Wales to Egypt

March 26, 2008

As with Aberystwith,
we find it quite insistent
in our spaces of
remembering:

The small stone house
with it’s hard to light engine,
cold pine floor,
but warm kitchen –

is the same –

as the carpet covered lift,
seventh floor balcony, huge room
with the white sheets, tea
we got from room service.

We have vivid memories –

of cycling down hill,
rain hammering –
plastic rivers over overalls
collecting in the collars of our hoods.

We have vivid memories –

of Hatshepsuit – the female ruler with the
stone beard. The wedding cake of
wide stairs, Egyptian children
running down them with their –

arms spread full tilt.

At 5 in the morning,
listening to the – sigh of traffic –
waiting for the – sky to lighten
meaning work –

I can’t not think –

of the wind trapped hill, walk along the Nile,
man who asked for money
’cause he knew us from the
hotel.

I can’t not think

of the place we bought the calibir
the freezing cold November pier
the crammed souks,
and the dark mud –

the coat I lost –

somewhere vague
between the valley
and the deep,
of the burnt desert.

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Here is Jo Swift’s take on that freestyling exercise…

Remember Cardiff? I remember Cardiff
with its open fields of cows, cows
that were spread across their
open fields of grassy pasture
like the ordered buttons on a
tweed suit. I remember Cardiff.
Remember how you caught your death
that day in Cardiff? That day when
all of the order in world
spiraled out like so much
mottled cow disease,
yes, like so much
mad death cow disease.
You caught your death
standing in that open field of
endless rain in Cardiff.
There in front of all the cows.
I remember Cardiff. Cardiff
was very near
the death of you.

Jump

December 1, 2006

Jump  1

Here’s what I’m going to do:
I’m going to go down to the seafront
into the shop with the fishtail and
ask to try it on again.

I’ve been living in this
cramped up room above the chippie;
smell of fat and vinegar
drifting up the stairs every night,

but in the day-there’s this fishtail;
hanging in its window like a bats wing;
like it should be in The V&A,
The National Museum. Not here.

This fishtail, is made of PVC- not shiny
bin bag plastic PVC- matt black,
almost leather, with a subtle sheen
PVC – like a pike’s satin skin.

This fishtail, cleaves to the hips and
kicks at the calf; is engineered for
flying, reeks of salt and is strong enough
to break a mans arm-

it is tilting at me
like a black eyed shark, only playing
dead. This fishtail, is in this window,
but is not made for hanging up.

The lady in the shop,
here’s what she’s going to do:
she’s going to give me the fishtail.
She’s going to reach up

with her claw on a pole
and unhook the hanger. She’s going to
wrap it up in strong brown paper
and press it gently in my arms:

she’s going to give me the fishtail
and then she’s going to watch us
walk right out, down past the chippie,
past the arcade and the man selling

socks and ciggies on the promenade,
down to the edge of the pier, down to the
hard white bones of its barrier,
down to where the slate cliffs fold like

origami card and there –
she’s going to watch us
stand on the edge of the precipice
and unfurl our missing part.

Not like Eve, made in front of Adam
discarded for her arts, more like
Lilith: discarding the garden of heaven
searching for her own-we’re going to

cast our eyes across the ocean.
Fold our skin around what’s broken.
meld our two sleek legs
into one – and our fishtail

is going to lift itself up
gleaming black in bands of dying sun
and we’re going to
breathe and sway and tilt

and bunch our
snake skin muscles
and reach our pearly arms
and then, at last-

as the green tide gasps
here’s what
we’re going
to do…

Jump 2

Here’s what I’m going to do:
I’m going to go down to the seafront
into the shop with the fishtail and
ask to try it on again.

I’ve been living in this
cramped up room above the chippie;
smell of fat and vinegar
drifting up the stairs every night,

but in the day-there’s this fishtail;
hanging in its window like a bats wing;
like it should be in The V&A,
The National Museum. Not here.

This fishtail, is made of PVC- not shiny
bin bag plastic PVC- matt black,
almost leather, with a subtle sheen
PVC – like a pike’s satin skin.

This fishtail, cleaves to the hips and
kicks at the calf. It’s engineered for
flying, reeks of salt, and is
strong enough to break a mans arm;

it is tilting at me
like a black eyed shark, only playing
dead. This fishtail, is in this window,
but is not made for hanging up.

