what of, by Michael Mc Aloran

…there no…no not of there…no not of here…no not of the…of the all of all stepped…till…gazes upon…fingers upon cold glass…gazes in or out am…breath upon cold glass…of… traceless…a trace of this…what this am…no echo no not of…forgotten…yet echo of…as was before…so it was before having unremembered…yet no not of there…given…taking from or else of…of the all not a…white sound of…of static abounding yes or no…in the reek of it…sudden as if to falter yet no…no not of here…yet what of this or of…the…here…what am…not a chance…either way as if to…no given yes or no… arrival…departure from…gazes in or out am…yet this…what is this of which…claimed by this…lessening or having gained…what this…this…this meat of wracked by the…of some clear distance…yet not a trace out there…or was there…last calling for…aching as if on or off the light extinguished…or never was…unremembered no…yes…it can be seen… fingers upon cold glass…breath upon cold glass…as if to falter of yet no…yet echo of yet no…there no…not a trace of sound but for the breath’s align…listens…as if to say that it…any difference what matter…blind or no it matters little…gazes upon yes…or no…gazes upon the absence of…upon the return of…in which there is only this…exigency long forgotten…in the all undone of it…less or more than…no not of the… traceless the…darkness yes or no…the bind of this mocked by the trace of this or…something no…it has long been forgotten…as if it could…passage into naught…lessened yes yet having gained…no not a…what am…this or that perhaps it…such subtlety in the give or the…so it was…no…blank space…the light extinguished or never was…this meat of…this what…this meat of wracked by the…fingers upon cold glass…or is it…am…none or…give or take a…no echo no not of it…silent all…gazes in or out am…arrival…departure from…yes or no…last calling for…it cannot be seen…yet claimed by…or…breath upon cold glass…echo echo no not a…blank space…there no/no not of there…no not of no not of the…till what…what am…what this…what where…what of in or other than…what as if to if of what in what or of another cannot…what as if unto…what word what spoken of what said…what echoes of…what of in what as if to say…what undone…what of none what reclamation…what as if to murmur given to dissolve what as if to ever-having…what never having…what breathless instantly…what of where bestowed upon…what as in for it now…what of…what yet usurp where nothing all…what as was once never having…what of where if had been some vapour trace…what this or what of in as if to…what yes this of what then in what untold…what meat in this…what matter it…what fleshed capacity…what sung from foreign dissolute…what collapse of…gazes into no…what non-further in of all unto…what keloid to replenish…what shit to bask of in listless shadow…what am if…what where if…what as if to…what drag from kick & scream…what if silent…what once was now…now nothing less…no nothing more…what as of…what to founder of where null abounds it not…what whisper unto…what fleshed as it escapes…what cannot frenzy lack…what unquantify where as before it occur…what of the dead parameters …what of the foreign dead roads…what of the skyline bleak nor black nor sunlit black nor bleak as…what of the fingers to touch bone where bone & flesh are absent…what of the crippled song…what of the inflect of echoing verandas…what of the word…what of the words that do not ever…what of the nullity biting upon in stagnant of…what of the candle pissed upon…try trace no sentences other than what given…what then of the fallen shadow upon where lifelong colours sketch throughout a wastage breath…what of the sharpened…what gazes upon…what of the blade to bite where nothing of is ever final…what of the failure of where tone casts its corpse across another hour…what of disclosure…what of the benign love cast wreaths where the absent lay & know not of…what of the bile where wastage climbs…what of where sucks upon the marrow of all purposeless…what of where of it is it what am…what of the hour that will not…what of the what that questions nothing & confirms less…what of the…what of…what…breath upon cold glass…what of the defeated leap into beyond where circus animals lay bloodily strewn…what of the slaughterhouse this…what as…what of the longing of where spectral flow where sanguine the blood of it…what of the as of if it too…what gazes into…what in or which whereof…what too the emptily abounding…what of the following…what of the forgotten pathway tread…what tread…what where nothing of where nothing in or of to be…what of the what am repeated sense of the unto whereof…what of the profoundly lapsed/ unspoken/ unspeaking…what of the song of long-spoken long dead…what of the walls where what in…what what taken from…what as having…what struck from premise outset nothing gained…what of the never returning unto…what of the in of naught as the subtle trace of famine eats it away…what of the intrinsic lie…what of whereof in foreign’s clime…what distance of eye sprung from fever indent…what of the collapse that blackened all…what as if in the were as if to having in null vacant a deserted theatre wherein nothing was performed by any other than…what of the observation of it…what of the discord lacking end…what of the rising up of future-lack a trace of desire that cannot…what of some intone gravitate of sunk dry bones snared in an opulent smiling…what is the…what of the…what is not the…what is never the…what or other than what cleft stillness to breach closure of opening up into the disgust of…gazes upon cold glass…what of the long shadow of unspoken…what silence sought where of the lung what as if to say that gravitate as if to…what fingers to trace across vibrant flesh…what silhouettes…what eye abandon seeing nothing…what is not…no longer…what is not the word…what is not the…what of it if till abandon other of…what is a another silence…what bask in frenzy light of…what of shadow’s indent into where plumes of dry smoke dissolve into…what of the sickness to dwell wherein where all dissolves…what of the death of final eye and the lips that searched for…what spoken from where all illusory is forgotten in an instanced breath…what of…what neither nor blindness otherwise…what once said…what the in this it says nothing more or lessened than…what of the sunlight bending in the mind where to reveal is to having whispered fallen further than shadowing…what of the tidal asked of…what it breathes aches just a little more with ever-dawning eye revealed in a denude of crimson flash…what of the in what in of am…what once spoken never having…what again unspeaking…what to…what as if to other than nor of…what merely to fail as if to echo…what final tense…what as what other of the…what from where or what…what from whereof or what…what of till glimpse that cannot…what of in blind light a circumference of drought…what having have what done…what final no…what asked of…what subtle as having begged for…what stun lapse…what tongue …what of as to forget all as if to…what of…what of the catacomb of seclusion a bitter taste of reek cancel out of it unknown before yet ever present…fingers upon cold glass…what from…what of some shadowplay of tears till trace bedimmed…what of the ocular breath of it long sung in an abort of echo…what whereof…what as if to know other than in final lapse merely a…of the drag out thy corpse and walk…what then or of it can…what then in absenteeism forgotten clime of where once breath was nothing snared…what of…where in that transpired…what of the extraction from silence’s coating of sound reduced to silent whispers…what of the wall’s enshroud cold venom tide of blood…what from…what am as if was once…what yes in this it…what headlong stasis in the birth of where to trace the disappearance of…what till yes of final alone in abandon of speech recollect…what in or of whereof subtle as a death knell nothing of…no…trace…what of in this…what then what… whereof what then where what clog of the benign veins that drag until…what of the sky’s abort…what of the…what then for the…what of…what as if to…what for the in or of in tint of blood spill traceless shadow long ache of…what of the no longer…what of the dead speech the cascade of it into…nothing of in what as if to say erase it/counter…gazes no…what of that…what of the waste the hemorrhage of wither pageantries…of the here what of till foreign/lapsed unto…what of till of in some foreign distance the mirror cracked across…bled weight of bulk…what of the wherein some stasis ever…what in the herein a vacancy….nothing of through which to strips the bones of the meat of words…the bones translucent…what in the hand that grasps in the of of seek merely to/to recoil…what of the nohow then…what of the silence’s recreation in no…what am eye in this…of this in no way other than…what frozen shell what this…in-dreamt of no…what of…absent traces/ cold glass shatters in a..

