We spent ages making a scarecrow but it’s not
working really. We should just get one of those
wind-machine ones. It’s getting awful now, leading
the pigs out to the training area in the dark.
We’ve been training them for some time now to
improvise weapons. Their shooting’s mostly OK.
We really drill them hard. Them forming units
for roll-call is quite something. We call them
stuff like ‘bacon’ and ‘pork-chop’. Soon we’ll be
shipping them out, they’re nearly ready.
It’s time to address the rumours circulating that
the crows have access to a bolt-gun. We don’t want
panic on our hands. I’m personally struggling a bit,
the TV reception’s terrible so near the forest. And I’ve
managed to ruin all my shirts. A corporal ended up
beating one of the pigs with an iron bar. It was
a bit much. The crows are definitely worse though.
Mostly I just wish the weather was better. The air’s
pretty muggy with all the burning fat. We’ve got
the locals working to load the waste into
the incinerator. Going into town at the weekend,
we’re at the burger van in the layby. We need
to be back for the next delivery of slops though,
they get bigger each time.
Yesterday I shot a blackbird by mistake. I let it fall
before I could get close and notice its beak. Apparently
a mass of crows is gathering right over the road,
where it’s just been ploughed. We brought down
a few trees to make a barrage. We’re really trying to
be as efficient as possible.
Trains going past is so irritating, having to quickly
stop what we’re doing. But we’d definitely rather
people didn’t know what goes on. Last night
I woke up in meat sweats. I rushed out to turn off
my car alarm but it was a crow up a tree.
The last crow we saw, a pig shot it out of the sky.
The birds scattered at the gunshot. Then two pigs
set to work eating the body.
start coming in
continues to fall
pakistan’s even better
we’d like to address it
it makes us look
provides a clear yesterday
rented three hundred sixty pancake
don’t want any training
and intercompany international to u
when i can’t resist the
who opposes somehow socialism for
just seems like there is a place for us
crisp and clear
spending the weekend harman is really
if you live by the end of it
you have any insight into one of those
within three months of wasn’t installed
and now for the past nine days people
have conversations with compensation to
renounce violent being
difficult including started not money
walkable distance and intensified
limitations in two thousand
whose always something going on this
uh…there’s always been testing the
creative people coming in when his own
so many opportunities to learn to take
have that’s cool places really helpful
we have to keep the on-site seventy
and flexible work
were behind flying
something that’s and practically law is
the parents and practice
dealing with different challenges such
nelson helped them with a chance to say
but it’s not for the past
they could continue support a party
people really would like to get involved
in order to get involved which
interprets would like to get involved in
willing to do
for good causes doesn’t apply to
seventeen at the school
harvest up in queens park school
it’s quite rewarding experience to see
people have been unnecessarily
it’s a caravan
as a few minutes
definitely it’s destiny
i’ve got three times
but that’s okay
the dentist electorate
- transcribed automatic captions from a corporate video
Into the River Now Parting the Reeds
In the mud are shoeprints and there are parallel lines carved into the
bark, they’re deep trenches so the sap runs out.
I’m watching the river flow off, this is a wide river enclosed by birch
trees the branches all hung with flowers.
It feels like a storm but it’s really only the white flowers.
I’ve lit a fire the light’s spreading from it. I can see everything from
this coin-operated telescope.
The sky’s clear, I remember someone was talking about contrails or
I’m unwrapping this one tree trunk so I can roll tobacco in the bark,
the pouch is under my hat.
There’s a flat blade on the ground in amongst the feathers. The sun’s
reflecting off of it.
The woods I’m emerging from are pretty thick, there are some stumps
and then the trees opening out.
Here comes a rush of water. I’m harvesting reeds with a flat blade I
found. In a tent with food dangling over.
I’m tapping on a hollow gourd. Some hollow logs are leant up into a
shelter and now I’m hitting those at the same rate.
Visualising the water starting to freeze over. There’s a buzzard riding
on the wind, it’s circling now.
Lightning hits a telephone pole but it’s fine, the wires have been taken
off. I’m beginning to think there’s some regularity.
Finding a woven sheet, folded over a rock. Someone’s dropped a
hammer I can hear it falling close by. There’s also a long linen dress.
I’m ashing my cigarette onto some moss. I need to brush off the salt
that’s all over my jeans.
I can see a cruise liner and a fishing boat, both kind of far out and the
road bridge up closer to the mouth.
There’s an old car headed straight across painted like a turtle. I’m
picking up a fossil rotating it slowly. My hand’s bandaged.
I’m feeling the ripples from the port, the beacon tower looks like a
In the process of making a pile of reeds to shelter in. There’s a plume
of smoke coming from a clearing.
I’m probably inhaling spores, there are splinters right near my eye.
The slope’s so steep I have to pull myself up.
There are loads of seeds being carried on the wind. I’m washing my
left then right hand and spitting my toothpaste out into the shallows.
Standing on a concrete ramp that goes down into the water. I’m
pushing my hand forwards thru air my palm’s covered in graphite.
Several fish have been laid on the ground. I’m covering everything
with a tarp and trying to find a cave to keep wood dry in.
The pickup truck’s flooding and there’s someone throwing pots off the
back scooping out water with a saucepan.
