Knowing nothing is a wonderful thing. In this age of supersized certainty there is a chiming delight when you hear yourself saying I don't know, I'm not sure. Discovery? Exploration? Curiosity? Aren't these the roads to passing pleasure? Rigid opinion the road to isolation?
The momentary & fragmentary is all I have, all I have ever had; substance has always escaped me. This time last year I was struggling to write anything of any length, and convinced, that in a world of bellowing & belligerent opinion, I had nothing to add to the melée. The wind, a righteous tempest, was blowing in the sturdy sails of what you were saying, not billowing the fragile & flimsy silk of how it was said, sung, painted. It was enough to drive me to drink but I was already drinking so I would have to find some other destination.
What I turned to was the art of others & the daily meanderings of a small world & experimenting with red wines in the fridge. Along with the chilled Rioja, I was going to write a poem a day for a year reflecting upon what I had seen, watched, listened to, dreamt, read, cooked, thought, felt or wildly imagined the previous day.
This is a celebration of that year. I made it. Three hundred and sixty five poems later I still know nothing but I have put words together, played in the prism of perception & danced on yesterday's embers. And, as T.S. Eliot would never had said, November is the coolest month. Here are twelve of my fragments, the butt-ends of my days and ways….
Abakan Orange (1968) Magdalena Abakanowicz
The forest is taken to the seaside
our noses are roped to wonder
fraying, tears, threads tumble
& turn from fabrics heft, clothes
of ancient giants wardrobed in grey
walls, wet woodland perfuming
weave & weft, this is monstrous
enchanting refuge we cannot touch
hands impulse restrained, we sidle
up to these wonderful creatures
chasing twined snaking beyond
knowing into dark delight
25th November 2022
Shelter from the Circle Line's storm
Kindness has been bled dry from these bodies
falling heads are bent away, shadowed from distraction
mind-vised to machines, fortune’s wheel theirs, they do not see
ragged exposure weeping before them, two young men
the first, wiry & demanding attention, thrusting goatee
electric limbed, fluent in anger & need, brown hungering
eyes yearn for a seeing, money to shelter him in a hostel
he holds desperate half-defiant pose in their bouldered silence
I lift my eyes to his & offer sympathetic smile, an apology
for having no coins, a wish for good luck, Sweet bruv, he says
taking his fortified body, another layer of angry skin added
to the next chorus of the deaf, heedless travellers who will no witnessing
the second is like a ghost, a soft voice struggling through embarrassment
& distress, a child, his pale skin, long body barely covered in the thin black
jacket & beige trousers pocket patched but empty, he vanishes as quietly
as he came, defeated, treading gently towards death or madness
space emptied, these blunted hearts have no blood to lift eyes to raw
hurt & all of their journeys trundle on, railed habit keeping them safe
unseeing of the stage on which other lives are played out, another swipe
of the screen, a little closer to home, a solid door shielding them from the world
29th March 2023
A Don resurrected at the Barbican
Don Cherry’s little brassy trumpet is lifted
gleamy witness to night’s spirit celebration
rasps, cries & laughter do their calling
a rhythmic thrum propelling them heavenward
his son’s hands press the keys then hang
suspended in space, phantom’s delicate hold
if Don is listening, his distant feet will be dancing
on the loamy joy filling our vacant hearts
21st November 2022
Idiocy's my speciality
I cook it up everyday
thankfully it doesn’t take
much effort, the ingredients
stored & shaped lie waiting
within the little cupboard
I polish in my brain
last week with little effort
& no forethought
I embraced seven
years of bad luck, a sweet
splintering of newly bought
mirror poorly stored & hastily driven
to a home it would fragment
mirror mirror on the wall
in pieces, cracking up
who’s the stupidest of them all
silence is the coolest of answers
