Swimming Laps in The Experience Machine

1 February 2016

It’s the first mistake when the gloom floats in
switching through the channels of late night television
that palindrome of double-ues
it only casts you down, no matter
how bright-lit: and lo!
the ultrasharp reflection of the LCD
what God provides as harvest
‘His’ curious judgment seems most days
more a test, or so you’d like to think.
Something après testament style
having woken in a fugue in a motel room
edging the ocean. Beneath the ruins. End of the end.
The room is filled with humming objects
and despite customary domestic detail
(peach bedspread, aforementioned whitegood
hum)(No minibar, but of course a Bible)
you otherwise can’t quite place it.
It’s not the night itself, that non-illuminated other
more a problem of reference, self-citation
all the miracles of human intervention
from prophets to apostate thumbs
shuttles to the moon, funnel into this
one dumb stroke of a well thumbed newspaper
a feature on package holidays, poolside cocktails
plastic palm trees because you deserve it your chance
to eat hearts on the beach.
And the Devil’s Book
what the world will have whether they will or no
is jammed, tunned
¼ History & ¾ CNN
MH370 descends and descends
Nietzsche’s dead & Nozick’s wrong & Nitschke
advertises plastic headbags on a chatshow & Christ
knows the anaesthesia is not going the distance. No matter
the time you spend on mental state theories of well-being
sooner or later you gotta towel off
perch the side of that cracked tub, face the mirror
see. Cos this whole day you’ve stared and stared
like the world’s the sum of your own botched work
and—what?—any surprise
tonight you’re snapped right off your pencil?
emptied? utterly fucked out by it all
having woken as driftnets from News of the World
trawl the high Cs of your cerebellum
and now nothing’s left but bycatch.
So why wouldn’t you pass out to the beach
spend the night raving with some lunatic of a backpacker
a refugee from the 60s dream
embedded with the graffiti
blowing great blunt hits
streetlight dark pavilion gone
looming shadow of civilisation
crumbling beyond the wall saying
I don’t talk about nothin man
I don’t even read the paper
I took my device and dug it down
one foot by one foot six right
n pushed back the sand
man, that’s what I did
and tonight of nights this speaks to you
a wisdom beyond compare.
Swallow your words, bury yourself
drink nothing but sand
and when you’re good and baked
swim out past the breakers
into that pitching black
to float on your back
indeterminate a blob as blobs might be
one chunk of rock adrift between suns
& this is what you’re thinking, yes
launch yourself to the fates
see if water buoys, what weed
sends in thin tentacles up from the deep
and if you’re gifted back to sky, back to air
back to the swell and heave of below and above
if you’re gifted back to the cities, empires, continents,
back to the red lights of Campbell Parade
then ascending the reef and depth
from the terrible mouth of Mariana
the angel trumpet blaring stars
a word will shape that dark
into the hallowed face of love.

Shivering a little as the wind comes up
walking home DNA of helix rounds
in the down-hung bark of eucalypts
sweeping the night trees
footpath’s shifting knuckles
undersole bones of your feet
bare shanks, and all of it utterly foreign and particular
from headland to headland the colour tuned a dream of physics
wild indivisible hues. Meantime you mutter
solemn promises to a future-self: to never
read below the line, toss the brochure, turn out
the lights, the JWs, the relatives,
and never, never watch the credits
they run without end and say nothing you’ll remember
Listen to the morning, you say
Listen to the light
Listen to the only creature talking
pure sense, that magpie
warbling gospels to a strangeness of coming day
and by suchlike landmarks might you navigate
back unto the world.
Crash on the sofa TV/off
newspapers burned/binned
and drifting into unconsciousness
you figure: wallow a little if it takes you
but you didn’t sell the world
and you don’t have to buy it back
although, hazily, you have been online shopping
and waking some morning hence
you will find yourself in a motel room
you recognise but vaguely
filled with humming objects
and through the window The Pacific
will exhale in rolling dumps.

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