blue.
I see chunks of time as colours: years of purple, silver and green; minutes in violent red; seconds of airy teal; golden months and bloated months of solemn navy; glowing yellow mornings; decades of rainbow; the indigo hours between me & u.
I spend so much money on pens.
I’m such an alarmist! Always messaging, messaging. Why though: mistaking her middle name for Rose, reciting other names out loud, wishing it were June and I were lost on the west coast, feeling the rain whip me out of this slump.
‘You still exist and I feel good knowing it’.
Alison Rumfitt has this poem, ‘Pollution is Just a Mindset!’ and ‘We’re all going to get swallowed up by a big / whale angry at what we’ve done to all the whales’. I want to know the difference between the big whale and all the whales, like is the big whale part of the other whales, and since the speaker ‘had a dream about it’, she knows ‘it’s at least metaphorically sound’. That’s how I feel about the days now, they have to be at least metaphorically sound. That’s just the bar I set. It’s lined with tequila and milk. S. says sometimes a spoonful of milk will settle your belly, like if you are so hungover you can barely keep down the air.
Perhaps that’s just it. The fog in my brain is pollution. I need a spoonful of milk. A glass of charcoal. In class, we swerve from the topic of stars to molecules of oxygen. C. sings don’t piss in my oat milk. There are passive aggressive adverts for Oatly everywhere and so everyone is writing about oat milk but I already had a line about poems ‘brimming with oat milk, / cornichons, kimchi’. Our best fermented days. Alison writes, ‘It didn’t look like a whale but I knew it was a whale’. That’s how I know about the fog in my brain, the long and bulking whale of it.
I swallow myself on read.
‘You left gleaming’.
You shouldn’t feed cats milk.
You shouldn’t feed your child to the tiger.
I had so many babies, they were all just poems, and I fed them to the tiger.
I put on my coat.
The poem is a rectangle.
The whale was only algorithmic.
Is that the same as metaphor.
The tiger was soaked in French cologne.
The tiger was starving.
The whale is a wave.
The whale is a mean old daddy.
The whale ate the rat.
I give it away for free.
The whale and the tiger, fucking each other.
I found the appropriate clip art and dragged them into your golden ratio.
I wish it were really rectangles and not always squares.
Our theme is ‘climate change’.
I need to start deleting emails.
It turns and it turns. Make of the heart a spectacle, so you could pour it with what Sophie Robinson calls ‘dynamic emoji’, so you could feed it popcorn, synecdoche, wrap it in sheets like Kafka’s hunger artist. Harvest each beat until you are ready.
‘I am going to unbuild walls’ from the squares. I am swallowed in the pictures you post on the internet. Some of them simple compositions of shadow and light, black and white. Spooky quality, quiet mew. Sometimes there are people, and this hurts because people are so beautiful and knowable, but ultimately…
Sometimes, in the distance, like at the top of Buchanan Street say, we see the turbines, tressled in lilac.
I draft the email, the sky is a needless worry inside me. The future is or was always surrender, but here I am with my yoghurt, ignoring the sell-by. I want to ferment the future inside us. You can always recycle, but does it work ‘in the end’?
Lana Del Rey bought her Grammy dress from the mall, a ‘“last-minute silver” vintage-inspired gown’. Time shimmies.
There is a pause where she turns just so, a moment prior to smiling where you know the smile is her personal glitter.
You can’t put it on paper.
Time shimmies under the moon.
I start to think of paper as something you have to continually feed, so writing itself is no different from keeping a Tamagotchi, say, and it’s the telekinesis of keeping a pet in your brain. The writing is sometimes a snake, sometimes a rat. I can smell it like new rain or the sheets after sex. Time is hunger for writing. A lick of it. Sometimes I wake with a bad taste in my mouth and can hear him in my ear, screaming THERE’S LEAD IN THE WATER.
I want something sultry.
I want the impression.
It’s as if all the sequins came off the dress and clotted the pipes, and I could die glamorous and pointlessly poisoned. It’s just the old way you die in writing, falling within the rehearsal of speech. I didn’t expect to see you, etc.
She looked good after all. Sometimes the dress just fits and you can get it for six hundred dollars. I sleep in those sequins because I don’t sleep.
After the workshop, M. and I saw a dead pigeon. She took a photo.
Imagine the weather were French cologne.
He is so lovely in the red and the blue He is close to the stream
In motes, the arc of it caught in sun.
You take a photo, then another, another. I love this.
The arc is a nightclub moted with fragments of moving lavender.
Sometimes it’s fine but then I zone out, start replaying these moments. The allowance of volatile quality, another baby, I didn’t open the door, I mumbled down the buzzer I’m sorry. Tesco is so empty. Lorde sings ‘But when I reach for you / It’s just a supercut’. I have to believe it all gets better. D. gives me chilli jam for Christmas, my arms are full of marigolds, C. says hello, I want to collapse. It happens again; is there memory?
Brexit message from the Principal.
All I can smell are the other expenses. Silver and gold are so much silver.
HOW DO YOU DO IT? HOW DO YOU DO IT?
January slants backwards. I forget how to dance.
Type this / typify
Report search prediction…
I dream a checkerboard transparency and see the bars resolve. A pick-up truck is dumping a garden-load of shrubs on the Gibson Street tarmac, a place they’re re-laying; the streets resolve into alien characters, Megadrive graphics, the shopfronts boarded up. This is a different city, believe me. In the dream there is a river, a lavender river, and teenagers go there to play at drowning. There is a whole millennial economy of breath. Someone with a shaven head says, “I just wanted to forget my breath, just for a moment”. No, maybe it’s “I wanted to give up my breath,” as if that wasn’t the same as dying. No, maybe it’s, “believe me, the air is better down there.” I’m in this disaster, it held me too, and I wanted to slip in the lavender water. And J. was holding a guitar, wrapped in fairy lights, and it was just like the movie I saw on her story.
26,240 words already.
‘What also touches me […] is the unendingness’ (Hélène Cixous).
Apparently there was snow, I stayed up all night and I missed it.
And Phoebe was singing I love you in someone else’s song. And that was enough.
Bright Eyes – Hit the Switch
The Beatles – Happiness is a Warm Gun
Big Thief – Forgotten Eyes
Savage Mansion – Karaoke
The Weakerthans – Sun in an Empty Room
Brick Distributor – Another Personality
Nasari – Spoilt Milk
Danger Mouse, Sparklehorse – Star Eyes (I Can’t Catch It) (feat. David Lynch)
Sylvan Esso – Coffee
Lorde – Supercut
Mitski – My Body’s Made of Crushed Little Stars
Pinegrove – The Alarmist
Adrienne Lenker – Angels
Anna Burch – Not So Bad
Porridge Radio – Sweet
Soccer Mommy – circle the drain
Nap Eyes – You Like to Joke Around With Me
Lens Mozer – All My Friends
The 1975 – Me & You Together Song
Frances Quinlan – Your Reply
Quirke – Se Seven 7S
Double Discone – Espionage Industriel
Wuh Oh – How Do You Do It?
