The usual frantic measurements: a vacuum. Nothing to show for it, to reveal, no antidote or secret place. The persistent memory is of a need to escape the relished confluence: eastward to the coast and sea, westway to the smoke ring. Orange burnoff flares strung across at night the flat distance. A whole shell-full: Gulag Borealis. I looped orient and kept on till I reached a sandbagged threshold. Like I said, a curriculum spiral—the numinous quotidian. Black cross on a yellow ground. Blue plaque. Someone bearing my name must once have lived here. Not there. Not there in that spot in a house at that spot, not now, not there. An infinite lodgement. Objects fall from the sky. We can perhaps make something dramatic out of this: he commits parricide, matricide, fratricide, infanticide, sororicide, homicide, regicide, a double deicide, and initiates a suicide in the space of half an hour. He lies prone as one exhausted, as if broken on the wheel. Mechanized killing's hard work: family reading, family fun—creepy-fucking-crawlies, furry, furry flies. Let it sleep. Now he knows how Einstein must've felt after a long day at the chalkface—quarks and boundaries, logic gates bigbanging in a cyclone. It's disembedded now. What drove him on, what goaded him. A stimulus tipped with iron age; a goadster on a dormant peninsula, that necessary otherness. A desert reveals if nothing else. There's too much weather in his text. In short, he's not truly here. He spills the whole contents of his sac out the window (any window—it doesn't matter which, nothing matters which). He shrugs. All have their familiars and assistants. Maybe he's testing his mettle. With a tough core of perishable rhetoric, he comes from elsewhere: the representamen. He vibrates, he disseminates, dandyish and absurd, and all the stars withdraw their sheen.
Against the underside of clouds, robe and skullcap light—a sanctum where four roads meet, he stands facing east shadow.
With night a collision of tumulus cloud. There are less important crossings hereabouts. The pit of knowledge; dig yourself out. He's not the sort of sound that is heard by ears, his time swinging open again and again—agape—the iterability of insatiable need: tumour hunger on the cancer ward. About its walls flicker burnished masks, blue devils thrashing angels and archangels, the branch of an acacia, bisecting skeins of hot wax, a chimera or basilisk, papier mâché cocks, dentiform battlements, semée of crosses of lilies, a goatfish (the ibex), she-goat bleating at the rim of a moat, scattered pine needles, and the inevitable spine of a stingray piercing the tongue-pad. His paintings are prehistoric, interpreting the birthcart—the children, their time—and that looks like alpine snow beginning to fall as we write. Reminds me of that time in Zurich, head in a box of bones at her feet. He had always disliked flowers, gently distilled flowers. And so there are none. Nevertheless, spleen and liver normal.
Must finish my reports, a comprehensive collection of papers, diaries, and original notes recorded in time. Don't argue with yourself. I am reading his biography. I am turning into him. This is dis-easeful. We are me. I can't do that to him. I am to be carried off on January the fifteenth. What tense are we here. They'll position me beneath the ground. I've a choice: upward to face the stars or standing for the worm. Someone has pinned back my surviving ear with tacks. Bugger. Not standing, I think. It shall be a cold fleet day. Where words dwell. We shall taste the snow awhile and think we lived once more. I shall stretch out my branches like one of those blasted trees, the oleander. And I sometimes feel—and yet I have not the love. Come, bird, come! Every day is one big turnkey day. Yet I recall he once said, I am on my way to love.
So much for that, undergaoler. There's a trail of used bank notes. The newspapers were right. Sometimes I write myself into the line, sometimes I don't.
Hallucidation again last night, sightful and earful: one skeletal runner and drummerboy attendant, with rictus grin—the cry of an animal, the grinding bellow of an iron ship. Where? In my room. I was alone. Were you awake? I was awake every time. When she comes, speaks to me for a minute, I write it all down. Anything might happen. Anything. Lifelines have been cut. Then she goes out through the door, dissolving without a clear transition from daytime labour to evening leisure. No word is to be altered. Always through the door? Always through the door. I even seem to hear her come in and go out. I thought that something of the sort must be happening to you. Did you.
