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“She gave birth to the sky under the spin of an abandoned galaxy. And it was indeed essential for us to ration ourselves” – Richard Makin, WORK (Chapter XIV)

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 pointed out (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.

XIV

 

To distraction. 

A resin cast was made of someone dying horribly. Is backyard one word or two? He reaches the window and draws it firmly shut.

            My acquaintance with sheets of water being small, the passengers and all hands have drowned. The arrangement of clauses and propositions comes without connectives, a one-button recovery system.

            Proceed to Door (1) or Door (3) or Door (5).

Enter one reconstituted maker: cerecloth face, scrapings of knowledge, metal of other tongue, random notes traced from a stellar map. Now he’s over here with his accursed share. If can you find a cheaper killing, seize the opportunity.

 

Pigeon, Full English.

Fifty tracks in counterpoint a list, a loose concavity, your inexhaustible supply of colour. Im despised by all the other falconers, that much I know local insects in their graceless (as if I were not one to vie with). A beachhead is a defended position on the shingle taken from the enemy by landing forces, from which a counterattack may be launched.

            Troopers stretch out in a never-ending line, snaking out across a frozen snowscape. Fourteen bandits are among the fugitives depicted.            

*

A thing not said versus sight unseen. Stoke the engines. A man is appointed to ascertain a certain boundary he uses words such as multitude, runaway, circumlocution et cetera, and a mineral of doubtful character. He moulds an ampule, a two-handled flask like a pilgrims bottle.

            Finding a cure isnt our job, he says, pointing at the map, and these areas should be cleared of production. . . . Clasping the stem by its dilated base, nothing seems to improve his temper.

            The next time I need his help, Ill use a battery, warping the amplitude of the carrier wave. This collaboration was the last thing I remember. I could hear people all about me but not see them; that was strange. Ribs were fractured. I could find no system to his reading and his writing we are mute to a man, mesmerite.

A metronome mark of eighty-four beats per minute is followed by a sequence of green flashes. The isolated object has a burning fuse. (No wonder we’ve been shipped out.) The three of us are in training for the trial of the century; the ship was rigged up as a sloop, a small anti-submarine warship used for convoy escort in the second war. The ball deviates sharply on pitching. The ship was a cutter, a small fore-and-aft rigged sailing boat with one mast, more than one headsail and a running bowsprit, ideal as a swift auxiliary. The castellan arrived in a light horse-drawn sleigh. The pig was heavier than a cutter but lighter than a baconer.

            I saw my first scapegoat this week as I flicked through the x-rays. (My physician holds a forged licence.) The ship was rigged up as a smack, a single-masted sailing boat used for coasting or fishing. The ship was rigged up as a yawl, a two-masted fore-and-aft-rigged sailing boat with the mizzenmast stepped far aft so that the mizzen boom overhangs the stern. Origin lies in parting one’s lips noisily.

            They were dragging him along. We were sitting on the metal drums of a convoy lorry.

           

I’ve been recently stabbed — you’re familiar with the rules. The rules are moderately straightforward. Your opponents will come in short bursts. Origin is sevenfold. We know what you’re thinking.

            It was a night like this, the prime minister was leaning over, when suddenly I fell into him. I said no to a dog, no to a dog, no to a dog. I said. (He’s always been a little on the nervous side.) Each moment speaks itself at double epiphany, ruptures the foil of the workaday. Always the first person is speaking, ill-seen, and later on in clusters — and is, by and by, prized adrift of the uncanny. But to make haste to my own experiment: some say that he is sleeping right now beneath the earth.

 

Perhaps that could be a project for yourself, to design and create nihilist overalls with pockets so capacious they could swallow whole a rather hefty tome; one would need to carry a copy on either side, to avoid spinal indiscipline. Last night I dreamt I was an infantryman going off to war wearing a moustache made of blue jelly (on account of my youth). I woke to find that an eyesight test had been developed using rows of letters printed in successively decreasing size, of which patients are asked to read as many as they can under threat of summary execution.

