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” You are no longer on the list. I have loved to death in the past. Is there something I am supposed to be doing.” – Richard Makin, WORK (Chapter XXII)

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.

XXII

He tells the number of the stars; he calls them all by their names. 

A hill where grain is exposed to the wind, your place in a rebellion. Better to stagger this (I have blind spots with music). I became his pupil in the same year. 

            Valhalla, about 1973 — the giants are clearly visible. I cleave to the surrounding air. Since he left, I’ve been in continual practise — here, about the heart. What do you remember of that time.

            Origin denotes a regulation, from old nerve, to cover plus inflame. A bell is rung at a fixed hour each evening. There is a word for archaic white-hot iron. 

            A vortex of litter ascending the schoolyard niche. Corroding brick. Objects fled from the harrowing edge — in need of nothing, if not you.

            I am trying to get the pictures to move, to appear in sequence. (Relax, it isn’t us.) By flinching, we disappear underground during each long exposure. Historically, usage is often contrasted with the side nearer to Rome, i.e. (of time) closer to the present.

            Each of two or more alternative forms of a gene have arisen by mutation and are found at the same place. We used the muscle of longshoremen and a mechanical device unhinged since the middle ages. Here comes the fourth note of the diatonic scale of C major.

*

I always admired his capacity for analysing problems, his superior discipline. I accept that the tracker’s psychological state is always worth considering.

            But as an aftermath of this intervention, we are still fighting amongst ourselves. I’m at the high watermark. (I need to stand up for this bit.) It looks as though there’s another layer of glass.

            I undertook various trials before arriving at a texture that matched my anticipation. (Only he can see us.) A set of unrelated items was stowed together in a trunk and sold as a unit. Why walk around and sometimes perform other actions while you are asleep? I want my tale to be popular and showy, but without being superficial.

Draco, which means dragon in language.

The plot revolves around mediaeval money laundering, similar in this respect to the mythological giant. Origin is literally running in opposite directions.

            I’ve been looking in all the wrong places. Probe deeper still: cage-fight mystics, a decommissioned horsebox, a piece of smooth marble with a perfectly circular hole at its centre. . . . You’re sure to lose this wager (finger). In the spells and magic songs each term is used in association with a hill or your mountain. The exhuming and burning of heretic bodies at the order of the inquisition is back in vogue.

*

All concessions are forthwith rescinded. I can’t enjoy today’s conflagration (my skin is hammer-proof, not flame-proof). Both examples are sublime operatic arias. Opposition in political circles led to his departure and asylum at the castle of D, overlooking the Adriatic.

            Here end my quotations from this unaccountable, if not impertinent, epistle. Origin is mud from the name of a sect alleged to hold the same view. Maybe we could stage a head-to-head at which we scream aloud our respective untranslations, while people sit around sipping absinthe and shooting one another. Sodium chloride is said to be a mineral, typically occurring as colourless cubic crystals.

            Hereabouts we feel compelled to include one or two dogs. In his archives and literature he manifests the racial brain. I am harbouring tongue, a second-rate form of communication.

            We’re going to have to bend the rules a little, stage an audible post-mortem — e.g. she says the word chair when she means the object itself. One portrait depicts her from the hypothalamus upward, but music is the most deeply confusing of all forms.

            The writer then goes on to discuss hundreds of cases of phenomena such as phantasms of the dead, automatism, trance states, possession, and disintegration of personality (not forgetting mesmerism).

            For example, 

            The long sobs of

            the violins

            of autumn et cetera

              antibody by-products, incidentals.

            Other names include an inhibitor of nuclear factors (in the sense to spatter with liquid, e.g. ‘he aspersed the place and its inhabitants’). An enzyme catalyses the transfer of a phosphate group to a specified molecule.

            We two decided on a duel with mask and pistol, then on to the open sea, an abandoned coast and islands, an archipelago. . . . Yes, the portrait depicts her from the pineal gland upwards. The places we are truly drawn to are never visible. 

            This does not bode well the other says: we are colliding with the gangliform enlargement on the subject’s facial nerve. For example, the whole of the beginning.

            ‘This looks like a hair, but we can only see in a certain light.’

            You can. You cannot. You may. You may not. You must not. You should not. You should not be. You were. You were not. You will. You will not. As if. As if it were. By which. By which it was. If it does. If it is. If it is not (in which it has appeared). Of which it has been. Of which it must be. At any rate. At all events. At all times. At some time. At the same time. For some time. From time to time.

            ‘What was yesterday all about.’

            A secular view of the surrounding landscape is always possible. He got his hazards in on time: always strive to undermine your own accomplishments.

*

If you fail, you break us. If I’m to answer to you, I cannot face this night sea crossing alone. The stadium, located a couple of hundred metres from where he was executed, has been renamed. Origin is antechamber of slain.

            Now what she said. 

            I felt euphoric. This is what’s called a dislocation. Who else can you suggest: men-at-arms, the ash raiment —fields choked with harness in the territory, gore about the forest floor where they met in combat. Others appear with totems — insinuate, conjure hints. A point of agreement is reached between the clans and the plants and the inanimate objects (succulents, fungi and all the mineral things). Colouring materials, such as soot, were readily available; bone awls are commonplace. About mid-century this gave me the opportunity to start writing for chromatic vowel forms.

