Monthly Archives: March 2011

trip away

maybe dimethyltryptamine can show you how: I see –
your fingertips spread to move through my bones: a form
of love that proves a form of blinkered light. All it shows
is some hallucinations can break us, too, and it is with me
now and never truer: Certainty returns with morning.


I don’t often mix my work and my writing… but…

This is the information from the poster for my new undergraduate course ‘Exploring the Cultural Histories of India’. If you are one of my students, please consider this exciting new course as part of your degree at Ybl Miklós University, and get in contact with me to arrange an interview for next semester. Further information will soon be available on the Ybl homepage.

About the course: This course will look at the incredible diversity of cultures and civilisations which have developed over several thousand years on the Indian subcontinent, and how these differences and variations have made themselves visible through the architectural styles of different regions and through different times. Throughout the course, we will examine how factors such as environmental challenges, religion, lifestyles and industry have made India into the exciting and colourful country it is today; the world’s largest modern democracy, both hyper-modern and deeply traditional, where skyscrapers and ancient temples fight for space in overcrowded cities which have changed and grown consistently for thousands of years.

Subjects: Introduction to India, Ancient India, River Cultures, Desert Culture, Jungle Culture, Mountain Culture, Islamic Architecture and the Taj Mahal, The Architecture of the British Raj, Old Delhi/New Delhi, Slums and Mass Communal Living, The Future of India

The course is worth two credits, and is graded by a 2,000 word assignment due at the end of the semester. Please only apply for this course if you are genuinely interested in the subject and have an intermediate or higher level of English. All students must attend an interview in order to apply for a place.

Lecturer: Mr. Benjamin Norris


pathways

I knew a girl who thought she could
get to heaven
without ever dancing;
I sometimes wonder if it’s her I see
scattering my clothes
in early mornings


The Hothouse – an introduction

The young priest crouched on the corner of the table, as was his habit, mortifying his flesh in minute ways on the sharp, formica edges. It was important to maintain a constant stream of discomfort in order to ripple his skin and prick his nervous system into a continuous semblance of faith – this he had been taught from a young age, but was unable to put into practice until the fires of youth that licked up and down his thighs had been quelled through the most agonising of measures. The bishop looked at his latest charge, and recognised the stooping posture and flinching of the eyes so common in the newly fervent. „Come and see,” he said. „Tell me what surrounds you”.

The island’s light seeped through the shutters, and illuminated the sweating books that littered the room. This was the hothouse, the heavy, humid and vegetably idle ventricle of faith at the centre of the complex, a place where things did not so much grow, but were cajoled and coerced into unnatural shapes, early blooms and perversions of flora. All around were petals whose fragrance suggested they were soaked through with semen, black veins running up and down the nodding phallus at their centre. To their left were the clitoral orchids, swollen with sap which attracted the butterflies who died ecstatically in the salty-sweet nectar, and all the while seventeen tense stamen knocked into the viscous pollen over and over again, agitated by the heat, quivering under the lightest vibrations. Huge buttery leaves clamoured for attention against the lead-lined glass, spreading like waxen buttocks to reveal their acidic funnels, and sickening durian fruits dangled from boughs, stinking of decomposing meat and blackened, bruised by the battering of the crayflies that raped the shimmering air around their bulbous forms. The young preist gazed at the creased pornography of nature, the sins inherent in design.

„I see the toothmarks of Eve on a thousand apples. I see the depravity of the base forms of nature, which I have overcome by the rejection of the natural in myself. I see the weakness of temptation. I see the sweat and groan of evil, against the beauty of your capture. I see the church’s success in overcoming these things, bottling them and holding them in stasis”. The young priest pushed his groin against the sharpest edge of the furniture, cutting into his enflaming thighs. The hothouse’s myriad fragrances, the miasma of lust affected even the most mortified novices – this was well known.

The bishop sighed, and palpated his damp papers into a bolus at the pit of his hands. He could remember a time before the glass room was completed, before the church had a hot and bloody heart at its centre. Young women from the city, toes tossing their puddles of gin. Lycanthropic men, hairy palmed and barking at the birds. Sin was somehow simpler, then. He looked up at the newcomer, fingering his dogcollar and fantasizing of dust. „Walk deeper into the hothouse. Sit down awhile, and look closer. Breathe, examine your skin.”