 

A night operation: the background.   

You were in the way. We skirt the issue. We have made progress during the night. I remember someone saying at the time: you ended up here by accident, becalmed until someone elses future caught up with you. Considered from the present viewpoint, those good times were not so good.

            I could make you a list that would outspan ten of your earth years. As I said above, my acquaintance with sheets of water is small, corroding further the less-than-convincing sense of fiction.

            Moored beside the jetty, note the smoothly worn surface of the old, flat-bottomed boat. I was raised and sustained on someone elses watch, beneath the shelter of an indivisible. The captain is pacing, awaiting receipt of a long-expected letter.

            I dont like using the water battery for divination myself. His own theory is called the last man standing theory.

*

Look, theyre all brushing up against one another oak, yew, sycamore, chestnut, ash. . . . That pyroclastic flow is far too close for comfort; I have buried my parmesan in the back garden. A blind man tells me on Jupiter there is a caldera three hundred miles wide. I thought of England. It sounded too good to be true. It looks as though weve been out fishing for carp far, far too often.

            Egrets, cormorants and formation-blind starlings forty black storks, wading and catching frogs. The creature was like a heron only the wrong colour, very still. It looks like a question mark, or a cloud, an algorithm the last six lines of a sonnet. Rare music is a sextet. Evidently, Im trying to isolate myself.

            Origin is come close, after. Everything hes done he has done in the past.

It was an interesting dream, featuring the only wood that does not float. (We are very close to the action here as well.) I switched tables, moving away from her to make more space to work, to write.

In my spare time I work on my brothers machines, at the very margin of comedy he in pyjamas for the heat. We no longer take in hungry strays we are beyond the stake, go on without me. . . . I have felt compelled to hand him over to the inquisition for a very long time indeed.

            Strip off his bark, the outgrowth of refuse matter, spore debris. An area of water or marshland is dominated by bulrushes.

This table of events wasnt here before. On waking, this troubled her, despite his body warm against hers, erection pressed against backbase of spine, exhaled breath to nape of neck. A resin cast was made of someone dying horribly.

            Im the semantic gamble no one else would think of making. Lets take a kaleidoscopic look at a former star and his use of silence as a form of protest. 

*

Eyes unweld, facing down the sun itself. She steps along the rim of the studio tank, her shoes in shreds. She throws them away and walks, would rather go bareshod in front of these fools than limp her leg. (Our bacteria are scientifically proven to reach the gut alive.) Her limbs are bleeding; she takes a key out of her pocket. The sky is completely black, then theres lightning. Our combined weight causes a chunk of the earth to break away.

            See, I have returned to the surface of the day. A succession of crimes are spread out over a whole year, the archive enclosed in capsules set adrift in sea water. You must leave now, indwelt, all derivation hidden, a vague upshot of history.

 

That noise is a false envelope of sound. Ive been searching, the trick with a rope and so forth an efficient beam, a ray, a shaft of light. Escape-room activities include pinning the donkey.

            I fear I have brought with me some traces of the storm into your chamber lightning and thunder and rain.

 

Its said she gave birth to the sky under the spin of an abandoned galaxy. And it was indeed essential for us to ration ourselves: torrential rain, cobbled streets and alleyways, a morass clogged with mire in a district of tenements. It was a sight to see, her face during this elucidation by the great detective. Their wretched little party goes by, sinking up to the mud in their knees.                          

           

Announcing a discovery, the new magnetic pole: I have found. I have dedicated. The cloister now is half submerged. She quickly recalculates the circumference of the earth correctly (viz. salvation through mathematical arcana). A dying form has crept into the lifecycle. She announces another brilliant discovery: I shall journey to the centre of thee. . . . Origin is the smack of imitation.

            No, I think thats you, not me on a rolling bed of old tickets, in a phalanx of headstones. . . . Compare with German, to eat or kiss noisily.

