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.
‘A soft white or grey mineral consisting of hydrated calcium sulphate. It occurs chiefly in sedimentary deposits and is used.’
SIR — Anathema’s out. Unforgotten, I think, but I have no problem with the personnel of the twelfth man. I recommend you stamp on the hide where there are any damp places left; the volunteers’ gums usually bleed. (Everything is going to be all right.) The list is limited to a dry ear of corn and calendar steel — I recommend you run the usual tests, disinfect the tissues behind the face; notwithstanding, there may be permanent neural damage. Today, I’m an apparent minimal — the legendary spanner — I witness asymmetrically, or God knows what might happen. All my gestures are judgements.
I am, sir,
The blood of the crew was granulated by the blast and the desert sands turned to glass. A mushroom cloud spread out above the pole, slowly sinking across the white continent and into the surrounding sea. The map appears much more familiar to us if we look at it upside down.
He got up, feeling light-headed.
‘Is it Mars?’
‘Does it make a difference? Our vessel lies directly beneath the polar ice.’
His speeches were long and loud: praise, disparagement, vilification of disloyal factions, discussion of the integrity of the kingdom’s borders. He writes cold like nobody else.
Maybe notes from a lecture I’d forgotten. (Add something here, but not now.)
The artefacts looked like bundles of documents. His chosen title is ‘Historical Thinking and Other Unnatural Acts’. (The old ambassador enigma has been left to rot in the street.) Once the ritual is completed, he’s poured back into the river under the bridge via a rubber hose; the stone used is purple corundum. We believe he is holding something back. We sat becalmed while the engine was repaired.
I sought shelter in memory. Consider for a moment the supreme detachment of a man mounted on a warhorse, caparisoned against the light — ascension day tilts. I have no idea what to do with myself today.
In every corner a shadow, a blank slate. The preface of the book navigates mathematically: we are told he meets her at the grave of Oedipus — her longing is mingled with pain, because she does not know what her encounter with him might bring, not knowing whether he is aware of the concept of guilt, or not. There is a great fluency of language in every mouth.
His first successful publication was a collection of stories centred on life on a poverty-stricken asteroid. Many of his novels feature Chinese hexagrams. The author poses a few last questions — he does not agree with the view that the permission given to interpret the novel right side up, sideways on or upside down demands the integration of opposites: conscious organization and its postponement. In this way he conducts his strategy, with everyone lying side-by-side, waiting for the attack. Time stays long enough for anyone.
But he was not so foolish as to draw any conclusions from this. In the end we had to scrape his tumour.
The location is a catchment area for the local static; the exposed parts emit a squeal then give themselves up. (This is elliptical storytelling.) Conclusion: burdened beneath a yolk, yet quite superior when compared with a muddy void.
I drained my cup. I would reveal my catchphrase for your distraction and amusement, but have not a candle to transcribe it. (I know all about your dark filthy past.) I always get lumbered with the shift jobs.
I am, sir.
The event was not antedated but foreseen. You can change the way things will happen by clever manipulation of your own tongue. Let’s agree about the price: recall is votive, shreds of desiccant saint were sealed in glass vessels and fixed to the wire mesh of the porter’s cage. Everything was perhaps going to depend on one little experiment.
All the boundary markers have vanished. Ankles are shattered, the astragalus; no amount of numerology can restore this situation. The defendant (R) has previous histories.
Measure it. It’s going to be eight inches deep. Your next problem is the smoke.
Quit this quarter. This is indeed a festivity; a femur dipped in pitch and ignited serves as a torch. Open your fist — he’s off on another of his tangents. . . . People now are easy to find, going about their nightly rituals: chewing and drooling, sleeping and dreaming, watching the skies, hatching futile plans of escape. . . . Do nothing, then take a rest. Repeat to quietus.
I too was listening, listening to the rain.
(Solemnly) ‘You call it a festivity. I call it a sacrament.’
Origin is a thing of significance. The well dried up. Might one abstain, might one.
Return to position the displaced parts by means of manipulation. (Yes I think.) Don’t be afraid if this all amounts to nothing. The rebels can see clearly our redoubt from beyond the cursus. Copper was the earliest metal to be used by humans, first in the pure form, later alloyed with tin to yield bronze. We dug a fosse on either side, and thus a gentle slope backed onto the intended field of battle.
You have created a sense of order, and it’s a long list. Origin is a ditch, the feminine part of to dig.
