96bis. At Last, At Least, Says Polly Walker, I Can Make My Own Comments, Says Sarah Twomey

• Oh, don’t give me all that old crap again, all that serious unseriousness. I’ve wandered through this world of yours, wretched & wonderful as it is, & know how you’ll deceive us. Abased & homeless, that’s how. Avant-garde poetry & its rules? That’s the fucking malarky alright, I know who you are – D’Annunzio celebrating after bombing Kotar.

• And then you give us your gods, & pretend you can juggle with them, or make sense of their sloppy mucous secretions. There is only what is miswritten when it comes to these things, little crumbs of broken & half-baked significance. Bits of whatever.

• Dancing across the river am I now? I can tell you it really was a cold & muddy scrabble getting away from your bloody asylum. I won’t recross that turbid stream again, by sunshine or starlight.

• I agree I won’t forget that mountain, either, the glacial lake you have conjured up, the stark slopes down. This isn’t a land for people & our lives, but some ground for conditioned reflexes to optical stimuli, round about the time we die. Always now. I’m not dancing, I’m cursing you at this moment. I am unabased at least in this.

• unshowily sentimental
  migrants taught to weep
  your voices
              – across the river now
                paradise only for painters
                what people else

                we’ll never know this

• the voice of light
  oh praise, yes
                 – some glorious dapplement
                   a complex surface
                   marred & significant

                   – always lovely
                     at the end

what we’re doing here
  oh, childlike we
                   all agree

                   crumbling cake
                   as we await
                   the avalanche

• we can do better
  & we must
                   – smell up
                     the nutmeg
                     w/ vivacity

                     ascend like smoke
                     fade into
                     this fertile void

                     how many children then
                     this time
                               my little ones
                     oh only us now
                     only us at last

96. At Last, Polly Walker Asks the Right Questions – But Who to?

• What I mean now Polly is I don’t know: all this elaboration, all this language – the fragile ice above the vast black lake of what there is. The pressure & the cold & the total lack of light within the depths – abased is one thing, abyssal all the rest.1

• Don’t you know this? Can’t you say this too? This language also fully integral to the deep dark, stained w/ centuries of bloodshed & contempt. But you know that already don’t you Polly – at one point there must be an acceptance of the wicked old, broken old world we live in, & then next up we embrace its sheer fucking heterogeneity, all the sloppy mixed up mess pullulating like flies in shit – oh how beautiful their metallic green sheen. How lovable.2

• the debris of all
                    – spread about
                    ripples of occurrence

                    o      look       how
                    each letter
                    each sound

                    I love it

                              like flies
                              like shit

• Oh come on please Polly. I know – “man”! – still must be nearer than turtle. Yes cladistic thinking is pretty primitive – the one thing we know about actual information is that it won’t be binary. It’s just more easily faked that way. This language just bends to ideology & oppression. We hear this we agree, let’s concentrate on where what face is speaking is building power, rather than fading & farcical. If you’re not a turtle you must be more man, even in that smoke-stained fly-green dress of yours.3

• And everything else here that’s raised is just figures or possibilities. Their number is unfinished as that of flies, breeding as we count them, as people as we count ourselves, as gods, uncountable as all our words. Dispossessed & homeless migrants, each equally remarkable. Let’s just forget what we’re called or numbered & concentrate on what we are.4

• I’m not saying it’s you Polly, except when you stand before me as I see & hear your voice.5

• Nor the Veer Book Collective. For a bunch of guys they’re not bad really you must agree. Good work has been done etc. Let them do as they wish – it’ll all be good.6

• I’m not sure to be honest where we’ve got with all this Broadstairs stuff. Something like – here’s where Procopius’s dead would arrive, at the little harbour (more suitable than the quayside at Barnstaple), and then ascending the road, left along Albion St (what else would it be called?) & then turn in at what is now the Chapel Bar, formerly a bookshop, anciently a shrine, still with its gothic windows & the bulk of its stock available. There we are you can go & do it. This is a poem about actual things.7

• And finally we can all go to Turbamento III in the basement of the Betsey Trotwood in Farringdon, October 12. See you there Polly. Let’s sing the praise of Eddie Bolger, Evi Heinz, Dave Miller, Will Stuart & Paul Ingram. Don’t you just love the inrush of fresh new things?8

• that inrush
              – oh needed novelty

                fresh migrants
                w/ new voices

                that’s all the need
                this poetry



1And what do you know of being abased – you & your scary dark lakes?”



