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“This passage contains some words that don’t belong” – Richard Makin, WORK (Chapter XXX)

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.

Work is forthcoming with Equus Press in early 2020.

WORK (Chapter XXX)

We may be in need of the odd interval. Whiff of mercury rising: the instrument used consists of a flint box with sounding board; wires are stretched taut across the bridge. Come dawn, the man’s head is due off. 

We stand on the foreshore and say no to the question. Nothing is reliable. No physical collision to the right, the south, none to the left, the north. We are about to come face to face with someone else on the cobbled square. What do you want tomorrow. North signifies maleficence.

I heard just one sound then the landscape must have dissolved immediately.

‘With anappetite for the archaic, dispenser and composer of all things’ she replies. 

 

Probably magnetism is meant. In other words, the human body suggests points of fire to which the alchemic artist endeavours to give concrete form (congealing when extracted from the kidneys, the liver, the spleen). Origin is ‘made thick’, from the verb. What do you want to do tomorrow, what cage harbours your usefulness? 

 

A slight change of velocity. Eight cylinders now in narrow monobloc — coil ignition, zenith pump-fed from tank fermentation — hypnoid bevel device, front independent with ruby-spinel, rear half epileptic. . . . My own dereliction is a bye, a loose bet, in a spurious, utterly faked scene. 

He was not wounded at all: the sheath of the tendon, any tissue of the body, can and will heal. Dried bark was provided to scribble upon for free, they even shipped the clocks out. 

Another lies beneath a blanket of pollen, locked and tongue-tied. The legion survives the descent in this manner, bleached bone resistant on the paving slab.They always deceive about the market value of what they produce. 

 

Lately come as evermore, sleep does not visit mine eyes — you are always in my vision, always in my skull et cetera. (Voice is scarcely the easiest option.) The first thing she says to me is you’re not the right person, I never should have: you are a disaster — a natural disaster, I grant you, but nonetheless. Soon she advocates writing, writing. 

 

The lady is to be executed by contract. We draw lots; she’s reduced to a reddy-brown soup. The apostrophe key sticks. She lists. I’m appointed executioner. Ascending a short flight of stairs, I reach the container that holds her liquid self, sunk into a conception of iron bars suspended above a fissile pool. The thing shudders and clatters, yields up the ghost; the whole lot collapses into a pit. We could go back in time (perhaps) she hazards: try to make a decision, mourn the lost six of your company. The survivors arm themselves and head out for the stadium at the edge of the city. The cliff collapses into the sea. 

These are your own rules we’re following. (I’m still thinking of that unpleasant scene at the bus terminus.) Among your crew are some who are thus possessed, who give themselves so completely, that each time you take leave of them you feel it’s of no consequence whether parting is for one day, or forever.

 

‘Gone for a wander (11.20). And then to J’s café (the red one). You have the key. Through the chalk tunnel down the green steps and straight on, wherever it delivers you. This will be our chosen place. Why did I not stray heretofore?’ 

Be good, if you can’t. My apparent indifference doesn’t exempt me from acts of vengeance. Now I must stop. 

 

Shutter across head in shadow, onward into terrain of ash, rust. Once again we’re on a journey of both time and geography. The name is probably the breeder’s name, preserved at a lucky moment and embedded in the heel. His head is off (the wire). Where is he then. The next station is battle-ore.

The white plain catches whatever precipitation falls to earth. In my knapsack I have my notes and favourite things. Is it tomorrow night, is it not tonight, I thought it was tonight. . . . Walking slowly, inland to the crest — toothless, odour of urine (passed). We’ve just swapped the place names around. 

Nothing, nothing is organized for tonight. 

 

Estranged wife kidnaps musical the strapline read. . . . I deflate the immediate. She has never used. She chews at my cord. The day cannot hold our exchange; anything you can avoid, avoid. Are you on or off the premises? I have walked; I have been cancelled. We spent the greater part of our time in solitary. 

 

The boy hurls an army of stones. (He and I are of the tribe of Cain.) His nature is frequently exploded, like nitroglycerine in the mouth. Our seed is mistrust; now we can do whatever we want. He’s cased in leather armour, the true skin hidden beneath a toughened epidermis. I’ve a tendency to identify him as the son of either/or. And who is that third, walking beside you? 

 

More rhetorically embellished speech at the regular Friday meet. (I’ve never heard of him.) Practice as is, japonica glistens: a tin can, the shattered wooden box, a heap of stones, green algae afloat on a creek at low tide. The ruined casket is set at an angle; we are many waves from home. On the shore beside the loch is a cake of fire — relax, you don’t actually lose any of your lives in the process. 

