Not yet on a numerical par with the likes of the Rocky/Star Wars film franchises, Messersarounders Harris and Loydell have here produced a second in their series of poetic collaborations [well, it has only just become a series at this double landmark, but word is afoot that three other poetic screamplays are already in the bags of potential presenters] and the poems in this volume continue their explorations of human nature and the nature of its articulation.
As the blurb on the back page of this new volume tells us, these ‘anthropoetjests’ [a new and apt nomenclature appropriated from the mysterious Professor Some Diurnal Awe] follow a journey of lament and comic challenging of this – not quite good cop/bad cop but sad cop/mocking cop.
When the sequence opens with two dark accounts of an apparent apocalypse, the anticipation of an occasional optimistic view seems thwarted. Landslide teases with its descriptive beauty of a darkened place, and an ominous sense of forced change in a world lived is immediately established. Just as immediately, the following poem Black Crow introduces us to a saviour of sorts, Phillip J Jackdaw, yet any hope he can retrieve things from the darkness is comically revealed in his surname and the fact he was wrong. Such is the mess of this occupied world of the writers’ creation.
With such believable – and not so much so – absurdity, the only hope is more of the same. In Looking South, there is hope but only in finding death in the future, and Timeslip laments the further loss of lost identity. It is as if Hughes’ Crow has flown in with wings so enlarged from time’s blackness that flapping is the rush of thought and ink in all others’ imagining. And it is at times just as darkly enlightening.
In the world now inhabited by Harris and Loydell, light and dark are one and the same, and being alive is a good question,
‘Alive, certainly, like the stench of rotting flesh, but human? Doubts
remain. Was Roxanne still human? Roxanne, the ectomorph with the
possum nose, the one they called Gidget-the-Broom, was she still
one of us? Who are we?’
Where there is room to salvage something of the past, it is in the sad beauty of lament,
‘The early morning mist always softens the day and mood, makes me
remember other places where the sun rose late or early, or the city
was so hot we never got to sleep. Late night coffee on the hotel roof,
walks under moonlight, the campsite in France where it always
rained. I miss everything, know I will miss this when I am over it. I
am very much looking forward to looking back.’
Living is making do with what assuages, like ‘those healing creams, lubricants and corked cambiums’ [Sidetracked] and an acceptance that being alone is the best we can get from being alone, ‘You can choose to maroon yourself between tides and pretend you are alone’ [The Island].
But I digress. In this is being, and being many things to keep us guessing about who we are, what we have done, and what we can remember of this. The cast-list is as legendary, ‘I am Saint Bernard Mazzola-Iniquity, bastard nephew of Girolamo Francesco Maria Mazzola. I am draped in gold-leaf halo, aureola, mandorla and almond-shaped vesica piscis’ [Psalm] as it is anyone, ‘…I am in a time loop for centuries, revisiting the moment we make love, made love, will make love; the moment after you have left me, softly saying goodbye’ [New Skin].
And after this? This is just the beginning. After this, the poems loop back on one another, create new characters and mysteries, revisit and rewrite the truth and lies of what has been written before. Mrs Jackdaw becomes ascendant; the supply to living improves,
‘It’s good chiasma when we make the leap from 5 mbps to 12 mbps
while shaving. Of course we know that hell is fast and configured
never to decay in flakes of rust’
[Flakes of Rust]
and routine is as it always was,
‘Back to school, back against the wall, back to the future, to the
impossibility of ghost loops and living memories, of pictures re-
enacted in the future’
Even Phillip returns, a skulk of a reprise elaborated by his aphoristic sayings. Then you realise this isn’t darkness, though you probably saw the light already.
Stepping outside this reviewing ruse, I’ll conclude by observing these poems by Daniel and Rupert are delightfully dark, interactive with one another, vibrant in their fictions, and plaintive in their realities. And much more. As you read on, those loops, refractions and refinements begin to take on new[er] meanings and it is a genuinely exciting journey. The first read introduces the surprises, and a return makes you all the more surprised.
Highly recommended. Further details [with samples] and how to purchase here at the excellent Knives Forks and Spoons Press