            I am no longer comment. Origin is mouth. I emerged from a confined space into a wide open area. Compare with discharge.     

            We’ve done the Europeans, now it’s smelting time. (When you recognize your third chemical plate, scream loudly.) I cannot concentrate on this loss alone — unless I reveal myself, why should anyone ever want to come back? One of the amphibians has bright markings and was once thought able to endure fire. One key is based on a scale with F as its keynote. Origin is an interval.

*

Blind spot, or maybe a stray, straight into the casket on the opposing flank. There’s a way of tracing back to another level using starlight carbon. The track followed here is Event W. Origin is formica.

            These three days since we descended through the pass have been a bleak struggle for no gain. At a hidden signal, floodlights around the lip of the crater were switched on. Take care, those sirens can trigger — and sure enough, a singularity has been reported. Origin is late, alone of its kind.

            ‘How then does this do that?’

            Open another canister on the hour, every hour. He has four models scheduled for the matinee; only one turns up. It’s getting late.

            I can understand water, I can understand surface tension, but it seems our antagonist is busy composing an ambiguous plot. Compared to these meditations, humanity has no equal.

            Savage in the air, under shadow of the Darwin end. His recollection was of a primitive daemonic figure who was originally autonomous, and even capable of malign possession. 

She writes with air, passing her palm between the fluid and the grain of the wood. (See, each of the girls has been given a different task.) This situation is hard to analyse, where everyone seems to cancel each other out. Origin closes the eyes, or the lips.

            Ooze-head is most murderous; a new law has been cast. And then, I suppose, crawl all the way back to the centre of town. Unsettled scores are telegraphed in — try your best to miss the target.

He chose to venture through the circular stone twice: headmost, then once again feet first. It is a wheel-shaped slab set on edge and pierced by a round hole fifty-one centimetres in diameter; in a fraction of a second, all its energy had been transformed into heat. The carved and painted rood screen was ripped out and destroyed during drinking-up time. It deadened the voice. A rectangular pit one-point-eight metres long has been cut just north of a line. This apparently contains nothing.

            Note how he is transforming the workaday world into another fucking parable. K found his spool where he had left it (as predicted). Origin denotes the swallowing of water, reverse baptism.

            Before the door stands a law-keep et cetera. I am collapse. The breakage of one phosphate link provides energy for psychical processes, such as the cremaster.

*

            One. The control genes. 

            Two. Chief messengers (to whom I dedicate the grimace of the neutral).

            Three. Horsehead nebula.

            Locate by exorcism, locate by process of elimination — the perfect ambiguity. He is thickset and suicidal (the roiling sea and so on). I’m subjected myself these days, a wit marked by ear decay: caries and rickets, the model strike partnership. 

As the days of summer pass, he tires of consulting his timetables, the freight charges and ports of the Atlantic mailboats; there’s a disturbing absence in this locality. Come Monday, the islanders are due to start their long march, we’ll be glad to see the back of them. In return, however, during the inter-war period we discovered two new sorts of profitable economic activity. On the other hand, certain groups were in special need of private defences — peasants on the large inland, sulphur miners and their kin.

            A gash across the throat right now is out of the question, out of all season. Some say the feudal circuit has become predictable (i.e. think of something else). Outside on the gravel, I can hear someone grinding a sabre on a spinning wheel of feldspar.

            The first scene of the prologue is a weird confluence of fate. An orchestral interlude depicts the transition from unearthly gloom to break of day. More often than not, the part that gets left out is the credo, the mission statement.

It’s possible, but not at the moment. She has come down to earth to collect, escort him home. They are late.

            You are no longer on the list. I have loved to death in the past. Is there something I am supposed to be doing.

Another bungled tracheo: recollect, visit to cancer ward, face bandaged on a raw day just as this, like any other. He stands to wave reluctant as I pad up the hill and turn the only time. I have kept the used carbon in the hope of making something of it, a classic study of a fading life.

*

You were supposed to fashion more time, a painstaking process of facial reconstruction. Another breaks the surface. Two more days in the sun and we’re finished. 

            Same orifice, bearing the ‘anteriority of a trace’, i.e. toward the bract or away from the axis. The beast has untold skin, a mouth to no next. And look here: a strange moth that has disguised itself as a thorn to nonplus the predatory bird.

            God was back in the room, spherical and primed to erupt. This meant we could stay for a further three weeks. The corporation paid. A vast fjord-system begins half way up the eastern seaboard — we landed at a remote beach on the iron-bound shore of an immensely mysterious island. There is an elemental spirit living in fire. 

I decided upon reaching the crest, a summit burst above ground, the gravel counterscarp. Our adversaries are continually finding novel ways of keeping themselves distracted from the world. We found ourselves further north than the crew had believed.

            It’s the outcome of this clash with which the opera is chiefly concerned. Some of these magnetic lunar anomalies intersect. We have at our disposal no rule or general solution.

