‘How do the angels get to sleep when the Devil leaves the porch light on?’ – Tom Waits
If you consulted your own cipher-mind (if what presents as yours could be
compressed in such a lazy line), would it encircle this whole ball of string theory
or only what lies beneath? Every oceanic floor peak, all those pre-lung
beasts that beckon us back, ever back, while we struggle up here in the
arc of your earth-wing? It is suffocating under your airs, Old Birdman,
we don’t know enough about our own night terrors to ever consider yours.
To claim you frighten the children with your silent staring is like
naming the midnight ocean mysterious, to sing out your secret symbol
through all this typical cataclysm might boil our blood.
Still, see you slip and slide out of heaven into the foam pits of human love:
more, elevated, other. Exotic, no matter how well disguised, for we
blinks of one of your manifold eyes don’t claim to tune into our own timings.
There is a connection octave-plinking through this mystical equation,
yet this is not another symposium examining the intricacies of angels.
Perhaps some planet put you up to it. You didn’t want so many eyes on your wings:
it’s embarrassing, it’s a job. Hard to refigure you without, yet once in the annals of this
endless processing, perhaps you were writ down as feather-skin, transitional form.
If only we had come down from the birds, we too could be haunted by memory of flight.
We did not fling down from the firmament; we squelched up from watery depths, aquatic
apes. You are a terraform failure. Fire-sword bearing man-birds could have ruled, yet
water monkeys made it through. Your trajectory, defeated, exited earth for heaven.
The fall went up. You did not win. We did not rejoice in the progression.
This murky wet won’t leave us – even now we are swamp and slime. You: air or light or
both, descend on passage-ladders right before our very minds. We grasp hold of the base,
steady it with a sick grin. You can at least go back up the way you came down.
We can never return; we left our gills on the shore and the tide snatched them back.
If we, green with envy or slime, are seeking Return, it is to pond and puddle;
yours is to some flaming red aerial heart of everything.
You cut the fancy-free heart right out of us. In the witching hours, when night dervish
morphs into night mare, you are stilled, silenced, scribbling and scribing, saving it all
up to sing it out later. Some Lizard-God wants to know the electro-magnetic reading of an
attempt at meeting. Circling the throne, later and always reporting, you proclaim the heart
to be still beating – that pink-to-blue mass, alone in the shadow of all horrors,
what can go on between lovers: smashed telephones, shared appliances, night. Watcher,
you are never still, you whisper continuum to these moments even as you raise the knife.
Left to our own devices, we could be the scribes of our own autopsy, the records of
entanglement’s dissection. We could carve up the shared ventricles, the cleft aorta,
discover what was never beating to begin with. We could bathe our empty cavity in a
plenty-more-fish sea, decide what cut out means, what we will do with the
etch-mark-once-heart, what new world our new work will break forth into.
But with you here, light bleeds along the wall, the shuddering is of presence and we
know – clinging and ejecting aside no matter on whose behalf – we are poppets.
You burst forth as a woman. We thought this soft body too moist to house an angel.
Murky spirits aplenty, but pure swords of light? When the Heavenly Grace stabs in,
it will leak out through all those holes. To where will it escape? How will we find it all to
shove it back in again? We saw those frescos, believed them, for they were birthed out of
Holy Father. The Devil with breasts, leaking out everywhere to all sorts:
constantly shadow, probably dark matter and other arcane fears of science.
We suppose you could be our Mother, angel, you are cold and removed, set in marble. Yet
we overlooked you for centuries, you were so far away, and we certainly forgot
you could possibly be true, what with all that loft and strength and absence.
Isn’t absence of the father? If you were allowed to choose,
you might seek woman out because here we seek out our names through pain.
You want your own gender angst, a category other to Holy. We won’t tell,
we will watch you watching us as you reflect sheen on this Leviathan’s back,
drag the frescos towards your breast for spring cleaning, a bath in new light.
Blood. You are out for it, we try to keep it in, at all costs. Blood:
The way to tell if we are here or not is whether we can hear it circling. Or not.
It’s unlovable, really. It is smelly and of metal and is awfully difficult to remove from
cashmere once it all floods out. We are constantly managing it, feeding it, giving it away,
taking it all back. It’s essentially a connector, even magnetic.
We wonder why you want to exchange pulsating white for toffee apple sticky.
We don’t think you would if you really knew what it meant. Blood, Blut or Bloed,
might be our earliest word. It has always been there, unforeseeable just like you.
Blood is the very opposite of you: intermediary, link, vapid passageway.
Blood raises spirits and runs to the sacred places. Blood is in the family. Anything but
pallid, blood of an other contains your revenge. You can never have revenge, Watcher.
Say we don’t know how lucky we are to own it, say what you will. We are bloody-minded,
moving onwards over bones that birthed the whole bloody mess is all we know.
Our red warmth runs cold against all your white. We have always been afraid of this.
As the glory pours in and through, even the Throne of the Most High is merely a tube.
There are innumerable zillions even in our own brains without considering the external
piping we construct to extend the nexus out. To echo the universe, which is one
Giant Conduit sucking us all in, out, round and round, we recreate the cylindrical vessel.
Inside the spaces of subatomic nothings, how many cylinders? We etch on the lining of a brain-tube
while cannulas poison to near-death, while lines to arms and throat and heart ensure life
persists with a tube no longer viable inside where evolution always requires it.