& only yesterday I spiked my heart
fearful palpitations pushing gripped
hands into steering
wheel’s faux leather
as I stared at the warning
signal, dreadful illumination
that my dull finger had lit
if you want a lift to idiocy
mine’s the fastest ride going
7th April 2023
The soft skin of the mascarpone gives
as my craving index finger presses
for something, oblique & out of reach
to rescue the heat exploded tomatoes
flesh torn, seeded innards splattering
the red roasted onions
my mouth closes on cream crowned finger
a gentle swell holds tongue’s sway
the Italian saviour is tossed into vegetable heat
martyred to improvised making
watery red is churned to deeper realms
lightening, clotting, exalting the sauce
7th February 2023
Shining the buttons
The Brothers of Italy step from the shadows
blonde wigs cling to sharpened skulls
the silken flow pours from hot throat
to tickle tongue into twisted shape
forming the finery of smooth words
camouflaged sentences trickling into lost ears
looking for hope, welcoming a brute dream
dressed up in a cream jacket with gilded buttons
a white collarless blouse hides her black heart
hands clenched in victory muffle the cries
of those she will crush, flanked by the state
marching her through mosque, synagogue
over the fallen bodies of those that have fled
to the heart of Europe, civilisation’s protection
handmaidens will follow with soap and stiff brushes
plunging her cream coat into barrels' suds
when the blood, dirt, shit cannot be rinsed
they will hand her another jacket, cleansed
the gold buttons gleaming, pure, blinding
26th September 2022
A son darkens
The phone call
when it comes
doesn’t reach me
I have cut
of filial loss
the swelling body
of my mother’s
to rouse her
from unwashed hair
it carries on
to the bar
to liquid work
a body beyond
control & care
seized by a surge
not too gone
in the caressing
of their glass
to her laying
calls her name
by tonic clonic
years of drinking
& no love of life
to clean her
& scan her
the loveless ache
from beneath her
unable to sleep
the girl inside
who was lost
without the love
of her parents
shakes to a
31st May 2023
In search of eggs
Breakfast is being made to revive us
from last night’s gulped celebration
to escape the restless itch hatching
inside of me, I go searching for eggs
a man smiling with a ravaged face, purpling
& pocked sore, follows me in to unloved Spa
& greets the woman in the red smock
plump, shielded by grubby plastic, she
welcomes him to his morning ritual
of ruin, frail hands hungry for the drinks aisle
I scan the depleted space for a dozen eggs
grey metal shelves offer nothing but
themselves, Friday’s meagre delivery, bird-flu
shrunk, has been swooped away, disappointment
unravels into hope, a damp journey to the town’s
two other shops whose lights are dimmed, their
till mouths open & doors held shut, the sweet fatty smell
of the grill meets my return but bacon & sausages will
have no yellowing accompaniment, an unfinished
symphony that calls the itch to crescendo
2nd January 2023
King Street, Hammersmith
He spits from inside his grey stubble towards a woman
at the bus stop, the white stippled fleck doesn’t travel
far, just missing the coarse bristle thrusting from grimy chin
his cursing travels further, she’s a cunt, her mother’s a cunt
& she should go suck her mother’s cunt, jerking spasms hustle
his skeletal frame around the pavement as Christmas shoppers
tighten their hands, swerve & head for home
when it looks like his rash wrath is pulling itself back
him turning along the high street, back into his pain
some raw hurt returns & he is railing again, animating
his crimson jumper which could be for Christmas were it not
for the dirt, the holes, the despair, which any festive spirit would fall through
the fraying & the sore fire of his speech, I think about stepping
in with restraining voice, trying to silence scattering violence
but this whirlwind of stoked hatred feeds on impediments
when he does take up his journeying, his new voice, desperate
wheedling curdles the heart’s of those that have caught his rage
15th December 2022
At your door (Rachel Clare)
In what swampy depths of the heart did your jealousies grow?
