Death’s Discoteca

 

Clovis-Trouille-Mon-Tombeau
Clovis-Trouille-Mon-Tombeau

 

Soulless automaton,
pallid vampire,
with your amphetamine blush,
ceaseless opiated caresses
if only looks could melt.
Last of the gravers,
nodding away
at death’s discoteca
do you miss
that old morbid élan,
with real live girls,
packets of gear,
being the man,
making them wait?
You ain’t who you
used to be anymore,
hollowed out by the night,
spooked by a thousand insomnias,
an uncertain spectre
at the feast of the auto-cannibals:
paying the heavenly revenue service
the vig for deceiving syntax;
now every lying word turns to ash
within your pitted and parched mouth,
and every cruel intention,
conning misdirection
is now a stone within
your bloated stomach.
Pallid vampire,
soulless automaton,
time to open the curtains
and let the sunshine flood in.

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The Spectral Attitudes

kim3b855c_toyen_1
Toyen-Fardee pour apparaitre 1962

I previously posted The Pope of Surrealism, Andre Breton’s poem Free Union which is just one of many outstanding Surrealist poems that he produced in his long career. The Spectral Attitudes is from 1926, two years after the publication of First Manifesto of Surrealism. I have chosen a particularly unnerving spectral image by the wonderful Toyen, (see At the Chateau La Coste and many other posts) one of the most militant and loyal followers of Breton, to accompany the text. Translation is by David Gascoyne, the English poet who saved Salvador Dali from suffocation at International Surrealist Exhibition in 1936.

 

The Spectral Attitudes

I attach no importance to life
I pin not the least of life’s butterflies to importance
I do not matter to life
But the branches of salt the white branches
All the shadow bubbles
And the sea-anemones
Come down and breathe within my thoughts
They come from tears that are not mine
From steps I do not take that are steps twice
And of which the sand remembers the flood-tide
The bars are in the cage
And the birds come down from far above to sing before these bars
A subterranean passage unites all perfumes
A woman pledged herself there one day
This woman became so bright that I could no longer see her
With these eyes which have seen my own self burning
I was then already as old as I am now
And I watched over myself and my thoughts like a night watchman in an immense factory keeping watch alone
The circus always enchants the same tramlines
The plaster figures have lost nothing of their expression
They who bit the smile’s fig
I know of a drapery in a forgotten town
If it pleased me to appear to you wrapped in this drapery
You would think that your end was approaching
Like mine
At last the fountains would understand that you must not say Fountain
The wolves are clothed in mirrors of snow
I have a boat detached from all climates
I am dragged along by an ice-pack with teeth of flame
I cut and cleave the wood of this tree that will always be green
A musician is caught up in the strings of his instrument
The skull and crossbones of the time of any childhood story
Goes on board a ship that is as yet its own ghost only
Perhaps there is a hilt to this sword
But already there is a duel in this hilt
During the duel the combatants are unarmed
Death is the least offence
The future never comes

The curtains that have never been raised
Float to the windows of houses that are to be built
The beds made of lilies
Slide beneath the lamps of dew
There will come an evening
The nuggets of light become still underneath the blue moss
The hands that tie and untie the knots of love and of air
Keep all their transparency for those who have eyes to see
They see the palms of hands
The crowns in eyes
But the brazier of crown and palms
Can scarcely be lit in the deepest part of the forest
There where the stags bend their heads to examine the years
Nothing more than a feeble beating is heard
From which sound a thousand louder or softer sounds proceed
And the beating goes on and on
There are dresses that vibrate
And their vibration is in unison with the beating
When I wish to see the faces of those that wear them
A great fog rises from the ground
At the bottom of the steeples behind the most elegant reservoirs of life and of wealth
In the gorges which hide themselves between two mountains
On the sea at the hour when the sun cools down
Those who make signs to me are separated by stars
And yet the carriage overturned at full speed
Carries as far as my last hesitation
That awaits me down there in the town where the statues of bronze
and of stone have changed places with statues of wax Banyans banyans.

Imago

Igor Morski
Igor Morski

I never looked at you in a sexual way before
But I am now and I’ve got a feeling
That once started I will find this cute
Compulsion near nigh impossible to stop
Now that the scales have fallen
From my eyes and you are transfigured
Into a Valkyrie, an angel, a vamp
An incandescent imago razing
My mind with intuitive intensity
Reducing my chaotic complexity
To a single lust, one driving desire
To possess you so that I can in turn
Be possessed and then engulfed,
No longer thrashing in the shallows,
Diving into the depths, a plaything
Of strong currents, subject to
The ebb and flow of tides
Battered by breakers and waves
Hearing oceanic roar, whale-songs
And the susurration of sighs
Only with you do I want or wish
To turn the petit mort into
An epic grand mal, a seizure to
Pause creation in its tracks.

But after that, what then?
I realise inside that your enigmatic
Wayward essence eludes, escapes
Me still; In my phantasy I have
Turned you into an alluring succubus
But it means nothing unless you
Reciprocate, dream of me,
In the dead of night, as an incubus.

You have always been here

From Angel Series, Roma, September 1977 -Francesca Woodman
From Angel Series, Roma, September 1977-Francesca Woodman

After much consideration,
I have come to the conclusion,
That you are not
Who you say you are.
You have always been here,
Not a visitor seeking shelter
From the winter’s storm,
This is your residence
Right here, with Hell
Just around the bend
In the depth-less sunless valley,
With Heaven just a vague rumour,
A distant, insincere promise:
This gimcrack structure,
Aging and weathered
In urgent need of repair
With its endless corridors
And cracked silvered mirrors
A dull pastiche of infinity,
Home to dismal phantoms,
Downwardly mobile angels,
Degraded coarse Demiurges,
Is your eternal abode
Where you wearily survey
With a monstrous apathy,
The chaos of creation,
The loop da loops of time,
This maze of memories.