            The astronomer T built an observatory equipped with precision instruments. These sometimes appear as a short loss of consciousness (‘absence’), without leading to convulsions. Despite demonstrating that comets follow sun-centred paths, he adhered to a geocentric view of the planets, mostly Denmark. (Vitus Bering is a different man.) Then the couple embraced on the taproom floor and were only momentarily disconcerted when the screams of a rival could be heard beneath the window. One must take advantage of everything that offers any hope whatsoever.

*

The red square at sunrise. A musketeer on guard lies half asleep on the ground, rifle with fixed bayonet at his side. He is dreaming (a man in flames, savagely dismembered). Note the stimulus and delight of ambiguities, of background murmur — the spectacle is total. The world has yet to come into possession of the consciousness that will allow it to experience its own reality.

            The changing colour of the mysterious lines that have suddenly appeared is determined by events found here on the two-dimensional plane. Artists working in the recesses of caves painted animals on rough protuberances and angles of rock by guttering torchlight. Elsewhere, they had practised.

            Crest of hill obscured by mist.

            Both are oval, with diameters defined by single ramparts, each of which reaches a height. A pile of combustibles for burning a dead body has been gathered. The crown of the head is set opposite to the base, the meeting-point of lines that bind the angle. Books are damaged. You learn to nod at intervals, perpendicular to the plane of the horizon; this makes the transition to marching in line much easier. (I hear seaford’s got issues.) All must be present to a considerable degree if action in this debilitating element is not to fall short of achievement. He is greatly mired by historians and the public purse. 

Scar of tongue. 

We find ourselves at a point where a function takes an infinite value, especially in space–time where matter is infinitely dense. She has deceived G by telling him the ring slipped from her hand into the sea. This is a fragment of a music-hall drama in three acts, with words optional. Fuck, the individual shadow contains within it the seed of a conversion into its opposite!

            I’ll now make use of something so far unmentioned: a power of turning, a great circle passing through zenith and nadir. Her edges are indistinct. I notice that which is missing: the interior fat of a hog before it melts into lard, the fleed crust. The shift from a proper noun to an interpretation indicates the name of a deity.

            Isolate. A growing whorl, inflorescence so condensed, dearth of choice.

*

He is snared, driven back inside the body. Origin is altercation with mythic avenger — to blind, from blind. A linear organic polymer consisting of a large number of amino-acid residues has bonded together in a tidal chain.

            Is she still alive. He reels, trips backward over the lip of the gully. (Do you know what the triggers are.) He glues his muzzle to her lips and draws out all the air. There isn’t time to safely retreat from the compound. 

            Her surviving lung sighs flat like a spent bladder. I do not want to play that familiar role today — she bears a strange celebrity, broadcast near death. 

            Flick the isolation switch, there’s always a chance the generator may spring back to life. We were right in the middle, having formed a tiny cluster: the circumference was vast.

            Usually one does not remember. There was a river. Some people had a lot of messages.

Sleep, with febrile activity of the nervous element, giant hailstones, everything levelled. (No lights because no darks.) The passenger’s urethra had ruptured due to strain while obeying the order to micturate before undertaking a long journey. In the strata of the mechanism, in which one part lies above another, a vertical line or position can always be achieved. He rubs gently thumb and index, upper lip adjacent, hence olfactory. 

            I got stung the other day by one in my very bed. But for sure, the bleached moth at rest beside the concentric rug is deceased. 

*

It’s as though they are made of nothing, decomposing light. She suggests a plaster cast and callipers: ‘Bring copies of yourself.’ . . . The whole business doesn’t amount to much.

            Make a decision — shape into tremor, declare yourself now, on everything. This one’s almost run dry. I can no longer defect. (Where to.) Evidently, this is over my head (rockets in the fridge et cetera).

            A locomotive chugs past, passengers clinging to the roof, at least one garlanded with cordite. I watched insects dancing about the tops of the trees. And what about those cells of reminiscence: fog of exhalation, the shriek in the playground, the terrace lament, corrugated concrete and salmonella dogs. I’m still on my second chance, making scant progress.

            I’ve been cleared with security (steel toecap, triple bypass). That’s about everyone. Now they’ll have to sing for the rest of us — and what is more, a third recumbent stone has been found. A settlement of perhaps two hundred people may have been found down the well, yet another arca project.

You’re allowed to filch ideas from other books. He bores into the head. Origin denotes a bung for the vent of a cask, or a tap for drawing liquid from your container, a neglected falsehood. The current sense suggests our century. He writes across the departmental wall, something about the depravity of an unregenerate nature. He’s a combat rouser, childlike insistent.

            I do a lot of disappearing myself. I am authorized. I have authorized myself to preach without a fixed charge; do please mind the gap opening up between us. The explosion was like a wall of orange inside my head. 

            He will not break. But it is better to dissect than to abstract nature.

            ‘Maybe yes, to trace the nerves,’ she explains. 

            ‘Break. Is it two words?’

            What about the revolutionary cells.

            Sense one alludes to Aeneas on his visit to Hades to appease Cerberus. This picture appears with a blue cast, the rocking sepulchre upon which uneasy I stand. 

© Richard Makin

About Equus Press

EQUUS was established in 2011 with the objective of publishing innovative & translocal writing.

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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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