2 “Ah, acceptance. There are times I’m glad I played with Big Ted when I was a wee girl.”



3 “Oh, jesus fucking christ! Fading & farcical is the father-right, he says, spreading his chlamydiac thoughts around like a load of old spunk.”



4 “And what the fuck are you then? Bloody nameless & probably innumerate to boot.”



5 “Never doing that again, I can tell you.”



6 “‘For a bunch of guys’. Didn’t you use to say ‘’nuff said’?”



7 “Actual things! Anything that bolsters your own bloody fantasies, you mean. You’ll turn up now, turn hard right & vote for Farage, won’t you?”



8 And you never went, did you? Chickened out of any actual contact with anyone actually doing any actual new things. Oh well done, mister.”



9 “And just so’s you know – I’m taking over these footnotes from now on, from that Nearly Dead White Male who’s been spouting all this rubbish up above, like the last of The Old Gen Poets. He’s not even been counted in Steve Fowler’s Second Hundred Best Poets, has he?

“And I’m called Sarah Twomey today, as it happens. So I’d be grateful if you’d take some little awareness of that as well.”

85. 3 Poems Answering Possible Questions with Fresh Structures of Feeling & Sensation, and the Assistance of Mr Prynne

• oh – all these memories
                 debris after Lynmouth

                 that was a warning

                                    deliberate mistake?
                                    the Torridge
                                    pretty good, yeah
                                    pretty much
                                                proper country yet

     my father defending it
     during the War
     centre for landing craft
                amphibious assaults1
                entire craft
                lost on the bar
                                thank you
                yankee knowhow

hence we returned
then to Bideford Fair
fire eaters & boxing booths
tigers on posters
how do I know
except what I dream
              – sights
                shining like mackerel
                glorious to engage with
                (when you’re all grown up
                after the dark
                one day to return to

• all this
imperfect recall
                 you can’t
                 go there after

                 but perfect

                 ah, Jeremy
                 so the night-time:

                 with our eyes closed
                 things come together
                             then happen:

                             sparks & lights
                             veering wildly
                                            burst up

did I see fireworks?
                     do you?

                     a level of abstraction
                  is a level of deprivation

                     what you see
                  is what you are2

• lost on the sands at Westward Ho!
                                    everyone called Peter
                                    smile and
                                    know nothing

what do you find?
                   dark & dirty
                   muddy depths
                   below it all
                   patches of oil
                   muck &
                   mingled decay

where do we go when we die?

                             can’t be Broadstairs anymore
                             too narrow a path up anyway
                             always traffic jams at the gate

                             just empty drifting
                             down depthward
                             minimal hold

                                           think how slow
                                                     it is
                                                     to be a bubble

                             down depthward
                             what colour? 3



1 Remember the armoured ducks?



2 “natural language itself is generically conceptualised in relation to ‘what there is’, whether ‘real’ or not, elastic in upward dimensionality, almost indefinitely so; and this is especially true of poetic discourse constructions. Within such territory, often separated from lower levels by ascription as ‘in imagination’ or ‘sublime’, an arbitrary text-lexicon can be converted into a distinct vocabulary, and improvised rules for following a narrative or a performance can be formed by modification of lower-order practice, or can be newly invented in their own right.” J.H. Prynne, Concepts and Conception in Poetry (Critical Documents, 2014), p 15



3 Elastic in downward dimensionality? The poet, like most, wants to go upwards in a burst of light – her or his true path is darkness & destructive transformation. But, you, the reader? Let’s follow Mr Prynne a little further: “A reader may have a demanding task to interpret these ’rules’, but the process may be exhilarating enough to carry the reader forward with strenuous delight: ‘it must give pleasure’ (both Wordsworth and Stevens are agreed upon this).” Prynne, loc.cit. Yes?

