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“His next novel was a pocketbook: the reader could take it to a riot and it wouldn’t slow her down” – Richard Makin, WORK (Chapter XXIII)

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.

XXIII 

Weve been preventing situations from happening, always within living memory. Its as if every place were aware of every other place. (I forgot to say, a handful of rose quartz crystals.) I was on a long, convoluted journey. I dont intend the repetition and shall apply to various untidy collections of objects placed haphazardly on top of each other for sustenance.

            The ascension state always catches up at the close, i.e. we can give other people more existence in our mental apprehension of them. I am set against a background of sponsored word games.

            Go see to the dimension; her feast day coincides with a pagan festival whose rites are intended to give protection against witchcraft. The effect causes the sudden change in pitch noticeable in a passing siren, as well as the red shift seen by astronomers.

           

This wont take long. Its immense, complicated, and I havent even begun the research stage yet. (Why didnt he simply step out of the way of the oncoming train one may ask.) You can tell the village in the Swiss Alps is a model, even the snow, for one thing, none of the figures on the station platform move as the camera pans across our field of vision. Originally, tracks were laid on the set to permit a smoother movement one arm of the scale swings up and down, oblivious to the dull motive of gravity. Hold me, hold me fast at the centre of the horizon.

            West he says no, east yes, west. . . . She leaves in disgust. Anyone who even breaks off a twig is expected to die within a year. Origin is semblance.

           

The state: its me, a transfigured use of the foregoing and an accidental success. That said, Im considered socially disappointing a challenge, even. One character is power, the other more killer (a straplike implosive). She said the recoil had left a bruise on her right shoulder and the geiger clicked at the exit to the zone.

            Two of origin are accidentally electrocuted. Unless its official carnage, were in; everything is way more objective than anticipated.

            Lets bleed out the logic. There has been a commercial interest in what determines individual choices. (I miss sound.) Which way are you going? The girl fled into a nearby café and cowered behind the zinc counter; the patron hid her for a few days in the cellar, until the danger had passed.

            We all loosened up and began talking to one another after a spell of time on the run. There is a rain of scribble, an erasure, which its my intention to spike further on down the road.

*

One winter morning and snow is falling across the window pane. The nettles are limp. Inside, we are shocked. Get ready, I say I cannot achieve a state of attention theres no time for all your references: sack-bone, gum resin deep in salty soil brittle, dried stigmas. Into backtrot slip the weary trackers.

            What else can I have missed in this rendering of the landscape? She compromises the various stages in the production; we were all kept busy making sure the brush and twigs were combustible. Any error is fatal and the piece is ruined. Suddenly shes not there, no longer standing behind me. Theres a rule but I dont know what it is.

           

His tongue is branded with a red-hot iron before a hastily assembled firing squad takes aim. A flag snapped in the gale, the bin shot down there are words scratched across a wall. Into the back of the convoy jog the runners. . . . Are those eggs under your skin demands the officer.

            Find somewhere equally at peace; you dont realize how narrow the ravine will be, where the earth sinks into the earth.

            ‘Yes, replied the professor, continuing his observations, and you can see that these fossil fish are quite unlike our present-day species.

            I feel devoured each day by passing seconds. My mouth skips a beat O bless her. Tell me, why is it so tactically significant to trek upriver? Our guide and I went hunting and brought back nothing.

*

He has invoked within himself some further signs of grace. (The experiment is something awfully technical to do with light.) I slept very badly; sharks played an important part in my nightmares. I am not going to change anything. Spoons banged hard upon the little mess tins. . . . A subatomic particle is intermediate in mass between an electron one infantryman, selected at random, is broken on the wheel.

            I have to make decisions on an individual basis. (What does your dog get up to in its spare time?) Being a physicist, I never got close to an actual brain.

           

He peers out from his hiding place. We are moving in a direction; being hung and drawn has its advantages. The process has begun: the limbs of the condemned are lashed to two horses facing in opposite directions. You can guess the rest. (I dont like the look of that arm.) Being quartered has begun.

            The executioners hands were sticky with blood. He dropped the hatchet with the blade into a pail of water. If everyone arrives a little late, its more comfortable all round.

           

Desperate and shrouded, he is hungry enough to kill for the rest of us. He glances at the door. The earth stood still around me as I walked through a crowd of people, frozen at an instant.

            ‘You havent any?

            ‘No.

            ‘Not any?

            ‘No.

            We are guided here by the displacement of lines of the spectrum visible to the naked eye. All of your aims are substandard aims. The chosen genus is (especially) vulgaris and its hybrids.

