The Military Subject or How to Wear Camouflage

To provide an introduction to the ‘world’ as it is right now is an inherently solipsistic and ideologically infested means of ‘manufacturing consent’. Articles of this kind will often begin by providing an expansive panorama of events that constitute the world in which the emergence of this article becomes not only necessary but also inevitable. This is of course a journalistic trick: it provides, ostensibly with the interest of providing a ‘context’, the ideological assumptions of the article as an objective, radically disinterested documentation of pressing, relevant events of which the article is not only culmination but also resolution. The trick lies in the fact that once we have been introduced to the necessary assumptions of the text, and have (whether forcefully or not) accepted them to be true, we have already accepted too much and then the article cannot be challenged from outside its own parameters (‘restrict your argument to the article, please’). Although I cannot promise any drastic disavowal of the journalistic conventions of article writing, I can forgo the strictness of introductions by providing only the key ‘tags’ of my interest and allowing the reader to freely associate the relationships amongst them and the situate them in the ‘context’ of the current ‘world’: war, militarization, patriotism, hierarchy, popular culture, code, honour, structure, ideological constitution, state.
Continue reading “The Military Subject or How to Wear Camouflage”

how to say something else

that I could forget like snow
engraves its residue in footprints.
what death is this that stands there
waiting for us to lunge at him—
like a snowman.
outcast, misspelled, misbelieved—
poor little miscreation.
if palms were only big enough to wipe these tears.
four ticks, two clocks, one tsunami
like all the snow in the world.
and still not enough for thirst
of something more than blood.
like snow white
killed by seven dwarves.
a thousand knotted faces, cluttered in hope,
bound by a prayer of ‘regeneration’,
kneeling before the god of helplessness.
love is a cry of desperation
love was never enough.

image credit: Rachel Harrison

after this

otherwise:
it could have been worse.

could all
our stories fit into
honeycomb cupboards
like we did
when we were children,
strung out like warm cheese,
still taste the same
but different
to the touch?

(no winters ever spared the trees,
our birds were forlorn pragmatists.
nostalgia is for those that stay,
felt for those that leave and promise
to come back)

unless:
there is no other way
to love ourselves
but in the absences
of those who never stay.

unless love can
beat us down and abandon
us to pulse and skin
can patch blue thorns,
not hide but become,
a cover of wistful darkness–
or whatever you find
in cupboards.

sixteen waking hours
and I have given up
what little
i couldn’t throw away.

a little space between your legs
i can weasel mine into
for something I could mistake
for warmth.
who knows what really happened
between you and me.
two halves of story
together still incomplete.
two halves:
incompletes of something else.

(i am all sides and no centres
the depth of the burgundy tide
that rolls over your feet
and then recedes into everything)

you left me canyons
in whose depths coruscate
the vital pebbles
of my own storming memento
as i slip over cascades
that end
in the ravenous nothing
of empty cupboards.

and if nothing else:
this is the worst it could ever get
as long as there is something
after this.

(featured image posted by @ozanguzelce on Instagram)

skin

Thought of a sky buried beneath the wound
Cracks like the sail of a battleship, against the candied scab
Of all that aches for more than shore,
But there is no deeper meaning to suffering.
Babies born in feathered wombs struck with the wings of frost
That follow down every seedy motel bedroom
Until they find a way inside and hunger fingers for the taste
Of salt and sea.
Lungs of fish-bones and orange rind, trees tear through the tide
Of breathless bodies, arise
In shells scattered across beaches blunt bruised by battered blue whales,
Reaching for air across currents and countries moving the world
To deathly dance with fury and replaced
Faith with drowning faith.
But home is in our fingernails, buried in unfinished sabbath dinner
Curved in the shadow that lines two hands sewn
In anguish and love.
The mind is coffin for those whose funerals are scarce,
Heaved beyond the clumsy synapses of stubborn memory.
There is no deeper meaning to suffering
But our wounds are only as deep as skin.

