EYE JAR Stephen Nelson
The Red Ceilings Press
MMXIII [rcp 48] www.theredceilingspress.co.uk www.redceilings.blogspot.com/
EYE JAR Stephen Nelson
Some of the poems have previously been published in Eratio, Blue & Yellow Dog, Department, Unlikely Stories, Establishment, Shadowtrain, and in the Starry Rhymes Anthology. A few more are still on submission.
oak licks onyx
UNDERGROUND & ID The Underground is orange, an orange, a peach, fruit foaming in the gut, reminding me of the smell of rotting watermelons in Tel Aviv, the city’s microscopic orbit, akin to the body’s energy currents, akin to fruit - red, green, purple fruit like stations, whirlpools, akin to the entrance of human souls, the exit of human souls from the world, touch through sliding doors my fingertip antennae, this girl I’d like to fuck, reading Sartre, who’s a cunt because he didn’t believe in existential union with a profoundly loving intelligence, who I like nevertheless for his googly eye & impeccable French maleness, this girl & the carriage stuffed with males, none of whom I imagine are remotely interested in existential union, though interested in sex with this one girl, whose book is a statement, or an enquiry, or a curious idle acceptance of the atrocities of the world which she plays no part in, the train a kundalini serpent expunging guilt, ignorance, terror, package holidays in Bali, student discounts at burger bars, aromatic Australian body products for this one girl, rising to leave at my stop, but sitting down again, consumed by the mythos of the tube ride, its synchronistic resonance with an overstuffed id, maleness, the ontological necessity of fruit.
Neither this stop nor the next, the carriage empty orange plaid, empty save for this girl gone, a puir auld goat sounding like the dream of a shipyard, the city’s morphic field unfurling above our heads, sharp traders’ spice tobacco suit, soot, soil from which St Mungo sneezed the city’s compassion, a pliant history resonating below with every electric spark, every mechanical rattle, the swerve & flux of the carriage snake around the puir auld goat, the city’s oil rag angel, embodiment of collective loss & doon the Clyde tae Millport, river loose in every station, ferrying us o’er morphic seas with a ticket to shared identity, (where I stood once on a hill with my father & uncle, tender boyhood embraced by deep empathic being, the river, the valley distilled in one pulsating field behind material form, o’er aeons so content, contained, amorphous in me it & whole histories merged emerging).
The problem with reason is life isn’t reasonable, wood panel floor running the length of the carriage, my feet, his feet, their feet shuffling, faces fixed, grasped int-
uitively, plunged in darkness, interconnected chaos of a subway system hooked on isolation, the drag of the train exciting atoms, memory flux around a rigid ego structure with delusions of self containment, (we are all mixed up!), this auld yin shuffling in, sitting apart, blocked shamanic tendencies manifest as schizoid detachment, loss to community, the whole community mixed up in his brain, lunge & thrust of the carriage with intermittent light piercing, heliotropic eyeball bandage hanging at his feet, each carriage a unit, in a system, indistinguishable from this or that, where energies merge & overlap & this look becomes that glance & his body is your body, the soup of group mind, flux, fluidity, the old shaman shuffling off in pounding light, to zap his juice, his sap, with medicated rationality.
Young boy coiled around the hand-pole, rising up to clutch his mother who is full & ample, baby at her breast, sex shy nonetheless with tender lips & solar eye bright memory of a cosmos, mind of a solar system flaring in her hair, attempting to contain the boy who is love, wild, anarchic love in a tube train, told to give the seat to strangersâ€™ backsides bent on plaid, nebulae of the city swirling in the carriage, forming micro-pockets
of existence from which a handkerchief will burst, each individual host to eternity, the allembracing mother terror clasped between us, subterranean worm hole womb, the warmth of belly floods climactic shudder, opens birth canal, perinatal trauma hero trapped in existential pond dark, pounding despair from the void with an ultra sonic head thrust, surge & slither free to light, the global embrace of mother love, the planetary calm of preordained materiality.
