14 April 2021
'Contains Mild Peril' Fran Lock pp83-84.
The final part of the book is given over to a single poem 'dead / sea', a ten part 16 page poem, in which there is dark undertones of death, self harm, illness, drugs (maybe) and life out of control. Every time I read Fran Lock (and if I had started the website earlier this would be post 10) I experience something different, and this time there was a strong feeling of the flow of words experienced in mania.
I am a reader not an academic and I have been given no outward clue of what is going on, so my mind aims to order it and make sense of it from a world I know about (though not experienced myself first hand). The constant stream of words and profound insights with occasional allusions to the subject's father, has that feeling of a person experiencing a manic episode. A person experiencing this may throw out words that don't have an obvious order or connection, but because one's own mind as the listener does not allow disorder, it starts to fill in the gaps and make sense of the words into a logical narrative.
The poem does not have a beginning, middle, or end, of note. Though the darkness of the flow veers away from death, and seems to wake up on a ward, there is no big reveal at the end , where all the experience is summarised neatly in a box so that one is happy that was the subject of the poem, we now know what the rest of it has all been about, and that the subject of the poem themselves is all right.
From the poem's title, which sets the scene, 'dead' - well there is is a constant undercurrent of death all around, maybe someone important has died, and this brings up the death or absence of the father, and the person themselves experiences the dead person as a dead person amongst the living, and contemplates causing their own death, or is in the presence of a person attempting to kill themselves (perhaps on the ward the subject of the poem may be on) or the person who tied killed themselves. Or maybe not.
And 'Sea' - makes me think of being all out at sea, lost in an ocean of feelings, drowning not waving. And the Dead Sea is a place people go for therapy, where one can float to the surface without moving. Perhaps the person is in a hospital receiving help, there is certainly unwell people nearby.
This is all wild speculation, but it does not matter, this is the feelings it brings out in me; that sense of making sense of the nonsensical, that the subject of the poem appears to be experiencing. Sometimes words appear in italics which I took to mean were real words someone was saying, or at least someone is hearing, and the words connecting the words in italics seem to be the response the subject of the poem is having to the words.
Along the way there are wonderful phrases, which a regular narrative could never find, ''like a battered wife. beatific pesticide'. There is frequent word association, which is a symptom of manic thinking, and also which naturally work well in a poem. Meaning seems to hold together for several words them fade into another subject without understanding the twist, which has the feel of delirium, if not mania.
' there is a darkness we can neither stand against
or swim. i searched for you. i searched and searched. death, an unmappable
excess, distortion of geography. i tore my hair on building sites, listing in the
shipwrecked kitchenettes of unplumbed houses. it was cold. the wind got in
between my ribs.' (michaél / osiris)
... I don't want to end this quote, it all flows on so relentlessly well, creating an atmosphere, with feelings of sadness, loss, self destruction, or being out of control being, near and around death, in chaos, unable to help oneself from harm, living on the edge of despair, in squat conditions, possibly around substance misuse - whilst actually saying none of those things explicitly.
btw - Osiris is the god of fertility, agriculture, the afterlife, the dead, resurrection, life, and vegetation in ancient Egyptian religion. Michael is an archangel, of course, but I am not sure if that is the Michael we mean here.
And this is one tiny passage within a huge, endless flows of words, where every few words can be interpreted, or reinterpreted or left as they are, I truly love it. Mainly because I could never reproduce this, it is beyond any capability I have to reproduce it, much as Tennyson or Wordsworth is beyond my reach of ability (and understanding too sometimes!)
So it is with some sadness that this book comes to an end without an obvious place for me to go for the next book. Re-reading may well be the order of the day. Should I want a further break from my ordered thinking, a time for my neural pathways to be temporarily wiped clean I know where to come to and I surely will.
reading the poetry the music was
'Invisible Cities' by A Winged Victory for the Sullen;
and writing the blog it was
'Auntie Aubrey's Excursions Beyond the Call of Duty, Pt.3 (The Orb Remix Project) by Various Artists (who have had their music remixed by The Orb).