half-and-half

I have often feared of great disasters, and kept my keys
Where I can always reach them, if ever I needed to
Lock the door from within.
My brother once said odd beginnings had odd ends
But the sum of my life is always a study in
Half of what it could have been.
I have reached for metaphor after metaphor
But found that nothing ever truly
Equals something else.
I have reached for that note too high on the fifth string
And made do with one that fits just
As well in everything.
My father never came home before the night was dead,
And smoked by the window. I always thought
He was talking to me
But now I see I can’t remember his voice and
Today’s not the anniversary
Of dead nights.
My brother was a madman who never loved himself
But always found enough in his heart
To love me.
So many ages have sagged in my spotty arms
And the weight of helpless despondency
Has turned my eyes
Into the dark marbles of my musty youth,
Into pictures without time
Into hatred.
I feel the shadows of this lampshade taking over
And the scurrilous pounding of ancient nerves
And I can’t find my keys.
Oh well, there’s so much to tell but so little
To tell it with. I have often feared of great disasters but
The little ones got the best of me.

purple rosebud octopus

purple rosebud octopus
i thought you were ready to pounce
with a curve of your back
and shadow whiplash
but you came softly through,
slid your watery cups across
my bruising skin
and there infused
your gentle toxin that
turns sand into ice.

purple rosebud octopus
i wish i could cry
so i could weep away the slow sting
of your phantom limbs
and turn your dull cutlass
into the spear in my side
and then feel your limp
tendrils entangle my spine,
and to deceive myself
of all feeling.

purple rosebud octopus
where do your tentacles reach
when they wade into my mind?
do they reach around
until they find
that closet door
those years ago
where i hid away my sadness
and emerged
but only a feasting ground for octopi?

suits and glasses and love

What does it take to kill this spectre
Of electric memory that pulses through
Tips of my toes and drags my gut towards
Its incessant bubbling spring?

And at our confluence, sister, brother, friend
Where our charges shift and shade and sink,
Where our bodies tear into sparks,
What keeps us going on?

Mother, I have hated every moment
Of making space for suits and glasses and love,
When I could very well curl into
The current of our past and never wake up.

And now we flow in listless cities
Where everything runs but nothing ever moves.
We were built for rapids and foggy waterfalls
But now all we do is keep this fucking light-bulb on.

seedless

I don’t think I can make it up this staircase although I’d rather
Be up there than down below with all the loose flesh of
Spiked eyes, wrathful in their breath, sobre in their sense-
Less words. I could push my way up against this damp
Plastered wall, with all its cracks and faultlines reaching
For the slip of hot blood that rushes through the nerves
Of their eyes. I could hold my tongue and never speak again
And only hope not to be spoken to, because speaking was
My first sin and I’ve never gotten past it. I could get
On my knees and push my bag of snapping twigs up
Across each plateau until my legs are sore with boredom.

But do I really want to be up there, with those sexless
Lotusmouths that spew love like it’s a prize? God knows
Love is a fight and no one ever wins until they’ve given
Everything they’ve got and come up short, because love
Isn’t what you say, it’s what you can’t.

Maybe I’ll wait here and rest my head against the
edges, and bear the dull ache of its refusal like
String around my fingertips, and rest my hand across
Its shoulder to wait for some desperate fool to
Pass over me and excuse himself by crying out,
‘I’m sorry to be in a hurry but the slowpokes get
The guillotine and my skin is far too sensitive
To bear the weight of something that has crushed
So many a good man before me, I’m sorry.’

Maybe these steps will move and shrug me off if
I stay here long enough, or maybe the wood will
Rise from its open grave to engulf me in its arms and
The thorns and grass and leaves will capsize my body
Until it rests in some deep sleep of history books
Where the restless millions scamper to claim everything
They’ve lost, but I will be here, on this great, kind
Staircase until it shrugs me off.

keepsakes

Who did you hurt?
These bones were ground to dust before
The skin had ruptured.
You can pluck as many petals as you like
After the flower
Has withered and died.
Nothing stings when the spine has shed
It’s smarting vines
And the wishful malice in your eyes
Goes up in smoke.
And if you wish,
Take my soul and wring it dry;
It’s been heavy
Since the start of time.
Feast, you mongrels, on the flesh
Of what you wrought
If it will bring you joy.
Take my breaths in silver spoons
And feed it to the swine.
But know that with my body you will
Take my ache
And what goes twice is
Blessed twice:
Once for love and once
For cruelty.

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