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Richard Makin, WORK (Pre-publication excerpt)

We at Equus Press are proud to announce the planned publication (in late 2019) of Richard Makin’s Work, a piece accompanying (in its newly rewritten form) Makin’s Mourning (Equus Press, 2015). Work thus both precedes (its previous version published by Great Works in 2006) and follows Mourning, continuing the “work” of Mourning by textually reckoning and coming to terms with “the minutiae of the view, the dissenting details,” to be found within the processes of passing, disappearance, and death. As David Vichnar has observed (see here), Makin’s is writing born out of “the obsession of the I that wants to die without ceasing to be I.” In the excerpt published below, one finds the similar pressing, disconcerting and richly bewildering tone that fills the pages of Mourning, and also something more.

“The manifest relationship of narrative to survival I’m inclined to reject.” Richard Makin, WORK (excerpt – chapter IX)

Heart-pulp of eaglewood. Where did I leave my aerial. 

Séance of found photographs, driven by his mendaciousness and dynamic personal poverty. (What about your ancestors, are they still behaving?) A large spiral encircles the player’s head, resting on his shoulders; thawing of the ice surrounding the body continues until it is completely exposed. 

Of these examples, the fire element and animal sacrifice are predominant. He dreams of silence, descending a stairwell into the light amid a crashing din. He’s been lawyered to death and yet remains analytic, steadfastly transcribing the data of received memory into a language adamantly fragile. In all religions, the acceptance of a divine revelation originally referred to content. 

Now move, elevate, steering upward once more to rail against the sky — no escape from the manifest tics, the glittering tinfoil, drowning over and over in the selfsame flood.


For the author of barren ground, the prize was intolerable. Some of these characteristics are due to his slowness of speech, but in this way the uncanniest being is built up before us in its essential form. Now raise the floor a couple of inches (thy timely-parted ghost I invocate et cetera). Origin is middle via late from twice plus voice. 

O, I see, solid triangles — equilateral tetrahedra — a cluster of pyramids, at apex, the glistening capstone. I forget where I am most of the time. 


He’s swamped by admirers, a deplorable weakness. But things are becoming clearer, free from quotation of any kind. The last entry reads the action of going out of or leaving a place. You could see the crematorium from the train tracks, Garden of England the sign said. However, there remains the possibility that a single weapon might be launched by accident. No one with any sense can think that an imitation of an object is the art of painting. 

A door connects the carriage to a small corridor reserved for soldiers on their way to the front — it flies open violently as if blown by a gust of wind. A declaration of genocide was broadcast as the top news in more than twenty-three languages!

Ectoplasm, surprising to discover floating in the air above our heads. At the death he rolls the stone across his abdomen several times before expiring. The confirmed poisons are cyanide and oestrogen; the brightest star in the sky south of the equator is found in the constellation Canis Major.

‘Excuse me, we seem to have a shortage of stuff today.’ 

Origin is scorch, a study in disintegration. These strata reach all the way down. 

The players: twins, or friendship’s offering. 

The time: some place near the end. 

The place: a hesitant soul torn by doubt and conflict.

Here is his memoir in facsimile, complete and unabridged, alongside its cursive equivalent. Difficulty and loss of time are sometimes experienced in turning over the leaves of the notebook — that spur to regain the future, ever pressing forward from the instant in question. And which mediaeval character goes on to become a walking ode to infinity?


Last page, culminating at a dripping point. (We don’t have much spirit, but.) Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that the fault is not so much with the environment as in the man himself. They said the waters may come again and they did, though not in the anticipated fashion. You naughty boy, you opened the eye of Horus. 

I think I’m turning; I’m remembering precisely the same things as her. A blinded woman keeps turning up in my dreams — the minutes record our transactions in full, a sum of contradictions. The blanket condemnation of books on realism is clearly unjustified. 

You remind me of something. It’s no longer enough to invent new mediations to suit the tenor of changed times. 

Again, a true act of cinematic virtuosity, expressive colours, stately camera sweeps and haunting music (borrowed). Dissolve is a term that refers to the slow fading out of one shot and the gradual fading in of its successor, with a superimposition of images, usually at the midpoint. Contempt is a sublime intercession on absurdity and compromise (art/marriage). 

