from "Sic"

Two plastic kitchen mops, side by side. A cobweb in an inaccessible corner, a spider, moving within, illuminated by torchlight, raked seating, cobbled streets, close up on the cobbles, a fly, a film star in a precarious situation in which we do not believe -

We hold our individual breath -

a darkened aeroplane, a political cartoon in a newspaper beneath a paint pot, collective breathing and bonding exercises, water on the windscreen, meteorite trails, dogs begging, words cascading through piano keys, a broken windscreen wiper, a child eating jelly, a three-headed man or microphone – what is the difference? answer and you are recorded, preparatory to your destruction, refuse to answer and he attacks you, run away –

I am trying to see out of the watery window –

I can also read what I am hearing but it is fuzzy, membranous floors as buildings fall into their own cellars, faces imagined where there are none but should be. Perhaps. Hideous insect holding itself in place as it ascends, as it ascends

Two pianos fall into a black vase. Each half of the vase plays the piano, taking it in hand, above the rim. A clenched fist connoting nothing. A ripple of language down the electric wire. Which electric wire? Which vase? Which electric vase? Which piano? Whose is that voice I keep hearing? Whose body am I in? The piano falls again. The vase breaks. Continents divide. Invalid entry. Vision split level. Exeunt all. The piano falls. The vase breaks.

A set of shelves collapses; down come books, half a man in a dinner jacket, a woodland scene, a mummified murder victim, the sea shore, the previous page of another book, a glimpse into the next room, the distant alps, a piece of feldspar on a stand, an icy pool, a hook where god intended there should be a hand, two white eggs which will never hatch -

it goes on collapsing, making an increasing noise –

a box of blank address labels, easily pulled off, adhesive backed, muslin, rolls of it, unrolling gauze, co-ordinated valences and curtains, a three foot rule, the original of an unknown letter of the Phoenician alphabet, a log still retaining some of its bark, the key to the Garden of Eden, made in Taiwan, lights in the yard outside, the golden goose, made in Slovakia, a hawk seen at a distance, falling, all falling

It is her script, her displeasure. The fish read every word. I am sure of it. They dart about their darkened tank, setting off the cameras – it’s a display.

They have definitely been up to something, though whether it is shit or eggs or just decaying food they haven’t eaten...

She spells out messages by playing with her spaghetti...

While we sit here, talking about the fish and passing comments on her progress, she plays with the spaghetti and writes long transient statements about us

It is raining cats; and dogs and the cats and dogs transform into daggers and assassins. A man with a blotchy face takes shelter. He starts laughing. The invasion has begun. Bombs descend, observed from satellites. Pinpoint accuracy will be claimed. He is a man of style. He recognises all the signs. He pushes the crockery off a table so that the lady has room to think. She has read all the important books and understands absolutely everything. The carpet is rucked, by the window. Take care, my dear. The sun explodes, or I thought so. A tree torn apart. A few black lines in a field of white are all that’s left. I want to do that again. The sun explodes. A tree transfigures. The sheet rises, obscuring the window momentarily as it floats out over the bed, and settles. The drains overflow, full of blood and animal panic. Squeaky clean, he puts on his shades and walks away, his hands in his suit pockets. Nonchalant. Secure. Full of crap. Evening draws in and the woods and the gardens run together, escaping. The talk is for nothing. Bombs reach their targets. Those that do explode have missed their targets. The sun comes out but much diminished. Shadow of a hand across a planet. More panic, and higher up the evolutionary tree. Obfuscation. It’s raining cats and dogs.

Cross out personality; hiss. Paling almost overcome by sand. Rhythm of the music. Rain obscuring the windscreen. Refresh the image every few seconds. Blur of the light. Darkness reflects the interior. Mud spray from wheels. Booted feet through puddles. Take your time. Look. Split screen. Both ways. Reflection.

A drench of rain on the windscreen wiped over.

The coastline comes up before you expect.

Eye of a crocodile and a leather boot. Paling almost overhauled by shifting sand. Swimmers and waves merge.

Refresh the image every half second. Glimpse of the road ahead. A break in fabric, cut through skin, tearing edges raggedly. Falling driftwood. Blinding darkness reflecting light. Recollections begin splitting mud spray. Booted feet through puddles.

Newspaper reports fill the sky. Below the sky, we march in unison, spelling out our responses by skill. We are so many we make the ground black. The planet shakes on its shock absorbers. Everyone in the universe will be able to see exactly where we stand.

She rubs in moisturiser, on her face; but she still looks -

old to her own eyes, in the mirror, where she sees, beyond drink, she is being -

filled out by a fallen piano, which separates her, side from side, ear from ear, eyes from eyes, mouths from mouths. Frogs hop and scutter. Fingers separate from hands. Pianos play automatically. Every tune you’ve ever...

