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Thursday, November 6, 2008


Ger Killeen
Erebus anad Terror

An Excellent Observation of the Sun in Quicksilver

Home, sweetness of rotting tubers, eyes impaired in upwardness, civilized speeches ending in cucumber sandwiches and the exclamation points of musket-fire. What is the opposite of Ahoy! ? A foreign habitation where no one knows my name. There you are. Call me _______. Call me anything but back. People born with boots in their mouths know early on that transparency is the trick writing plays on confession. The lure of the lore of icebergs on a fine day slicing the parallels. It puts one in mind of the Castle Perilous. Don’t answer that. Betray nothing. Nod and gape.

Comparing the Merits of the Two Routes

Do maps have a point of view that wobbles with the maker? The context is television. Soon it will dawn Columbus Day in Heaven and precipitation will dilute the pastoral sophistries of summer with bluesy ring-tones. Is that really snow or is it confetti made from the shredded leaves of the National White Pages? Hunger is a good glass for the texture of things you’ll confront in the clots of spacetime north of where the names end, where only the Esquimaux know how to eat the scenery. The Nullarbor Plain, so called because there is no harbor where a ship can put in, is, nonetheless, abundant in Uranium which is, with the proper preparation, nutritious and palatable. Men spend many years toughening themselves up for the promise-laden miles.

In England There Is Nothing New

The forensic stitchings of spikey syllogisms, the piecework of parliamentary business. Then tea. Black spores spatter the clotted cream. Outside the windows in the sour docklands clogged with the half-lost, they are savaging our language with their grotesque syntax. One of the monuments of mercy would be elocution. Then might the very sounds raise up these countenances, lurid and wintry and long. Then might they understand how much depends on whether verbs come before or after the subject, how great accomplishments stand or fall by such small and precious things.

Hereabout the Larch Trees End

What will we do without wood? In my voice I carry leaves clawed out of Cambrian caves. Is this a kaddish for oaks? Are these orisons for pit ponies? The antiphon of the engines chews out a palatial fantasy for starry generations to come after. In this idiom the word “yesterday” is only used in contexts of inevitability: See under tomorrow, see under nuclear fusion, see under colonies of Mars. And when the Red Sea opens a passage you discover if you’re a chosen one or a charioteer in Pharaoh’s army.

One Small Repeating Reflecting Circle

That silent film sparks tensions because no one remembers posing for the camera but everyone remembers being the director. In my picture you’re greener than the breezeless sea and your mouth pulses, palatalizing and unpalatalizing a very unremarkable consonant. Civilized people want to laugh, but they know the gravity of it all, the observation of these breathing-holes in the pack-ice: a seal might feed you for days; otherwise you might have to swallow your leather boots. A colorful race, but totally untrustworthy, even the converts. Good material, strong backs, take orders well as long as there’s a whip in the background. I love how the moon grazes and occults these stars. I love how it’s only a figure of speech.

Reasons For My Engaging Hope As A Steersman

The Esquimaux have their shamans, the Kabloonas their spirit rappers for such sicknesses as arise from a wandering soul. Miss Maggie Fox transmits the tedious ramblings of the dead from her home in Rochester, the Styx bubbling up from between her lovely toes. Some nights we are pelted by artifacts launched out of our own cramped fantasy space to ripple and disappear in the mumbling pools of our inner lives. A gold watch. A scrap of embroidery. A surgeon’s blade. The good names of Englishmen who devoured Englishmen by the banks of the Great Fish River break over our hearts in a drowning wave. Mr. Dickens casts us the rope of a saving sentence spun from the entrails of barbarous others. A domesticity of blood and blubber. All the furniture of my house is rattling and snapping like teeth.

The Coruscation Reassumed the Horseshoe Form

I inherit flagrancy from a long line of exceptionalists. Then I perceive how the limits of the possible flip into the limits of the probable and all the metaphors stink with abscesses in the joints. The wave equation of “virgin lands” collapses into serpentine leads in the pack-ice. We have no news. The comparative form of “lost” turns out to be “peripheral”, the superlative “vestigial”. By this time the men have taken to striking up a sea chantey called The Reprisals of the Real, weeping into their watered-down rum, playing endless hands of strip-whist with the phantasies they eloped with. I no longer even know what desire it is ignites me like the sky.

Numerous Stone Marks and Several Caches

Space is always a stand-in for time, glyphs and pictures the first line of defense against the disorders of memory. Five loaves and two fishes; a fatted calf; the ambivalence of things seen. The problem is that everything half-works until policy precipitates a famine. Suddenly, then, the kitschy cladding falls away from the engine of history and you hear the gearwheels of power recalibrating bounty. Providence, Providence, Providence. Empire’s fire and Peel’s brimstone. Perhaps I fled here to mark the progress of a disease, those middle voices that sequester the middle passage in pious ejaculations. After all, ich am of Irlaunde: in the chill and stupor of truths we toast Her Majesty with bumpers of paranoia and bile, bestow names like salt.

Beyond the Floating Light

I’m trying to recall how far out to sea in you I’ve been, the voyages from which I returned less than before I set out. The ghost of a chance looms in the margins, in the wings. A dead girl from the middle classes, wan and weary, apparates with a message and a map of Prince Regent Inlet. (That should have been a giveaway—the Dickensian staging, the candlelit sincerity, the unmissable subtext, viz. “You might be a high-and-mighty mucky-muck but we know where your jouissance lies, beggin’ yer pardon, ma’am”). The jurisdiction of Victoria bites at her grave. Albion yearns through my letters. The sun never sets and we want more.

The Translation of Her Indian Name is Burnt Weed

At the flung end of this signifying chain a smudge of milkthistle tests the unblinking space, crosses over into a dream’s interregnum between chaos and terror. We’re only interested in the phonemes of the fuckable ones we’ll teach to read aloud A Winter’s Tale. We bundle against the flensing edges of aurorae in skins of recruited idylls. They interpret love as meat, you know. Nel mezzo del camin’ we scribble each other into mutually unmappable histories by the sheer sheen of seal-light, twist in the wind that shakes the sun and the other stars.

The Shingly Point of which I have Spoken

Suppose, then, my letter arrives, grimed with guts, a pathetic footnote of the unhappy consciousness. Most want the engine to stop, the ship to coast to anchor in the lovely sweep of a bay in the hot Marquesas, to expel in an accomplishing breath the last nasal hum of The Book of Revelations or the final Sura of The Holy Qu’ran. Panton. Tawwaban. I always thought I was somewhere else because my narrative was ever accompanied by the uncanny music of slippages. We shared a bowl of warm seal blood. Since then I keep having visions of a shimmering periodic sentence with an indefinitely postboned principal verb. I wanted to write the prayer that negins “Give me a cheerful mind to perform your wonders...” All I got down was riverrun

Note: Erebus and Terror were the names of the ships which Sir John Franklin took to the Arctic in 1845 in an ill-fated attempt to find the Northwest Passage. 1845 also marked the beginning of the Great Irish Famine. The titles of these prose poems are taken from sentences in the journals of Franklin and in the journals of John Rae who eventually found the remains of the expedition.

Copyright ©2008 by Ger Killeen

Born in 1960 in Ireland, Ger Killeen was educated at University College, Dublin and the University of London. He teaches as a professor in the Department of English Literature and Writing at Marylhurst University. Among his several books of poetry are A Wren, A Stone That Will Leap Over the Waves, and Signs Following.

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