..

Michael Mc Aloran was Belfast born, (1976). He is the author of a number of collections of poetry, prose poetry, poetic aphorisms and prose, including ‘Attributes’, (Desperanto, NY, 2011), ‘The Non Herein’ & ‘Of Dead Silences’ (Lapwing Publications, 2011/ 2013), ‘Of the Nothing Of’, ‘The Zero Eye’, ‘The Bled Sun’, ‘In Damage Seasons’, (Oneiros Books (U.K)–2013/ 14); ‘Code #4 Texts’, a collaboration with Aad de Gids, was also published in 2014 by Oneiros. Two further collections, ‘Un-Sight/ Un-Sound (delirium X.)’ & ‘The Banality of Else’ were both published by gnOme books (2014). ‘EchoNone’ was also released 2015 by Oneiros Books. Black Editions Press also released ‘Untitled #2’ & ‘[unspoken]’ in 2016, and ‘longshadowfall’ was published by Editions du Cygne (FR) in 2017. ‘Catascope’, was also published by Editions du Cygne early in 2018, and two further projects, ‘the black vault’ & ‘all null having’, are now published by VoidFront Press, who will also publish “nowhereon” in the coming months…

 

Reading Backwards through the Yellow – Interview with Carolyn Srygley-Moore by Loring Wirbel

  1. Why did photographic images become an integral part of this book?

 

         CSM: Initially I asked my editor, Azriel Johnson,  if I could include a few photos. He suggested a full mixed media selection, half photo, half poem. However, I couldn’t begin to cut half the poems in the book. As far as i’m concerned, each poem acquires the necessary crescendo toward the end theme and end section, emancipation.