Palm – Memories of Winter
Hatchie – Obsessed
Pet Shimmers – Mortal Sport Argonaut
Disq – Parallel
Julia Jacklin – Body
Happy Spendy – Take Care of Yourself
TOPS – I Feel Alive
Katie Dey – So You Pick Yourself Up
Hovvdy – Ruin (my ride)
Purple Mountains – Nights That Won’t Happen
Songs, Ohia – Tigress
Karima Walker, Dominic Armstrong, Bobby Carlson – Blue Thread
Van Morrison – Astral Weeks
Sharon Van Etten – Give Out
Phoebe Bridgers – Two Headed Boy (Part 2) (Neutral Milk Hotel cover)
There is a town that is not this town. I don’t think I’ve been here before but I have, and over and over, it’s what you don’t think. An elegance gets you. I sit with my back to the space heater in a living room that was never my own. We pay our landlords to leave us alone. We’re nineteen forever. The lyre is tossed across a sonnet. There is a summer we are bound for. Hey, I said, the millennium hurts. In the town is a bar and in the bar is a jukebox. I don’t have coins. The sunset is lurid, like somebody spilled all the chemicals, spilled all the chemicals. I shake out my pockets for the midtown drunks. I look for your figure. I don’t have coins. There’s only this list. Where are we are when we say where we are. The song. Bart-t-t-ender. I love this and this. I loved.
This time last year, ‘I would look up, intermittently, through a canopy of light-filled leaves’. The unrealism of a momentary viridian, admitting I could not partake in. The nights went on and on in those days, there was a quality of sorry-not-sorry to the usual erasures. And asking for numbers, and watching shambolic ones fall into chairs and windows; the ceiling tilted.
Serotonin is my friend. I want to invent a character. The pressure front hurts my head.
We enter the gallery and there are the nymphs, the lilypads. You have told me a dream in which you ascended the lilypad stairs to heaven, was it heaven, and each one made a satisfying sound and sway when stepped on. I am thinking of Deku leaves and swirls in the ochre night. Here we go with synonyms. ‘There may be lunch’, Anne Carson says, ‘Or we would eat / many more paintings’. As it stands, I order jasmine tea. The paint drips green from the edge of the lilypad, chromium oxide staining the lake. At some point I refused to live without sleep. I surrendered to what its depth could do. A man told me, every time you blink, you refresh your thoughts. I have my muscles set to Command+R with cool deliberation, but all that fluttering won’t get me served. The rain washed all the mascara away. So I order into warmth again. Tequila Maria, something bloody with spice and celery, black pepper’s vast and negentropic heart. Did I mean to say negative calories. Tom McCarthy has this essay about Toussaint called ‘Stabbing the Olive’: ‘We don’t want plot, depth or content; we want angles, arcs and intervals; we want patterns’. A flat asymmetry of energies. I used my pinkie to lick the rim of red dust from the glass, like the last of a meal. Circumferential intimations of love. I was hungry, the night was not warm. Moments of aloneness. Who is McCarthy’s ‘we’? All these lit-critics, clamouring to borrow the spirographs of the twentieth century. I lose a pen.
Thom Yorke is getting on a subway somewhere.
I thought that taste itself formed an interval, a thickening of presence. Crocheted objects appear on my wall like the lacery of untranslatable dreams. Red, blue and yellow. These are the primary materials of my current research:
Gifted books with signatures
Colours of sky and cloud
The question of ambience in poetry
Absences in friendship
Paranoia is former. As if I could not align the tulips to the complementary turquoise wall, the lilt, the residual. The animals depart when we start writing, a narcissism for darkest_.
In the late Tesco he jumped me, the former doorman, halfway through a dj shift with the Haribo fizz and the bottles of whisky. I wondered what music he would play nextdoor. If you could make a vinyl of sunlight, how I would live for the interminable patterns of notches, solarity catching and catching on loop. Fingers tracing sugar dust over the records, a sourness in his mouth. I was wearing this purple-pleated skirt, five years ago, and a man outside Tesco, another Tesco, asked if I was pregnant. I only wanted the placenta of his mean stare and I wanted to salt it and eat it hard. My twenties recede without drop.
She describes the effects of gluten as a sanding down, an erasure; inside her the tangles made desert. We want clustering, sway of villi, performance. I eat bread and think less; my head fills up with fog.
Soreness in coccyx equals aporia. I awoke to the pent-up throb of the washing machine. Let’s talk about the arbitrary constraint of 30 days. Clusters of black tights as the serpentine symbols in Turner.
Something from a solar poem, a thing for the solstice:
if I go
drunk in June
it’s just sky
in our lungs
What I meant was, maybe something in the difference between the length of our breaths, and is this a question of the daylight hours, a quantified tiredness, or is it the smoke. My laconic lungs suck in. The grass comes away in tufts where we pull it, like the fluff from a dog’s back in moulting season. I have this dream about reaching the end of a lawn, like I’m staying in a house where the garden is seen from the window only, it looks unreal. You could not exhaust it. Anne Carson says a pilgrim always seeks a horizon, is never satisfied. The dog I had would run round and round, until the grass wore down into dirt. There would be a ring, a halo of ruined earth. She was not looking for anything particular. Instead, she ran around.
I remember the basement party where I sat between two boys, holding a sparkler and watching the smoke trails recede.
I am thinking about foam, immortality, fractal gifs. Coffee opens me up, so I don’t have to look.
No-one knows. On Fridays I listen to Gardeners’ Question Time, I cut rice cakes into quarters.
There was this girl, she lived in the orange-painted room. Her name sounds something like citrus. A long time ago, I wrote a story about her. I was in the library with a stack of philosophy books. I can’t do it. She skips ballet class to eat blueberry muffins in the local café, to flirt with the waiter. She wears a yellow raincoat, even when it’s sunny, and he calls it her famous raincoat. She never gets the joke but she likes how he twists a smile at the same time as he twists his break-time cigarette into something thin and perfect. He always wears blue, regardless of uniform. She wants to be that cigarette, she wants to be rolled into one straight line, but she likes her sugar too much. His smile, surely, is for her alone; it looks delicious. She imagines the taste of ash, smouldering in her mouth if she kissed him and the trace of the cigarette and the one before that would glow like the orange in her room.
Adrianne Lenker sings of ‘fragile orange wind in the garden’.
Should we go outside? And for what.
There was a time when every story had to end, which was fiction. Poetry is getting to have your loops, to sweeten and eat them profusely with silver spoons: imitation privilege. I could keep stirring and stirring until they melt into milk, this miasma of found words, of nourishing.
Everything is so agreeable, tangential, so light
Tangerine, all pungent with its leaves intact.
The way the egg yolks look when they split, the shit on a watch face, the intimate pixels of a harp up close, a part song. Selective arpeggio carriage to morning. I’m so grateful I’m basically grapefruit, this single devourable bauble of flesh. My skin is thick and explicit. It’s a time in the month. That there, that’s not me. You can peel off the sticker to see.
In the park, the weekdays fill up with hormones.
I played Everything. I was a mushroom, a jet-ski, a palm tree, a planet, a hawk and an oil rig. I rolled and shuffled; scale itself became a sort of music. At once, I soared in threes and sevens. My favourite world was streaked with pink, cacti and celadon rivers. Time was a trick of the hard-drive.
