As the solitary phase of this project comes to a close I’m thinking about the flicker and chatter of the news media making the world’s head spin.
I was asked to write some short pieces during my time here which would be displayed on the BBC Big Screen here in Manchester. It’s a big outdoor screen in Exchange Square that shows a constantly changing programme for shoppers and passers-by, so that no one has to miss anything. Of course I never got to see it myself. I think my contribution was for the ticker-tape news summary that runs along the bottom of the screen. There was a thirteen word limit but they said they could probably put a couple of messages together to be shown every now and then. So I took it as a nice structural constraint. Here are some thirteen word lines, in couplets, for the BBC news.
I am no more a hermit than these words you read are real.
These marks remind us how to speak. I present the joy of listening.
World news spins on like a wheel. Does it stop at my axle?
In silence I hear the cries of history bearing down, hope flying up.
I am the opposite of the news. I watch what is fading away.
And wait without searching for that which is yet to come into being.
As I delve into the body, it cracks open, cools, disintegrates, dissolves, evaporates.
Puffs of thought are released. One drifts by saying ‘I’m not a metaphor’.
My own feelings are most pressing until on TV I see others feel.
But who’s on? My dog? A bird flying past a cloud? The cloud?
Axes of sense intersect. On my approach the invisible stridulation of crickets stops.
Do they sing of gods, as I might do when I am interrupted?
Sharing this body of an ape with creatures too small to be seen
And this moment with a time too long to remember, I stop fighting.
I’m no roving reporter. There is no Outside Broadcast van. Everything seeps in.
Beside still water, I ride through galaxies and all the stars come round.
My thoughts float on the surface of this body like a glistening slick
From a ship of fools on the Pacific. Whale song ruffles the light.