Louis Armand


(for Kevin Hart)

& looked back, at the mute open
seamouth–(agape, with the ex-
pression of a tired cabaret
singer, denuded by an absence

of applause)–the shorelights re-
cede beyond an unheard-of
precipice: the mast rigid,
the sail folds in upon the scene


unaccustomed to these more remote
dialects–you begin again
to retreat … into the sanctuary
of immediate & familiar objects:

pale spectre of a lighthouse its image
below the harbour wall–
& summoned here
across some blind gulf of memory

as though you had stepped down
to each of those shores–
waiting, for the time
when silence would give a mirror
for your nightsea crossing
& all the surfaces would depart


midnight while the storm still raged
we climbed a steep hillside above
thirroul–skirting the forested clefts
until beneath us we perceived
the inertia of the vast low landmass
the river the valley
the changeling sky reflected on the sea
& north along the scarp-summit even
the lightning–each bolt
a naked tree of blue fire–stood
quivering & arched about to fall …

after the rain, the dark swollen
banks of the illawarra
like a band of flesh–the confluence
palpable–a carnal medium, there
between the shoreline & beyond
(the ocean & tidal immanence
of dawn)–retreating to absence
while we descend
knowingly to that harbour
as though a vestige of what had passed
could be gathered in its depth, & read

Departure from X
(for Anna)

how many ways to leave there, time
across the harbour–& frail
light tracing out … hesitant; then
below the wall a movement

as though you had returned–
crying the angelus
to a sea or it breaks upon
these cold dark stones

& searching the tide for something
overlooked … each interval alone passing
out beyond the ships beyond
the glistening impediment of winter rain

as sleep beckons from a place further off
without pain–or surveillance


approximately, false eyelashes–such a difficult
cohabitation … other clues, the almost
ventriloquism of eyes, „mere window dressing“
luscious as a polaroid …
& when the snow began to fall that year
it wasn’t so unexpected, the gradual onset
& wearing off like anæsthetic („it’s cold,“ „i can’t
feel anything“)–hoping for redemptive significance
in borrowed pseudonyms, a vague
re-enactment–the erroneous confessions one kept
poised in antique bedrooms, & restless
homunculi stooped behind curtains, under sheets
whenever the light outside became
too inspired, intimate, for what had always been
considered the stranger–a chorus
of unspeakable words bitten hard between the teeth,
to purchase a few requisites of authorship
past lives, more than cheap lustre–masking
the aggressiveness & banality of epidermic
contact: the last scene in that drama, when such fictional
personae as we are lie in the afterglow
of performed sentiments (though they too exist
& are real) & the backdrops fading
against the fatuous applause of decembers–
it’s becoming harder to make amends, & only hope
that next time, in the spring …
but who would be left, then, to recount it?

(for Justin Quinn)

journey by land: autumn, & from the rail
carriage a line of flight between
the locust trees cuts across vision
& eyes reflected in the window lower

(dusk had reddened the station yards
& time rusted hulks shimmering–
although it is passing the horizontal
grimace of the landscape still portends)

sleepless fingers turn a playing card face-
upwards–ten of spades. outside
the guideposts flicker, say nothing …

wait for the border crossing at midnight:
search the eyes of the guard who takes
your passport knowingly in his hands


when she opened her legs i was
standing in the doorway
reciting a passage i had learnt by heart
from a book on the french revolution …

she closed her eyes
& with the fine points of her fingernails
traced the pale

unperturbed lips of her sex

from one side to the other
whispering over & over their names:
saint-just robespierre saint-just robespierre


there is no shore that gathers.
i without ceasing come
from is to will be. i do not
dwell in the hollow of that tide.
i do not pass there

below dusk’s straitening eye.
sea-wrecked lips form
broken hemispheres. unexplained.
the wind undresses the waves
caught in white virtuality

there is no shore. dark hands
clutch at the tongue.
the stone depth neither speaks
nor denies you. the stone.
the word alone declares itself

in fragmentary arrest suspended.
everything has been left unfinished.
everything. time like ropes of sand
knotted & loose. knotted. slipping
from hooks of air

there is no shore that receives
you. i without. ceasing.
there is no shore. in the hollow of
that tide. in the hollow. there is
no shore that receives you

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