There's always something to remind you when you forget. Perhaps I should enlist the help of a few bodyguards. We are in the original July (the month so named), the impossible tide of the exact same mud. From now on read How for Now. See what happens. Or But for Because and Because for But. The misses in print, Nostradamus resighted. Whites and reds rule inside out. Divination by used book. Something to disgust me for ever with eating. Excitations in the vegetative current, the vagus nerve. It's his own body that the priapic experiences as persecutor when he worships the immortals, that closed little circle; evilminded hypocrites, he was almost as live as they, all A-Z of them. Watch . . . See . . . they can't sleep, the searchlight beam lights up their birth. You think he's funny? He's the author of various farces, a performer of great nervous intensity. Here there's no breaking out or breaking up, no rapture or subjugation. The hydra (water creature) should be the exciting bit. In which case she will have gone through her usual transformation—the goldgorging crawfish—she may also have turned herself into a crab (eye cancer), a hind, a wild night mare, and a cloud. Now she contrives to win back her head. It amuses her to perform as a professional apothecary, to deal in the elements. Her sign is notorious for hoarding—even rubbish has sentimental value. Her signal's the touchstone in all this, the real bell-weather running through the whole thing. I am saving a fortune on fungus.
Continuing to move away to the east. But this strange and alien presence that banishes us from everything in which we are at home is no particular event that must be named; it ultimately happens, named or not. I'll stop screaming for a moment to listen and hear if anyone answers.
Without issue in the death, he stands in the issueless. An image skims in all directions.
Sometimes I write myself into the lie, sometimes I don't. When we say guilty if I do I mean I may be doing the wrong thing that fits that par-tic-u-lar moment in time and so another thing is left undone, left out in the cold like some unsung warrior. Close your eyes tight for a minute and picture a tiny courtroom, ungilt. The only way to find out is to do the job. In the dock stands a wayfarer. Lifework & Homedream. Concatenations. A series of things are depending on one another: internal memoranda. Solid pillars of flint and steel in the distance. Solid pillars of salt in the distance. And in that downshaft horizon there was seen a dead man. Ex people. The sign was not just the coming of myriads of flies, ashes from the kiln were cast into the air. Stand bareheaded. Merchandise must be thrown out. The base resin hardens. We spent the rest of that evening smoking black panes of clear glass. Thick darkness that could be felt.
No one would have found that figure had the tree not fallen down. I think you're all the wiser for knowing that brutal information; brutal information for a big, brutal people. The sun was shining on the hill a short time ago. Now a general bank of general cloud, underside grimmer. Grimoire to remoire.
And I think that's the horn of a stork, or maybe a heron. A herm.
But this is my body.
The promised rain.
Which was a bitter mistranslation: the bitter kvetch. Faultline finder excelsior, unparalleled and peerless. A disappointed bridge:
Latest mage enclosed,
with errsome feeling
because of their mutability,
I mean the rib along the intersection.
Because of their mutability, their porous borders. He's very tricky. No one knows what to say in these dying fifteen minutes. Ecstasy. Standing well outside of oneself. Now it's straight down his throat. He's going to save that. A mass in the oesophagus thorax. Spare man in the box. The voice rises up but cannot escape.