Feet on floor tilesâ€™ exit & ascent, city sucks us into union, floods the mind with Asiatic sunlight, lost instantaneously to singleminded isolation dharma of the cross as healing technology, supreme psychotropic delicacy, Underground Christ as Father, Mother, midwife, bearing our sins, our sicknesses, universal victim soul, lost & forgotten, regained with new found poise & presence of a clean cut consciousness washed in bliss, the sacrament of stop-start dynamics embraced by all who slip a ticket, spin a turnstile, slide inside pneumatic doors purposefully, city saints offered sacrificially to the collective energy of a nation, vast unfathomable cosmic
in them, in me, in the subterranean sweep of the nationâ€™s history (from which we are inseparable), sub-atomic omnipresence blasting each heart with memory, direction, the final dissolution into myth.
WHITE COUGH 1. Fake folk bean toe in attendance. Ethereal manipulation logo consults only apostrophe ever to have survived castration.
2. The red vine holiday villa sits in sidereal plenitude. I am a violent moonbeam larynx at the core of lassitude.
3. Diphtheria valve succumbs to crust. Chase rainbow meat is my enemy in cars of parables of Samsung. Vinaigrette relic conspires to erase with toast factory teardrop plucked from craving.
4. Horn of euphoria blasts a printmaker. Lakes. Inks. Jar leaf unheard of saturation. Moist coil bone bind flits a butterfly to crevice lick the rock. Butter as urge in wine pap simulacrum.
5. Phone to the euphonium of ear personality with glow. Cataract the corporation involves the. Descant bliss inside a reactive lung quake. Mortuary orchard appeals to decibels.
BLUE LUNG 1. Ocean function bids me sober over bird death. Seals have the ease of
slouch bitter humus & the misery of soap pups. Chin sap cries the fervour of hermaphrodites towards me. Love seeks a. Best now. Hurt. Voice wine for patter skull suggesting igloo lube or suck choir in room with dance. Oyster under cemetery's pink cross with a throat to solve a vortex.
2. Rattle bank this surf. Use your gossip clock. Lick or boil green to vinyl edges. The very vein I wash muscle with. If I tap insist the smooth talk. Attitude of gut.
3. Sheer calm of poison piss sponge, passing: the soil is a foe. What merits hair fist; drudgery - neck cake I've smoked has voiced persistent qualm of orphans. Token mocha of foil kaleidoscope.
4. Fish return to lamp light. Underwater war begins a novice. Shiver of military herring.
5. Swivel earring carp threat. Pool if. Sequin. Quiescent. Conservation rocks given dip. Time thread.
6. The crow evokes a rainbow is for silent vinegar. Charge mackerel odyssey below my ocean lung leap. Genital curse lifted by flowering hibiscus to a boy all sorts of orange must. Dance class leprosy with limits of honest horseplay.
YELLOW BRAIN 1. Stallion suicide is angel fix automatic. Caliper bone to clog toe rule of oysters.
2. Smuggle egg of mind gland suggests a gut utopian. Rabid eyes have teeth to clot the ink of vinegar.
3. Mild slosh of actor's
brain lip. The meek are rice diamond apache through a blow hole. Marinate nativity rum croupier in peach of diceless deception.
4. Smudge urgent to the edge of. Leave raisins breathless after trauma. Fibreglass glue clock delegates atrocity to a pole dance.
5. Golf lawyer licks a table understood as vine reportage. Dough with white bounce back mocks indulgent cream of Cartier. Moisture flux of Botox. Soul vinaigrette. Must owe what owns a quickly shaven appendix.
6. Sun guilt intelligence flanks a. Gut quill. Quilt gut. Divination of horse rose orchard silts the parasitic. Mock fin surge host to voodoo glass pandemic killing attachĂŠs.
PINK PENIS 1. Bridal wipes smog laundry if. Clutter invisible calculus to a patina foreskin.
