carol watts


SMALL malachi from a thin country    darting through
rivulets, or as large as scree clouds looming at night
the speed telling,

only. Called up by December green, unseasonal, in long lines.
Fitting the lines the length of a span, the leap from
there under the yews,

to this place. Sudden shift, when legs are collected under,
a coil where not being is this instant of generation, pushing
out, in tensile

covenanting with the next minute. Where joy is, but in
unknowing. These small brown limbs flung far, broadcast,

Where the eye fails, and rain falls in grit pinions, it holds
you to coordinates, a hunt begins. Horns sound, alarms,
low aircraft traffic, all

drum out of thickets, skeins of light, noise beating
to send them all rising to be picked off. Do they run
even in grey places, among

pelts of road kill, the scavenging of organs. Wings
take to the air from tangled spaces. Sometimes there is singing
or lips are soldered, as if peace

arrives. Running only in dreams, or in the reveries
of motorway borders, the fields stretching like a haunch,

is returned to the head of the stream by the lych-gate
runs to return there. But hangs in the air over isles
of dogs,  a quarry and

the pace of provocation, in long alert, waiting
to set intent in motion, anticipating hills, a flow
without protection, naked, to itself.

WAKES with eyes open, as he was born, stubble
formed and seven feet before the mirror, shaves
long ears rough

as tongues, as a rasp. She or he wakes also, finds
a comfort in his form, pricked up as high as he can go,

erection, listens to voices. Deep inside that hurdy-gurdy
of a barrel chest, is a threshing box, is an engine
cranked to beat

rudely, to answer lungs. The length of his thighs
propped against the sink, does she or he span them
knowingly, or

remember the dark place, where they were last
surprised, the burr, the patches on the moon are

scent rising. The point where fullness is a day shadow.
Its pearl blush, that she or he would think it vulnerable,
only to discover

with night, its beacon shining. Scalding skin,
clouds boil away, leaving in desire
she or he

precipitate. Is there a thought of husbands
in that look. Is that look the thought owned by
no-one, moving

in its own accord. Does it cut across his shoulders,
the nape and clavicles, reflected, in nocturnal
relinquishing, in quiet

release. She or he turns over, he reaches eight
feet to the tip. Looms powerfully, is deep in his

BREATH on the heels is damp and hot, where
he skims the stream, tracking the length of a road
twisting, showers

arrive violently. Heat, and the birds scatter in blue
and copper, their heaviness dropping in the air, or
congregating, as hens

might, their cries are stones grating. Thought is not
diagonal but round, a place of cockpits. It lies low,
in daylight

equal to the land. Night rises from the peat, drummed
up, it takes uncertain routing, never alike. Whales

in the meadow. Leave their rib cage behind, panting, as if
the dive takes all they have to give, needing

Small malachi   finds a blow hole in the dusk, lifts,
is lifted. Spewed up, spins in shards and bones, sprung
as a lock

picked by uncertainties. Does remain, or takes to his limbs
leagues out, when the frenzy is upon him, though
not of his frame,

its own making. Palpitations in a beating heart, responding
to the call of anxious breezes, the inconstancy of
prediction, is

a thunder of feet pursuing. Is what excites him, sets him
a kilter, the juddering of a plate on a stone floor, it

and clatters. He streaks, to himself in the flow of things,
brown as matter, is liquid as a trick of the eye in its

OVER underground rivers, waterlogged light of a low
sun, he strides out. She or he sees him go, watches

lengthen until. His reach is long and thin, pectorals
wasting in the day, spindles the length of the street,

she or he along. Wire in the blood, nicks some inner
heart, tears it slightly. Does he lope, now, out of earshot,

greeting, sssup! from a doorway, slaps his palm. Towards
the squawk of traffic, dull interference drowns

recognisings, how do they know him. She or he sits
conjuring remonstration, steam rising from the cup.
Or is it

some extended sharing. You know his enormity
(it is really mine to see), she or he explains, I give you
permission, yet.

It is not sought. Where the land lifts, as if once,
under the concrete carapace, there was an order
of belonging,

is not the path of the river. Where the hill rises
there is no hill but is a memory of uplift, as if it sticks
in the craw,

a geometry ruminated but refusing transposition,
to be broken down, it remains to be stumbled over.
He is

a seven league animal, strides above declinations
and roots, the gouts of tarmac, that is why they
hail him.

NOW he is abroad. Frost arrives in the hills in air
declensions, it falls and has fallen, it limes, stains
inside the air

are cold fingers. He halts, arrests in thickness
of breathing, as if an elemental reversal is caught

abandoned by the morning. Where he waits to catch
its turning, his pelt whitening, returns to brown
as ice retreats.

It is a thought of opacity. Small malachi   takes cover
under the thought, in the clearness of December skies

but dreaming of densities, the shadows in glass, runs
circumferences. Where his feet touch lightly. Tracks

through the crust of the earth, pressed to lips, the grass
snaps and rots, does it lose protection. Where feet

Darkly underfoot. Mire and bitterness in green,
depth of what he scrambles from, the opening
of fissures,

rents in the pasture, echo. Past movement of glaciers,
the shattering of rocks, caves slit on the hillside
as a rawness.

