Blackbox manifold

Issue 14: Peter Manson

Time comes for you

In the ovary of the fetal grandmother there is already half a mother;

in the ovary of the fetal mother, in 1928, is already half of the son

born empty of partial people, who will come

to emit those carelessly, on demand, in bulk.

But enough about me.  How have you been doing?

I know you only exist

when called upon, and the call is not voluntary

but takes the place of an obscenity

and does not even contain your name.

If there is an afterlife, it is lived

in the face of discontinuous instances of screaming

in many voices, all of them loved

and does not go on forever.

At last gasp the brain comforts itself

is a sentence I at last know not to be true.

The brain is not even an organ, only

the steadicam ballast for senses based in the head

and all that seems to happen there

is nothing but referred pain from the heart.

Awake in twilight sleep no memories form

of the wrongs done to you in our tired vigil

– yeah, right – and you have been here before,

handed, each time, a stranger’s child

you comb the distressed body for evidence

of recent pregnancy and conclude we are yours.

And now I forget how to write

having briefly remembered, and forgotten

or disregarded the writing that happened anyway

while I wasn’t writing.  It is enough to know

you trusted nobody, girl born without a mother

to all intents. 

                      Protectiveness, like protection

proves unreliable, which is why I am here

and like this, as death comes to you

in the guise of a fourth child, given gas and air

as I re-enter the frame.

A life lived in darkness is fine, then comes the flash

you would swap for nothing, revealing

the monster that was always there, enlivening

the subsequent temporary darkness that does not end in light

Amen Dunes

An echo the length of iconic memory

will one day contain all I need of me

but for now the loop is wide and trailed

round capstans and chair legs in the corridor.

It is a Möbius loop that serves

two tracks sequentially, one in reverse

or alternates left and right in the stereo field

and does not know for what it is a metaphor.

The first track is a tic suppressed with difficulty

whose contents do not reflect my present concerns:

the slow extinction of a conditioned response

the explosive acquisition of a fresh prurient yelp

bounced down into the one integument

with more insidious shit I seem to decide to think

but don’t, and nothing ends, but the noise floor

rises and takes me in as unfocused blaring.

The second track is the record of a long circular walk

past the nursery school, and the primary school, and the park,

the pond hotel, the hospital and the funeral home,

back to the home not yet a euphemism

though a housing officer sang the office of the dead

over me as I signed the lease.  The real walk

is a one-way street, with a ratchet in it,

and only on tape do I get to run it back –

optimism is made for me, by machines.

The left track is desire, throbbing from ear to ear

like a displaced testis, wandering the highways

of the body like an animal in an animal

in search of the opening of the wormhole opening

on the same mistake it has no memory of.

The right track is anger, throbbing from ear to ear

as the bollock seeks asylum in the jaw

drawing the circular muscle around the mouth to a point

where the blood in its tight orbit throws off sparks

at which only a loved one can kindle, like a safety match,

and I run, like a coward, am in fact a coward,

watching the oxide blister in the last cassette

rather than cut, untwist, and splice, and wipe.

In the backdraught after the arson attack of love

I am snug inside asbestos, breathing fibrous air.

Peter Manson lives in Glasgow. His books include Poems of Frank Rupture (Sancho Panza Press), English in Mallarmé (Blart Books), Adjunct: an Undigest and For the Good of Liars (both from Barque Press) and Between Cup and Lip (Miami University Press, Ohio). Miami UP also publish his book of translations, Stéphane Mallarmé: The Poems in Verse. See for more.