Face Collection

On a rock, perhaps, a threefold vessel, towing. Place I for he, everywhere. In many ways the worst number is the number six. Those remaining are not quite aligned. None is apologetic—all chunter and gibbet. He doesn't know yet. Again, some rules: a soft wave of pressure. Bite the bit, tight. Blind fast his eyes. A small boy peers round the jamb. I forget the rest. Please, head! A whiff of beasty hay, truffling hogs caved up for a season, made shadow by charcoal flame. Myself and my animals are under the watchful ear. I vow to begin (tomorrow, I mean). Bring me his head in the muddle of the day, the only formal recognition of his authority. Your chance to be a winner. Trigger the experience. The needle is at eighty-ninety—everything jumps. Sentinels are placed at the approaches. Waves gnawing. Don't tease him out, will an affect, a consequence. Unfold him. The oldest child is the candidate (insofar as anyone is). Village father, starosta: my brother, he wants to be a thing, top of the old ladder when he grows, wriggling like a hooked fish. He is very measure, beneath the massive tread of angels, the star child of a one-trick brood. But I don't feel this is an answer. The sound is poised to the ear, without word in a word. There are days when I manage not to think of anything at all. When a gap opens up send him homeward to think again. He parts.

I chance upon him in a café, gently weeping. He says he doesn't know why. A man passes clutching a bin liner crammed full of arrows. I don't think they're connected, the tears and the darts, but who knows. I can feel the event stretching away from me, pulling in different directions on every side.

I'm washed down an impassive river, silt in every pocket and under my hat. Away again forward there! List his phenomena: the hauling tump-line, a nearby constellation, patrons of the field cherishing lost time, a blast, an insect egg. Use what's at hand. I turn to enter the reigning space. Solitary burn-off. Wrecked piles string out distance on either flank. Towns are twinned. A squat needle sits in moss-blown testimony to the incoming, where human children slather, salting at the mudchutes, slithering to the dismal creek. Skies converge at the rim of faultness. Lines of light score into boardwalk shadows, illuminating asphalt (not everything, just here and there). A skin-withered dyke of molten tar receives the pristine step, condenses the scene: latterly homeland pinned flat by fossil stacks.

This is all quite interesting to think about, he tells me. I'll see you in about twenty. It'll end by summarizing itself. Some he calls Darling, some he calls Boss. A narrow flagellum lies across my path. You've been an absolute star. Categories are compressed like so much dark, speechless in the sense of versal. I think of it as a tardy apprenticeship. He divines a parsing principle. A funicular descends and ascends within a whitewashed turret. At irregular intervals niches are set into the structure's interior wall, leading off to various levels. A narrow ledge spirals the whole length, and is just wide enough for a footstep. Should he choose to, for he's not coerced, a runner may negotiate this rim while the craft is in motion above or below. The purpose of this risky manoeuvre is to save time. Some of the intervals between exits are short, others long. If a runner is caught between levels, he's crushed by the cablecar, whose passage allows only a narrow gap between its outer skin and the inside wall of the turret.
A blank if you like, a blank screen.
What's to beacon of me: plane tracks, red crane, glass and concreteness. What I can see of it.

I see signs of ageing, the arms. Nonetheless, the nearest sun washes grit from the eye. His shattering instinct. His shattering syntax. He'll be back for more. Sun wash the grit from his eye. It was like a great ship heaving through a dark ocean. I didn't ask for this. Some cruel catastrophe: you volunteered. Collapse. In your brain you've got fifteen thousand million nerve cells running riot, but there's nothing more to be got from this coastline (he said as much at the outset). Flotsam and a whisper, female: be sure to come back live. Dilatory fire in the night. Come back down here. Concretion. Battery lymph seeping out of me. I didn't ask for this. Collapse and concretion. The framing guilt is red. There's an oblong hole suspended in the roof for the admittance and egress of light. Listen, I am trade, I'm the one is paid to do this. To the last detail the thing simply needs to be renamed, offspring of watchers in the days of his flesh. As for shelter, I've nothing of my own to balance the cards with. I'm incontestable, a summer seen all too often. With egress of light.

But you may not want to happen. Despite outbreaks of violent hysteria his default position is surprisingly serene. He's touchy. We regard him as misfortune, a sickness, under the sheltering shade of a camphor tree, rose strip light split inward at the spine. Tremble on ashlar, a profound affinity, the absolute freedom demanded. His organ sits in the mid cell of his brain.

