Lawrence Upton


Working Notes:

Prose and verse are rhythmic-semantic structures; both are vehicles for poetry. The twisting space where the two meet is like a path which is often hard to find, variously rocky, earthy and grassy. Each kind makes particular demands and endows particular qualities.

EASY KILL / TRAN structures itself in paragraphs: significant breaks come, not at the end of lines or sentences, but at the end of paragraphs. Sub-structures are of variable length without there being a strong base rhythm. It is laid out accordingly.

Thus, the decision is technical, no more, no less.

Twenty seven men, slightly unformed, enter the building at the ground floor. They move swiftly and smoothly, each minimizing use of space, as coins will as they slide from production machines into circulation.

The group splits apart, rolling down corridors, rising up stairwells. Reason is not engaged; locks and bolts hold no one back. They are ruthless, even in the way that they sustain themselves.

When they have finished, twenty five leave as they entered. Two are carried on stretchers, observed by a photographer who will be injured later; the film crew never make it home.

He walks loose-limbed, does not drink and eats rarely. His skin seems beetroot-stained; his hair greys in slippery afternoon light.

Is that your key? he asks, but his mind's not on the answer. Calm down, she says, but that's another conversation. The coffee's beginning to boil over.

Charts on the wall hang loose on their drawing pins. He turns to sit and subsides into the chair, yet stays as bunched and clustered to himself as a primrose. He begins to read, slowly, mouthing some of the words.

Gun emplacements fall apart. The cliff edges towards them. Roads widen; building spreads; red ants extend across the bottom field; the climbing rose gets rangy.

A woman makes a big noise, kissing her child; most of it's pre-contact. The child responds with a startled pleasure yelp. A drill bit cuts through steel. She rubs her nose against the child's nose. Some moisture is transferred. I see it glisten as they pull back from each other. All the colours of the rainbow, says the woman.

A glittering sphere swings with other reflected spheres below it, doubling on the glittering surface of the wet floors, reflecting against a wall. The spheres and their reflections merge.

Day's lights come on. The hall is well lit now. It's almost white. Reflections make illusions of space, imaginary corridors between darker reflections.

A bright empty day. Light from sea is brighter than light from rocks. Both make it difficult to see. Steps come out of clouds. Something which menaces hover... more than two things, remaining one thing, a body with paws and emerging tongues. An almost-silvery watery day.

A flock of birds, the letters of a shout, rising from a farm, among plants growing there, and form themselves into a line which they fly along. The sound makes several indistinct words, which form themselves variously into a scarecrow and a windmill.

The scarecrow waves its arms in the wind and the windmill turns, speaking of something flying and something explosive and something breaking and useful rolling downhill, an old wrecked car in a quarry, a navigation aid, a broken sign on the headland, a set of tools spilling from a dropped tool box. A piece of soft paper blows through the complex.... The wind drops.

They are making this place their own, spreading their refuse! The walls are large and solid; but the inscriptions are unreadable and they find it hard to deduce purpose from the room structures - defensive walls and none of the subsidiary signs of defensiveness, contained areas and no utility to the containment. They think it is a temple. A break in the walls as if from external damage or geological disturbance; and, within that break, something that pulsed, unrecognizable, almost thoroughly decayed, webs of fibres, doubling of sight to no purpose and with no cause.

A flag of torn words, things said, a string of them tied in a narrative that no one would or could believe, a verbal paling, a piece of song in prison, a humming through boredom made bearable by concentration; a flight of steps whose beginning and whose end has been abandoned, excavated; carved into the steps, letters believed to be contemporaneous with the steps, but not readable; a fence of broken words, torn from library books and official buildings, on its side, after violent wind; a series of shadows in the inner court; shells falling.

A roll of bunting falls across steps and cascades open. Near the bottom, it spreads out and the figure of a man forms. He rises from a river and disintegrates. The river becomes slogans and the slogans turn into the figure of a man. This image breaks in several places.

He looks into shadow, out of bright day, and sees black; a smell and a scuttling come out; the words of the tune he had been singing on a screen of temporary blindness; smiles form between words; loved faces and feared faces take on the words. Behind him, someone is calling smiles into his camera. These words too shelter in the dark place; lights in the head die... The transformation ceases. It is still too dark to see; the sight is fading, light from the bomb bay as it opens; a city burning. It is black with no breath upon waters and no thing flying over; not night because night had a beginning and will have an end; not death because death flows out of living; not black, the colour, because that has some amelioration, some grey suggestion or a blueness so deep it does not seem blue; a silent black, loss of words, sizeless whole; closing of eyes to pain before pain without light filtered through eyelids, without memory of light; not any colour; but absence of colour, and absence of a meaning to the word colour, and absence of absence, because absence would imply a potential presence, or the light which brings a knowledge of the colour, absence of wave and wave length, absence of dimension, absence of genitive relationship, absence of knowledge of relationship; and absence of knowledge, a single tuple breaking as if dead wood if it were to exist, if there were a place for it or a tree to exist, from a tree without existence in the dark which has no existence. Look away.

