Richard Makin’s Work continues the “work” of Mourning by taking stock of “the minutiae of the view, the dissenting details,” and dealing with the processes of passing, disappearance, & 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.
She never mentioned. Again, it’s inevitable. One day you were walking in front of me, without knowing me. And later (now perhaps) you’re here once more — your back to the open window, with your notices and warnings and bad faith. When this is exhausted, another sequence will run — a kind of firework that explodes with a sharp report.
A suggestion was made: stockpiling. Recent fossil wingless, possibly a generation too early. The familial history is intertwined with an inquiry into its cause, a narrative which explains the topographic features (e.g. the pillar of salt). Hoist is in the sense lifted and removed, past participle of dialect. With sledgehammer alert, origin is late middle via almond.
Have you here any surplus to need — bring them out of this place. The sun had risen over the sea when a sudden squall with haulers in the rain, lashed keening against the bodily frame, until he says I cannot detonate without the given code.
Indebtedness arises, various to chain or link, a series of hinges depending on one another. Slowly arriving, already this looks a likely place to stop, beneath the incinerating rib, systole and diastole.
He explains: when I say heart, I do not mean the organ. She immediately broke the spine and he collapsed like an empty sack. This is set in an indeterminate past. There was a rush of blood. But there is now finally a list, a meaningful list, which demonstrates the efficacy of our mechanism.
No portrait in this book has the character of any actual person; the humans are all defaults (said blandly and bitterly). The precious cargo slips from their grasp and tumbles down the mountain. Extras are needed, chain smoking, lantern-jawed — voiceless labile stops, changelings. The sixteenth star in the constellation is Pi Herculis.
Shuffle the prisoners around within themselves. We are gathered at the shore of a wondrous paraffin sea. A great fish bursts from the blue of his iris, arcing through space to take over the controls, chancing entrance for the entire shoal.
Drone bee at the window from its habit of combined labour, battering at the threepersoned. Somehow in that wormwood and crash, only three pulses left and less than a third of a mile off — for an instant standing like he who was killed one cloudless long ago, by summary bolt at his own quotidian.
I haven’t given this much thought myself, being apt to slip or change (see mind) — factory smooth, polished monthly bit by bit. Arrowed like this, despite the unsettling graph directing we, the users — but I think now the roof is safely reattached to the walls.
This one’s a professional hexer, profile lost, all at sea in your here-and-now. He records crucial fragments of overheard dialogue and personal mediation, ever undergoing a powerless attempt to reestablish himself; he is incapable of doing. He carefully hoards these fragments.
Let’s put him back in place — let’s imagine him as the earth while the moon orbits around. We might change his options. He becomes a willing candidate for a series of tortures, both mental and physical. I am better off like this, ripped out fresh and glittering.
See archangel, known by that title for some months before. A chain of ancestors sits around the table, hands linked. Today’s date is the seed date (897AD). The drama’s enacted in a metallic atmosphere, aroused after a season at rest. We embraced in the darkness of the auditorium. There are tiny vibrating structures on the surface of every cell, spreading current throughout the surrounding fluid.
‘Cilia!’ screams bystander one.
Periods of damning work are punctuated. (Strike out that key.) Relate the sense of each object. A spiked frame tears at the land, then draws over it to smooth and harness, rocking back and forth under spell of the moving air. He responds, opens his circling arms to hold her up. She is no longer there. He falls: ‘Tell this to their heads.’
I’m only concerned to find myself where she plummets back to earth. You probably know somebody like her. This thing you shriek of, is it vendible? May it be bartered, flattened under the hammer? To defend ourselves against ourselves, I may have to join you.
See end, the envoi — seek, form and apply. Origin is passenger of send, from on the way, based on via negativa. These three have to go, otherwise the evening will become ever more confusing. I can’t remember what happened, I could never remember what happened. Just then, an earsplitting siren up on the surface.
A meteman — boundary layer — settles a bolt in the crossbow, pulling inward. He attends to his teeth (pick). It’s too late for exorcism. Today I feel indescribable, and for no good reason — at the inner corner, the articulating reticulum, a fine network or net-like structure, a fate that’s been cast out of itself.
Does wearable make any sense here? Without (void) a gradual circling with skinned knuckles raw. Certain of them sink at night, deep into the clay and Thanet sand. He comes, highly resistant to his own corrosions, hauling collapse to sling out of joint. The area in the middle represents a ripening sea. He is rumoured two-dimensional. Each dwelling supports a sloping roof of loose red tiles. Where once you were, what once you were.
An unreadable, axe-woman in the paper. He’s felled, shatters as if glass. Because you are exhausted, because you are here and you are weary. Because of the clearance — you are here and you are dashed to bits in the foreshock, caught at the margin between high and low water. They came across as brother and sister, twinned.