One by one the objects in the room begin to corrugate and vaporize. His lack of understanding simply reflects the order of things.


The light buckled and folded inwards; an illegal chemical experiment is being conducted. (But how do we frame this within a narrative conceit?) He’s said to have murdered a colleague and made it look like suicide. Origin is late, denoting a trap under a drain to catch solids. I refuse to handle any of these machines until they’ve been properly aligned. 

He does not seem to care what the names of things convey, it’s probably an illness. 


Habeas corpus, psi powers — the man who is never placed where one is looking. We agreed to erase memory, wire-and-string surveillance.

‘It’s strange, is it not, to stand in the dock and be urged to consider oneself an assassin.’ 

We were talking about natural disasters and tidal waves when it happened. I went on to establish a colony of survivors at the polar icecap. The map appears much more familiar to us if we look at it upside down. I felt truly driven back, into a poisoned version of the future. The circles represent the extent of blast damage at one pound per square inch and above. See, it’s impossible to accumulate evidence that will satisfy everyone. 

I’m sitting in my therapist’s consulting room, gazing at a print on the wall behind her head. It depicts an elegant interior decorated with facile adornments — French windows lead to a balcony, beyond which stretch an ultramarine sky and azure sea. It takes a lot of hard work to be that superficial. 

The latter is to be placed exactly at the mid-point of the text, numerically speaking. 


Much masturbation these past few days, the floor of the hermitage streaked with bolts of semen. I dreamt of apocalyptic cities and trains and an exploding helicopter, snow flurries amid the exhalations beneath your cabin, the pylon massive — walled mediaeval Paris, the number seven multiplied. 

You’re in a circle. Every quarter has a concrete barrier. It was a silent thing when we were in there — there was something of the whisperer about him, until the situation turned. It was a mercifully brief rout.

Think we might just have some more rain, more fun, a plague of sympathetic magic. And directly above, a swollen plane track, rosy and fit to burst. The sun must be the final agent in this parable — I mean those gas flares, your indifferent cosmics.


Do you mind me asking what you’re in for? (Yes.) The window is barred. From without, the daunt of her voice; she’s the thing-in-itself that will lead to barrenness — me, I’m reduced to a rim of concrete, the so-called tungsten wreck. Origin is late six from old, from to touch plus signal bell. Where were you equals where are you equals where will you be.


That man, he returns on the same day and insists on paying the fee, a supremely assured debut. The passing land was deluged, under water. (I said you would, eventually.) I’ve got two more to exhume before we can call it a day: another term for emersion, the reappearance of a celestial body after its eclipse, occultation.

She writes to say she meant Anthropocene, not Holocene.

‘Thank you, I have grafted on the snow plumes.’

Include here description of print for H: a faded map with serpentine rubric. The later spelling is influenced by a redundant concept of form.


The anchorhold is a roofless ruin on a promontory in which birds now nest. Yesterday just trails off. You remember the past backwards; I simply forget. I felt so old (relentless proselytizing et cetera). I did in occasional sentences succeed in achieving a balance that is neither a balance. Atopia is the place of choice. 

It’s about understanding what your options are, albeit entirely imposed from without — a spasm of alternate contractions and relaxations, the sound of a slowly drawn cock. A carton with FIREZZA stencilled on it is carried by the wind. I am eaten alive. 

A small box of bees (walnut) is gently eased inside her body. Yield up thy ghost, she murmurs — she-giant, gallowed in ghastly night et cetera. The circular churchyard has been extended many times, but its position makes it hard to ignore as a prehistoric pagan site. If she did know anything, she wasn’t letting on. I leaned back away from the desk and breathed in.


The solid has four planes, a triangular pyramid, also called Dog Star. The book still exists, unabridged, buried somewhere in the wooded hills that surround this city under siege. It’s obvious for all to see, the promissory flood.

So, an artless being, his crazy phrygian cap atop a quartered head. . . . And through marble halls ran a stream, a living tide. 


