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“Hide and seek wasn’t a game that day. I devoured his book in one breathless sitting. I see you now. Every little helps.” – Richard Makin, WORK (Chapter XXIV)

As Iain Sinclair has observed, Makin’s “writing is that it is. This is prose you must learn to experience before you begin to interpret […] the pages in their beautiful and delirious abstraction are ordered poetry.”

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.

XXIV

Indent after section latex, the sign read enigmatic. She was one of those people who seem capable of anything and in whose company anything can happen, and probably will. I am about to throw the reader into a state of suspense. 

I am described. Insubordinate. Insolent. A trickster, perhaps with criminal tendencies. How do you feel about being here right now? In a platonic sense (and I stress that) it’s love, but still the gears they grind within the skull-plate. 

Yes, but you’re sure to get there before us. (At this, his shoulders lifted slightly.) Wake up. Opposite, a priest writing by hand with a fountain pen — black on white — how elegant, how unworldly now. Alongside sits a municipal sign listing the top one hundred drugs of all time. I was still pondering the best course of action when suddenly he says come on let’s hide down the tunnel. (Note the unstable balance of each instant described.)And we go down the tunnel, which is blocked with debris at one end, and suddenly I emerge into a brightly lit cavernous space. I thought I had died or I was in a cathedral. How could I ever find the nerve within such a place.

There is a cracked frame. There is an illuminated glass. The mouth to our left-hand side is vaguely defined in watery sunlight, adrift in a strangely muted atmosphere. I have an overwhelming urge to leave something behind, to add to the pile of used books and shoes. The snow is piled up on every side leaving a dark narrow track beside the perimeter fence.

At least he inhabits himself; I can add nothing, being both seed and obstacle. The remnant has three tricks remaining — this affects the way it sees and how it relates to the story. If justice comes it comes, and we must withdraw into ourselves. Never again do I wish to learn from the inside out.

There’s a little bit of a back-story here, descriptions of lock and saltwork, an abandoned pump-house — graphic of a star-eating supernova, surgical uses for molten lead — descent into remote copper mines, broken stone and other mercurials. The song carries significant ballast (think the dried-up bed of a river). These are my amendments, a litany, tilting from the day and sung to a sentimental melody called ‘I Found Love Due East Of Your Current Position’.

 

He’s found guilty of simulation. I saw it happen with my own, with palpitation of the spleen; it’s a relief when I begin to excise the surplus parts. Because the light must shine through, the lock must be a sounding lock.

The construct remains the same over time and changing circumstance: grief-struck and wept, in pieces and at rest — flesh that fades, moulders at first touch. Some objects are blurred and others are in shadow; my adversary is a committed permanent. His concrete form is determined late in the game. 

No verbals here, just utter capitulation, chained or linked together, connected in ranks, a series of things depending upon one another. For instance, the chair that still stands in its allotted place. Let me give you something for the pain.

The page resembles a stook of marrow spines. A stook is a group of sheaves of grain stood on end in a field. Origin is a noun. One of the brood is renamed and raised to the second power. Some lose their sight, interrupt trade, and adopt a variety of positions: lion rampant on a visored crest, a postilion struck by lightning — a sheet of sparks spreading across open ground, semée of crosses of lilies. (I keep saying that.) I’ll soon be at the centre of a calmer day, pinned back to my cusp. Much of this is spadework, but I’ve hauled along my own meaning — every grey is as if illuminated — and the sea, the sea that day resembled a lack. 

Origin is unrelated; he is in us and we in him. We are out in the open. That’s strange, I went there for a book and came back with spectacles. 

Of birds who tear off their own wings. Sparks of light in flux, yet with rhythm and unstoppable — a downward motion, south to the sea, in surrender to a stabilizing mobility. The magistrate, for the first time, was showing signs of interest in the proceedings. 

‘What’s become of them — she and the nurse, I mean?’

His motive may never be known; it looks as though I may have changed my mind. I have added you to the list of names. We’re sustained by blood pie and sawdust, hastily build a defence of felled trees: sharpened boughs facing outward into space, smeared with pitch and ignited. An inherited mark of dishonour sits on her coat of arms. Apparently I am overused. Now that we’ve nothing to lose, grief spreads in waves at our centre. 