We collect the cherry-chocolate cake. Later he says something like, The ocean is an orca. Which is much better than, We are all Earth; or, I am what I eat. The literalism is looping its way around cornfields and train delays, better to solder the evening with marmalade light and a buttery spread of new messages.
I have hardly been listening to music at all.
The weather was briefly incidental. Vague plans to read Plato’s Timaeus scarpered by the way the roses look in ache, my dream alarm of cascade is softened by limbs and transport. We take a lot of time to take the river in us, hungering girls in old movies as though they could speak the end of a call, prior to numbers. We eat plainly in several vegetal airs, our cutlery shines like a weather vane. The intermediary function of skin is just this much. You glow inside a tentative plan, the sparkle of re- grettable voice. I paint my nails a venus flytrap green. Who decides what grows inside you. Should eat.
We reply, that it is the receptacle, and in a manner the nurse, of all generation. I have spoken the truth; but I must express myself in clearer language, and this will be an arduous task for many reasons, and in particular because I must first raise questions concerning fire and the other elements, and determine what each of them is; for to say, with any probability or certitude, which of them should be called water rather than fire, and which should be called any of them rather than all or some one of them, is a difficult matter.
The secret mysticism of nicknames and particle physics. If we are just water. And what if this water never smells like shame. And what if the water turns red like Topshop lipstick, or the gilded cover of my Kathleen Fraser. Chili flakes assemble upon the soft lawn of your fruit, a stone falls out in lieu of the heart. I try particulars: 99p filter coffee, office politics, the milk chocolate bunnies on campus. I mean they were real as morning. Star power. When the beach breaks out to cure, the lovely scrambling of a darkness shared. Say a soundtrack feels special because it bristles. I fell asleep in the workshop. My hair all huge in the hotel mirror. We collect red words for green and call it geometry. The trad effects of earnestness and other lyric qualities of indie I tried to recede like my twenties I tried halloumi, salt, breakfast vodka. The longest day of the year was shorter than anything I could bother to write.
On my birthday we visited the island, eight of us on the ferry. Kitsch displays of gifts without crystals, trying to fit ourselves into the minigolf. We shared red wine on a jetty, alas not spiralled; we wrote a poem, according to the economy of one red word for a sip.
sultry walks seem elusive to those players of croquet taking milliseconds out of capitalism or inducing epilepsy, throwing linguini into darkness and leaving finite symphorophilia to the gannets
The water was cold and clear, the barnacles softened the soles of my feet. The sky broke an almost symmetry of peachy leakings, yellow colours spilled on the sea. Gloria stood with her scarf to the wind; we brushed the horizon on the swings. I sang and sang. We ran for the last ferry, in usual fashion, salt and Tennents. The tide came in.
We sat on the picnic bench of the terminal, singing ethereal Judee lyrics. Heavy in my throat, a halo; the mists. A pleasurable tiredness.
A. describes how the glaciers are moving. The surface of the planet rearranges itself, and my impression of the continents sinks like wax. I melt the very edge of a tectonics, craving stories. The citrus girl is so much older and younger, she exists as though only in song. Her raincoat is made of honeybees.
A rushing sound I attributed to rain but then not.
She sits in three kinds of tree and fingers her decorative suggestion of dawn, worn as a necklace. I can’t sleep for the gulls and the lines of unmannered flight, the concept of ‘politics’ filling the air of my kitchen. The pearls burst everywhere. I draw a radio silence around each project, I try to choose.
Never have I ever asked Siri.
I get stuck on a train. We move south, but only gradually.
Pip Blom – Daddy Issues
Holiday Ghosts – Thinking of You
Bat for Lashes – Kids in the Dark
Katie Dey – Solipsisting
Jay Som – Superbike
Beach Fossils – Be Nothing
Hop Along – Waitress
(Sandy) Alex G – Gretel
Jai Paul – Do You Love Her Now
Thom Yorke – Twist
Gross Net – Gentrification
Sylvan Esso – Die Young
DOPE LEMON – Salt & Pepper
Crake – Glycerin
Big Thief – Orange
Silver Jews – The Wild Kindness
Jessica Pratt – Mother Big River
Claire Cronin – Wolfman
Yo La Tengo – Green Arrow
Galaxie 500 – Summertime
Kelly Moran – Water Music
Yohuna – Fades to Blue
Karen Dalton – Something on Your Mind
Judee Sill – The Kiss
Manchester Orchestra – My Backwards Walk (Frightened Rabbit cover)
So I haven’t had time this year to do blurbs or cut down the list into a ‘top X’ kinda thing. This is just a list of the albums I listened to and liked a fair bit this year, in relative alphabetical order.
You can also check out my previous EOY lists for 2015, 2016, 2017.
If there’s anything I’ve missed you think I should hear, feel free to drop a message 🙂
These bias-cut days of diagonal action, mostly slow rise and decline, drift into restless though feathery sleep. ‘The dreamer in his corner wrote off the world in a detailed daydream that destroyed, one by one, all the objects in the world’. So goes Bachelard and my own sense of crawling, hovering, in the cracks between things. Letters, cups of tea, cutlery, brushes and pens, awakenings. I worry that making a fantasy means reality won’t happen. You can spend too much in your dreams. I pay my debts in daily wandering, lifting plates and cracking hard metal off the grinder to fill up the cylinder with further coffee. Speak standard grade French for ebullient tourists. A, petit pois! What was it he said? A vast divergence between work and vocation. What splits in you and hurts evermore like a skelf. I’m waiting at the bar for a check, looking miserable because elsewhere in my head.
The heat brings fights to the park. I seem unable to read in daylight.
Caffeine dissolves all sticky platitudes of self-surrendering, the negative web. Objects I love become loss, so I stop. Pull out the game. Everyone I know seems to be moving away. There are these Instagrammed images of shifting reality. I ‘like’ them as if to say…
So maybe I go home but not really. So maybe in my father’s car, passing the house I grew up in which now has a shiny white 4×4 in the driveway. There is a dj with the same name as a boy from my school who wore ill-fitting boots. Remember I told him I was pregnant with triplets. I know every road and house in this town. Nothing alters on the virtual maps.
Two miles south. There is this playground in the forest, pine-built tunnels that lead through the treetops. I shimmy my way through child spaces, accessing the world from a miniature angle. I chew away low-level anxiety. We sit in the park, rolling buttercup stems between our fingers. Think in yellow, and have no thorns to distance me. There is so much to discuss but this chat is symbolic only; mostly between, mostly hungry. I cycle around Govan in aimless circles, prolonging the river with industry. People sit on walls outside their houses, but they are not talking or rolling tobacco or playing chess.
Half of this month is a blue-dark nothing. No difference between eve and day but shades of blue. 4am my friend, our twilight spirals. I’m aching.
I spend a weekend in Munich and meet the illustrious Robert Macfarlane, who wears a mushroom pin badge and enthuses on Sebald. The Bavarian meadows are everything. I write condensed sentences in my notebook, sometimes unsure of source: ‘The painting asks the viewer to prefer shadows to sun’, ‘The brain’s sweet opening to calm and green’. I am travel tired, pleasantly so, and involuntary naps overlay with words—so images stir around me, lift from the page new worlds. I take photographs to mark a certain summer. Foxgloves, cash machines, the margarine tree; gorge of solstice which gives into poems.
