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TALES OF THE DEEP ARK

ProloguE

THE ZONE

You have many maps, but what use are they? Their folds contain no meaning. No laughter in the coppice. No evening light, laying softly on restful slopes. No wide eyes, gleaming in the green glossed night.

This is terrain that can be surveyed only through walking, delineated by the cartography of perception; muscle and organs repurposed to augur, clinometer and theodolite.

A place where memory, topography and ritual entwine, where the mind dissolves without a sound, bubbling in sensate effervescence.

This is every place and no place.

Voyage of the Deep Ark

It’s beyond you, the workings of it, beyond reason itself. That you could just walk out here, past the limits of material circumstance.

To walk through this darkness, striding towards the bruised horizon, your shipmates ahead, pillaring a golden slash of roiling sky, silhouetted in sentry at the wind’s gate.

To sail this rippling green sea, bobbing in pacific eddy, askew on infinite canted planes. Tacking across the long feathered fetch of land with perfect trim.

To catch the swell. To be pitched to the crest of the ninth wave, to climb the mast and stand level with the mountaintops, alight with blue fire.

Freed by the gnosis of coincidence, free to rise, to feel the pulse, the depths rise within you. The valley buckling upwards, bearing you aloft. 

Free to vanish whole, to decohere, to be swallowed by the glitchscape, digested by pixel and artefact in hysterical compression.

All those tiny motions in space that brought you here to this. A cumulative, massless momentum, defiant of all accounting. Erratic arcs of incidence, warped by happenstance to perverse configurations.

Ripples on ripples. An interference pattern. An ecphoric repetition of singular ritual; engrams, skewer stacked, smudged with soot and tallow and white ash.

This conjurer’s trick, this kindling of old embers. The spark and sudden whoosh of flame. A spectacular efflorescence of sensation.

An impossible grace line of smoke and chiaroscuro sky, etched with ragged stylus, wrought anew by glucose, love and madness. Sealed in moonlit mezzotint by flare and fuse and rocket’s salute.

KATABASIS

This is it. The moment you hate – though it’s not really a moment, more of a membrane, a meniscus that stretches before you until suddenly you’re through and out. Exposed and vulnerable under the streetlights. Baffled by the silken sheen of tarmac. 

It’s a bad place, but if you really want to go there it’s easy to get to. Just walk out of the green and cross the old bridge. Then head straight down the trauma line. 

Before you know it you’ll arrive, shambling into a dawn of the dead-eyed.

It’s not something you do on a whim, this thing.But there are times when you feel the call and could almost run straight there, barefoot.

The first days of May with their promise of blossoms on the low paths. The azure haze of an August morning when you know that later the ground will be dry and the moon warm in the sky.

Clear October nights when you recall your old routes to that place, the smell of bonfires as you cycled past the flats, heedless of the cold, enrapt.