       As for photography, it’s my second creative love after writing. Therefore, Azriel suggested phasing into each of the sections with a photograph. I did not go for theme, really, in selection, just a sense of what was, poetically, to come. The library of photos comes from 2015 to present, commencing with my visit to Nashville, TN to visit my mom. We went to The Parthenon, and I grabbed a few photos there: one of my mom, 89 years old, confronting the giant statue of Athena.

 

  1. You have a unique style with phone-camera. Oblique angles, many black-and-whites, unusual filtering. Did you develop this by trial and error, or were you intending to make a particular vision?

 

CSM: Phone cameras are tricky instruments, as tremendous in rendition possibilities as they are also limiting. The poor man’s photography, as it were : I  shrug. It fits in my back pocket.
Being a visual art , photography became exciting to me when I first began to shoot. I’ve been trying to capture the visual through many modes since I was a little kid. The angles etc that you mention perhaps have evolved for myself since 1970. I love the effects of black and white photography. Just as Ii love black and white film, the juncture and crossover of polarities enthralls me, with the resulting greys, always necessary in portraiture. And in worldview.
The filtering comes and goes with how playful I feel. Or if the shot fails, how can I correct it. Or do I feel like working grain into a pastel or chalk effect. Do I want the lines to appear blurred, or clear with the ramifications of the pure, the distinct. As I work I feel like my bin of art supplies is at once at hand.
I think my photos express the playfulness  I have in interpreting the visual – in interpreting the world: in trying to maintain presence of light within the darkest shot,  and beauty even in the banality of existence. Even in the hovering homeliness, even ugliness, of life.

 

  1. Your last book was themed according to place. This is a series of poems from 2013, except for the last poem. How did you decide on this particular collection, and why poems from that year?

CSM: The two books that are being released in my name this year are both organized around time, each for different reasons. The compilation of this manuscript occurred in scouting my output of 2013 and seeking pieces I most appreciated, found most accessible to others. It has taken this long to publication only because Yellow did land somewhere in 2014: that didn’t work out, not for hostile reasons.

    I did find, while collating those poems, that the book separates as if organically into sections that finally climax with the section “emancipation.”  I don’t recall if 2013 was a year of cutting away the blue parachute strings into an uncertain freedom. But this book indicates the culmination of such a personal achievement.

     These poems of 2013 were largely triggered by a loss in my life. my hound dog Ben. He appears and reappears, as fraction, as fiction or nonfiction,  throughout the sections, primarily in the first, which is why the section is called Ghosts Along the Wall.

     There is a scene in Charles Olson’s poem ‘The Kingfishers’:
“When I saw him, he was at the door,

          but it did not matter,

          he was already sliding along the wall of the night,

          losing himself in some crack of the ruins.”

     This scene recalls to me how it is, being that place of ambiguity while leaving that place of ambiguity, a figure dizzily ripe with anonymity and historical constraint. The will to change, as Olson says, does not change. Yet who doesn’t desire sameness, stasis, lack of transition? Loss of my dog Ben was huge in my world. It infiltrated everything, how I looked upon micro and macrocosm alike. He was a validation of Self and Other amidst human deceit; in this manner, almost the absolute I seek, in the end a dog nearly deified.

 Drawing Hands is the 2nd full section: a dip into the human-all-too-human as Nietzsche wrote.  The human at its worst at its best. But the scope of this section is  circumscribed.  Limiting. Hence onto the next section.
The second to last section, Resisting Plath, is all about trying  survival even when the birds are singing in Greek.
The last section of this book and the theme therein is the acquisition of emancipation. From what? Our wounds are ghosts our human egos our human inhuman experiences: our desire to trespass the margins so much so that we see things as they are or are not. So we hear the birds speak as Wolfe did before her death, or are driven to deleterious ends by the sorcery of language. In the end we leave our limitations. Perhaps via deity, perhaps via agency, perhaps via simply self-actualization. I for one insist on the possibility of redemption, if not by familiar means.

“Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery
none but ourselves can free our mind.” – Bob Marley, Redemption Song

This song, and theme, has very personal resonance for me. When I graduated from
Johns Hopkins, I spiraled into a deleterious mental health catastrophe, and as this was occurring, I would sing Redemption Song through the Baltimore alleys, often ghetto, that I walked through on my way to whatever might be my destination.