Mere means boundary (the word).

He is the king’s man. I am whispered in the ear: there is nothing left but to battle it out by word of mouth. . . . There is a faint residue of delay. The populace struggles on against an epidemic of plagiarism. 

The radio keeps repeating my name, interviews with people who have been told. We find ourselves in a foreign port, lit by the first glimpse of autumn sunshine. I am trying to prize open the uncanny, he says. (The attempt fails, but is worth the pursuit.) I was born to posses, and did appear a very inconsequent phenomenon for a time.

Crime is a gift, embrace it, he says. (What recall.) He does this thing with his remaining eye, fracturing a vertebra (L3) in the process. He is no longer capable of forming an idea. I stride out from an interior of dusty light.

A history: neap-flood tide, run aground. You know full well that you will have to move the chosen object in time. Everything rests on the inserted clause. (‘What’s-His-Name has been culled’.) I know the story, of course, and it’s still dear to me. The other replies that the process is a slow process: nothing like a judiciously placed conjunction of opposites. I occur when the sun and moon are working against one another.

It was always good to find oneself in such company. He ambles in at the close of the last moment. Quick, count up to nothing. 

Components are out of character, on toward the feared resemblance. In sleep we receive a haphazard grace. I could possibly finish in the allotted time, given the right conditions. 

Count, do nothing. In the desert a highway.

It’s rumoured that evil entered the world due to a single scribal error. He is never when you expect. No one here is looking at me. Origin tears at the flesh. 

Eviscerate, now. I participate. I demand. A few subtle movements can compensate for the loss of memory, the step toward conjured experience, almighty in the everlasting et cetera.

You drop, arms dead. You are elbow-deep, void and immense. The victim’s head and hands had been severed and removed elsewhere.  

I survive as pure form: a taxi rank in a parallel universe, without connectives, beside self and beyond arrangement. (What is the ‘it’? You don’t say.) O, by the way, a hammer is always placed at the top of the column. I wouldn’t have taken the risk.

Confabulator: nearby leaves rustled, I swear. Isidore of Seville insists that an asterism is put in place of something that has been omitted so as to call attention to the omission.

An inland sea with ice floes, ringed by conifers. At its sandy rim a family bathes in low winter sunlight. Logic eats away at the image, swallows it whole (economic exigency versus domestic conspiracy). Elsewhere you can see galaxies coming and going. We have raised an outwork of fortifications whose two faces form a salient angle. Origin is unknown. I was as if preparing myself for an event that cannot be foreseen. 

He is not here so I have taken it upon myself to build him. The ice is creeping closer. Shades approach bearing rushes, each with his own personal erection. She will call at any moment. I took note.

Source material in progress, his formidable concentrate. I’m not sure about some of these translations, but there’s still time to move the pieces from here to there. He’s a personality in his own right, with stalk harrowed from immortal; only one trigger of the isotope has been used. A spiked frame alternately soothes and pulverizes the land, then scatters seed. Amen. 

He has built for the deceased a minuscule tomb: grainy thorax of a long-dead dragonfly (as distinct from capitals or uncials). Whereas I think this needs isolating. A carriage is drawn, black-plumed horses snort and steam at a solemn trot. (And why ‘archaic’?) A group of sheaves of grain stood on end in a field beside a cage of rotting cob; tank tracks crisscross a field of churned mud enclosed by an ancient drystone wall.

He steps over too soon and lands amid the smothering waves. No one trusts him now, but he was once a brilliant tactician and commander of men. He should be able to control; we have him now in abundance. A burst slug oozes onto the frozen causeway.

I am not lately. They have dropped a paper size and gather in small groups under the street lamps; back in the day they were duty holders. We stop marching and strike camp for the darkness. When day comes I will still be here — you will have moved on before me.

Hide and seek wasn’t a game that day. I devoured his book in one breathless sitting. I see you now. Every little helps.