INITIATION

It’s November and it’s really fucking cold and you’re freezing in your wrong clothes, neck exposed, jeans wet and muddy at the cuffs, no hat, some shitty pair of runners, and the sky is frosted lead crystal, the daggered points of stars piercing its blackness, and you had a bag, a backpack, a useless sack, rattling with tape cases and wasted batteries, half a sandwich, a mouthful of stale water, you had a bag but you don’t know where it is, and it doesn’t matter, cos the music is fading out so you have to slow down, and you think you must’ve run too far, so you stop and dig into your pocket with your freezing hand and take out your walkman, and you can just about see the buttons in the dark, and you press stop and then rewind, and your ears fill with the whirr of the tape running through the cogs, but you’re not sure, you have to make sure, that you pressed rewind and not fast forward, so you press stop again and then play and yes, yes, you went the right way, it’s the button on the left you tell yourself again, so you press the button on the left again and turn around and start walking back up the hill, and then you remember where your bag is, it’s in the big shed and your friend is there too, so it’s safe, and you walk back up the hill towards that big shed, the starting line, and it’s a big hill so it takes a long time to walk up, you must’ve gone further than you thought, but you dont know, the song only lasts a few minutes so it can’t have been too long, and you move quicker downhill, at a jog, or maybe it’s a sprint, and you think you can figure it out, use the song to figure out how long you’ve been out here, on your own, in the cold and the dark, cos you dont have a watch, no way to tell the time, and you’re just running down the hill and then walking back up again, running into an undulating murk, over ghost contours that trick your eyes, so that with each step you think the ground will drop beneath you, but it doesn’t drop, or you don’t think that it does at least, and the contours look like a ladder, a flat ladder with broken rungs floating in front of you somewhere out there, and you wonder, could you climb the ladder? and when you look up to the horizon the ladder fades to black, into dirty colorised noise, and then up, up into the amber white lights of the city, but it’s a digitised light like the intro to a game on an 8-bit, no, a 16-bit console, a megadrive maybe, but that’s not now, that’s at the top, when you turn around, face back down into the wind, it’s not now, it’s soon, or then, cos now, right now you’re nearly back, back up to the top, and you see the trees to the right, the little copse of trees still there, and the big shed behind, probably, and you don’t know how long you’ve been out here, alone in the cold, but you could probably time it, figure it out, and you should probably check in with your friend again, see if he’s OK, but you think you could have one more go first, so you take out your walkman and you press stop and then you press play and you listen and you’ve gone too far, too fucking far back, again, and you fumble in panic, and you worry that the music sounds a bit slow, that your batteries are dying, but that’s another thing, another thing to figure out, and you don’t know, you don’t think so, so you just press the button, the one on the right this time, the fast forward button, and you wait, you dont know how long for, but that seems long enough, and your fingers are freezing as you press play again, you know you should press stop first in case the tape snaps or tangles, that would be a total fucking disaster, a catastrophe, but you press play and you’re lucky cos the last track is fading out so you know you’re nearly in the right place, and you press stop and turn around, face downhill and line yourself up with the trees, on your left now, line yourself up again, and then you remember that you have no bed tonight and you’re waiting for a friend to come and you hope he comes soon, because he’s late and you need a bed at his gaf, cos its a 15 mile cycle home in the cold and this isn’t your patch and you’re not sure you can make it home, not sure you can even make it down off the hill, you don’t think you even know the way home, all that way, down all those dark streets, you’re lost, no, not lost, but not found, and no, no, no, you put that to one side, try to put that to one side, it’ll be fine, it’ll all be fine, and you line yourself up again and you check your pockets to see if you’ve dropped anything but you think you have everything, and your bag, your useless bag is in the shed with your friend, and all you can hear now is the wind and the sound of mucus, and your nose is frozen, streaming, snot falling onto your jeans and your shit runners, dripping off you and dissolving into the grey ground, and your hands are freezing, no gloves even, and you wipe the snot away and stuff your cold wet hands into your pockets cos you don’t need to look to press play, you can do it by feel, just press the big button in the middle, so you press that big button, feel it click, and you hear the last song fade, and then it’s just hiss, the sound of the tape moving through the machine, the wheels turning, and then it starts, it starts again, this song of the sun, and it swells up and it fills you with fire, so full your head almost bursts upwards in an explosion of gold light into the frigid black sky, so you have to run again, and the high hats and then the drums, and you don’t know what this music is, or where it came from, or why or maybe this is why, but it sounds like the sun, the glorious fury of the sun inside you, and your heart might burst with it, and then you have to take your hands out of your pockets for balance because you’re moving fast now and you think you might slip, but the ground is a flat slope, though it looks like sand dunes, wind rippled sand dunes, or like frozen grey waves in a slate sea, and it’s like, like being on a treadmill, just running over those waves, running like you’re on a treadmill, running through limbo with your feet aflame, into the grain and fuzz of the night, panning up to the video game lights of the city all projected in front of you in 2D, and you wonder if you kept running would you ever reach the bottom, if you could run forever into it, like this is some glitch, some crack in the world and you could just run down the hill forever and the spindle of stars will turn and years will pass, and life will continue in time-lapse around you as you run, knocked out of observable reality, haunting the hill like some shabby wraith, invisible in your own pocket dimension of cold black November night, and you wonder this and the sun is shining in your head, light, hot light bursting from your eyes it feels like, and it’s just too much, and you think you could just do this forever, up and down this hill forever, running over phantom contours towards a hologram city, alone in the cold and the dark, running forever, the sun’s light shining from your eyes into the frigid diamond air, and you think you could run like this forever, and maybe you are.

The Terroir

In the sweep of the lighthouse you see the stretch of water separating you from the other coast, unlinked to this remote shore, where twenty years of memories come crashing down, ever changing, but linked by a thread of friendship, welcomed by an extant ritual which you make yours, with myriad gradients of feeling and emotion, felt deeply on these walks on the edge of kairos.

Always looking for a new way to tackle the terroir, these very familiar grounds that reveal something new about us, about you, The camaraderie of music and excess that takes you rolling down hills, all too aware of cliff edges ahead, to ascending, almost, from rocky outcrops, when the wind picks up your coat.