The lady in the shop,
here’s what she’s going to do:
she’s going to give me the fishtail.
She’s going to reach up

with her claw on a pole
and unhook the hanger. She’s going to
wrap it up in strong brown paper
and press it gently in my arms:

she’s going to give me the fishtail
and then she’s going to watch us
walk right out, down past the chippie,
past the arcade and the man selling

socks and ciggies on the promenade,
down to the edge of the pier, down to the
hard white bones of its barrier,
down to where the slate cliffs fold like

origami card and there –
we’re going to stand on the edge of the
precipice and unfurl our missing part;
knit our legs together; meld the cells

of snake skin into ours. Lick the slick
black blubber of our wet suit, smooth it
with our palms. Steady ourselves.
Flick our tail. Breathe. Gasp. And then-

at last,
here’s what
we’re going to do…

Six Days in Wales

November 28, 2006

First day: scarfed up in
oily darkness, nothing seen,
steepness felt through legs.

Second day: pouring.
Going down with breaks pulled hard.
Old lady in hood.

Third: sunlight so bright
we want to eat it, matchstick
men, just silhouettes.

Fourth: mauve anorak,
with white hair beneath a scarf
carrying a bag.

Fifth: get better at
changing gears going up, but
easier to walk.

Sixth: said boh-ray dah
to a small boy, who then tugged
on someone’s arm, a

girl who said hello.
Seventh:
no hill.

Mfanwy:

November 28, 2006

name of the girl in the
cloth of gold shop
where I tried on the
PVC fish tail. Heavy,

in tie dyed black
and woolen hair;
layered in velvet
and climbing up a

narrow wooden ladder-
“They get you doing
all sorts in here”
she says.

She goes for donuts,
stuffed with jam and
dipped in sugar
and mixes up

2 hot chocolates
for her and her friend-
“You’re an early heart attack
waiting to happen,

Mfanwy” she says
while Mfawny tutts,
in Welsh and passes me
the cloth of gold skirt.

Window Display

November 27, 2006

walker-evans-window-display.jpg

The objects are hanging from white string
illuminated by a flash bulb
like x-rayed anatomy:
flat white bones of oven plates,
the pale ghosts
of rolling pins.

The objects are hanging from white string
dangling above a city of
cups and saucers and
miniture things like houses:
the reflective face of an iron,
a sharp bowl of new tin.

The objects are hanging from white string
strung like a Cocteau assemblage.
They are the last objects left
at the end of the world.
They will be there forever.
We will all forget.

Ref: Walker Evans. Window Display. Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

Son of a Miner

November 27, 2006

walker-evans-minor-son.jpg

Small boy. Small dark pin pricks of
shadow for eyes; staring at me.
He’s sitting in a chair, one hand
star-fished on the seat, legs and body
sidled over to the chairs far side.
His skin is paler than the light
shining off the mirror near to him.
Dirty feet; toes lightly touching
wooden planks, one foot nudged
behind the other: small boy of a
ballet dancer. Son of a miner.
He’s looking at you.

Ref: A Miner’s Home, Vicinity
Morgantown, West Virginia,
July 1935

walker-evans1.jpg

The small baby is lying on a piece of
white linen: A square with a crease
down the middle, lightly crumpled,
but clean and set against a sky of
darkly slanting floorboards.
The child is covered over by another
square piece of white linen –
completely covering its head and face.
The shape of its body is lightly outlined
and poking from the bottom there are
two legs (one bent at the knee) and a
closed fist. One foot is dirty but its toes
are like tiny balls of snow. The other is
decorated with a bandage. It is a hot day.


Ref: ‘Squeeky Burroughs Asleep
Hale Country, Alabama, Summer 1936, Walker Evans.’

Nose bleed

November 25, 2006

blood comes quickly,
hitting the porcelain white of the
wash basin with brilliant splashes of
scarlet. Not my basin, I struggle to
staunch it with cottony wads of paper:
lilies turned poppies in
alchemistic hands

It suprises me
at first, but then the shock
changes colour into oddly pleasant
satisfaction, for a body still capable of
grand gestures, for the startling language,
of protest, the crimson letters of
twisted self.

Panic comes later,
when running like water
blood is still pouring onto borrowed tiles,
falling into long lines of shapeless ribbon,
dissolving into water, bleeding out, I can taste it
in my throat. It tastes like metal.
Smells of salt.