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occult amongst all this seeing is what unseen will change
amongst all this seeing was anything ever seen
by which I mean could anything be meant beyond
the moving of meaning
that means somewhere at some time
to mean beyond its movement.
it’s easier and maybe healthier
to be moved and once moved keep moving.
what can you see.

   see out a glove do people see
do people stop the crying so
a whimsy tea in howling

the crying do not but see no feel on chair the weight by spine
that travels there for now for now a happening beyond a do
that brains a lobe of brain is tiring & god & shit & heavy slip
of trench a tour or anvil stop until you do not know nor help
the world until until is not until but in sickness and otherwise
the crying still on now and then a happening and not until
but still as knowing still you move and moved by still can be
and being fill       with something more than   w   o   r   d   s



in as much as it means
it means as much
to complete a turn
as meaningful
turning to the way
as what was in the way
of learning there is no way
but turning
in as much as it means
it means as much
















do        you         believe

                  with streamers bell horn the light casino
of your pushing out into it all, unnamed ever ocean
of your dreamt-up journey on that fat liner you call
VISION – how you say it is
made from the same waves
that support its bulk             as if
in sleek merge you occupy both
and in turn are gratefully occupied
porous cavalier of nimble thought subsumed
in talismanic vibrations of cod
and gentle octopi / octopodes
octopuses and yet
you wear a silly hat
& swashbuckle cardboard jungles.
you know not wot paper boat you sink
in wot puddle wrecked
guppies in the muddle
do        you        believe
LUMINOSITY        bestowed posthumously
to an artist in a harvest from the husk – that grave
delay an artist tries to believe in
whilst also believing they might be
prey                         to a delusion that makes
of their life an absurdity*
but even with the ‘prestige’ of death
who enjoys acclaim?
and what
does harvest matter
when the fields are burning
or underwater
when the readers too are gone.

*as in more ‘absurd’ than usual –
as absurd is usual

do        you         believe
your pact is with the Under
springtime in the ratacombs
to compass
a mole grub
strange green
from being
buried under crow ~
Catling’s Crow
            birthed out from
gold forehead of stone
beyond the surface
candy plane
of cuticle where
flies are
thick w/ worshiping
the loudness of today
so radical/urgent/vital/necessary
to crawl backwards
in Panthalassa
drool of
that wills
from dark
its own
as it guides
the wolf line
current source
beneath the river
& out
to ask
do        you         believe
yourself, as you submit
to sharing           or
brusquely, summon
the Social –
a performatively un / interested
non-being who doesn’t seem to know or like you
welcome them
                           this is your time
primal camera globed an opal
grafted to the cable
sheathed in waxed skin
of long dead snake, lubed
Mandico’s Prehistoric Caberet
ease the camera          into brown anemone
and tell them, lens
passing prostate,
this is the centre
of the earth     beyond –
do        you         believe
your entrails, the geology of climbing
{lips} open                 with the effort
and the            ////       image flickers
anal projection
slurped Helicon
from colonic skyline
tuning up                    ‘elsewhere’
this is time
indigestion of
the fossilized duration levitates
bottom feeders unite
the Social declines in the lateness of the hour
words {gutspun} go unseen, left
to future’s palaeontology, your song
‘the prehistoric shit’
a muffled drop      sad distance of ‘today’

                  do        you        believe

it is the unbeliever who believes that the believer believes.
                                                                     – Jean Pouillon


je crois my open verb, the airborne magma
plumps a pillow on a thinking bed of nails
it means i’m lying on the outside, reduced

to swapping shamanism for anthropology
dancing fumes for the flat account of feet
and in thinking through the occult, evolution

and the growing poem, i forget to see
its feeling or feel its sight, a vision
nerves and flesh of Cambrian multitude

a Crowley in the light cake – BECKON
spurt of ancient new-born waters; belief is
always the internalised equivocal whereas

transformation is not believed
but vocal in the change can
be        I         doubt
that’s what i tell myself
knowing prophecy
is hard to stomach
if prefaced with just a hunch
slo-burn-glo-is            unlike  ecstasy o
F   L   A   S   H

but                                          E
in soft treads a moss-borne climate
green eyes bud to stem ascend the vast weather of Tuesdays.
light up a belemnite, talk to the dirt.
be mild-mannered disbelief
as it circles time a fault the fold
a seeing earth
seer, blink, the busy air –
all of it, immaterial
a pressure
my slight
shrug :


ruby losing colour


pale as the worm in the grass, / yet I am a spark  H.D.

