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“When you have walked through all this indifference, we may finally touch” – Richard Makin, WORK (Chapter XXVI)

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.

XXVI

 We recognize them as they enter the room, many have descended. I discovered today that the land registry archives only simulacra, not the land itself (bonfire of misdeeds). It smelt like Venice she said but without the buildings.

            The risks and complications fall into three categories. I begin slow it takes three months of toil to recuperate. Any survivors must lie face down upon the ground. Once more a disembodied voice gave information about hostilities, this time mentioning the only survivor of a group of ten. I need these quiet mornings to gather up my strays, my haphazards and digressions.

            The wooden shutters are eased open, at some point in time they have been painted white. A grey haze enters the room in which I write and sleep. She says the air was balmy as she ran sleeveless in the wake of a strange military craft, then replenishes her glass cup before drifting to the adjacent thoroughfare, where she continues the tracing of cellophane sweets, backdrop to a china doll in silhouette. A hard colourless light flickers, a triangle across the ceiling, before steadying itself. Origin is late ganglia, tumour on or near the sinew.

*

He rinses the bone. A message has been scored into its surface, isolated syllables arranged in order; I am sidestepping catastrophe. Tradition rumours that this is the bone from which the body was resurrected. I returned home to find the excavated head had turned a shade of Prussian blue, in contrast to its natural orange complexion, and had collapsed in on itself. A musty scent of decay now lingers in my study, the cage door has been left open and swings on its hinges in a gale.

            Any thought of a ritual casting of the head into the sea, thereby acknowledging its status as cherished gift, must be abandoned. I had the thing bagged and flung down the chute.

           

Our well-oiled machine is running smoothly today; the overseer says each pair must be numbered. He is identified throughout the world by a name. Every time I try to invade, you resist: a change of wind direction would leave you neaped.           

           

I cant win. The less were handled the better in dangerous sections of the cliff, a safety harness is essential. They say when you have walked through all this indifference, we may finally touch.

            The voltmeter twitches as he recites an early tone poem; the selfsame verse is belting out in my mind. That encounter did a curious thing to you. It occurs. It occurs to me.

            Among the embers, a rib with clung tissue. The snow index is eighteen deep; I have been moving about the surface too much to make any coherent social observations. Loose and unstable rock, slippery shale and high winds can make work on the cliff perilous. The next task was to assign the artefact to one of the civilisations conjured by scholarship.

            I am divided by a vertical line. Notwithstanding, here comes a combining form harbouring eight: octahedron, octosyllabic and so on. Then he says you are concealing your results, carrying out excavations without consent.           

 

I found an animal form in art, succulent on the bathroom cill. In her room my mother hands me a potted plant bearing a delicate white flower, through the window beyond, a rolling green landscape. Fragments of white gravel embed themselves in the sole of my boot and the matting that covers the floor of every cell. Cosmology shows a disk-like earth with a surrounding range of mountains resting on the back of a giant bull, which in turn stands on a vast fish, held high.

*

Demons caper down the alleyways wielding pitchforks, toppling within papier-mâché heads. Im ecstatic, well prepared for assault by fireball and indeed, the work of fire spreads soundlessly across the dark. Moreover, as we have so often remarked, it is necessary only to express these intuitions in a vague and imprecise form. Vehicles had been put to the axe during the night and we trod barefoot across beads of glass.

 

Id like a room the man says in a voice. The family implodes, not so much dysfunctional as dystopian, bleeding across its bounds, all spick and span. He says there is no outside, we share no kith or kinship, no guilt. He says there is no interior.

            This and other minor signs of forgetfulness plagued his final years. A tungsten plate is screwed into his skull while he sleeps.

The Twelve.

What has not been said about the world of causes. I dont know how the sentence I have a body is to be trusted. There may be other transitional signs.

            He lights up, the sky pink and blue. I murmur as he leans paralysed beside me. The child knows more than I realize, more than I can acknowledge, as he whispers into my ear.

            ‘What are you going to do when this reaches its end, trace the history of your malevolence, her volatility?

            Have you fled inside the bunker on this fine day of late summer I replied.

*

Substance provides the surface on which something is to be inscribed (e.g. silicon wafer, optical disc substratum). Just keep off the barricades plead my probationists: we dont want you in jail, we dont want you mediated beyond redemption.

            October 1: despite clues aplenty and an armoured escort, our executive slaughterman is kidnapped and drowned in a vat of eau de Cologne. I manage to find the right train and alight at the correct station (Munich). All the males have pits or swellings in the neck they share. Clay packs the room to the ceiling.

 

In the poem, the angels of death appeared as spectral visitants. Now we bring you the work of the great pioneers, radicals and visionaries whose idea shook civilization and helped make us who we are. I am inspired by the myth of a man condemned to ceaselessly push a rock up a mountain and watch it roll back again. Have you ever tried to arrest breathing, outwit repetition of the act? Three a.m. is the time when people are most likely to die this explains the insomnia: I want to be around when it happens. Thats how the tendency got its name.

The fire.

Pancreatic juice, the rain with scent of earth, while acrid blacks pour from a vent at the rear of the building. Leaving-takings all round. . . . My accomplices, islanders to a man, sit their ground before unflinching ranks of stout, heads twisted round toward the circumference of the pit.

 

This could be more playful still, say, an image of a huge pendulum, such as we see lumbering within antique clocks. Our ends are lashed together and we are hauled by boatmen along the riverbank. Its like a painting. And suddenly she says, these two must be numbered.