And the gorse. What to say about its rambles? The possibility of a revelation if only you can clear the next outcrop, needles stinging your ankles, pricking your very core as you fall right into it, only to get up and trudge along anxiously, to peak at the red light, where you realise you’re not alone, the rest of the posse close by, manic, ensuring no one gets left behind.

Just one more minute to take in the view, the dark night.

Anaphorest

Everything here is an invitation. The tender and tremulous green of leaves, the pines, jeweled with a million flaming points. Jets of young trees budding through a splendid mantle of fallen blooms, golden rocks and quivering ferns.

Staffs of slim silver birch, hollow nestled blossoms, music; oozing into you like liquid crystal, permeating your spirit with gentle warmth.

You dip your hands in the long grass and smile to the cliffs, high and silent. Heir to a pulsing knowledge, a joy without measure, without cost, guilt or penalty. Everything as it should be in this bubble of light, this perfect lobe of eternal spacetime.

The Last Waltz

The group splits, cycling wearily off through the arteries of the city to beds or sofas. Your friend has another plan though, to cut back along the coast to where the night began.

On that outcrop, above a pixelated lo-fi sea, you seize the chance for one last moment. Synchronising to the same song, you dance together in spirals of spray and the fumbling of surf, hands waggling to high hats, feet shuffling to the bassline, fists whirling to a Cthulhian kick drum, palms aloft when the synths drop.

One song is enough. You head for leaba, pedals twirling. Wary of our star’s ascent, but nurturing your own nebula within.

Still Ways

Fire came this year, cleaving the head. You trace the margins of its scar, walking the stone border through the bog in silence. On one side, heather and prickly gorse, flowers gray in the night, on the other; burnt earth, spectral, ossified stalks. Ashes.

Utter stillness when you reach the cairn. No wind moving in the dark. Frozen cones of light below, the harbour becalmed in queer doldrum. You sit, perched on the threshold of another trembling world, suspended in the resin of time, congealed in neolithic jelly.

Ambergris to the hill.

Scatter me there

 if ever I die.

Become that transparent eyeball you aspire to be.

Forget that you are so that you might see.

Volant moon pulled taut to mount straddl’d vale. 

Paled balloon hung in perfect plumb. 

Scraggy drumlin drumlicked by moontongue.

You could do it in the woods, fireside to singing brass and leaf’s susurrated sigh.

Or at the shed under waning crescent moon, gold against a blushing sky. 

Or you could do it in this place, where the sea’s breath gasps and the pipes fly high. 

Wanton winds hoved, funneled to vortical joy.

LAKCH', ō LAKCHE!

Walking a high narrow bank in single file, treetops below.

A glimpse through a gap in the foliage of the moon over water, wreathed in red smoke.

The breath that's true

From up on the hill, you survey the heat map of anxieties below. 

Then the city loosens its grip and you start to breathe again. 

You are free of it now. Beyond it. 

And so, so, over it.

hieron

Go high in the summer at dusk. Step quietly along narrow green paths through the heather.

You’ll see hares in drove,  a frog’s ripple in blue water,  sly russet shadows in entangled thicket. You’ll hear the stone chat, the willow warble, all the little voices of the heath. A twilight language of demure rustles and tiny whispers.

And then the hills, dripping with sunset. Gold light bronzing the grass. Swift traces arcing through pewter skies.

Moonrise, bright as the dawn.

The work

As the rain subsides you emerge in drizzle to a watercolour landscape. Thick strokes of ochre and grey sienna underfoot. Blotter paper sky of cyan, pink and orange, as if a loaded brush had dropped blobs of undiluted colour to the page as you sheltered.

6-1-3-7-6

This sequence, this designation. A recurring theme, a knot, set and augmented by voice and inversion. Homebound, in constant pursuit of the original route, that passage of love and grief and tone and cadence. A home for head and for hearth.

This dreamspun succour, uncovered by the dip of sun, the rush of stars. Inescapable, unbound by resolution in form. It is in the seeking that we find. This, our haven, our home, our ark. We hang our hats, at rest in grateful lament, slumped in red-eyed tribute.

Home, if nothing else, we can call this home.

Tener Duende

A balmy night, windless in the valley. You begin the ceremony, cue up the song, synchronise or split the signal and tether to your companion. This eerie, doleful melody. Reverb. Drums barely there. In another place it would be a lament but here it is a psalm, music that belongs so completely it might have sprung wild from the heath, brother to birch, bracken, and heather.

Then, like voyagers taking their first steps on a perfect new world, you walk. Ambling in blissful fellowship and quiet wonder. You sink into the carpeted terrain as your souls simmer gently in the boundless envelopment of viscid night, steam leaking slowly from your boots.

Decima Call