i sat beside you, shrunken into yourself – hardly there,
from glowing cat to frail bird – everything closer to the bone.


i sat on the hospital bed and read familiar words
from those already left, trying for comfort

as you, readying to leave, held on
and when words had run out, you said you loved me.

i wondered if it was me that you saw – thinking
who was left, who was still left to recognise?

and we hugged and you smiled
and like paper thinly wrapped around a branch

your left arm scratched the right, picking
at everything that wasn’t there

or if there, you had sight
for what, left behind, we couldn’t see –


mother dancing on the ceiling, the ocean at my feet, returning
                               all those gyres and cubes and midnight things
that spin beyond any one time or book, a circling
of why, only clear to those who search for maps in dirt
I murmured, as I have countless times, ‘I have been part of it always and there is maybe no escape, forgetting and returning life after life like an insect in the roots of the grass.’ But murmured it without terror, in exultation almost
                                                                                                                                                                             -W. B. Yeats

to find a home in leaving, carried far beyond our words
and turning, eyes bright in soil               –                 see.




On Surrealism and Poetry

I could begin with childhood and the sensation of intense significance that attached itself to certain found objects. Picking up and collecting small stones as a very young child, the kind of barely-a-pebble grit of roadside finds. Twigs, rocks, leaves, lichen, bark, the wings of a housefly found (neatly excused from the absent body) on a window sill…all totemic natural matter waiting for curation. Or of certain toys that became, for passages of time, imbued with a depth of mystery or strange affinity that made of them potent receptacles of meaning. Dog-eared, half-broken, dragged through mud, or lovingly chewed (was I child or beast?)…these were the motley counters of understanding, the bedraggled sigils of something like personality (as well as being something entirely unlike personality). Meaning that never meant I understood but that I might one day, and that, intuitively, I could feel carried power beyond explanation.

Or I could begin with the affected ‘adult’ promise of initiation found in certain outdated encyclopaedias for children: leafed through in moments of hushed reverence; understanding very little except for the excitement that I felt…that I might be at the precipice of understanding something. Beano annuals and practical guides to keeping a pet (specifics of the pet were not mandatory for my intrigue…hamster or fish, it was all a new frontier) I SPY booklets, pocket guides to INSECTS, collected and alphabetised bindings that straddled magazine and book and that came from my father’s childhood (found at my grandparents when I was very young), anachronistic bastions of completist bluster, all decked out in the broad brush-strokes of ADVENTURE and the excitable boast of KNOWLEDGE.

I could begin with diving into water, goggles on, to see an impossibly green tangle of underwater plants swaying as though in chorus. The quick turn of a flatfish, a curling disc of being slipped like alien parchment in an updraft as it moves from under my kicking feet.

Memories of Images, re-encountered in the romantic chime of André Breton’s poetic maxim, ‘always for the first time’.

Images of Memories, re-encountered in the impossibility of Breton’s plea,

‘always for the first time’.

I could begin with reading William Blake’s Marriage of Heaven and Hell (1750) as a teenager, goofily impressed by its apocalyptic register and hungrily open to its mystic convictions. The bellowing vision of revolution, ‘Rintrah roars & shakes his fires in the burden’d air; / Hungry clouds swag on the deep’. And then what follows, a call for re-uniting body and soul (erroneously held as distinct) in the pursuit of ‘Energy’. Aphoristic provocation and personal cosmology, outsider ambition and the inner world; all of these stirring ambitions like weird creatures evolving in the dark.

A sense of elected madness, nurtured as a new way of being and for which poetry could be both instruction manual and diary; the revolutionary capacity of poetry to encompass enactment and expression, folding a map into its landscape – neither held as distinct.