The disc spins, white of egg or eye, an assault with storm, frogs, mirrors — odd pairings of even older influence, atom upon atom. (Another night without you and I’ll go crazy.) The terrain overlaps — the well of contemplation et cetera, but always forgetting what to say. The rent between cloud and sea has been renamed. (One day I will.) The locals are quite feral, but complete enough. I never dared to greet him during the daylight hours.
She is often called to do battle, hence the need for arms. (I drew her attention to his later writings.) Let me destroy the situation for you: pictures are sketched across the wall with the soot of a candle flame. I warn you. And she’s vast, a red circle cut into her front head. Hand prints cover the wall. (The glover done it?) Tell me of any past impression you’ve maintained in memory — anything, any image. Variform dead on the cill this morning.
A narrow isthmus links the two larger territories. He stands before the shed antlers, the snow. (I am thinking of the flickerbook.) The upper parts of the body are on occasion daubed ochre and blue, sometimes played out separately.
She fights on into the keep, cautiously lifts the latch. The door is barred. She feels for the place where the spy-hole is. The pin fits flush and tight. Music, the backcloth, is illuminated by flame, tonguewise.
A wall of faces. (Is that clear.) The scaffold collapses. Now I am leaving, a horizontal movement. We must be parted; I never answered. Now am I going, so.
Dog chewed his tongue. First-born, threatening that you may know. It was sliced off, the ears too. He has placed a difference between the one and the other.
She has hid him these three months past, now she can no longer conceal. She is out of control, cries muster everywhere, everywhere.
You cast yourself off. Let them lead, let them bring me to the hill.
If you don’t, I will. He invited them in then spiked their coffee with ketamine. I just waited in alone, waited for it all to end.
How sudden the loss of what once, the parting, a place. She corresponds to the feminine atom, tracing back to the same sparse moments. Don’t turn her over just yet.
We seem to have fallen through the gap between work and its indifference. Better allude to the fact, the reflection, rather than the state. Better the sleep and I shall wake thee when she cries out, carries breath.
See, their roles are sometimes doubled, sometimes played out separate. A roof slate falls into the street. (It could be worse.) He has crammed so much into a small space, he with his chalk and trailing ghost. Now I too am going. The old well is full of rubble. At the inner cell of the hive, flint knappers crouch to spark. (With a snapping noise, to break in pieces with blows, as stone.) Be prepared to turn this inside out — he with his anthems exposed, one eye on the chopping block, reduced to powder.’
This probably alludes to shared ownership of property. In the map room were flags indicating where all the outlanders lived. For a while we’re on a list with no promises: relating to or denoting an electron or orbital.
Day refuses to waken (major chord). It’s these teeth. Say to yourself, I’ll be back in a minute, the instant of a lifespan. One night our satellite simply refused to conjure an appearance.
Are these unpeopled days of any worth he ponders. (No.) Have you ordered already.
Brief hands at the window. One of their company is ready to turn against us without warning: a microscopic hair-like vibrating structure is found in large numbers on the surface of certain cells.
When we must be parted, how sudden the loss. The silence shall end in precisely one minute. A drop falls. We’re standing on high ground, a grassy hub circumscribed by moat. Standing there, yet mobile, spinning, with a supporting cast of almost forgotten shapes.
This is a random question. They carry a burden, called forth. One says chance is hard to fail — little-kindled wrath, teach me your statutes et cetera, a way of describing something by saying what it is not.
A vanished continent is posited to explain the distribution. That day the sun had not yet risen. I was frozen to the bone.
Earlier, much earlier, he writes. In each subsequent act I’m rising and returning to a state of purpose. I’m like a paschal statue, concealed yet present. I divide myself in two, thus do I stave off the opposition.
An envoy (archaic factor).
The knowledge becomes part of his originality, a trick to adjust the natural divisions of time — an almanac of place names or table of months, days, mortalities and seasons (numbering eight). Or of special facts — so many substitutes, a list of documents arranged in time, with accompanying summaries — a list of canonized saints or prisoners awaiting trial, a list of revenants and appointments: any list or record. To annul and index in accounting to divide.
Relating to time and place of utterance, proving directly with a sunwise motion, turning deasil to rising star. Consider yourself lucky.
An angle of rock — corner with a crack, to camouflage. And then she says, if you leave, don’t leave.
Nerve gas. We’ve looked up your method. Dogs barking in the thoroughfare below. Look, that’s the picture, the night sky folding inward. We are trying to build a composite; the blueprint is to pass to a dead hand (i.e. one that can never part with it again).
