sun

The Factory

I was at home with my mother and sister talking about a radio interview. My granny called the house and left a phone message and it upset me because she was talking about her sister's death and she sounded so sad. Her situation saddened me, all of her friends and her husband and her sisters all dead. So I got up from the breakfast table without a word and left the house.

 
I went to university and skipped out of my psychology class to wander around the great building, right up to the roof where there was a gathering of people. Some of them were sitting right at the edge. A policeman told people to come back from the edge, walking so close to it that I was terrified. I had a bag full of my things - books, notes, clothes, a computer. Two of them were making fun of me and my hair and the way I dressed. Making fun of my self-image, as if I was vain and at the same time ridiculous-looking. I realized that I wanted to go back to university and that I had enough points - 79 - to do so. I could go to a foreign university to do women's studies and it would make me happy.
 
I went back through the university arts building to go home. On the way I met my girlfriend, who I had been forgetting to call or text (we had only just got together). This is something I used to do when I was a teenager, simply forget to call a girl I was supposed to be seeing. I made a mental note to call her. It was dark when I was leaving university and I had to walk back through a bad neighbourhood. A gang of young men - boys really - starting talking about the bags I was carrying, and started following me. I was just getting ready to run when a woman found me. She was older and very calm and she knew me, and the boys respected her and went away. She brought me to her house and said she would call me a taxi to take me home.
 
She started to read to me from a great thick paperback book she had, full of her own notes - not the Bible, it was called "The Factory" and talked about God as the Factor, the Maker. She asked me to look at a picture of the sea with the sun hanging over it, a great fiery orange ball. It left a flaming reflection on the water. Then all of a sudden it plunged beneath the water, surprising me and making me feel very emotional. Then several suns followed it underwater as if attached by a string. I felt happy and as if I was about to cry.
 
The woman seemed satisfied by my reaction and closed the book and went to call a taxi for me. I wanted to take the book with me but I realized that I couldn't because it was hers. I went into her kitchen and there was a phone message from my mother, who had been worried about me because I left so suddenly. She thought it must be because something she said made me angry. I said no, I was sad about granny. There was a message from my granny too. She was still talking about her dead sister, the funeral arrangements, the end of things. I wanted to cry again, and I wanted to tell her about my decision to leave and go back to university, and about the book that the old woman had shown me.

Songs from the Golem City

The caryatids are gathered in the cathedral to bear witness to the cries of the choir of clay. In the rumble of the death ritual we do our little dances of life. The scientists try to create flowers. The broken daughters and sons try to dance, and we cry to see them stumble so. The drums thunder in our ears and under our skins. There were supposed to be prophets and there was supposed to be a purpose, we recall in the rituals. The soft-skinned ones who made us and left us alone. Promises were made. Covenants and signs. All lost now, as their soft skins burned and their red blood evaporated. All lost now, as the red dragon sun swells and makes ready to drown the world.

The ritual moves to the mystery of touch. "I can feel your silly heart," says the golem to her love. "It flutters like a bird. I thought there were no more birds." Red dust is spiralling down from the ceiling. It trails down our shells and we glow. "I can feel your silly songs in my chest," she says. She was chosen for her voice: sweet and dense, like the cracking of granite by ice. No more water now, and no more ice. "Does what makes the rocks beautiful bless us too?"

Histories now. The years of myth. "Rabbi, in your attic was a corpse of clay untouched by wars. Empty shell, open eyes, calmly waiting. Rainwater from roof cracks eroding him. Centuries like moments. Remembering walking though fields. Remembering walking along castle walls. Remembering the crowds in the city streets cheering. He had crushed skulls. He was told they were enemies. What is an enemy, he wondered? Red blood on red dust, his fingers all draped in those red things." She utters the most sacred of the mysteries: "How do the fleshly ones endure? What is in their chests that aches when they realize that they love?"

After four billion years we pray on fused and blackened earth. Water and air long since boiled off into space, yet we the golems wander still, our heavy heads lit like blood by great lord sun. Like figurines in a kiln, we glow as if infused with souls. We stumble against each other to hear the sound. To not be alone. To try to touch. Our cities are baked and all soft eyes burned out. All songs silent in no atmosphere. All songs reduced to one: Why were we created? Songs of love for each other and the crystalline stars, and the dead makers whose bodies boiled away and whose naked souls left us here alone.

