I retort in the rustling, shifting, buzzing: the background hum of live bodies.
Once upon a time, in the land of us, there is a job named man. He is a man of perfect. Sun wash the grit from his eye. Gimlet crack in the pilaster, a bone of inlaid work, hard stones partly built in, partly projecting. In his mouth of pitchy bread the tongue refuses to function. The ceiling plane reflects in the circle of a zinc table top. This game's too big for him. He's been hidden for years among things—inscriptions, rusting locks, miniatures, sticks and dust, a saint's digit—before clawing his way out of the encasing mortar. Now he casually strolls in the sunshine. Someone has struck fires. He can't write uphill. An old contrivance for throwing stones is unearthed, along with the barb of a ray and the gentle eye of a crane. Killing me softly, the sound from the courtyard is the rebound of a ball, an indirect stroke—once more, systole-diastole. And he content in his thickness. Something specific to sight is needed, one had said. Strumming my fate with his fingers.
I'll know it when I find it. A field for the game is paced out. Two copters hover still in the rising current. She invents a word for herself, her own word—a window of stars, perforations in the canopy, Fenestellar. I said she'd turn up again, remaining longer than needed.
That something happened that day, as one reads from the words, is certain. In the harbour is a ship with fifty oars. He's a man of destiny and all that. His contemptuous human skull gradually wears away (the brutalizing effects of language). A rout is needed, a number thing, the sixteenth letter. In mediaeval notation, he's an abbreviation for paraffin. The initial phase forms the first movement of an ethical life. He's a relentless quoter. When he's determined their significance he incorporates them into his own fictions, the creeping envelope at his back. The species is full of thought, with its goals and values, reveries and methods; that which is not in complete agreement with our affectations: solid state, low maintenance memory, remembrance of a life of shapes, mosaic maps, off with you in yer bloody cups.
Photographs lie scattered across the tiles; shalework, inner shelf-life. They form a hygrid.
A slow bruise spreads at the circumference of the land. He's still moving rapidly westwards. Take things easy. It's hard work walking, or rather pushing through these obstacles: reeds, flags and brushwood, between the firs and the watery edge. His bombastic tone has evaporated. I believe a few like him, the more aspiring, loved without condition and excursed beyond the stockade. He rejoices, fringed round at the rim with reeds and canarygrass. Reveille. He stirs, wakes to the inexplicable, and a naked dip in the ooze (he'd always hated queuing). This is the inventory of a disaster, marked by a change in the status of I.
Please do not blend. A rock splits readily into thin frames, laminae along the bedding-plates. Oil is distilled. I steal from others, pimp and filch: limp leather, Bible paper, heaven and hell. A separate voice comes out of the first and offers a disturbing version of events (how many of my decisions has he been making). Decomposed sound escapes. A version. Distorted memory fragments and interrupts the dialogue. Any remote or paradisiac period would qualify. He has an expression that says, Look how much food I've got here on my plate. Clear in its harmonic unfolding, there follows a flood of syllables. They'll never find his spleen. A type is built note on note, without modulation or chromaticism—a bolt-hole. It gives meaning and order to the present. He is charged with an excess of holes over the electron.
Boys sparing in the street.
He has a couple more lives invested in this. Stamp him out in calcined ash—another of the gently satisfying tics of a nascent mortality. Sighs stir up from a volute life. If you can see them, they can see you. Will it end with the dog being rescued.
If he ever expressed a coherent idea in his life he would have to seek out a quiet corner in which to hang himself, or fling upon a riverran. Breath and water conjoin. Another directional whisper, an overvoice. The image of their hanging selves is torn like a flap of needless skin. The night belongs to one man. He's exercising his ghost. I'm careful not to quote him. Bad magic.
It follows all too well from this point on. The dead question resolves itself during sleep, a necessary trauma, the usual panic at the end of every month.
He is with him when he dies, walking. He'll never live that down. We're not saying anything and we're not leaving. The atmosphere changes radially from week to week, and is determined by the particular bodies present. Too much phantasy through perception, the great escape, until it becomes impossible for him to resume his natural disposition.
Don't rush beyond, keep it steady. He dreams of two unknown women. One has come back from the dead. They compete. He wants both. It can't work. Terrible seance of loss.