Below in the comfort of grass, where he surprises
its illusion with small feet. Running on ice, finds

is a matter of propulsion, a meniscus, given to
curvature. Where intimacy finds duration, there feet

TOO late to call him home. Night is his business,
is his singular condition, he ranges. Lowing of city

repeats, echoes as stones do struck by interminable
chain gangs, are they banshees teetering on the train

Screams of love. She or he rings without reason,
texts Wil u b back b4 dawn, hears distant hubbub,

up the frequencies of streets. Where nostalgia is,
a matter of nocturnal drones, machine pitch,
reluctant bells

rousing the brick to tune in the pain. Releases
orange light as if summer comes on in cold heat,

ripening. Too late, and too much similitude. Striding,
erect as a man might. More erect, equal to arches
and scaffolding,

his chest is high, it is impregnable, you could lay a head
down and listen to the slowness of a drumming heart,

that she or he should hear, the systole of it, in sleep.
Does blood course like a ring main. Rush and eddy,

the ears with the roar of meltwater. Cars boom
around the block. Taller than ten fathers he never

slouching towards. Eight feet of monument, he rolls
unblinking. R u there, vainly. Height of roosting

STARTLED, fly up.  Fog lifts, in its membranes the firs
of frost, exposed, are woody veins and stems. Heaviness

thunder of flesh impelled, and hooves. A hunt begins,
there is always the lag of commotion, distant intention,

try to cut to the quick. Hounds head off in some dog
turbulence. Traps are sprung, peremptory logic in the bracken
extends arrogance,

expects yews to begin growing again at its blood
instruction. Whip. Small malachi    senses the crack

it undulates in the air, feels his backbone ride the wave,
is off before his limbs know it. Shifts in the undertow,

the love of mastery, how it cuts like a scythe. If it could cut
it would peel his pelt like a Christmas orange, leaving

its bitter pith. Or shave him close, docked and punished,
tossed to the scrum. Do we love rites of suffering

to sport with the inconsequential. He does not know,
there is art in the abandon of him, it is all his own, voices

Today there is a gnashing of teeth. Sweat is sleek, it makes
him dark, ringstraked, as if the wild is in dialogue. Heaviness

he shoots and ignites, as will does. Teeth champ and chunter,
bells and bridles, abstract streaks of shouting. Is there possible

OUT on the Rye it is dark graininess. Corpuscular light
is shiny close by, no texture to it but the gleam of wing
mirrors, beat

of strong engines, it vibrates without lenses. Skin is not multiple,
it is what is, it shakes and stutters actually. Pores are
cavernous, yet

distance is a skulking, it adjusts. Where does that glance go.
Where will it go, and what is its accounting, see him walk

with others, spilling out. She or he is shut off for the night, is
slumbering, to go home to.  In the morning to wake also,

comfort and homecoming. When wings fly up they cause
consternation, the panic of expulsion from small spaces.

a beating gentle body, and release it into generous air. Does
it sleep in falling, still. Yes they do release into his strong arms,
he rocks

them gently, his brothers, they are all his kin, would he
carry them if they tired. Sometimes he is as big as

They could live there. Voices ask what do you look at, man.
Red afterseam of tail lights, unblinking shine of rain,

running are something saved in water. Voices are high, they
break in age and reckoning, shout, making weirs and

It is two a.m. and he feels its appointment, its regrouping.
Is it a show he has seen before, a calling out, such instinctive

BREAKING from the line, the cover of trees, he is run
to ground. There is only form, a hollowed out

of home, it is not enough. To stay him, the catcalls of
flying things, long langorous wings, mock in duration
contrarily, where

he is a bolt, a brown impulsion towards. Ending is unthought,
it is a simple falling, where flesh begins, in steadiness
it goes on

or it does not, even and. There is reflection in naked water,
it meets at the centre, sometimes in stillness. Where he might

on occasion. Yet he. Leaps from adjacent places, where
the clarity of contours astonishes, the length of a valley

by doggedness of ice is the line he runs. Is it a keen line cut.
Ending is unthought, it is a place of imperceptible hungers

continuously, the numerousness of fog, kinds in pursuit, it lasts
as a fold persists, turning over inward. Minutes are endless

in to flutes and skirting. The repetition of beating arrives,
drums up resinously, it fills the morning with boughs and

drags trophies behind. Trumpets fuse to mouths
in hot breath, bugles stifle, nothing calls out knowingly
while betraying.

It is not a simple falling. Small malachi   is a lamb folded
in a thin place   what remains is not a saving however
you regard it.

IS it guns they bring in urban standoffs. Tell the nature
of facing out, do they rise to seven feet of him, the affront
of ears.

They return in a hunting beyond amalgamations of childhood,
bones stretch and voices stagger in a craking of mechanical

are alarums. Sour milk, sweat of skins refracted in night
gloaming, points of cold pain rush through in the way fear

like a thorn bush. What are you doing here, man, looking.  Skin
extends as the earth does, it has its curvature, the body of a mother

owned is a comic book salvation, heroics are her blue cloak.
At night its folds are darker, warm as a salve, you might
turn shadow,

or venture invisibly. See they are armed with voices also. Drummed
from undergrowth, the possibility of acquisition in a world
without weakness

is something to be fought for in oil and bonuses, territorial gleaming.
Gunned down. Gunned down. Is gunned down. Has been gunned

Look. She or he is quieted. Now he stands unblinking as he was born,
exposed in his form, kin to himself, without community, is

as a crowd lifted, he spreads their assignations before him. Is it
a forcefield shouldered to tumultuous recognition, is he the greatest

seen from space. Laid out, his legs are leagues. His child’s feet poke
over the slab. Is he a hare loosed, chasing in long lines, does he still

carol watts lives in London. She is the author of Wrack (Reality Street Editions, 2007), brass, running (Equipage, 2006), and alphabetise, a book of prose chronicles exhibited in the Text Festival at the Museum of Art, Bury, Manchester in 2005, now an eBook (Intercapillary Editions). She teaches at Birkbeck, University of London, where she co-directs the Centre for Poetics. Her publications include Dorothy Richardson, and The Cultural Work of Empire: The Seven Years’ War and the Imagining of the Shandean State.
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