            ‘Useless, and Im getting older, especially my arm.

            ‘What about that street runs parallel.

            Though I had known through him a certain nobility, now I was discovering the real direction of my life. Then he says something has to break. This prompts the memory of a dream in which it rained ash at the crossroads, ankle deep, the sky an solid expanse of grey. Everything had ended.

 

Picture a figure clinging to the undergirder of an iron bridge.

            More cauterized optimism; I could sit here forever. Temperaments, for what theyre worth, are with us to stay. I dont think the sample we took is going to survive.

           

I am renamed after one of the minor planets, the deep-sky objects. I am indifferently awed: scales and apparitions, a comedy goal, but no laughing matter. Its our DNA. He makes a note: Wednesday, exorcism, dank basement with metal planchette. . . . We then lose the final title, retaining a white background which quickly fades away. (Today, even a hand-held travelling shot is considered a variation of tracking.) The only available space is a bivalve aperture.

            And so on to the remaining names. The old man is a living field of battle; the aorta swells and ruptures, the great arterial track that journeys out from the heart. (No, objects.) You could say the pitch had not been tilted to his advantage; the wind was at our backs. Both sides converted disputed penalties in front of a tense Hamburg.

            I can accept the fact that yellow is swallowed up by black. A continuously growing horizontal underground stem puts out lateral shoots and a rhizome system, but only at intervals.

            They go upstairs, along with some others who happen to be there but whom I cannot be bothered to name. The door opened and I too climbed the stairs and went to bed. The manager now sidled up to inform us that we would have to behave differently, or leave. In the attic is the cage that holds the feral boy; once more, the son has usurped the father. An object has been placed on the window ledge it resembles light, solidified. The mouth of the Nile is scratched on one wall, all her venous tributaries clustered at the outflux. A thin sheath of fibrous tissue encloses a muscle or other organ.

            We hired a narrative tracker: now hes around the back, now hes up on the roof, wailing and spiriting, almighty possessed. Can you tell us what he says.

            He stabs at the edge of the slit. A plant secretion consisting of resin mixed with gum spurts from the hole at the head of the shaft.

            Police used tear gas, rubber bullets, water cannon and armoured vehicles to breach the barricades. Alienists resisted long into the night, responding with crossbows and poison darts shot through blowpipes. One officer was hit in the leg by an arrow.

*

A galaxy is flushed from his mouth; they are not going to let us in. Eating did not seem to be a part of my existence in that steel box.

            Flanking the bridge is a cliff-face of white chalk. I observed closely the minutiae of the painting, how the artist has, with simple grace, depicted the weave of a young mans tabard. (Soon Ill be sixty myself.) Because I will forget, from this time onward I shall partition and share out the head. I would then Yes Yes to all, so notoriously shut away as I am.

            This part is the most difficult step to take. It was like speaking ill of the dead and I could not bring myself. The fire-element of the fourth day gives rise to the passion of attachment and an aggregate of feelings.

            I have personally measured the quantity released at a neuromuscular junction by a synaptic vesicle. I am personally contributing a small voltage to the measured end-plate potential. Error is an incentive, a source of energy.

            Vignette: a human head springing from a lotus.

            ‘What ails thee?

            The detail, I add, just in case of confusion.

            She has been left alone here all the night, locked in. (Ive not felt this way for years.) Shes febrile. Every name is a trespass; I gave witness. Mediaeval cathedrals were built without a ground plan, minutiae laid upon minutiae, in an ecstasy of faith unconcerned with meaning. In this, some find anathema, others release.

            She can no longer control the anger; first it comes with detachment, finally with presentiment.

            ‘That was a helluva big trench mortar.

            ‘Yes, madame.

 

I have been informed that I am going about this all wrong. (The blue room I read, yes.) Im acting like a man whose days as a stranger will soon be over. They have vectored in on our position. . . . Shadow of outspread wing across forehead, close-up of eyes of the one stationed beside. . . . Editing is the joining of one strip of film with another we have gone back in time several hundred years, where we find ourselves clinging to brickwork waist deep in water at the bottom of a well. In this same locality buildings fell into disrepair, people went mad or dropped dead on the spot; pawnbrokers and undertakers did brisk business. Theres an elaborate mechanical clock in the corner that tells us the year on an abacus, while three volving spheres predict the next total eclipse, and a month of pitch black. Do you remember when we first attempted this, hand-painted static, sparking across the body?