 

A shadow moves across; it is wintertime at this sunken latitude. You return, unnamed. Through the chapter-room door, detail surging upward to ruinous apex, e.g. the tree is growing fibrous crystals. Faint consolations are delivered in E flat major.

            Call her forth (we are nowhere near guessing her name). The salient number is four.

 

The keystone a manifestly ritual object stone of division, after which memory is at risk forever (the body-fire of prehistory). And the single window, very modern, beautifully proportioned. The true problem is distraction, where dead men brush against the lips of the living. May I come around and help?

            He refuses to take food. He writes swarm instead of plague, and immediately regrets this decision. You cant relax, no one can relax.
Stone of division sea heath genus, as tamarisk a small woody creeping of European salt marsh bearing a superficial resemblance. Tubular bacteria are recorded verbatim, quite witless of sundry events.

            And your other leg? Out of joint, put your legs out of joint. 

*

A fissionary, and he with his trumpet bone, star-compelled. Another feels moved to actually carry out his idea; Im following a direct imaginary line after a spell in the wilderness you need to get minutes into your legs. Theres sufficient quantity of plunder, yet the team cannot agree division into equal shares. He had always been forensically aware (you may recall that business of the head in the drain). Just a moment of your time, please, and one of your fingernails.
Farewell
, swift messenger. Nothing makes any real distance any longer.  

 

Shes standing on the platform beside a steaming locomotive, a battered suitcase in her hand, crammed full with mould-pocked sketches, ancient slides. Join us now, cut off the feet.

            The gut strings quaver. Im fully actual, thoroughly unattached. But this is the worst-organized fight I have ever seen.

*

You tend to overplay your hand. Through the descending cadence of his blood emerges voice, the old energy flooding back to the disfiguring head. He says, when I am gone, just a box, please. And dont forget the cat.

            Enormous panes of ice are stacked beside the field of play. He presses a five-pound bribe into my palm, the lines of which are deeply scored, those disquieting fault lines; Ive been bought out, financed. By now he speaks twenty-six languages, including some which other people actually know, one for every day of the alphabet. On the positive side, people are talking to each other once more (viz. sanctified chicken livers).

 

At sea now, a crew of smelters, mallemaroking (uncountable carousing on icebound whaling ships). We had one hanged in the night from the yardarm. He had introduced the solar cult and moved the capital to the newly built city that had taken its time. Have yourself a little pop at that.

            Things are getting too lairy. A little above the hinge sits a metronome. May we find and add a quotation to this entry? Hang on to your nerves, youll be needing them later the membranous vesicle contains a dose of your own poison.

*

I feel completely polaroid today, the most miserable person in the world another painful snag in a saga of betrayal. She included this in the 43-page petition, one for every year of a spiteful, self-loathing life. The epic moment is abandoned.

 

Capable of surpassing any person at any time, and quite fearless, then suddenly he lost control. The music ceased: he suggests the silence here something more than the detonation of an object, the aggregation of atrophy. Hes turned around by the first violin to face the auditorium.

            I conducted my own defence of intimacy. So that is not his game, no.

           

Relating to, consisting of or denoting fragments of rock erupted by a volcano: pyroclastic fragments, material. I flinched inwardly. It was as if someone were suddenly beside me, crouching on the vacant chair. That would be nice.

            Wedged between us is a covenant: reverie of lost journals, cash-back pledges a sealed furnace, salt scattered on the floor a simple crystal of two molecules, piteously unaware.

 

They carry him off to administer ornamental beatings uncertain cold comfort little realizing some would die for a punishment like that, sweat shining in the folds of the throat. Precisely what do you long for?
His tormentors begin to turn on one another. He swings around to face them, speaking boldly, but not without respect.

            ‘Now, sirs — one, three or five alterations are required?’

            ‘Origin is a seven percent slope.’