Common perception: my care, random attentions whereby I carry myself off. I interrupt. You can see for miles — turn your head, and in the other direction you may peer through the cell wall. This is where cryogenics comes into it. 

It looks as though you’re set permanently against the wind (whether imminent or simply waiting). The energy appears to be a no-go area, yet tirelessly I list: a leguminous plant with clover-like leaves and bluish flowers, a swarm of fireflies, crimson pollen of the lily. . . . This feels like a natural break in the proceedings, nothing like it in the whole wide world. . . . An easy prey to habit, one boy burns in his night-shroud. (What’s the remedy.) His term is elastic. All gathered reckon it’s a nerve, trapped.

 

I regard as baser yet he who is quick to please. A parcel is delivered; I break the seal. I wander before I settle (the author’s a Napoleon of his own making). The festival unravels, I’m jabbing at the page. 

 

Demolish obsolete: shelf of rock, a flagellum. I foresee you going in, one disaster hard on another. I wonder whether you’ll last the outcome, the peace. He works at himself on the hard frozen ground. This seems the oldest solution on offer — to leap from the balcony, another lottery-funded suicide. The others escort him home before there’s no point to the favour. 

The driver says he knows nothing, then adds that the planets Saturn and Mars are traditionally considered to have an unfavourable influence.

 

When searched, a list is found on a scrap of paper in my pocket. During the celebrations a muscle was torn, wounded flesh surrounding an abscess — sap of acid, allied to nothing. One American outlaw had a full name. It was 1882, or thereabouts. He joined with his brother. It was 1915, or thereabouts. And others formed a notorious gang which specialised in bank and train robberies and inspired many. One outlaw had a full name. It was 1880, or thereabouts. He was leader of a band of horse and cattle thieves and bank raiders who operated. He was eventually hanged. Such is a person of reckless courage, such is a person who shows a lack of scruples in business. She is a person who is audaciously bold. Origin is late from the name. 

A major mountain system is running the length of the coast. Its highest peak rises to a height of 6,960m or 22,834 ft. In folklore it is always night; witches meet on the mountain and hold orgies with the devil. Origin is named after a saint. Her feast day coincides with an ancient pagan festival whose rites give protection to witchcraft. A medium-sized, chiefly forest-dwelling Old World monkey has a long face and cheek pouches for holding food. In mythology, the wife of the king and mother found a constellation near the north celestial pole, recognized by the conspicuous W pattern of its brightest stars (for example Delta Cassiopeia). It is used with a preceding letter or numeral. 

See, any act of witnessing. I once was trapped under your stairs; I couldn’t find the switch — a door, a corner — nothing. It’s known that somewhere in England there is a grave.

 

More acute animosity is flaring up in our principalities. (Thank you, kindness.) It’s like going home, isn’t it — windows squaring up to the dark. They are fighting over the pier. The land slips; it’s apocalypse beyond the square, our collapsing boundary. The legion has mounted and will not withdraw — reinforcements have mustered and haul themselves into position. (Everyone appreciates a side.) In the distance, old derelict textile, wandering dunes, a current of fine sand coursing around our ankles as we stand together at the foreshore. 

It says about earshock, it says on the observant placard: ‘He pummels the stove with cosmic severity’ et cetera. On that very page is found the following.

 

Your generosity seems without limit; I live, as you know, by frugal means. (The book is beside the bed in your room.) The house is the house with seven gables and is surrounded by a hedge of hawthorn. We reached the end of the land (Fisterre). My own enclosure is flanked by a narrow alley strewn with litter and a false wall. If I gaze at a painting, a period of time elapses. 

There is the memory of a sky skittered with layers of gold at the horizon, strips of blue and rose and all above. A shallow of white mist clung to her feet as she jogged the early morning track. A satellite is reflected in each of the four windows. 

At the cloister is a herb-garden, quarried from a pit older than any dynasty where two granite figures face each down. The anchor chain passes through a tubular casting which doubles as a mortar canister, a short piece for hurling a shell — see bombardier, a lifeline, matter pounding in the heart — a person who has literally ascended by falling. I was made from a single casting.

Of course, she says, if he hadn’t been crooked, we’d never have backed him at all. And then she says, mother of God, even here one man can make a bureaucracy of his mouth.

The adamantine rock strikes fire. 

 

Probably elvan — hard intrusive igneous found, typically quartz porphyry. A spark. Granular dyke: an accumulation of quartz and orthoclase. Fracture common or potash feldspar, monoclinic with cleavage at right angles. . . . Debris formed on the spot, or moved by wind, as loss. 