Flint street. Across the street a restaurant. How could I have missed him. If the image is accurate, his skin is an improvement on the old peculiar, aged in a characteristic way, a familiar note of deep Saxon blue. He comes from a goosefoot family. Grotesquely contorted trees gnarled low stunt the headscape. What is there to speak of: his blue suction dye, smeared across sheaves of albumin at the salt defence (his random notes). A shive, slice, slab—a grooved pulley-wheel—a fragment, a speck, particles of impurity, as in paper. One reaches down another's back, into the garment and into the flesh. They're going to end up in the same position. They still have three days left to crawl back and forth. The juxta air comes in to occupy, to set on edge, as a stone with reference to the grain. Be absent when it changes to adult form. I set the two up: matte hair, hessian torque, mourning garments, black above, white below—a paintbrush of its fur, arctic and subarctic. I suddenly approach with all kinds of suspicion. Where is she. Who is she. Most importantly, when is she. No further questions. If this were not the soil that bore her feet away the wave.

Now we're holding a raffle. The connecting bar of gravel is submerged. The winner gets to draw the horrors down into his own head. I position myself and wait the long wait. One says let's eat. We go into the house and never come out again. One reader writes. She writes this letter, steadily, with no necessity. Many of them cluster beyond the corral. She says very softly, these we will have to deal with if we manage to destroy.
It stands beside the I think yet is not bound up with it. She sells her own story. I oppose: I understand you have a proposition. The platter used is sometimes a cup, catching blood, or a dish, a flat crater, a rock-carved bowel. There's an awful lot of new material. All human things are reset by rule and compass. They share between them a single eye and a single tooth (a measure of their critique of my progress). If I knew of any other who could be still I'd replace her. She's not what I expected. Each of the crew solemnly moves back to his place in the row and grabs an oar, as if under trance. Orthodoxy is enforced by law or custom.

He is busy today. He's writing at a time when percussion is taking place—a dignified figure, an indentured man scurrying beneath a small, clawlike cloud. He hears the dip and push of the oars. Accelerate that change: the moon hangs low just beneath the hills. One segment is polished white. It's trapped under there—leave it to die. It has so many layers the bridge is absorbing analogue. This reminds me of her plutonium blonde hair and that twisted mouth, dead rictus lung. What kind of us. This isn't a good time to leave, just before expiation and her discomposing grin. Depress on key and the board, the page. He rises too late. He takes himself off outside, to the rain, to speech fused at the quick. I'm not going to swing out like that, myself on a creaking gibbet.


He eats the stone. Digestion goads return to the flank, to restep trodden earth. I think he died for me, she answers. Shift to no. She's upset about yesterday, deadheaded, like the maginations that feed your body. We find his own heart down a drain. It's neutralizing the magnetic field, but we're still on course. He's an allusion evoked by the chattering sound of the tiles during play. Two months have gone by and no word, which means I haven't. My opera lies at an acute angle of nerve order, the perfect deluge.

Listen. Don't get upset. There's no need to fuel. At the centre of his princely countenance hangs a nice little flap of flesh. It wasn't there yesterday. And they make no noise in such a night. We're stuck at the point of maximum area. A jet of fluid discharges from an orifice. Sets and relationships are represented by circles and other figures. Once disguised, each asks for her ring back. This causes confusion. Reluctantly the two men agree. They are friends, closed friends. The scene is a scene of random crime, a grief badly served, the grief of what to write. I can't be held responsible for this shortfall and the lack of prizes. Heel! Heel! No full hand lasts long. A threemasted barque darts across our bow.

Inhospitable regions of anti-freeze. The chain length at the coda of our team flexes through powdered grain, cursive script locked into tundra. And now the windows are dark. If he were not to wave you off, what could you say to him. We must be nearer to him than we think. Sudden sense of optimism. Why don't you restore it, the sunlight on the flank of a gentle bay. Because it was not.

Martial epigrams, thrusting gobkeepers, shoppers, a length of chain dragging in the snow at the end of each section. One always returns too late, or not at all, with small exquisite books tucked into the crook of his arm. His heart is revealed and moved by external soundings. And now I have an over-acuteness of the senses, am a salve to repetitive, almost static procedures. I simply don't remember that time. I come here to part from myself, sit and plant nothing, a deliverance from signals and their corresponding things. I'll make some really big hinges, fresh plans for escape. A pasteboard glider sits in the attic, waiting for the right sort of downfall. It boasts an aluminium body and moth wings. I wish I weren't so idle. Used layers of rain compress into marble at the town square, arterial iron rusting.
A key-shaped shadow.
The pressing drone of insect life.