From old air hole, based from below, plus breathe. Surgeon first argued in 1753 that lemons and limes could be used instead. In the mornings you’re like a newborn antichrist she says, as they walk hand in hand across the clifftop. And who was caught on film, sucking on the barrel of a gun? The temporal continuum certainly seems to be an object of indiscipline.

Powder and shot at the ready — knuckles crack at the table — and those huge moving shadows on a rock-hewn wall, sunlight skimming across the lake as we speed past. I have a very simple question for you. The land is flat hereabouts because it was once the sea. 


Your word is probably influenced by archaic suspiral — vent, water-pipe, settling tank. People like animals with flippers lolling about, chewing the cud, some horned, others not. We left them abandoned on the wharf, dumbly gazing up at our departing vessel.

That was no one-off event, and I’ve got the measurements from the Thames to prove it. (It’s trauma, isn’t it?) I’m looking forward to telling you a bit more about that later. 


Once upon a time the full reference was given by writing the letters in strict order, followed by the easting and the northing orientation. But then something must have happened between this morning’s conversation and now. 

We’re not doing this as a courtesy; I’ve been sorely tested. I brought candles and you were both mortified. I collected her ashes in an hourglass. Those days are over. 

So I just thought I’d tell you
to turn back the other way,

I just thought I’d tell you
to turn back the other way. 

Surviving maps show expected targets in Attacks A to K. The victim’s body had been dumped in a cesspool beneath the house. Outside these areas serious injuries would not be caused by blast effects and there would be little damage to buildings other than broken windows, tiles removed, doors in need of a rehang. 

Literally, a straight direction out from the head, any head — say, the head of a landsman: one who walks aimlessly back and forth across the earth — a renegade, vagabond or deserter — one circuitous in perambulation, driven at the knee. 

Today is like nothing on earth (i.e. you constantly peer beyond this world). They listened to what we had to say; we’re going to check his account. We could be sheer friends. (I do love her.) Because this is our time, I do not wish to share this with anyone else. I’m committed to the condition of being here alone, as in ‘the world is his poison, a veritable paradise et cetera’. The manifest relationship of narrative to survival I’m inclined to reject.

Now write visor, bouncer, roar, burn, derision, bearer in any order you choose. You be careful of yourself. 


An interloper, birdsong on route, vampire goldfinch with tumored head. This final section, usually referred to as the Retraction, appears at this position in all manuscripts that contain the tale complete. Such repentance is not without precedent. There was once a claw sticking out the other end, emerging from the water after becoming submerged. When the sun finally came up, I could have been anywhere. 

Origin is late-middle, denoting a vertex — the crown of a head, fromto turn. Then she says the universe adores people, it knows their broadest intentions. 

See, he has been exiled to a strange land, built mosaic, brain oppresséd. She writes to say she meant the final geological stratum of the earth.

‘Why did she go off on her own.’  

A statement which, otherwise, drops inconveniently over the knee. One of the thirty-six has suffered the turning effect of a tangential force — turning deasil, in the direction of the sun’s apparent course, considered as lucky; clockwise as opposed to withershins. He reluctantly acknowledges a perceived connection between the sky and the dead. It shouldn’t be too long now.


The game — earthquake requiem — wherein the principal figure, de Sade, is certainly unsympathetic to a people beset by need and by fear. Others totally forget their former life when they arrive. 

Thus, his head is divided neatly into sixths, the acrobat with the fireworks and everything. Other totally forget their former life when they arrive. You should find a ghost word like ears. 

Richard Makin

About Equus Press

EQUUS was established in 2011 with the objective of publishing innovative & translocal writing.


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"Modernity today is not in the hands of the poets, but in the hands of the cops" // Louis Aragon
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“I think we ought to read only the kind of books that wound and stab us. If the book we are reading doesn’t wake us up with a blow on the head, what are we reading it for?…we need the books that affect us like a disaster, that grieve us deeply, like the death of someone we loved more than ourselves, like being banished into forests far from everyone, like a suicide. A book must be the axe for the frozen sea inside us” // Franz Kafka, letter to Oskar Pollack, 27 January 1904
July 2019
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