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“An isolated speech event took place in the middle of the critical word” – Richard Makin, WORK (Chapter XXVII)

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.

Work is forthcoming with Equus Press in 2020.

XXVII

Material to be a used.

             In this process, the principle of cyclotron resonance is used to selectively energize the uranium isotope in a plasma. I have written a letter to the bureau.

            Please allow me to introduce myself Im a convert to the cause: a loose die rattling in the faulty meter of your skull. An old acquaintance will be in touch with you soon my fortune said.

           

On the return journey, she glued together a collage of his interior, ore of mercury and cinnabar moth. Three years ago he had retreated into a remote mountain fastness, and wears now the ankle chain of a harbinger.

*

Keyhole solstice, the absent father as author and signatory of the world. See, now shes back in office, reading fortunes, gazing into your black mirror (my truth is a sinecure et cetera). Her book presents a snag: the inenarrable modality, perhaps. Dont even think about listening to your back catalogue.

            I cant do this. Theres a couple treading water alongside the jetty (the man from London, music of the spheres). That ball of white light has drifted through intergalactic space and now hovers just above the entrance to my oubliette. The tiny mummified infant is tucked under my feet.

            Osiris is in the two lands, who are called. This is one of those situations you can only work out by taking a risk; I suspect the others are hiding in the marquee. I have seen pictures of a marquee.                           

           

Well have to make a few bold assumptions about this circumstance before we can proceed; I can only enter a number when I have no doubt whatsoever. Ground saxifrage is found. (You have that expression, right?) It was like being transported back to the days of corrugated concrete, salmonella dogs.

            We also discovered resident poets the great St Johns ivy-leaved toadflax or great mullein, tall and stiff with yellow-flowering stem of hag-seed: shepherds club, Adams cerecloth plus Aarons rod. Origin is a contraction. Tantalum alloy was used as a rectifier in the chain of command.

            The etymology of the first element remains doubtful due to an early insistence that came too early. We found ourselves in a camera or other optical system.           

*

I have learned a new method of binding the limbs together, thus rendering the subject immobile and helpless. Theres an upright division in between the light of the windows (aspergil of pepper-water, with gold lever or other instrument). The square photograph shows him seated on a low chair on the deck of a ship, bright sunlight confirmed by the stark shadows cast. He is in uniform white: shirt, shorts, plimsoles head bowed in concentration as he presses the keys of a typewriter. What is he writing a letter.   

*

If any Hebrews were left in the town, he would tell them that Jacob was alive and where he could be found. Itll probably end with a sound effect, entire constellations. How could one man know all this.

            In actuality: his misleading radiance. I imagine this will look better when the time comes to hand it over.

           

He stands his ground with some reluctance. Note the haste with which fragments are written down before the thought can slip away, the alternatives and erasures, the disposition of parts I think too some trace of the original, my residua. Three strokes were played out, no more. I valve.

            ‘Which swept through heaven the alien name of woe and the subtle glory broke through my strong and shielding wings.

 

What if she reneges, leaves me wedged between undercliff and marina? One, it is rumoured, died a fit of starburst. Now we could talk about your fear of inertia, we could talk about your fear of motion, we could talk about your fear of time. Another died of the suddens: an unexpected science befalls him, and he is outdone.

 

Through a filter of time she is condemned to stay here far longer than the rest of us. Absence of any clear verbal division between outbursts of hysteria are common: 197 includes a series of short controlled bursts. The first two are corrupt thus the vacuum is compromised. Cardinal (18792082) takes Number 213 to be a reversed back strike; tracheotomy was then a weekend phenomenon. Number 232 is a tripod. East more plausibly takes Numbers 220 and 232 as having unresolved diameters. She says as a child I wanted to make a wooden brain not a toy, one that actually functioned.

            Who may only be visited clutching a magnifying glass? At this, a giant moth with black and red wings burst from its transparent cocoon. An elastic structure behind the iris focussed light onto the retina grey it was, this light, that probing lens.  

Nothing, taken for chance.

 

Think of a part of the body that doesnt decompose. About the middle of the 17th century, I opted to embrace the disruption of continuity; tragedy is a stationary song composed of trophies and ants. A box was used.          

            A longhouse is a large communal dwelling found in parts, from which a large drawer may be slid out from a recess. Within this drawer, packed in glistening black pitch, is a shrunken head, dried and split laterally, the two halves resting side by side; wisps of amber hair cling to the skull. I remain indifferent, indeed nurture the condition. (Not now! Not now!) There is no need whatsoever to dwell upon an image that appears before the inner eye. To this they all agreed.

           

I dont believe this for one moment; hes the biggest letdown. (This is our first job in fourteen years.) I would love to have. A portable sun-dial of cylindrical form was used in the early years; forgetting is my domain. It doesnt matter in which order you arrange his limbs and organs, though most people still use the old system. You know in part from the shapes that can, in part from the shapes that cannot.

            Now, the true stomach of ruminants: I know exactly who you mean. 

*

Reflex spasms of the diaphragm were accompanied by rapid closure of the glottis, producing an audible click, a singularity, through which the first man was created from spittle and clay. Someone hurled a glass. We stood face to face; I had sought out my adversary.

            You have to turn the mechanism upon its crank power is an office and a void. The creatures had gnawed through the rope that secured our vessel to the riverbank. No said Thor.