 

  1. Tell me about the untitled poem from 2017 that ends the book, using a quote from Dickman, and why it was included.

CSM: The poem of 2017 that I chose to include with a book of 2013 pieces confronts the nostalgia of the book: it was written the week the Big Bomb fell on a cave overridden by ISIS. It was also scribbled in the hour of my exchange with a friend regarding Trump, war, etc. My friend is a 100% Trump supporter. I am not.

(“Do I disagree with her because I am in pain, and she is superior because we
disagree?” – line from poem.)

Through this poem War enters the picture. World is no longer microcosm but
macrocosm. Gandalf is really necessary now. But it is not Middle Earth. The poem
indicates that the writer has not seen the irrefutable maple. They say the only ones
who love war are those who have not seen it. What president said this? And what
is the maple?

             The inclusion of the Dickman excerpt from ‘Returning to Church’ simply reinforces
the wish that prodigality to a world of absolute truths exists. Perhaps redemption,
even, perhaps God still exist amidst the dissolute fragments of the postmodern world.
God has been lurking throughout these pages with what Campbell called his many
faces. At the end the fragments might come to cohere.

  Here is the book’s finish — with a photo of Stella and Ben: “Look Ben, it’s a new window!” (A piece of furniture had been moved.) They are forced upon a new world;
a world forced upon them.

 

  1. When you survey your work over a few years or a few decades, do you see a particular evolution, or is it more a process of circling around, with imagery informed by changes in your life over the years?

CSM: Although my work is deeply influenced by morphing of factors in my personal world, family dogs rescue self God or lack thereof,  I believe it also to be deeply imbued by my greater worldview, the angles taken by my involvement with the world at large in all of its dimensions, many of which i do not know. I have worked grassroots with persons living with AIDS in the late 80s, and later with a variety of persons of need, at present individuals living with traumatic brain injuries, nervous system disorders, or others. The section of the book called Drawing Hands feeds specifically from my experiences with the people I work with, for as I help them, so they help me.

    The imagery of my work can be seen, in part and under microscope, as a process of repetition, nearly of recycling. Just as I may photograph a dog or person over again at new angles new light so in poetry do I return to an image and if I do not use it I warp its resonance.  I’ve been doing this since I was a child and I’ve been told it was a poetic strength rather than failure, the comforting reliable stopping points in the lake edges sea river where I see language settling syllables once spoken. Stylistically my work has merged, although in these pieces I rarely evoke pause through intraline spacing.

     A circling revolution, evolution I mean. Each poem being a revolution of one’s own work. A mutiny of the poem prior as it were.

  1. If you were teaching an English class in the year 2150, would the poetry of Carolyn Srygley-Moore be assigned to a particular school, or would it be completely idiosyncratic and stand on its own?

CSM: My first books have been placed into the classification of postmodern, and although my work certainly reflects the postmodern awareness, one manner in which it differs is this: that school espouses the absence of absolute truths, yet I am constantly in my work seeking those truths, almost as if I believe they exist.

     You’re funny — surely I am not boundary-breaking enough to stand alone in my own school:  I have experienced what it’s like to hang out with other poets and artists who held the same arguments as myself, smoking pretentious cheap cigars, gulping nonalcoholic beers: maybe I will have that opportunity again, although at present my efforts are extremely independent.
Yes, I crave solidarity, I also gravitate toward an almost autistic mode of working language. I want to be original, so much so that I expose myself to the written word in short spells, attention span also being a factor.

 

  1. What’s your favorite color? What’s your favorite cartoon? What’s your favorite song?

CSM: Color? Teal blue. My client says I cannot wear the shade teal green, so I have acquiesced to the blue.
Cartoon? Animaniacs, especially Pinky and The Brain. How wonderful to see a brilliant 
Laboratory mouse and his minion try to take over the world on a daily basis, only to be sabotaged each time, mostly by the minion’s ineptness. Anti-fascism, especially relevant in our time, in all times.

     Song? Bowie’s ‘Changes.’ Olson: ‘What does not change/ is the will to change.” I love the persistence in this song toward a greater meaning of self, of the relation of self to world. I like its affirmation of the voice of youth, that youth knows of what it speaks.
Also ‘Nautical Disaster’ by The Tragically Hip. Great song. I recall when I found this group, and realize now what a loss it will be, with the singer Gord Downie in the final stages of cancer.

Carolyn S-M

Book:
Reading Backwards through the Yellow

Photo
Facing down Athena
The Parthenon. Nashville TN
Robert Srygley and Mary Pierce