Fed and deformed in whisky’s deluge they writhe
in your strict, bulging, bloodshot eyes & move to make
your hands monsters, those same hands that turn suffering
to lyric line, unbearable sights pressed into a language
stroking reader’s soul into a magnificent pity, monstrous
your fist closes on a clump of her hair, you will not let go
whilst the moon runs vainly through radiant darkness
& she must lie unmoving, her curling love-locked
in the clasp of your palm, a token taken & held prisoner
belligerent and fearful you sleep through her distress
biled spite drags you deep into your own nightmares
as she cuts through auburn strands to free herself from
your grip & flees to a madness stoked by your rough hold
Whilst reading Endless Flights: A life of Joseph Roth
5th October 2022
Who you looking at? (John Joseph Sheehy)
For John Sheehy
Unshaven & unhappy
carving into cardboard
to make a relief
he tells me, he thought
he’d be long gone
never reaching this pain
the body’s refusal to bend
snatching towards a sock
from agony’s realm
he wishes he could be
condemned like his boiler
DO NOT USE adhered
to his empty chest
no heart for it
this lugging of hurt
there is some lessening
in the cutting, a new face
promising into the pasteboard
shaped from aching limbs
this portrait will not breath
nor cry out in aged pain
The red-haired woman haunts me through the day
her face riven by angst & alcohol, her lips struggling
to make lines of sense, curling & pursing, pinching
& parting, she is lost amidst high empty tables, glasses traced
with froth, a mumbling man with three cans of Stella
stretched out at oblivion’s shore, & me, a solitary soul
with a book of poetry and a pen scratching marks into
emptiness on the day of his birth. Her clothes are snagged
& dragged down by bags heft hanging from her body
black rucksack's untempered outpourings. Before
her battling down of cold demons, loneliness’s untethered
thrust in maffled speech I struggle to catch, her fierce scent
has landed, bladder’s abandon staining her olive trousers
the darkness, neatly formed like jodhpur’s reinforcements
& the smell hints at former breaches. In some form
of telling, she reports the collapse of the toilet door
the transformation of exposure & asks if I am a poet.
I take her & the mumbling man sucking on his can in
& know this is the stuff my poetry might be made off
Oct 3rd 2022
© Simon Parker
My brother was most certain when he was most mad. Wrapped only in a thin, orange patterned sarong, he would leave our house, turn left and walk the fifteen yards into the three lanes of traffic on the A4 westbound. Cars hurtling along at forty miles an hour were no danger to him. The horn blasts and braking, swerving and swearing were all part of the plan. He was in control. Those of us who didn’t believe him were the fools, myopic unbelievers, drone like doubters; we hadn’t been gifted with the knowledge that he had: the third eye. In his digging down into the depths of his psyche, the human self - flimsy, fragile, loveable - had collapsed. Doubt had been banished and certainty was king. I wished it were true: rather than tremble and weep as I tried to coax him out of the road, I could have enjoyed his dance with two thousand kilos of metal and fuel.
The psychoanalyst Darian Leader, in his humane, insightful book What is Madness, writes:
The absence of doubt is the single clearest indicator of
One of the “everyday torments of the neurotic” is doubt. He offers numerous examples of the certainty laying the path to psychosis:
A woman who knew that her doctor loved her when one
day she felt a pain in her arm while doing housework: he
must have sent her this pain so that she would return to
We may laugh at such magical thinking but those holding such certainties are, perhaps, in their deeper reaches, often perplexed, frightened, trying to make some significant and comprehensible sense of the world that places them at its centre. Spending time with my brother when he was at his most convinced, I was aware of a terrible fragility within him. Initially I was seduced by his certainty, like most neurotics , as Leader says:
drawn towards someone who knows exactly what they
want, who insists on some knowledge or truth with
blind determination. Doubt gravitates towards certainty.
Once I’d regained my imbalance, I felt that my brother’s delusional certainty was a powerfully constructed, impenetrable wall that was holding back all that would make him disintegrate, but I wasn’t sure.