The first redoubt. Bite of hot seeds on the tongue, star-noosed with oil, full on like a roaring boy. In wake a cry: salt on the back of the hand, ground into the risen blood cables. The encampment lacks law, has no established customs. Events just happen. She beats her old tattoo, close tap of the cask, the injured wave. Now we're received. My story arrives, side-swipes its way through the present danger. Suggest wisely and repel in full. Greasy smoke in the air. Unfold to him the inventions made: semy of bezants, a roundel when gold, a polyethylened head. Something arrests his lineage. He says, I want to come back to the same things again and again, build something recognizable: bell loops on a bouncy caste, that diamanté lizard she wore, powdered crystal sparking substance. His brown leather suitcase, type Old & Indeterminate: Hotel Metropole, Belgrade. Happy times, happy themes. The father is a sixty minute father (sounds familiar). Same theme as the open sea. Where does that belong. He ranks somewhere between a shrub and a patriarch. And she says, Take whatever you want.
None present can explain how it could have crept inside the perimeter. Within the walls of the salon there's a resigned feeling of used books; uncertainty prevails. I see her creeping, white and gleaming. His residual tumour rattles and skates, an exhausted seam in a once famous brainpan. Four paper windows grant light to pierce out the forcing frame. Gouged from within, a small plug of hardened flesh, moss-blown wax at his feet, shimmies at the touch of his toe.
I only alive when this. Warm sunshine. Must keep away from the centre. An open city.
Every evening I stroll around London without leaving this room. This winter will never end. I adore street photographs. Where's this dying man.
The two treasures are never shown in the same space together. I doubt whether any great solecism is committed by this.
The man in tight shoes sent me.
Just move through things one at a time.
I don't need to number them. Anxiety? Influence: bring it on. Fetch a bucket. All have pale blue eyes, faces, and long yellow heads. The men carry white shields and spears stripped from limbs akin to the lime family. They are organized in military companies of fifty. They are ruled. Some ripen early, like human jargonelles. Semi-translucent, they swoop toward him across a deserted strip of flat land. Scrub grass ripples displace the cut wind. A brilliant colourless mass, spears flashing pale zircon—jacinth and jargoon. Arms are made available for his defence: curved bill and thigh armour, chain mail. Scant trees provide cover. His equipage: a sword and a sickle. The weapon he chooses must match each adversary. First comes the one, then another, and then one more, with larger body and a long thin neck. He pierces its slenderness. Blue teeth in the tiny head pince at his hand. He's all experiments from last to first. He's afraid to loosen his grip on the shaft. Suddenly they're gone. He should have died hereafter.
Have you had a quiet guard.
I am sick at heart.
Think of the apparition. Ask his vague question. You were there, weren't you. The ordinary image gives a sense of unreality to the tongue, preparing us to accept the uncanny, the silence and the acuteness. I ask myself if some catastrophe prevails. Five fiends in him at once. Rivals. Partners. Work quickly—no haste. He transmits in technical terms, fading out of the light general. Then light on he alone, while the other rests in shadow. When he becomes feeble, they simply leave him to die.
The Man Out Of Us
A figure of the deceased is given above the chapter. She waits for a signal. It could have been an animal. She holds a reed tongue in her mouth. In the middle of the meal he cries, I am so pleased you have come to explain. It gathers. A head opens on all sides. Poisons are spirit-sluices, miniature physicians. I've brought a gift of my own, a short arrow for shooting birds. Dip it, the head.
It was all over in ten. We'll soon catch up. This means more late-night sessions, a wound to avoid. Alone in his room, a Super-8 reel is triggered by sensors, a clattering blank, scratched luminescence. I remember the flag was stitched across his chest. You can see that clearly. He stands across from the deserted strip, swelling out in tone. I'm getting a better idea of it: across the deserted, colour all too obvious, bleeding out to the inevitable surround. An insect tangles to buzz at his shirt, a slight ghost in the picture. Now and then, expectation: quietist nihilist, with an indeterminate tense of time. They have no ceremonies whatsoever. That time was such a good time. I want to hear of it again; an entry slip, with properties withheld. Forwardshooting birds. Aves.
He may be sliced laterally with a sharpened edge, measured into chunky strips of equal depth, but any downward strike is arrested at the apex of his skull. He grins at ease with his stratiform affliction. He is still standing (he's always existed in a steady state). He has no beginning. He's a threshold, or perhaps, in earlier use, a hinge. He's dry, barren: a wood, a grove, a sand bank. You choose. A unit of infrequency, he stands full square despite the wounds: pink brain samples, diced hams. He wakes, shakes the feathers off, rising as a bird, hauled into daylight with staggering unsprung reels. Lock him in a spare vitrine and set him up for auction. He has the same sound as anagram, thought-reading from intended tremors, quiet days spent cooling in the clay pit. At that time I didn't know the extent of his hatred. You follow me? As I write, night is failing and all the folk are busy about their feed.
