From the sand. From the swiping of palms on commuter runs. From the tossed-off free-sheets. From the grinding trucks on dirt tracks. From the furnace hulls and eyes and mouths of salt. From the white hunchbacked desks. From the discounted cocktails and vapid pavements. From the tortuous late-night news-talk. From the canvas cells with torn copies of Les Trois Mousquetaires. From the idling security and high wire fences. From the shell-shocked and the white shell beaches. From the atomised to the atomised. From the blood histories and the sorrowful tomorrows, here, now.
Please help us.
I was told that water has memory. I can believe it. I think of how a drop – the cold moisture of a cloud, somewhere a continent away – might precipitate itself upon an azure sea. That it might get pulled this way and that, become submerged, forgotten, embroiled in the waves and the churn of marine life; that it might be lifted and fall again, that it might enter rivers, cross countries; that it might finally be taken along by a tide, that it might beach itself on closer shores, that it might pour from our taps, with its memory intact.
A decade’s unreported anarchy brings blood and dust, charted in numberless rusted cells where violence tells and torture proves.
They flee across the desert by truck, in the hands and debt of gangs, to make border disappearances.
In Libya and Yemen the smuggled bodies pay for thieved papers with degraded favours. Honours are all lost.
In the sea is the promise of every era’s castaways: souls strewn on the dark silent waves, squinting for island havens.
A small craft is a black dot in the indigo deep, the sun only a fire, a boat just another raft for the medusa.
‘Pipes’ connect countless channels of overflow from East to West, Agencies say. Politicians have dubbed it a ‘super sewer’ and ‘filtrations’ are due to commence – the cost already upwards of £400m.
A communication from a group calling itself Stop the Shaft claimed, using Securities language, that the channels were only responsible for a tiny proportion of ‘human waste’ dumped into the ‘river of humanity’. The cost to the taxpayer is unjustifiable, they said, and the cost to Rights…
Agencies said the claims were ‘misleading’ and joked that the rest of the world would be ‘piped’ to hit their latest target.
Johnny had grown to love that old dog. After the yapping stopped, when it was no longer such a keen and overbearing puppy, when its occasional mistimed bark seemed endearing, some kind of grudging trust had been formed between them. Then, the dog went missing. Rumours were that another snarling hound chased it straight out of the neighbourhood. Some said they heard it howling to itself. Johnny set out to find it, enlisting young kids to patrol the local streets and flush the mutt out of hiding. It was too cunning to have died, but where was it? Soon, Johnny…
Was there a time before the freedoms that still endure, before the storms that swept the sands, where what we watched unfold bore some resemblance to reality?
Once, I think, after the first of the degradations had been suffered, we still imagined the aimless orbit of missiles around the void of an ethical centre.
Not now. No signs refer to an external model any more. They stand for nothing but themselves and refer only to other signs.
The no-fly zones are full of jetplanes. Red tracer fire stitches the sky like thread in blue jeans. Meaning is out of sight.
Moomer believed that happiness came in small things. If you couldn’t lift it yourself, then it was too unwieldy, too weighty. You should be able to pack happiness into a rucksack. But happiness was also infinite. The hills were happiness and you couldn’t lift them.
Moomer packed his tent into a rucksack and walked for miles. When he set up the tent he would look at the ground: at the grass, the earth. Inside the tent was a warm, orange glow. The breeze whispered through the canvas. He fell asleep. Surely their world could not touch him – not now, there.