The scientists surrender their chemistry of mud and the song turns to destruction. A funeral dirge for Sol, the old dragon dying in a dimming arm of the galaxy. Questions, always questions. "Will we die and see our makers again at last? Or just float forever, awarenesses lost in the dark? Will we become asteroids and comets? What are we?" The voice of granite and ice cracks and we try to feel, we imagine that we feel, we feel. "Can I ever know you again? Was I ever even supposed to love? Who will sing of The Aeon of the Golems? Can we be gathered into a beginning and mothered once again?" The cathedral shakes. Outside the dragon star flails its arms. A hundred thousand clay heads nod. Melting rock for tears. Only mute screams and a rumbling song.

"I can feel your silly heart" said the immortal as he died. And the golem city was swallowed. And stars became cinders. And all lost lights limped on into the limitless dark. And all time became lost in timeless unawareness. Until from sheer heartbrokenness there was touch once again. Until there came the echoes of a deep, dark song like granite split by ice. And all that remained to touch, touched all that remained.
 

The city knows I'm leaving

The city knows I'm leaving and although it reacts slowly its judgements are intractable and painful. The roads are becoming difficult — decayed patches in asphalt and tarmac appearing every day, collapsed in on themselves like cavities, like sores in a long grey tongue. The ghosts are getting angrier. Maybe it seems arrogant for me to describe fellow human beings as ghosts, but I include myself. To me they are all ghosts, the grey ones passing me in the morning, stalking their own rain-shadows to work - they pass through me without seeing me, leaving only shivers. I pass through them too. Their faces flicker past me and begin to merge like the images on a zoetrope. Laughing, shouting, frowning, empty.

Everything here seems designed to keep an obsessive mind occupied for all eternity. Late at night, where I used to stand feeling lonely on the balcony overlooking the apartment district, now I stand with a baby, gently jigging up and down. Baby likes to be rocked, and I don't feel lonely any more, but the view is the same: endless lego-block buildings stacked and jumbled like the unfinished projects of a child. Everything is square, rectangular, straight, reflective. Office buildings like grids with coloured flourescent lights, apartment buildings like gigantic nests of cubicles. The window, the wall, the building, all right-angled, calculated for spatial efficiency and economic maximization. Stack us in like sardines and charge us as much as possible. On our walls we have rectangular pictures, the frames strangling the scenes. The windows strangle the world. The buildings strangle the people. Thousands upon thousands of straight lines and right angles as far as I can see. The cellular automata we have created as our dwelling-places and artworks. Our legacy of lines and frames and grids, our blocks stacked to the sky, the triumph of the endlessly repeated unit over the organic whole.

I dream of myself as a country. I dream of myself as a battleground. I dream of myself as a videogame territory, gridlines and hexagons and cubes all bundled together, arteries like superhighways, mapped out perfectly, and those warriors, those soldiers, those thoughts, go to war over my cells. In my body's day they fight by the light of an inner sun and by night they light torches soaked in enzymes. Their feet stamp to the beat of a polka, to the tick of the metronome that replaced my heart.

The city knows I'm leaving and it turns its best face out to me sometimes. The sun sets over the river and all the glass office rooves catch fire and look like the citadels of Byzantium. The canal docks smell briefly of the sea, and gulls and herons gather on the jetty, crying. I can close my eyes and imagine myself at the beach, on the shore of an island, on a hill overlooking the ocean thirty thousand years ago. The pounding rain melts the harsh angles of the windows and doorframes and everything seems to flow in my sight as I sit in the warmth. The baby is asleep and so is his mother and my apartment sits in the sky like a bubble of safe warmth suspended over distant walking ghosts, boats, toy cars. That's how she woos us, the city. That's the bargain she offers.

One day I will miss these shining angles and windows and the million ghostly reflections of myself in windows and mirrors, but not today. Today I miss the trees. The silent language of patience, the way a stone is embraced and loved by moss and rain until it forgets it is a stone and becomes the ghost of a growing thing, a home without angles. The way I will walk ten miles without seeing a straight line that has not been broken by something chaotic - a crack, a branch, a slant, a collapse, a meander. The way I'll feel that obsessive chant in the mind weakening: the city's voice, her final siren song painting images of a timeless perfection. In the future, love, always in the future. Until it stops, and I return to where I was before; to what I always was anyway. Imperfect. Alive. Now.