We share wine outside. I lace my sangrias with a bottle of port, you’d call it darkling sunset, but not a good taste. How often this month have you woken to fog in your head?
Black-and-white plate of burnt kale.
Is our depression competing? Compression.
Admissions of sickness, 39 likes, mustang. He only smokes when drinking.
Maybe we don’t need sleep at all!
What lore of virtual archipelagos? I think of each chat log itself as an island.
My brother came home on the last day of May. Now off to Israel he leaves in our flat a blue bag of avocados, three fillets of salmon which rot in the fridge.
Sometimes time does me a favour. The way roses look at four in the morning, gilded with lamp light against husky sky, a faint azure. The hazy look of Lana roses, a vintage filter in always already.
The tenements were blood meridian. Sun moving west.
Scrunch salt to make curls in my hair. Post-chlorine shower feeling. Involuntary.
Wake to your messages, drop more before sleep. Two blue ticks. See everyone and then again everyone leaving. Homesick for dialect, yelling haneck. A mosher at heart requires eyeliner always. I keep some old stone beneath my pillow.
The lines around your eyes, a ring for every hour not slept.
Fall into chorus of gulls and whispered recordings. All of my gross human narcissism.
A birthday. Rose dress and fishnets, refusal of dancing. Middle-name. Tanqueray forever.
I resolve to make new—
Slim readings, okay so I swore and did not cry because I’m saving my hot bright tears for July. Cute motivational pastel skies. Line after line being temporary.
There’s a song but I just want everyone glowing around me.
When they played ‘Keep Yourself Warm’ in Sleazy’s.
I would look up, intermittently, through a canopy of light-filled leaves. I’m sorry.
As if nothing happened, / I’m so busy, I’m so busy.
When it burned down we were in the street, all interlocked, we could see the embers. Blue and red. Helicopters overhead and my heart in my throat, something lisping the skin of my ribs.
The comedown just happens. I’m not the only one who’s numb.
Invitations to the Catty all weekend.
Work a whirlwind of smiles and graduations. Bottles of prosecco forgotten and balloons that go missing in minor scandal. I try to be better. Accessing all these families. There’s heat and light and a barbecue; ‘Some Velvet Morning’ dragging the scene to its sunburned, surreal conclusion.
I hope something pure happens, softens inside me. Precarious mentality preserved in blue.
Little sweet, cycloramic tweeting.
After that article, feeling wholly grateful for my vision. I mean she had scars on her irises.
Does anyone ever want pineapple juice?
Slimmer now, reflection in coffee shop windows then not. Near tears on the phone. It’s mostly viral, the body’s bright omens. Everything revolves or resolves around you.
An hour a day I actually feel adult.
Calum does my tarot again and this time there are mermaids, mountains, a perfect circle.
Rodefer, Rodefer, Rodefer:
‘Breeze, trembling trees, the night, the stars. And there you are, in a manner of speaking.’
Infinite ugly gas bills from winter.
Disclosing my name as if to say, the end is near. Everyone lovely is reading Remainder. So talk of football and residuals, the free cappuccinos. A system.
‘You two look intimidatingly cool.’
I start painting again but find it hard to mix colour. I want the authentic, luminous lime. There will be a triangle off-centre in the heart of this landscape. Is it even a landscape.
Bike through gushing rain to get back to the present. We dwell awhile in the darker mezzanine, listening to the passing trains, the motorway traffic like hard waves sloshed against a sea wall.
My excuse is, this is all just sketching.
Better for energy, blessedness! A very old episode of Grand Designs.
Somebody somewhere is square-going a seagull while you read this.
Jazz gigs & taxis.
Fear of swallowing moss is utterly irrational, totally a Virgo thing. Intelligent attention.
She is likely to put on a facade of indifference.
Feel bad as ever for bailing.
Slather myself in factor 50, go out to embrace the evening. It’s half past three and I wear white cotton, 30 degrees washed and then a whole new 30 degree heat. Times the right way you make ninety, then three, the year of my birth. Somehow survived a quarter century.
I drink black coffee and watch seven swans moving towards me slowly.
Back on the west coast, I want Lee Harwood to describe the sea. Thin haze of blue Arran and my childhood dreams.
Even managed to change the sheets. The electricians came without warning.
Walk 20k steps for the sake of a stranding. June is all over me.
Skewed in a sunburst pleat, I wear less and contain my reactions.
If April is the sweetest or cruelest, May has become the strangest month. Not ever but ever at present. It is summer’s gatekeeper, but also something other. Nurse of darkness and grief, rushing in bright lines and new delusions. Keeper of shadows flickering among green. In previous years, the season when confusion blooms. A dull need that quickens with the light through dawn to dusk, that honeys the flesh and the flesh’s sense of itself as pearlescent. Coming to endings. I brush my hair smooth copper in a mirror and notice green rings beneath my eyes. My eyes turn green from the copper, the sun. Moss agates held to the light. My irises look less like little sad pools of ocean; more forest now, with secret capillaries. With vague fantasy, I keep planning day trips I don’t then take. The sense of this name or that, a train stop, a heady clifftop walk, is sometimes enough.
Alcohol does me favours, then doesn’t. That absolute sinking sensation of four in the morning, the day already blooming before you a pale lilac silver that streaks the sky and exacts a sort of spermicide resistance to the nourishment of sleep’s regeneration. So you are still electric, pacing at six, drenched in the ersatz light of the screen. White upon white. Straining fingers. I leave early one day to buy crystals, snapping photographs afterwards of bluebells in public gardens. The bluebells hide miniature universes. Still entranced by the fairies; the barmaid knows because she offers me absinthe, green bottle labelled with a delicate eye. The beer garden teeming; cradling sticky glassware back to the bar. Couples come out in the sun, as if so many never existed before it got light and warm. I’m very small, like a vulnerable child, but then swollen and huge altogether. I can’t help the Alice comparison: that sudden shrinkage or growth, beyond the normal bounds of the human. I lust for the fall—that’s all I want now. Air rushing quick around my skull, a delicious plunge. Shake out plumage, feel ridiculous. Everything limps.
It all started with a simple accident: flipping my bike off the road, the front wheels spun thrice, a smashed head smashed knee smashed hand and leg. Smashed brakes. The most extravagant black-purple bruise spread down my shins, clustering like a brand new galaxy around the bloody wounds of my knee. To bleed with gleaming garnet blood. Shocking the folk outside bars with my bleeding. To feel fresh and young at the sight of your insides red against the old old blue of flesh. This youth, this youth. I pedal forever to exact the same feeling, the rush of getting back on again, unlocking the city. I seem to be terribly in love with falling. The streets feel dizzy, the shapes and forms of things are not what they are. I sense they have changed without telling me. The world knows a secret I don’t.