I have kept the default ward open. Blacks crackle and drag she wrote. The head is realized with such intensity that it grows heavy and weighs on the beam above, pulls at the space beyond. This must be shored up before the skull draws everything down into its earthly compass. Fresh from the municipal slaughterhouse, I remember nothing but this thing of the ballast head.

Dwelling she says down the phone in response to my greeting. Maybe she was reluctant to utter the word ‘mourning’, given circumstance.

He clutches a sheaf of papers, upon which have been drawn patterns composed of tiny letters. One such forms an elaborate eye. (O no.) One forms a needle, another a horselike creature (yet not horse, for sure). I do not know where to put these items. I am not in the mood. I don’t know what else to call them. Drop me to the floor; it’s time for a final word.

A cell is set within a narrow row of cells. (Whether hermitage or glasshouse is unclear.) None of the urgent paperwork is being done. He is always here and is a constant: infinitesimal change at minimum amplitude.

He installs himself in the tiny cubicle, clutching a book to his chest. I lie on a trolley in the corridor, a tube in my artery at the wrist; wounded, I am busy writing in the head, memorizing every conversation. Medic presses the ribs at the base of the cage. Everything in the book exists to end up in the world he says, apropos of nothing. 

This utterance appears incongruous. Then a tornado appeared at the horizon above the sea, both grey.

Look, this is muscle, this a layer of fat — these are vertebrae and these the three fractured ribs. I am looking forward. An impression is made on the surface: an angel reeling across the railway junction. 

Sorry, I shouldn’t have talked like that. What he does is not writing but stitching (he used that precise word). Right now we are crossing that viaduct. 

Aquifer.

Meeting him is something of a revelation, like meeting oneself in a dark error. Toward the end of his life he experienced psychic phenomena. (The gullible are blessed, the secular duped et cetera.) We were only allowed to bring back four people. (O my God.) When you say beer mats I think of beer mats. Origin gnashes the teeth, speaks bitterly, from sarx, flesh.

But no, she has turned. I once spent a season on a tantric sex farm. (I was just now thinking of the long-term effects.) It was like a hot-air balloon that was all shrivelled up. (Woah!) They have diabetes as well, a hell of a lot of diabetes. One day it was 1828. He was the first to isolate the elements aluminium and beryllium. His humour contaminates. The process is known as contagious abortion, communicable to man as ‘Malta’ or ‘undulant fever’ — a gigantic Recent, wingless of Madagascar. All that excess skin. . . . The procuring of this misshapen being is an elaborate affair, it will surely expire at the close of the story in the most desolate circumstances. Origin is vast. 

I don’t know who beat that idea into you, but you’d do best to forget it, cast it behind you. It’s as though, unawares, I’ve been waiting for the man all my life and have finally conjured his spirit. Speeding headlines rattle through.

SPELLING ERROR EMBALMS WRONG CORPSE 

The music evokes a listener flung into a telephonic abyss. His hexagram reads ‘ease under authority’: keep the boy suspended, night image of the cathedral and suchlike. He conjures up a row of numbers (later, these shall act as markers on the unlit runway). Hebrew letters are arranged on the wall to form a candelabrum. 

‘Hereabouts,’ he says, ‘pristine materiality is de-lapidated.’ 

The room is lofty and white, lit by arc-lamps.

Make a list of all the places you can never go back to. Now make a list of all the places you can trust. Cut them up, place the fragments in a hat, and pick one out at random. 

One must incessantly attend and prepare; the judge is angrier than anyone else present. I too have the memory — it hath me. Lines have never been my problem, but I can’t start afresh once more, not at this stage in the lifecycle.

Bleach everything out and see what remains. 

Flatlands, estuarine marshes, rusting hulks and a raft of lashed pallets, fluorescent orange rope. A broad vertical stripe runs down the middle of the shield. Origin is an old pal burnt at the stake. 

In a clock or watch tower a projection transmits motion from an escapement to a pendulum or balance wheel. I think much about the old dwelling, the compound. It is and it is not. 