            My penance was to buy a fridge. I will begin by admitting. A taut flexible membrane in mechanical or acoustic systems does not exist.

*

Architecture of massed nouns, ornamental stonework, typically in the upper part of a gothic shape. All day we wandered about the ancient ports vertiginous alleys and cobbled runnels, seeking a new home in an abandoned 19th-century warehouse. The rose design was augmented by tracery. An example given by Stone brings out the importance of the time factor in the refusal to be embalmed. Another woman asked in her will that her body not be opened. All were required to stand in an open grave while the leper ritual was recited by a priest and spadefuls of quicklime were flung over their heads.

            A crane fly has embedded itself in the wallpaper nailed across the wall above and a little to the left of the head. Eggs hatched out of my wrists at the banquet. A small crustacean of the seashore typically lives among seaweed and leaves when disturbed. The larva of your kind is collectable.

            My opponent wore a battered hide jacket with buttons of glistening Edwardian jet, a red and black seethe of erotic compass et cetera.

            Break this up.

Cranioclasm.

 

He writes with thanks for the endorsement, which was unjustly frivolous, and apologizes for the tardiness of his reply, for he has been busy pacing the lava fields of Etna and her environs. The other record, if it is not simply a mistaken date, may have related to an eruption of any one of the archipelagos twenty active volcanoes. The other signs back; writing is not often produced by God himself. Another said I am with those who weep and with the women who bewail, a further reference to the local ossuary.

            Friday night, and the angel comes to repair the leaking roof. (I reflect that Mister had been a good Mister, in his own perverse way.) On the mathematical plane of the cycloid is a figure like a circle, its curve traced by a point on the circumference rolling along in the rain. A shallow trench is formed by walking back and forth along a straight line. How comforting this is, though somewhat plaintive upon waking in the morning. Time stays long enough for anyone who will use it.

            See, hes a person of temperament, having scales with even borders; I am mindful of the brace of alien creatures who were presented to me yesterday evening, wrapped in greasy chip-paper as I ventured out to dream. Youll know them by the little pits that float before your eyes.

            Have your code ready. She enjoyed old tape machines, organic versus analogue and suchlike.

Of indifferent elements in the substitution of a body.

           

Ive an unnerving sense that everything down here is discontinuous. Objects appear to relate to one another, even interact in some arcane manner, but the realm is interlaced by what one might call vacant rhizomatic interstices. I stapled the organisms limbs to the floor and waited for a second opinion. An unstable compound may be formed with an atom or molecule such that it is no longer available. I may be the start of something promising: an early and incomplete explorer.

            Or, in the zoo, complete with appendage of pincer-like claw. (We are advert-free for another hour or so tonight.) Born became restricted to just one very common use, which remains the case today. A low-growing plant of the poor bearing microscopic white, red and yellow flowers forms ribbons of flesh intersected by ridges of moss. Origin is broken rock.

*

Subjectivity, how to replicate it in order to make oneself compatible with a mutant universe devoid of value. One night I dreamt that I lost my home. The following night I dreamt that I found one (nineteenth-century warehouse, port of B, see above). The following night I dreamt she won a prize for a film but then somehow hadnt and wanted to borrow a book about capitalism and schizophrenia. I appear to have moved. (This is all about timing.) This is all about a lens with one surface planar and the opposite concave. A long take is a shot of lengthy duration.

            The grail was situated near the median plane of the body, the opposite of lateral. An isolated speech event took place in the middle of the critical word.

           

Craniotomy is an operation in which the head is cut open and broken down when it encounters an obstacle. (Would you like the radio in your cell, sir?) A feed plate of solid uranium serves as a source of neural atoms; the miners werent told and all died without protective clothing.

            The male lead stood at the centre of a vast chamber composed of cubes of an unknown metal, within which constellations of light began to pulse, shooting forth bursts of electromagnetic energy. He was standing at the core of his own nervous system, externalized, made manifest in the air about him.

 

We are already in decline. Into his poor suburbs limped a defeated battalion of papier mâché demons. Upon reaching a small watering hole the situation began to look difficult, so we sheltered there and waited for news; those days in the desert were the beginning of a feud that lasted thirty years. A forceps is used in this kind of operation.

            I have one memory of childhood, atop fathers shoulder with the fireworks and a giant ceramic Virgin, blue and haloed, a pirouetting ballerina beside the steaming viaduct, reaching forward into a forgotten future, hidden inside some vague electricity.

            From the sky we can see impoverished outskirts encircling a tiny imperial core, an ancient grid system infested with tourists and their assassins. The wreckers preserve their names in water and plot to survive us. The time is too clock; a slaughterman lurks beneath the eavesdrip. Depending on the day of the week, the coccyx is a small bone found at the base of the spine.

*

Disjecta ossa, the innermost of soldered lead, a skull of decayed thought. There issued forth such effluvia. The play used sound effects of galley oars and blood-curdling yells.

            See, we have the story all stitched up at least a rough sketch, but I cant see much of this outliving the moment. Keep nerve, my dear, never afar except as one, adamantine and entwined.

            I resisted orchestration by sheer willpower. Note the preponderance of romantics between the numbers thirty-nine and forty.

            And far below he sees the road and the bridge and the long lines of men stretching all the way to the front. End of world coming soon our numerologist says, forever following in the wake of a postponement.

© 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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