            Yes, it should be this way, it shouldn’t be that way; some things are absolute. It was a heavy rolling-in-a-sack sort of word that he uttered at quietus. This must be the part where the thing returns from the dead and refuses to die.

 

We meet. I hand him the key. He looks quite modal, despite everything that has happened consider a theory of logic in which the subject is involved in the affirmation of impossibility. And then he says we are usually transmitted under an oath sealed by rain: the place which another had, or might have had. Origin is possibly your execution.

           

Without strife, bent double something to seize, carry away. Perhaps a misconception an intention perhaps an opportunity, driving toward the harbour, trading to arc a circle.

            Hes uneasy about sending such a letter through official channels a confidential memorandum, analogue nostalgia. Hes leading each new perception to its own premature conclusion, liberating convicts from the gaol, dead yield of London clay, weaving through the frontline charged with blazon up to our necks, on occasion even higher.
Gules, two chevrons or on a canton argent a cross crosslet fitched sable all within a border semy of gunstones et cetera.
Bend sinister, echo disjunct.

* 

Theyre switching off the old signal; once everythings made of the same stuff, the more will brittle things become. Moveable effects are consumed by use, estimated by weight, number and measure by law. Old word, long taboo, all word meaning stilled: vulgus, dead lamentable.

           

Im trying to think of an unsuitable mentor: youve got great ideas, but at the end of the day you want to be making, or the head of (at least) imagination. We must act brave, less pliable in the face of intergalactic sway.

            Widespread arc within ice. The next who comes through the portal bears a shield. I’m not short of moments myself — root of membrane, red weal on ball of thumb, knuckle bearing paper cut. The g-force collapses her face.

            We are driven on to an irrefutable biological fact: hundreds of plumed specimens are pouring out of the fossil bed. I was pinned to the floor by six Gs. She was born electric and invented, born into a descent. She developed the first alternating current induction motor, as well as several forms of oscillator, the coil, and a guidance system for ships. Would you break a promise for love, in defiance of the gods and the supernatural order? (Your symbol is H.) Origin is opposite, from odd, a personification of heaven or the sky; I’ve got a set of sketches that reflect the post-apocalyptic landscape. I dreamt I was smeared with blue paint and she flung herself to her death from the roof. I searched for my name on a long list handwritten onto an endless roll of palimpsestic brown paper. Everyone realized I was part Japanese, part not. And that oblong of light is a sash window, or a light box. (Just something in her expression, all the bedlam.) Someone should do me an immense favour. It might be better to look at things logically: it came out of a silence and it will return to silence. Perfect grace.

            And I first tried to bring you back; so much for the restoration work on an untimely revenant. At the appearance of the first tracks in snowfall, I’m touched by a shared memory. The troops look like matchsticks drawn to a distant horizon.I have this obsession, I have these tiny fibres crawling all over me. Now we must hold our nerve, gently, eye against eye — an unforeseen curvature of events, a chapter of accident.


A hunters moon he says beneath the warp of the sky. Were limited to chance spectaculars and stuff, sometimes convincing, slowly, eye upon eye. He catches fleet, a shadow. I wouldnt mind working my way back now, a free destination for the incurable.

 

Cisalpine: on this (i.e. the Roman) side of the Alps combining form, denoting on this side and written ago one hundred years. A magnificent performance so to speak, so much in his blood, while she sat tight-lipped and rebellious, her green eyes hard as pebbles.

            The womans hand is badly injured in one attack. He has to repair he is robotic, a scanner, but no surgeon. He will overlook. If we insist on verisimilitude, the whole world would collapse under its own scrutiny.

            So, it is actually possible to eradicate consciousness completely no more dancing on the bottom shelf: theyre switching off the old signal. This is actually like a person, and I think, hang on a minute you see, I myself was strung up last night, for no perceivable reason. It hurt but a little, that crushing of the windpipe by a knotted rope. A band of avengers is trawling the land, swinging folk up hither and yon unfortunately, not fast enough. Origin is old geomancy, related to that one [pointing].

