His Pen (The Heart in the Sleeve)
'It's private.' This they said of his words. Though they were made by
the hand, what he reached with into the world's whispered voice. What
called him. What calls us all. His pen, now orphaned, reproducing in
language by a fusion of his elements. Dedicated, indifferent, he says
to me 'There are no such things as survivors (only relatively). No such
things as those who die and those who live only another day and someone
who, for the moment, has three whole minutes of eternity with which
to play that verb they hold up their mortal sleeve. Why does the heart
look always for a hand? Because only the hand knows that love too must
be tended by love.'
All So Familiar
All so familiar, any of this himself.
In the beginning he used magic, memberships and a fixed address. From
there, it dwindled. With religion he pretended not to have a body and
then without a body he was a man ruined by distracted women. See that
pool of blood - he bled it. It's a bird's blood, ripped apart by a sack
of cats. Here, something, interrogated by other things and not of those
When was he born in this dead state? With the details of his grandchildren,
the details of his loyalties and interests, his travels, crafts and
names known to others.
Through the celebration of dreams, Yes! The tall corpse inside him,
the one standing around who doesn't know where to go, who has no need
of anywhere to go. Around this muscle, this exorcism, he tensed all
fear. He sat up, alone at night, for eight hours until he ached like
hot water but nothing changed.
Even now, nobody is leaving through his eyes.
Little Drips of Me (Her Operation)
Little drips of me are falling into the space next to her. pat,
pat pat, pat She doesn't
recognize me at first and then she tries to be resilient and remain
herself. I like all the things she does with difficulty and that little
flannel cloth with which she wipes the splashes of me from her smooth
elbows. It is all so specific - as if I might be created by a really
new law - that I try to exact myself in this, her operation.
The Earth is a Graveyard
It's too easy to lose our hearts. ~o~ The earth is a graveyard. ~o~
Take little poems out of their tombs and praise them. ~o~ Hands fall
like gliders from the mind. ~o~ Hearts shock other hearts. ~o~ The earth
is the dream of a single sun. ~o~ For all readers a new remembrance.
~o~ In the graveyard's glare all sin fades. ~o~ Lost hearts bury dedications
'Reasons to be inconsolable abound...'
Alain de Botton
Jumping around with arms swinging, face-to-face in the light carriage
of Dr Proust's advice ('If only I could value myself more! Alas! It
is impossible'), I wondered what could be got, with such health, from
the end of the world. Always, of course! It always is and may be. Knowing
this, and I mean truly knowing it - Hello Death and afterwards
I'm sure we've met because it tipped a bucket of cold water over my
head (baptising the poet!) - there's no wariness about time and how
to use it, but practically everything still remains impossible.
You would think I didn't have to worry, being a very quaint small drawing
of a human figure, knees up, in someone else's book - why do I need
exercise?!, but we all have our troubles, our little bête
noires. For example, I may not have to write by inadequate lamplight
but even electricity hasn't found me poring over the mistresspiece to
his master. O, in all the world! a life crumbling towards inadequacy,
via inadequacy. Reasons to be inconsolable abound - fifty thousand dollars,
the producer being my leg this afternoon because they didn't want to
pay me, the face glimpsed in the street indistinguishable through resemblance
from the face of a dead love. Last year: eighty-seven thousand dollars
buried somewhere in a beach of words, more people than ever with tattoos,
complication exponential for the living... For the future, I may leave
these pages, born into a true poverty where thinking follows its own
true course for that (can't write about it because I don't
know) but now I stretch in the present like a lazy cat belly-full on
sun-dreams where the ghosting shadows pass through my eyelids to a deeper
brain than action, paws epileptic in the crushed basil as I enter the
cave of nighttime TV. Shuffles past, a young man just starting to be
a vagrant, matted hair, still clear skin. He looks surprised - not at
us - and a little oblivious. Young girls - if they could think: they
want us - because we walk arm in arm, have gotten here without losing
love. And what is it I'm remembering from all time, writer, fourteen
years under your thin coverlet? Remember what? That living is in it
- the sad little bits that feel like nothing, not
Torn Like a Grain of Sand
He tore a grain of sand in half with his bare hands. Post-Solomon, yet
unaware of the hypothetical, he ripped and ripped until he had it in
two. Of course for a good reason he didn't divulge. And why should he
for we didn't even see him do it. Just knew because there was an extra
grain of sand (or two half-grains! He demands that we be precise. That's
his real strength, after all.) Following his feat, he was exhausted
but unlike weaker men - us, for example - he didn't sleep. He went and
stood next to a mountain and craned his head till he could see over
The Profile of the Dead
I couldn't even reassemble my own skeleton, not being able to follow
the special marks in order to get my life back inside the fence. 'Everybody
is capable of dying' said the sign at the gate and of the alleged dream
of the sum of activities of plants and animals in small print below,
as if in place of warning a fine, 'Be careful - it's not compulsory'.
