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 journey, especially one made in the past, one with no specific destination. Origin is a term in archery. What would the good doctor say if he could rise from the grave and see today’s surroundings?
She draws out a thread of fibre and twists it between her fingers, preparatory to spinning. The elderly man opposite stares into space. Attached to the wall is a small metal ring for a rope to pass through, such that one positioned beneath might be bound.
I went out and braved the storm to regain the bridge; daily now we are under bombardment. (I miss you.) Origin is old morse, with the addition of parasitic.
We are transforming waste. A perfect bead of water sits in the shadow of a glass at my tabletop. There were abandoned settlements. (Kelda is a name meaning spring.) We compared every townsman’s footprint by filling the tread depressions found by the river with candle wax, and thus taking an impression. I just tried to pick up a piece of light from the floor.
I retort. Over the phone there was this rustling noise, endless shifting, the background hum of live bodies. (You get these fantastic measures now, don’t you.) Is this the house you’ve been building forever, the one that can’t be erased? But even at this late hour of the day, given the heat, there were streets where several minutes could pass before any pedestrian appeared.
Do you get paid. They want you, don’t they. Once upon a time in the land of us there was a man, named. Sunlight sluiced the grit from mine eyes.
They want you to see again, don’t they? Slowly I lifted the bandages wound about my skull.
That would have been a disaster; we all struggle with the pressure. They have established priorities, an inverted wish list. I felt caught between the hammer and the anvil, as folk say.
It’s all in your mind, those shock waves. I surveyed my room: tiny cracks in the pilaster, bone of inlay, flint partly embedded, partly projecting. In my mouth, the tongue refuses to function. The slow turn of a ceiling fan is reflected in the circumference of a zinc tabletop.
He says when I first heard that song it was an epiphany. Now this game’s got too big for him. After the death I felt her presence on many occasions, company at my shoulder. Several weeks later, the portraits arrived, well-packed by a good man.
He was hidden for years among an inventory of the things, before clawing his way out of imprisoning mortar: a barely readable inscription, one rusting lock, the chrysalis of a moth, a saint’s knucklebone. Now he casually strolls about in the moonshine.
Someone has struck fires. No one can write ink uphill.
Father and I were caught on a peninsula of sand dunes as the tide rose up and a dense white fog hung close to the shore. The sea drove a channel between us and the refuge of land; I could attempt the leap across, but the sand is fine and its slope treacherous. Trapped on this shrinking island, I called out; there was no response. Our sense of isolation is acute, as though we two are the only living beings remaining on the earth.
An old contrivance for throwing stones was dug up, along with the barb of a ray and the gentle eye of a crane. That sound you hear from the courtyard is the rebound of a rubber ball. He says a phenomenon pertaining to sight is needed.
The word bolster appears to derive from an upturned boat, and one isolated fragment certainly resembles one. The crew seems to have mutinied: shooting occurred and they had broken into the cargo of wine. A prehistoric forest formed the silt filling an ancient river valley cut into the sandstone, and it was into this that the ship had sunk. The remains of the surrounding barrow were piled high around us and reached to the edge of the capstone. To the question ‘Is he not coming?’ he will answer ‘Yes’.
I think the shape has changed inside his body. A field for the duel is being paced out as I write — this is, after all, ‘The Book of Land’.
Two copters hover in corrugated haze. She invents a word for herself, her very own word: Fenestella. I noted odd perforations in the canopy.
A genus of moss is forming fan-shaped colonies with a netlike appearance. I am known from the middle vacancy to the upper, reaching my largest diversity during the anthropocene. At this time the first reptiles and seed-bearing plants appeared. I foresaw that she would turn up again, and remain far longer than needed.
That something of magnitude happened on that day, as one learns from the archive, is certain. In the harbour is a ship with fifty oars. (He’s a man of destiny and all that.) The human skull will wear away imperceptibly over time.
A rout is imminent — it’s a number thing, the sixteenth letter. In mediaeval notation, the deceased is an abbreviation for paraffin.