Illness, as it hits. The invisible sickness. I become an overflowing jar of water when I drink, the brimming emotions about to spill—things I usually hide and quench and disguise. Need to piss in awkward situations. Things you can roll out with a bike ride, a cluster of lung sucks and cheek flush adrenaline. But when they get to the surface, they poison the air around you. I spend longer hours in bed in the morning, night shifts and gigs leaving me delirious. To unroll from the covers is an art hardly mastered. I spend hours drifting back into sleep’s coma: a settled levitation of uncertain images, which I try to translate upon waking. A friend and I keep a dream journal. I notice she is always noting faces in crowds: skins, layers, mirrors; juices and rinds and types of paring. My dreams grow more detailed over time, a side effect of writing them down, giving them the agency of language. They dance with image, they have additional emotional import.
I walk across the city, because sometimes that seems the only safe thing to do. The colours in the park just shy of midnight. Pastels brushed and blurred by a child’s ham-fist. Chalked sentences around Woodlands. Pick up your dog shit. My nails grow long and strong and I do not clip them. I want them to seem like a pianist’s, as if at any moment they might pluck out a symphony.
Something of grief scored into my bones. We lost someone we loved, after days of looking and sharing and fighting. My timelines overflow with collective sorrow and personal pain. I spend hours scrolling through tiny stories, slices of joy and memory’s catharsis. We have all been hurt in some way; there is a tear. What rushes in and scolds the fresh wound. It is the one grey drizzly day I remember of this May, utterly fitting. I walk along the Kelvin, listening to The Midnight Organ Fight over and over, hymn to my youth and so many others. The drone fills my blood; I do nothing to stop the rain dampening my hair, filling my shoes, dripping down my neck. Shake out my stolen Monet waterlily umbrella. Remember the bleak streets of Ayr, adolescence an age of cool slain time. Kicking litter, drinking. Rain. Falling into sick sick love then forgetting. The rain rain rain, the rain falling into the sea. It is a membrane I crave, the pale wet indifference to shroud my pain. Sand on skin. What glisters at the edge then beckons. I did not know it was possible to hurt so much for someone you barely knew. It hurt more, in a way, than forms of loss by blood. Family funerals. Toasts. Drunk, I walk back along bridges and try not to cry at the moon, the black black water. Something astride us, everlong waxing and waning. Photographs of plastic, closeup and swallowed in song.
I tore an elegy out of my hours in bed and maybe one day I’ll share it. Something in the darkness, heard.
By some miracle, I regain my night off to go see Phoebe Bridgers play Saint Luke’s. It is a warm night and I walk all the way from west to east; the football’s been on so the drunks stumble out of pubs in their green. She purrs something from the stage, like “So I heard y’all had a sports ball game on today”. We smile at the understatement, there’s a mesmerising space. I stand and my body is so weak my knees hurt and thighs burn and it takes every nerve in me to keep standing, to negate the presence of those around me. Her silvery voice slices through all that, makes perfect rivulets in my soul. When I think too much about it I can’t breathe. There’s a trembling of recognition, little swells of emotion that prick the whites of my eyes. What you thought you were over comes crashing again and over, over. The world whirrs and hurts. It’s barely enough to keep clinging. Walking home, seeing old friends, I felt exhausted: every pore stung but I was also exhilarated. Climbing the concrete city. That feeling of release. The sweet way her vowels lit up the Mark Kozalek cover, the encore. I imagine bright candles snuffed out one by one, the great murder and the guilt of afterwards. Cold and red. The soft caress of the senses, a temporary catlike imaginary. Darkness comes over, consumes the white space you left for happiness. You can’t have it without dreams; you can’t have dreams without darkness. I am dependent on this sorrow. Watching the Ohio river flow at night. These landscapes I know mostly through song, these burning reeds and the gilt-edged clouds over desert metropolis, lost coyotes.
I start writing a novella, set between Britain, Berlin and some mysterious American prairie. Think cheddar-red sunsets, unrequited desire, distance. The indigo swimming pool, covered in leaves.
Distracting myself from everyday idleness, I go to see vast quantities of decent indie, mostly at The Hug and Pint or Glad Café. I take a break from an all-dayer to sit atop a hill in Queen’s Park, south side, watching the sky grow peachy. Chew fruit bars. Drink gin to feel better, in soft medicinal quantities. Do not write as I wish I could. Leave gaps. The pages don’t fill as I’d like. Walk back alone.
I think I am okay but then I walk over water and think of the cold decision. My mouth sours as though filled with the juice of an apple and any word I might have dissolves in the acid, prior to speech.
Remember as kids we’d build dams in rivers? Inefficient structures of misshaped rocks. The cool cola feel of water, smooth through our fingers.
In some hot bright room of the CCA, practicing Oulipo techniques with Lynn Crawford and Josh Thorpe. I write a handful of sestinas, a process that feels akin to weaving. I am paring threads. In times of crisis, I used to sit and make friendship bracelets, focusing on the unconscious flicker and flow of my fingers. The particular colours woven thrice. Pick six words and make do with their pattern, the possible.
Iced Americano from Caffé Nero. Jolt of the nerves. Heat haze over Greenock.
A delay in the body akin to the moon. Waxing slow motion; glitch and lag; the sense of being dulled; the sense of being injured, cramped and twisted. Walk around, see friends, drink bright and early. Waves of hot agony. Go to poetry readings. The sparkle and trance of listening. Speaking. Record poems that settle a corridor of airwaves, signals, emoji. However the connection works.
Get haircut. Scalp massage. Brighter orange bleeds to gold. Sodium. Get on a train.
Loch Lomond never looked so good in green and gold and blue as it did that May of 2016. I lay in the bluebells taking pictures, feeling so restful, red-headed. Fire against green. Now I arrive and make it my imperative just to walk. Early evening of a Sunday and I want to walk my way out of a sorrow, past gaggles of boozy youths; the fresh wound of loss still there and irritating, itching and burning. It is hard to have ordinary conversations, so I take myself off. Everything is so green and the green is so necessary. My body is heat and then freezing. Later, he holds his cold fingers to my neck and we trade levels of shiver. Purple nails and tales of bad circulation. I trip up on my past and can’t help it, looking for the clavicle. The endless craving of a former body…
I parse more and more my botanical ignorance.
Missing the last train home from Edinburgh, after a poet’s birthday party. Doors slammed shut in our face from the carriage. We missed the margaritas, and then the disco. Drank beer in the Meadows, contemplated snow. Menthol vape smoke and cluttered streets, strangers playing tennis all through the dusk. Lovely people. Record collection, good books for miles, pizza. Conversations sweet & real & funny.
The maidenhair fern grows healthy again. I have had her for two years and she’s seen frazzled stages. Clipped back, green again. Does that boy drive? She asked, in the car to the garden centre. I miss the winding corridors of plants, the paint samples, colour cards, smell of wet pine and murmuring water features. May goes on, regardless.
A series of goodbyes. One friend moves back to Greece, the other to the Highlands. Life goes porous with the temporary emptiness that nonetheless lingers without supplement. Miss our wee chats at all ours, in stairwells or pink-tinted texts. Cascading games of our rucksacks swung. I listen to Josh telling Canadian ghost stories in the restaurant: tales of a bride burned alive by tea lights catching her luminous dress, doomed to forever haunt some hotel in the vast, faraway mountains. The geography remains vague in my mind. The customers come and go or don’t at all. I polish cutlery to a deathly sheen.