           

He is now going to be more difficult to interview; the operation will have to be completed in a single weekend. Right now we shall stand for the final hymn for all the saints. Darling, I said, tomorrow would you like to venture outside and gawp at things on fire? Remember that invisible outsider experiment? . . . Send for a medium, war-drained journeymen and suchlike. Origin is sham altercation of leery.

           

Two women, three men. Its not so safe they say, the lie of this land. You are, you are English.

            Slab on metal chamfer, part of a criminal assault course. Some people are addicted to potatoes and as a result find it rather difficult to have sex; it was as if she had been left suspended for years in one segment of a film tank.

            He tells me the vertigo prevents him approaching the glass prow of his ship. An old locomotive shunts off, track swept to skyline, before recoil backward to burst the limits of our perception. The first song heard is always the most memorable, the irreversible.

           

We pass annexed villages and dug trenches, armies on either side occupying terrain from the east to the old frontier. Within this territory a census is dealt. Its a pity he couldnt stay here for the rest of our days; chance is very hard to locate. Chance would be a fine thing, the eruption of lava and pyroclastics. The prow of the ship is carved in the form of Cromwell treading down six nations.

            A dazzling circle of white light on a zinc tabletop, detail of the spinal nerve chute.

            ‘Have you beast, neighbour?

           

One glorious day everyones ancestors died off, pealing away from the long-term. Something overheard had crawled among them and was exerting itself.  

            A rapidly unravelling sky thats how it works around here, a small migratory, fled from the base of night.

            I depend on the throw of a die, his Dada filament, bundled together in a frayed battery. His meticulously detailed drawings of the injured are crammed into a leather portfolio. He walks on, until he too is felled by a mighty blow. 

*

A one-way song, his self-styled enemy, pursuant to sound. My hands too have just fallen out.

            Picture a man on a ship who looks after everybodys money.

            Picture a savage mutiny.

            Obvious, the piratic hawk.
The two lovers are allocated a space to court. I dont want to do body, would rather set out alone, abroad with all the letters, the alphabets.

 

A heavy rolling-in-a-sack sort of day. London and back; that’s the thing about water. A lost page of the score is set to work filling in the gaps between matter. The outcome is a list of lists.

            We have been thus granted: huckaback, frieze, ninon, mull, cambric, fustian, sailcloth. . . . Origin is frieze — medieval frisk — a variant of fridge from opus, work.                                  Cancellations arrive, gearing themselves up to out-chance the opposition: to place, simple, within a dark urn.

            Now they’re diverting an entire mausoleum. Maybe a fitting translation would be something like ‘to try and sell a priceless missive, with unseemly bulges’. Would you break a promise for love, in defiance of the gods and the supernatural order? Separation of particles denoting quantum states do not change sign on inversion through the origin; the father was overthrown and castrated by his son. A distant planet of the solar system, seventh in order from the sun, is due to be discovered. (We got on like a hearse on fire.) Are you still determined to steal other people’s plots? The newly discovered planet has an equatorial diameter and is one of the gas giants. It is bluish-green in colour. Having an upper atmosphere consisting entirely of hydrogen and helium, it is named after me. There are at least seventeen satellites and a faint ring system. There is a unit of acceleration equal to that produced by the earth’s gravitational field, and so on.

            You are sitting opposite. But the old territory should still be here when you return, helmsman.

            Ive flown over, back and forth nonstop for five days now. It was like night fishing off Antibes.

            There the message cuts out. My projected library features plates on spinning sticks. Do you remember. With their pockmarked flesh, these medium people should be fun. I sit myself down somewhere and write it all up; it comes to life, reconciled at last.

 

Theres a decayed tree stump in the back garden near the buried cheese. Or, I feel such a deep sadness today’.