2. Bless the scented biscuit round the clock the dancing boy.
3. Polyp toe removed by visceral cat drunk on forceps. Seals emerge as ice fat.
4. Crust of the cake bone paraphernalia activates ghost atrocity, sucks on my familiar. Lesion of rice requires malformed munificent legionnaire to quill gun bounce the sordid bon viveur.
5. Nipple flesh to tongue a rattlesnake. Dip sand toe demanding acquiescence from a gull whore propped on salad. Smoked crater bean avoids the irony with a cock boiled scrotum ripe & ticklish.
6. Small as the innocents. Mouse sentry. Ogle pouch harmonica often feathers. I quill the white pap loose. Ham on demand for gelatinous soldiers.
DESERT EMPIRE See, itâ€™s happening already, as we suspected it might, unsustainability of a system of grab, gut punch at the tender core of earth, where emotional intelligence is stored in wax paper bags & empathy is sliced like bacon. Happy-go-luxury lunchtime is over & itâ€™s back to work at the bomb factory, children, anthrax breath & semtex testicles scattering paper dollars, while wind blown bankers & shit smeared CEOs catch butterflies in newspaper nets. So how do we, what do we, where do we go from here? Back to ancient Rome lit crosses appearing in the sky, the corporatisation of something intrinsically beautiful, the corpulent indulgence of decadent empire, the - - At what point does desert become a city, a meditation, a skyscape of hermit fires? Breathe the flowering of a movement out, a disassociation from contagion as control, inconsequential aristocratic flatulence - - Out, out to the desert, detachment & transfiguration, reactive elevation,
rejection & resistance of a psychotic eliteâ€™s desire to devour every morsel, poison every well, the contemplative surge of love while empire crests & crumbles. Someone flew a jet into a mountain. Capital floats down the rivers of the world, pollutes the waterways, chokes the pleasant streams. Outside the city, mothers labour for alpine plutocrats, insurgents live in tents. The planet needs another sacrament. *** For a while, they lived in caves, grew flowers in the psyche, crops in the heart. The desert became a quilt for those incapable of sleep, heat levitation of coptic astro hover, airtight prayer cells, synchronistic, yet rapturously misaligned. They birthed an audiovoyant Jesus Prayer, built castles, ladders of ascent, fig cradles for luminous infants; they wove tendrils through unified fields, sung saplings from hot sand, made the moment universal, sunk soul in liquid time. Out & into the essential fluorescence,
the desert a projection of manâ€™s eternal light PURIFICATION ILLUMINATION PERFECTION . . . With a subtle temporal alignment, our time tune whistling to shut down, interactive soul melanoma. Unless, of course, spirit is not virtual, but a web, a breath matrix, subsonic circular love cloud, resonant at the speed of skin. Imagine! Raised from formlessness, being I AM, or just BEING. Our brains are already aerated by a process of long, slow sighing; oneness is the sound of a gong. I myself am devotionally drunk and all set to play. Broken beds are stacked at back doors for bugs & hero bin men. Here comes the weather! Here comes the obscurity of sunshine! Here comes the little god in babies, buds & tiny bottles. Now is the time for shifts in the desert, where there were & will be forests. Now is a time for seas!
aqua chintz quiz
is birth memory
SPLIT INFINITUM EST. 1
COSTA BOUNCE (For Mike Cannell) mind fathom liquid lamb, unbounded BO(iii)NG bus limitless. cuss cess castration pond, pool pounce uncaring. LEGO oud. id (id oud odd out oddity) oudity. nude. napalm frond. pine coal carcinogen with (ith outh ath oath banana) bone.
cleft urgent (ramshackle) constabulary. organic mead menstruation through deciduous foreign organ. rain flow organ. rain florgan. cellphone. cellophane.
cellotape. cello. chill orange. cinnamon testicle. CRUELtea CROUTon. MONK VORTex of lemon tart espresso.
