Unnamed, this place by the sea ended up as my home.
I found my feet renting out deckchairs, scanning for silver.
There are no landmarks to navigate by, but keep an eye out
for glints in the sand. The further you go, the emptier it gets.
Beautiful as it is here, it can get quite windy, and it may happen to rain.
Better the distance as the crow flies. Let things be what they are
or nab one of the grassy knolls without messing up its delicate neural map.
The rabbit burrows into the hill of the spirits. Kelly’s ice cream van
sometimes drops by in misleading versions of itself.
It does not look for things, but there’s good rock pooling here.
You can see slices of time in the water. You can catch
the curve of ripples in a template and a bird flying overhead
leaves its reflection, though the waves are much steeper
back on the main beach with our left-over bits
swept up and bound away. After a while they’re all
the same, like houses in a street. You can’t remember
the one you were waiting for. If only I could slip my hands
into Mr Punch. He is more than just a silly voice.
They jump because the boys I know have a ‘b’
for body, though I have nothing for them to drink.
Permettez-moi un mot sale. Here the nouns linger,
sure to be a treat, yet the hinges of the man
who steadies the ladder refuse to connect. He has knees,
maybe white-eyes with peeling skin. I have nothing
to fill out the sails of this sleety day, which washes us
through a larger passage of a forgotten history.
I have employed a man who will not leave, who carries
a death wish inside him. Voila, votre mort,
Monsieur, is not lost from a tiny hole in the ceiling.
I have been out. I have seen how relative absence
descends a long see-through tube. It hankers after
the little plumber who can arrange everything. It’s sure
to be a treat. Coiled, polished, we can make the leap.
How small I must have been before my body
became a stranger to itself. It’s something of a joke:
the man steadies his ladder, puts up a poster
of a naked figure. We are baptized in puddle water
by the church steps. If only I could slake my thirst.
Finely hairy below large lobe-like teeth
I was converted in my own bedroom in my father’s rectory
from unseasoned wood
Small oval pods split to release fluffy seeds
Hollowed elm trunks sucker freely
Only then was I allowed to proceed
We must class him with these fruits’ good bearing
pendulous side shoots, netlike veins on the membranous wings
in waves of liquid love the best wooden wheelbarrows
most beautiful in early summer, like the very breath
deeply-toothed, sparsely hairy leaves larger more heart-shaped
stems encased in raggedy fuzzily imparted clues
You must not leave me till I understand
the wild wood in which the inner man rolls over crown open
sweeping besoms of birch twigs grey and smooth then brown with pink fissures
Little-branched, I fear to lose the truth
knowing an officer on our force lasts and saddles trees
This intercourse is realised at the time as being both active and mutual
Early settlers arrive by boat ending in a notch
Bright red bark like a bed is pushed up
against a common city window
the unpleasant smell opening and grinds
more curved horns and a small raised bump
I had been lifted into a position for which I was too small
His foot was on a kind of lightening drooping foliage
It was his pathway ripened black through winter
That is why there is a smile upon the face
The branding flame stalks the dark
glossy curly leaves of the male trees
One day his friend met him in the rain, a fine cigar
and a cloud of smoke setting fruits in globular clusters
purple-black, bitter-tasting, those unnecessary trimmings
of lace, ribbons and buttons, dense heads of small white flowers
In these journeys I have been where much cloth has been dyed
lobes less deeply cut when stained
washing our garments to keep them sweet
after William James
The naked bill of fare – in it the inner man rolls over.
When I come to try, I find I cannot. The hands and feet
on these terms are in a different position entirely, as though
the name were jammed between hills and valley.
Have you got your psalter with you? Never be cornered. What shape
by multiplying clothes shall you make your body. He may make his bed.
Down this shape my intelligence glided paths on which one ought
not to wander. I must speak more fully soon.
A day stripped, therefore in our rooms I got up to dress myself
so staringly bare, making the one move out of his room. He took
his text et la mal dans ma bouche, where these things haunt, where the bones are
passed unhappy quarters, the me, the we. It made his back
put them on at night, or shrink away. There is a verge of the mind.
I can do nothing the nights in winter never so long
I have strung scattered passages together, but only colours
you cease to open yourself a few faces among rows of empty chairs
alone on the seashore along this path the giggly bubbly filmiest of screens.
It is only the first step that costs the creepy rich bloke the factors of some dream.
‘God is very good,’ he said, but if you have nothing else there’s the return
to a sort of half-sleep. The trick succeeds –
who got the sergeant’s job? Walk about a lot for no apparent reason,
but on the cleanest, the surest of streets, a wave
going through me follows it along. It seems like the very breath.
Falling rocks? Gull attacks? The downward ladder. I shall die if these waves continue.
They all seem to be in underwear. When I walked the fields,
it was like entering another world. It remains so essentially
unbroken everything is new. The addition of such a sense
presses forward towards the village. The people, the fields, the cattle, the trees
(they all seem to be in underwear) stop going to church. The appearance
of everything has a deeper voice, a dirt mark. The work is finished.
Pathfinders transparent, an entirely black dog keeps some sense
of fluidity, the whole day turning before me, the rich thicket
up and down the streets of the town. I find myself there alone
while my first self weeps. You believe as little as I do, coming out of the café.
Another filled his glass. Most of them in their turn, jammed as it were,
have remained empty. That was the idea.
Copyright © Ian Seed 2016
Ian Seed's latest collections of poetry are Identity Papers (2016) and Makers of Empty Dreams (2014), both from Shearsman, while Red Ceilings published his chapbook Fidelities (2015). His translation of Pierre Reverdy’s Le Voleur de Talan will be published by Wakefield Press later in 2016. He teaches at the University of Chester.