„This rabid mouth of faith is to be of some importance to me?” the priest replied. „Forgive me, father, but I do not understand. The hothouse was built to be shunned, a crystallisation of shame, was it not?”

The bishop stood up, and began to walk away. A woman was singing, somewhere. The sound was sweet, and punctuated by the rhythmic buzzing of tiny wings. „No, it wasn’t”, he said, as he opened a window to let the vines escape.


spring again

Here returns a sky of broken clay pots clamouring
for my attention amidst the memories of rain.
Our prayers for a crack in the flags above answer
me in realisations that these clouds are moving south
and soon you will see them too. A bird breaks my sight.


walk

I like to think that somewhere priests still finger their collars
while choking on long necked opium pipes – but a few words
from you remind me of nothing but the past ten minutes

when I saw a skinless man beat a whore to the ground
and caskets spin around green eyes, not seeing me reaching
like a hundred stags circling in the dust –

lowering their heads to the leaves, and pushing
not-quite-ivory grovels the soil and I can’t help but wonder
what you would do to your arms and me


Love Poem no. 2541

You are the ghost in my home – peripheral vision
undermining the placement of my furniture and
shattering glasses in the hands of other guests.

A cough of air. Words blown into me – soundlessly
you stand at the foot of my bed and push me into
wracking pressures, hallucinatory fits that ratchet

childhood to the fore of my days and somehow
I saw your face in stones, not so far from here and
I saw you walk out the room just before I entered

each time, making me second-guess my senses.

Stay a while.


here are the memories of before i was born

There was something funereal about those days – despite
Running in the rain and painting hair down our streaming faces there
Was a moment of fearfulness as I coiled around you remembering
Flower gardens of the day after, the heads removed like
Traitors at this city’s gate and we watched the blood of birds wrack itself
Down the cathedral steps as strapped our skin to the cathedral doors and
Talked of madness over and over and it seems I’ve seen your face before
Frozen in celluloid, emerging on paving slabs, born on the backs of moths and
I couldn’t see it when lightening split the sky and we shook on the floor
And the floor was shaking too but then
Something changed and I don’t care what Berne would have said for this
This was my childhood, right here
Death on the tracks –
Again and
Again, you were there, and I haven’t even thought
About stopping running since.


rhyme

store bought straw
still spun from gold
I upped my daughter’s best points
for the hopes of one with a claim to a throne

names leads me here –
and light pours slick slow
fingertips bleed and stick to stone
with the sum of all and what we know


a.m

There’s a woman waiting
who isn’t really waiting at all

Hey, they’re just photographs
that’s not my picture

We live in glass houses
and I shuffle my feet with stones.

England isn’t so close, now
we stopped talking but I can still hear her voice.


interface II (see previous for reflection)

today it seems that words that seem: breaking
habits starch my throat, details straighten me and
anyway it’s at least five hours and not by foot but

tick tack you say and jerk me in – I became my
gathering, words made fleshly: not once today
have I read anything of comfort and maybe I am blind


hothouse V

What happened here
the window lining pulled away – just
an inch, curves allowing
different airs

to penetrate
the sticky mass, the bulb
heaving with humidity

so all clamour to the splitting
that grows out from the glass –
the vapour’s fit for breathing
though soon closed up again:

enthusiasm soon resembles
panic: grassy hysteria gums
and tramples underfoot while

spring passes by outside
as we knew it would


interface

It is what you don’t say that troubles: deciding
not to burden me, details bow my spine and
anyway it’s not so far from here to where but

hours are tossed behind us and they become you:
accumulating under eyes: several times a day a message
splits my screen and I’m reminded I have eyes, too


words

Light pours in degrees from a kitchen roof and
we speak in voices thinned out, needled
each inch that shunts down optic threads

take various forms of past desperations and
mention in various forms that to think of me

is not normal, although it lets some light
once or twice rise up by degrees
past those lips and teeth to the kitchen roof

I’ll still tell you and I am not less today.