Keys of glass were found. . . . Resounding in the skullframe, the darkening cartouche et cetera. The room holds hundreds of ornate electrics and is divided by two rows of massive columns. At one end stands a dais. This is flanked with many-branching standards and a frame from which the imperial emblem has been cut. This is where we must stop.

Fascia. 

(Of an animal) make a sudden explosive sound through the nose, especially when excited or frightened.

Dapple-plated. Dappled scavenger, men for whom oblivion. . . . I appreciate all the time you’ve taken — at heart this remains a good country, maestro. 

We still have the flickering pictures projected onto our bodies. Across the floor small items have been placed at random; these have been situated. The objects were set in place throughout a long night, as tiny meteoric stones burst through the ceiling to pierce the sleeping flesh.

The construct signals. A nice fertile region is sewn up with hop gardens. It resembles painting to the extent that it’s contrived; my task is to resolve the composition. (The sandwiches provided are pork, pulled.) The black letters were stencilled directly onto the wall with aerosol; you no longer have the promised energy. I once worked this pit, long before the time of my obstruction — the pledged book, always to come. And I did all the food. It’s a shame you should both miss me. Neap tides occur at 6 and 6.

Badlings — there were seven of them — came skimming over me. They are followed by three old-style pieces. No, I say, I can’t go on. (Or ‘I mayn’t go on’.) Objects have been placed on small ledges cut for the purpose. It’s hard to testify; it is hard to tell. Manifestly autonomous, we are set down in the middle of the amphitheatre and begin to tear each other apart.

He is from our country. He is from any country he chooses, it depends on the situation and the precise nature of the stunt. He knows everything. His adversary is the true adversary.

Be quick before time, come to the terrace at six(!) — we will be around the back. You have called at such a late hour and there is little left of me; I am used up in myself.  

I can see the substrate emerging beneath my skin (no enzyme could survive). She has lapses in attention and concentration, she may be confabulating a little. Origin is scar tissue, related to sheaf and wisp of straw, also to the verb shove. 

Significance stretches out before us; this is how he reaches. A source of light blazes forth, alarums above the archway, gothic sweep and grace — there is a void outside of the westernmost heaven, panic made good. By subtle increments despair creeps in; notebooks are bound to the boards placed over the dead. I can’t decide from up here. 

A bleached and petrified tree, startled. We should work out a plan of how we are to deliver the plot. By the way, his synthesis of urea from ammonium cyanate demonstrates that organic compounds can be made from inorganic matter.

Now we come to a difficult season, a nightmare at the races. Throughout history some books have changed the world; clearly he has mistaken the beach beneath the tarmacadam for the finishing line. (I suppose it might be said that what transpires is well-intentioned.) In the mess tent green and white predominate. On the third floor you will find an introduction and a tiny framed picture of the heart; out of modesty, one’s gaze should turn away at this point. The image hovers upon the nape of her neck, some loose strands. Something is said and an outcome is predicted. The flesh is yellow and slides obliquely across the side of the face, extending from the inner angle of the orbit, outward to the anterior margin. The veinous hill is long and slender — chance collapses and fails, the rhythmical suspension of a disaster. Catastrophe lies on the outer side of the artery, but is not so tortuous as that vessel. Lesions form on the shaved scalp, where beads of grease bubble and hiss. When I recover my senses, he is the first thing to meet my gaze (viz. repetition, repatriation). A bunch of keys is dangled in front off my eyes — the scene flickers in the gaslight. I leaf the book, scanning idly — something here is extinct — nothing too solid, nothing said about the vengeance of an outsider. The cascade leaps seventy feet above our heads and plunges through a haze of broken light. The breach is within distance, is reachable. I will never again. He hails me: turn the vessel about and follow, but none too swiftly — strike a judicious interval. I have so much inside of me. 

I once cherished quietude, living near-monastic. The sooner we arrive the better. Someone on board fingers an accordion — there’s an oboe and a kazoo, a would-be instrument — a tube with a strip of catgut resonates to your voice. Pointing, he demands a sacrifice: overthrow him, into the sea.