HOSANNA IN THE SKIES ABOVE THE DOME OF THE VIRGIN PRINCESS ray ray wry ray ghostly king in neon cruciflux. gleam gleam glam gleam utopian zion glint gull. rampart's armed apparel. firmament's rammed armament. citadelicate. * mirth moth mith morth labour beatific. orange sausage mass orange sun rash
orange as innocent as orange. pine pony pine pony dynamo adultery. adieu. vagabondelicious.
SLOW SUMMER SONNETS i. Something about those scrawny trees by the side of the rail track. Birches, I think. Weeds. It's been wet all day & I've been learning to ignore your conditioned responses. If you're happy, let me know. So you appear in the margins at awkward moments & argue me out, then sear my meat with love & gifts, fussing over bodily fluids. If I lie at the verge will you smother me? Will you occupy the unused spaces? Or will men go wild & eat me?
ii. It's the end of summer. Ok I didn't exactly follow the recipe, but the pages are well & truly cooked, tattooed to my taste buds. The drill in my thumb & the nail is cracking love openly. Christ knows what'll happen next to separate us. It's the end of summer & the drunk guy across the hall keeps asking for my keys. I brew words carefully in case he gets mad, sitting here, drinking love because I don't believe in absence.
iii. Buying books for you, perhaps even about you. How is that possible? You withdraw hands to an ocean. The train ride home leaves me wondering other lives have me beat. It has the carriages furrowed & frowning, looking inward for writ . We met & were tangled to words a way out. You are the book's black subject, with a voice like eels. I'm committed nonetheless & ever so slightly clipped by the index.
UNTITLED climbing clouds catch the breath lungs chop air feed mind muscles & mind moved by stages. into its width withdrawing the sky huge hearted lifts the eye to light lit but still withholding. my boots crack the rock cataracts of sunshine tumble into gaping valleys filigreed by silver veins of water. lucid this morning.
the day gaping after days of heavy weight of days gaping great mountain lifeforce caught in lifeforms plugged root of rock like sleep a solid subterranean route to mind. slow awaking mind. this manifestation. ascent staged yet purposeless poised at the verge of goat-like meaning sucked in on itself endless where rock shapes air. my breath gives wind to dying my muscles crumble i have earth light earth forming earth suggesting
itself on my instep. and somewhere the vista reflected turned in on vision plummeting enacting vision where light and rock and eye are in on in on one i am never tired always lucid at the zenith, where it may take an earth age.
MY MIME ME
What belongs to me.
What I may possibly be.
What is solid, and relates to others, solidly.
What rolls and bridges.
What breaks down, weeps, is reflected in another.
What mirrors in the eye, the I.
What I am when I hide, when I merge in you.
What I am constrained.
What when I am you,
when I am you.
And when I am what.
When when I am.
Or am what.
What I suffer.
What I offer.
What I give back.
What I impersonate,
What I manifest when what is whole in me.
is beyond recognition, knowing,
What is known.
edge each ache
AT YOU, GINSBERG! gun slum
dreck drivel drown
quaint quibble crown
witch wiggle WOW!
neon nickel NOW!
