All the waves arrive bereft of their refugees,
the trees abolish even their ruins,
amassed in the chamber of zeroes.
There is nothing there to be filled:
you could grow learned in noughts,
study the accumulation of chalk.
That too is waiting, teller of shames
and of dreamwarks, long swells
laid up against dismay, the sack
on your shoulders, slouching downward
off the stone paths, a head full
of brittle figures, relic echoes
on a junkyard of remnants and
refuse: things are the discards
of your philosophy, dismissed,
demented, detained, they drift off
into the half-light, unapt ungrounded.
You carved this voice out of my body, dis-
lodged as if it did not even belong there,
instruments laid out on the table, conductor
of tunings, your one note hangs in the air.
He should have died hereafter, whatever
ever after he took on: these are no fit times
to be dying in, though too many come to,
then and there, their leavings surround us
with our needing. “You know how we live
in two worlds always,” so this is written in
divisible ink, as if there might have been
a word for such a time. But he turned a keen
untroubled face home to the instant need
of things, being all abstracted in body, stalled
and forsaken, and then so unwillingly cut
into spirit. Off they go scampering
light-fingered street-wise from the law.
Out of which of the divided skies
will the bird next fly? Across the meridian
the new thing escapes me, there then
not there. After a life of listening
all mixed up with things and things
the night-voice steps your way: yes,
you will die your death, the cypher
imploding inward to the dark and
cosmic quiet. Another sky, another
earth, that is but one condition
of our being, the one annulled
by noughts. They sold all the ashes;
it wasn’t enough yet: multiplication
of the deadheads, the most irrational
remains. Rains filled up the jug,
then we guzzled what was left us:
cry for the bird on the remaindered sky.
How there was always something all edges
asseverating, you have the body it is
the body I want in this gathering of
the querulous. Always we come after
the body that was spirited away, a dense
word cluster tightens the knot in your gut.
Remote and magical dusting takes on
the impress: they keep finding traces
rubbed out, rubbed in, they lift off
the stone with their prints intact,
but still not the thing they want: the want
stays. It may be the want you want,
after all, after the body’s been lifted,
after the wanted are rendered into
this afterlife that is the life of things,
something desperately signals the body I want.
Between lovely bluenesses the horizon rules
its edge, listing seawards. All round, blood
in its milk, red moiré, ash grey streaking its
milky silk. It pivots around the standing
stone, pebble dressed, a dot’ll do you.
A stone standing along the rim, a pine
cut-out, fog-dodged, determine the limit
you ’d meet, a human looming maybe on
the foreshore, a blade opens the distance
jottings shed from its sharp edge
seeding the cloud.
Between there and
here it is light that is moving as light
is made to, sky light sea light, ear
enlisted to its wavelength, reduced
to one note rung out, hardly there.
I cast the white stones on the foreshore,
foursquare, loaded with chambered echoes—
like you say, the loss of wind defines
a grave room. Likewise, embers give birth
to the absence of flame: such bearing
will suffer no hurt, easy flow, easy do,
the sovereign is smooth and the run-off
turns no stone, moving others as it will.
Like a blue water clause, scale determines
where you step—beyond the limit
the centre doesn’t hold, rhythm grows wily
and makes grooves of its own, will you won’t you
one two want to now. We were speaking of
power, showy things and shit: the base is four-
fold and still things move into their refuge.
All along a slow burn festers in the root mat.
By word of mouth or a stone fort opens
its wings to the sea below, below. I
miss you now though there was nothing
between us, only this great null of ocean
an embrasure embraces. A selfie
peeled up from the rock consumes
from the edges: see how it burns!
Round this end of time sense certainty
is circulating, the lone thing taken up
into its sublime abstraction is your con-
cretion or a Jerusalem stone facade redux,
flattened five stories to one, say, such
odds, when the rap comes to your door:
cement dust, ash, blown along the ex corridors.
But to be partial to things, this desert
is full of their traces in the attentive ear.
The voice waves break on the tympanum.
I wanted to net the surf tonight, its
splashy spume falls back from the furl. I was
all set to skim voice traces from the wall
tonight, they were so pressing to my ear,
the frantic orphaned swarm unhiving.
Nothing like you comes back, nothing of your
remains, words dissolving in the acid sea.