80. Some Questions About These Poems Answered1

(written June 6-9, outside Starbucks & in Sainsburys Café, Jackson Square Shopping Centre, Bishops Stortford)

  • And why shouldn’t it all be tender, as well as what it is? Isn’t it that flayedness to everything which makes us human – otherwise just a mass of instincts & drives, like insects or computers, or the sort of man totally locked within the armour & armature of his own masculinity, blundering ever onwards. That was the plan. This is its opposite.
  • No, of course we can’t say what we’re on, what we’re off. Do you really trust prepositions? Like, they are important – familiar Oppen quotes here – that’s why I use them, but they are so, well, emotional. An off day. Feeling offish. Turning on. All the positioning is internal – inside it/outside it, around it/about it, by it & to it – “get off!” “get on!”
  • And her – who does she think she is? Who does the language think she is? We’re in the shopping centre, the trolley-boy is wheeling his noisy train past, it’s sunny outside, there are dogs & babies & all the rest. Come on (or off) – you’ve been here lots of times, haven’t you? If you haven’t, dear reader, this poem may need additional footnotes to indicate how life is living itself at this point of writing. It’s not difficult. It’s just how it always is. What you actually do inhabit.
  • But we’re insistent – an act of memory concerning her. Within this poem there are many actors, & many may be female. Are they the same? Are they different, separate? Well, all names for a start. You ascribe the gender, I just give words. Each instance could be unique, or a fragment of some multiply diffracted higher reality. Oh fuck! That is out of our control – back in the hands of Offa (you remember? Bretwalda & King of Mercia, then stupid duck joke – kin to Anna, maybe, King of East Anglia & Lord of Essex. They did love those cross-gender names in Dark Age England. We should respect that and enjoy.
  • Rheged
           drops liquid
                            under Elmet
                            before it

    – not Hughes
      but Taliesin
          knowing & prophesying
          actual things
          glamorous in the rainy air
                       the far South
                       may be Rochdale

  • Well, that is so definitely offish – really badly. These adverbs add voice – an unpleasant whine mostly. Occasionally balanced. So — what. We need a half question mark here – named the quesma. You picture it. Go on. Do so.
  • Sometimes, though, the semantics are plain & apparently monofunctional. Take the openplan bank. Modern, friendly, or, “friendly” – but in fact most of the people you encounter working in banks are really nice, so that’s not so much scare quotes as labelling automatic ideologically motivated abuse. Even an office layout can make you feel good. Environmental design works on us as powerfully as language, though with less self-consciousness.2 But the anxiety Dave reported as actual & unexpected – everyone fearful. Someone might come in, armed, & threaten, injure or kill. It could happen. Banks – yeah, yeah, yeah. We know. We do. But an ordinary waged person, dealing with customers at a desk? Do they deserve worse than you? Really?
  • real criminals then
                             – psychotic as hedgies
                               use & abuse
                               not a trade
                               a vocation

                               fucked up to enter3
                               OK but
                               taking your things
                               what you need
                               & have made
                                                   – by force
                                                     or by fraud

    how different then from rulers & other
                               high status elites
                               their hired thugs

                               actual criminals
                               against human law
                                             all of them

  • Yeah! Let this be a positive poem, twinkly as a tapir’s dainty little hooves, unpredictable, ridiculous & true as a performance by Holly Pester, noisy & bubbly as a toddler, unabashed by ideology, fashion & correctness, as friendly to bank workers as to poetic workers, even academic workers, happy to be here today answering your questions,4 & its own questions,5 all questions. Right – who’s next?



1 & even more raised, we are sure



2 It falls over if it tries this.



3 Isn’t that true of all vocations? Priest or poet – who is the more fucked up?



4 preferably by other questions



5 always w/ other questions