(c) Daniel Stephensen 2018
DROPS OF MATTER
We struggle from the port of catastrophe
Across the underside of presence,
Returning to seek affinity in the world
Like the overflowing dead
Who lay out their affairs
In the zone of pre-life memory.
We bathe curves of correspondence in visions.
We form fluidity at the same time as cohesion.
We say that all form is held between bodies,
Where drops of matter resolve and fall
Over lines and surfaces and contours,
Momentary centres of the world.
DROPS OF SOUL
Young children and the dying
Have pre-life memory,
Spontaneous and unmixed,
Set in motion by drops of soul
Folded into matter
That rub up against one another.
A succession of deepest shock
Unleashes shapes of memory curvature
That stretch into the organic world
Through small oscillations in the soul.
An animal of her exact genetic curve
Passes from one body to another.
Blessed and damned by innovation,
We place ourselves in affinities
To see the substance of possible worlds.
At her limit, what is clear consists of holes
That give her right of way to bend,
To stumble, and plunge to the obscure.
Affinity rays shadow the curvatures
Into her cavernous subtle interior.
DROPS OF FORM
We must cast a figure from us
Over the high crest of obscurity,
Though what form can be recognised?
Veil of being, ceramic wave,
Canvas both open and cloaked.
The curvature bobbing in space
Becomes a body adorned with drops of form
Capable of setting it billowing before us.
With reason but without conclusion,
Our mind drapes the form in matter
To render how it combines and participates,
The way it reaches itself from near and far,
How it transforms the obscure relationship
Into the particular figure, curved to presence,
Collapsed to the cast,
//Composed as exhibition text for
Debut XIV: like mist I am neither the sea, nor the sky
14 February to 3 March 2018
Blindside Gallery, Melbourne, Australia//
IN MY NINETEENTH YEAR AT MY INITIATIVE I SET FREE THE WHOLE WORLD
In my nineteenth year at my initiative I set free the whole world
Which was oppressed by the tyranny of earth and sea.
As victor I spared colonies and cities, and three times I was emperor.
I placed sacrifices to gods; five times forty years I was augur,
Sacred fellow of generations, and I celebrated,
For my long life refused death.
I paid out rewards in cash,
And four times I doubled the capacity of the temple
Built between Jupiter and Saturn from war-spoils.
Gladiators, pirates, golden masters, all swore allegiance to me
And demanded me as leader, and I sailed my ships to sanctuary Mars.
Emissaries and kings defeated in war experienced the faith of universal power,
And all called me Subduer and Thunderer, divine Youth,
Liberator raised, redeemed and given.
A RING TECHNIQUE OF ISOLATION
Even if we opposed the years,
We are still at the aspect of technique:
To replace the person,
We encircle an orbal centre of great intensity
In texture, variation, fields of colour, strictness and grasp,
Sculpting adjacent sectors to a common form
Raised by instinct and indistinctness.
I am a rudimentary place,
Figurative and strangely flared.
Any moment somebody will come along.
THE SOUL PASSES THROUGH THE LABYRINTH
The soul passes through the labyrinth
Above infinity, above matter, above its own freedom.
The boy yielded a body experienced as part-object:
The girl said yes, in turn referring to her hairy heart
Occupied by a thousand contrary questions.
They make a sensitive place, they make a feast,
They make passions in the organ of imagination,
They make a bit and bridle to be proud of,
They make the latitude to destroy pessimism,
They make the primal movement of a more powerful animal.
They talk about limits, dimensions,
The undertaking by which the animal either is part of the world,
Movement and sympathy and participation,
Or it dies already in the problem,
A pity no longer even on the plane of Nature.
Feverish words: How will I seek? I’m hungry;
How will I enter into new substance?
This will not involve imitating a body,
Or endowing it with resemblance
To the same thing it no longer is.
From the beginning
They wish nothing less than to make a human being,
A floating thing of speed and rest, pain and masochism,
Circulation and certitude, and slowness, as forbidden,
The animal run wild from its memories.
TO FIND THE CONSTELLATIONS, TO GIVE THEM NAMES FOR OUR OWN NEEDS
On the same edge,
We find him tirelessly filling the void with cavities,
Discovering the relative procedure of the word;
Whereas we go from the edge to meaning,
From terror to a field of rhythm, then back,
Drawn into the fray,
East of identity, east of unity,
East of each other,
And back again.
In the interval, the body is without properties,
A camphorated horde of odds and ends
Laying out a model for use elsewhere;
The creaking plot of a map without bearings or measure,
Lacking stars, sun, meridians,
Latitudes, sea, sky,
Any decisive values.