I see. The organism is condensing water from the humid air; I am myself formed on analogy of to wash. Events damaged me so much, it took me a year to recover. The whole family was lodged in the roof; they were loyal. Often I ask myself, is this a real choice or an obsession? The right hand is slightly blurred, suggesting motion. Each contestant is bound to another — the agglutination is so composed, spongy voids on the dashboard, a hanging saint at sway, fragile reassurance. 

I am not there and they will not wait for me. The planchette skates across the lead surface, scratching out code. I am inking every fibre. There is that sound. 

He deserves more, deserves better, has not prepared himself for this undertone of mortality, recollections of someone else’s boyhood. There is nothing else to see say personable police persons. 

 

Insomnia. Action of opiates on locus coeruleus firing. Chronic activation of receptors leads to tolerance, the homeostatic mechanism compensating for functional changes. 

Sheer genius: the opioid urges the liver to manufacture morphine, which acutely inhibits firing of locus coeruleus neurons. 

Chronic treatment: neurons return to their normal firing rates. 

Withdrawal: dramatic increase in neuron firing — correlates with physical withdrawal symptoms — trigger over-activation of the autonomic nervous system. Intracellular mechanism in neurons leads to compensation and premature death.

 

If they venture in we will have no option but to release the signal flares. No more comment, ever! (See barbarian west, 400 to 1000AD.) She is also an engineer. There is the memory of a woman on a train, making up her face. There is the memory of a woman on a jetty, turning, like the sudden in-rush of a liquid. 

The effect: it doesn’t sound like anything I have ever experienced; I approximate. There is the mockery of a sky with a strip of gold where everything hinges, the remembrance of a clocktower. I recall seeing the picture and thinking, my life is not this, this is full of dates all out of kilter. (Is it normally like this year after year?) She tastes the inrush, the sudden arrival or entry of something, anything.

 

A maze of pores is held together by a zip; I suppose these things happen. I thought that yesteryear the garden would do, the categories would win. He’s in traction, tacit, like the death of a small science, still trying to justify himself and authenticate a single moment. 

I need a counterpoint to here. We are estimated (it might be a bit longer, it might be a bit less). What he can’t keep up with, he leaves behind: ‘Bring them down, the stars down to earth.’ 

He wears bilateral tassels that dangle from his scalp; at base, he can seem like an actual person. Hang on, just in case we’re parted (always). 

You’re losing all connection to the local, the time that place forgot quips my journeyman. Maximum curvature of spine is permitted, the crew hunched over their precious devices, connecting them to someone else’s mutability. 

I’m glad you’re breathing here with me, now, unwired among the strangers, the random hues and prototypes. I never wanted to stop: hard seal of wax in the canal, the rudimentary valve. Very lively coda at the entrance to the interior, and I with no ear to speak of.

 

Face in the pillow. [Deadpan.] 

‘Have you still got the neck brace on.’ 

‘Who are, who are all those people.’ 

I can’t keep up with the action. I don’t remember that totemic nerve. And then she murmurs no such community as things, something like that. Much later, he will erase the guilty sentence. 

The ear hears me, the eye sees me. Nerves neutral today, gentle as hawk or gyrfalcon — one-third of a pipe, a cask or abandoned vessel of capacity. Is there room? Sort yourself out.
A wood pigeon (sound).
A sequence of three cards of the same suit.
A third of something, anything.
A fencing piston.
A pontoon ferry (grudge).
The office of that hour, the terce said or chanted, distress of stillness.
The third hour of the day (ending at nine).
Of a field, divided, each of a separate tincture.
A system of betting by which the opponent must be identified in a pre-established order.
A race for which this system binds.
A subordinate rib springing from the intersection of two other ribs.

 

I am one-third smaller than the female and hatch at close of day. A tube leads from the middle ear to the cleft, venal in the heart.

This seems the oddest solution on offer. He falls into a series of pale, regrettable weeks. Nearby is a boundary wall, thatched with peat and reeds from the marsh — our common crossing, turf wars over territory, a particular sphere of influence — a borderer: selectmen, marchmen. Just for you, here’s a love song.

A recurring event — the boundary stone, that which does not concern others. Retreat is signalled through our contents: schedule, ritual, temporal rift. Quarks have not been directly observed but theoretical predictions based on their existence have been confirmed experimentally. 

 

And basically this consists of three words: pig. A sense of place arrived with him — a ceremony, riding about the rim of our principality. (There’s clearly a page missing.) This is what they used to do. There are caves; there is a torch — there is ochre, red and blue. I hope we are safe to here — it’s de profundis time. A gull crashes into the window and the temperature suddenly drops. That’s the cue to walk on my hands. A cry is followed by another cry. 