Nothing works. The index is an English index. There’s a scarcity of birds, rapine, an uneasy absence of noise. We need an urgent professional; the cattle truck is crammed with human voice. There are no seats. We remount and go shopping.
When electrodes are applied, the upper labium stiffens involuntarily. A voice in the dark says ‘Each of you’. The dividing perspex shield offers some protection.
Herr K and Herr F were arrested for merely voicing supporting for the kidnap of hostages. I’d like a straight gin, please, no ice.
The sea resembles molten metal, mercury. The tin mine flooded. There are four mounds at this spot, two so mutilated that it’s impossible to tell whether they were burial chambers. Extensive mineral deposits have also been found. In a remote corner of an abandoned quarry he gripped her to him and semen spurted against the red silk of her dress.
Inquisitor: ‘Did you have the feeling, from that evening on, that you had lost her?’
‘I’m not at liberty to say what we were actually doing on that day of the invasion’.
Richard thought that his book had been made so that each man should not with impunity usurp the rights of another, and there is much to be said for this.
Sun intermittent. Standing upright in the soil, intricately carved, a narrow-bladed dagger glints in the autumn sunshine. I shall mark with an asterisk those writings which he acknowledges authorship of, and are dedicated to those who survive him.
Now you’re suddenly going to cut me off, aren’t you? More often than not, our archers would deliver their missiles into a precise zone of the battlefield. I am here referring to the twenty-third letter, the twenty-third star of our constellation, supposed parapsychological phenomena. His message reads.
Noun, mass noun, a compound which is present in nervous tissue as a precursor. Origin is an acronym for the systemic name — black substance elastic, calcium salt of humus acid found in dried up riverbeds; a quality of austere beauty expressing a mood of solitude, recognized. The law of shift of wave — moving toward or away from the observer— explains the pulsebeat, explains the fall of pitch, explains the radial velocity of stars and displacement of known lines.
All these changes took place unobserved. First you switch your objective to the retrieval of an unforeseen detail, then you begin the interrogation. As for the height of the ground floor, it’s raised up a storey by a flight of five steps and a balustrade in wrought iron curving round at either end. It seems our two authors are evenly matched in their contempt for one another.
A taciturn and melancholy man who swerved wise of folk, and yet loved, has expired. The patient was permanently insensate; the universe is a closed sphere — the universe may not be flat like the earth after all, it could actually be curved like an inflated bladder. Yes, I’ve been convinced for many years that we can influence the content of our dreams — summon up an oneiric dialogue, as it were, including of course the dramatis personae — and that this may be induced by ritual visualization (flaming pentagrams et cetera). I don’t understand the juxtaposition of the phrases ‘to plant evidence’ and ‘to defenestrate oneself’.
‘Do you ever feel you’re being vampiric?’
‘Only when sinking my fangs into somebody’s neck and draining their blood, transforming myself into fog to seep under a locked door, or using my bat-like sonar to see through walls. But apart from that, no.’
Earth-metal and iron produce a spark for the tinder. (I am composed in layers myself.) I’m trying to remember the cut of his frock coat — the complexion of his true skin — as distinguished from the impostor: he who is found dead at the edge of everything. I’ve one eye out on the embankment.
A cut-glass stopper reflected beads and flashes of sunlight across the walls as the steward crossed the room.
‘Captain,’ he whispered, ‘a snag penetrated the hull last night.’
Origin is probably Scandinavian. A significant number of verbs mutinied during the nineteenth century. I have discovered unexpected aspects of our training camp (such as a framed piece of tar). Renaissance order was a disaster.
We spent the whole day waiting for word from the tracker, but it was not until dusk that he returned with news that the descent had been made to a creek running due south. Thus we undertook the third manoeuvre, this time on home ground; I was buried up to my neck at the clock end. Our guide refused to take us any further up the mountainside.
‘How could I do that,’ he pleaded, ‘it’s quite impossible. I can neither help nor hinder you.’
Advantage us. The final chance arrives. Search the skies, then withdraw for lack of purpose. Call me in the lip of an eye et cetera. . . .
His voice again o hello.
A door swings open then back and forth. He enquires as to whether he might quote my authority. (I should imagine so, yes.) At two o’clock he is occupied composing the letter that’s to bring about his downfall.
Read by my lantern till dawn. Moths circle, quivering at the humid air. (What were we like to live with back then?) Counted in lire, the debt was in the billions. Not a single flame will burn in this hell.
Divine power made me and supreme wisdom and primal love: all is nothing, we turn in the night and are consumed by fire. Epileptics have the ability to cause the past and future to converge about a set point. It’s three o’clock already.