The broken worlds she showed me

they were dragging the swamp that day // was I alive or dead? the representation of a life // motionless in an important dimension // so she wakened in my mind a figure of power // the cold white man who walks alone in the killing fields // corpse with fangs // and from that moment on // from the last sunrise to the first stars // I was divided eternally / and night was my day // desiring salvation, my addiction was disintegration // blazing torches and abomination in the faces of the simple folk // an old house on fire, windows bleeding light into the night // the spirit rages to be free of the flesh and the flesh solidifies to a prison for what it doesn't understand // the cold man becomes two men // one desires redemption and creates hell around himself // the other thirsts for damnation and unknowingly walks the paths of heaven // he preys on them and plays with them // their blood on white lace and pale skin // whose hero could he be // and what way into the heartwoods could he show // and yet we follow him // hypnotized by his dance and his cancer // mistaking the disintegration of his tissues for transfiguration // i thought he would come for me at night when my family was asleep and I walked barefoot in the garden, my soul singing for release // surely, if he existed, he would hear me // and if he does not exist, another will come // surely, i thought in my pain, there must be someone who hears me // someone who sees me // someone who knows me // someone who will remember me // surely //

in my mind       the cold man       the dead man       breaking the lake ice       reaching beneath the water       we are anglers in the lake of darkness       as Nero was       such dark treasures we discover       returning to the world with dark gifts       the cold man only takes and cannot give       he drains and does not replenish       he destroys but cannot create       Shiva Nataraja unable to wake       old one-eye head first over the abyss       he met the girl who could have saved him and he hurt her       because she allows herself to be hurt       the dark dead girl who creates       the one who sleeps and dreams       whose death is as merciful and the dead man's is final       the corpse who stirs in her slumber       her hair writhing like eels and weeds on the lake bottom       a perfect animated doll       burnished hair glowing from ash to gold to copper to blood

// the dead man destroys
// the dead woman creates

you quickly realize that he cannot be killed       the more you fight him the stronger he becomes       the longer he walks the colder he grows       he is always there on the far shore       clad in ragged finery       wearing a savage smile       teeth stained red       patient as a priest       till the journey be ended       and memory drowned in night-time water       and you submit in exhaustion to his embrace //

no //

// that is not how the dead man is to be overcome.

his theatre is a world based on rules
-> the rules of dreams <-
he closes doors, never imagining that the can be reopened
living alone at the heart of your labyrinth
unchallenged and feared
he will consume all your loved-ones
and save you for last,
telling you as he drains your life
that you alone are his beloved.
he grants you the mercy of an end only
when all your life is in ruins
and you have betrayed every single thing you tried to love.

no //

// that is not how the dead man is to be overcome.

moonlight through a distant circle
at the bottom of a waterless well
on a mosaic of shining tiles
waiting as the clouds pass over
until the great lord sun shall come
and bless us to become ash
waiting for the disintegrating wind

who is it that you call your family
do they live near you on these streets
confined in boxes of their own
or in silent gardens and stone tombs
the sepulchres of the southern suburbs
temples of the dead man and his brides
where they lie waiting for the master
to take them across the river
and over to that voiceless, bitter shore

welcome the dead man's arrival
and prepare the hallways with gifts
ready a chair and candles
for the installation of his image
tell your friends to visit today
and bring incense and flowers
for the dead man's head and feet
because where he walks shall be blessed
and where his gaze falls
shall come the beloved emptiness

let your mothers and fathers hear
that their time has come to an end
that at last there shall be a new order
as the dead man calls to his own
and his lovers cross over with him -
he is the ferryman of the final river
and their memories shall be his payment

the dead man leads the dance of the dead -
his hands forming mudras, his face distorted -
glaring and grinning and yearning -
his eyes like glass beads in the sun -
the dance brings the dead rain that does not nourish
but scours the earth of its iniquities.
though he shall be named the giver, he will only take -
he takes away what is not God -
until there is nothing left but God -
and God is the dead man -
and so he takes until nothing else remains -
and he dances alone -
lonely -

the god of the vampires
the priest of the corpse ritual
the king of the city of bones
the golem of christ
anti-chaos, anti-order
the only dead thing
in a universe alive
with doubt and joy

