WHAT YOU ARE LOOKING FOR IS ELSEWHERE

Nomas*Projects invited me to help reflect on the Incarnation with a joint exhibition with conceptual artist David McCulloch.  The exhibition is entitled:  PROMISES PROMISES.
It is exhibited at 9a Ward Road, Dundee, Scotland from December 1st-31st.
My contribution was an experimentation with writing a ‘concrete’ poem, which is displayed between David’s contribution:  two marble squares inscribed (one forward and one reversed) with the legend:  ‘WHAT YOU ARE LOOKING FOR IS ELSEWHERE’.
Here’s the poem:

Too
sm-
all,
too
po-
or,
too
eth-
nic,
too
an-
cie
-nt.
So-
Ph
-ie
won’t claim it.
The Stab won’t touch it.
They can’t see it and refuse other-
wise to feel it. Yet it burns like stars on the whorls of their fingers and lingers like a burnt offering in their no-
strils and like ash-into-beauty on the
-ir tongues. Dig ears to see.
Dig eyes to h
-ear.
Let
so-
ul
cov
-er
fle
-sh
lik
e s-
kin
an-
d l-
ist
-en
in.

 

©DOJP 2015

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uisge beatha

The water goes in the mouth
and down the throat,
into the belly and out the pisser,
follows the same path
the alcohol went the night before,
but lighter and happier,
simpler and less woozy,
a sunlit liquid transparency chasing
the denser amber fluid,
lambent by lamplight,
that preceded it;
the throat is wetted now,
belly soothed,
inside of the skull bathed.

A sacred hoop of sorts:
this verdant land’s
ample water first founded
and then followed the stiff drink,
the quaffing of which is a test
for which one obtains a taste,
but the cool waters that flow on either side
of the fermented burn-drink
are firmaments above and below,
the life-source context
of all other contents,
the free-flowing forgiveness draught
after all our contests,
the oceans of grace that circumscribe
all our continents of sin.

uisge beatha

Brother Mountain – Your Hidden Face, Your Secret Name (take 1)

Dedicated to one particular daybreak,
who arrived a year and a half before I did into the family,
and who was there when the internal mountains finally broke forth.

 

I.
A vast rump humps up,
A score of furlongs long or more,
Rippling with grassy-rugged rock-muscle,
Though still, still as the ages,
Worn by wind and ever-rain into the terrain
We see from so small a person-body here
In delighted fear and humble awe.

The great green-mottled form is still, I say.
Still, it rises, or seems to be rising
Right now as we meet it with heart-wide eyes,
Nostrils flared in joy-terror at the psychic fragrance
That with mountainous flagrance flouts our small notions
Of small loveliness with vast blasting majesty.

The great green-rippled length looks still, I say,
But just about to move at any second. We small ones
Can feel the rock’s pent up motion in our small bones,
As if those stone ripples – massive shadowed dips really,
Miniature valleys and downs – as if those muscled curves
Might ripple forth and shift any moment right before our
Awestruck eyes, as if those ripples might rumble and slide,
And rearing up from the mountainside’s far side, unseen
Until now, a great granite head might turn to look at us
With a monstrous crag of face, two incredible deep-set holes
Of verdant luminescence for the man-mountain’s eyes,
Burning holes in our mind’s with the impossible gaze, a last
Happy-mad sight for mere mortals dying in deep love and satisfaction
At a mere glance from one of God’s hidden creatures.

So the mountain’s features make us feel,
down here in our smallness.

II.
Maybe you’re not a man-mountain at all, but a
Beast-upthrust shepherded by some unseen Titan.
I know you and your siblings are mere foothills
In light of Himalayas or Rockies, yet no other range
Rumbles quite like your primordial morphology.

They are all kings and queens and sentries towering,
Where you are humbler and hoarier in your low crouching,
Ready to rise, to spring bestial and roaring; and yet
You are not only rough, but elegant also in the green sheen
Of your mist-slaked, sunwashed pelts, which appear
Nearly velvet, if they could but be felt by
Gargantuan coarse Hands rubbing and petting,
Accompanied by cyclopean Voice acclaiming: ‘Good boy!’

Or maybe you are the kind of beast, shy but fierce,
That is only to be tracked, flushed out, and wrangled,
A pursuit perhaps thought better of once attempted,
Resulting in casualties even among gigantic hunters.

III.
But maybe your kith is not found above-ground at all.
Maybe you are an under-thing calling to our own under-ness.
‘Deep calls to deep’ in your emerald and umber swells.
I’m sure I heard at least one observer cry: ‘sea monster!’

Yes, that too rings true. Your great swimming shapes
Have hurled us into deeps. Maybe it is a massive
Fanned tailfin that will any moment unfurl from
Your unseen extremity, and a yawning maw
From the other end, a great seeking mouth agape
With such width as could only be oceanic.

Aye, we are sailors who catch a glimpse of your
Deep-sport: wave thrashing or ocean-bottom crawling,
either way capsizing our hearts and swallowing us
Whole in jubilant excess. Such depths in heights!

IV.
Whatever you are – man-mountain or beast-mountain or
Megalithic leviathan – you are one of God’s monsters
I am glad to know. I am privileged to have made your
Face-to-face acquaintance more than once, each time a shattering
Meeting, if fleeting.

I thank you for the meal you made of me (mere morsel at best,
I know – more likely a kernel or crumb) and I thank you for
The kind meal you gave me each time, each time a little more,
Nourishing me from weakness to strength to strength, still small,
But growing, growing, eroding and rising mountainous inside,
Until at last this pen could bleed a little blot in your honour.

Brother Crag and Sister Cairngorm, I am blessed to serve
Alongside you at the curve of our mortally wounded world
That in one day dying will rise again renewed and glory-flooded,
Knowledge-deluged, where your great folds and curves will finally
Shift and coarse in awful grace and you will at last lift up your
Glorious head and all will see

Your hidden face

And hear

Your secret name.

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