Festival atmosphere of everywhere in sun. A sunny day in Glasgow, then another one. Minor riots in the park. How are we so blessed, it’s amazing. Botanical taste at the back of my mouth forever. Bewitched house plants, buttered bread rolls, cold tea, slabs of Aviemore carrot cake, tarot readings in Thai restaurants. I wish I could be more glistening. The air in the park at night smells musky and sweet, weed smells and seeds and greening. Saying goodbye without babbling. I noticed the blue, two iris skies at the station.
The last card pulled a cosmic future.
Run across roads to see old friends, nearly get knocked over. Every day I regret not waking earlier. Not going to bed, the struggle to sleep and reset again. Scared of the endless bleed of days.
Feeling kinda weirdly low. I think he’s one of the biggest inspirations in my life right now. Can someone inspire you, I mean in the way they deal with feelings? I value an honesty I can’t offer myself. Not yet.
Rereading old Wordsworth and falling asleep while writing and leaving black dots of ink that seep through my diary. Opening scene of a whirlpool. Talk about Stonehenge with a singer from Portland I love very much. Something about the lapse of water, like every trickle another neglect. People walk round and round in circles, scrolling the whites of their phones as if in sync with the rolling traffic. In my childhood bedroom, I kept a framed photograph of the stones at sunset. I felt calm and serene and apart from myself, apart from time, when I looked at the stones.
I worked a 9-5 the day they found the body, his body. I was serving people with a smile I didn’t recognise and trembled all over and the sense of witnessing this alter-reality or shock, the opening of feelings I thought I’d forgotten. What went on inside the shell, a quivering. Hid behind crates of dirty glasses, in curtains. Tried not to cry on my lunch break, watching solo acoustic version of ‘Poke’ on my phone. Hugging everyone. Earnest conversations. Work is a family. Hot strong coffee takes the edge off. Sometimes no need to talk. The lyrics come again and they burn harder this time. I need to catch my breath. Regain metabolism.
Beautiful messages out of the blue.
Emotional hangover. Best cure, I dig among the piles of clothes in my room and pull out a hardback book: Sylvia Plath’s journals, Christmas gift from my mother in 2012. The book feels heavy and secure on my lap, like a complicated baby. Read her through sleep, while dinner is cooking. Steam, garlic scent, onions, steam. Her voice makes sluices through the fug of everything, so I can feel clear and real again. She mentions ‘the adrenaline of failure’, the up-and-down wavelengths of acceptance and rejection. A poet’s lot. Lust. Apple-bitten first encounters. Fears & jealousies, petty grievances. Genuine pain. Periods of drifting depression, absence of thought. Blood. Self-laceration. Womanhood. Fizzy inspiration, sociability. New challenges in life are a test of endurance. ‘Interesting’, she notes, as to whether she would ‘pass, keep myself intact’. How often are we aware of our everyday proximity to breakdown?
Saturday October 10th, 1959.
‘Feel oddly barren. My sickness is when words draw in their horns and the physical world refuses to be ordered, recreated, arranged and selected. I am a victim of it then, not a master’.
7.30pm Wednesday, October 17, 1959.
‘I don’t know why I should be so hideously gloomy, but I have that miserable “nobody-loves-me” feeling’.
Journal Fagment 31st December 1955 – 1st January 1956.
‘Sun well up, losing red and paling into blinding gold, air fresh and cold, essence of snow melting in sun, checking baggage and wandering toward the sea in a strange city’.
I will be flying to Munich in less than a week. The first time travelling alone without family. Somebody gift me with orientation. As though without sleep, the comedown slides across a map, egg yolk cool upon blue and green. My eyes won’t focus.
Leaving the flat after 4pm each day, I am a stranger in a world I recognise dearly then don’t. I am best in the early hours or late at night. Catching spiders on sidewalks. Everything between that is strange oscillation, is tuning in and out of social existence. What about when the words don’t come. So many trite feelings. A terrible love. The shapes of things. I’m walking with. All of Glasgow a building site, dust of destruction and foundations laid. Piles of concrete slab, churning tar; industrial scents lace the too-warm air.
Where once I would say, hey I’m addicted to chocolate. Honestly, 200g+ a day! Now, it’s a serotonin craving. Simple as. Deficient.
Playlists make better sense of these feelings. Thin black lace, an open window. Warmth.
Easier not to just clack and bite.
Go to prom re-enactment. Balloons and alcopops, rhinestones; blue velour and slacker rock. Fall asleep, nearly, on the night bus, passing airport and eerie business estates. The pool and the plastic palms. Walk home, low battery, ruinous sadness. Insomniac documentaries about Karen Carpenter. Milk cookie eyes and innocent villanelles. Her voice a creamy river, glossy brunette, hometown glory.
We enter Gemini season. The energy shifts. Borderlines and places I can’t cross in my dreams, lost people glinting in distance. Blue folds of tumblr embrace me again. Streams of midnight images, pastel landscapes and metallic objects melted to abstraction. Things split and twin and I miss all my soulmates, past and present. Editing, editing. I miss when the truth felt less of a shimmer. Sleep it off, sleep it off.
The loud loud noise of all these feeds.
Out in the hot dusty yard of SWG3, disco ball scintillating in the sun, I see LCD Soundsystem with my friends around me. For once, that’s totally enough. Stand between two brothers. Smile all through set. There is a sort of ultimate feeling. I can change I can change I can change. Synths blister through me. Drums. Feel drunk when I’m not. Feel heady. The old chandeliereal, teenage way. Sun glitters. Swap limbs. Burst memories are easy.
Wander home through herbaceous border. Covet her 3am poems, blog posts. We stay up all night discussing complex crushes, then I’m sad because endings are happening all around me. Withdrawals. Wilted tulips. Little flurries of unexpected messages, best sensation. Campari with soda or cherry brandy, amaretto on ice and sharing a seat, clinking glasses and feeling breezy. Sitting in dark galleries on hay bales, waiting. Clutching cigarettes I won’t smoke but stole anyway. Talk of literary idols, musicians and artists. Writing things down with conviction, like: I love the new Stephen Malkmus album, so much! Sparkle Hard! The dreamy subsistence of the suburbs at dusk. Those shoes are shinier than my future. I hope he’s okay. Plagiarise conversations. You could boil it all down to a haiku, May a tiny, significant bulb of gorse:
Twice for sale, gold and then green
Forget to mention.
Bob Dylan – Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here With You
Sharon Van Etten – The End of the World (Carpenters cover)
Cat Power – Metal Heart
The Twilight Sad – I Couldn’t Say It To Your Face (Arthur Russell cover)
Manchester Orchestra – Architect (feat. Scott Hutchison)
Harrison Whitford – Poltergeist Love
Pavement – Type Slowly
LUMP – Curse of the Contemporary
Bright Eyes – Coyote Song
Common Holly – If After All
Sufjan Stevens – Romulus
Milk Carton Kids – Wish You Were Here
Mark Kozalek – Good Nostalgia
Fossil Collective – Disarm
Nap Eyes – Every Time The Feeling
Arctic Monkeys – Star Treatment
Iceage – Beyondless
Parquet Courts – Violence
The Brian Jonestown Massacre – Animal Wisdom
Kendl Winter – Shades of Green
Big Star – Thirteen
Hatchie – Sleep
James Blake – Don’t Miss It
Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks – Bike Lane
Sufjan Stevens – Make Out In My Car (Moses Sumney cover)
The birds in the garden have been keeping me up again. Sleep slides in and out of the dark hour, for which I’ve been hoarding the lights in my room for a sunrise. I’m not very good at putting on records; they always jump at the wrong bit, glitching backwards. When you wake up because the moonlight is too bright. It is a question of paying attention. It is a question of living quiet. I wish I could sleep like you.
