Blackbox Manifold

Issue 10: David Herd



We are not done. After the April we had

And the August and the January, rain

Clean down against the dooryard steps,

Setting out the way the architecture

Separates things, places – persons,

Trees, bread – the way the documents

Stack up outwith the space set by

To read them, think how short time

Thou hast abyden here, airports

Certain outskirts of our cities, after

The process, the way the judgements

Foreclose; after the December and all

The elements left lying around us,

When the winds blow and the seas

Whose steadfast faith yet never moved,

Process, no change of rule only

The direction of governance, persons

Disregarded, after the borders

Closed; after the process, after

The wreckage in transmission, the rain,

The repetition, world without end,

In the streets we are not done,

This is unfinished business,

Outside standing, constructing space.


This much we can say: insistence

Is part of the argument, coming back

To a person’s bearing, the way a body

Rests, notwithstanding the story,

Was never man so like amonges us,

Separate, I don’t believe it that

Chit chit chat. Part of the argument.

The dooryard echoes in winter

So the sound passes through

Of somebody else’s emergency,

Abyden here, restricted in every

Particular. ‘It was on the following

Day he fell from grace.’ Within

A budding grove, a person designated

Uninvited. ‘J’ai eu pitié des autres

Probablement assez.’ I don’t think so,

Hardly enough, so like my life

While it will last, the principle:

Elements shorn from context.

And somewhere we might stand

To contemplate an open

Environment; I learned something

Recently, that we lack tact

At our airports certain –

Part of the argument –

Talking simply, face to face.


Then there is the question of

Measure, continuously monitoring

And modelling, in which circumstance

I want to specify blood and bone,

Gesture, motion, aught else the world

Can offer: a woman in the garden

Sings a cradle song. Trending.

A plane goes down. Maybe if we

Sift the fragments, lockdown on the

Skyline scarcely credible on such a scale,

Our all we have held together by spit

And syntax, moments in the process

When affection yields. Discourse.

I think we should sue today for no

Compassion, since these practices

Among us have functioned

Long enough, break open

The argument, the story that

Shuts up our territory: bodies

Governed outside the scope of law.

Subect to change. I get a call

About Dover, and in the garden

The lady singing gets our reports

To match. Sirens. Cigarettes.

She is a credible witness. Subject

To process. The sun kicks  back.


This is a song for lovers. The wreckage

Is part of the urgency. You send today.

Text me a scrap of life. Exact words.

Therefore simply does what is to be done.

Last thing: put some kind of document

Together. Something we can trade on,

The history of a conversation, broken only

By the moments the networks went down

As we talked, getting most things wrong,

Except perhaps the deep are done here.

Last thing: to exercise your faculties at large.

I live at the foot of a hill, look out over

An ancient city. At three in the morning

The traffic stops leaving only sirens

The way things go, echoing gracelessly

As we go. At four: birdsong. At six: start up.

And all the while process. Gesture.

Motion. Until his action is a reality

Long, long we sing by rote, shaping

To intervene. This is a song for lovers

And aught else the world can show.


And the truth is there aren’t many

Images. February. The news breaks:

The snow won’t last. In the hoar frost

We contemplate obscure attachments.

Sleep pattern: broken. Future: indefinite.

And the realisation for like the millionth

Time, there is no context for the argument

To be put, which we should make only

A person presenting disparate attributes.

Notwithstanding a song thrush nails

The neighbourhood into place. And not

For the first time though this is snow

In February and where the letter

Finishes it doesn’t say who wrote only

The way things go which is somebody’s

Emergency: aggression rendered

In its most accurate form. With only

The process laid out. The laying out

Is part of the process. I lay this out:

I had to learn the simplest things last,

And I am writing to say that the buck stops

Where I stop. And the snow melts

And the context, falls into place.


Today is pale. I’d like to make

An intervention now please. Across

The city the traffic never stops

When the winds blow and the seas

And the small rain arbitrates the

Process and the waiting continues

And the watching, I’d like to interrupt.

