Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Seven (Circa 2000 BC)

I was recently reminded of this wonderful Akkadian poem. Pretty sure the copyright has lapsed, so I thought I'd post it here. It's quite a staggering piece of magic.

The Seven

They are 7 in number, just 7
In the terrible depths they are 7
Bow down, in the sky they are 7

In the terrible depths, the dark houses
They swell, they grow tall
They are neither female or male
They are a silence heavy with seastorms
They bear off no women their loins are empty of children
They are strangers to pity, compassion is far from them
They are deaf to men’s prayers, entreaties can’t reach them
They are horses that grow to great size, that feed on mountains
They are the enemies of our friends
They feed on the gods
They tear up the highways they spread out over the roads
They are the faces of evil they are the faces of evil

They are 7 they are 7 they are 7 times 7
In the name of Heaven let them be torn from our sight
In the name of the Earth let them be torn from our sight

--tr. Jerome K. Rothenberg

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Enragé on the guillotine - 1798

Strapped to a board
his body jerked and spasmed
for some moments
as the last volts of rage,
the final syllables of paroxysm,
earthed through the extremities.
His face that had fallen pale

into a basket
worked through varieties of wildness
and cruelty
witnessed by all who looked in,
as though he was not yet done with us
and our milky constitution,

as though the febrile soul would slide out,
would manifest before the assembly
as a demon that grasped and crushed

and devoured, and those
who perceived this straining
fell back,
left the square briskly,
pushing out through the drunkards
like swimmers frightened by a shark.
In this way, oscillating
with great wildness and fury
and explosion,
the Enragé passed,

his body finally growing limp.
Even his face, pale, romantic and bloody,
ceased contorting and at the last
adopted a sad aspect
as of one who has looked
into a savage crowd

through dead eyes,
and has seen such things there
as have made him glad
to be gone quickly from that place.
(Published in Underground Voices Feb 2008)

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Forced Fire - a rite of passage

"Keep coming through on the radio..." - The Rezillos

this is no place
and the fires
at one stroke

go out like tides of air

not a dying
not a fading
but shock reeling out

place bounded—trees that lean—signal—inward as though—as though—concern—lascivious intent—like but not like—other—
naked one that lies—in debris it lies—scatter—moonless—place without sound—other—other

it is quiet penetration
of dead spirit the arrival
intersection of orbits
running of men with coals

hissing of night/thing that does not/does not wake/awake

it is curling, arching, combustion

in the dark and cold
people are waiting
to fuck

speak to us now in the waves of the body

it is the singing filament
that spans from diaphragm
to celestial arc
that draws us in
like hymn like battle song

(we see omens
in the edges of our eyes)

speak to us now in the waves of the body

our collective
position species medium
order of being

this waiting around, this waiting
we stamp and drink
stinking like wet reindeer

speak, naked one
in waves, speak

now leave the light of understanding by the door
and fuck off
(Published in Ditch 2007).

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

60 mg of librium for the graving dock

even my coming here at all
I tell them
has been fraught with elemental forces

what are you, they ask, what?
battleship, I say, fresh from the sea-wars
half of her bottom ripped out
by submarine attack
just on the way here

listen, I tell them,
and I open the hatch
out there in the fog you can hear
the grumph of sixteen inch guns
chill whisper of torpedoes
whine of dive-bombers

the war, I say, the war, damn it

(way hay blow the man down,
I sing)

who is her? they want to know
my superstructure, my ironclad heft
my bottle-killing carapace
I tell them

why are you here?
for the enclosure, I say
for the berms and caissons
for the respite
but prop me gently
for I have fragile sonar domes beneath

(way hay blow the man down)

you can't just send me back out there
I tell them
there's a pack of them lying submerged
across the route home, waiting
and my weaponry all in tatters

this sealed package, they say, will do
to stop the foundering
the worst of the shocks
don't insert the disk
until you're way out at sea

wait for the tide, turn off
the engines, drift through
on silent green swells

(way hay blow the man down)

loaded with depth charges, loaded
we crash into the street's heave
roaring out our sea songs
through wolfpack mist


Sunday, November 11, 2007


I expected the Trojan Horse
(that was par for the course)
but the Trojan Rhino
was a new one on me
it jumped right out
of the infected PC
ran across the lino
and ate my TV