(See Ref. A13)
Young Pretender, Alchemo Therapy, Yankee Tip, Alphabet Dolmen, Wonder Rune, Atum Hawkhead, Whereareyounow, Avatar, Tuppy Boy, Avenue Tamasa, Tonal Day, Balkan Substitute, Thoth II, Black Nepthys, Synaesthete, Brave Calling, Supreme's Legacy, Busty Zoo, Supertip, Camp Napoleon, Stone Tree, Certainty's Egg, Stein Laager, Chaucer's Jacuzzi, Spokes Man, Cilleni's Ass, Some Judge, Classic Narrative, Simulacrumb, Confederate Crossing, Shibbolethe, Crowley's Choice, Sansculotte, Cutty's Tool, Sandy Temple, Dante's Duck, Salt Hood, Dark Set, Royal Deluge, Deeday Afternoon, Rivet Head, Desert Alchemy, Reverse Pace, Disco Bolus, Refugal, ___ ___ (disqualified), Echt Sketch, Rara Avis, Everain, Ra Atom, Expresso Bongo, Quid Pro Quo, Finger Visual, Quetzalcoatl, Geb Earth, Quantity First, General Duress, Popocatepetl, Ghost Trio, Plumed Serpent, Globus Hystericus, Nagual's Time, Gobatrix, No's Nun, Hanes Blodeuwedd, Norton's Pledge, Hastings Bard, Nile Earth, Heimweh, My Nemesis, Hos Iris, Mr Ellipsis, Ice Is, Mount Vesuvius, Ich Binny, Monolith, Inglis Drover, Mister Shu, Jackalhead Day, Miss Tefnut, Janiform Lad, Mastabatomb, Johnnie Eclair, Lord Dives, Kaaba Penis, Le Royal, King Clay, Leo Ruti, Krakatoa, Le Grand Pierre, Kurgan, Lady Bloom . . . Ah! A trio of royals. See. Early bath, type alchemic. Sat upon the cutty stool, seat of repentance. A wombscanner. Fetal kickback. His soul squints. Suckback flares in the centre of a smoke ring. Beneath our prow a green wave freezes. We're held at its glacial crest. Hullo . . . It's Mr Ellipsis.
Odd's on. End on a list, always end on a list, if you can.
At one end is the sheer face of a cliff. Granite. Probable.
You sound as though you're in a casino. A roulette ball. Russssssse . . . Salad days: two interrogators bellow in both ears through megaphones. There are some holes in all this, the twenty-four techniques of inquisition. He's deafened. Blood flows from his head. The old black and the old old scarlet. Not the most tactful thing to put in a case history. It was revenge, and a lot of other things. And that's that. And there was nothing we could do about it. But he's still attached to his skin and bones, his memories and intentions.
A scuffle and I could see the flash of a blade. No one's knife. Frantic departure: the cord round my neck, the sack in my mouth.
We chance upon a matchstick man with his head severed from his body, his inscribed body. Caput corvi. One who stretched inward, one who stretched outward. It could have been any of us. A woman scuttles past clutching a giant plastic clam (seablue). You couldn't make it up. I love that aftertaste—the afterfuck. On our night-sea crossing I did not feather the oars because the wind was with us. When he withdrew his storms the people were saved from disaster, when he withdrew his breath, the soulfleur. It was obvious. Unbreathed. No zim, no zum. They had been wrong all along. Trust is shrinking. His message came ere he came . . . we were saved in the place of three men slain in the desert. Now we conduct the survivors to war on horseback to spectate.
No, by the letter Z, says the first.
In what way, says the second.
And how much time do you allow for that, usually, says the third.
There's reason in that, says the first.
Tumulus cloud—sky burial. The next thing mentioned is interdependence.
The message reads 70 Media Orcanir Order 8200. I don't understand this. Don't think about it. Leave it be. It'll strike home when it needs you. And if not? Then it shan't. This has no villains in it. We need some. Goodgood men and badbad men. It's like a licence to steal. It's like a licence to do anything. I knew you weren't going to be ready. What do I look like. We finally see some lights much farther up the lake, close to the shore. Go sit down and dry thy feet . . . To speak of paternity is no easy metaphoring. Nine's the new seven. There's reason in what she says. The texts have been deliberately confused. Until the next cloud . . . Walk away up into the stream of light. An escape route above the port and clamour, through which we are to climb—escape apologists with no time to frame. Looks let loosen. I am totally unable to explain the process by which my head has again been fixed to my body.
