9. The Disordered Feast

(1) The Dumbshow
OK, the shoe enters. It is adorable – as is Rita Hayworth in Gilda, blonde & deracinated, then repotted into fantasy Latin America. It is how she moves, why she moves, that the image-track is about. Serious, as sinuous, as smoke, as complex & dynamic actual systems, as the conduits of fluid within the great machine of this world: we inhabit barely, its ruins – young again, lost, begin again.

Perhaps we should be Kwan-Yin – not to reach her for succour but to cultivate her being. Even here, stuck on the Thames Crossing, waiting to bring the end of the world, we could do this. Anything could be possible or significant, even the arrangement of sandbags in a dead doorway. The glance of a woman on a bus when, oh, who knows – actually you do know: 1926; “Bibi à Londres” – you know, just before she turns into a bird and flies.

(2) The Feast
Albion St, Broadstairs, dawn. Towards its lower end, looking seaward. Roseate, low-key urban. Standing outside The Chapel bar, waiting for it to open, & remembering the old Albion Bookshop. Before then the little notice (mid C20) tells us it was the Parish Rooms, constructed as a chapel in 1601, replacing the former shrine to Our Lady of Bradstow. You reflect on the recurring need for a female aspect to godhead. How close Kwan-Yin is to the BVM – both maternal, & yet also with that cancelled: fantasies, male fantasies, just boys’, sons’, fantasies, sad in their inadequacy.

The shoe arrives. You are delighted.

YOU: Can we get out of this room we all live in?


nocturnal dream

GILDA: No. We must aim to destroy ourselves, for we are in the Atomic Age now. We must bring our suffering to an end. We must accept our blame, despite everything – even our hair – we must be punished for ever.

Time passes. Gilda does not die.

SMALL RUINED GIRL: This ancient hall shall be rebuilt for the common good; then inevitably stolen back by the high-status elites who gained power thru its control, and the whole cycle shall recommence.

(3) The Prayer
P:   Help us, Kwan-Yin, Chinese Goddess of Mercy & Bodhisattva!

A:   Help us, Kwan-Yin, you who changed your gender when you plunged back into our world to give us aid in the great task of living through this world in the sad eons after the Breaking of the Vessels. It is not in time your glance & your breath aid us. For there are no lives & no existences.

P:   Help us, Adrian Eckersley, intellectual & artist!

A:   Help us, Adrian. You think through the crush & ruin of our lives, living in that same rubble we scuttle amidst. Help us make the Great Crossing this night. Only as great sinners can we do this thing – help us now to sin.

P:   Help us, Richard Makin, artist & poet!

A:   Help us, Richard. Cut this world we live in back into its pieces so the fragments of incommensurable meaning may build up new patterns & fresh curbs. Revivify dead sands and drifting words around us. With your aid, we can get out: sudden violent creation.

P:   Help us, Mme Lartigue, née Madeleine Messager, first wife and first muse!

A:   Help us, Bibi, for you live for ever, quick & fresh & responsive to this world. Your husband will die; but you live on, your eyes as fragments of what life can be. Bless this bus & this dark shabby street you pass by above.

P:   Help us, little bird, little Dutch finch in flight!

A:   Help us, little bird. Simply to fly off into the dawn, dirty pink breaking up into calm & open nothing, process blurring all language.

8. O Stella Maris, Stella Salutis

This is a very English dawn all right, roseate & sooty both. Your shrine is drowned, half-derelict, a Kentish ale-house within the ruins of vast and futile literatures. You are a beloved artefact of language & incompleteness we improvise in wonder – yet always the same.

Help me here, sudden shoe of our delight – “Can we get out of this room we all live in?” Gilda says no, for we aim to destroy ourselves within our generation. Yet she lives – blameless now & polished as this whole smoking world – aren’t we all like just ephemeral congeries of vapour, trapped briefly within the vast edifices built around us? Here planets burn entire. Time to reclaim their ruins. The vermin that infest, our hope at last, small timid girl, come join us sudden.

Help us, Kwan-Yin. No junk here of virgin birth, immortal suffering – the calm of identity as freely chosen self-directed loss. Help me then, friend Adrian. The night is black, the traffic slow, the apocalypse still stuttering forever in the eternal present. Help me, friend Richard, I can’t get out. I can’t get in. The words are all sand & shingle here. Help me, woman on a bus, lost in time & reverie – about to tip & fly. Oh to love that! And fly off into the dawn, dirty pink breaking into calm blank nothing.

7. A Record of a Pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Bradstow

Out of
seed out
of seed
act of
need and
sudden entry

not beautiful
but delicious

not dichotomy
but one
not one
but many

these days
the technologies
of bog
brushes can
get very
complicated indeed
more so
than anyone
ever realises

the fox
took off
the fish
were alert
the music
came loud
in bursts
we become
totally lost
as circumstances
determine us

& this
now on
this beach
here we
look look
your hands!
mummy! mummy!
for sleep
I need
a pen
a feather
broke it

[low rumblings
like mumblings
are humbling
now bumbling
and tumbling
fine scumbling
at last
least said
tickle chase

on to
then for
five now
squeeze out
the flesh
what are
you doing
down there
niggle piggling

too bad
you can’t
go on
no no
no no
yeah no
put then
that way
no more

all at
home all
at home
sings this
sad bird
the silence
the desert
how distant