We are not done. After the April we had
And the August and the January, rain
Clean down against the dooryard steps,
Setting out the way the architecture
Separates things, places – persons,
Trees, bread – the way the documents
Stack up outwith the space set by
To read them, think how short time
Thou hast abyden here, airports
Certain outskirts of our cities, after
The process, the way the judgements
Foreclose; after the December and all
The elements left lying around us,
When the winds blow and the seas
Whose steadfast faith yet never moved,
Process, no change of rule only
The direction of governance, persons
Disregarded, after the borders
Closed; after the process, after
The wreckage in transmission, the rain,
The repetition, world without end,
In the streets we are not done,
This is unfinished business,
Outside standing, constructing space.
This much we can say: insistence
Is part of the argument, coming back
To a person’s bearing, the way a body
Rests, notwithstanding the story,
Was never man so like amonges us,
Separate, I don’t believe it that
Chit chit chat. Part of the argument.
The dooryard echoes in winter
So the sound passes through
Of somebody else’s emergency,
Abyden here, restricted in every
Particular. ‘It was on the following
Day he fell from grace.’ Within
A budding grove, a person designated
Uninvited. ‘J’ai eu pitié des autres
Probablement assez.’ I don’t think so,
Hardly enough, so like my life
While it will last, the principle:
Elements shorn from context.
And somewhere we might stand
To contemplate an open
Environment; I learned something
Recently, that we lack tact
At our airports certain –
Part of the argument –
Talking simply, face to face.
Then there is the question of
Measure, continuously monitoring
And modelling, in which circumstance
I want to specify blood and bone,
Gesture, motion, aught else the world
Can offer: a woman in the garden
Sings a cradle song. Trending.
A plane goes down. Maybe if we
Sift the fragments, lockdown on the
Skyline scarcely credible on such a scale,
Our all we have held together by spit
And syntax, moments in the process
When affection yields. Discourse.
I think we should sue today for no
Compassion, since these practices
Among us have functioned
Long enough, break open
The argument, the story that
Shuts up our territory: bodies
Governed outside the scope of law.
Subect to change. I get a call
About Dover, and in the garden
The lady singing gets our reports
To match. Sirens. Cigarettes.
She is a credible witness. Subject
To process. The sun kicks back.
This is a song for lovers. The wreckage
Is part of the urgency. You send today.
Text me a scrap of life. Exact words.
Therefore simply does what is to be done.
Last thing: put some kind of document
Together. Something we can trade on,
The history of a conversation, broken only
By the moments the networks went down
As we talked, getting most things wrong,
Except perhaps the deep are done here.
Last thing: to exercise your faculties at large.
I live at the foot of a hill, look out over
An ancient city. At three in the morning
The traffic stops leaving only sirens
The way things go, echoing gracelessly
As we go. At four: birdsong. At six: start up.
And all the while process. Gesture.
Motion. Until his action is a reality
Long, long we sing by rote, shaping
To intervene. This is a song for lovers
And aught else the world can show.
And the truth is there aren’t many
Images. February. The news breaks:
The snow won’t last. In the hoar frost
We contemplate obscure attachments.
Sleep pattern: broken. Future: indefinite.
And the realisation for like the millionth
Time, there is no context for the argument
To be put, which we should make only
A person presenting disparate attributes.
Notwithstanding a song thrush nails
The neighbourhood into place. And not
For the first time though this is snow
In February and where the letter
Finishes it doesn’t say who wrote only
The way things go which is somebody’s
Emergency: aggression rendered
In its most accurate form. With only
The process laid out. The laying out
Is part of the process. I lay this out:
I had to learn the simplest things last,
And I am writing to say that the buck stops
Where I stop. And the snow melts
And the context, falls into place.
Today is pale. I’d like to make
An intervention now please. Across
The city the traffic never stops
When the winds blow and the seas
And the small rain arbitrates the
Process and the waiting continues
And the watching, I’d like to interrupt.