The initial phase forms the first movement of an ethical life. He’s a relentless citationeer: ‘forfeit is the liberty of our children’ et cetera. When he has determined significance, he incorporates that example into his own fiction. He must beware the creeping at his back, the brutalizing effects of language: the species is chock full of thought, with its goals and values, reveries and methods.
That which is not in complete agreement with our manifesto falls short of existence: low maintenance memory, remembrance of a life of shapes — mosaic maps — off with you in yer bloody cups, ad infinitum.
Photographs lie scattered across the tiles. One of the girls wanted a pair of real wings (viz. pi orbital system of the benzene molecule). See you outside for another act of wandering.
A slow bruise spreads out from the circumference of the earth. Snow is moving rapidly westward. Walking is hard work, driven on through such obstacles, squeezed between reed mace and the water’s edge.
Through our contact at the city of S, we learned there was no longer a boat off the island; the curve of our fate still twists the wrong way. The corpse was shoved up tight against the steel door of our box.
Note how his bombastic tone has evaporated. I believe a few like him, the more aspiring, loved without condition, and excursed on occasion beyond the stockade. He rejoices, fringed at the rim with splinters of broken glass.
Reveille. He stirs, wakes to the inexplicable, a naked dip in the ooze. (When younger he always loathed queuing.) At eavesdrop comes a boy with nice use of the subjunctive mood. . . . But don’t be fooled, this is a checklist of disaster, marked by a shift in the status of ‘I had, I have’.
This overwhelms me. Please do not blend; these are the acts we perform at this location.
We started taking things home — the rock split readily into thin frames, laminae along the bedding plates. Oil was distilled.
I steal from others, pimp and filch: scraps of leather, heaven and hell (concerning which see above, and also the preceding chapter, verse four). Flashfire sears the surviving lung, which now resemble burnt rice paper. A separate voice seems to emerge from the first, and offers a disturbing version of events.
I had to fulfil. How many decisions that I believe to be my own, has he in fact been making on my behalf? Loki was the god of evil — more trickster, in truth. And there were tracks across the sand of someone running; it’s said some could walk through fire.
Decomposing sound escapes, warped memory fragments, and interrupts the dialogue; any remote or parasitic period would qualify for inclusion here. He wears an expression that seems to say, Look how much food I’ve got here in my gullet. . . . Clear in its harmonic unfolding, there follows a flood of syllables (they’ll never find his spleen). One type of sound is built note on note, without modulation or chromaticism. An impluvium is the square basin in the centre of the atrium, which receives rainwater from an opening in your roof.
A bolt-hole, fogou. There’s no record of any finds, even though all three mounds have hollow centres. A sign is something which stands in for somebody while they are asleep.
He is charged with an excess, over and above the electron count. . . . Boys sparing in the street below, chalking around each other’s elongated shadows. He urged his divisions to override all previous orders, and keep moving at full speed; this culminating point of victory is bound to recur in every future war.
Chapter 27 is lost. Chapter 28 is lost. Chapter 29 is lost. He has a couple more lives invested in this.
‘Cast his form in calcined ash. . . .’
A rope is then threaded through the open aperture.
Another of those gently satisfying tics of a nascent mortality; a sigh stirs up from his throat. A deep-water marine mollusc with a colourful spiral shell is prized by collectors. Origin is rain into, horizontally, whereas astragali are small historical bones used as dice.
If you can see them, they can see you. Will it all end with the jackal being rescued?
If he ever expressed a coherent idea in his life, he would have to seek out a quiet corner in which to hang himself. The sound was like the hum of countless voices at an infinite distance: the concept of ‘not-coming’.
Another directional whisper, the so-called overvoice. A persistent image — he on the gallows, torn flag of dead skin. The night belongs to one man; he is exorcising his own ghost. I’m careful not to quote him (bad magic).
The narrative flows all too well from this point onward. The question resolves itself during sleep — a necessary trauma — the usual panic at the end of every month. (Were there any messages.) My physician administered a placebo to combat exhaustion. Strictly speaking, whence means from what place, as in ‘whence did you come?’
A rising current of warm air.
