In single minute gulps like propranolol the night sways, steadies
to a short halt. And the neck stops. Stops wide open to the space it now
appears to be in: Belgium, on the north coast where it now seems that
it has been having a dream in which it is in Belgium with Camille
having an occasional polite hug. Not really knowing you just
who you are and what a part of you represents. It speaks to Camille,
but Camille speaks back in French and though when it is awake it can’t speak
French, nor can it in this dream, the French it hears is perfectly spoken.
It goes to Koksijde with her. They wander around staring at the knives
with bone handles in one of the windows. Suddenly it can explain
something it has come to understand: How on earth it might actually
feel at least some of the time now in its sleep or when she or they are
awake but mostly then it’s kept in silence, that thought interrupted
by the angry parent on the seat at the back of the bus. It goes
like this, for example: The heaping anxieties of, say, being
taken to a wedding to be shown off as some kind of sinking face,
an unspoken motion amongst all the other celebrants who sign
to one another and themselves, to be true or to be failing
“Hold. My. Hand.” pulling their willing or unwilling or half reluctant
faces into one another’s fields of vision where marriage flickers,
how the only satisfaction that it gets here is relief at not
invoking all that screaming which it comes here to feel guilty, when it
hits its digit at the dimming window to the next unliving waste
of food and gestures to the lighting of a world it doesn’t know. Help.
W hat it is, how much of a peculiar straight line turned deeply up
as it is into every line of consequential fire, families
become more deeply ingrained or lost. Or else it feels somehow going
back to its old job with its old rotas where the annual leave forecasts
the rest aside from sick days so long as what’s disclosed is now never
to be made again to choose. It wants (it is trying to tell you this)
to have silence and solitude, its own distracted time so it can
sort its own shit out in its own kind of broken distracted way. Or
not solitude but in fact the ones it often doesn’t get to see
who somehow don’t fit the usual configurations of names and souls;
who are beautiful yet also they are always. It wants again that
shield against another one’s mouth where it knows it might help. Need it. But
now it gets torn from the knife window down into a locker room filled
with towels and showers where it has to use them, the towels, in full
knowledge they belong to those that use the locker room and It cannot
withdraw money and owes Camille at least €60 for transport
into Koksijde alongside any incurred translation fee it is
dreading all that might come from the day ahead. Dreading getting it off.
Dreading when next it might swallow it or sharply inhale as if to
gasp, only to push again at what it knows won’t happen: Not heaven.
T he same songs in the same eyes blinking over in the same glissando.
It is those same faces make it still alive. Not allowing it dare
drop out. In what is called its real life it knows full well there are things
to be dealt with – things that never have. At that moment in general, teeth
and just later called “now”, its teeth. Saying things back to its life then
again into silence. Going to the hardest lengths to keep its things
so easy. Doing the hardest easiest to get jobs as opposed
to the easiest hard to get ones with air conditioning and breaks
and socials; training and tea and career development. It is
the mistress at deploying its scar tissue in place of its fate.
It chooses one of the wrong towels: A blue one – already wet. It sees
someone it thinks it remembers coming from a cubicle where it
finds a boy wet from the shower, about seven years old. The boy
is joking about horses. The jokes are crass and the adult from the
cubicle is cut, infuriated by their sense of Belgian pride:
Belgium, where horses will not be mocked. Another petrified gulp, the
other side. It looks on as the boy is hated for his infringement,
as he is set up on a bin, his leg spavined raw left arms askew
as if in the open palmed prerequisite stance of a new Christian.
But what he is there isn’t like anything except what he is. He is a boy;
made into a tower on a bin. An improvised example of a punishment
in the evacuated wet room. Camille tugs on its arm;
that it’s time to go. We think about leaving. The lights go off.
The administrator leaves the room. She comes back. The boy has slackened
his position and so she reinforces it. She commands him back
onto the tower. His leg out. His palms. It feels as though there ought to be
a hood like it had seen in the famous photo of this ritual.
It thinks when it is awake that really it is still on the other side
thinking that monogamy is like a really disgusting cult whereby
people are not just allowed to be jealous of other people who are doing them
no harm, but where everyone is allowed to enact more harm, to
persuade themselves their jealousy is well founded. That’s what cheating is.
T he boy listens to it having this thought but doesn’t allow himself
the pains, they well up in his body. It doesn’t know everything.
There are some solid facts. The traumatic ones have been so painted they
almost go. The easy ones feel as beautiful as fiction: It has
a memory of it being called I: I at the bottom of Kilburn
hill. Probably in 1991 when Pringles went international.
We were at the bottom of the hill and a man called Toby Pring
offered everyone Pringles. He was only eight. It had one. It goes
to the shower nozzle and unclips it. Under the disc with the holes
in like the holes in the back of a birthing toad there is a perfectly formed
ready salted Pringle; and the same for each nozzle. It feels disgusting.