            Theres a lamentable lack of remedies this season. Back then we were always jumping off of stuff. He is famous for the discovery of 1842. Ive not seen this pattern before.

            ‘Of course.

            ‘Who said it?

            ‘I dont know.

            Its not as though were short of legends. I ate just enough to make staying justifiable. (Is everyone ready for this?) The officer in question is probably a mole; his blazon is a cross with centre void. Five thousand turned up on the day. What is a hatchment?

            The arms should be tricked to denote tinctures. I have already inferred that no rules are so sacrosanct that they cannot be set aside by our men at arms. I have not come down from heaven to do my own will.

           

He takes his place in a corner, sweater torn and specked with blood. We have been stationed here to gently ruminate. The second field is divided into two parts; you are a witness to what I have written, are you not? (Im aiming here for a tone of unbridled bombast.) We can say whatever we mean. We have surfaced. Once again, everything depends on the organization of work: variable assemblages of human, animal and thing.

            I didnt realize then that they did time-warps as well. I lived there till I died. 

*

His next novel was a pocketbook: the reader could take it to a riot and it wouldnt slow her down. The acronym was first coined by the army to describe the post-narrative world as volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous. According to the author, the inherited framework serves no purpose. A narrow filament is fed inside an artery to explore the interior.

            Involuntarily, she plays the limpet. This leads us into unknown backwaters of copulation. Folk applaud. Lord, if you had been here, my brothers would not have died: think of the lilies of the field, how they grow. There is something in this solitude, but I dont like being spoken of in this way myself.

            You said they would. They did not. This is where I end.

*

He detests physical labour, preferring to sit outside, panting on the wet grass; I have no problem with that. By now he could be anywhere motionless on the cob, falling in and out of love et cetera. Cross over to the other side: Im like an Eastertide statue, shrouded yet not.

            You have a sense that something is whistling close by you in the air. Search as he might, he could find no sequel to my letter, nor any clue to the cause or manner of its removal. (An act or situation that provokes or justifies a war.) I dont wish to sadden you with all this nothing talk of endgame, the severed hand beneath the bed, the incarnadine garden implement candle at his desk flickering in a draught, flags cracking at the top of a turret.

            It is apparent that, at this stage, the police in their confusion were busy hunting for anyone in a blood-stained smock who bore the least resemblance. (I know, its really annoying.) Ive brought your coins up from the excavation; they are circles of rust, in the main. As you may have gathered, the subject is a man at the point of execution.

            Go upstairs: door to left, stencil across the wall your writing wall template aligned to the season, to equilibrium. Especially, define here the skin tone.

            ‘We cant use those samples, theyre hollow.

            Observe what is documented here; these are unremarkable times, yet still I remain stubbornly sectarian, exiled to the vault. Did you take into account the length of the suspects stride? Ive been asked specifically about the topography of the suburbs, but cannot betray my comrades.

*

            Materialist dialectic:

            ‘Are you a genius.

            ‘I cant remember.

            I wanted the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

            ‘Fuck off.

            Upon waking from this demonic reverie so the legend goes Sister Maria found herself soaked in ink. A bizarre letter scrawled with inscrutable glyphs had come into her possession during the night. Another inquisition will soon be underway.

            This tale is sad and funny at the same time, like that story of the gentleman at the inn: there came a moment when he wanted to leave. The next day he doesnt remember a thing.                      Temperament is a subject were putting to good use murmurs of the time, every tongue lapping the floor. (Park your bets.) The deeper in I go, the further away lies the spot of light at the end of the tunnel. We could overlook from our vantage point the whole of the marshland, obscured that morning by dense sea fog. Avoidance following a traumatic experience can take many forms.

            Can you name these ephemera? It looks as if its becoming very cold in here; chilled white breath is exhaled by the sleeping woman as the ghost of her husband sits beside her. The mercury has dropped.

            Im returning to the workaday state; were cutting off your neural supply. (Its said dreams are merely a form of cerebral hygiene, thank goodness.) Im replying to the voice I sent myself I want to talk, respond to the whispers embedded in the plaster.

            Some sequences are carriers. Change the room. Change everything. Whatever is not transcended rots.  

* 

He is repelled by the central head. This sequence is too long to be a puzzle: the neck too short, gristle swells in the stomach, the abdomen distended. I can only breath through a tube. The plastic sack laid across my chest slowly fills with bile. Monitoring the drip, the machine alongside beeps a red light flashes on and off.