This passage contains some words that don’t belong. For example, we met with unexpected resistance: the island acts like a centrifuge. I detect the rustle of tongue, leafy elocutions — a slow dig, domestic archaeologies, the way of redundant x-ray, one long howl, a terracotta bowl of water set upon the floor. We are taking a detour (a not unpleasant deviation). I must admit, I am not actual. The bodies detected have possible astronomical significance, but there’s no apparent conflict: monuments with a view, millions of doubters below. 

 

Spraying himself with repellent, he strapped on the harvesting knife — a broad three-foot blade with a sharp crescent hook at the end. (You are not patient enough.) He’s sure the correct treatment could not be a life of relentless distraction. 

Nowadays, folk have to check their own keys, their own trolleys (don’t get me wrong, Wednesday’s not usually a bad day). More and more he resembles, up and down, a saintly flood of semen. I’ve nothing to say about this; it’s a sensation I can’t articulate. There are plans to mix modernity with history, or at least put an end to this ceaseless footfall. (Could you yourself attend with such rigour?) The match is a spent match, magnetic intensity and direction in a prehistoric objection, ankle deep in mud and slush. Not here, not now.

Are you going to sing or talk, or is this a transcript? You missed a couple of words. The lady was here, I swear, now absent. 

When he does deign to speak, I have the feeling he knows everything. Quick, I’m enjoying the neutral at present, this dank chalky stratum. The entity acts up now and again, then a sudden unforeseen gesture and it stops.

I ignore. He is not A and he is not B; we are safe to here, I think. 

A series of coils is burnt into wood, according to a centrifugal pattern. 

‘It is the dish which makes the hat.’

Ectopia. Morbid naming of parts, the wandering womb — a depression in the face filled with putrescent matter, neural assault. . . . Calm yourself, calm yourself upon a grassy ridge of land, the gently sloping outburst — wrap legs around her legs, sliding toward the lower plummet (No.15). There is an absence of anecdote, an absence of parable. I was initially intended for the apology at the end. A great inrush of fluid occurred, yes.

I try to break into a house in the dark, and in the process lose the compass that’s fastened to my belt; finding a place to pass the night will be difficult. On the final stretch a few furlongs out, a strange buzzing from the copse nearby on elevated ground. You’ve been up there every day since it happened — it’s a question of teasing out the details. I’ve been attached ever since the desert. 

The nearest person to the pin has to volunteer. I am to perform the final act. There then follows a series of deft touches and she emerges from the game with her identity bent backwards. You can’t hear anything when there’s a higher class of question being asked, a true gambler in the room. It hath a long bony tail, this primitive avian reptile. 

The patient’s fine, anyway, same-day afterglow.

 

Antinomy, the gloomy archaeology of a tryst. We agree to meet. An appointment is made at an appointed spot; I wait in person at a peculiar bend in time. I’m blessed with the hunter’s tempo and instinct. 

Say nothing; perfect radio. I notice that no one has noticed my silence, the most supple compliment one could hope for. By this I mean folk did see and hear and they did not see and hear. 

The incident. It is here and it is affective, but not as a remembered event: oblivious apprehension rather than comprehension (i.e. the will to interpret, to convert to interference). I get to wear a badge and a cap, to whose authority the whole province is subject; this is contrary to the usual custom. Our archivists are required to busy themselves with a whole variety of matters, simply to provide for their own needs, putting away forever all that is not.

 

She is credited with inventing the nocturne. (Your hands are cold.) She abandoned the maestro and shortly thereafter fell blind in torment. Nonetheless, she outlived him by a wilderness or two, of forty years. 

You hang your head. She levitates into the air while violently shaking the infant. Both of us are cities of the mind. (I say this, just in case we’re ever parted.) Her friendship is hydraulic; it has not yet won my compass. 

If I place myself in front of her, my limbs and arteries begin to spread; we have been attached ever since the desert; the backwash of meaning never stops. I was the last person.

 

You’re being really brave. (Whisper two, sedative of Yes.) Taste of another’s breath, another on the tongue, piercing the mouth-piece. I should do something about this but can no longer tell what is needed; all the life long, my orders have been flawed. 

We must hold on to the unsustainable for twelve more weeks — after that, it’s promised that we fade. I use as an excuse the first object that presents itself to my vision, in this case a tiny organism composed of two genetically distinct tissues (collagen and alien). My own parts are made up, I am composed of various. Still they build their house of fire. 

 

I can’t tell you what I whispered out to them, murmuring my treatise: bad company, language and the like, crumbs of broken bread. The Greeks call it a spectral hand, i.e. one who stoops to speak. 

Outside once more, beside a watercourse, any channel for fluid will do — a stream, the sluice. I’m often ranked with the rays. 

Note to self, restore angelic upcry.

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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
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