Ayad Akhtar in his beautifully riled Homeland Elegies, which I read last week, celebrates complexity, uncertainty, ambiguity. The book topples traditional boundaries, slipping between novel, essay, memoir and state of the nation exploration.
When asked about how much of him, the Ayad Akhtar in the novel, is in his work: Did he, like the character in his Pulitzer Prize winning play Disgraced, think America got what it deserved when the twin towers were attacked? He muddies the freighted question. Born in America as a child of Pakistani parents, people clamour for Akhtar to make his opinion clear. Having heard Trump and his contentious statement in 2015 that he’d seen Muslim’s celebrating in Jersey City, Akhtar gives only what he can:
The sentiments expressed in the play had of course come
from somewhere, but how to express the complex, often
contradictory alchemy at work in translating experience
into art? The only thing I could put simply was that there
was no simple way to put it.
Putting it simply: words fail me. They often do. When I sit down to write doubt often pulls up a chair beside me. He sits there, small, pinched eyes, thin lips twisted into mocking grin, watching my fingers tap at the keyboard.
Sometimes, it’s the familiar fraught relationship that an artist has with their material: you have an idea, a vision, a hope and scrabble to bring that into shape. You dig for words, change them, nestle one next to another, change a word, put a comma in, take it out and repeat and repeat and repeat; or you have a hunch you are getting close to what it is you are after, the inexpressible thrumming on the edge of expression; or in more prosaic terms: something that might stand up to your own self scrutiny, some measuring of what you have built that passes for good enough.
Sometimes doubt rides in as you read the crafted lines of another, their words shaped into something truly wonderful. Can your hands, heart and mind turn them with such gracefulness? Awed. Overwhelmed. Fertile ground for doubt’s flourishing. Reading Akhtar’s extraordinarily eloquent Overture to America which opens his powerful novel, I know there is a lot of work to do.
Then there's the world. Always unstable, uncertain, but there are times when it is more nakedly so. The turbulence of today - war, the future of the planet, political impunity and the consequent apathy, viruses, - is raw, brutal, bewildering. Our human frailty exposed, it's easy to go scrabbling for certainties. Fear making us forceful in our beliefs.
At the end of Homeland Elegies Akhtar writes Free Speech: A Coda. He reveals how when he was invited to speak at a liberal arts college in Iowa, he was deemed 'an "unsafe" presence on the campus.' Despite not having read him, no doubt in their mind, many in the college thought he should not be allowed to communicate. The woman who invited him Mary Marconi, a former teacher of his, had travelled through her own despair when students had refused to read certain writers' work because of beliefs held. Fortunately, she moved beyond her enervating gloom to a compassionate understanding of how their rigidity rose from a foundation of fear.
So what to do with all this doubt and uncertainty?
Doubt paralyses, but it can also make you playful. If nothing is certain and you don’t know where you’re going you might test the water, seek out some hidden pleasure. Doubt leads into unexpected crannies.
From a recent doubting, in which I was fretting and fumbling with the material and the matter of the world, I went playing: fashioning the words of others - some of my favourite poets - into a poem of my own. An A-Z. The form, a cento, meaning patchwork, is a collage. You may doubt it's mine, but here it is...
At the empty windows set in the tall house
where fear leaps up inside me
bathed in such unkindly light
my body’ a sack of bones, broken within
unfaithfulness no longer hurts
in the lull before monsoon or typhoon
but like bright light through the bare tree
is a portmanteau of scream & babble or scrap
and here I am turning your trophies to scrap at an illicit viewing
but you do not have to forget
mourning and mirth are two extended wings
teetering on walkways that disappear
I have given up all hope for what was whole
the vacuous garment that limps at my heels as I go
like a medieval painting’s kindling
and with so much carrion in this graveyard for the sharp bones of my memory
to turn my teeth to knives
made out of soot, soup out of rust and,
we try to understand things, each in our own way
as an alchemist knows how to win your
sixty trillion cells, all drunk
with the live substance of a kiss
polished and repolished by the hands of strangers
they are frozen
when there is nobody on earth who hears
nothing — you heard nothing.