            Your mouth is dry. A great sigh passes around the stadium. You feel confused when you wake up. The second segment provides a timely geopolitical reminder: never hate your enemies, it affects ones judgement. In my baggage was a Stradivarius violin, which I could play (my waking self cannot). I also had a tattoo on my sternum which Id never noticed before, of a smiling woman wearing a black conical hat.

           

A burning mountain or foundry symbolizes this province. She starts to sing out loud. (Did you lose the map?) I recall these stuffed animals fashioned into furniture. We awoke facing north, then swung south; on arrival, we found evidence that M had spent the previous night there. We parted with many kisses of the mouth.

            What form would recovery take. What sort of evidence has been procured. Stay close. These pages have been transferred in neat rows. I dont do plurality, striving after names.

            Theyve got a lot of machines in there that you wouldnt expect (viz. Schuberts impromptu). Now here comes brown bear-fellah. Whose authority is virtually absolute.

            Who is inside out, passing from knowledge to knowledge? He dispatches a message. A passerby hands me his card. It reads I have no wish to discover any further signs that the noise is growing louder. Gold was once considered a fine thing to possess; memory is the cut-off point. I read across the bitter fathoms of the sea, tied to the deck where space is sovereign.       

            I followed the address: Aqualung Club said a handwritten neon sign. A candelabrum with seven branches was used in the sacred edifice where the disturbance took place, since famously destroyed. The inmates include bodies stripped for action, societal hinges. Pick out an option of your own. Take your time.

            Of a sudden, breath comes good with a name. She has overlooked the shoulder one leg is off there are fragments of plaster strewn across the floor. Remnants of a floral pattern may still be discerned. There has to be some kind of an explanation for what Ive seen tonight.                I propose four possible strategic responses: agility, information, restructuring and chaos. At her examination on Saturday last, the suspect acknowledged she had been drinking in company at three or four public houses on the night of the murders. Now produce a rough sketch of a hatchment appropriate to each of the following:

            (a) An unmarried wife.

            (b) An unmarried husband.

            (c) A wife already dead (argent a fess sable).

            (d) A husband already dead (argent a bend sable).

            (e) A wife surviving, just, clinging to an improvised raft at sea. 

* 

No, this was a genuine breakout. Toward the close of October an anti-plague serum was tried for the first time. Hardly anyone we knew was there. Everyone joined in. An analogous amount of momentum or electric charge was employed in the proceedings.

            My aim is true: crossed keys, a green lion with seven stars punctuating the spine, swallowing down the sun an allegory of eye, of heart. This image usually signified what today we call looking back over the shoulder. Light dawns gradually over the whole.

            How do you know all this. Origin is taking root. This helps strategists to understand the existing challenges — volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity — in the macro environment.

            First of all we need a written description of everything that exists. We are using the words to know as they are normally used. One inherits oneself. (We have said this before.) Now resurface under a different name: a band apart, a troupe of outcasts, noble vagabonds ownerless objects. I remember that old-fashioned hearth. How many characters are down in the hold right now, all your human ballast? 

* 

The Nile delta is traced in red biro. I note that the tributaries dont quite attach to the major artery. Chips are scooped into the wrong baize hole. The coroner delivered a verdict of suicide by lack of attention.

            A bead of sticky crimson forms at the tip of his cock. He rolls the nub between thumb and index.

            Picture a man stroking a sheaf of paper. (A clue: he is dog, reincarnate.) You should think yourself lucky; if the puzzle were octagonal, failure to solve it would have cost you your head.

            Taking not the slightest bit of notice of anyone else, when I first took this project on I thought it was a runaway shape a vitrine with crumpled paper, a vitrine with sphere, crawling. Now Im not convinced by this trade, that which always rests beyond my scope. Its good that hes laying his cards back on the table. Remember that boneyard?

           

She approaches the edge before backing off. This is the pattern: she always returns to the lip. Those who remain have named all their objects and places after animals. We will discover here moral tales of spontaneous combustion (female), aimed at young traders with their new-found equality as channellers. Theres even a Chopin crater on the planet Mercury.

            About this time, madame had a vision of the devil as a horrific ostrichlike creature. Architectural discourse and practice are dominated by such false dichotomies between design and chance. My every step is governed by the belief that the architects role is to defend against the indeterminate, i.e. situated on the other side of the Alps from the point of view of the speaker. The male has black plumage and a long tail used in leaping displays.

            In this conception of the world, the earth is shouldered by an angel who stands on a slab of gemstone which is supported by the cosmic beast, sometimes called a corruption or misrendering.

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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