The Plenty of Nothing

i.m. Jenny Diski, 1947–2016
Pale duty stamps about in plenty of nothing
____like the night when you know everything to time
when each step is beaten off when the rack might add
____more glory and I would watch the stars
not kin nor proof to rule the sphere to know
____by clothes and tea how to cut lino out of them

Now see who has the little boat of love and wave
____adrift more salt at its best splash scornful enough
away on your right to curve well in some hope then
____plunging like blame, my hat tossed up and bent
and lost wires lurid if there ever was one at hand
____to walk with me out of my mind’s eye always apt

Old china caught to seize as springless nature seeps up
____and wells at stake to risk another fire
in a forest of beasts where silent stories end in a beer
____or in dark lists above the clause that starts to die
left to review by me my kindest cut scabbed as a free
____local disguise made naked to suffer for doing just that

You can give it up for hope’s always a bit of web to ignore
____sound into the relief fire bad as you wish for
this lack of a figure in the grip of method on the screen
____to burst out of acid to be like last at the spindle instant
as a gripping vertigo flash vacuum leaves spores in place
____of humanism for us when this frolic unveils payment

End tricky time to get enough pink forms to reconcile
____two worlds of the mind to say the least at work
safe hands on what we know to move abroad like autumn
____leaves the trees revealed at last as a mouthpiece for language
a copy to taste such stress detail at times of less art chat tangled
____to a dead tune in sharp clothes in a space of her own

Make one palp by another hand leaves another letter fail to
____earth what it says out walking on skin debris from two
true stories in matters as if we lavish its fine tip on lungs of art
____to put a stop to his tread or peg out between ruts
in thin sheen as that eye that glass jar screwed cold and dark in pots
____too out all the same with a stump eyed from the window

After midnight it was a baffle or a very good copy in song style
____stapled deep with a mist full of blood for free detritus
flooding slides in capital sequence to watch them drive stout posts
____bleak to look at into the dark ground the black lightless fen
all about the aims of the front bound in like a literary theory
____snarled in rough cuts to earn a living to repudiate

The hoover fades beneath a lethal march off this page
____to another partiality from the air against his masks
to form him now in terror forays or shape him in dumps
____in flame run half afraid on a floor of damp glass a lip
at fault speaking idle threads down to the bona fide dress
____shirt in hand over fist spooning into his face

So would you care to remain here and be consumed
____round the neck as the only route downward like a load
of light verse enduring through barrage and fancy filaments
____twittering in the ceanothus of invention parcels
air bent into aesthetic shapes of this mercy or that or broken
____right apart eaten away starved crushed old mad blind and stamped on

Later level force embraces anybody if that’s true and I agree
____with you out of my hands to where the cities are to play power
splashed out in a witness sense, a complex merit one class say
____or ever becoming a kind of work out loud burning
it from one end to the other just because of skin declaring decay
____that might be a view from nowhere but a day in the country

What was made by us is hanging about covered in ribbons and birdshit
____and aprons all set on this time of night for any other way through
tangles of a seedy mind to hold nothing touched or even true
____to the same life just a door step away from a sheepish mouth
munching a sliver of something carmine and ludicrously
____pastoral as fishpaste or cracks full of dust or an entire bowl

Don’t nod or scramble so ruefully for dupes or lying for the poor
____furtive moon-blush army come again try the view alone
odour of almonds am here am you we’re a monstrous pair of crows
____doubting summer’s purchase a blush in a garden of gleams
sow seeds by the aunt clair path sow the wind in the tender cedar
____rush light charm above the door dilapidated its charm raddled

And see off a dumb tally over a long night’s counting till the sun
____glides the new sand sole account crowned legendary and lost
a film a few saw sheepishly on a blank promise to be better after it
____gilded inside to do as we go into the barrier on a face opens
the book of wishes and glides illegible as badgers in a complex pattern
____buried a bad label a gesture or tab shawl they’d like to escape from

Ignore o secure relief fluid at your age one exists or leaves and will
____dissolve by final flux over you unaided inflicted and not once more
be ever one we hear so much and weep at windows in lost sentences
____ignored in the forests. The words on one level condemn us to death
of the use of them as we must simply know the part in the whole
____devoted to a singular being without being which there’s nothing left.

From PN Review. Reproduced with kind permission of Carcanet

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