She walks around with only a nightdress no. Her night. A dress.
Nothing reaches. It's a little after midnight. There's a permanent scaffold clinging to the compound. And where do you dwell. Quiet days. I found mine, used, in the shadow of a keep (philanthropy is found in divers places). Night picture of the cathedral town running throughout his dinner bundle. Stony durdles, crypt among the fissures crept. Divers flights: keep the lad suspended etcetera. I order the boy to the long walk. I once bought a used version of her, lost in translation, and between its leaves was a nicotine slip worked as a bookmark. On this was the long walk, R (again). I had to.
This is how he ventures: chance pointers, overlaps in time, daft clues in the attic. He resists the names, places, dates and duties, and I can't see that changing any time soon. He favours the bleached fabric of everyman and anyplace. Your moral strength remarks a nerve, but don't call for quarantine. I speak with borrowed authority, my tone lacking in consequence. Have we spanned to the edge of that.
I had to wait an age.
Now I have had to separate them.
One or two flares are lit. The picture ghosting. Just the head.
Please write for prompts. A damaged nerve can't be reholed, hence the numb flank of his face. Please dust for prints—ink the builders, scaffold awry. His silvering ear, with Bach, or whatever, the pitch of a telephone, forever thinking the thither. Into prelude and fugue.
I've chosen a good time to do this, have I not; it stymies vital function. He's left following the well-fancied stream of gold, and shall be a long time dead after that. There's nothing like playing the underground. Beneath the tarmacadam lies a daedal of bright blue pipes. Static on the sleeve attracts a film of dust, electrifying the dead cells. Not so much the hope of now, white things of starlight carbon, myth'logic, jackalheaded, thoughtsome by name and nature. Her rather fugitive figure has been chambered to guard against the local resurrectionists. You've been an absolute star today. Very decisive, if morbidly narrowed. Very said. Dismemberment is her middle name. And she says, Lick the surface evenly. I return to dwell, and the long walk is waiting, Homeric in the deed, Homeric in the telling.
It's time I told you of that disastrous voyage.
Keep in condition. Do like this. Hot air—discreet, biological reality. A rigadoon. Note italics for less than you my child.
Grass grows thickly among the trees. At the edge of the orchard we leave him.
Off the road. We'll soon catch up under cover of daylight. I am curious to know, he suddenly says aloud, what salve you have for my schemata. Make a decision: include words, images, gestures, tones. Give it a bit longer. He's been squeezing too much out of himself. He starts running down the street. In a second he's level with the other, elbow out of joint. Give it a bit longer. No pleasure but meanness. Venus dark, his voice becalms. He throws everything off balance like a human slingshot. Unusual in her heyday, of uncertain origin, a girded reciprocity is the core of her friendship. Nevertheless, diesel has spilt on him during their altercation. He has multiple fractures above his lifespan, a trial life spent striking out at people and their things, pounding flat earth. Above a suburban porch he spies the object: blue psyche in cursive neon. He visits the outcome. How could he resist.
I remember now where the ceiling is. His eyes hurt. Beyond the threshold the interior is catholic, convertible. Inside it's made of wood, silver birch of overarching tracery. His right hand goes up and he sways forward. He's volunteered. There's nothing much in this to get upset about. He thinks himself with more pride than sentiment: no motor, no mobile, no head. He drops a perpendicular from behind his left ear. He brings forth the place, whispers of the time. The solid voice is a problem. Carry it across the brook to a new room. This was the first breath of the land breeze. Her gayling legs straggle and crack.
A web emerges out of nothing. Wait for it:
Just be sure you stay beyond reach of their scopeful claws. This is a tactful way of saying, Recover. His head is hooded beneath a patchwork coat. Centohead, scraps jointed out of joint, the commonplace sting of the quotidian. Hang on to that a bit longer. Read in and around one line each loop. Now he'll never get away. Now he'll never forget. There's room for capillaries, accomplices, aluminium stitches twisted into shape with metal pliers—animal familiars, round the back with the disfiguring head, to corrupt the remaindered light.
His ashes are placed in an earthen pot used for melting ores and metals. He has bought a plot. There's a pond. He's scattered on the surface. The solid voice is still a problem. We could have aged him prematurely. But if we artfully age him, it has to be symmetric, the fate that cuts the thread of life. He is quit (quiet), used as a form of receipt.
A crucible. Playing against the touch, a gloved hand of fish and bird skin. The bleeding gums of paradise. Lend me you weapon.