Splash they go. Splash. They go splash. Lava spills from the setting sun. Specks of something or other on the path by the pond. Dark stuff. It’s been sticky but now it’s dry. The night sky flickers. A river is in full flood, roaring, blacker than the banks in the moonless night, phosphorescent.

A head in a hood, a broken fraying heart, a two yolk leg, a break, barbed wire in transmission from Passchendaele

I said: I don’t like my eggs that runny...

Help me!

Help me!


She jumps so high when she begs. O isn’t she sweet. Flies go into the flying mouth and the jaws close on them, machiny, and the gullet works.

Tongue collaged on to stomach licks delightedly.

Eyes look out of the shoulders.

The flies evolve into birds on planets.

The birds land on the planets.

Ice forms in the midriff brains.

She’s looking at you! Look at that! Ah!

Two wings fold together. She’s a butterfly.

One big ear flaps up. She knows we’re talking about her. An ear made of menacing darkness. Not her menace, ours. That’s the effect of the collage.

A thin neck, allowing maximum head manoeuvre.

A collecting basket for the flies she only mangled. Mouths open all over her, talking and eating at the same time. It’s fur burns.

The fire mats with gravy. Guts open in the furnace and dissolve the heat.

Various levels. Things with wings and some that run. Small blooms among the flapdoodle. A bird settling upon its nest. A gliding lizard, hunting. Drips on the window sill. Spider babies. Where the snow was. Paper torn scrappy. Pipette. Syringe. Solar flare. Blur of a flock in the lower sky turning black into white as they wheel around the bay. Earth mover. Delineation of geological eras. Membranes extruded. Muscles breaking. White become fire. Black supports it. One foot out of the nest on to unexpected surface. Pick your way. It’s all your own choice here, certainly here, at the earth’s end. Dribbles of soil back down into the sea, crumbling out from beneath the road surface. One year floating past another. Unconnected. Specimens upon display. Everything settles.

One instant. The ground and the explosion. Implied: the aircraft from which the photograph was taken. The picture is functionally perfect, providing one has the skills of interpretation. However, other images are discernible, if you have the imagination. There are several skills here. It looks as if they have been banged together, forming one heap of brokenness, yet still recognisable skills. Some of the gunfire flashes make simple fancy abstract line drawings. A boomerang the size of a village. A round gas jet on a stove which is really a village burning. The curvature of the scene caused by the wide-angle lens make this small section of the world asteroidal, one side folded back upon the other, like the body of a man blown apart by one of our explosions.

If this isn’t water, then I am drowning; I am not in a boat upon a stream! Upon a dream. There is no lightning. There is no barrier across the road. Speak up. Across the dream. The helicopter comes in to land at an angle, rights itself before the motion is complete and then lands.

From the helicopter the floodlit night fields had little contrast. That is, one couldn’t see much. Various figures had been bagged up for transportation. Some apparatus, also bagged. A few leaking engines had been proposed, but that seemed impractical. It was important to be done by morning. The ground is uncomfortably wet and it shouldn’t be. This needs examination.

A man with three eyes comes into the makeshift light. There are too many shadows to him. He is angular and multi-platformed. Too many staircases. The size of him and the detail imply danger. Halfway up, inside, the open window is what one would think would be his chest, showing that empty blank and white terrain we just flew over. A dog’s head rests upon the shoulder of the three-eyed man. The dog is white. A spear sinks to the bottom of the river. Dancers and musicians follow a fortuitous notation. He rises like dense dark smoke. He rises, several thorny bushes intertwining each other. It is physically impenetrable. In the centre of the mass, splits open a birth channel; come from it worms and light; the floor begins to break in two from the weight of it. A ramped concourse leads away to another higher concourse.

Soon now the trolleys at their dinky tractors will come bouncing to collect the booty for despatch.

Tangled constructs tumble down the service shafts, falling, one might say, for ever.

Fire flashes briefly. Shadows on a glass floor. Treacle flows of viscosity. Bizarre shouts on audio tape.

Do you suppose this is what we expected?

A great big face, a biting sea, above the language. They are speaking somewhere in speech bubbles. The mouth is aristocratic, haughty. It thinks it knows its value. It has no blame. An oil slick, like a skull cap where its brain should be. No skull. Solidified water where the curving earth shrivels. Lips break over the gunners. Everything we say is drowned. Individuals part. Individual parts of every word break apart, crosshatch, infill. A roll of chins descends into an adjective. It’s a shock. A sentence utters itself. It strums a guitar and descends the stair of its syntax, staring hard, fierce and self-centred as a hungry bird; but the immensity of meaninglessness overtakes and starts its own dissolution. Colloquial phrases chain together. You’re getting negative on your tie. One or two phonemes are heavier than the amniotic fluid.


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Copyright © Lawrence Upton, 2000