[An A-Z through poetry. Sources in order of lines : Lot’s Wife, Anna Akhmatova/ A monologue of Prince Myshkin to the Ballet Pantomime of The Idiot, Ingeborg Bachman / The Fish, Billy Collins / His Picture, Elegie V, John Donne / No, never have I felt so tired, Sergei Esenin) / International Bridge Playing Women, Mark Ford / Vespers, Louise Glück / I’d played silence but later realised my word, Terence Hayes / Past caring, Mick Imlah / But you do not have to forget, Juan Ramón Jiménez /Lament 9, Jan Kochanowski / The Duckboards, Michael Longley / Migraine, Sinéad Morrisey / Whoever intends me harm, Pablo Neruda / The Haircut, Sharon Olds / A Musical Hell, Alejandra Pizarnik / ode to new money, Noel Quiñones / Daydreaming in the midst of spring labours, Aleksander Ristovic / The Silence of Plants, Wisława Szymborska / Wherever you are I can reach you, Marina Tsvetaeva / A drunkard, Ko Un / The Footsteps, Paul Valéry / The Divided Child, Derek Walcott / Empty Chairs, Liu Xia / A Father’s Ear, Yevgeny Yevtushenko / Siren and Signal, Louis Zukofsky]
Memory Lies in Dreamland
My memory lies in Dreamland. Not that all my memories are phantom, but the most potent remembering I have experienced was at a fun fair in Margate. I remember little, especially of my childhood, but, a couple of years ago, standing in Dreamland before the wooden roller coaster of which I was terrified as a child, I was overcome with a physical sensation, returning me to my childhood with such vivid immediacy, I thought I might start shrinking. Words were locked inside a somatic experience. The leg weakening excitement and dread of the four year old me coursed through my body. Collapsing, onto the ground or back inside myself, were intoxicating possibilities. This felt like living inside a memory rather than recalling or redrafting it.
For the past year as the pandemic has writhed and retreated and writhed again, I have been meeting with M once a week. We - him, my eighty three year old father-in-law, and me, with a life long interest in ageing - explore the ideas, feelings and experiences around getting old, memory loss and how to spend the declining years as gracefully or, perhaps more importantly, as fully as possible. The enforced isolation of Covid has ravaged the lives of many of the elderly, and M is no exception to that. M comes alive in the company of others and, for most of the last two years, no company has been had. A conversationalist, his tongue has been stilled, and with it something essential to his existence lost.
My mother, in her late seventies, was living alone in another country in which she does not speak the language when lockdown was enforced. She was untethered from her routine: her daily lunches in a local restaurant and the regular gathering of friends in a bar in the early evening. Silence descended on her life. And, with that silence, a retreat into an internal space unattached to others, to concrete ideas, to time. Growing old and covid: a disastrous cocktail to wrench hands from a hold on life.
Simone de Beauvoir in The Coming Of Age, her fascinating philosophical exploration of ageing, and its resonances for individuals and the societies we construct, argues
There is only one solution if old age is not to be an absurd parody of our
former life and that is to go on pursuing ends that give our existence a
meaning - devotion to individuals, to groups or to causes, social, political,
intellectual or creative work.
Isolation enforced, despite the supposed connectivity of the digital world - a world my mother has never set foot in -, is a sure fire way to sever ties, to unmoor meaning. To paraphrase Sherry Turkle, Professor of the Social Studies of Science and Technology at MIT, being alone together is a poor substitute for being together.
Alongside this, there is the battle against tiredness, the shrinking motivation, the sloth that an ageing body can induce. As Voltaire wrote almost three hundred years ago,
The heart does not grow old, but it is sad to dwell among ruins.