Now speak slowly back to its pain. Here it goes. Speak slowly, back to it.
Regained to make its service all but ready for his impact as the
tower he is made from lossless like its fortitude hurts, very damp.
Damp. Opening locking damp. Removing locking damp. And then I woke.
It woke up and it was me. I walked into the day with a pleasant
gait. Walked through the park and the trees. I could still feel Camille’s left eye
on me. A musty smell and the brilliant sunlight told the approach,
and on through the sink estate, past the buddleias and the bee hawk
moths dancing in the faces of the flowers. As I passed the wall by
your flat I caught something from the corner of my left eye (-
1.8). It was an earlobe cleanly severed sitting on the blank
wall. The bricks flattened out. It shudders. Each day it shovelled itself back
up that winding path on the slope unaware of its trauma to live
in its penance. Giving back its pain as its own penance to itself.
It has an allergy. So it pushes its eye against the nozzle.
It’s sad inside the socket under the filter. Outside the tower
is tortured. She’s still coming back to him, screaming about horses and
about national pride and decorum. She’s snarling in radiant
righteousness meanwhile it is dead. Meanwhile
I am dying in my sleep, seancing her, him and it with that one
stunning memory – the crisp – the happiness afforded at the base
of Kilburn wilfully tethered to another memory I don’t
have – a dog dragging my tired body up another hill. Constant
expressions of parental kindness. Forcing that clearing human
weight in gallant unmarked penance from one leg to next evacuate.
C lean basins, mirrors, toilets, surfaces, call to correct, as it stacks
up its meanings go remorselessly into this sluicing cabin. No
break out for a moment stolen perhaps don’t beds, desks, and solutions
in this clotted category its neck juts out at the tortured
tower of boy. Incendiary. It finds a token shell of love.
Departures from the town of its birth, of its sadness coupling buckle
by the writhing tormented elements above and below the bridge.
- 102: GAMESUBMIT with J Maxwell and R Green 101: NO THEME 10COMING SOON with J Kinsella and J Leanne 100: BROWNFACE with W S Dunn 99: SINGAPOREwith J Ip and A Pang 97 & 98: PROPAGANDAwith M Breeze and S Groth 96: NO THEME IXwith M Gill and J Thayil 95: EARTHwith M Takolander 94: BAYTwith Z Hashem Beck 93: PEACHwith L Van, G Mouratidis, L Toong 92: NO THEME VIIIwith C Gaskin 91: MONSTERwith N Curnow 90: AFRICAN DIASPORAwith S Umar 89: DOMESTICwith N Harkin 88: TRANSQUEERwith S Barnes and Q Eades 87: DIFFICULTwith O Schwartz & H Isemonger 86: NO THEME VIIwith L Gorton 85: PHILIPPINESwith Mookie L and S Lua 84: SUBURBIAwith L Brown and N O'Reilly 83: MATHEMATICSwith F Hile 82: LANDwith J Stuart and J Gibian 81: NEW CARIBBEANwith V Lucien 80: NO THEME VIwith J Beveridge 57.1: EKPHRASTICwith C Atherton and P Hetherington 57: CONFESSIONwith K Glastonbury 56: EXPLODE with D Disney 55.1: DALIT / INDIGENOUSwith M Chakraborty and K MacCarter 55: FUTURE MACHINES with Bella Li 54: NO THEME V with F Wright and O Sakr 53.0: THE END with P Brown 52.0: TOIL with C Jenkins 51.1: UMAMI with L Davies and Lifted Brow 51.0: TRANSTASMAN with B Cassidy 50.0: NO THEME IV with J Tranter 49.1: A BRITISH / IRISH with M Hall and S Seita 49.0: OBSOLETE with T Ryan 48.1: CANADA with K MacCarter and S Rhodes 48.0: CONSTRAINT with C Wakeling 47.0: COLLABORATION with L Armand and H Lambert 46.1: MELBOURNE with M Farrell 46.0: NO THEME III with F Plunkett 45.0: SILENCE with J Owen 44.0: GONDWANALAND with D Motion 43.1: PUMPKIN with K MacCarter 43.0: MASQUE with A Vickery 42.0: NO THEME II with G Ryan 41.1: RATBAGGERY with D Hose 41.0: TRANSPACIFIC with J Rowe and M Nardone 40.1: INDONESIA with K MacCarter 40.0: INTERLOCUTOR with L Hart 39.1: GIBBERBIRD with S Gory 39.0: JACKPOT! with S Wagan Watson 38.0: SYDNEY with A Lorange 37.1: NEBRASKA with S Whalen 37.0: NO THEME! with A Wearne 36.0: ELECTRONICA with J Jones