The stranger was with him when he died while crossing the mountains to the sanctuary of the frontier. (He’ll never live that down.) We’re not saying anything and we’re not leaving. The atmosphere changes radically from week to week, and is determined by the particular bodies present, until it becomes impossible for anyone to resume a natural disposition — too much phantasy, via the capricious agency of perception, the great escape. My name is derived from a mechanism in a clock that transmits a periodic impulse. Origin is in the sense ‘turned toward the observer’, i.e. from the past, turned inward. During this time there were extensive coral reefs and coal-forming swamp forests.
Don’t rush beyond, keep it steady. He dreams of two unknown women, one of whom has all too casually come back from the dead. They compete. He wants both; it can’t work. Terrible sense of loss — old measure of origin, related to measure from a root shared by meditate, care for — also ‘unmet’.
The first redoubt. Bite of hot seed on the tongue, star-noose with oil, full on like a roaring boy. In wake, a cry: salt on the back of the hand, ground into swollen blood cables. The encampment lacks law, has no established customs: events just happen. She beats the old tattoo, froth at the corner of her lips, on guard over the tap of a cask — breath of all present like an injured wave, a bruised invisibility. . . . Now we are received. Many hundreds of species have been wrongly described from marine sediments all over the world.
My story arrives, side-swipes its way through the present danger. (Suggest wisely and repel in full.) Greasy black smoke hangs in the air.
Unfold to him the inventions made: semé of bezants, a roundel when gold, the polyethylene head in the fridge. I am not that good at difference (viz. the direct intuition of hyperessentiality). Something has arrested our lineage. He says I want to come back to the same things, again and again, build something unrecognizable: a knotted bell rope, a bouncy castle, that diamanté lizard she always wore, powdered crystal sparking substance — his brown leather suitcase, tin hat and sea chest washed up in the loft, type old and indeterminate, initialled. It’s a harsh trade, this.
Happy times, even happier shapes. The father is a sixty-minute father — same theme as the open sea. (Where does that belong?) He ranks somewhere between a shrub and a patriarch. And then she says, Take whatever you need.
A rent in the time space continuum; none present can explain how it could have crept inside the perimeter. Within the walls of the salon there’s a resigned feeling of used books — uncertainty prevails. I can see her creeping, white and gleaming, across the parquet floor. Her residual tumour rattles and skates, an exhausted seam in a once famous brainpan. Four paper windows grant light; a volunteer is strapped to the forcing frame.
Gouged out from the sole of the foot, a small plug of hardened flesh with trailing tendrils. The wind-blown moss at my feet quivers at the touch of a toe.
‘I am only alive, when this.’
Systole-diastole. Warm sunshine, an open city. We must keep away from the centre. I don’t think we are together for a lifetime once more.
The money was shit. Every evening I strolled around London without leaving my room. This winter will never end; I adore street photographs, the sepia. Where’s this dying man you keep talking about?
Note how the two treasures are never shown in the same space together; I doubt whether any great solecism is committed by this.
She wanted a pair of real wings so she could fly. This gives meaning and order to the representamen (a thing striving to represent something else). I saw the way she did that, greenstick fracture.
The man in tight shoes sent me. Origin is related to ice-flag. This is the very spot from which sacred turf has been cut. A plant with sword-shaped leaves grew from your rhizome.
Just move through things one at a time. If a state does not apply itself to war, the venom is transferred to its own interior and it will suffer the six kinds of parasite. It seems there was no need to number the objects after all.
Anxiety, influence: bring it on. Fetch a bucket. All present have pale blue eyes, faces and long yellow heads. The men carry spears and shields of bark stripped from silver birch and sealed in resin. They’re organized in military companies of fifty; they are governed. Some ripen early — they swoop toward me across a deserted strip of flat land where grass ripples to the cut of the wind — a colourless mass, spears flashing pale zircon.