Blow backs through the headlights speckle the windscreen; a voice on the radio nags; the road disappears into a point; someone goes over the top and dives, only his hand sticking from the tumble into white, and water spills on the hard surfaces which would have seemed smooth and are now seen, unevenly, as the fall buckles and splashes from its downward. Caverns open in the hardness while rivulets flow into them. Dazzling blank spaces break out and then break. Surfaces seem to merge under speedy water. Voices bunch together and grow thorns we trip on.

Voices regulate themselves and march multi-legged. Avoid them. Film runs in and out of sprockets, tearing and catching itself, projecting, another film than the one expected and the one filmed. Film as film, mutters the technician, sneering, as he joins broken sections and there is little hope that anything will have changed - except this copy of the film. He winds it backwards but the thing is tumbled in its reel.

A water wheel turns double imaged in an unprecedented flow of water. Several stage lights stutter. A flint on a lighter sparks briefly and he blows smoke into the eyes of one trying to help him. Someone has spilt motor oil and it's everywhere.

Leaves and red metal. A sheet of red metal, a field of green leaves...

Words painted with yellow paint on sodden fencing wood, fallen over...

Roots of a tree which has been uprooted, hanging over the hole it had itself made, displaced, and cut through straight eighteen inches up its trunk...

An old concrete platform towered over by flowering lupines...

A bus goes by...

A blue plastic crate...

At the top of the hill, several stories of reflecting glass throw back the hill and sky valley in unexpectedly-shaped segments, duplicating disarraying simultaneously...

A dovecote in slow process of falling down the side of a disused railway embankment, collapsing as it does so. Paint flakes from it. Water streaks it. Cobwebs fan out, catching and turning dim afternoon light. Runnels of earth where the soil is washed away. Broken white enamel, a matins bell, an upholstery armchair attracting flies in a village car park. A flattened beer can rolls a little way across the Aldwych in evening breeze. After a while it rolls not back but in a new direction on a bus wind.

A man with a large beer gut and a cap over his eyes; a large black key; an hysterical person between headlights; testicles and heads hanging from butchers' hooks; a hole in perimeter fencing; warning signs in empty corridors; a security guard exploding in gun fire; a woman reaching for the moon; a bus turning in a circle, on and on; an opportunity for metamorphosis; a clout hammer hard on a pair of hands; cash; hard on; a body buried beneath a crumbling floor with only its face showing; an unexpected fall; a shower of rain; a green olive doused in olive oil; a stretch of silver sand!

A picture of a smiling woman, engineered to make her look younger than she now is; a bar of chocolate; empty seats; a digital display showing a binary code progression; a cave painting; a picture of a tomb; a smiling robber; levels of pain; an army unit; false images, including misleading images; row upon row upon row of a man calling, making excessive claims in a high-pitched voice; blue water inside words you've used; a poseur trying to organize a trip, invoking the spirit of Columbus; two men rubbing their legs against each other's warily, fingering knives; a period of blackness; there isn't much truth in anything you say.

Panic in the rowboats - there's so much steam hardly any of them can see what they are doing - and they speak frantically, aggressive, but no one gets hurt. They're trying to get aboard a large model boat.

The sand is green and the sea yellow, all out of focus. He floats, somehow, in the cave. His feet are not in the sea, most certainly; but he cannot see his feet.

No sound of sea. Jazz piano played fast. A spider swings on a web. A snail on a twig, dewdrops hanging from surrounding branches. Forest takes green from the beach. Which is sea? No sensation. A bit of forest is in focus. A forest with a yellow sky.

Light white dust pouring through a down-angled window in a thick wall. A vast cello bowed by someone even vaster. She cannot see across the room. It's far too far. All she can see is the cello and a shadow of the player. Towards her feet, the curvature of the Earth distorts her body's shape.