Dream of a head.       

A magnet rests on his brain. This area is a self clearing area. The one day is the day on which light appeared over the darkness.

            If I knew the outcome, I dont suppose I would tell of it but this way of speaking is misleading. I can smell burning. Who or what is used to denote the complex nerve centres. [A discrete quantity of energy is proportional in magnitude to the frequency of radiation it represents.]

            (i)        An archaic, a metallic substance obtained by smelting or radiation, alloy of fuck.

            (ii)       The brightest star in the constellation Leo.

            (iii)      Theres no point in asking, youll get no reply.

            (iv)      A triple system of which the primary is a hot dwarf star.

            (v)       This condition has been named quietude, yet is upside down.

The guttering candle was the first to extinguish. A catafalque traces a low arc across the sky; genesis is mid-century. Compare with scaffold.

He struggles to anticipate when more daylight will come. His gland discharges into atolls of tissue, thick coagulated blood, the mingling and contraction of two howls into one long scream. As they wait, she lay upon the bare floor to hold vigil beside him through the night. The canals of the ear are infected and debris gathers at the foot of the block: redundant wardrobes, a charred sofa, the peel of unchronicled fruit, carved pumpkin with rictus grin and dust of blue lichen. . . . Surgical removal is tabled to take place beneath the valance of the great bed. I cannot feed blood to the extremities focus on an object, anchor.

            Origin is found at the core, in the sense to lower ones eyes as a sign of submission. What remains of the insurrectionists is due to be hanged at sun-up. I cant do this any more: the embryos migrated around my numbed body.

            Then she says, quite nonchalantly, that one could still see the bullet holes in the wooden panelling. They had kept all these forensic trophies, where the assassins aim was not true, or maybe the bullets had gone straight through her lover and into the wall.

            Another says I dreamt bloodshod tunnels of exorcism, the final takeover: theyve been here for millennia, they are us et cetera. I try to explain to the others, but theres no point. Yet another says I dreamt a revolution; we were painting a wall. A soldier shot at me wounded, I fell through a window to make good my escape. A guard outside pressed a pistol to my temple to deliver the stroke of grace.

            He replies that with advancement into old age the sense of time and place dissolves, molecules ebbing into ambient invisibility, until one becomes, in situ.  

*

She straps herself into the cockpit as red and blue tracer streak either side of the cramped turret. Daylight is impossible. The story is the story of an oppressed wife who resorts to murder to follow her heart. Whatever these rituals may once have been it seems fair to suggest, given what we know of Aztec symbolism, that they involve the crescent moon. On removing debris from the perimeter, we came upon a shell gorget, two greenstone beads, an earplug, fragments of the bones of a tapir, and a pottery incense burner. Historically, a piece of armour covered the throat. I felt like a monkish version of the aesthete in your book, headlong into abyss and so on. I have always been on or near the surface of the earth.

            It is 1931. His theorem dictates that in logic / mathematics there must be formulas that are neither provable nor disprovable.

            See, gorcrow equals carrion.

As she tells it: in eight hours, with a little consultation, he had read the whole damn codex. And why carve such an exquisite masterpiece, then vandalize the corners? I share the belief that the excavated bone does not decay.

            In eight hours the child got to the place it had taken our team five years to reach. Or are there moments built of a quite different nature, of unknown substance?

           

The falconer enters with a black gauntlet on his left hand; the hawk has fled but will return. He opens the wicker casket beside the stove and grabs a clutch of paperback kindling: Mills & Boon, popular science, an annotated book of hours. Hamlet is the chosen fireflaught. Then came the horrible part. Light is produced in flashes and typically functions as a signal between the sexes.

 

Dead to influence, with anatomy of glass, he is strapped to a metal cot in a strait jacket with a rag pushed down his throat. Such a pause between two states, during which the transformation from the old to a new being is effected, is termed liminal. I am divided into three phases, each of which is called. I am absent in the flesh.

            i) This infamous corsair is notorious for plundering vessels in the estuary. In the next scene, the man behind the plot is revealed: leaning conspiratorially across the table, he whispers that very soon the whole continent will become a swamp, for it once formed the bed of the sea and yearns to return to its former state.

            ii) The divine kings of the north and south are with me, the god K is with me, and those who bind up their heads are with me. Embedded in the pancreas are the islets of Langerhans, which secrete insulin into the bloodstream.

            iii) The flame is in the land of the multitude. The idea of the replicant child creates an  interesting tension.            

*

The next step is to numb the sensitivity of the tissues to be operated on. The glans was bruised and there were superficial abrasions on the foreskin caused by the rim of her diaphragm. A small trading vessel was formerly used.

            There is something in the appearance of the craft which causes me to regret our proximity; its position is immediately above our heads. Paratroopers disembark to muster. Once set in motion, our sweep is slow and stately, a bit like Handel. I watched for some minutes before turning my eyes toward the other objects in the cell.

           

This severed finger of yours requires a note from the librarian (it is destined to rot like the head). Mother gestured with her hand toward the plants and succulents beside her cot. One very striking peculiarity to be found in this study of human nature through the medium of the hand is shown in the case of people with the supple or broke-back thumb.

 

He has dreamt two sinister men playing erotic games of chance with an unknown woman; I have already emphasized, in a long-ago seminar, the close connection between essential repairs and witchcraft. Overnight, the sixth century witnessed the rationalizing of the human mind.

            Independently or not, this was also happening in the places rumoured. With the last citation, we have come full circle.

© 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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