Vegetation consists mainly of brushwood or stunted forest growth. Arms are made available for our defence: curved bill and thigh armour, chain mail panoply et cetera. The ripples on the water of the lake formed limitless abstract compositions; scant trees provided cover. There’s even a concrete ear. His own equipage is a sword and a sickle; the weapon he chooses must complement his adversary. First comes the one, then another and then one more, with bloated body and long thin neck, a pierced slenderness. Blue teeth in the tiny head snap at my hand. Suddenly they’re gone and I’m alone once more.
The nightwatch approaches. One end of a rope was traditionally reeved through a chain.
‘Have you a quiet guard?’
(While thrumming with his fingers on the lantern.)
‘I am sick at heart — mort stone, mortsafe.’
A niche in the wall south of a church altar holds the piscina and often the credence. If he ever expressed a coherent idea in his life, he would have to fling himself into the sea. In this way, breath and water conjoin.
Think of an apparition. Answer its vague question. (You were there, weren’t you?) The average image gives a sense of unreality to the tongue, preparing us to accept the uncanny, every brittle silence. I ask myself whether some catastrophe prevails.
Seven are trapped in him at once: rivals, partners. . . . He transmits, fading out of the light general. . . . Then light on he alone, while the other rests in shadow. An eye-level shot means the placement of the camera approximately five to six feet from the ground, corresponding to the height of an observer at the crime scene. When he became feeble we simply left him to die on the concrete platform opposite the compound.
The man grown out of us.
That’s all about to change. A slow deceleration of the earth’s spin is rumoured; a figure of the deceased is printed at the opening of each chapter. She waits for a signal — that howl could have been an animal — clenches a reed between her teeth. In the middle of the banquet he cries out. Two goals were disallowed.
I am so pleased that you have come here to explain. . . . Summer thunderhead stacking as panels of bone open up at the sides of the head. The poison used is a spirit-sluice. (The physician must first be miniaturized.) I’ve brought along a gift of my own, a short arrow for shooting birds.
Dip it in poison, the head. (That’s a ridiculous pose.) Thus, the preposition ‘from whence did you come’ is made redundant.
It was all over in ten. We’ll soon catch up. This means more late-night sessions, more fatal wounds to avoid. Left alone in his room, a Super-8 reel is triggered by hidden sensors — scratched, blank luminescence. . . . I remember how the flag was stitched across her chest; you can still see that quite clearly.
He strides across the deserted airstrip. I’m getting a better idea of the events unfolding: across the scorched earth, colour all too obvious, bleeding into a predictable surround. Insects buzz at his eyes, a slight ghosting of the image. . . . Origin is a casual remark of uncertain age, perhaps from to stray.
I occasionally have expectations. Quietist-nihilist just about sums things up, with an indeterminate tense of time. We have no surviving ceremonies; that epoch was such a hopeless age — I want to hear of it again: an entry into the market, a rung on the ladder, your properties withheld. Above the sea a column of birds murmurate against the backdrop of a giant blue cloud (stratocumulus). Don’t worry, expense is no subject.
I was a bit rude. In a good way, I had started to realize how insane everything was. She’s the ultimate.
You’re a wanderer, stroller: there’s a stroller in the house, a walker. He may be sliced laterally with a scalpel, measured into chunky strips of equal depth — but any downward strike is arrested at the apex of his skull. After the fire, four more bodies were found in the charred timbers of the forest. (There’s been a recount in Florida.) He grins, at ease with his affliction. He is still standing, he who has always existed in a steady state. Archaeologists have found ancient tombs containing nothing but mummified cats. I looked inside and saw a figure wrapped in robes of luminescent green embroidered with gold thread.
Please, continue your account.
He has no beginning: total threshold, or perhaps, in earlier use, a hinge. He is dry, barren — a petrified wood, ash of copse, a sand bank, sea haar closing in. . . . (You choose.) From my vantage point in the sky the patchwork of colour is quite clear.
A unit of infrequency, he stands full square despite his wounds: pink brain samples, diced ham. He wakes, shakes the feathers off, rising as a bird, hauled into daylight with a staggered beat of wings. Lock him in a spare vitrine, set him up for auction. . . . I make an identical sound. He remains silent while thought-reading from the involuntary tremors emitted by all present. Quiet days were spent cooling our weary bodies in the clay pits.