acid sun as seed as son
in salt in soil in semen
clock grope grip rope
smir pip peer whip
goop hope burr click tickle
rip pope peep hole CYCLOPS
IT MUST PASS
The moment you read this you surrender to the moment you read this. Where is the ‘I’? It is lost in the momen t. From whence does the moment arise? Not so much from the preceding moment, but from inside the Whole. Reading is a supremely sacrificial act. Unless the reader imposes his ego on the text, she absorbs it, digests it, allows it to nourish her, thus distinguishing herself from ego. The Self growing out of ego, replacing it. For some reason, I was a little fretful, a tad anxious. In the city I was overcome by an array of sensory stimuli. Crowds, street music, beautiful girls. Somehow, I lost myself, became a feather swept up in the wind. I went for coffee and decided I had to retune to the reality of the moment. I had to sacrifice my senses and become aware of what was immediate, what was essential. Instantly, I felt a joy within me, and left the coffee shop looking around, completely unselfconscious, taking in the people, the faces, the lovely children. Soon I was caught up in a stream of wonderful coincidence. For some reason I had it in mind that I had to shop at my local Sainsbury’s when I got off the train back home, and fumbled about in my pocket for a £1 coin which I’d need to unlock a shopping trolley. Finding only a £2 coin, I decided I’d change it for two singles at the nearby Catholic bookshop and give £1 to the beggar lady outside. My coin was met by scrutiny and
suspicion by the strangely anxious nun at the till, but she managed to change me and I left the shop, still in the moment, still full of joy, still closed off from the excitement of the city. When I handed over the spare £1 coin, I was met by the touch of the Romanian beggar lady’s swollen arthritic hand, and immediately recoiled in revulsion. Now it turns out I had already decided earlier in the day that I didn’t need to go to Sainsbury’s after all, so my excursion to change the coin was entirely unnecessary, and my confusion served only to allow me to feel the touch of that beggar lady’s hand. But it didn’t stop there. On the train on the way home, I sat across from a really tall, thin, effeminate guy, an odd looking young chap who looked around nervously, reached over to me and asked me to open his bottle of Irn Bru because it was too tight and his hands apparently weren’t strong enough. (Me with my arthritic guitar player’s hands!) I laughed and took the bottle, struggled a little with the tight cap but managed to open it, handing it back to the nervous hands of the effeminate young guy. Those hands! A coincidence of hands, of being in the right place because of a momentary confusion of intention, because I had shut myself off to the thrill of the city’s stimuli and entered a realm of grace among a marginalised minority. Or so it seemed to me. Being in the moment, swept into a channel of joy, underneath the attachment to attraction and physical desire. Christ is the ecstasy of the moment fully realised.
INFINITE LOCALITY After weird dreams of poet plays and pneumatic hummingbirds, I venture out, up to the West End to the park, tucked between the museum and the university. There is enlightenment to be found, or so I think, although the train journey in has been uneasy thanks to extended stops and lazy ticket inspectors. For once I find the ideal bench, nestled near the top of the hill, at the cusp of a bend, secluded, isolated, where solitude drops from the sky and holds you close. Near my right side, slightly ahead of me, I feel a tenderness connected to the morning’s correspondence. Immediately, I hear the wind in the trees above and become enfolded, clasped tighter into something completely magnanimous. Distant boughs bend and fold to the same breeze and two senses form one complete sensation which extends from my body into the park, so that the whole seems more palpable, more present than any one individual thing. Someone used the word “thingness” this morning. I think it was me. I am alive in the “thingness” of the park. There is plenty to hear. The sound of men and machines at work all around, muffled, as if draped in a blanket; soft metal gongs, woody marimbas, huffing petrol engines, all pleasantly dulled by the expanse of trees, rising up out of unseen pockets of activity. My seclusion is protected. I am in a perfect pocket myself. Children whoop, shout, cry, cheer, cutting the buttery air; fade in, fade out. Their calls have the