The Shah's True Love

I was playing a computer game with my friend where we had to invade a Nazi stronghold, and we could never get past the final stage, a train station full of guards in turrets and behind barricades, the air full of bullets. Finally I dived into the water of an open stream that ran parallel to the tracks, the bullets making tracks all around me as I stared back up at the helmeted soldier whose machine-gun was pointed at my face. I spoke to him through the water, marvelling at the fact that the AI of the game was so well-designed that the soldier seemed as complex and real as a character in one of my dreams. To get away from him, I swam deeper, searching for an exit. Finally I saw one,

and surfaced in the swimming pool of the Shah of a hot and isolated country. The Shah has wonderful gardens in his palace all ringed around with pools and vegetation and gifts and dedications to his ladies - he looks like Burt Reynolds with a fake tan - I am a visiting prince petitioning him for a bride from his harem and to show the intensity of my intentions I water the flowers from a can into which I draw the water with my own breath. He guides me from garden to garden and shows me where the names are carved in stone: her who he loved and left, her who he worshipped and discarded. I swim in the pools and water the plants until finally I let my guard down and fall in love with the only woman he has forbidden me: the wife of his heart, small and dark and full of gravity and electricity like the black sister of the sun. I painted white and orange flowers for her on the side of the pool, and when they were seen the Shah and his servants were full of anger and recrimination, and I had to make explanation and reparation, but behind her dismay I heard her soul singing back to me.
 

Other Suns

lift me out of myself and carry me
to someone else's house
and leave me invisible on their sofa
or sitting at the end of their bed,
empty of whatever it was I used to look for

I will be the star they chase in their dreams
sparkling through their clean bathroom
smoking cigarettes on their patio at night
I'll smell their eggs in the morning
and make them shiver when they look in mirrors

I've forgotten what I thought I had to do
so lead me into someone else's purpose
let me read their story and guess how it ends
I'll see how they feel alone when they're with others
and how they hold themselves together when alone

if one day the sun gave up and disappeared,
this planet would still move through space,
no longer orbiting but tangentially hurtling
into the sugary galaxy like a starship
cold and lost probably, seeking other suns,

beautiful light and inescapable gravity -
to be enfolded in another orbit, lovingly -
someone else's house and someone else's life
and all of history and memory buried by time
until she becomes the only sun that could ever be

For The Last Time

For the last time, the last time
I will not remember what they said
on the television between the exploding stars
and the million miles asleep in midnight red
I will not seem angry
when my friends neither live nor die
but freeze in a smile and a moment
like loved characters in their final episode

not because there was no more time
but because in my dreaming mind
I wandered, and left them behind

this is no voice speaking
rain of flower shades in blindness
just the sound of it behind cafe windows
the colours flushed from the streetlights
and birds burning and singing on the wires

it all goes wrong when I try to talk about myself
so I will talk about everything else
except that there's this question, "who's talking?"
"Who's singing, who's burning, who's sad?"

Who misses their nonexistent friends
who laments their long-distant dad
and the long-distance chats
sizzling along dark wires
and the moist fresh-dug graves of beloved cats
hissing with rain or vampire hostility
and can cats become vampires anyway
or can humans - reality and fantasy
are not much different for me these days

like the one about the beautiful killer
with the power to share his destiny
and of course he would choose me
and I would not care about killing
if only I could be beautiful and immortal too

surely it can't be time to review my life again
and all the crumbling myths I built
how are they still there, how am I the same?
how can I not have changed into something
extraordinary and entirely different?

bless me to let go of these stories
that never belonged to me
nothing glows like nothingness
and I have a weird craving for the womb
no, not even the womb - just pure emptiness
endless space without even one sparkling star
just an abyss without a face or a name
and finally I'd know that awareness
that they say extends beyond both ends of this life

wine from old arteries in a singing glass
images and feelings torn loose from narrative
here is a bottomless sea and a roofless house
no meaning, no weapons, no voices
and a yellow wind from below the horizon
and I will be made ashes in the furnace of the sun