The interior is sparse, with walls of flesh-pink plaster (‘milk thistle’, her drawings of magi and human fish). For long years I am unshadowed. If one should ask for the text as it is written, the answer would be: we can see a given similitude. Scent of ashes and rancid bacon.

Who gave you that book he asks. (I inhale my own notes.) Notwithstanding, the notion of any future time may not be negotiable, i.e. a minuscule fragment of your DNA — a tiny cursive script of alphabet, with ascenders and descent. 

Prints off the weal. This, of course, depends on whether he falls to earth or strikes the surface of the sea. Allow for slight movement above and beyond the head, track down the jangle of bloodied keys. The structure contains a number of nerve cells, typically linked by synapses, and often forming a swelling on a synthetic fibre. (This is really hurting.) Motion is carefully sustained. His trick bears an engraving of a fabulous mediaeval beast, a griffin-headed horse with the wings of a bat. He feels a swelling under the tongue. The music ‘aches and insists’. (That’s the word around here.) But the plot has its lighter moments, all is not cabinets of atrocity. I give the blue liquid in my glass a gentle shake and the ice crackles.

You know, now she has stopped. She leans forward to divine: the algorithm of birds about a ruined pier. An effect is achieved; all of her plans would never be realized. (Nonetheless, I miss her.) Compile a list of familiars. 

a) A body of permeable rock which can contain or transmit groundwater.

b) A calcified artefact of once-soft sandstone (use indeterminate). 

c) The top of a stocking. 

d) A tin hat, and so forth. 

e) Diminutive of pale, a narrow vertical strip, usually borne in groups of two or three arranged vertically. 

f) An oval or oblong enclosing a group of your cherished hieroglyphs, typically representing the name and title of a monarch.

g) Et cetera.

See, I’m flung clear, on to bruised flat earth. He acknowledges the similitude (something like Your Meltwaters). Under oath he gives evidence of his unworthiness; fear cements the compact. A thin sheath of fibrous tissue encloses a muscle or other organ.

Too girl. I can see something now as weakly luminous, now as grey. She has an optimistic outcry. This man could outpray the saints in any shape or form.

I can pluck them apart and still they register. Utterance doesn’t occur as a condition which is present-at-hand: it could happen to anyone. (Seems his uprooting is consistent, at least.) A test is set by toy vote (pro hoofy and so on). Covering the surface is a Frankenstein oilcloth. There occurs a sudden downward turn and the broken vessels are forced out, attached to the core by threadlike hyphae. It’s a load off my mind, I can tell you. 

Cast lambent.

Give me a minute to call my girl. Just tell them my reason. We’re headed for a shakedown, but I can still see the snow line from where I’m standing. She enrolled at fourteen thousand. My adversaries all wear the same skin (if only I’d known this at the outset). A conversion has been timetabled, the sum of aether. Don’t move a muscle. 

I’m cast off, first element of neap flood, of origin untold. The surface of the planet provides all the material on which the organism lives, grows and obtains its nourishment.Brachiopods attach themselves to the substrate by a stalk. Origin is coined along the pattern of nonpareil.

Question: Did she lose anyone close. 

Answer: No, such coincidences have always populated her world (i.e. the classic undergod).

Now he plays the role of dissenter, the voice that sinks all things. He enjoys this redundancy, which is fair enough: if asked my own opinion, I too would never speak. There’s money coming in — it appears to be open season. A dear friend was awarded a medal; every experience is a great honour. He keeps gazing across space, the divide between host and revenant. Do not look up. They have enlightened, outraged, provoked and comforted.

She covets some grim form of excellence. You roll together and then you drop — you could call it the Feast Of The Unloaded Dog. She will take up a position, but a position, by its intrinsic falsehood, is never where expected. 

Are you in a town or a village. Is there any restraint. Is there a bar. Is there a blacksmith. Is it a place that is growing or sinking.

Note how she has severed all ties to the base marker. Origin is void.

One could act, or one could not. I never before dwelt upon such marvels, bringing events about merely by the agency of my thoughts and impulses. The surviving members of the herald quartet were in attendance. We are going about the land to disseminate you.

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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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