And the latch sticks because in not allowing you to wake nature has
its own purposes which have little to do with the matters to be shown.
Then why this painful diffidence, this unjustified shame? Don't you
know you can only expect praise for what is known? There is to be no
lamenting here, just more good work. And so, inhuman, but keeping the
format, I impose my delicate presence on the field through an unexpected
semantic high-jump which immediately gave the impression that I was
a believer in the liar's paradox. Such a rare allocation of the body
took even the official record by surprise and I became (ironically)
known as a double of living (kind of like an unrecognized member of
staff in a German university). And though I now know there is nothing
after death thus this journey has no end, I am still fiddling with another
logic where nothing can constitute and equal that end. Infinitely I
am being redrawn - really, you wouldn't believe the popularity of the
only possible alternative. Everything in the world asks me a question.
I am the answer.
After 30 Minutes, No Kind Word
A person sleeping. Another person sleeping. After thirty minutes, no
kind word. No hand bearing promises. No approach. No expression, no
misreading. Nothing unmeant. No smile, no fist. No torturer with a string,
the dark, a message from a lover. No lines of card-bearers for the war.
No tears for anything beyond the body. No magic. The world is without
them. No story. No fear.
'Sun is the only pulse that runs by itself.'
The sun has crashed into a house, setting it on fire, but nobody on
the ground was hurt. Record numbers of hearts have fallen in love this
year. They wake in the mornings, when the sun tells its own story of
the 1001 nights, to feelings of such happiness. They are boring. See
them go around like two wading birds. And then growing human genitals
in the afternoon walking with their arms trying to make new edges until
they come to a field. Everyone sleeping can hear them. Snorting and
riding the heat they generate in the rub of their speech. In fact, I
will call them tribein and logos. The noise they are
making is like the earth screaming its head off. Or like thunder when
they are chased by a swarm of bulls which kneel on them to prayer. True,
it might be that we could learn a certain objectivity, a rhetorical
practice, from their figures - the three-rayed light given
off because of their situation (they have swallowed too much warmth)
- but when we lie at night it is your pulse I feel when my hands ask
questions of the day. Earrings dangle down the side of the dream of
fellatio and at every imaginable shove into me bracelets clink like
a toast. Listening becomes like payment in acknowledgement of subjection
and that just because nothing is happening. We can't stay awake. We
notice, together, that red is the last colour to disappear - holding
out against all those greys - and from the perimeters (yes, plural)
there comes a muted cheer: the crowd has accepted your plea! Writing
this, over the side of the bed, with my rouge brush, I am aware of the
golden ovulation sliding towards the horizon-scar that lines my womb.
Your nostrils make so much noise. Certainly, the sun will fall again
tomorrow. Certainly it will.
M T C Cronin has had six books and two booklets of poetry published.
Her next, 'beautiful, unfinished PARABLE/SONG/CANTO/POEM'
is forthcoming in 2003 with Salt Publishing, Cambridge, UK. She currently
lives in Maleny with her partner, a musician, and their three young daughters.