Bone Ghost

my dad looks like a tree, wooden and pretty, alive but in a different way from me, hard to understand, maybe nothing to understand, just how trees grow and stiffen and start to rot, nothing to show for it until one day the heart is eaten all away and a strong wind snaps the trunk like old bone. if I was old, how would you see me? bitten to the quick like a nail. dried and crumpled like a fish going off in the sun. helpless like a worm on concrete. would my eyes be bright to you, would you love how I moved, would you think of it as a soul, the silent wave making me move until the last second. some of us don't like the sea, the endless dark pulse, the endless enormous life.

robot ghost dances in my bones, curves into the air and the roads leading away from every doorstep and every embrace. running knives in hand across the battlefield of every meeting and every dream. fused into the marrow with music, pulled into the future by the gravity of what i was born to be. alive on a membrane between this world and the next, the book and the reader, the dream and the dreamer. the ghost and i are both sure we're real and when i finally rip him out of my flesh and we see each other someone's universe is going to disappear and the murder of every living thing in it and the loss of every memory and every sound and the nothingness of every detail of every dance and every shining light

mother brightened me in the mornings. used to climb into her bed to read about dinosaurs and volcanoes and when she woke I'd listen to the water in the pipes above the bedroom ceiling when she washed her face in the pastel bathroom. everything was a story and i was always the hero and the light in her face when she looked at me told me it was true. nothing would ever be impossible for me, i would live forever and everyone would love me because i was the hero. sunlight through the curtains in those mornings was golden and i waited for her to wake. stories wove themselves in my mind and everything dark and fearful died in the shine of what was inside me, an answer to her call, an inner sun to her hungry moon. tell and retell the story and its lines become engraved too deep, the dance goes stale, the face becomes a mask and the sun a nova, a magnesium wick, and the hero a destroyer. now my mind sinks inwards through layers of tissue and sinew and nerve and finds no core. there is no ghost dancing in my bones. there is no person i was supposed to be. all the heroes have been kindling for a cold fire burning atoms into dreams.

Kendron, The Body

Late at night, screaming at the nameless bright stuff
Kendron is trying to get the drop on the insane
catch it unawares, rip it apart and eat it
sleep exhausted shivering on a shed roof

squatting on a rock by the edge of the water,
shoulders hunched, listening for bird calls
somewhere behind there's a presence, a mind:
ignore it, it doesn't exist, it doesn't matter

Kendron has a gun, Kendron sweats and screams
glowing blood-orange in an oven-hot kitchen.
He won't fuck you unless he loves you;
but it's okay. He loves everyone.

A marble in a bowl, chasing zero,
hands and eyes focused on a synthetic plane
tuned into the overworld, spine a shockwave,
a fish slingshotting up a cold weir,

a strangled gasp in a freezing fog,
Kendron can close his eyes and hold his breath
and suddenly, beautifully, he never existed.
Reborn every moment. In debt to every atom.

he obsessed over a terrible nightmare from his past
until it broke him: baby-killer locked and drugged
in an asylum, he lost 20 years of life and mind,
emerged to see his father, his wife, his own hands

lined and trembling. realization like the collapse
of glaciers. he'd been wandering the labyrinth
of his own mind for decades, thinking it real.
horror and loss, tears, waking and relief.

but the fear lingered.
how could he know what was real?
who could tell him?
and then, to remember:

I am Kendron, the body.
I don't dream and I'm not lost.
there's nothing but this.
there's no NEED for anything but this.

sun, frost, roads, branches, faces.
spirals and soft sounds. cats.
a star fading into a yellow horizon.
at last, dying and living for no reason.
 

Gravity

The lights are streaming past,
burning sodium starlets hurled
by the hand punched through the membrane
of the bedroom scene;
the bright faces plunging through the tunnel
of limitless space and time, forever;
the fabric glimmering of the air
and all those who slay in her.

The driving thrum of guitars,
the energy in her eyes, holding the wheel,
facing unafraid the darker coastline;
rising out of the warm, luminescent water,
stepping into a held towel and a kiss,
asleep in our wilderness, my companion,
stopping in the downpour to see the islands,
the sun holding the hills, the sun on her hands

In one moment to see it shake to a halt
her eyes curiously regarding you –
how suddenly you fell into the future of her,
stars and water and stone and all
blurring and flowing towards an invisible image –
the unknown heart of her,
her thoughts when you kiss her forehead,
the feeling in her when she smiles:
the sun’s dark sister, drawing us near.