Spent a few days waiting on trains late into the night or the afternoon. My fingers making a conspiracy of amethyst, mottled with cold. There’s a little glass case you can stand in, twirling your body to get the light to switch on again. I’ve got my comforting songs pressed into my headphones. Funny things happen in my chest when I hear them. Sometimes it’s a release, other times it’s like you can see all the filaments of your blood and sinew twist and sprawl like delicate vines. It feels hot and temporary. I flicker through bad thoughts about what might happen to the people I love. I flicker through good thoughts about what we can do with the summer. It seems so distant.
Sometimes I fall literally into bed; it’s like someone is dropping me.
There are moments I pull very close. There are places where everyone is here at once. There are places where it’s just us and it’s finally warm and my mouth tastes of dark fruit cider and other people’s cigarettes I didn’t want in the first place. The curtains are always closed.
I keep thinking about how there are takeaway shops in the southside named after glistering techno bands and wondering what came before. In my head it is always the music, but then maybe that is something Leonard Cohen said, or didn’t. No, what was it, we are ugly / but we have the music. These shops look like dollhouse shops with all the tools and objects miniatured, but maybe this is just an effect of where I’m standing from across the street, short-sighted. I went out dressed in gingham shorts and other inappropriate quantities of yellow. To have music you sort of have to walk a bit more; you have to let rhythm and melody drop memory with muscle. I once said, leaving a party, I have to make tracks and he thought I meant laying down records. But in a way it is all just recording. When do we click off? Skip between beats.
There are signs of spring. I say this as it starts to snow. I mean a few days ago I could see buds on the trees, little yellow flowers. What happens now? Do they retreat inwards? I picture them shivering within precious membranes, cocoons, algorithms of promise interrupted. It’s okay, I’ll be buying less of these indulgent Lindt eggs from the Tesco round the corner. I’ll thin out eventually. Easter will come too early this year. Winter keeps us in its arms forever, shivering because like those buds we are children. Some people burst through. I admire the impulse. It’s like what, dancing naked in the snow. I used to listen to Sonic Youth when I was angry, whacking objects off dressers, now I close my eyes and try to visualise the colour blue. I get about as close as turquoise before everything melts to bliss. That would be the ideal effect. There’s something very beautiful and suggestive about the word lagoon. Is there a pill for this?
Recently I’ve been rediscovering canals. You see it’s actually been sunny. You have to walk along the motorway, cross several spaghetti roads to get over to the Phoenix Flowers—these sort of peculiar, half-lovely windmill structures. Then an underpass and up some steps. I follow a band of miscreant hipsters. A sign saying Urban Oasis. The canal looks good when the sun hits. I mean it looks sharp and glassy and properly blue. The trees glow ochre in the sun; the way they have faded all through winter seems refreshing now instead of exhausting. In a few months this should all be green. There’s still a fragility. Very little litter. You can see the stadium and the industrial buildings, warehouses and garages and houses. Everything over there gleams rust in the sun. I listen for whistles or song but the air is only as close as my headphones. I’m listening to The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society, remembering odd passages from Cider with Rosie and feeling regret for nights I could’ve made longer with more wholesome spirits. Waking up to bright clusters of strawberry jam on bread like blood on the sheets.
Nothing floats by on the canal, though there are boats tied at Applecross and then a few bottles bobbing their dark viridian messages. I write letters to friends in England, emails to friends in America.
Somewhere down the line, where does all this become ASCII?
I write an inordinate quantity of poetry about bruises and flowers and passing time. The year has stepped up its bicycle gear and I wish my bike was in order so I could fly down the Clyde like Brendan and May in Ruby/Sapphire. Most mornings are filled with flash fiction and occasional bouts of panic. I finish draft ten of an important application.
Daffodils on the kitchen table bloom overnight, just like that. They are marvellously, gorgeously yellow. I feel no shame in showering adjectives.
I dream a lot about the sea. Except we don’t reach it. Mostly it is a question of negotiating cliffs to find safe accommodation. I buy family-sized bags of crisps just for the taste of salt, then feel awful afterwards. This is probably normal.
I am drawn to a piece of teal-coloured scaffolding mesh that resembles a streak of kelp on the street.
It feels good to make coffees and twirl around tables. It feels good to be serving, to eke out a few hours on other people’s time. Sometimes I look forward to a long, long waitress’s summer. Sunlight, sparkling lager and indefinite afterparties. Reams of time to commit to writing in lieu of sleep. We hover at table six and salvage lost noughties culture, folding paper napkins to crisp blue lines. If everything was this chiasmic, easily given to compost.
Today’s Oblique Strategy pops up on my Twitter timeline: Make something implied more definite. Last year I got Tinder but ended up using it mostly to talk about Brian Eno to at least two strangers. I feel like I understand lust less; it is like clustering the silent hours with extra ambience. This is not necessarily a bad thing. The snow outside my window right now is pretty pathetic. People are shaving the skin off clouds. It is really happening; the gaps are appearing. Sometime early nineties, year of the Rooster, hole in the ozone layer.
Being a sucker for charm, longing for the twilight of virtual swamplands where it is possible to cry again. An effect of atmospheric toxins. This is a slow-burner, just slip it on and trust me. You can see through the nacreous membranes, someone else’s confected scrolls of sugar, confession, snow.
Hookworms – Ullswater
Robert Rental, Thomas Leer – Day Breaks, Night Heals
Beth Orton, Four Tet – Carmella (Four Tet remix)
Kiasmos – Blurred (Bonobo remix)
Beach House – Lemon Glow
Agony – Beach Fossils
The Orielles – Old Stuff, New Glass
Japanese Breakfast – Soft Sounds from Another Planet
Already they are flogging chocolates in Tesco’s. I am ill-prepared for the purples and yellows, the curved edges of mass chocolate which we were taught as best for exam preparation. Reading old Moodle documents where we were wished a good Easter with lots of curved chocolate. The world curves as it splits. No really. Is this just trick synecdoche? The gaussian, milky worlds. I dwell in the sugary absent weakness. Bedtime cocoa. Night after night dissolves into day. Clung to all these ornamentals, my fragile sinuses burning well. I’ll go all the way through the night for this, the not-knowing and the implicit—which is it it it.
You see there are several photographs in which it is shown that we have a thing that makes sense, or doesn’t. My fingers reach for the delicate foil, but I am frightened to unwrap what might perish in the light.