quality and texture of cloth, little washed t-shirts hung out in the sun. Above, the sky is as infinite as mind at large, the sun is caught in leaves above my head and there is a slight, dark blue chill in the shadows. Sometimes I think we are all involved in abstract qualities. We share them, take part in them, are united by them in almost every attribute and mundane activity. For example, the tallness of the tallest tree in the valley below, the way it flaunts its height in the wind, raises awareness of my own tallness. I have always been tall, even at school, the tallest in the class, and somehow, now, I enter into tallness in the company of a fully grown tree. Tallness is the treeâ€™s thing, its â€œthingnessâ€? for the moment, as it reaches up and out to the wind. The unity of what I see and feel and hear begins to stir me again, as if I have entered into an integrated wholeness of the afternoon; the park, the city beyond, the sky, the earth from which the trees spring, sight, sound, smell, a complete bubble of being which my body melts into gratefully, dreamily; a holistic calm. Right now two girls pass, one Indian, the other Chinese. The Indian girl is telling the Chinese girl about the park, the buildings visible from this very spot . . . the museum and art gallery . . . built in 1911 for the Great Exhibition . . . directly across from Yorkhill Hospital . . . one needs to know where one is, where one is going . . . directions, history, place. She is entirely generous in her manner, in her sharing of information, and I am caught into the ecstasy of their conversation, their great delight at being here now,
their huge joy in the moment. The happiness lingers, seeps into my body from the trees, from the grace of movement around a central stillness. It becomes something alive in me. I am the same as them. I am the same as the trees, the hill, the people on the path below. I am the same as the art gallery, the wind, the sky, the orchestra of sound around me. I am the same. But I am unique. As a witness, I am unique. From this perspective there is no other, but it is uniquely my perspective, and as I re-enter my body and take hold of my will and decide to get up and move out of the park, I am amazed at the infinite expression of oneness of which I am merely a word. Nothing is deeper or more true than this, and Iâ€™m happy to move on, crossing myself in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost, as Iâ€™m prone to do.
THE AIR PROCLAIMS A UNION Inside the inside of the orange. Or inside the outside. Forces elemental rather than particular. The peel, the pulp seen from particles outward. * My surroundings feel more and more like the manifestation of an exquisite mystery. A tree can be intensely alive while whispering tenderness. All communicates love, saps love from the source. Lost childhood might shimmer from the heat. Possibilities for the heart in a sudden wink of sun. * Summer stacks oranges where Jesus wept. Tones of wet cheek in yellow sunlight. Swallows for evenings of more love than I can bear. * The neighbourhood now in singular emanation. Flow of light beyond this or that. Trees pour into buildings, stream into streets with cries of ---. I am almost inside what appears outwith myself. Inside, delicious, formless, taste. * Glowing green, huddling, laughing. Laughing me in. Huddling spring of oranges. Scent so supernal, all
forms dissolve. * Where I sit, the swallows are brightest. They launch the mystery and I sip myself. There may be an opening I've emerged from but that's not important. Whether I release these thoughts or this awareness is also beside the point. What matters is an endless stream of edgeless blending, expressed before I even step outside. * Flowering consciousness amongst petals. Reality pruned, then buttered. The godflight of insects. All on the vine. Bees, baths, branches. * As I move, I extend and gather what appears to be. The sun is internalised as ways of knowing, but caught in shades and lush. Movement may be my way of a continuum, the deepest taking part in. To stay in breath for a moment, and without seeing, seen.
THE KITE FLYER
CONCRETE GOD go god go good go odd god good good good go google god could god oud god cod god cuddle god coddle god could god cud could could could god cuddle muddle mud god mod god mod goggle mid giggle god giggle god gurgle god grin grin grin in god in good
in google good gurgle god ogle god jingle gin jingle god google go goo go good g g god good god gaggle goose giggle god giggle gig goggle g g g g g g
aromatic lamb tomb
Stephen Nelson is a Scottish poet and contemplative whose books include Flylyght and Lunar Poems for New Religions (both Knives Forks and Spoons Press), YesYesY (Little Red Leaves Textile Series), and two chapbooks of visual poetry, one in Dan Waberâ€™s this is visual poetry series. He has exhibited visual poetry in Manchester, London and Budapest, and is included in The Last Vispo Anthology. An ebook journal of contemplative experiences called Vital Source is available from Amazon and as a pdf from Lulu.com. Recent magazine publications include Unlikely Stories, Otoliths and Eratio. Check out his lovely blog at www.afterlights.blogspot.com.
The Red Ceilings Press
MMXIII [rcp 48] www.theredceilingspress.co.uk www.redceilings.blogspot.com/
by Stephen Nelson