Stardusted

Ellen Rogers
Ellen Rogers

I’m sure that there’ll come a time
When I’ll forget exactly…
…Who I’m supposed to be.

You see it’s a matter of quantity,
(Quality no longer enters into it)
All manner of obscure equations,
Metrics of analyzing othering,
With its multiplication of voices
And sub-division of selves;
While the host of personalities
Residing parasitically within
The remote fortress of my mind
Stake their claim,
Plant the flag.
For all the world
And its interlopers to see ;
Then identity will be little more
Than a possession
By outside forces unknown,
Be they alien, spectral or angelic:
But by then I will be passed caring,
For my empty hallucinating eyes
Will focus on the apparition
Hidden behind the revelation
Of the rent and torn veils:
Our glistening bodies glamorous,
All shimmering and stardusted.

The Glitches of Fear

August Natterer, My eyes at the moment of the apparitions, 1911-1913
August Natterer, My eyes at the moment of the apparitions, 1911-1913

Do you ever get that eerie feeling that something is not quite right?
The time is out of joint, unsynced, slowing right down,
Woozy with inertial entropy, cackling and hissing with static,
A soundtrack of ghosts residing in obsolete machinery
That reveals in the memory troubling gaps, the lacuna
Of shifting, impermanent assembled identities,
Assumed from random incidences, baroque notions
Jumbled together with jump-cuts, replays and glitches
Washed out and bleached of colour by false recollections,
Subject to the drifting haze of hypnagogic hallucinations,
The reverb and sinister echo of malevolent technologies,
That transforms all that is most tender and unique
Into a single freeze-framed image of absolute, stock fear.

Meant to Be

Last Year in Marienbad
Last Year in Marienbad

Is this the way it was meant to be?
I remember the future differently,
But then again when could memory
Ever be trusted or relied upon,
Just raw rushes to be edited
Into a consoling, coherent fiction,
A vain attempt at a narrative
That lends structure, meaning,
To this messy rambling series
Of unfortunate events we group
Together and present as a
Distinct entirety called Life.

Is this the way it was meant to be?
I look in the mirror and I can’t
Recognise the figure I see staring
Nonchalantly back at me.
I am pursued by echoes, traces,
Vestiges of many different selves,
Degraded remnants of cancelled tomorrows,
Events that never happened that have
Yet retained a hold upon my senses
Far greater than any actuality
That may appeared to have perhaps
Occurred sometime in a half
Forgotten and ill-defined past.

Is this the way it was meant to be?
This era of ontological uncertainty,
At one point I may have seen a light
That drove me onward towards
A destination that I thought was home,
But it was switched off, extinguished,
Or maybe it just burnt itself out:
So now I spectrally waver,
Phantasmally flicker at the edge
Of your vision, waiting for you
To catch a glimpse, recognise
Love, give outline to desire,
Make the blood flow again
And shape my flesh to your will.

I Just Don’t Know

Performance 1970
Performance 1970

– I just don’t know
-Yeah, you do
Come on take one more stab
It’s worth a shot for I am a bullet
Searching to destroy, heat seeking tracer
Deeply penetrative, detonating on impact
-I just don’t know
-Yeah, you do
Surrender all agency and I might let you
Boss and dominate, lose my identity
Forget my name, forget the world
Close my eyes and just go insane
Rearrange the reality, form different patterns
Let I become other, transfer personalities
-I just don’t know
-Yeah, you do
I perfectly understand your hesitancy before
The sacred violence that is bound to come
But let me perform, it’s what I do
So empty your mind and I will shatter
Your perceptions; let those demons loose,
Take you down that paradisaical garden path
Where everything is permitted and nothing is true.

Did I hear somebody say yes?

SinisterShoreSide

Kurt Seligmann

At the school where I did anything but study
They tried to beat out the boldness
Only to encourage my wild and wicked side,
So they changed tack and instead talked and talked
Attempted to bore me from being bad
But it was of no use, they couldn’t avail
Because I was born sinister, one of the devil’s own;
My sympathy is always for the rogues and rebels,
The wanton and the wayward, waifs and strays,
Those sweet tarts with sickly gold hearts.
Even then my intentions were never honourable
But always and forever criminal, amen.

Let me take you down the left hand path,
Come on angel and crash with me
On the west side with its sinister streets,
Lift up your skirt and part those legs
Let’s ride through the rippling night
I will take you up to where I’m at,
Before showing you what’s down below,
Under the hill and beneath the deep blue.
Then solve et coagula, our reflections
Will refract in an avant garde rehearsal
Then splinter before a final re-con
Figuration on the distant sinister shore.

Haunt

Odilon Redon
Odilon Redon

If we are who we haunt,
Then I am the ghost of my own life,
Casting shadows across the sun lounger,
The silent spectre at the groaning buffet
Resplendent, sinister and boring,
Bearing witness to all the lost futures,
The decayed promises of a better world,
Those bright and shiny surfaces
Tarnished and rusting in the headache-
Inducing glare of the sodium lights;
Granting me chilling visions
Of the stillborn brittle possibilities
Preserved intact in the frozen tundra:
Involuntarily shivering, (Why can’t they
Ever avoid walking on my tomb?)
I am reminded of the revelation
That I so long to forget but never really do;
That we haunt and are haunted
From conception to the grave.
For the unnaturally preserved corpse
Of the rotted past together with
Obliterated time that will never be
Congeal and solidify into a shape
At the end of the bed, waiting,
(It has patience, time is on its side)
For that moment to arrive
When it will invade and finally
Colonise the endless, unholy now.