From rupture: to break. I record that
A person’s bearing is not now
Constitutional in a court of law
That the emergency is this,
The last book of songs and airs,
When we have wandered all our
Ways, the which on earth do spring;
Through cowslips and kingcups at certain
Outskirts of our cities, clustered
In bedless houses whereby the franchise
Stops, bordered, held at bay,
Not granted access to the currency.
Bid her therefore her selfe soone
Ready make. Bid her herself soon
Make, out of the fragments we left
Lying around us. Fragmentation
Is part of the process. Turning things out.
This is a song for lovers. Gathering,
Arbitrating, proposing tact.
This is the object: to constitute
A modern document, put the pieces
Together in the open the way
The days fall out. You call after
You make your report. Reporting
Is part of the process. And the rain
Is. And the way the blackbird. You
Contemplate questions I decline
To ask. Even such is time. The object is:
To constitute a context. Where I live is:
The houses back towards an ancient
Church. Where Ethelred married Bertha.
This is not my position. Questions not
Possible to formulate before a court of law.
Even such is time. Finding herself not
Twenty miles north of Dover where
The language stops and the jurisdiction
They called the building St. Martins
Of Tour. A kind of welcome. A kind of
Gesture out. Even where the language:
Such is my position. Where the
Open, where the lilac falters,
Where a contemporary standing a
Contemporary stops. A welcome
Of sorts. We live in a pay-as-you go
Environment and the contract is
Part of the process and I’m worried
One day the calls will stop. Such is time.
Even such is time. You call from
Outside the currency. And the rain is.
And the report. March 7th, twelve o’clock.
And so the reality is the process doesn’t
Hesitate. In the garden a cat rips open
A garbage bag as the forsythia starts
To show which I can name now since
Somebody told me, in thick, blocky
Passages, the way a reckoning
Unfolds. And the way I reckon it
We should open with the untranslated
Born as I doubt to all our dole
With the morning in place since all
Was not unbeautiful suddenly holding
An emergency at bay. Suddenly.
Herewith. Outwith the politics
Notwithstanding. For none can
Call again the passèd time. You stop
You do nothing wrong I’d like to
Improvise a context, where with,
Somewhere where with lilac
Camped in conversation where
The dogwood lies. Here maybe.
Maybe herewith. Sometimes
The practice was outsourced to
Other territories. We look on.
We improvise the simplest things
Last. As the winds blow and the
Seas and the prospect starts again
Out of nothing as the dew starts as
The papers circulate making it up as
You go along.
As you go as. As the seas. As you
Stepped over the threshold. As the
Winds as. As the traffic. As the
Emergency stops. As you wait as
Nothing happens. As you passed
Out of the currency. As the letter as
After the process after the aircraft
Drops. As the contract came good.
As a still more intimate model. As
Without restriction everything is
Lawful now. As the dew falleth
On the grass. As they pay you a deep
Attention, not even a compliment
As you go about your business
As for whoemever inhabited it
As the story breaks. As the process
Sets out, as the framework
Sequences arbitrarily, as you came
From the holy land of a broken state,
Sirens, cigarettes, as the small rain
Graced the language, outwith,
Notwithstanding, as you spoke
We showed up late.
Note: ‘Feedback’ was written as one element of a collaboration with Sam Bailey, Evan Parker, Simon Smith and Matt Wright. The work was performed on 14th May 2012 at the Old Synagogue, Canterbury, as part of the Sounds New Poetry Festival.
[David Herd’s collections of poetry include All Just (Carcanet, 2012) and Outwith (Bookthug, 2012). His work has appeared in various journals, including Like Starlings, Mascara, Otoliths, and PN Review, and he has given readings in Australia, Canada, France and the UK. He is the author of two critical works, John Ashbery and American Poetry and Enthusiast! Essays on Modern American Literature, and his essays and reviews have been widely published in journals, magazines and newspapers. Recent writings on poetry and politics have appeared in PN Review, Parallax and Almost Island.]
Copyright © 2013 by David Herd,
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