Listen to this piece read by the author

before the storm is
the storm. Our waiting tunnelling outward, chewing at the as-yet-not-here, wild,
& in it the
that phantom, hovering, scribbling hints in the dusty airshafts where we
await rain which
once again will not come, though something we think of as the storm
will. Steeped in no-colour colour. Smothering hopes with false
promises, as wind comes up and we feel our soul turn frantic
in us, craning this way and that, yes the soul can twist, can winch itself into knots,
why not, there is light but no warmth, we are alone yet
not, no trace but the feeling of
trace, who wouldn’t be a child again,
teach me how to work, how to be kind, teach me ignorance, sweet ignorance,
the roads lie down in us, all the roads taken, they knot up,
they went nowhere, cld that be true,
they made a shapeless burden we carried around calling it lived-
experience. Did you live. Did it feel like life to
you. At the water’s edge you feel
you should ask for
instruction. Go ahead. Right there where the waves shatter over the rocks and the plumes
rise, the vast silky roads of ocean arrive as spray, spume, droplets, foam.
Is that shattering what was meant by ripeness.
We were told to aim for ripeness,
to be broken into
wisdom. You look at the rocks again, the sleeping planet at your back, under yr
feet, nothing coming back, nothing coming round, you close yr eyes
for clues, u peer, inhale, listen madly for clues. What is hell. The
imagination of what is
coming is hell. The light of my monitor
blinks. What will the readout
tell us. Who is us. How will us change
when the readout
arrives, the ice-core update, the new temps for the
arctic depth-sounds, bone scans, outposts on
stars, on cells. I look for the stars on
my body, I look all over. The spray off the rock
rinses my face. My
eyes take the brine. What
is coming, will you be there. In this quiet now is
all of
yr life says the monitor, should I say my
life, should I say
ours, I can’t tell tenses & pronouns
apart, I can feel
my veins, I shake in my dreams, I think I am cold, the wind picks up,
like a tooth on a stone, the tooth of something small
which was slaughtered,
its screaming
below the threshold of our
hearing, just below. Then maybe I’m not born yet. Maybe I am waiting in
the canal. Can you
hear me I say again. They are putting a drug in.
They want me to join the
race. They know we are out of time.
Hurry they say. A different kind of hurry than the one you
are used to
they say.
They are trying to tame us.
Outside I hear laughter but it could be veins rushing when
guns are pointed. They are pointed at the outside of
this. At the belly of
this poem. They can’t help
it. They are in cities under
siege. Their hands on the triggers are
hopeless. They have run out of
ideas. Dogs run through the streets till they
turn to meat.
The things that live in the ground
have to surface.
The heat outside sounds like air sucking up
light. They are calling my name. I am not born yet & still I am trying
to say yes, yes,
here I am,
is there a bloodied envelope for me,
one of us needs to be delivered. Now a beam is shining over all the rubble
picking for clues.
Is this all the life left before the gate to
the next-on thing?
They tell me the gate to the next-on thing is bloody but warm.
That they mean well.
To remember that they
meant well.
A seedpod floats down, swirling light on & off.
The shadows want to show us
wind. Even the invisible
say the shadows
is here. Are you
Was that a butterfly or its shadow just now. The lake
dried up. The earth is
on standby. No, the earth is going off
standby. The mode is shifting. A switch is
being thrown. The passengers
are stranded. Will there be enough. Of
anything. Look,
the girl is sitting on her small suitcase
weeping. She is alone now.
Look, she is no longer weeping. She is
staring. The earth says
it is time. Everyone checks their watch.
Your destination is in sight. Be
ready. Brace. The traincars shake. They rattle.
Our test is still blinking.
Is this the ending rattling. The outcome. The verified
result. No
it is something else that rattles.
How I wish there were an intermission.
The sweets would arrive on their little wooden trays.
The curtain’s velvet would descend.
To let the story cool off
for a while.
So we could catch up,
compare our favourite parts,
wonder who would be saved,
who would pay the price in full,
for their folly, their trespass, their refusal, their
love. No, I remember learning,
back in the prior era,
there is no love. It’s all
desire. Hurry up. Your destination’s
in sight. Brace for
arrival. The traincars
shake. They rattle.
No it’s something else that rattles.
I shake you gently. This would be a good time to
rouse. Do you wish
to rouse.
Are we there yet you ask. I do not know. I am
the poem. I am just shaking you
gently to remind you.
Of what? Of time? That this is time? That there is
time. Do you want
the results. No. I don’t want to know.
The lake went by so quickly.
It was teeming, as they used to say, then it was
sand. Then even the sand blew away.
And now look. It is
bone. How it shines.
The people in the committee meeting don’t see the lake, they are
still talking. Actually
they are not talking.
They are
They do this by looking
down. The lakebed goes by in a flash
on their overhead.
Whose turn is it now.
Have you stood your turn in line.
Have you voted.
For what says the young eagle
diving over the lake looking for the lake
as the train rattles by, for what.

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