Blake was probably my first literary introduction to the spirit of Surrealism (I know it wouldn’t hold up to rigorous analysis, but although a Romantic outsider much of Blake’s vision retroactively flicks the same switches for me) in the sense that it was later immortalised by Arthur Rimbaud. In a letter to his French Teacher and benefactor, Georges Izambard in 1871, Rimbaud famously remarked that in order to reach the unknown the poet must pursue a derangement of the senses (a much translated sentence with a range of variations). The unknown could only ever be accessed through a disturbance of the known, in order to challenge the frailty of its assumptions and reveal the extent of its illusions. This was to be a new reality within or behind reality, awoken through the disordering alchemies of language as visionary.

Surrealism has always seemed most inviting, for me, if navigated through its tangents, dissidents, mutations, and the reverberation of all it has shaken and will continue to shake. My main points of inspiration – if I were to constellate a tailored Surrealism – would be found in:

  • Giorgio de Chirico’s prose in Hebdomeros (1929).
  • The meticulously bizarre and inventive creations of Raymond Roussel.
  • Eavesdropping on the mute chatter of objects in Joseph Cornell’s boxes.
  • The cumulous wisdom and drift of John Ashbery in Three Poems (1972), or in the memory jungles of Flow Chart(1991).
  • The elegantly oblique ‘Fair Realism’ of Barbara Guest’s mystery.
  • Thresholds in the paintings of Dorothea Tanning.
  • The poetry of Octavio Paz, Gustaf Sobin, Iliasa Sequin, Arkadii Dragomeshchenko, Michael Palmer, Fanny Howe, and Nathaniel Mackey.
  • Structures in the paintings of Kay Sage.
  • Ways of reading Walter Benjamin’s The Arcade Project (1927-1940).
  • The Planarian flatworm.
  • Collages by the artist Jess Collins (known as ‘Jess’).
  • Ways of reading Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching.
  • Alchemy in the writing and painting of Ithell Colquhoun.
  • Antonin Artaud’s comment, ‘[m]ay the thick walls of the occult collapse once and for all on these impotent talkers who waste their lives in rebukes and empty threats, on these revolutionaries who revolutionize nothing.’
  • How Maurice Blanchot circles the ‘Impossible’.
  • How Georges Bataille shits on, and as, the ‘Sacred’.
  • Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s notion of the ‘Flesh’.
  • Ways of reading Gertrude Stein’s Stanzas in Meditation.
  • The pulp ghosts of Fantômas as they visit and revisit cinema, from Louis Feuillade and Georges Franju through to the vampiric dreams of Jean Rollin and the midnight glamour & trash of Gialli films, the reimaginings of Hélène Cattat and Bruno Forzoni, and further into the polymorphously queer fevers of Betrand Mandico.
  • The Mole Cricket, the Jerboa, and the Axolotl.
  • Tactility and carnal motion in the films of Jan Švankmajer.
  • Psychoanalysis, pain and collectivity in Jane Arden’s The Other Side of the Underneath (1972).
  • Love and death in Alexander Sokurov’s Mother and Son (1997).
  • Slime mould.
  • The poet Lee Harwood’s The Long Black Veil (1971).
  • Between sleep, story and murmurings of trance in Institute Benjamenta (Brothers Quay, 1995).
  • The ludic séance of Guy Maddin’s filmmaking.
  • The films of Jeff Keen.
  • The wave as it collapse, Noise.
  • Ways of reading Robert Burton’s The Anatomy of Melancholy (1621-1651).
  • The entire history and existence of film, seen anew – as it was – again.

How Surrealism exists for me now in relation to poetry, and with other interests and life more broadly, is in the cooperatively giddy and gelatinous cross currents that challenge almost everything…that ask, is this it… and why, and how… and where next? These cross-currents made flesh… like the hydrozoan marine colonies that string themselves in looping miles or hang like glowing spirals: Siphonophores that cast a trailing, strange light on their suspension in the water; collectively moving – to join, luminous designs across the ocean.

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