I’m sure a bird’s scraping the concrete bridge with its claws.
I’m counting a pile of smooth stones and keeping my eyes closed.
The counting’s starting to yield some results.
This light was left on overnight I think, it’s casting my silhouette onto
the trees. I can feel a low humming.
For Edd Presnell
He hammers a wedge into the gap between the brace
and wood, then runs glue along the edge of the curves,
the plastic bottle loose in his grip. We’re in his workspace,
a cabin in western Watauga County that took me
three hours to drive to. He ignores my pristine shirt
and says that the wood he’s using is aged cherry
from an old log house. I watch his hands, follow
their deliberate trace as he tests the joins, gauges
the smoothness. I picture how, two weeks ago,
he boiled down those side pieces, made them bend
into shape like a Matisse torso, or a boat trying
to be Rita Hayworth. He carved the head at one end
of its three-foot neck, curved over itself like the arm
of a Georgian couch. Now he is whittling a tuning peg,
the horn handle of his knife tucked into his palm.
He shifts its incline, rounding the corners. He makes
three pegs before measuring out the frets, their precise
irregularity, and laying metal into the grooves. It takes
some hours to do all this. I sit down as he sketches
out the sound holes, and while he cuts them out I look on
like a foreman in a factory. He unwinds and stretches
the three strings, tunes them like a rhyme scheme. Finally,
laying it flat, he plays it, his fingers downward, sliding
and can-canning in time. He says the song’s ‘Aura Lee’
but it sounds more like Elvis. I stand, and he wraps it in fabric,
handing the bundle to me at the door. I wave at him as I put it
into the trunk of my car. Outside, the forest smells like Air Wick.
Here’s a poem I wrote a while ago, while I was living in NC - realised I hadn’t posted it on here. It’s a bit more traditional than my usual stuff, but kinda shows how I was dealing with culture shock etc.
When the streetlights come on it’s not a minute too soon. There’s a car radio playing but the frequencies are a little tinny for my liking. I’m sitting up this tree. I can tell that the crows and ravens are in some way keeping score. Thirty seconds or so later, the hills stop shaking. As a statistician I find both this and my own reaction to it most unusual. I’m paying careful attention to any fluctuations in temperature. Each sound that is made is immediately followed by another sound. I take off my shoes and socks and climb a little farther up the tree. A cuckoo tries to push me from my position in the branches. I’ve already made a gas mask from piss and potash, but I can still smell overripe fruit. The gorse around here is abnormally high at this point, and mostly on fire. The wind picks up and the last few leaves are evenly distributed. A short distance away there are bears of some kind gesturing at each other. I strip as much bark as I can carry and empty my pockets. I think about shouting “I can see you” a few times but decide against it. The wind and radio stop exactly two seconds before the streetlights go out, leaving everything perfectly still.
We’re carrying huge blocks of ice tied up with laptop cables.
This is through tobacco fields, in a minute some dude rancher
in a mustang’s gunna drive by. It maybe wasn’t such a good plan
to leave the nearest city, there’s so much light pollution
at night. Back at the house I’m boiling vegetables
with a little honey. It stopped raining a while ago
but the phone signal out here isn’t great. I wrote you
a letter on torn-out bible pages and you read it a few times,
I could see you reading it. Back into town, then. In a low voice,
I tell the child in a photo to stop crying.
This is the first post from my current project. Next one tomorrow!
Wednesday is Obama Day
After coffee I’m showering with shampoo, this is my Obama beard
and I’m making Obama pancakes. Slightly too much baking powder
and the butter and maple syrup forming a coalition. Michelle rubs
a palm on my really short hair. Talking to you you seem pretty relieved
getting tickets and a week off in January on a plane the size up from a 747.
Someone’s blasting ‘Eric B is President’ but with not enough
bass. By the afternoon I’m walking round the Obama lake with headphones,
waving a massive flag. There are only a few moorhens and some guy
fly-fishing under a birch or beech tree. It’s starting to cloud over
and get chillier, I end up putting on four more layers, my raincoat
with Obama’s face on it. I can see my daughters with pretty names
and their tongues attached to flagpoles by the cold. We start to watch
the video again, everybody’s faces like laptops drying.
Subsidies here, this is corn syrup
on my free pancake. Again I’m sitting
at the counter in Olde Waffle same time
as usual. Local news on mute,
like in the waiting room of the ER
with you, another TV was some gory
medical drama. We waited and watched
how in Johnston County someone
robbed a bank, Wells Fargo maybe, for
small change, made off on a push-bike.
You said something like ‘typical JoCo’.
But it seemed nice enough, we drove
around the days after Thanksgiving
to enjoy the houses, remind myself
that I’m in Carolina. That I made it
over after the sleepless nights in
Bedfordshire, what I thought was country
New poem of mine over at Should Does.
Walk at Ayr Mount
aborigines use ancestral landmarks not themselves
for directions, the place a point, an origin. for instance,
ten miles north of ayers rock, not ‘first track on
the right’. we’re however far south of ayr mount
in a mostly piney wood, it’s 102° but feels like
107. i’m sweating a lot but we’re braving the middle
of the day heat because i only have a week and a half
left in orange county, in north carolina, with you.
[photo courtesy of Elizabeth Maney]