At that time I did not comprehend the extent of his hatred. ‘You follow me about,’ he would plead, over and over . . . ‘As I write, night is failing and all the folk are busy about their toxic fodder.’
The story now starts to get really, really scary very, very fast. Today is forgetfulness day; it’s one hundred years since memory collapsed into a trench. She walks around with only a nightdress. It’s always good to end on a jackal, if you can.
Nothing reaches, nothing can reach me. It’s a little after midnight. A permanent scaffold clings to the perimeter of the compound — ‘And where do you dwell?’ my inquisitor gently demands.
Quiet days. She tried to scream but there came from her throat only a faint scraping sound.
I found myself standing in the shadow of an ancient keep; misanthropy is uncovered in divers places (e.g. love). Each sign addresses somebody, creates in the mind of that person an equivalent. Then she laughed and everybody ran away. Yes, of course, of course.
Night picture of the cathedral town, crypt glimpsed among fissures of light — keep the lad suspended et cetera. She sat on the edge of the bed and said a neologism has to earn its keep. I agreed. Furthermore, she has a perfectly formed vagina.
‘Excuse me, but I’m no longer a resident.’
I ordered the boy on the long walk toward his execution. His crimes are vague; when there’s a moment, I shall take the time to look them up. I once bought a used version, lost in translation, and between its leaves was a cigarette paper put to work as a bookmark. Scribbled on this was the long walk, and the letter R, once again. I had to.
This is how he ventures: chance pointers, overlaps in time, hare-brained clues in the attic. He resists all names, places, dates and duties — and I can’t see that changing any time soon. He favours the moon-bleached fabric: ‘Everyman and anyplace,’ he murmurs. Your moral strength evinces nerve.
The regime has begun imposing our quarantine. When she saw he would surpass her, she turned and gave him a thrust that pushed him backwards into the open sewer that runs along the main thoroughfare of the town. I speak with borrowed authority, my tone lacking consequence.
Have we spanned to the very edge he asks in a whisper from the pavement.
I had to wait an age. The instruction runs: to alter (a proposition) so as to infer another proposition with a contradictory predicate. Now I’ll have to separate the pair. One or two flares are lit, the picture ghosting, just the head. Origin is sixteenth in line from solitude, from speaking incorrectly.
Some mornings he would lie on his back, fold himself in two and shit on his own face. The constellations of stars mirror the human nervous system. Bring it on down.
Translucent edible paper is made from the dried pith of a shrub ground to pulp on an old slab of stone, the long slender leaf. The region has no less than thirty-three coastal headlands with Iron Age defences. Thou hast cured me of the crave for sleep, lady.
Unidentified skeletal remains. A distant bell tolled when actually it was the wireless.
Think of a place where a person can escape and hide.
He thought of Antwerp as a possible bolt-hole. (A normal one or a cheap one?) Origin is diminutive of jargon — with reference to the colour — a translucent crystal, prismatic (i.e. a mass grave).
The Chinese don’t like it. I prefer the ancients he said, just before applying current to the electrodes strung the length of my spine. Please apply in writing for further contempt.
He forgot his lines on stage but recovered his nerve to complete the act. This presence knows.
A damaged nerve can’t be reholed, hence numb flank of face. Please dust for prints — ink the builders, everyone. It’s too early to say (revolution). That scaffold is awry, colossus. . . . The vital clue was just two doorsteps away.
A silvered forensic ear sat on my desk (Bach, or whatever), then the pitch of a telephone. Years later in a film she picks up a bathroom mug, which has likewise been dusted for prints. Origin is a ligament of the tongue. I am closely related to trauma, end-piece. The current sense dates from the core, a wayward stroke.
I’ve chosen a good time to do this, have I not? (Be warned, this process does stymy the body’s vital functions.) He’s left following the well-fancied stream of gold, and shall be a long time dead after that; there’s nothing like playing the underground. The second stage in the evolution of Hermes is this: two decapitated heads and five bodies were found in the stern of a wooden boat after the small vessel washed up close to the island; it’s not possible to confirm whether the heads belong to the bodies or the bodies belong to the heads.
