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‘the ones opposite the gallows where the metallic beards are hanged’

rule

Photoshop an image of a matchbox
over an actual matchbox
because the 1980s is still where we are
with both art and the internet,
and just imagine us all
in fifty years time
saying
“Back in my day
if you wanted to pirate music
you had to find those torrents by hand,
and back in my day,
architecture was
‘how do we warn our children about radiation
when language is much faster
than half-lives;
and
‘please don’t say the church is the centre of this community,
when it was your darling grandmother
whose selfie i put
in the middle of a Pinterest mood-board
entitled
‘My Perfect Family’”

All of this years’ budget
has controversially gone
into framing this brick wall
and lighting it perfectly
for the desired
“Keep Out” symbolism,
but despite millions of committee meetings
to decide “the future of our great red partisan”
at this point we can actually just walk under the thing, like:
when i said i wanted to study literature,
what i meant was,
as well as learning about
why it was said
that “the author is dead!”
i wanted to think about
whoever it is that writes the handy lyric analysis
for Kanye West tracks
on rap genius
because in the apparently
all-encompassing venue of art
we should consider who we praise
and who we actually want to learn about.

i once received a snapchat
where the person i was about to be dating
was slow dancing,
and holding the phone as if i was there
unconsciously mimicking a line from
one of my favourite songs
“i am imagining/ to be with you dancing”
and so we have left white space
around this beautiful couple
not for you to imagine yourself
late at night
in an impossible dance hall
but instead for you to think about where you were
when people still had cameras that took pictures
that looked like that.

An Inflammatory essay:
it would be easy at this point to think of you
as less of a person
because i had to put the art you made for my birthday in a frame
and because i made all your paper bees taxidermy
and because you are telling me about how your term-time house is now empty
and that even your land lady’s horrible paintings have come down,
has all that character gone out
with you and your housemate’s magnetic moustaches
with never again the chance to eat far too many falafels
and far too much banana bread
and never again to repeat perhaps the funniest thing i’ve ever said
because i like how it makes you blush
which i can’t say even now because their might be children in the audience,
but, in spite of, or maybe because of these various ‘emptinesses’
i have discovered that, in you,
i have not just gathered another temporary address to send a single letter to,
but instead
this is the first letter i have written that is not just about letter writing,
or made to contribute to a portfolio on ‘How To Start Relationships That Are Ultimately Doomed’
but its purpose is instead,
well,
we all see pictures differently
(and i know you think i’m gross)
but there’s only one actual symbolic meaning
for the colour red.

one time my friend spotted
a black Labrador lying in the shade
from 200m away
and this has nothing to do with robert therrien’s work
but i just wanted you all to know
that it is possible to have a sixth sense
exclusively for spotting dogs.

robert couldn’t be here today
but if he could
i would tell him that
“THE RED THING DESCRIBER”
is a really strange way to say
“for the love of god,
please someone release this boy
from this orb”
that is red like gallows
that is red like road chalk never is
that is red like a beard he can never grow
for never being a boy or living
any life at all
the lines will never get finished
the outlines will only ever be filled in
the matches will never get lit
the room will never be lived in
the records will not be ceremonially smashed on a wedding night
at a church no one can find a way into
the couple will always be dancing just that one move
and the brick wall will never ever come down
but admittance fees
for art galleries
will always steadily rise
with the rate of inflation.

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