An odd leaf falls through radio silence, static
on the air, voices corroding between
the frequencies, snatches of sound dapple
scratching the gap between things. I wanted
to ride every broken wave to the ground
tonight, run interference patterns in the
backwash, waking shattered voices from
the undertow, stories of everything turned to stone.
Silk of self between the lips unspooling
even this nearness, the horizon smear
between blue and deepening blue, a
white-framed rock dashed in the surges,
liquid, liquidating, breaks the series. There
where an island, the stone church, the boulder
stations, older than that, there, the warmath
underbreaks. White underwing riding turbulent
streams, air-fluent, dem Geier gleich with
its caustic reflux. News breaks the chain
of evening with its murder of crows, homing,
the thread of memory shreds in the teeth:
ontological cable of this sea-wind heaves
at anchor, messaging madly into the archive.
Line by line, lip service felt in the breath,
leave me just blue enough to thread the eye
of a loop-pole, voice dying from the inside out.
Lightfall deepens into its incendiary edge,
backlit pines define the distance, black steps
across the ridges. Out of the heart of light
a voice speaks, its lidded mouth unseeing.
Hands ensleeved sift the star-salt, the weal
harks back into the time sink, this library
of wax blind to its catalogues of bone,
their scar-lagged proofs. Reserve shifts
across the null places, a whole hand writing
on air, an ember ring tracks it, cutting
the darkness in flight. All his paraphernalia
reversed, its warp order backing up.
Athwart the time I speak, only a breath step
holds him. Straw winds bear down off
the scorched slopes with a faint reminiscence
of ash. Let go. Now is the hour to disperse.
Morning thunder joins the peaks, copula
of rain raises the earth in a bright
snatch of decay. The tenanted house
is mildewed, filming of damp moss sweetens
the granite step. This you must take now,
stone by stolen stone, and tumble: dis-
mantled rock rolling uprooted down the slope.
Seated in solace, bent to his yeasty kieve,
master of fermentations breaks it down: haloes
of wort-rings unfold through the litmus, this
nonsense-mediated decay tense with the ash
of things, raven chatter hectoring the tepid
cloud. I tell you, he found his real face there
down by the sluggish waters, in the dank retort,
till your white head silent and your set jaw
stared everything down into its sullen earth.
A lifeline sutures the hand, crossed, only
that there to read, a seam unseen
fastens the grey graft to the red bark
as an old moon in the young one’s lap,
scuzzy aura blurring the scrim. A sheer
wind sings in the breach, damp cinder draught
wafted from the slopes: my dry mouth
tired of its breathing, a white ash
seasons the tongue. Nothing but sky
adds to the sky now a greeny light
diffuses along the crest, ashen light
before the storm. A seeding of droplets
peels from the branch, puckers the sand.
Number and level cyphered my tendered
palm: you might have said dross tide-shunted
at the surfline, wave-crescents fading.
Wave meter paced the shore, keeps time: between
the mountains and the sea, home trudge shrank
into undertow, nil by mouth, lip trap clamped shut,
but still she came ocean-eyed in dream, said see
what I could, see what I knew, see what I was:
the mountain back beyond, holding, weighed down
to this quartz rest—sea-crystal pressed in earth, earth
earth-heavy, clear in the seam light delays in its multi-
shimmering veer. This is the work diverging
from the cast, and your listening-in bone was
all ears to it, to the dream plunged in the earth,
askew to the remembering vase, bud-crested
crystal: from here on in it defines the sill, like
a signature, like an uneasy gaze into refractory
light, with deliberate slowness in the rift loaded
with smithereens, o-mouth to thread at your peril.
Feathered animangel in flight she opens
this articulate assembly, cast out on
the reticent field. A pillar of fire
burns afar, the undressed stone gives back
the day’s glare. Mother knuckles dragging
the finest sand for knuckle, clavicle
to string a high note over clinkered earth.
Phosphor drops searing out of the scalded air,
splutter of sparks annulling the bone:
dredged earth laid bare afire, every thing
burns in its own way, with an aura
of hot breath. Dead face turned from me
recedes into the fold, a word breathed in
my ear catches in its knot, reticulate
loops snaring the parting song, this science
of disappearance checking out for now.
Author’s note: Bar Null was originally published in Cork as a limited edition chapbook by SoundEye Pamphlets 1. Thanks to the editors, Trevor Joyce and Fergal Gaynor.