But it is all there in the natural history of dreams:
Imagination the structure,
Participation the strange imperative,
Ancestry the earthly sum,
Art the chain of descent;
At a given moment, the animal may reach across the thresholds
Between resemblances and reality.
We fragments detour between the same city,
Two kinds of voyage in place;
Nothing is ever done with.
The reversal of love is the same,
The result is the same.
It is the call to become purged of the teeming swarm of happiness
That is so difficult to hold, however heavenly;
As difficult as moving to another, a second kind,
I AM COMBINATIONS, THE PRINCESS OF
I am Combinations, the Princess of,
Shining freckles dashing the gazeless black.
We could make a beam, one within the other,
Clandestine, adorned with warnings,
And only at last speed to the unbridled body,
To the architecture of love;
And only, at last, is abstract forgetting
Not just the correlate
But the treatise of humanity.
I am Flight, the Princess of,
Crossing promenades of memory to come,
Carried off at the vanishing point,
Trampled and tearing in my little madness,
Crossing armed only with blood,
Crossing the silvery lines of the third body:
I am Desire himself, ad infinitum.
I’ve given expression to a limitless inadequacy
Designatable as a continuum of codes.
I speak calm and feeling and morally suspended
In the atmosphere of the seer:
Fully erect and terribly random,
Prohibited icons name the skin in wrath,
In truth, in excess, in other words: I’ve always known
I have the power to guess what they’re up to.
A stern beam prevails. The black hole on the horizon
Spins into consciousness a set of artifices,
Slowest at work in the dream-loved face,
And a forward fragment of the hearth.
You recognised its rays at the last moment,
Each a signal in voyages of light
Spread everywhere by the hypnotic cruelty of nature;
Animality, designation, detector:
Jaguar, passion flower, a cricket on the snow.
SHOULD I SAY THINGS DIFFERENTLY?
Should I say things differently?
Should I sew my internal nature to the threshold?
But the interior is coded by the face
Pure traits are coded by the face
The face, if even human, swims behind the mirror
Stretching past the great unnameable wall
Stricken in its demented destiny
To move along the dwindling horizon
Should I gaze toward the horizon?
Is it emptiness reflected into existence?
It’s still a form of folly
Should I be carried off to the sexual body?
It is a beautiful landscape
A region of precarious subjectification
Significance at the lips of disgrace
Snout, hide, capture, chivalry
Hand and mouth and attention
Arrayed toward the sea and hill of another animal
Is primitive blood a manual?
Is virtue a utensil?
Is man’s de facto incompetence watching me?
Yet the question remains
EARLIER THE PASSION WOULD COME
Earlier the passion would come
Through a moon-vague face A special mechanism of luminosity
A black crest in the twilight
Language eyes cut the holy wall
We saw a broad angel without recall
But with all significance and intersection
All potential exterior to consciousness
Black holes cannot be alone
The All is hurtling them
Two by two into the face
In order to break consciousness
To break through the screen of appropriate signs
Nothing in all this is in fashion
The scene at the end is a useless little office at dusk
A square cavity And two manual sensations:
Curiosity and spite
A CARBON AGENT CONTEMPLATES
A carbon agent contemplates
Sensations in themselves
As if making them resonate
Everywhere can force feeling
Imagination originates light
Plant contemplates the plane
Flowers smell the rocks
The soul does nothing
A habit is very fragile
A brain is very fragile
In the composition
A soul appears as pure movement
From one mystery to another
Responding to the force of affinities
The same varieties of force
Differ the internal world
Turning and turning an open sea
Of inseparable realities
Beneath the noise of knowledge
THERE IS A SUBTLE SCIENCE
There is a subtle science
Hazardous in hiatus
That calls upon the brain
To doubt unity of knowledge
It is not just us
The hidden paths
Force personae to the plane
The brain plunges among the slidings
The three posed for each death
As uncertain colour points
In chemical networks
To young memory
Black and distinct
Grasped by sensation attractors
Tissues of light
THE REAL EXISTS ONLY TO BEGIN WITH
The real exists only to begin with
When its situation is possible
It belongs to a world within itself
The third state is the variable problem:
No more than the shape with a face is real
A possible person replaces the components
When the face becomes pure features
Three short problems:
The special object zigzags from perception
A relationship we say is always transitive
Finite regions of each other oscillating between worlds
Inseparable from pain
The problem makes fragmentary passages
Through the face, infinite with doubts
CLOSER TO OUR RIVALS
Closer to our rivals
Marketing benefits safeguard us
From independent consciousness
The creation of collective worldviews
In packages or displays of commodity
Replaced creating friends in
Wisdom is no more than the heart’s second line
Our concern was with the set of displays
That can be sold
As their special solution emerges
Sexual product sets up our most comic moments
In the theatre of sales promotion
There is no simple contour
Every beginning is double or triple
Cutting to one side
To the turn
Suddenly a frightened world looms
Out of the three-face:
The special object
The special object gets the giggles
Successive minds wipe away its tears
THE SALT SILK WALLS
a thousand grey
Let the surface
Clear the pale
in the field
cold with abandoned
its reflection eye
UNREAL LIFE IS MERELY ONE FORM OF WORK
Unreal life is merely one form of work
Made and controlled by the organs for shortage.