Friday, November 09, 2007

death to the pixies

we eventually split up because she believed
in a genetic predisposition
and I favoured the argument
that nurture alone
would do it just as well
and the sky came over
red and cold
and sudden
and dead leaves whirled

a reasoned analysis
would have to say
there were pixies
at work
gnawing excitedly
in the cracks

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Love came to town

Astride no ass
unplagued by doves
in ragged canvas dried up
weathered down stumbling in
shoes creaking hide and jackdaws
—flies buzzing in out in out the black doorways

in His teeth—somewhere deep in there, honey
welling frothing around a long fat queen
—fly honey, sour fly honey—
hot-metallic-bloody—He tumbles in
hacking dry sputes and scrags
kicking dust/chain-links/cinders

aphids and sugardew cascading
from His hair-grown-long

kicks-erupts-bursts open the bar doors
silhouetted dead leather stubble Jesus of desert noon swaying hot nails
digging palms weasel shadow of a rearing moment
powerlines knocking before storm
He looks in looks in where you stand
so, so...
brooding so biding...
drinks He one dark beer, jug jug jug... quiet
hunched like broken skyline
spits sour ale on His smoking iron shoes

rumbles back up the street to bells afar
in the drugged lumpen clump of deep sea divers
with the ocean drained shadow clanging out
dragging lilac flowers bursting
from the downpipes the hoppers
the nostrils of drunks tied to the dead
trees by the church gate

waking too late to see
like cumulus over mountains
a grey sea rolling rolling, full of logs

Love came to town

Lucky Luciano

looked in the mirror saw Lucky Luciano
looking out
them dead eyes wasn't
interceding to prevent espionage
wasn't facing deportation
wasn't holding no one's head

down in a bath
was just looking out
as if to say fuck
Lucky Luciano looking out
eyes like slabs of meat grey

any way you look at it
this is one far fraction
of fuck

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

lost pipes on the parrot axis - a November elegy

.they are ancient—time of death—still intimate
these two—you know—close as hamsters—still sex—even then—yes
not like some others—hating—you see it—blowing smoke
to the end—hissing like stuck rats—burst pipes—no, best friends
lovers—old friends, old—then gone, her—she
one morning, gone—overnight snow—tracks covered—as it were
a dull blow—at that age—lethal—a part of him

part of something, yes—grown into each—to each
what this means here—his extended mechanism—love, you know
love—yes—no longer discrete—merged his—with hers
extended what?—phenotype?—organ, he thought really—felt
like a church—crematorium, anyway—walls covered in pipes—ivy
can't help thinking—Pied Piper—but the wrong end, yes—no

just so many pipes—fine for rats, you'd think—homely
all twisting up there—scurrying—phenopipe?—no, no
all confused anyway—so many damn pipes—all we are, perhaps
pipes, yes—all from the same organ—made you rumble inside
no rats really, no—sort of a piper—off we are carried
down the pipes—such a shock—quite lethal, quite

—at that age—attack of the pipes—sudden—deadly
—he's lost now—in there—in the winding—lost—pipe down

Monday, November 05, 2007

murder is a dazzling light - dense parataxis exercise

...said this fifteen years ago—that's not possible—terrible how she kicked and struggled—even wrote it down somewhere—paper, you know— they found it after—couldn't stand on his own two feet—murdered her—no calling her back then—in there—the planes, you know—how they talk inside tonight—you could always try hopping—wanted to tell him that—had a way with words—back then—how they chatter tonight—like wind sometimes—blowing through—a graveyard?—I'm sure it wakes things—he was shaking her—the kids were wild by then—wouldn't come— not for anyone—not for the world—he was no better—hear them rattle and moan—like I always said—no better than dogs—deep down—no guilt—not a scrap of sense—was it always like this?—so cold?—so many trees?—just a nose for trouble—a dog's sense of where to get a blanket—a bowl full of blood—he must have known—even him—she knew right enough—what was coming, I mean— she didn't talk—didn't think it—oh but you could tell—she knew—in her clothes and her hair—would have been gone—but then there it was all along—he was holding her down—the incessant chatter—the stark trees thrusting—so she couldn't breathe—in water?—no just down—you know—in the levels—waving, crying—so she couldn't breathe—even in winter—she would have seen it coming—murder like that—a light—not that light—the one you walk into, no— not that—in her sleep—not that she listened—murder—a dazzling light...