What else can a sad heart do but follow the body into decline? Unfortunately, these ruins are not readily visited or attended to by those who clamber over the Acropolis or the Colosseum. For a society that champions youth and independence, these ruins are, at best, hidden away, or if they are out on the streets, in cafes, restaurants or bars, they are rendered invisible.
Simone de Beauvoir
Memory falters with the body. The slippage of short term memory, threatening the bulwark of long term memory, is fought against, or strategies are manufactured to bypass the forgetting. A forgetting captured in Billy Collins brilliant, plaintive poem Forgetfulness , which begins with the early disappearing nouns:
The name of the author is the first to go
followed obediently by the title, the plot,
the heartbreaking conclusion, the entire novel
which suddenly becomes one you have never read,
never even heard of,
and continues to
Whatever it is you are struggling to remember,
it is not poised on the tip of your tongue
or even lurking in some obscure corner of your spleen.
It has floated away down a dark mythological river
whose name begins with an L as far as you can recall
M and I continue to take our weekly stroll on the banks of Lethe, talking as the water splashes over his shoes. My mother has begun to paddle in its shallows. Her hands hold the rushes that line its side. I try to lift her attention from the waters racing beneath her with questions, attentiveness, love, to keep her at the river’s edge. But, as My Mother Weeps below reveals, the waters are rising.
A necessary companion
Before Covid compounded the isolation and loneliness of the elderly in society, that of M, my mother and many, many more, I read Nicci Gerrard’s profoundly beautiful, and inspiring, What Dementia Teaches Us About Love. At the core of the book, alongside other heartrending stories, is her father’s ten year struggle with memory loss, his loosening of self and the damage done by negligent care. Tears may fall, but Gerrard's determination to bestow dignity and love on those that can no longer bestow it upon themselves is rousing. The book is a necessary companion, a boon for anyone journeying into the uncertain terrain of a loved one being plunged into forgetfulness. For Gerrard, and the throng of dedicated people she meets working with those shredded by dementia, Validation is crucial along with a patient determination to find (and hold on to) the unique and precious person who may be obscured by their dementia.
Both Gerrard and De Beauvoir write about how their societies treat the old, and neither France in 1970, or Britain in 2019, come across as places you would want to grow old in. What both advocate, in their very different ways, is a reframing of how we view, care for, accept and celebrate being old. A place most of us will get to without heeding how we treat those already there.
Gerrard, visiting a ward, watches a fleshless, frail, elderly woman "immmobile... only her bony hands fluttering." At her bedside is a framed photograph of her as a young woman on a beach, paddling. holding hands with a young man and smiling. What Gerrard comes to, is that within this ailing frame the young woman, seemingly buried, is alive. Our histories are contained within us, and whether we can recall them or not, or others can reach to them through touch, song or a favourite food, we should be treated in a dignified way that celebrates all that we have been. This hopeful, smiling woman in the photograph is the same woman who lies unattended in her bed. She may not be able to recall, or redraft that memory, but it is living inside her. She "housed both the old and young self and everything in between."
Sign of the Times
My mother weeps
My mother weeps
My mother weeps like a small child. Her shoulders shake. One hand rests on her face covering one crying eye. It shields half her forehead, a cheek, half her mouth, lips and chin. It is a strange image, and, as I hold the other hand and offer reassurance, I am struck by its unnaturalness. The hand, the half face, the weeping.
My mother weeps. My mother never weeps. Her weeping now is not my mother’s weeping. My mother is not my mother.
My mother weeps. I cannot remember the last time I saw her cry. She has not cried for at least thirty years. She sits in an armchair in our living room and sobs. This is a deep, momentous and fearful outpouring. Her body convulses, the words she is trying to get out are swallowed. Gasps for air, the only accompaniment.
My mother weeps
My mother weeps. She has lost who she is. A woman who never weeps and this weeping does not belong to her. It belongs to a woman who cannot remember why she is here, where she lives, or what has been happening to her. The unknowing of all has brought tears. These tears will not stop because they cannot be pulled in to a history. There is no drying comfort of "It will be all right". The "It" has been severed from the continuous thread.