            His symphony is believed to be the biggest piece of music ever written for baroque forces, and acommon starting point for ritual itself. Everything touched has the potential to infect; the heart is broken by exile.

            Nervously, Is this a place?

            ‘A hierarchy of saints.

            ‘Yes. But how did you find us.

            ‘Cunning details like the huge soot boiler and white alloy wheels.

           

Suddenly she leaves, followed by a piercing shriek the passage of air from throat to lung, the trachea: suicide protocols, unleavened breath.
Hes listening hard and pretty much behaving like her now, mimicking the different positions and inversions of each chord. Late in life he made drawings of gothic architecture; he said no words could touch his art.

            I think shes having one of her episodes. Reading postures are soon to be forgotten; the book struggles to sustain a mystery. This character of mine is opposed to the natural credo, what with his puma face, his tusk, a serrated horn, his crisp body an envelope of flesh. The mask I was wearing at the ball turned out to be the front of a human skull clad in black velvet. Sharp bristles delineate my spine. This is like gambling.

            He casts off his antlers to the gentle snowfall. Quietly, the other gives witness.

            a) And you too will enjoy no trust — roll the human form beneath thickening cloud, where dreadful lightnings burst et cetera.

            b) Cisatlantic, on this side of the Atlantic.

            c) Cislunar, on this side of the moon, i.e. between the moon and the earth.

            d) Cismontane, on this side of the mountain, opposite to ultramontane.

            e) Cispadane, on this (the Roman) side of the river.

            f) Cispontine, on this side of the bridge, i.e. south of the Thames.

           

It’s like this weird balance. I’m sorry, we just can’t consume any more colour. We’re more advanced visually than sardonically, are we not? I get so lost in the algebra, the terrifying possibility of control. The assassin shot all the hoods in the street with a submachine gun that blasted an orange flare from under the dark awning in the rain; this is the only way the observer may affirm the hitman’s position.

            This situation cries out for quarantine. He bears a sign to avoid congress with the zoologicals. A bone of one of the runes lay abandoned on the tabletop, along with the claw of a bird and the yellow eye of a crane. The pommel and guard are embellished with stars. His lamenting is way off target — a tragedy, a spent keening.


Tingling at soles of feet. In the first place lies a hook, then the shaft and rim of a whorl, the chequer pattern of canals — circling stades reach to the outer ring, where a vast shadow stirs. A period of time is represented by your own glacial deposit.

            A stone resembling a mushroom in shape is supporting the wreckage, thereby protecting it from vermin and water seepage; we may be found. The illustration shows a stone minus its top at the house, your head. The name itself, and evidence from surviving vernacular speech, suggest that at first the supports were made of glass. Stones are longer lasting. Stones are a more reliable means of supporting speech that was once fretwork, and sometimes measured a considerable weight. The name has become integrated into the landscape, with bridges, houses, farms and other large objects slowly incorporated.

            A primaeval base spawned the verb stand-off. It leaches something which only now carries a name, but was then somewhat more, somewhat nothing less.

The temperature drops and the ice advances. Notwithstanding, fall away the dead, amid general laughter. Maybe it all converges at this point, where we go back to look at the very beginning; it’s difficult to make a move without borrowing. I’ve archived my own private meteor, ‘the muddle of the flesh’ — all of which is confirmed by the shadow cast by one coffee pot. 

He says you cant buy film in Alaska for love nor money. The polaroids were meticulously blown up. Ill settle for a glass-coloured alloy of orichalc brass of mountain copper all sense by disassociation, a goldenly and domesticated variety of id: the great sea, drum banging at our heads.

            Theres enough material left over to make a revolutionary cockade, an improvised tricolour arranged on the deadbox. (I said the polaroids have been meticulously blown up.) The only way forward is to sample try it: he forestalls, repeats himself in the Great Open Unseen, hidden as he is behind the armys flank.

            Ever since I met you, youve been constantly in my mind, like the spent waves of a forgotten summer riot.  

Richard Makin

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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