I’ll talk to you about fast food for hours if you like. No, there is an art to dwelling in front of elevators to avoid going up or down. We part in limbo again, the ice still clung but I’m not slipping this time. There’s a sense in which the sky is a tease. How could that blue come out of the grey? It is like watching some sick person acquire their first blush for months—so you might pull on that, luring them from their introversion. O blue sky, O blue day. Today I will wear pale blue and twirl. We debate the sentience of ferns because I am sick of rolling dice for you. Rolling leaves, tobacco and steam. Everything around is still dead and grey. The ice in our drinks is the precise kind, expensive. Like some character in a song by Belle & Sebastian, I killed you on the sabbath. New moon burning a hole in my books, so I would scoop wisdom from the alcoholic silt and taste it. There are so many words we struggle to assemble. Like hairspray your loquaciousness sticks and I find it in the morning, crusted all over my skin. Slit.
It’s taken too long for me to discover ‘Farewell Transmission’ and now it might well be my favourite song.
Doubling back out of habit, platitude. My phone battery externalises the melt of my soul. My god however is it six in the morning again and leaning out a balcony I pretend it’s still night. Which of us picks up a cigarette? Drawn from the navy, thickness of velvet. So many thin white bars whose measured smoulder effects inverse to the light. The duration of intimacy with dangerous presence.
Dreamt I was in England and being shown around myriad ancient houses. The verdurous remains of a Fleet Foxes song, green apples and glittering fountains. Here you are as I was in my corduroy. There is a hypothetical coach journey that draws me to you. In her many cubicles, the rich lady assembles a wealth of dresses. I wear sequins to gigs so they can pick up my trail. Funny how it all lies down, like snow. In the darkness you can know everyone, share in their sweat and heat. The bass beats a death inside of me.
Lovely, lovely, lovely.
The truth is a valley in which I dip occasionally. Best not to linger.
What is it with our renewed desire for psychedelia? Smell of dying pines? I long for the back of a van, a Nebraskan sunrise. Languid, shimmery notes which twang through the desert, tuning to all that mescaline seeping inside the cacti. Sleeping through the mad afternoons. There is a note on the fridge: William Carlos Williams dropping plums one by one through my Twitter feed. No really, it says will you take out the mouldy fruit; I could not bear to. All of our narratives resign with sincerity.
January blackens; it fills milk spores in the holes of my speakers. Drips straight into ear canals, oozes and congeals its murky secrets. The milk goes black, an aperture. It is fear or soot or the ink from a printer. How much have you spent on weighing up happiness? There is his to consider, then hers. A balance. We talk a bit about the problem of rhythm, but we are paralysed on the boat of my sofa.
Look back for old flake paint, for the topaz and green. Flash of light!
There are so many sunflower connections. Her new album (I’m picturing Oregon from a tenement window), his intentional outfit, my disposable developed (what sad and faded sunflowers they were!), a proliferation of emoji, paling bedsheets, yellow bows and cookie-huge pupils, rediscovering a hairband, that video with its dead assembly of meadows. A nice young man stares mournfully at the wilting array. The one plucked flower I held in the photo-booth, smile all red and sideways drooping. Petals of buttery yellow. Longing for symmetrical features is futile when you think of it. The Psychology of Attraction might be a good record title. Or is it akin to her perfect button nose, infinitely terrible? Undone like a blouse the clouds forget the order of day. Very photogenic. My god like why does he drink pint after sideways pint? I prefer those features slightly awry, striking, crooked. Look into abysses, the romantic state of traffic at five in the morning.
A good quick coconut shower, rinse and repeat. We keep on growing. She knows.
To live nocturnal is to cheat the impositions of ordinary living. As if I were ever going to be a glowing contributor! You know, when they used to ask, over breakfast or whatever, about my future career I’d say—I’ll learn how to blow smoke-rings, I’ll sit up in attics watching telly every day. How far from that is the present in question? THE QUESTION. Tiny daisies studded the front lawn, friends came to paint colourful ads on the walls. I’m starlit, trying to close folders to forget it.
What I am struck by is his absolute gratitude. The blueness cools, then emanates. Googling ‘good and bad feng shui’.
I properly have the chills, then I don’t. Sunshine comes out, dashes the opposite window and drips fucking genuine gold on my hip flask, glasses, sequin dress. What a marvel! We buy cups of tea and I drift along Kelvin Way lingering in the sparkly feeling. Later, as in normal days, I brush my teeth while simultaneously reading James Schuyler and occasionally catching my ridiculousness in the mirror. Folding red book betwixt fingers. It’s like forgetting to spell, that brief glitch where you see yourself wrongly. But he writes so well about sunlight and flowers and waking up to the sense of everything being around you. How could I resist that, melting into this clean teeth feeling. I fill myself with words, waiting for the kettle to boil.
So a wee mention in Dazed and Confused, eh? I did cartwheels in the restaurant and bounced my way home.
A good friend helps you figure out your feelings. It’s not as simple as taking a box of pick’n’mix and sorting it all by colour. Remember the last day of school, second year, talking to your crush about orange skittles? We agreed on a favourite and that was the first time I lied to impress or get close to a boy. It meant nothing then. I mean anyway, oranges became my favourites—everything before was soon forgotten.
Sometimes though, I still dream of red. He’d clack the streets on his skateboard home.
When doing the morning rounds, laying out cutlery, I feel so lucky. Where has this feeling come from? I don’t deserve the good rush from coffee, or the way my hair sits right the first day after washing. Is this a temporary clawing out of the void? An American asks, is that your natural hair colour, or do you ENHANCE it? My darling, everything must be a certain enhancing. She does not tip. She leaves her glasses, wiry black frames, but we cannot find them.
My mother’s SAD lamp does wonders for everything.
We are all in our bodies, separate but not. It is his flat and he is drifting. I catch him saying, to no-one: I love falling asleep in a room full of friends, you feel so safe. This is a truism I have carried and nourished since childhood sleepovers, though it’s been so long. In lieu of sleeping bags, we wrap ourselves now in serotonin enhancements. Sparkle and chat and videos.
The time is out of joint, or maybe no longer matters. They are selling Easter chocolates already in Tesco’s. No room for January discount vegetables, or the mad dieting schemes of the rich and useless. I take miles into distance, darkness after work. Every half hour another album. They closed the bar early. Do we talk about ‘our generation’ too much? How he hates the word ‘epoch’.
There are these messages I receive in the dead of night. Friends from abroad or away. The beautiful and ever unexpected.
Did you know there are poets who actually write about happiness? I am very glad. Jack Underwood in love and lifting his snail to safety.
Sometimes I miss you like I miss the sea in The Wind Waker. You’re there and you’re everywhere but are you really? There is all this cell-shaded feeling and the sense of whirlpools ahead. Maybe that in itself is the dream, the journey and stirring and searching for clues. There are two, the green and the blue. Tactics: look above, be only shallow.
It is not the same green as a bottle of Gordon’s. It is fake plastic green, these intimations of asphalt. Where you have crossed and skinned and promised.
A kind of lamentable, pore-torn love; looking up football puns in crumpled papers. When I look up from the pile of folded napkins and we clock eyes. Let’s talk dissertations. Let’s talk the lightning tree on the cover which you haven’t yet opened. I found another path through a wayward January. How anyone ever did this dry I don’t know. I used to be pure and decorous really.
Now there is a mist and madness to everything. The new year beginning with vapours. Dwell in etcetera and don’t pause for effect.
Those purple foils fill up the trash. How many of us deep down can help it?