My mother weeps
My mother weeps and I have to hold back my own tears. She is the frightened child that I once was. The confusion and the despair and the terror shakes her whole body. Steeling myself, so that I am not taken by the waves, I comfort her, tell her that I will take care of her, that she is surrounded by people who love her. Through her tears she manages, Don’t put me in a home. Please don’t put me in a home.
My mother weeps
Detail from Water of the Flowery Mill - Arshile Gorky (1944)
For a writer the one thing you must do is write. Reading is vital, thinking beneficial, but where the craft is honed, and where your unique and particular voice takes shape, is in the writing. Stendhal, who scratched at the skin of realism in an age of romanticism, advocated a minimum of “twenty lines a day, genius or not.” Harry Matthews, one of the few Americans to be a member of the OULIPO group (writers and mathematicians who looked for new literary forms, game playing and all), took him at his word. Stendhal’s call to action was an attempt to finish the book he was working on. Matthews “deliberately mistook his words as a method for overcoming the anxiety of the blank page” and ended up producing a fascinating book, 20 Lines a Day, with reflections on writing, raking leaves, phone calls, friendship and much more. Since 2017, the twenty line dictum has driven my writing through the first coffee.
This twenty line sprint is one of many ways to get the writing day started. Throughout lockdown, alongside playing a daily writing game exploring form, I combined my desire to write about visual art with this daily sprint. What follows takes off from a line of Arshile Gorky's which I came across in the brilliant biography of this troubled artist, Black Angel by Nouritza Matossian. Gorky, who had escaped the Armenian genocide in 1915, died alone when the weight of circumstance finally overwhelmed him. His work lives on and so does his legacy which shaped American painting from the 1940s onwards.
Detail from The Leaf of an Arichoke is an Owl - Arshile Gorky (1944)
"One artist could bang his hands against the table and years,
even centuries later, another could feel the rhythm."
- Arshile Gorky
One artist could bang his hands against the table and years, even centuries later, another could feel the rhythm; pulsings, gentle or violent, rippling through a new work, riffing on the driving beat of former melodies to make new meaning. Searching for a voice amidst the vocal outpourings of a lustier or loftier throat calling, follow me, and follow me, until you can find your own path. My footsteps will be tip-tapping in your ear but you will be dancing to your own tune. Drunk with a desire to make you stand upon the table, let that rhythm penetrate your soles. Climbing through shin and groin, your flesh will move to a newborn beat. Beating down the shrill voice that screams all endeavour is meaningless, you will dance, tap out your tune, regardless of whether others will take your hand, your lead, or any notice of you at all. Dance with your body, your body, your life, your heart. Your head left looking backwards as you shimmy into an oiled sunset. The sun also sets you know Hemingway. Its day spent in a descending rhythm that drops into darkness. An empty dance floor that has no light. You can dance in the black of night. A nighttime rhyme of black blackening, blackness. Dressed for death but too much to do before the bony hand leads you away. Life lends you its drumsticks, beat out that tempo, shred skin with your pounding, A pounding that has stolen money from the masters. They wont mind, being dead, but a small breath may touch their cold lips, kissing farewell in the earth’s loam. Thank you.
I will dance until I die.
One eye kept on you, my still and silent friend. You do not hear it but it will carry me across the dance floor, the maple, the canvas, the country and the strains of this senseless life. I will dance until there is nowhere left to dance on. Your rhythm is ceaseless, like a wave that cannot find a shore. A surefire sound that syncopates the pulse, echoes in my strut, and smothers the canvass’s cries for help. Do not let the paint dry, do not let the stroke end. The end is the edge of existence and paint cannot adhere to nothingness. Dance and drip, smudge, smear and stroke this feeble brain into action, an answer: When will the rhythm fade?