The limpid poem arouses a recreation industry;
Ready-made fable becomes the medium of employment.
Unbridled dominance of speaking manoeuvres
Rages as the character of viewpoint,
Occupying, by way of ornament and frivolous claim,
The time of human existence.
Harassed by gain and success,
Poetry above all goes the way of poets.
They dream aside from imagination, from the things of life
According to the course of their essential, incompatible nature.
Where it is heading comes soberly in their eyes.
A dimension is spanned when the lines block radiance
To grasp for the interplay, the perplexing, palpable unknown,
Yes and No, gathered.
The alien sky courses and calls, rises and comes,
Silent, and sights the earth as sheer light,
Earth light, image of images, the element of God,
Our name for the appearances.
Radiance of the unknown is the measuring map,
Each foreign shade of substance, seasons
Fleet with life and spectacle, the claim of the heart
Emptied in abundance.
THE MERCHANT OF GLANCES
The merchant of glances lives as this constant trader of values,
Middleman and money,
Recalling the real radiant appearance of the heart’s four lines:
Song, rule, protection, passage,
In one mark.
Grounded in such forms as nature deals with in time and space,
Even self-assertive representation is an elegy
Against the logic of the heart,
In which everything, unbounded,
Rises on the tip of almost unfathomable presence.
Within one another rest the transient things,
Outside all shielding,
Constant toward the interior. The heart’s daring objects,
Turned against the safety of rescue,
Mere familiar things,
Rest so passionately that nature converts inward to the heart’s space,
A turn recalling the desire of frailties.
This interior sphere can only be the most invisible,
The most transient domain of representation by heart.
In innermost love, all this belongs to the dead who are to come,
All this belongs in the overflow
Inclined toward the customary world.
Who among us is more daring than consciousness?
Have we all along been the visible image of the dead?
We ceaselessly come. We ceaselessly meet halfway,
Converts to nature.
What is there to be recalled?
The visible objects of the heart’s fabrications used up,
Their order becomes to fade one another away,
To turn the transient toward the lasting,
Their song a song willing, within itself, for that mark,
For the soundness of the hard sound of matter.
In every case, another name.
In the saying, desire turns, parting,
Into the still forming heart.
EVEN THE REALM OF THE OTHER DEAD
Even the realm of the other dead
Wills technological objectification
That realm is averted from us
In the sense shell which reveals
The unshieldedness of the whole sphere
In the orbit of the realm of the dead
If we convert nature to affirm a rule
Nature is shaken by our touch
And the orbit becomes the turn
To the other side of the modern
Is the unbridled earth
The poets hunt
Bewitched by the poetic
Vaporising into literature
Does not all the lovely poetry
Clear up the lack
Incompatible with shortage?
Meanwhile language rages
Meanwhile it is language that speaks language
Full of what comes
Presume to elevation
And from the poetic
Describe our essential nature
Among the voices in the earth
ALL BEINGS OF THE HEART DARE LANGUAGE
All beings of the heart dare language
Language is the going through the temple
The precinct of consciousness
The whole sphere of unshieldedness
Is a special system
The realm not only of the heart
Like a personal belonging
But of the world’s inner will
Their consciousness the world’s
Transmutation because it has the inner whole
From both realms
A basic word
An invisible word
pour out spirits
for the They
spits prayer into problem
and draws a BLANK sheet for a journey we might take
beginning in the morning
on the talk side
of my having woken you
WHERE do you go in the night?
You leap out of bed
Everything is a machine
I go to watch and REPAIR
the machines that come to
beat all hope
from your fear-
weep! for this machine
is a stone sucking LARVA
In the mornin
I am the shortest route
What we are really trying to say
is that we feel we are mere
TRIFLE in the
rigours of morpheme
Quit talking to me that way
quit talking to me that way
HOW DID IT GO?