Final sound gone. I find myself deeply moved and don't know why. The animal quits me to snap his dart. Faint pincers clack and drive, perhaps a child. Midday beyond and not a great deal to say. Such are rare, one who deals along with his death, moist and irregular, catholic in scope, catholic in bolt hole. Or, there's a tunnel, a passage out. As a general rule he would vanish after a time.

At them: whatever days trick by into my room. Pick a device of your own choosing. The other wears a neck-fetter of ice and hide, fastened to curved shafts which sweep down to form simple runners. Shields of arms are blazoned below, drawn out in a variety of ways to describe horse or bearer. Rampart with massive impact. Three or four years pass running in rings, looping in and out of him. Bindings of animal sinew. And hereafter you'll be left to feud for yourself, in close-packed exile. We prepare ourselves for the uncanny. The metal branch of a scaffold appears: it sounds broken and wrong.

I think I would have seen it, but at this late stage any changes are inconsequential. I could have been locked up safely in my cell tonight, with my supper and my scripts. Should we hazard new ones, gigantic divagations. I want to wake in the morning and find I've become a cipher: nothing equals the horror of the committed, nothing necessitates. I conceal my papers behind a loose brick in the wall. The disease of the first half has come back to haunt the second. Me, I'll always be away for the duration, overtaken by a spasm whose name is taken. It was a festival without beginning or end: cars on fire outside, ordnance shot off. I never would have left this area if a few historical necessities hadn't obliged me to depart. Spectacular targets in this region, most often on its eastern side and more rarely on its southern. He's getting a bit tired of me. We walk out of the bar to face a small mob of locals. We fight as hard as we can. I find it hard to explain how this happens. The figures stencilled on the wall refer to altitude. We've earned the right to slip by.


He once said, no such community as things. In the same way I thought you were an animal portrait. Now I'm not so sure. His own head rests in his hands, left and right supporting the skull, or sometimes a single hand, like a painted picture. His words are carbon-based, freestanding. And you yourself are a foil, with obsessively shrapnelled nails. I try not to. Nothing happens. He has a tendency to leak, with characters rising in relief before falling again to stasis. Let it choose itself. Add overheard, as and when. The figures daubed on the wall refer to the highest tide mark in a given year. Now to the last of her progeny.

I write things down on lips of paper and carry them about with me (pockets, names). There's a clicking sound on the other side of the wall. I'm not doing another picture. They are keeping him alive with promises until they have a better use for him. Steal out with your sack. I dwell up out of myself. I dwell on the roof. There's a hole for smoke and light and other invisibles. Hold on to his colour. Do you hear what he's saying. There's a whole team of them ready and waiting, drawing us into readiness while we slumber and dream. I have to whitewash the statues. One moves. It softens under touch. Someone vaults the edge of a rusting circle, onto the adjacent platform. Everything sways, needlessly hung. Armed troops arrive in a truck. You're meant to be sharing, you're meant to be listening. Two white forms very close.

Do you want me to tell you something. You're not supposed to be here tonight, the kind of old and handsome man who is still alive in an old and handsome world. He is about his work, all his factions. I didn't. He once worked a manufactory, labouring at fictive memory, absorbed in miscued optimism. The story is a rite of passage, quite irresponsible—something about a stolen bike, or other transport. We're approaching now my elder years. And all of a sudden I do something I shouldn't: I laugh. He pitches up at my poverty. I have a head start. My machine consists of two wings, hinged and bolted in the middle to a trap. It's said the drip of cold water on his bare scalp helps improve his mental toughness, but he's one jaded playmaker.

What's that in their crooked hands. It isn't yet four in the morning. The years go by and still we haven't sailed. Transferable figures are breeding in my heart. The latest test is an audit of loyalty. Goods lost by wreck are found floating on the surface or wash up on shore. In times of danger volunteers are hurled overboard, unclaimed odds and ends thrown like the spell of an eye—jettisoned, cast behind the compassing head. Harvest work from replicants, fold back, capricorn hosting.