Inserted tubes suck out the pooled blood like pulped prayers. TV is The tube,
we yearn to recall when thrown out of your tunnel of Graceful Light, yet by that time pain,
and not-remembering, are the new profound. The nostril tube floods oxygen,
floats brains so far away that blood-prayers creep in and add up somewhere outside all
tubing: the dark energy inside. Isn’t it enough that you ensure our continuing?
That exploding would have burst all persistence even as we received The Annunciation,
sipping from a chipped teacup while scrawling the word ‘Grigori’ at the top of the page.
So hard to tell if the birds are mating or fighting. The koalas are attempting both,
here in last the pocket protected enough for them to keep at it. We too keep at it:
against, always against. It’s not your fault, messenger, yours is to intone the Great Law.
The Great Law is Always. We are to blame – bifurcate is all we do down here. Small
wonder the axis teeters, unsure of whether to shift or remain safe in stasis. It will break,
this is Occam’s Razor. Now, while our hair falls out (it’s the anaesthetic, it’s the morphine),
you gibber endlessly, something about the Great Glory, what was
before until then. As our wounds pus and blister, we grow tired of this obfuscated babble.
You are doing it deliberately, jiggling these abstractions, these meaning-carrots,
before our puny brains. Say what you mean to say, Watcher, is this all? Here? This
everymorning dying? Last koalas grunting in blind continuing, whip birds and koels
bouncing beckon or warning against the everywhere-everything hills. Clouds so sneaky,
when we turn our backs the sky is something else entirely. Light on new leaf, trembling.
You gibbering on, some non-direction-everywhere, while our best awe is silence.
- FREE: 20 Poets anthology
- 91: NO THEME VIIISUBMIT to C Gaskin 90: MONSTERwith N Curnow, coming soon! 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 Fiona Hile 82: LANDwith J Stuart and J Gibian 81: NEW CARIBBEANwith Vladimir Lucien 80: NO THEME VIwith Judith Beveridge 57.1: EKPHRASTICwith C Atherton and P Hetherington 57: CONFESSIONwith Keri Glastonbury 56: EXPLODE with Dan 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 Pam Brown 52.0: TOIL with Carol Jenkins 51.1: UMAMI with Luke Davies and Lifted Brow 51.0: TRANSTASMAN with Bonny Cassidy 50.0: NO THEME IV with John Tranter 49.1: A BRITISH / IRISH with M Hall and S Seita 49.0: OBSOLETE with Tracy Ryan 48.1: CANADA with K MacCarter and S Rhodes 48.0: CONSTRAINT with Corey Wakeling 47.0: COLLABORATION with L Armand and H Lambert 46.1: MELBOURNE with Michael Farrell 46.0: NO THEME III with Felicity Plunkett 45.0: SILENCE with Jan Owen 44.0: GONDWANALAND with Derek Motion 43.1: PUMPKIN with Kent MacCarter 43.0: MASQUE with Ann Vickery 42.0: NO THEME II with Gig Ryan 41.1: RATBAGGERY with Duncan Hose 41.0: TRANSPACIFIC with J Rowe and M Nardone 40.1: INDONESIA with Kent MacCarter 40.0: INTERLOCUTOR with Libby Hart 39.1: GIBBERBIRD with Sarah Gory 39.0: JACKPOT! with Sam Wagan Watson 38.0: SYDNEY with Astrid Lorange 37.1: NEBRASKA with Sean Whalen 37.0: NO THEME! with Alan Wearne 36.0: ELECTRONICA with Jill Jones
- Magan Magan Reviews deciBels 3
- Claire Albrecht Reviews Manisha Anjali’s Sugar Kane Woman
- Review Short: Simeon Kronenberg’s Distance
- Review Short: Judith Beveridge’s Sun Music: New and Selected Poems
- Melody Paloma Reviews Keri Glastonbury
- Submission to Cordite 91: NO THEME VIII
- Judith Bishop Reviews Phillip Hall’s Fume
- Bella Li on as Associate Publisher
- Alex Creece on as Production Editor
- Review Short: Diane Fahey’s November Journal and Carmen Leigh Keates’s Meteorites
- Review Short: Vahni Capildeo’s Seas and Trees and Jennifer Harrison’s Air Variations
- To Outlive a Home: Poetics of a Crumbling Domestic
- ‘The Rally Is Calling’: Dashiell Moore Interviews Lionel Fogarty
- Jackie Ryan: Teaser to Burger Force 3
- Dispatch from the Future Fish
- Introduction to Cordite 89: DOMESTIC
- 7 Portraits by Ali Gumillya Baker
- Selections from 3 Yhonnie Scarce Series
- Kathy Acker and The Viewing Room
- To Live There: on ‘Dispatch from the Future Fish’
- The Wild Workshop: The Ghost of a Brontëan Childhood in the Life of Dorothy Hewett
- Externalising the Symptom: Radicalised Youth and The Membrane
- On Deep Breaths and Friends Forever: Im/materiality and Mis/communication in Happy Angels Revisited
- Letter to Anne Carson: Work of Remembrance and Mourning
- Translated Extracts from Chantal Danjou
- Translations from Old English
- The Poets: Pejk Malinovski Self-translates