Does this sort of thing ever happen to other people I asked. Beside ourselves, five men-at-arms, the nightwatch, were stationed above the gate to the courtyard. Then quickly, though with many a backward look, we burst through the waxy shell and streamed out, torches held aloft. Combat’s in the club’s DNA.
Is it because of the weather. He slips them into the water, and slowly the seed pods open; every shell contains something unique. I wait a while before carefully apply another layer of fat; I was now dressed and equipped as a trapper. We are far from regarding you among the impostors.
This outcome resulted because we had originally all been Yeses. The bell is still ringing. I don’t want to show you mine. I thought you’d gone forever.
This makes his work sound exciting (it isn’t). I’m your guide today. If it weren’t for the traps we’d go hungry. It was a week before I had the energy to even look at you again.
Many years before he passed away, when I was still a young man, my father came to me in a dream; he had died and returned from wherever the dead go. He wore a light grey jacket and white shirt, open at the collar. He looked exhausted yet relieved, as if flung clear from an ordeal. We shook hands and he calmly said that everything was going to be alright.
Origin is solitude. Thank you very much for your damnation. . . . Getting up off the floor at the end is the difficult part. At that moment the bridge vanished and the surviving arch collapsed into the sea.
On the way to the morgue she talked about the person in the film who celebrated Christmas every day. What strikes me is that she’s utterly devoid of sentiment; her compression is authentic (Frankenstein). Through me a line, I’m sinking fast.
As I ascended higher, the valley assumed a romantic Alpentraum character where a ruined castle clung to a precipice.
She begins with a word that dwells and settles, pollen floating on a warm sea breeze. I’ve got to set the bandstand up while the team is still working the floor; the timing’s going to be tricky. What makes her uneasy is the speed with which I can make up my mind to kill or not, my apparent nonchalance.
Choice number one, she says, is Yes or No. You can isolate whoever you want, the greatest hits of all time. The money system works; come round to dinner, we’re eating the new neighbours (slimline dishwasher et cetera). The events that occur around each situation turn out to be a part of a wider, oblique strategy.
Everything seems rather characterless. I think about what’s happened, and then I don’t think about what’s happened.
After ten seconds, a single determined bite, which leaves an aftertaste of metal — rather like when a bunch of keys is dragged across the surface of your tongue. (It’s often elsewhere, my genre.) She uses broken and confused instruments. She says she’s happy with the horse and observes how smooth its mane. The stallion’s seed filled a polyethylene sack.
The press is dropping the word ‘gentleman’. People are easy to forget — it’s our superfluity.
Familiar whiff of paraffin at the postern stair. To add when there is time: ‘Did you get a good look at him?’
A fosse is a long narrow trench or excavation, especially in a fortification. I am here, waiting, carving out each second of time. Sense 1 was originally a figurative use, the remembrance of things ballistic.
A fossa is a shallow depression or hollow.
Then the carpenter, who’s not been mentioned yet, beckoned me outside to an alleyway and kissed me full on the mouth. The early sense of a stump sticking out from a torso gave way to a submerged piece of timber obstructing navigation. We remained in the same place. My epilepsy is giving me a hard time.
Today’s definition lies in the arc of the horizon, between the meridian of a place and a vertical circle passing through any celestial body; an ugly hang, by any other words. One thing you can guarantee is that there’ll be plenty of torment along the way. We used peyote as a sacrament.
Origin is early obsolescence, from shibboleth, from hood. Early morning, and the cafe’s full of apparitions tapping away. I remember the tattered remnant of a windsock flapping above a pontoon bridge.
‘I think that one is least likely to secede.’
‘Don’t talk, they’ll see your mouth moving; we’re supposed to be alone.’
‘The object’s the way it is because that’s how it was when you won it.’
‘Then why say you didn’t know whether he lived alone.’
‘We needed to know we could get the casket through the door, you fucking idiot.’
The body doesn’t enter this equation. Because there was no roof on the property, we had to pay cash. Her skin is waxy, translucent grey, and the cage of the ribs clearly visible. Blast pressures in excess of 12 psi were recorded.
There’s a kind of fever on the dock tonight, tooled up stevedores braced in the dense yellow fog. This tension even found its way into the papers, but discreetly; only a few brief references were made. (You did something similar with the editor of the rumour.) We lie in ballast to the white sea, as folk used to say. The man had come back to reassure me of his survival after death, a death that in linear time would not occur for decades.