 From rupture: to break. I record that

A person’s bearing is not now

Constitutional in a court of law

That the emergency is this,

The last book of songs and airs,

When we have wandered all our

Ways, the which on earth do spring;

Through cowslips and kingcups at certain

Outskirts of our cities, clustered

In bedless houses whereby the franchise

Stops, bordered, held at bay,

Not granted access to the currency.

Bid her therefore her selfe soone

Ready make. Bid her herself soon

Make, out of the fragments we left

Lying around us. Fragmentation

Is  part of the process. Turning things out.

This is a song for lovers. Gathering,

Arbitrating, proposing tact.


This is the object: to constitute

A modern document, put the pieces

Together in the open the way

The days fall out. You call after

You make your report. Reporting

Is part of the process. And the rain

Is. And the way the blackbird. You

Contemplate questions I decline

To ask. Even such is time. The object is:

To constitute a context. Where I live is:

The houses back towards an ancient

Church. Where Ethelred married Bertha.

This is not my position. Questions not

Possible to formulate before a court of law.

Even such is time. Finding herself not

Twenty miles north of Dover where

The language stops and the jurisdiction

They called the building St. Martins

Of Tour. A kind of welcome. A kind of

Gesture out. Even where the language:

Such is my position. Where the

Open, where the lilac falters,

Where a contemporary standing a

Contemporary stops. A welcome

Of sorts. We live in a pay-as-you go

Environment and the contract is

Part of the process and I’m worried

One day the calls will stop. Such is time.

Even such is time. You call from

Outside the currency. And the rain is.

And the report. March 7th, twelve o’clock.


And so the reality is the process doesn’t

Hesitate. In the garden a cat rips open

A garbage bag as the forsythia starts

To show which I can name now since

Somebody told me, in thick, blocky

Passages, the way a reckoning

Unfolds. And the way I reckon it

We should open with the untranslated

Born as I doubt to all our dole

With the morning in place since all

Was not unbeautiful suddenly holding

An emergency at bay. Suddenly.

Herewith. Outwith the politics

Notwithstanding. For none can

Call again the passèd time. You stop

You do nothing wrong I’d like to

Improvise a context, where with,

Somewhere where with lilac

Camped in conversation where

The dogwood lies. Here maybe.

Maybe herewith. Sometimes

The practice was outsourced to

Other territories. We look on.

We improvise the simplest things

Last. As the winds blow and the

Seas and the prospect starts again

Out of nothing as the dew starts as

The papers circulate making it up as

You go along.


As you go as. As the seas. As you

Stepped over the threshold. As the

Winds as. As the traffic. As the

Emergency stops. As you wait as

Nothing happens. As you passed

Out of the currency. As the letter as

After the process after the aircraft

Drops. As the contract came good.

As a still more intimate model. As

Without restriction everything is

Lawful now. As the dew falleth

On the grass. As they pay you a deep

Attention, not even a compliment

As you go about your business

As for whoemever inhabited it

As the story breaks. As the process

Sets out, as the framework

Sequences arbitrarily, as you came

From the holy land of a broken state,

Sirens, cigarettes, as the small rain

Graced the language, outwith,

Notwithstanding, as you spoke

We showed up late.

Note: ‘Feedback’ was written as one element of a collaboration with Sam Bailey, Evan Parker, Simon Smith and Matt Wright. The work was performed on 14th May 2012 at the Old Synagogue, Canterbury, as part of the Sounds New Poetry Festival.

David Herd’s collections of poetry include All Just (Carcanet, 2012) and Outwith (Bookthug, 2012). His work has appeared in various journals, including Like Starlings, Mascara, Otoliths, and PN Review, and he has given readings in Australia, Canada, France and the UK. He is the author of two critical works, John Ashbery and American Poetry and Enthusiast! Essays on Modern American Literature, and his essays and reviews have been widely published in journals, magazines and newspapers. Recent writings on poetry and politics have appeared in PN Review, Parallax and Almost Island.