Two suitcases, wide open, sprawled across the living room floor, clothing items and other personal things hanging out of them; a vacuum cleaner cable, the vacuum cleaner tube turned over itself; there's hardly any place to sit; carpet predominantly red and brown; the people hardly real, as if remembered from a long while back; murmur and mumble of their voices, less clear the more one concentrates, less interesting the more one hears.

A galleon upon the sea at evening, the sky black, running into gold and red, and then blue, as she looks across the hemisphere, a single bird, gliding, high up; distance collapses as the light goes, the whole fleet becomes a shadow and the shadow merges with the atmosphere between, called darkness; a light is on at the vanity table; a breeze lifts the curtains; the wallpaper gleams in the indirect light, a cloying smell of scent I can't quite place, the breath of someone.

A black and white photograph lying semi-crumpled on the floor picked out in white torch light; bottom of a chest of drawers, a white strap hanging down; a man hanging from a ceiling beginning to crack with the weight.

A green yellow blue parrot painting itself intermittently and cleaning its toes in a room got up in Turkish style; a video camera records events; sometimes the parrot consults notes and sometimes it seems to improvise; a potted fern sways as if in a breeze; the video camera hardens; there is a smell of damp; muffled voices at a distance.

Freight yards stretch to the horizon; trains come here from all nodes on the Earth's surface.

Bright light illuminates the public house opposite; but it is not the light of day, rather a video screen of bright colours.

A trolley, high-sided, gloss black, building itself, two uprights standing upright, spinning round the chassis and assembling in a street of plane trees; some beggars, hands behind their backs, tied together, heaped over a tarpaulin at the side of the bright street, watched by a policeman who spits at them; the harsh wind blows into them; gloves with the fingers torn out; the police sergeant is trying to talk sense but he cannot make it; a man with a smart suit is holding up a framed mirror around and about which he plays find the lady; his suit is getting grubby; the wind up gramophone is slowing down; no one is paying any attention to anything; a woman rocks a marionette in a pushchair; the marionette is counting money; a child stamps in a puddle; in the puddle one sees a reflection of the moon; from the moon the Earth might look beautiful.

Everyone stands in the raked seating and the coffin is wheeled slowly out of the hall to where, in the forest, someone has been demonstrating what a railroad looks like, using twigs placed parallel; a head is rolled down the tracks, bits of the throat still attached to it trailing, coagulating blood running out, the terrified face aware; it passes between my feet.

Almost the entire body, distorted towards the top or dwindling from head to foot, a kind of homunculus, demonstrating a fish eye effect, follows its head without assistance. She stays calm, the body, sliding down this stupidly inadequate image; friction stops her; she begins to deteriorate and, as her elements separate, rage takes her; she bangs her hands upon the ground, she shakes and throws a silent tantrum, collapses into leaves from the bottom of a forest; nearby a bonfire has been started.

A dark-skinned woman got up like a comic book sorceress brings down her arm in a line towards people who have transgressed. They fall into pieces, broken mannequins, and crumble into mouldy chocolate among strands of tissue paper.

A scorpion spins on a sandy floor, chasing its own tail.

Blackness crystallizes out of fog moving forwards. They track ahead of it, seventy, eighty miles per hour, shaded headlights, which drop as the car transforms, layer below layer, concertinalike, to a row of tumbling stacking chairs, in the very first instant of the tumble, eyes being shot from their sockets, bulbs and lampholders from lampshades, guts from torn bodies, presents dropped from Christmas stockings; and it begins to lumber like an early attempt to demonstrate the reality of the skeletons of giant animals; the road's been lost for ever; and the voice, not just falsely jocular, but sounding false as it imitates a falsely jocular voice, speaks: you turn upon your own centre like a paper spill.

A male and a female walk together. He gestures to two male children following obediently, throws a scarf counterclockwise around her neck and moves forward striding high, features blotted out to protect the guilty; the film merges with and is taken over by a second film quite unrelated; the street is ended violently by cobbled nineteen nineties' chic; a man walks a woman in a wheel chair up the centre of the street which ends at a sort of knuckle joint, asserting thus a vortex of cobble stones trying to force one away from further progress, cut into a portrait of a monstrous wide-armed Christ above a city and thence into a pasty white sun hanging in a mist; a silver screw dropping through a Victorian municipal glass roof.

A foam cut out angel fights a cat; the cat's cut out, aggressive, back bent to give it power; the angel, hides within her string bag, the one expression she has appropriate because so ambiguous, a measure of concern, a measure of dismay, a measure of remoteness.

A man sucking a sweet while he speaks apparently affably; an old man scratching his head, dandruff rising.

Issue Two
Table of Contents