I once swore like that myself. It’s all in here, all of it. A hygroscopic substance was used as a drying agent. Natural desiccants cause fleas to dehydrate and die.
That’s the whole story. We poured him into the big sack. His head never grew back. Despondent, the possessed child stands with face down, hand on the doorknob to her bedroom, listening.
‘It was the first one ever. It blew into the road. . . . No, not local, not that I know of. . . . I missed the action by one night.’
The disused tin mine is a half a kilometre up the road. The bottle has a twisted metal top, not even half a litre. . . . The main issue for me is still the stairwell.
Liquified nerves, they enter the cranium through a lacerated forearm, having pierced the cartilage filling the aperture.
This passage is truly irredeemable — a shiftless public with hind-toes, in lexical mood, and so on. I returned from inside the mountain not quite the same as I had entered it.
She comes with conspicuous capers, prancing about outside in the rain, clad in tinfoil or other conductive material. (I was looking at the stage directions only this afternoon.) People are exhausted, wearied by demise, the everyday fragile. She is extra-Cathar. Nevertheless, though I classified her recollection of the coin as admissible evidence, I did not regard it as a significant contribution. Wherefore has she done.
Occasionally the narrative appears to run on, of a sudden switches penitent for scribe; the way I’ve seen them play, there are no rules. It’s possible. (I may, even.) Despite the melancholy, we find that something resilient has taken hold. A light step on the adjoining staircase arrested my attention.
She stumbles, eye bleary upon the postern stair. In our absence, the populace may have drunk the entire water supply. Onlookers are terrified; I’m exhausted. None of these characters has been properly branded. I have existed. (Can’t we swap events about like before.) We ceased combat for a spell — attendants shuffle and nod, muddy hooves canter onto the field of play — lances drop, visors lift. . . . ‘Now do you understand why?’
Let ‘em have the knowledge, the advantage of knowing who I am, but slow down: the magnetic poles have reversed. As the day of the dead approaches, I learn that the etymology of suffrage encompasses intercessory prayers. She is indeed a grand pessimist, never flinching in her unhope — a person who waits for a time, event or opportunity.
Picture a temporary fortification, typically square or polygonal and without flanking defences. The forecast is thrifty —find your unique code, printed beneath the seal.
They’re closing in. The invaders have defensive gills along the jawline and wear a type of combat helmet with a projecting bar covering the nose and thus protecting the centre of the face. She chose this moment to fling her radical credentials on the table, something about a design for a bridge involving a huge fibreglass cock.
I say be still: human hair is a document, a single filament evidence enough. The old arcade on the pier is closing down, dead shadow filtered beneath the boardwalk.
The financial capacity created by restructuring is being used to stock pipelines with promising new drug candidates. Officials have warned people to avoid travelling with rodents.
In my own words, he’s a cunt. A few of us banded together. It was day three. I donated my right arm, my left foot — all of the eyes in the back of my head — all of my brainwaves. Where are you? I’m far, far away. I’ve got no change. We’re waiting for you. Goodbye.
If people have made up their minds to leave they are going to leave. They are frail, need extra affirmation, extra munitions. I’ve got a question for you. I’m awake every night, and I was composing a letter to everyone and you. I wanted to leave, I wanted to depart. I’ve had a great life — people are fickle, are easily misled. I have struggled. I wanted to choose physically, as though it meant something. (Do you ever experience that vacuum feeling?) I feel this sense of ingratitude that I cannot describe — I can’t say it’s because of X or Y: literary models don’t exist in the present.
Then he took the revenant by the shoulders and had to use all his strength before he could force him down to the ground. I’ve been on my own for nearly two hundred years; there’s something puzzling about human beings and connectivity.
I used to stand with my back to the sea. It’s like a black hole that actually devours personhood.
She’s trying to stay out of relationships and stand on her own; there’s something about human beings and connectivity. We’re on the brink of suspending time. A boulder plummeted down the cliff and the smuggler was crushed to jelly. Megan’s clay breasts covered the walls of the snug; it was really damp inside and I’ve just made things worse.
The museum is a house that the architect demolished. Three more were built in succession on the north side of the field. (They’re pontoons, or whatever they’re called, walking about in the night like so many ghosts.) He always began with the No.12. Lobster pots hang from the ceilings and the most infamous space is at the rear: the dome, the colonnade and the tormented corridor. I still need to finish — I finished one but the motif was terrible: the sea rose up in an instant and assaulted the land. I stopped Friday and died. Suffice to say, the house was very large.