The same nose on three faces. Here the trade is out all of spec. Five pound notes have been sellotaped to the ceiling. Book me a judge. He's been scared away from his natural habitat by a big big bear! His life's a longcurving line in a funereal sky. Cortex in the bell tower, white earth spinning below. Tongue batteries clash, a clapperboard snaps. First stage, first matter: thy hooded crow—Corvus corone cornix. First matter. Sharks on the mountain. Sidereal: a deluge. Imagine a language system that doesn't name—silent time yet teeming. One unembodied thought thinks the heart into stillness as the world. I'm hung up on that idea. I'm not trying to bury you in invitations.
He weighs his options up and decides to throw them into the moat. If they float he's a dead man, whereas, if they sink he's a dead man. Simple. He's the very measure of patience and concision. How did they do? This isn't the future. We're stuck. Just don't let them take the original. You'll never do it with your own words. He needs about sixty degrees of bridgehead to survive, to make it, or we're dead as cathars. As soon as courts were reopened they at once introduced the tort of temporary sanity: it diverges in circles of research from a point, without touching on the problem. See asylum chapter. If this hadn't happened he would have recovered instantly. Now his brain is turned the wrong way, and the two eyes quite useless that way round.
He struggles to raise his head, glances round the room, then, exhausted, drops back face down into the pillow. In his mind's eye he descends the steps. He stops. He is a truly charming young man. At an almighty crack of the whip the horses leap away. He's working the wickedness by night. Now she can take her place among the other angels. He's depicted in early narratives as dispensing with divine messengers; he deals directly, without intermediaries. I wait for one long hour (in the early years there were convenient ovens in the ground). I try again to persuade him to concentrate his thoughts on the image of a stinking fleshy heart. Come on corpse, it's just a man! He comes after me, in half whispers: Someone has written me without duration and the ligatures have left a deep mark on my shin . . .
How are we doing with the numbers? He bows down his old kopf. Clothyheaded, with his man's face, tangled in your lacings—the patriarchal counterpast, ash of gone ghast beyond. His flesh is turned to flame. His veins are turned to fire. His eyelashes are turned to bolts of lightning. His eyeballs are turned to flaming torches. He is double; he's the one who is above himself. A current flows downward. How the bloodrunner scores through the mortician's grave wax! Adipocere.
Also lipocere, the conversion of his organs into an unstructured mass (the white people had a life expectancy of three months). It's like the interval at Glyndebourne—implicated creatures everywhere. Glacier corpses. Drowned bodies. No synaesthesia, no anagnorsis. Precognition leads to denouement: he discovered another body nearby only the previous day. And he has cast off his own—the anchorite, the cenobite, the eremite. My job depends on the use of the scale, mnemonic purity: corrugating sheets of rose and blue, rising heat vapour on an airstrip out east—bolts of violet—everything set aside specifically to treasure. Curse feeling, stir the senses, stir up the blood, stir crazy and mute, agitate, arouse, awaken, excite, give pain to the quick, to the heart, to one's very being on the raw behind the veil. These are the feelings of nature's sympathies, the veins and arteries, the sinews and nerves. The sort of turbines some hate. I said I wouldn't but now I have. It just doesn't feel like that way is south. Their ancestors inhabit the distance. The sky falls. Black garb is prominent—no doubt compulsory—in the ten days since the cyclone. Here are bodies, perfect achieved bodies. Darksome men snuck in their darkness. The rank-and-file are dead set against fusion. They escape the first violence of their captors, but there's always the promise of more. What's achieved, what's barely rumoured, is that the whole sphere of authenticity lies outside technical reproducibility: it's a vacuum with all expenses paid. And what was it about? I can't remember. I don't read to remember; I read to forget. Faded portraits glance up from an old schoolbook pressed flat on the discarded pavement, two to a page. One of our workers can't see with her eyes today.
Nevertheless, a sketch of a hornet moth.
Bring me a novice, an international healer. One psychic flyer: the return of loved ones. The base continues somewhere nearby, somewhere really really close. In the middle of the journey of our life I came to myself—the straight way was lost, the breaking damn of bad luck.
Someone had a crow on a stick.