Side by side lie patches of unlike tissue: ancestral tics, the dying bark of a tree with genital appearance. Somehow I grew up thinking myself a brave young thing. She walks by and notices nothing. A note sounds.
He wakes with a surfeit of electricity inside his body, the jujus, a fetish or charm. I give chase as he goes blind about his business, as one in youth who flares up inside an empty room. Dissembling the body, he pursues. There runs a narrow strip of land with sea on either side, forming a link between two larger expanses, a constriction of earth.
Tear out his inside, cut him into little bits and send him homeward to think again.
Apparently culled from sore empties. Confining and breaking through, she now wields the knife. Her tread is lame, a life-long hobble. (He will most certainly be offended.) It sounded like someone breaking open an under-ripe peach. The signals on the wall are the best in town.
A bit of uneasiness. It was a busy highway at that time, and regularly took the imprint of his foot, a conveyance set at the opposite extreme to his costermonger head. On arrival, he adopts the diamond posture: into the fragility, but with a robust spine of clay. A voice says don’t be dispirited by the squad rotation.
I wish we’d come before. (One unit of angular momentum about an internuclear axis.) I wish we’d come back.
At last, the famine. ‘So when I goes to sleep, I says to the external. . . .’ She feels some shame or guilt, or at least some desire to conceal her recollection.
He hides her, at the hind brain.
The vessel is broke. I’m not trying to trap you. (Check the starboard propeller shaft.) I’m in need of replacement: argosy, a great merchant ship of Ragusa or the like. The keening now is ceaseless. He whispers close at the inner ear: I know too much about thee and thy cowardice.
A ship’s foghorn. A ship’s searchlight. Imprecation clusters, I see what happens next. He is torn and twisted to pieces. (On the pavement, a plastic sachet, used.) Break this open and swallow it. Memory’s an act of attrition. Anyone else.
True, there are some exceptions. One runs up with a message from the heavy artillery regiment: it’s your adrenalin, let go of my hands.
She takes the opportunity to leave. (She can’t have weighed so much as a butcher’s knife.) Her mental state has improved, but the military situation is still uncertain. The fingers are frozen and can’t feel anything. She sees herself leaving. Trigger the rifle. She is determined to leave. She no longer interests herself.
A gap has been eroded through an older stratum, an overfolding, exposing the level beneath; I don’t know what such a phenomenon is called. And a man is perforated with translucent spots, clogged by growth of bone. Two membrane-covered valves lie between his middle and interior. The eight bulkheads are flooded, one by one (i.e. separately and in succession, singly).
My neighbour tell me that turkeys cook from the inside out, chickens the obverse. In some protozoans and other small organisms propulsion is provided by generating electrical current in the surrounding fluid. Now we’ve heard it all with our own ears. It’s hard to concentrate because of the pain, the image.
Quite an elusive little rumour this. He fell from the sky straight into the impluvium, and plop, he’s gone. Those things breaking the surface look like fingers.
Nine easy lessons. (We provide the badger.) The food is simple but good; a glass display case is used to protect the more delicate specimens. Such a container has been named a vitrine. We retreated to a bomb-proof chambered vault with loophole galleries. He doesn’t stand the ghost of a chance.
Ancestors stir beside me, any moment the slanting rays of sun in the eye. The public feels cheated. He wakes with inexplicable cuts on his hands, split and bloodied knuckles. Everyone is accounted for but the tilter at windmills.
I repeat: a dog move his tongue. He was foisted upon us.
She has hidden him these three months. He casts himself off. She can no longer conceal. He has stationed a difference between the one and the other.
It’s not here yet, is it. We trespass upon one another. Electrically charged particles bombard the lunar surface.
‘Whence do you dwell?’
It is now broadly accepted that idle speech controls his curiosity. Don’t forget. What sort of voices are we talking about.
The total stock lay in a chaotic heap. We had long since abandoned the encampment — the rubble of a hill fortress, age of iron — cairn-capped at the margin of debris: a tell of stones. Escapement is a mechanism in a clock or watch that alternately checks and releases the train by a fixed amount and transmits a periodic impulse. Escapement is a mechanism in a typewriter that shifts the carriage a small fixed amount to the left after a key is pressed and released. Escapement is the part of the mechanism in a piano that enables the hammer to fall back as soon as it has struck the string. (Is that a real word.) November is the month of the chrysanthemum, which symbolizes long life and is an object of mediation. He takes up a stone to place his boundary. I am in between. I am formed. I am disestablished. Origin is late to escape. Each of two frequency bands either side of the carrier wave contain the modulated signal.
‘Know who that is?’
A narrow organ, passage or piece of tissue connects the two larger parts. Origin is a metaphysical boundary, a goal. That foundry, it almost comes alive.
by Richard Makin