Beneath the tarmac lies a network of bright blue pipes. Static on the sleeve attracts a film of dust, animating the dead eels. Next came white things of starlight carbon, jackalheaded.
Her body had always behaved in a rather fugitive manner; her tomb has been chambered within an iron grille to guard against walking across the earth uncalled for.
‘Today you have been absolute — very decisive, if morbidly narrow in the skull.’
Dismemberment is her middle name. And she says be sure to lick the surface thoroughly — I may return to dwell, and the long walk is waiting.
The narrative here has become complex in deed, complex in the telling. He spoke, and made a sign with his brow (suitor’s consumption). It’s time I told you of that disastrous voyage.
Keep yourself in a condition. Do like this: hot air — discrete, compartmentalized biological reality. A rigadoon. Note italic for less than you, my child.
Grass grows thickly among the roots; at the edge of the orchard we abandoned him. Bradycardia is the word for abnormally slow action of the heart. His execution took place in front of five thousand prisoners, pour encourager les autres.
Vignette: the deceased standing between the two boats of the sun.
Off the road — in a treeless place, only snow. (You get to daydream a lot when you’re driving.) I used a dictaphone. We’ll soon catch up under cover of moonlight. I am curious to know, he suddenly says aloud, what salve you might have, if any, for a disease such as mine.
Make a decision. I have included word, image, gesture, tone. Give it a bit longer.
He’s been squeezing too much out of himself — spindrift flung from the waves quivered at the shingle. He starts running down the street; in a second he’s level with the other, elbow out of joint. Give it a bit longer: no pleasure but in venom.
Leave the room. Two hours later, come back.
Venus dark, his voice becalmed. If it weren’t for Jupiter we’d be crushed by asteroids like a bunch of dinosaurs. He throws everything off balance, a human slingshot.
Unusual in her heyday, of uncertain origin, a girded reciprocity is the core of her friendship. Diesel was spilt on him during their altercation — he has multiple fractures above his lifespan, a trial spent striking out at people and their things, pounding the flat earth with his fists.
Above a suburban porch he spies the grail: blue psychic in cursive neon. The ruins of the two temples are but a few steps apart. How could one resist. Usage is very common and has been put to work by reputable writers since the fourteenth.
I remember now where the ceiling is. My eyes hurt. Beyond the threshold the interior is convertible — inside is wood panelling, silver birch of overarching tracery. My left hand rises involuntarily as I lurch forward.
There’s nothing much in this to get upset about. He projects himself with more pride than sentiment: no motor, no mobile, no head, no dog. . . . He drops a perpendicular from behind the left ear. He can deliver a top four finish, whispers of the time — the solidified voice is a stumbling block: carry him across the brook to hermitage.
This occurred in a very small space of time. She was shot by snipers at the age of eighteen; the ultras are still aggrieved and plan a protest about their ticket allocation. This was the first breath of the land breeze we inhaled — wings with bright eyespots and greyish underside, a pearl of an early ripening variety. A sticky, translucent web emerges out of nothing. Wait for it.
Just be sure you stay beyond reach of their scoping claws. (This is a tactful way of saying ‘recover’.) His head is hooded above a patchwork cloak: centohead, scraps out of joint, the sting of the everyday.
Hang on to that thought a little longer, one line for each loop. Now he’ll never get away, now he’ll never forget. There’s room for accomplices, aluminium stitches twisted into shape with metal pliers — in the backyard, animal familiars fight over the severed head. The remaindered light has been corrupted. A stone basin near the altar drains water sluiced in the mass.
His ashes are placed in an earthenware pot used for smelting ores and metals. He has bought a plot; there’s a pond nearby. He is scattered across the surface. Solid voice is still a problem, yet he kept contact.
We could have aged him prematurely, but if we are to artfully season him, the process must be symmetric. He is quit, used as a form of receipt.
A crucible, playing against the touch, a gloved hand of fish or bird skin, the bleeding gums. Lend me your weapon. Call entropy.