How did it go?
I can see over the bridge again
I can smell the flood and the frost
The overnight train in the snow
THE THINGS YOU DON'T KNOW ABOUT ME
The things you don’t know
about me and my life, you said,
would turn your hair grey
March too has passed in a haze
We trace an alien light to its source
I only am escaped alone
to tell thee
and brief days alter
sift and funnel us
back into a point
in you, in me
a honey bee
a salt flower
after the wind that fortifies you
in the hills
over what rests
and the aloe
the peace lily say
To the sun!
sick to the grin
Memory takes a half measure
In restless rest, half-masted;
And what’s this? — A list of names, fuel costs,
Directions to Rivera’s house in Guanajuato
San Miguel de Allende is more
American, I was told, advised, directed,
Jet-setted in my black-eyed dusty-shoed
What’s-new-sailor three-sheets chic
I'm half-listening, thinking of Tina Modotti:
Robo cast his lot with beauty
And what now? — A misquotation
of Mayakovsky misquoting Pasternak:
I wandered with you, repeating my part
From head to toe, I knew you by heart
‘The screech of the bomb
still makes sense to us, but the ravings
of the poet seem like gibberish,’
wrote Henry Miller
Christ! all these pages, all this
Anguish, ecstasy, charity, reverberation, pity —
God damn it all!
I disavow nothing
IT WAS I WHO TORE APART THE PAST
It was I who tore apart the past,
I, also timeless, long ago,
And I, then,
Who sought vitality and beauty
With lurid melodies at amiable near distance
In inherited timescape
Each night in dreams,
Past the indefinite border of silence,
For a long time now I
A long time
I trod a zone of clarity,
Credulous captive of a plane of trumpets,
In their language, a tongue of
I tore apart the past
To find a future split and spearing
At where I thought the present
It’s not anything, the dead stillness,
They stay dead,
But patterns of lives, and however we live
No pattern stays clear,
Even in the zone
I thought the present, as at a Sunday service
Or a graveside speech
It is hard work for the dream addict, I said,
And waited for the luminous wave,
Light which enjoys itself in skin, and in eyes,
And in the naked black wash of a moon,
In private annotations, in the first shy line, rays of graphite,
Wood left unpainted, long blue shadows,
Long blue running shadows,
All its little seams
And winter jonquils beaming in the hour after four o’clock
Make themselves a smaller hunger to go on
Till the memorable smell of wilting,
And on it goes, luminous wave
In contentment of entire and true pleasure.
IN HIS DREAM HE IS DISMANTLING HIS WRISTWATCH
In his dream he is dismantling his wristwatch
carefully piece by piece
removing the glass and the hands
taking out each cog and laying it aside
THIS COMING YEAR I STEPPED MYSELF INTO THE WORLD
This coming year I stepped myself into the world
and worked and read with libraries and cafés
and travelled with the murmur of stars
and cast silence with redwood and fog
and with a deer stood in sanctuary
taking breath of the prospect
I'D LIKE TO BE THANKFUL, BUT WHY?
Danken möcht’ ich, aber wofür?
verzehret das Letzte Selbst die Erinnerung nicht?
I’d like to be thankful, but why?
/ does the last memory not consume itself?
/ does the last not consume the memory herself?
/ does the last one not consume the memory of herself?
Who is left behind?
Une obscurité sans fond
You’re not the first of you
Many animals are en route
northward, a clean escape
in the ruts of your variant
I ONCE KNEW A BOY WHO WANTED TO SUMMON A DEMON
I once knew a boy who wanted to summon a demon,
So he hailed up an old Czech one using spells of his mother’s tongue.
Is it evil
To meet a craving?
He stank with demon, rotten, appalling,
The sour retch of rats dead and swollen in the walls,
This astonishing, putrid reek.
A shadow moved like lumpy humming under his eyes.
He had a soft, breaking voice,
His hair never moved, never altered,
His shirt stayed neatly tucked. He was static.
He talked in mutter.
It was not something to take lightly, as perhaps he had, at first.
It was a distinct substance, and it did not arrive whole
In hellsong and triumph, as you might think, but over years, naturing,
Quiet as a buried stream, a mastery of patience.
EACH EYE KEEPS ITS OWN TIME
Each eye keeps its own time
Old man, small dog
Brambled to the track
A crossing bell, February
Snow piled round the stepstones
Sometimes it feels like Chekhov-brand wallpaper
Sometimes the true, unchanging line
Seen slide by
Through a double window
Fogged to crystals
Cryptic and disappearing